Helping Kids Listen: The Non-Compliant Child

I get a lot of questions from parents when I teach my parenting classes. I loved this question because it highlights how truly different kids are:

I have 4 children. I am able to use the more effective communication skills I have learned in your classes however I find that it will work for some kids but not the others. For example, I will say, “When the all the crayons, markers and paper are put back in the arts and crafts drawer then we will have our snack.” 3 children will clean up and one will start throwing around the crayons. What do I do then?

You will always have that one child who likes to rock the boat. It actually hard to see, but it does show strength of character. He likes to do his own thing. Some children have a hard time complying and need an extra nudge. You can try the following:

1. Change your reaction: 
Some children like to make waves and like to engage their parents in a power struggle. It makes them feel important and powerful. Try to remain calm. You might be thinking, “He is doing this to bother me. He is always so difficult!” This leads to more anger which compromises our ability to discipline effectively. Instead try to think of something less provoking and more productive, “This child needs some of my time, he needs me to help him feel important.”
If you can retrain your brain to think positive thoughts you set yourself up to have better interactions with your child.

2. Affirm belief in his goodness:

“I know you can clean up, I remembered how much you helped me yesterday when the family room was such a mess. I know you can clean up now.”

3.Give him the benefit of the doubt:

“Oh Boy, something must really be bothering you and making you upset. You are not ready to put away your crayons, even if it means you are getting a snack. Do you need a minute or two to get it together?”

4.Use it as an opportunity to teach kindness:

“Mikey is having trouble cleaning up. He is pretty upset. Can we all help him?”

5. Recognize he needs attention and to feel valued:

You can whisper in his ear:
“I know you are having a hard time right now. After you finish cleaning up lets talk about when we can make a time to go out together.”

6. Assign positive intent:

“You probably didn’t hear that it is time to clean up. Mikey, It is time to clean up.”

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