How do I deal with bossy children

Parenting tips for disobedient children

Do you also know situations like this?

The mother is having an important phone call. Her four-year-old son Tom comes out of the nursery and tugs her sleeve because he wants something from her. She puts him off until later, when she's finished, and asks him to play something longer after all. Now Tom drives his fire truck up and down the aisle with loud tatu, so that the mother no longer understands her own word. She gets angry and scolds: "How often do I have to tell you to be quiet when I am on the phone! Why do you bother me every time?

Another example: Little Mia, two years old, is squeaking happily on the floor and building a tower with her large wooden building blocks. When it falls over, it's pretty loud. Mia is thrilled! She now tries to make noise in other ways and discovers that it also cracks great when she throws the blocks with all her strength on the parquet floor. But then her mother rushes over and scolds: "You must not! The floor breaks.“But no sooner has the mother turned away than the next block of wood slams onto the floor.

You can only react correctly if you know why

The two children in the examples are disobedient for different reasons: Tom wants his mother's undivided attention and bothers him until she “has to” turn to him. If his mother had also overheard the fire engine while talking to a friend on the phone, Tom might have done something forbidden just to get her to react.

Little Mia has discovered an exciting new game: throw blocks and make noise. She doesn't understand the mother's explanation yet. If anything, a clear "Mia, no, stop it!“Makes a difference. But Mia is so fascinated by the great game that she immediately forgets her mother's admonition.

There are several reasons why children disobey. In order to make something that works, you should find out why your child is disobeying.

Your child has different needs and interests than you

There is nothing more important for your child than their play and their own needs. If it is z. B. want to swing on the playground, but want to go home, then it will vehemently oppose it with the words "I want to swing!" Especially in toddlerhood, it is difficult for children to put their needs aside. You will achieve little with precise explanations of why you have to go now, or the hint that it could have been rocking all afternoon after all. It is more likely to find a compromise (e.g. you rock it again very tightly, and when the swing has settled down, you can go home with no theater) or to put your child in perspective so that they want to go too (E.g. you still have a letter with you that has to be put in the post box on the corner and your child can take care of that).

Your child did not understand what you wanted from them

In this case, you should repeat your instruction in simple and clear words and explain exactly what you want your child to do. It is best to show your child what you expect from him.

Your child is inattentive or distracted

When your child is lost in the game, you should disturb them as little as possible. Otherwise, the only thing that helps is to go up to it, touch it (e.g. place your hand on your shoulder), look at it and only then give an instruction. This category also includes things that your child keeps forgetting because they are not important to him and his thoughts have long been occupied with his own plans. This includes, for example, forgetting to wash your hands after going to the toilet, where only patient memory helps.

Your child wants to attract attention

This is the hardest case to deal with. Unfortunately, quick panacea does not help here. Your child knows perfectly well that you will come back to him again and again and will give him your full attention if he resists. An example: You ask your child to stop disruptive behavior. It may stop for a moment, but then start again, knowing that you will then focus on it again and admonish it. So with his behavior it forces you to deal with him. On the other hand, if it is good and no longer bothering you, you will turn your attention back to other things.

My tip for disobedience:The "disruptive trick" is preferred by older siblings who no longer get mum's full attention all day after the baby is born. The only thing that helps here is to ignore disruptive behavior as much as possible and always give the child praise or special attention when they are behaving well, i.e., desired.


So that you do not unconsciously support the disobedience of your child, you must not fall into these 7 traps!

1. Unintentionally rewarding a child:

If you give your child more attention to disobedience, over time they will act more than less often. With older children, long debates have a similar effect: the child gets more attention. Your child will still prefer even negative affection through scolding and nagging than no affection at all!

2. Ultimately give in to disobedience:

When children do not want something and increase their yelling, fits of rage or whining, some parents give in annoyed at some point. As they have achieved their will, a child will use this strategy more often. There are similar problems on the part of the parents: If you yell or threaten quickly, your child will soon no longer take you seriously if you give normal instructions.

3. If your child is disobedient, do not get louder, but act:

Go z. B. to your child and give them your hand if they don't “know” where to hang their jacket, or take them to the nursery for a break if they don't calm down.

4. Overlook desired behavior:

Unfortunately, most parents give their child far too little praise if they behave well, but are quick to grumble if they don't follow suit. In this way, children learn that they have to behave “wrongly” in order to be noticed.

