What This Situation Is Like for Parents


You know that your children don’t want to do everything you ask.

They may not want to clean up…

They may not want to leave their friend’s house when they’re having a good time…

But when they completely ignore you — when they pretend they didn’t even hear you when you both KNOW they did… well, that’s completely disrespectful.

They cannot just ignore something they don’t want to do. We adults certainly can’t do that… and we need to teach them that they can’t do that either.


What This Situation Is Like for Children


So many times each day, kids are told what they have to do (or what they shouldn’t be doing). Often they get tired of us telling them what to do, where to be, and how to act all day long… and worse, there’s nothing they can do about the fact that they feel controlled! 

If they get frustrated with us, we get mad.

If they’re tired of listening to us all day long, we don’t care.

They often feel so out of control that they just… stop listening. After all, there is nothing else they can do, is there? (And it’s not that they necessarily forget that there will be a consequence… Their instinct in that moment is based on an in-the-moment need for a little bit of control.)



How It Usually Goes

When A Child Outright Ignores You



A mom asks her daughter Jackie to take her plate to the sink. She pretends not to hear her mom, leaves the plate on the table, and goes to play in the other room.


Mom: Jackie! You know you need to clean up before you go play.

Jackie (gives no response).

Mom: Jackie! You get in here right now. You cannot just ignore me.

Jackie (continues playing).

Mom (goes over to Jackie and starts yelling): Jackie! I’m talking to you! Don’t you dare pretend you don’t hear.

Jackie (looks up): I don’t want to take my dish over. I want to do this.

Mom: Well that’s too bad, Jackie. I didn’t want to make dinner either, but if I hadn’t you wouldn’t have had anything to eat!

Jackie: It was gross anyway.

Mom: That’s it! You are not going to your friend’s house tomorrow.

Jackie: Fine. I’m still not cleaning up my plate.


How It Could Go

When A Child Outright Ignores You



A mom asks her daughter Jackie to take her plate to the sink. She pretends not to hear her mom, leaves the plate on the table, and tries to go play in the other room.


Mom: Jackie! You know you need to clean up before you go play.

Jackie (gives no response).


[expand title=”CALM”]

Jackie’s mom notices that Jackie is ignoring her, and she is angry.

She also knows that getting angry will not get Jackie to do what she is supposed to do. [/expand]

Mom: Jackie… you don’t want to put your plate away, do you?

Jackie (still doesn’t respond).

Mom: I know. You want to play.

[expand title=”CONNECT”]

Jackie knows that in order to motivate better behavior, she has to let Jackie know that she “gets” her. She also realizes that Jackie truly does prefer to play than clean up, and she wants to demonstrate to her daughter that she respects her (even if she wants her behavior to change). [/expand]


Jackie: Yes. (She starts to walk away.)

Mom: Playing is more fun, and I know you want to get back to it. And it’s time to clean now. Do you want to bring your plate over first or your fork and spoon?


[expand title=”CORRECT STEP 1″]

Because Jackie’s mom realized that Jackie might feel a little out of control in this situation, she offered a choice to offer her a small sense of control. [/expand]

Jackie: Neither.

Mom (calmly but firmly): Sorry, lady, I can’t let you go until your space is cleaned. We’ll both stay here until that happens. Then you can  go play.

Jackie: No!

Mom (doesn’t say a word. She also sits next to Jackie and doesn’t let her leave.)

Jackie (sits, without moving, for 2 or 3 minutes. Eventually she begins to clean.)


[expand title=”CORRECT STEP 2″]

Jackie’s mom recognizes that Jackie will NOT do listen to her if she doesn’t set a firm boundary and let her release her Yuck.

Therefore, Jackie’s mom reminds her of the boundary and sits with her in her frustration so that she can release her Yuck and do what she has been asked to do.   [/expand]



How to Make the In-the-Moment Strategy Work


The “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If you want to effectively handle the situation when your child ignores you, remember:


[expand title=”Depositing into CALM”]

Jackie’s mom will not be able to stay calm if

a.) her own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low or

b.) she has the expectation that Jackie will prefer to clean (or make her mom happy) over playing.

When she makes sure her own needs are met and sets realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, Jackie’s mom  is more likely to be able to stay calm.

See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for help meeting your needs and setting expectations proactively so you can stay calm. [/expand]


[expand title=”Depositing into CONNECT”]

Jackie’s mom will only be able to connect if

a.) she respects that all behavior has a reason and

b.) she understands those reasons (in this case, Jackie is motivated by a more-stimulating opportunity)

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn the reasons for children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively. [/expand]


[expand title=”Depositing into CORRECT”]

Jackie’s mom will only be able to correct behavior by offering a tool if:

a.) She has demonstrated consistently in the past that when she tells her daughter she needs to clean up after herself, she means it.

b.) She has made enough deposits into the relationship that setting a firm boundary does not put her immediately into Yuck and defiant behavior.

When she demonstrates that she means what she says and when she makes deposits into Jackie’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, she will be able to correct more effectively.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior. [/expand]