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When “NO” stops working. 5 tricks from a pediatrician to get your kids to listen the first

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

Have you ever said, “NO” to your child repeatedly and he refuses to listen? 

  • Did he keep hitting his little sister?
  • Did he eat the candy anyway?
  • He didn’t turn off the video game?
  • He snuck out with his friends and went to the party even though you said now? 

This is one of the most frustrating things that we deal with as parents and it makes us feel like we’re not being effective and like our kids don’t respect us and value what we have to say. 

Fortunately, you’re not alone in this frustration. 

Every parent experiences this from their children. I know I did with mine and now that I’m a grandmother, it’s still happening. In fact, this happened just a few weeks ago. 

I took my granddaughter to a park with a big, lovely playground and she ran around trying everything. She started to get a little reckless and thought it was fun to go down the big twisty slide BACKWARDS even when there were other kids at the bottom. 

I said no a few times, and she kept doing it!

Finally, I took her to the side for a timeout. She tried to run away, but I held her firmly and gently in her spot until she stopped crying. 

After about 15 mins I said, “Are you ready to go back and play?” she nodded her head. Then I reiterated, “If Mimi says No, you’re going to listen next time, aren’t you?”

Parenting advice that works from a practicing pediatrician.

There’s a lot of bad advice out there so be careful! You’ll know the advice is good if it’s coming from a credible, proven-to-work source.

I’ve been a pediatrician for over 30 years. I’ve written 7 books which have sold around the world. I’ve spoken around the nation and given international parenting lectures. I even had the privilege of speaking at the UN.

I’ve done 100’s of radio shows and been on all the major tv shows but most importantly, I love kids and I’ve never met a child or teenager that I didn’t like.

I want to let you know, I believe you are a good parent. I know sometimes and maybe even right now, you may feel like you’re not doing a good job but the fact you are here now means that you are trying, exploring new options, and ready for change.

Maybe you’ve gotten frustrated to the point of yelling when your kids don’t listen, but that’s OK. I’m going to show you FIVE SECRETS you can use right away to get your kids to listen the first time.

Secret #1: Treat your child as though he or she is the child you WANT them to be, not as they are NOW. 

So often, we confuse a temporary behavior or pattern that our children are showing with their identity.

For example, if they are constantly whining, we EXPECT them to whine and we might even label them as a whiner.

I know it sounds simple, but the first step is to treat our children as we WANT them to be… instead of reacting to how we think they are now.

This can start with a simple shift in our language.

Instead of saying, “Quit being a YELLER!”

You could say, “Johnny, you’ve really developed a bad habit that we need to change. You yell too much — at me, your sister, etc. We need to change that right away because I know you’re not a yeller by nature.

See how that works? You have affirmed to your son that he has a bad habit, but it’s not really who he is and YOU believe and KNOW that he can stop.

The opposite happens quite often…

I was working with a client whose daughter had broken her trust — Anna was 14, she was skipping school and her mom had used some consequences that got the behaviors under control.

Even though she had made huge improvements over the past 6 weeks, the mom still spoke to her daughter as if she was going to slip up again.

“Why would I let you go to dinner with your friend when last time you…”

What if Anna’s mom would have applauded her changes and spoke to her as she expected Anna’s good behavior to continue.

The takeaway:

Our kids rise or fall according to our expectations of their behavior.

Secret #2: Walk away from a power struggle.

Many times, we parents lock heads in a power struggle with our kids.

When a kid says, “No! I won’t.

Or, “You can’t make me!” we get so angry that we decide we absolutely will make them!

We get mad, yell back and say, “I’m in charge, not you!”

Then the child fights back and a head-to-head fight begins about who is really in charge.

I was in the grocery store several years ago with my then 4-year-old granddaughter. We were having a great time when we turned a corner and an enormous display of Cheez-Its appeared.

My granddaughter said, “Can we get some please?” When I said no, she had a meltdown.

She was angry and determined to cry until I bought some. I said, “I’m sorry, but we’re not getting any now.” and she got angrier.

Rather than argue with her about who was in charge and who was going to determine if we bought them or not, I stayed quiet I let her keep crying.

At this point, I had three options:

  1. Buy the Cheez-Its. This would have been an easy option to get her to calm down but it would have communicated TWO very bad messages — She was in charge and all she had to do in order to get something was have a fit.
  2. Grab her and leave the store. 
  3. Wait patiently for the tears to stop.

I chose option three. I stayed with her quietly, waiting for her tears to pass and the we kept going on with our shopping.

The takeaway:

Calm creates calm. When your child looks up at you and challenges your authority, take a breath, stay quiet, and don’t compete for power. You’ve already got it.

Secret #3: Always follow through with what you say.

This is the NUMBER ONE mistake parents make that contributes to MORE acting out, and MORE bad behavior from their kids.

When we say things but don’t follow through, kids learn that they don’t have to listen to us because our words have no meaning.

They simply ignore us and do what they want.

Not following through with consequences is one of the most common reasons discipline does not work.

Many parents say, “Nothing I do works”. But when they examine what they are doing when disciplining their kids, they find that they often cave when giving a consequence.

When Rachel’s daughter swore at her she snapped back and said, “That’s it! I’m taking away your phone for TWO WEEKS.”

But then she got tired of hearing her daughter Sara complain, and she started to feel guilty, so she gave the phone back after 1 week.

The next time Sara does something bad, guess what?

