My child just won't listen to me!

Mar 23, 2022
Child not listening

Way back in 1999 when I first got help for parenting with Nico, my unruly toddler, the coach asked:  

“Does he know who’s in charge?”

My husband and I laughed

“Er, no, he runs rings around us”.

When I said it was time to switch off the TV, he used to shout things like:

“No, you can’t turn it off because I’m the boss”

It made us cringe to hear it.

Then we’d often find ourselves thinking “this has got to stop”, and we’d come down really hard on him for something that wasn’t such a big deal.

Does this sound familiar to you at all?  

Want to know why this isn’t a good idea to let kids boss us around?

Children get their security from boundaries and predictability.

They need us to steer the ship.

So how can we do that without raising our voice or issuing threats? 

Like us back then, maybe you are afraid of being too authoritarian, so you swing the pendulum to being too lenient?  

Over the years I’ve been building my knowledge and practicing compassionate parenting, (with Nico and my other 3 kids) I’ve seen how hard it can be to get the balance but it IS possible.

I’ve felt that lassoo going round my legs when children say “It’s not fair, everybody else gets to stay up later than me!”

Or “Please, please mummy, please can I watch just one more episode, just one more”

So you say yes, and then you have that sneaking feeling that it won’t be just one more and you’ve just been hoodwinked!

What we learnt back then was so helpful to keep my husband and I on the same page and helped Nico to know where he stood.

Our walls were covered with scrappy ‘check lists’ of the rules, adorned with my dreadfully un-artistic stick drawings, making it really clear what he had to do.

Simply getting clarity like that wasn’t the only thing we did to help us stop nagging and put us in charge but it was a big piece of the puzzle.

Nothing is ever going to be perfect but I’ve made a list of my 10 top tips for feeling more in charge and helping your child respect you more: 

  1. Start with one or two of your ‘hot spot’ areas and decide on exactly what you want to happen. So for example – do you want the TV or Ipad to go off at 7pm? Do you want your child to help tidy up his toys without a fuss and not run off as soon as it is time to clear up? Would you like your child to get dressed independently? Ask yourself what would make home life calmer if you didn’t have a battle over these things.

  2. Take one or two of these ‘hot spot’ areas and make a check list (written, drawings or photos are good depending on your child’s age).
    Write down steps you want your kids to take during the hot spots – break it down into small steps, so instead of ‘Get dressed’ make a list of each step. Breaking down each step, this might be:
  • Take off your pyjamas
  • Pyjamas under your pillow
  • Put your pants on
  • Put your top on

          You can then use this as a chance to praise your child for each small step

  1. Train yourself to notice the positives (not just about the hot spot areas but about everything) and praise them in detail – what is your child doing that you are perhaps taking for granted? Does he eat broccoli without a fuss? Does she share toys quite readily?

  2. If your child refuses to do something, don’t get into a battle. Stop, zip your lip and wait. It won’t be long before they want something from you at which point you reply ‘Yes, as soon as you have done X, Y, Z, then you can have what you want’

  3. Children often react badly to transitions, so whereas we are so often thinking ahead to the next thing that needs to be done, they live in the moment so give plenty of warning to them for the next thing they need to do. ‘You are having such a lovely time with your drawing.  In five minutes’ time I’m going to ask you to put it away and come for your bath’

  4. Ask more questions than give orders ‘What do we do after the bath?’, ‘How do we need to be sitting at the table?’

  5. Give yourself times to re-charge. Think of a phone NEED time to care for yourself in order to be a good parent.

  6. At the end of each day, write down 5 things you did that day that were examples of effective parenting – this will feel hard at first but it will get easier the more you do it. Small example ‘I got breakfast prepared ahead of time and my child sat still for 5 minutes’

  7. Don’t compare yourself to other parents who you think do a better job than you, it will only make you feel worse!

  8. Don’t compare your kids to other ‘perfect kids’. This will make you miss all the good things yours are actually doing and make you feel more resentful of them.

I share so many other useful tricks and tips in my mini video course: How to get your kids to listen (without ever needing to nag or shout). Click here to learn more


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