Sometimes, parents and other caregivers tell me that every time they tell their child ‘no,’ the child has a tantrum or meltdown. The adult says ‘no’ and the child screams or hits.

            Child:  Mommy, can I have a popsicle?

            Adult:  No. It’s almost dinner time. Maybe after dinner.

If your child melts down when told ‘no’, there is a good chance the child is only hearing part of what you say. Children often stop listening when the first word is ‘no.’

Giving choices can be a simple way to gain compliance.  Aren’t there many times when what you want is cooperation, rather than a very specific result? You might want the child to put on their shoes so you can leave the house. You might want an older child to do their homework.  So for the adult, it can be helpful to stop and think about your goal before you give a direction.  Choices look like this:

            Do you want to wear your red shoes or your cowboy boots today?

            Do you want to do your math problems first or your spelling words?

Have you ever tried to explain something to your child, only to walk away in frustration? Perhaps you’ve said to your partner or to your own parents, “No matter how many times I tell them, they just don’t seem to get it.” It happens for daily tasks and for common ideas. As adults, we find ourselves telling our children over and over:

     How many times do I need to tell you to brush your teeth?

     Don’t get so angry. It isn’t worth it.

      Money doesn’t grow on trees. Make a better choice with your allowance.

What can you do when your child won’t listen? You’ve tried everything. You explain. You repeat, sometimes over and over. You demonstrate. You help. You give choices. Maybe you even negotiate, with promises of something the child desires, if only what you’re asking the child to do is completed soon.

Some of the ideas you are trying may work some of the time. And some of them are good ideas, such as offering choices. Do you want to brush your teeth with the red toothbrush or the green one today?

Some children have nearly as much difficulty returning to school after a break as they do starting school in the fall. They don’t want to go to bed, or get up, or do their homework. They may be extra tired, or grumpy, or distracted. You may be disappointed that the transition is not going better. [Click on the title to read the entire post.]


Blog Disclaimer:  Please be aware that this blog contains general information. It is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as treatment or a recommendation or prescription for a particular child. If you have questions about your child, please talk to your pediatrician or seek other professional services.

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