5. Giving incorrect instructions:

How well your child follows your instructions depends not least on how you give them. The following problems can occur:

  • Too many instructions, especially too many at once, will lead your child to believe they cannot please you anyway. It may then give up or rebel.
  • Too few instructions leave your child in the dark about what to expect from them. Give clear instructions to repeat if necessary, or even show your child what to do.
  • Instructions too complicated your child cannot understand and therefore cannot obey. If what you want your child to do is overwhelming, they won't do what you ask them to do. So z. B. a three-year-old child does not clean up his nursery alone.
  • Instructions too imprecise do not lead to the desired reaction because your child does not know what you want from them. So instead of saying "Don't smack your lips while eating" better "Please close your mouth while chewing". Do not ask "Do you want to go to bed now?", But simply say"It is now time for you to go to bed“.
  • Instructions at the wrong time, for example while your child is playing intensely, are often ignored or ignored. Address your child specifically, make eye or body contact, and then give your instruction. Unless absolutely necessary, you should not "tear" your child out of his or her job.
  • Instructions that your child cannot classifyfor example because you forbid him to do something, but at the same time speak shyly and pleadingly or smile while doing it. Your child doesn't know whether to believe the words or your body language. Instructions that you shout to your child from the room next door are also often not followed.
6. Use ineffective punishments for disobedience:

Penalties are generally unfavorable. In the case of problem behavior, logical consequences are recommended instead, if necessary a short break. Logical consequences are consequences that arise naturally from your child's behavior. Example: You call your child to dinner, but they don't come. You go over to him again (to be sure he really heard you!) And ask him to come and eat. If it still doesn't come, when the whole family has eaten, their plate will also be cleared away. So your child will stay hungry until the next meal. This is how it learns: If I don't get to eat when everyone is eating, I won't get anything and then I'll be hungry.

Punishments are useless or even dangerous.

  • The threatened penalty is not carried out: Children learn very quickly to ignore threats if they are not followed up. Even unrealistic threats like "You must never ...“Are pointless because parents can't keep it!
  • Inconsistent Punishment: If one and the same undesirable behavior is ignored once but punished the other time, your child cannot assess what is actually expected of him. The same thing can happen when parents disagree.
  • Penalty as a last resort: If you endure undesirable behavior at first, but at some point your patience breaks, the punishment is often too harsh. Therefore, you should react to misconduct immediately, but moderately.
  • Punishment in anger: If you are very angry yourself, you run the risk of losing control and hurting your child.
  • Punishment without learning opportunity: The child learns nothing from a punishment unrelated to the wrongdoing. Damages or reparations are better
  • Present an unfavorable role model: Children learn a lot from their parents' behavior. If you yourself z. For example, if you get loud quickly, your child will conclude that yelling is okay. Or: Those who are punished continue to punish others - sometimes even with greater severity.
7. Express hurtful criticism:
In order not to humiliate your child, you should not criticize them as a person if they did not obey or did something wrong ("You acted so stupid again!“), But only his behavior. Otherwise, you would be very "damaging" to your child's self-esteem. The feeling that it can't do anything anyway and that it is doing everything wrong not infrequently leads to the fact that your child withdraws and gets into a downright denial attitude. And with that it won't obey any better!

More motivation with the "reward snail"

Perhaps there are a thing or two that are particularly difficult for your child. There could be a reward systemadditional incentivescreate,to obey on your own initiative want. Are there e.g. If, for example, there is a monkey show every evening and it takes forever until your child is finally in bed, your child could receive a reward point for every evening that he or she is in bed within a specified time (best set the time on the egg alarm clock). If you have more than one child, it is fair to introduce reward points for each child. But every child should be rewarded individually for good behavior in situations that are currently particularly difficult for them! Because what is completely natural for one child can be the next learning step for the other child.

Agree with your child what the reward points are “worth”. For example, if they have received four points, they can choose a smaller reward (e.g. an additional bedtime story, half an hour of extra play time with mom or dad). For eight points achieved, there is a greater reward, such as a visit to the ice cream parlor or the swimming pool or possibly a long-awaited toy (which should not necessarily be expensive!). If your child has received a reward point, they can either color in a point in the snail shell with colored pencil or stick a sticker on.