Why Won't My Kids Just Do What I Tell Them To Do?

11/26/2012

As a parent coach, one of the chief complaints I hear from parents is: "Why won't my children listen to me anymore?  Things were going so well and now they ignore me, say "No", or even do the opposite! I am so tired of it."

But as a parent with young children myself, I know what opposition feels like and it isn't pretty. As adults, we have a certain idea of how things should proceed and when your kids don't march along nicely, this can be very frustrating. 

So let’s take closer look at some of the reasons our kids don't listen to us!

1. Developmentally, your child is right on track. It is normal and expected for all children to say no at different ages.  For example, two year olds, four year olds, late six year olds...it is completely normal for changes to occur in both the body and the brain that can lead to an increased rate in irritability, sensitivity, and negativity. "Wait" you say, "my child is three and says no all of the time!"  Every child is different, and your child may be on a different developmental track. The point is, be open to the idea that your child may not be trying to be disagreeable! They are trapped in a rapidly changing brain and body, and cannot get out! Realizing this will help grow your compassion and forgiveness for the child, as well as find solutions.


2. Your child says no because you are not allowing her or him to grow and change. What do I mean by this? Every child, no matter their temperament, is naturally inclined toward independence and real work. Each child wants to contribute in a real way and see the fruits of their labor. So, when a child is trying to dress herself, for instance, and we continue to step in and interfere, the child will begin to struggle to assert their independence. Try simply allowing the child to try something...what your child can do will surprise you!


3. Your child is saying no because you are asking too many questions. Parenting 101? If you don't want to hear "no," don't ask a question that gives the child a chance to say it! For instance, you know the child is happily putting together a puzzle...so what do you think the answer will be when you ask, "would you like to get in the bathtub?" Of course, that child would rather puzzle away! So, don't ask the question! Instead, create a transition and don't offer a choice! Get down on the child's level, look them in the eye, and say, "Bath time is in 3 minutes. I am setting an alarm. When the alarm goes off, the puzzles are over." Alarm goes off, you gently and firmly lead the child to bath. Will they struggle? Maybe. But it will be far, far better the “fake choices” struggle! 

Whatever you decide to do, remember that the more you struggle, the more you struggle!  

For more information about Meghan Leahy Parent Coach, come visit my website, follow my Twitter, and like my Facebook Page!


A mother of three young children and a parent coach, Meghan Leahy teaches parenting techniques to both individuals and groups in the Washington D.C. area, as well as all over the country. Meghan is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post parenting blog "On Parenting." To find out more, please visit Positively Parenting.
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