Skip to main content

5 easy strategies to outwit a child who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer

Parenting can be described by many as one of the most rewarding  and most difficult jobs you can ever accept. There is no paid time off, no vacation or personal days to use, and no shifts to pass off to someone else if you get tired or sick. Raising a child is a perpetual job, with give and take from both parties, but what if your child is exceptionally defiant or controlling? Does the word “no” seem to set him off at the drop of a hat? Do you find yourself in the heat of battle, waging war with your kid who seems to know all the right ways to do, act, or behave? We have some recommendations and suggestions on ways to circumvent the fights and get right to the heart of settling the household without further arguments or hurt feelings.

Hand over the reins

While the idea of turning over decision-making to your child may seem shocking, there’s no need to panic, we assure you. We aren’t suggesting parents give up all control over their day to their children to make every decision, but instead giving choices versus telling your child how things are going to take place. If you were to follow this advice, your situation may look something like this example:

Your child wants to go to the park; however, the playroom is messy and there are a lot of toys and books on the ground. You tell her there will no trips to the park due to the mess. That’s all it takes to get things rolling in a bad direction. You’re now facing an all-out war between yourself and your child, achieving no success in getting the room picked up nor taking her to play at the park. How do you resolve the disagreement, without engaging in a power struggle with your child?

By giving your child a choice and free will to choose, you hand control over the situation back to your child and force her to think for herself. Consider asking your child: “If you want to go to the park, the playroom needs to be cleaned up. Would you like to pick up the toys or the books first?” Or, “Would you like me to help you, or do you think you can do this on your own?” Giving your child a sense of control over the situation is often enough to diffuse the situation and place the focus back on the task at hand.

Say “yes” instead of “no”

Finding the “yes” in a situation with your child can be difficult for parents, especially if the child is requesting something a parent just cannot give for one reason or another. A key maneuver in the battle of wills can be achieved when parents find a way to give their child a “yes” without changing their stance on a subject. Finding ways to be more agreeable with your children can become a highly effective way for parents to work with their children instead of against them. Sometimes as parents, we get in the habit of saying no to everything, especially when children are unrelenting or exasperating. Finding the “yes” in the question will help parents feel less harsh, and kids feel more in control.

Employ indifference and strategic ignoring

Sometimes as parents, being indifferent or un-fazed by our child’s behavior is one of the most effective ways we can bring an argument to a halt. If your child chooses to continue engaging in an activity or behavior and refuses to acknowledge the “no” you have clearly outlined, ignoring their protests is a corrective method parents can use should the situation escalate further. By not reacting to their child’s disobedience or defiance, parents are letting him know that they can clearly see the continued behavior and are un-fazed by his lack of concern over following directions. Going on about life even after your child ignores your “no” keeps the power with the parents without a continued struggle.

Other ways parents can outsmart their defiant child(ren):

  • Listen and understand why they won’t comply – Sit down and open up with your kids. By understanding why your child is refusing to follow directions or do what needs to be done, parents can problem solve in the moment and keep the day moving.
  • Ask for their help – Kids are great helpers and are usually eager to please their parents while showing off their skills as well. By employing the help of your kids, you’re building a bond and trust which can help deter them from ignoring your requests later.

Parents no longer need to feel like they are painted into a corner of resistance when it comes to their children. By finding new ways to parent willful or defiant children, parents can keep the line of communication open with their kids, while creating a more connected style of parenting free of giving into wild demands or experiencing the possibility of a hostile takeover within the home. Finding ways to avoid unwanted or unnecessary battles within the home are often the best ways to prevent arguments or struggling for power between parents and kids.

Editors' Recommendations