She won’t stop herself because she knows that her mother is a softy and doesn’t really mean what she says.

Other times, in our anger, we say ridiculous things like, “If you don’t stop hitting your sister, you are going to sit in your room for one week without dinner.”


No parent would put their 5-year-old in a room for a week without food. The next time we say what a consequence will be, the child will simply roll his eyes.

The takeaway?

Watch what you say so you don’t throw out consequences you can’t follow through on… And when you DO give a consequence? STICK TO IT!

It might be painful when your teenager can’t drive because you took away their driving privileges for a month, but it’s less painful than raising a child who doesn’t respect what you say.

Secret #4: Listen more, talk less.

If you REALLY want your child to listen to you, start by listening to HIM. If your child feels that you don’t care enough about what he has to say or feels like you talk AT him instead of WITH him, he will feel like you are out of touch and don’t know what’s really going on in their life.

This is an easy pattern to fall into… and in fact, I’ve had to catch myself doing this a lot. I will ask one of my kids a question (usually to have them give the answer I want) and as soon as they begin to answer, I begin formulating my response to their answer in my head.

The truth is, I’m not really listening to their answer! I’m so focused on what I am going to tell them, that I tune them out. Even before they finish their response, I often interrupt and begin saying what I want.

So, why in the world would a child engage in conversation, let alone listen to what I have to say? They know I’m not listening to them so why should they listen to me?

Let me tell you a secret: if you want your kids to listen, do two things:

  1. Look at them in the eye when you are talking to them (particularly if you are telling them that they made a mistake and must never do it again.) 
  2. THEN, implement the mirror method.

The Mirror Method.

This is a tool I love from FBI Hostage Negotiator Chris Voss. Basically, you just mirror the last 3 words your child says BACK to them as a question.

This keeps your child talking because they are filling in the space you have created.

Here’s an example of this tool in action:

Let’s say you ask your 8-year-old daughter to clear her room and she says, “NO! I don’t feel like it!”

You say, “Don’t feel like it?”

She says, “I hate it! I never even know where to start.”

You say, “Where to start?”

She says, “Yeah like I have so much stuff from school that I can’t even see my own stuff.”

See where you’re at in the conversation? Now you have options. Now you can maybe help her start cleaning or help her find some bins to organize everything in her room.

The takeaway?

You have TWO ears and ONE mouth. Use them in that ratio.

Secret #5: Give a consequence that actually matters.

When the time comes that you DO need to give a consequence, find something tough enough to stop the behavior.

If you give a consequence they don’t care about they aren’t motivated enough to stop the bad behavior.

Not only does this not work, it sets you up for having more and more conflicts. Why?

Because in order for a child to stop their bad behavior, they need motivation.

They have to work at stopping that behavior — talking back, lying, being mean to their siblings, or whatever it is.

Here’s the good news: once you give a consequence that your child REALLY doesn’t want, THEN your child will stop the bad behavior.

Warning: the first time you do it, your child will go ballistic.

They will try to get you to change your mind by screaming and will test you to see if you will stand your ground. In other words, they’re trying to wear you down. But when they see you are serious and don’t cave, after several times, they’ll give in and stop doing what they were told not to do.

The takeaway?

Find consequences that STICK.

Imagine fast-forwarding in the future 20 years.

Can see the impact of these TINY little changes you made that turned into these MASSIVE changes and lessons for your kids?

Think about the new character traits they’ve picked up and the work ethic you’ve instilled in them. They are full of integrity, and they are raising their own great families. 

THAT’S what you want!

So how do we get you there? 

SMALL CHANGES in the here and now.

This is a friendly reminder to step back every once in a while from the chaos of our day-to-day interactions with our kids and look at the bigger picture.

Sometimes the day-to-day behaviors will drive you crazy… but small changes here and there will compound into big shifts in their development and their character.

Whatever you’re struggling with, my goal is to ensure that: YOU have a great relationship with your son or daughter.

This begins when your child starts listening to you and following what you say.

But this can be easier said than done at times! Most of the parents I work with don’t have a plan or a strategy in place… so every time a bad behavior occurs, their gut reaction is to yell or threaten.

When we don’t have the right tools… when we don’t know how to handle situations the RIGHT way… when we don’t have a plan… WE WON’T HANDLE THE SITUATION THE RIGHT WAY.

My proven plan helps you to stop reacting in ways you don’t want to, and start parenting your child the right way.

I’ll teach you how to get your kid to stop back-talking, muttering things under their breath, rolling their eyes, whining, complaining, being rude, and every other bad behavior that’s happening.

All you have to do is be willing to learn more about your kids and yourself.

Life at home will be SO much better for both of you!

My Program Simple Discipline That Works is the only thing you need to get your kids to stop practicing these bad habits and behaviors.

The best part about this program is I literally tell you the EXACT things to do in order to make the behaviors stop and never return. Isn’t that what we all want?

We want peace and we want to have good kids. We don’t want to be mad or angry – we love our kids and we all want to be happy…

In this short article, I’ve laid the FOUNDATION for discipline. It enables you to make a few immediate changes. BUT, you’re gonna face other problems and challenges besides getting your kids to listen!

That’s exactly what Simple Discipline that WORKS will help you do. Good discipline is about building skills to help in any situation and this webinar simply gets you started on that path.

If you’re ready to get started with Simple Discipline That Works, click the link below to get started and join the program.


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