3 Things to Do When Your Child Won't Do What You Ask

conscious parenting defiant behavior parenting

No matter how conscious we are as a parent, there are moments when we want to pull our hair out and throw in the towel. 

Among many parenting challenges (and there are many!), your child’s flat-out refusal of your request can feel like a disrespectful punch in the gut that makes you think it’s personal. 

In the moment of frustration, it’s easy for you to think that your child is being difficult and that you MUST reel this in to maintain their RESPECT for you. Your instinct is to control your child that is “misbehaving” by yelling, punishing, begging, pleading, bribing...until you are out of ideas and feeling helpless.

But the truth is, YOU have to maintain control of yourself so that you can remember that your #1 priority in conscious parenting is your RELATIONSHIP with your child…not obedience, compliance, or even respect.  

The reasons obedience, compliance, or respect of your little one should not be your focus are:

1. Those things aren’t developmentally appropriate.

Your child’s brain is NOT developed enough to be able to do some of the things you ask—they simply do not have the capacity at this stage in their development. 

2. They do not foster a strong relationship/connection.

Trying to make them obey, comply, or respect you out of fear of punishment or wrath can erode trust instead of build it. 

So, if that means “letting it go” of the request for a little while, it's ok to let it go! You can circle back and hold your child accountable when they are capable of doing so. 

If they are in a state of emotional upset and refusing to do the thing you asked, insisting, yelling, punishing, begging, pleading…none of that is going to work. 

So instead, here are the things to remember.


3 Things to Do When Your Child Refuses to Do What You Ask


1. Wait till things calm down a little. 

Remember, if they’re upset, they’re in a fight, flight, freeze mode of the brain—they’re not capable of much else!

2. Restate the request.

It’s important to stay calm, kind, AND firm. (And it’s helpful to state the reason: “please set the table because we need silverware on the table before we can eat dinner.”)

3. If they fuss or refuse, offer empathy AND offer to help.

“I knowwww! Doing chores is so annoying! Here, I will help you. Let’s do it together.”

This way, your child will feel like you are on the same team and you have their back.

The more you BUILD TRUST by keeping your cool, communicating that you have their backs, offering empathy…the easier things will get. 

They will know you are serious when you make a request—not because you’re threatening and scary, not because they fear punishment or your wrath, but actually because they know you have their back, they can trust you, and you’ll be there for them even when they are not at their best.


Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.