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One of the things we worry about most as parents is that our kids are “not listening” to adults. 

They won’t listen when we ask them to put on their shoes.

They won’t listen when we say it’s time for a family walk.

They won’t listen when it’s time to clean up.

They won’t listen when we tell them to sit still at the dinner table.

But, let’s face it: what we really mean by “listening” is OBEYING.

They don’t put on their shoes (even though they’ve heard and understood what we’ve asked of them).

They refuse to come on the family walk.

They have a meltdown at clean up time.

They do not sit still at the table no matter how many incentives or ‘consequences’ we provide.

They simply will not do what we ask.


If you’ve been here long enough you know that there’s no easy answer. 

Certainly a major reason kids don’t ‘listen’ is when there’s a mismatch between the request and the child’s skill level. We’ll come back to this one at a later date.

But, there is another culprit that I see a lot:

Too much focus on the words we say and not enough focus on what’s behind the words.

Here’s what I mean.

All kids, but especially Orchid Kids, are INCREDIBLY sensitive to what we are broadcasting nonverbally. And, they are paying more attention to those nonverbal signals than any words we might be saying.

In my experience, Orchid Kids are paying way more attention to:

  • Visual signals in the form of body language, microexpressions, body tension
  • Auditory signals in the form of tone of voice, volume, rate of speech
  • Kinesthetic signals in the form of how quickly or slowly someone else is moving toward them
  • Chemical signals in the form of odors and/or pheromones being emitted from our bodies

And they are paying way less attention to the face value of the words we say.

Why does this matter?

If Orchid Kids (all kids) are more sensitive to nonverbal cues than verbal ones, it means that if you’re feeling at all conflicted about the thing you’re asking your child to do, THEY WILL KNOW. They will catch that uncertainty or ambivalence and call your bluff.

All kids, but Orchid Kids in particular, are very sensitive BS detectors.

If you’re already questioning yourself about making a certain decision, your Orchid is not going to help you out with that. In fact, that ambivalence will only be amplified in their response in the form of a Great Big NOPE.

Relying on your child to “listen and obey” is giving all your power as a parent away. When we need our kids to do what we ask in order to feel like we’re in control, we are giving them the keys to the castle and letting them run the show.

This is bad, NOT because we need to have control over our kids (and this is impossible anyway). It’s bad because neurologically speaking our kids are not ready to be in the driver’s seat. They need to know where the boundaries are; what they are and are not in charge of. 

When we waffle in indecision, our kids become anxious and unmanageable trying to figure out a system that makes no sense. Their brains are simply not ready to handle that level of responsibility.

We have to leverage our adult brains on their behalf. But to do that, we have to get both the verbal and the nonverbal cues into alignment. Into congruence. It’s the most important thing you can do.

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