At some point in their journey, every parent experiences their child completely ignoring them. In young children, this can be a hard thing to cope with as parents. Your once obedient bundle of joy who was excited about everything you had to say is suddenly acting out and ignoring your guidance. While it’s called the terrible twos for a reason, it can still be a shock to parents when defiance starts so young. Explore some of the possible reasons your young child might not be listening to you.
Your child is focused on something else
When you tell your child to do or not to do something, and they go about their business anyway, it can be extremely frustrating. Sometimes, it’s not blatant, intentional defiance, although it certainly will feel like that many times; it could just be that they are too focused on something to hear you. Even when adults get hyper-focused on a task, they tend to blend all other noise into the background—the same happens with kids, except their tasks don’t seem important to grown-ups. Even though drawing a picture of their favorite stuffy for the 18th time that day seems tedious and unimportant to an adult, the child may just be focused and tuning out their parents accidentally. Try sitting right in front of them and asking them to look at you when you speak so that you gather their full attention.
Your child actually can’t hear you well
Another possible reason your child may be ignoring you is that they actually can’t hear you very well. Even if they don’t have hearing problems and pass all of their screenings, they could still have a harder time hearing than other kids. It’s not uncommon for some people to produce more earwax than others, and your child might have some excessive earwax buildup. If you think your child may have some earwax buildup, consider seeing a pediatrician for more information and advice on how to help your child.
You’re giving too many instructions at once
While it’s normal for an adult or older child to be told, “Clean up your toys, pick out a book, and choose some pajamas,” and be able to complete all of these tasks, it’s harder for a young child. Young children often don’t have the capacity to follow more than one instruction at a time. Many times, in this situation, a young child would do one of the three described tasks and unintentionally ignore the other two. Help them out by giving them one task and waiting to give them a second until the first one is done.
There are many reasons young children just don’t listen to their parents. Some of it is defiance, some is a lack of attention span, and some are medical conditions. All of this is perfectly normal. If you’re concerned, you should call your pediatrician for further advice and potential screenings for hearing or behavioral problems.