Ken has been watching a show for over an hour. It’s time for him to stop watching and to go a dentist appointment. But when his dad asks him to get off of his tablet, Ken ignores him.



  • Ken’s dad knew that if he wanted Ken to listen to him the first time he asked, he had to address Ken’s non-compliance as soon as it happened — not after he’d asked Ken four or five times to stop. 
  • Ken’s dad was annoyed that Ken was not listening. He also realized that if someone had to interrupt him while he was doing something, he might not jump to respond. He knew that if he started yelling at Ken, it wouldn’t motivate him to get to the dentist more quickly. 
  • Instead of insisting that his own agenda was more important than Ken’s, Ken’s dad thought about what was going on in Ken’s world. He know that in order to motivate Ken to listen, he had to give him the tools he needed to be successful (in this case, help transitioning from one task to another).


Dad: Ken, it’s time to go.
Ken ignores his dad.
Dad (walks over to Ken and puts his hand on his arm): Excuse me, Ken.
Ken: One sec…
Dad: Ah, you’re in the middle of this scene. (He watches what’s going on for one moment.) Oh, that guy is REALLY mad at that guy, isn’t he?
Ken: Yup! That big guy stole the other guy’s car…
Dad: Why don’t you tell me about it as we walk to the car? We have to go to the dentist.
Ken: Aw, Dad!
Dad (starts walking to the car): I know…. So who stole whose car? And why?
Ken starts to talk to his dad as he follows him to the car.


…And if Ken STILL doesn’t stop watching 

  • Ken’s dad needs to re-state his boundary
  • Ken will get upset while his dad remains firm. That will allow him to release his Yuck.
  • When he is upset, Ken’s dad does not need to defend his position. He just needs to let him be upset.
  • Once he has released his Yuck, he is more likely to get off of his electronics even if only because they know his dad won’t budge.





This situation would not have gone the same way if Ken’s dad did not:

  • Know how to handle his  own Yuck (so that he didn’t lose his own cool when Ken didn’t immediately listen to him — which would have made the situation worse)
  • Understand what is causing Ken’s — that he won’t listen the first time unless his dad shows him that he means it the first time he asks him to do something AND that he needs help transitioning from one task to another
  • Demonstrate that she means what he says on a regular basis so that Ken knows he has to do what his dad asks
  • Deposit into his relationship with Ken so that he doesn’t use ignoring him as a way to disrespect him or feel more in control