10 Ways to Get Your Kids’ Attention Without Yelling

When our first child was a baby, I had plans to never yell at my kids. Not surprisingly, that parenting ideal jumped ship about the same time as “My kid’s never going to watch TV.”

But I do try to only yell when necessary. And over the years, I’ve learned some surefire ways to get my kids’ full attention without having to raise my voice at all.

In no particular order:

1) Try to pee in peace.

There’s a sensor on the toilet seat that triggers a dire curiosity/desperate hunger/urgent emergency alarm inside kids’ heads. If you want your kids’ full, rapt attention, head straight to the bathroom.

2) Take a shower. 

See previous post, “My Morning Shower (a True Story).”

3) Sit down to read a book.

A leisure novel is like a beacon to my children. It took me two months to read first half of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” at home. I finished the second half on a two-hour flight by myself with time to spare. Go figure.

4) Try to sneak some candy.

My kids can smell chocolate from three rooms away. They can also teleport to arrive at the exact moment I’m popping it into my mouth. Works every time. 

5) Start a conversation with a friend.

Particularly effective if you want your kids glued to your side, sprawled across your lap, or using you as a jungle gym.

6)  Make an important phone call.

They won’t be able to fight the urge to come to you. Mom’s on the phone? Goody! That means she secretly wants me to come tattle on my sibling or ask for a snack!

7) Drive in traffic.

You’ve never had so much attention. “MAMA.” “MAMA?” “MAMA.” “MAMA!

8) Try to get some work done.

Absolutely. The more important or deadline-driven, the better.

9) Climb into bed.

That sensor on the toilet? There’s also one on your pillow.

10) Head toward funkytown with your spouse.

If simply climbing into bed doesn’t work, just start getting busy with your partner. You’ll have kids standing at attention at the foot of your bed in no time.

You really never have to yell to get your kids’ attention. Just try to get some alone time, do something important, or relax for a few minutes, and you’ll have them right where you want them.


(I’m all about the humor AND the help around here, so in all seriousness, if you do find yourself yelling more than you want to as a parent, here are some truly awesome resources.)

5 Ways to Get Your Child’s Attention without Yelling by Amanda at Dirt and Boogers

Is That Me Yelling? by Rona Renner

Yell Less, Love More by Sheila McCraith at The Orange Rhino

You CAN Stop Yelling from Aha! Parenting

Ask the Coach: Yelling at Players – Words of wisdom from Pete Carroll about having governed responses. He’s talking to coaches, but a lot of it applies to parenting as well.

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 1

  1. Annie, I love this so much. As a work-at-home Mom, I’m always chasing deadlines. The instant I get into a story, article, or blog, and am concentrating is invariably the moment my teens need something desperately, like disclosing that Mike broke up with Janey, or their favorite Youtuber just uploaded a new snapshot of their favorite game. Never fails.

    And if I can’t get their attention with work, I just start recording a Minecraft session. I haven’t uploaded a video yet in a single part- it’s always split because I stop recording to answer a kid’s question. Every. Single. Time.

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