MY Child Refuses to Obey

“In one fairly typical encounter, a father asked his eight-year-old son five times to please go take a bath or a shower. After the fifth plea went unheeded, the father picked the boy up and carried him into the bathroom. A few minutes later, the kid, still unwashed, wandered into another room to play a video game.”</br

This situation may be extreme, but most parents I know have some version of this complaint. It’s a good question: Why don’t kids just do what we say the first time we say it?!

The following may be a few reasons to consider before your child refuses to obey at all:

  1. You are giving them too many chances– Mean what you say and say what you mean. EXPECT obedience the first time. It is best to give a command and then give a consequence if the child refuses to obey what you say. It won’t take long before they know that you say something, they have no other choice but to obey.
  2. They have learned not to pay attention until we yell and threaten– Children are smarter than we think they are. Every child learns very fast that they can buy extra time before bath if she just manages to ignore the commands for a while. This goes to say that if your child is like the eight-year-old who ignored five requests, it means she has somehow picked up the knowledge that you as her parent aren’t serious until you yell.
  3. They need our help to make the transition–When we are engrossed in our computer screen, does it not seem difficult to attend to the demands of the child? It is the experience that the child has when we try to move them from an activity in which they are engrossed. Try listening to what the child has to say even if you are in the middle of something. This, in turn, will teach your child that they are expected to listen when they are spoken to.
  4. They feel disconnected from us – As working parents, both the parents leave in the morning and return at night and even after returning from work, we often have a tendency of sitting down with our pending official work. This causes the child to feel disconnected and leads to feelings of confusion. Keep a solid time slot for your child, where you are not in the presence of various modern gadgets. When a child feels important, the child listens
  5. Take the opinion of the child – When your child refuses to obey you, take your child’s opinion into consideration. Ask him what the problem is and what he would like to do instead of what you are asking him to do. They may be children, but their opinions are also important.
  6. The given instructions may sound confusing, conflicting, or hypocritical to the child – When we teach our children not to lie that is then an instruction that we need to follow as well. For example, we wish to go out for a long vacation because of which the child will have to miss school for a few days, we often teach the child to lie by saying that the child was sick and hence could not attend school. This is bound to sound confusing and hypocritical to the child. Our word is trusted only if we really do what we say.

These are just a few common reasons to why the child refuses to obey. However, just like no finger on our hands is of the same size, similarly no child is the same and hence their individual reasons for not obeying us may vary greatly. It is often necessary to seek a psychological consultation. Not because there is something wrong with the child or because the child is mad. But simply because there me some emotional difficulties that the child is facing that need to be sorted out before it becomes serious.

You may also reach out to us through our website Tribeca Care

If you have a question, we will be glad to help you find the answer.

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 The blog has been written by a Counselling Psychologist of the team – Ms. Bidita Chatterjee