Got a Demanding Child? This Mom Figured Out What to Do

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It’s easy to get overwhelmed by kids’ whining or disrespectful demands…especially if you have a gentle, sensitive personality type. You give in and then feel like a pushover. Or maybe your default is to get exasperated and become overwhelmed. Either way, there’s plenty of help and hope for this common problem. 

One mom’s story of her demanding children

During a coaching session, Karlie shared her story of amazing changes.

Gramma had asked Karlie’s boys, “Why do you scream at your mom like that?”
The kids responded, “Because then she gives us what we want!” (Ugh. Gut punch.) 

The bold honesty of Karlie’s 6year-old twins was a wake up call. It wasn’t long before the boys put this effective technique on full display. They were driving in the car with Karlie, listening to a favorite audiobook, when an incoming phone call from dad hijacked the bluetooth. In short order the boys started screaming, “Put our book back on!!!!”  Keith wrapped up the conversation quickly and said to Karlie, “I’ll let you go so the boys can hear their story again.” 

Karlie thought, “No way! Not after all that screaming.” She looked at her boys in the rear view mirror and said confidently, “That screaming was not ok, and you will get your story back when you have waited quietly for five minutes and then asked respectfully.” 

When she shared this story with me during a coaching session, she was grinning with confidence. She was also excited to share her boys’ response: “….they did it! They got completely quiet.” 

I laughed, and said, “That’s exactly what I suggest doing for whining in the appendix of our Discipline That Connects book!” 

3 steps to peaceful waiting and respectful asking

The following is adapted from our Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart book:

Kids need the skills of peaceful waiting and respectful asking in life! Put your energy toward teaching those skills (instead of getting angry at your demanding child) and it will strengthen your determination and confidence. Here are a few simple steps: 

  1. Build wisdom. Have a conversation when all is calm to help children understand that the Bible gives us good commands for really good reasons. 

“Let your conversation be always full of grace…” Colossians 4:6a 

  1. Practice the plan. Let them know that if they whine or make disrespectful demands, you will respond in a kind and firm way, “You can wait patiently (for x minutes) and try again more respectfully.” Teach kids how to set the timer and then practice so they know exactly what to expect. Celebrate how grown up they feel when they use respectful words. 
  1. Follow through. When the misbehavior happens, remember your long-term goal to teach skills. Remind kids with a little grin, “Hey, would I be a wise parent if I gave you what you want right now? Of course not!” Stay kind but firm while being calm and confident! Then, if kids wait and ask again respectfully, celebrate it as a defining moment for all of you. 
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What does peaceful waiting and respectful asking look like in real life?

Several months later, Karlie reported: 

“We have taught the boys how to use the timer on the microwave. When they start to use a whiny voice or speak disrespectfully, I tell them to go set the timer and practice some peaceful waiting for two minutes and try again. 

Before this shift, they may have screamed at me if I didn’t give them what they wanted, but now they almost always just go put the timer on and wait their two minutes and then come back and ask respectfully. Then we talk with them about how they could have said things in a better way. It has really helped teach respectful ways to speak to us and each other. 

Instead of lots of screaming and frustration like we had before, the boys now generally ask for things nicely or will correct themselves very quickly without much prompting. The ‘peaceful waiting’ period has been wonderful for me also, because it gives me a little time to calm my frustration so we can all talk respectfully to each other.” 

Feel like a push-over to a demanding child or demanding kids? Or do you sometimes yell back because you are overwhelmed? You may be having an “ah-ha” moment…that you have inadvertently helped train your kids to whine, yell, or demand.

Don’t be discouraged! This insight is a good step.

It means you can now work to retrain them! And as you do, you can focus on the skills you want to teach them to replace the whining or screaming. Ask God to empower you through the Holy Spirit with the confidence you need to help your children learn the blessing of gracious speech

John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…”


Download our FREE in-depth ebook Helping Kids With Anger. It will provide thoughtful insights and creative ideas to help your struggling child.