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Listening Phrases That Will Encourage Kids Listen

Here is a great article from that will reduce power stuggles and create connections between you and your children.

Check out these 5 helpful listening phrases that will help you reconnect with your child and help your child want to listen.


Here’s the hard parenting truth: when kids act out it is usually because the are looking for more connection. When my son was running around before bedtime, it seemed like an act of all out defiance. But it was, in truth, a cry for connection.

I started meeting him right where he was in the moment, and I said things like…

“You wish we could play right now. You wish you had me all to yourself to sit and play and laugh with for hours. You wish you could stay up all night and that it was never bedtime.”

Right there. We connected. He felt understood, like I finally “got it.” Of course, my boundary didn’t change and it was still bedtime in 15 minutes. But we found a way to play through the whole bedtime routine and make it fun.

Saying “You wish you could…” phrases to your child instantly connects you in the moment and helps your child want to listen through understanding and validation.


I use this all the time now when my son doesn’t want to go to school in the morning. Before when he didn’t want to school, I used to say things like, “Of course, you want to go to school. You love school. Turn that frown upside down. It will be fun.”

This only made him dig his heels in even deeper, and we would sit there arguing for a good ten minutes before I finally carried him in kicking and screaming.

Now I approach it totally different and lean right into his emotions to meet him in the moment. I’ll say things like, “This is hard for you. You don’t really want to go to school right now. You wish you could stay home with me all day. It’s frustrating and it’s not going the way you want it to.”

So often that validation is enough for him to get out of the car and walk into school. Granted he does so begrudgingly, but it saves us both from a big dramatic meltdown.

Using the “This is hard for you” phrase is a great way to communicate empathy and validation while still holding your parenting boundary, and it breeds a lot more cooperation than when I skip this important step.


One of the easiest ways to help kids to want to listen is to draw out all their strengths or the good things they do. Back when my son was in the strong-willed toddler phase, I called this “strength-training.”

So when my son would finally quit running around and go to bed, I would say, “You calmed yourself. You didn’t want to go to bed, but you found a way to get all your energy out so you could lay down and go to sleep.”

This is also a great listening phrase to use after a child recovers from a tantrum.. Each time your child gets control of their emotions or takes a deep breath, say, “You calmed yourself. You were so upset, but you remembered to take a deep breath and calm down.”


This is another strength-training phrase to help your kids want to listen. Remember: the more you name the good or the strengths in your child the more you will see those behaviors come out.


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