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How Do I Get Kids To Listen?

Frances sent this question in today:

I work with at-risk young people aged 10-16 and find it difficult to get them listening to the instructions of the games. They want to just start without knowing how to play and don’t know how to listen to instructions as a group. How would you tackle this?

Here’s an excerpt of my response…

Your question is a good one, and to be honest, is just as applicable to adults as kids. But I understand exactly what you are talking about – how can you get kids to listen?

Listening is a learned skill, and as socially developed, intrinsically motivated adults, we often get impatient with kids who haven’t developed this skill yet.

I’d say, take your time. Only present what the kids need to know when they need to know it. When you look at your “briefing” you may discover a ton of info that really doesn’t need to be presented immediately. This may help you get kids to listen.

But also, do not hesitate to stop your group if they are charging forward with only half the information they need. You have an obligation to provide this boundary for them. Yes, they may get frustrated with you, but this is much better than the frustration of missing vital information or getting it wrong.

In my experience, young people will rarely thank you for providing solid boundaries, but they do in fact really appreciate it. It cuts out a lot of the awkward social crap and pecking-order stuff that goes on when few if any boundaries are present.

One final thing – it is MUCH better to dampen the enthusiasm of your group, than trying to ramp it up. Much easier to curb it than to generate it.

For more tips and strategies to improve your facilitation skills, check out our free series of Facilitator Tips video tutorials.

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