son-father-not-listeningby Cynthia Klein

To win cooperation from strong-willed children, focus on not being adversarial, pleading, or fearful of resistance.  These types of responses feel disrespectful or weak which diminish your authority and often open the door to power struggles. Avoid these common responses.

  • Answering your kid’s “why?” when they already know the answer. You’ll end up defending yourself and trying to convince them to change their resistance.  You don’t need their agreement in order to comply.
  • Asking with “Will you please”, when it isn’t a choice.
  • Adding on “Okay” at the end of your directions to try and get their approval.
  • Giving a “consequence” that feels like a punishment to “teach your kids a lesson.”
  • Counting 1… 2  … 3 … as a means to scare your children into doing what you want them to do. Most parents don’t know what they will do if they get past 3!
  • Shaming your children with statements such as, “How many times do I have to tell you?”, “Why did you do that?”, “You should have known better”, “You’re a bad boy or girl.”
  • Giving a threat “if you don’t do (what I want) then (something bad) will happen”.
  • Using exaggerations:  “never, always, everybody, nobody, every time, all the time ”
  • Commanding with “You should, you’d better, you ought to, you can’t, you will.”
  • Talking too much and making your directions longer rather than shorter.
  • Stating your request from your needs with “I want you to…” and “I need you to.”

How many of these do you say? Are there other words that trigger your kids’ resistance to following your directions?



Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at www.bridges2understanding.comcynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.

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