Is Your Child Listening?

78% of parents saying not listening is driving them batshit crazy!

Parents generally think that they have a listening issue for one of 3 reasons:
1. their child won’t do what they’re asked immediately
2. their child will acknowledge the request by immediately doing the opposite of what they were told to do
3. their child screams, “No,” or “I don’t want to!” 

If your child is reacting this way, they aren’t listening, but that’s just a symptom.

Listening Skills

Listening is multiple executive functioning skills working together simultaneously. We just finished a video series in the Parenting Posse that explains why you can’t listen effectively if any of your executive functioning skills are weak. The basic idea is that you cannot access and use your executive functioning skills if you’re not calm. Calm also doesn’t necessarily mean quiet. A person can be quiet and stressed as fuck, like deer in the headlights. If you’re passed stressed, you’re in fight, flight, freeze, and fib mode. 

Our executive functioning skills exist in our neocortex, the top layer of your brain. That is where language, reason, analysis, and learning takes place, none of which is necessary for survival. When we’re born we have to squeeze our very big heads out of a very small hole. What’s going on inside is that the grey matter that will become their blue brain, their neocortex, needs to be able to squish without getting damaged. So when we’re born, it’s physically there, but it’s not working yet.

Ready to be a wizard with words during your kiddo's next tantrum tornado? Sign up for our 'Parenting Power Phrases' mini-course! This magic scroll of wisdom will equip you with the perfect phrases to tame those baffling behaviors from your toddler, preschooler, or kindergartener. Be prepared, be confident, and ace the next curveball your little one throws your way!

The Limbic System

Our limbic system comes out of the womb ready and raring to go. Our limbic systems contain our amygdala, our hippocampus, and a bunch of other little sections. It’s mainly responsible for scanning our environment, checking for danger, and processing memories and emotions. It has thought but no reason. It upregulates us when there’s danger present and downregulates us when we’re safe.

Since our limbic system is necessary for survival and our neocortex is not, if your child is feeling unsafe, uncertain, or emotional, all of our physical resources, all of our energy goes to our limbic system. They’ll very actively and very emotionally protest – which is a red flag that they are stuck in their limbic system! No amount of reason is going through. It’s not rational, so they aren’t going to act rationally.

Getting the Blue Brain Back Online

At this stage, they are going to ignore what you asked them to do and keep doing what feels good or that they are emotionally engaged in. They are going to look you dead in the face and then do something other than what you told them to do. Because what you told them to do is being processed as a danger, or as not safe, as an attack. Your child’s brain is preoccupied with its emotions and its intuition and sensing and feeling and making sure that there’s no danger. Which means that not listening is actually stress behaviour.

The good news is that we can actively teach them how to recognise when they are being irrational, we can teach them strategies to bring that blue brain back online. And that, my friends, is what I teach you in ParentAbility. In the program, we have in-depth information on these self-regulation concepts, and then once you have that down, we teach you exactly how to work and build up your child’s executive functioning skills.

Come and join us!

Share this Post:

Leave a Reply


Generic filters
Exact matches only

About Allana

Hi, I’m Allana. I teach parents of toddlers and preschoolers why their children are misbehaving and what to do about it without yelling, shaming, or using time-outs. When not teaching parents about behaviour you can generally find me chasing around my two boys, reading cheesy romance novels, or hanging out with my own parents.

How to Get Your Kids to Listen and End Tantrums Without Stickers, Counting to 3, or Losing your Shit

Recent Posts

Follow on Facebook

Ever been stuck like a deer in the headlights thinking “What exactly do I SAY in this situation?!” when your child is misbehaving?

Let me give you the words to turn it around with my free parenting scripts.

Skip to content