It’s not easy when kids are defiant and openly tell you NO. In fact, it’s frustrating and easy to get hooked into a very negative exchange. This is more irritating (and embarrassing) if it occurs in public. There is hope, however, when you develop a clear game plan and execute this over several weeks to change the pattern.
It’s critical to read the first two articles published on this topic before attempting the strategies offered in today’s column. Without the foundation offered earlier, you won’t have much success.
The key is in building the fundamentals first, and the short summary of those are as follows:
1.) Never try to teach during ‘crunch time.’ Teach in the daily moments.
2.) Give up controlling language. It makes us look foolish and doesn’t work!
3.) Learn to ask or inform…not command. The magic words: “It’s time to…”
4.) Ignore the verbal defiance in the moment. Walk away from the “NO.”
5.) Keep life moving…with or without them
If I were to summarize these points for an action plan, it’s quite simple: Plan and never expect to fix it in an urgent, public moment. Abandon all-controlling words, and never resist the verbal ‘no.’ Instead, keep things going as if there were no utterances of the ‘no.’ In other words, the ‘no’ gets zero energy and life moves on. If you have done this so far, you will likely find that much of the defiance fades away. But not all. (Read these articles to get up to speed here: Part 1 and Part 2). So now, we take the next step:
6. “Mom and Dad’s New Rule: Your world stops until you say YES.
If you son or daughter has the habit of saying NO, then explain this new rule. Call it “Your world stops…until you say YES.” It’s quite simple.
Explain that whenever the kids say “no” to your request, you will be saying “no” to any request that they make UNTIL they say “yes” to what you have asked for. You continue to keep things moving, as outlined above, you simply offer no response to anything they ask for or need.
This works like magic. Why? Because your kids are always presuming you will keep doing for them, giving them rides, providing phone access or letting them play with their goodies. Don’t allow this, until they say YES to the request. This truly works like magic when you realize that you are always doing for your kids. They are always wanting something or asking for something, whether it’s a ride, computer access, playing a game on the way to school, picking them up at a movie or having friends over—they are always asking. In other words, their ‘world’ stops until they say YES!
Just hold out, until they ask or want something, and then remind them by gently saying “Sorry sweetheart, not until you do what I asked.”
Now you patiently wait for the yes. It may be 5 minutes or 15 minutes or 5 hours later, but you will find that they always come around. And when they do…
7. Return to Normal Once Your Child Says ‘Yes.’
Once your child is back on track, then not only do you want to return to normal, but please remain quiet. No lectures or words of wisdom. Just resume normal activities, and be thankful for any cooperation.
The key here is that we don’t want to try to force it. Instead, we allow for learning to occur. When you use this model your children naturally and easily surrender to their resistant NO! Defiance is abandoned because it no longer serves them. This is the secret to change that is enduring and easeful over time.