Home Parenting Tips My Child is Disobedient. What Can I do?

My Child is Disobedient. What Can I do?

by Ivy B

Frustrated that your child doesn’t listen?  Check out these 4 simple parenting tips on how to deal with a disobedient child.

It’s every parents’ dream … children that just obey!  Unfortunately, kids don’t always do as they are told.  Our dreams as parents are squashed pretty early in the parenting game.

Your sweet kids learn to test you early, don’t they?

As toddlers, they’re learning the basics of the world.  And, they’re just beginning to explore their independence.  The older they get, the more they believe they are their own authority.  While it’s okay to give them some space to learn personal responsibility, it’s important to maintain control, especially when your child is disobedient.

But, I have good news for you.  You can get your children to listen and obey without begging, bribes, abundant threats, or raising your voice.

Isn’t that good news?!

By the way, you may forget and raise your voice from time to time.  Give yourself grace.  Parenting is exhausting and sometimes these things happen.

Child who doesn't listen. 5 tips on how to deal with a disobedient child.
This post contains affiliate links which may earn me commissions should you click through them and take certain actions. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. See full disclosure here.

How to Deal With a Disobedient Child

Take a moment to assess whether your child is actually being disobedient or if they’re so involved in an activity that they truly didn’t hear your request.

Although it’s still quite annoying to have to repeat yourself, it can change how we deal with the situation when we know and understand that our children aren’t being willfully disobedient.

When you know you’re dealing with a child who is choosing to disobey, there are my tips for dealing with it.

1. Be Versatile

Remember that every child is different.  Two children from the exact same set of parents are two completely different beasts (unless you got lucky … and I don’t really want to hear about it).  For that reason, it’s important to be versatile when it comes to getting them to obey.

An added challenge is when you have naturally strong-willed kids.  These children will be more apt to test more frequently.  And it will take a bit more work imposing consequences more often before they begin to follow the rules.

If you find that a particular consequence doesn’t seem to get your child’s attention, try a new approach.  Keep adjusting until you find something that works best.

Remember, too, that not every consequence or act of obedience is equal.  Choose an appropriate consequence for each particular act of disobedience.

2. Choose Your Battles

You may find that it’s not as effective to reinforce rules that don’t hold much weight in the grand scheme of things.  For example, it may not be important your older children make their bed first thing in the morning.  Can they make the bed after they’re ready for school?  Or, maybe it’s not important for them to make it at all.

However, reinforcing rules that affect health and safety is much more important.  You will want to reprimand the child who chose not to wear a helmet while riding his bike.  And the child who crossed the street alone is definitely getting a consequence.

When attempting to get your children to follow the rules, regardless of their ages, issue an appropriate time limit. Simply giving them a list of things to do, without a timeframe attached, can feel as though what you’re asking them to do may never get done.

Child not listening www.sahmplus.com

3. Be an Active Listener

It’s always important to listen to your children.  If you’re having trouble getting your children to do what they’ve been asked to do, take a moment to sit and talk. 

Ask what the problem is. 

For younger children, try to ask more direct questions … open-ended questions with a 5-year-old never goes anywhere.

Generally, even my elementary and middle schooler both shrug when you ask them an open-ended question. If you experience this, you know how annoying and unproductive this is.

Instead, try:

  • Focusing on specifics: “At playtime earlier, you threw the block at your friend. Can you tell me what happened before that?”
  • Offering answer choices: “I saw you weren’t wearing your shoes outside. Did you forget to put them on, or did they feel uncomfortable?”
  • Phrases for clarification: “What were you thinking when you decided to…?” “Can you help me understand why…?”

Avoid accusatory language: Instead of “Why did you do that?” try “What happened?” Use “I” statements: “I felt frustrated when…” can open communication.

Don’t forget to try to put things into perspective, for yourself and your child.  

When your child is disobedient, asking a few questions and listening to their answers may reveal a lot at the moment.  Of course, that’s assuming they haven’t reached a meltdown.

When you get down to the bottom of the issue, it will make it easier for both of you to begin understanding the steps needed to rectify the problem.

4. Say What You Mean

When you tell your child to do something, mean it. Following through is everything. Children who don’t obey only learn by being presented with a set of age-appropriate expectations and consequences. No consequences simply mean that they can continue to ignore your requests without any major changes in their routine.

In addition, make sure your child is paying full attention to what you’re saying. Look him or her in the eye to show you mean business. Many parents make the mistake of yelling commands from another room. Typically, when this happens the request is taken much less seriously. If your child isn’t in the same room with you, ask him to come to you or take an extra minute and go to your child.

Probably the most important thing to remember is to stand your ground. Never give in, no matter how tense the situation. If you give in once, your kids will remember that the next time they don’t want to obey. They’ll drag things out until you decide to give in again.

5. Start a Consequence and Reward Jar System

Starting a consequence and reward jar system was a big player in how I stopped yelling and created a more peaceful parenting routine.

Don’t forget laughter is the best medicine and can cure many moods.  When all else fails, don’t forget about parenting teamwork … request some assistance from your partner.  If need be, take a break and practice some self-care.

6. Is Disobedience Consistent or Occasional?

I’ve realized over the years just how important it is to stay in touch with reality in determining the extent of disobedience.

For instance, my daughter could be quite disobedient when she was younger, but she went through phases.

My son, on the other hand, was regularly acting out and causing quite the disruption in our family life which only increased in severity as he got older.

Turns out, my son needed help beyond what we, as parents, were generally capable of understanding or correcting as he had mild ADHD amongst a few other things.

Recognizing patterns and accessing the severity of the disobedience and poor behavior can go a long way toward not just learning how to cope, but deciding whether or not your family needs professional help.

7. Assess Your Parenting Style

Whether you’re authoritarian, uninvolved, or otherwise, your parenting style can attribute to your child’s behavior. And sometimes it’s sneaky!

What I’ve learned through my son’s ADHD diagnosis, is that our authoritarian parenting style doesn’t work with his brain, in spite of the intentions we had to be “good parents”.

Assessing his needs and seeing how our parenting style was hurting more than helping, we began to change our tune to be more accommodating of our Neurodivergent child.

By working towards a more authoritative and balanced parenting approach, we’ve been able to focus on more of our child’s positives and have more reasonable expectations.

These are just a few simple things that you can do to get your child to obey you the first time, without the need to threaten or beg. It may take a bit of time to achieve satisfactory results. But, with patience and due diligence, chances are you’ll soon see major improvements in your child’s behavior.

Spread the love
Was this article helpful?
1 comment

You may also like

1 comment

Jasmine Hewitt May 16, 2017 - 10:19 pm

I think you bring up some good points here! My toddler is pretty strong-willed, so as he gets older, our styles will change..


Leave a Comment

Understand & Overcome Working Mom Guilt Funny Stay at Home Mom Memes