“He never listens to me!” 4 tips to help your child understand you better

by Adina Levy

There’s that amazing moment when you ask your child to do something… and they DO it! If this feels rare for your family, a big part of the challenge is often how well children undertand what you’ve said to them. Other factors that can affect whether your child does what you’re asking or understands you can be: attention, processing, motivation, skill level, and more!


Challenges with understanding spoken language can be ‘hidden’ and it can lead to parents and kids feeling frustrated and confused. Let’s talk about how you can maximise what your child understands, when you communicate with them. Let’s aim for lots of understanding and connection, and a bit more calm!


Help your Child Understand You

  • Slow it down – speak slower, and pause more often. Keep it natural but slower.


  • Make it brief and clear – Keep the language that you use at, or just a little step above your child’s language level. So if your child doesn’t say words, You can say 1-2 key words. Keep your sentences grammatically correct but brief. If your child says or signs a word or short phrases, you can say short phrases about the length of your child’s. Emphasise the most important words, e.g. β€œGet your shoes and bag”


  • Repeat your message within that conversation, and across activities and days. This gives your child more chance to hear and process your message. Repetition and consistency helps your child learn your words over time.


  • Make it visual – That means show something to make your message visual.

Some ways to make your message visual

  • Objects
  • Pictures
  • Writing & Drawing
  • Gestures, body language and sign language


And any other ways you can think of that helps your child SEE your message, while you’re saying it.


What visual elements can you add more of, when you communicate with your child today?

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