How to Manage Children and Disobedience

So far we have looked at why children disobey and how to get children to listen.

In this part we will focus on how to manage disobedience.

To begin with, you need to always have a logical consequence to back up any instruction that you give.  This simply means that for every instruction you give, you will need to have a consequence that you can go to should your child not do as you have asked, and that consequence needs to be realistic and doable.

So telling your child that Christmas is cancelled or that they are grounded for life is neither logical, doable nor realistic.

Choose a consequence that fits the situation e.g. turn off the TV or remove the activity or toy that is occupying their attention at the time for 5 – 10 minutes.

Once you have told your child what you would like them to do, if he or she doesn’t do as you ask within 5 seconds, you just remain close to them, wait for the 5 seconds to be over (giving them a chance to do as asked) if after this they are still not doing as asked, then you follow this up with your chosen logical consequence.

Do explain to them why you’re doing, e.g. “Lilly, you have not done as I asked so I’m taking the iPad away for 10 mins.”  Don’t get dragged into any debates, discussion and ignore any protest as it doesn’t help whatsoever and can indeed aggravate the situation.  Just go ahead with the consequence.

Once the time is up, return the activity.

This gives your child a chance to practice behaving well.  If your child continues to be disobedient or the behaviour occurs again within the next hour, then you will need to repeat the logical consequence but this time for a much longer period – even for the rest of the day.

Another consequence to go to should your child not do as instructed again and within that same hour, is to take him or her to quiet time or time out.

Quiet Time or Time-Out if the behaviour persists or if your child does not begin to do something that you instructed e.g. start getting ready for bed, then quiet time or time-out maybe more appropriate.

Quiet Time is when you remove your child from the activity that they are engaged in and having them quietly away from the activity and others. Explain to your child that they need to be quiet for 2 minutes before they can return to the activity.  Remember not to get dragged into any debate or discussion and to ignore any protests.

Of course this is much easier said than done, especially if you’re trying the Quiet Time consequence for the very first time!  Be ready to repeat this over and over again.  It really is worth it in the end.

What if my child doesn’t sit quietly during those two minutes and all they do is protest and try and get away?”, I hear you ask. Well, if this happens, then do not hesitate to use the next step/level which is Time-Out.

Time-out involves taking your child away from the situation and to another room or place (as opposed to Quite Time which could be in the same room) that is really terribly boring and uninteresting (so avoid their bedrooms if possible) and having them sit quietly for 2 minutes or 5 minutes maximum for the over 5 years.

If they continue not to sit quietly then they need to remain there until they can do so. Again, be patient if you’re doing this for the first time or even the fifth time. It does work.  Your child will eventually learn that it’s just better to do as asked from the get go.

If you need to check if you’re doing it right, just give me a call.

When they have managed to sit for the required time, they can then return to where they were or start doing what you had asked e.g. get ready for bed.  In this case do tell you child again, what you would like them to do.

If they do do as requested, then don’t forget to praise them for doing as asked.  “Why should I?” I hear you ask again. Because praise goes a long, long way with children. It has been proven, through Triple P and other research, to be more effective than punishment.

If your child does not do as asked within 5 seconds then repeat Quiet Time and Time-Out. Again, be prepared to do this several times.

Just remember both you and your child need time to adjust to any new changes that you may be introducing.  As I usually say to my clients, it didn’t take you 5 minutes to get to where you are so it won’t take 5 minutes to fix the situation.

Patience and persistence.

Any questions or need for clarification, do get in touch – 07850 85 60 66 or

Leave a Reply