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3 Things to Do When Your Child Doesn’t Listen

Children don’t not always listen. Profound, right? We all have had those wonderful moments that make adults lives easier. You ask them to pick up their toys, and they stop and say “Sure!” Smile on their face, the world feels in order. Then, another moment passes, and a new request has come. Confidently, you ask your child, “Take your plate to the kitchen please.” Without hesitation, their eyes look you deep into the depths of your soul, and they say, “no.”

What am I suppose to do now? I was not prepared for my child to tell me no. This child is not allowed to tell me no, I am the parent! Your eyes widen as you prepare all the miserable things that must occur in order to ensure this child learns to listen to authority. You repeat yourself, their will as strong as an army of 1000 men. You explain, you threaten, but they don’t back down. You punish. They cry, with their hands firmly continuing to reject your demand. You are at a stand still. My threats and punishments mean nothing in this moment. So what now?

I speak with a lot of parents who find themselves in this predicament. A power struggle between them and their three year old. This often happens when the expectations are not firmly rooted in what they should have expected to occur based on that their child has done previously. “How dare you?” becomes the driving force of our rage. It’s important to note, when I say “expectation,” this is not to be confused with standard.

Standard: How I believe you should be

Expectation: what I should expect you to do based on the patterns of your previous behavior.

“So Dr. Daisy, what do I do?”

Well, below is a little reminder on what to do when your child may be non complaint to a demand you place on them. I recommend you screenshot this or download it and place it as your home screen. This will help as a friendly reminder to best prepare you to react in ways that helps increase the compliance you so desire.

In a world of a pandemic, we have heard the phrase PPE quite often. This is the gear or equipments, used by people working with those infected, that protects them from the virus. As parents, your children will attempt to influence you with their behaviors to get what they want, so it’s time to GEAR UP with your PPE.


To best prepare, one must know what’s necessary in order to be most effective. One of the best ways to prepare for what’s to come is to look in the past at the reactions your child has had to similar situations. When you ask them to do something, have they:

  • Run

  • Yelled

  • Refused

  • Whined

  • Hit you

  • Hit someone else

  • Thrown something

The list goes on and on. Because they have done this in the past, it is best to assume they will do it again. If they did, how could you best react to ensure that that behaviors is not reinforced? For example, if your child

Runs - I’d prepare by requesting my demand in a place where if they chose to run, I would have the upper hand and minimize the exits.

Yelled - I’d have my catch phrase ready, “oh, too loud. Try again”

Refused - Followed through, assisting them in the task to ensure they do not get out of completing the task.

Hits you - keep your guard up, keep them low (not face to face, or..well you know what may happen)

Expecting any of these behavior to best plan does not mean you are viewing the behavior as acceptable, you are allowing yourself to react in a way that will most effectively send the following message to your child,

“That’s not acceptable and does not serve in your best interest.”


I call this, Toes to Toes. It’s a term I coined long ago to remind parents to only ask for something when they are close enough to be toes to toes with their child. This prevents the potential of them not hearing you, but most importantly gives you the most control of the environment. If they run, you are right there to stop them. What you don’t want is to be chasing your three year old around the house trying to get them to listen. You make sure of the following:

  • They are in front of you, toes to toes

  • You have “somewhat of their attention”

  • State your demand clearly and as a demand, not a question (which confuses them to think they have a choice)


Follow through. Be mindful not to ask your child to do something you can’t or shouldn’t force them to do. If you asked them to clean their room, you sit there (prepared and positioned) and you follow through. You said they have to change in the PJs? You said the they have to put the IPAD on the charger? You said they have to put their shoes on?

To the best of your ability, you want to keep a short distance between what you said and when it happens, with minimal detours. Don’t get distracted by them yelling, their unkind words, or even them hitting. Block and continue to follow through with what you’ve asked of them. Why? Because all the behaviors in between are a way to distract and delay!

I encourage you to attempt to gain compliance through the idea that it benefits them, more than earning compliance through fear. Not easy, not fun, but this is a parenting I suppose.

Screen shot and save as your home screen!


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