Dealing with a “Demanding Child”


Our son and daughter are very different. Like oil and water, the sun and the moon, Modern Family and Leave it to Beaver.

Differences aside, they have a few things in common. One being that both of them have gone through a Demanding Phase. You know, when they are relentless in their requests and they want things RIGHT. NOW. It is totally normal. All kids try to push their parents buttons to see what they can get away with.

Our first instinct might be to give in so the demands will stop. Especially if we are in public. But, just like with temper tantrums and talking back, giving in will only make things worse.

What ever you do, don’t give in to the Relentless Demands.

So what can we do?

First…Lay it all out on the line.
Make it VERY clear to your child what is expected and acceptable. Also make it clear that there are consequences to their demanding behavior and language. You expect them to use kind words and ask for things in a “nice” voice, with respect. If they don’t heed to the clearly stated rules you will not listen. Literally. Explain that if they do not ask politely, then you will go about your business. Then walk away and go about your business. Stay strong. You don’t need to keep reminding them, turning around and asking them to “use nice words,” etc… State the rules and stick to them. It won’t take very long for them to learn.

Second…Only acknowledge a “nice voice.”
Make it really clear when you “lay it all out on the line,” that a demanding, whinny, relentless voice will not be tolerated. Our kids know that if they have a request, it has to be made in a “nice voice.” And, saying things once will suffice. I can hear them. Don’t acknowledge demanding relentless requests. Before you start enforcing, teach your child what it sounds like to use a nice voice. We have talked about role play before. This is the perfect time to use that skill. Go through some common examples of demanding situations you have experienced in your home. Demonstrate a “nice voice” and then ask your child to repeat the voice back to you. Give them a few sample situations where they can practice being respectful and kind.

Third…Say No.
It is okay to say no. Don’t let your child intimidate you. Demanding kids feel like life revolves around them. You have to change that. The only way is by saying no to some of their requests. This means we have to stay strong and not give in. Stick to your guns. When we give in to the demands, we have just taught our children that when they are demanding and relentless, they get what they want. The exact opposite of what we are trying to teach.

Fourth…Teach Necessary and Not Necessary.
When children are young it is hard for them to understand the difference between necessary and not necessary, or needs and wants. We have to teach them. Getting to dance class on time is necessary. Buying silly bands (are these big at your school?) is not necessary. Take some time to explain the difference, then work to only address the “needs” when your child uses a “nice” voice.

Fifth…Ask: How would this make you feel.
One time when our daughter was acting demanding and relentless, including jumping up and down and whining, I sat still until she was done. Then I acted like she just had and asked her how my actions made her feel. She looked at me and said “is that what I look like?” “Why yes it is” I told her. It was a huge turning point. Ask your children how they would feel if they were interrupted? If they were woken up? or if someone “talked to them that way?” Help them understand how their demanding actions make others feel.

Other things to Consider
1. Is your child demanding because they don’t feel they are getting enough attention? Take time to listen to them without multi tasking. Sit down, look them in the eyes and just listen. Laugh together, watch their eyes, observe their story telling actions. Forget about the laundry.

2. Is your child demanding because that is how you talk to them? Evaluate the way you talk to your children. We might find that we are relentless and demanding in our communication and our kids are just copying us.

3. Is your child demanding because they have always gotten what they want? Set some guidelines and stand your ground. Make it clear that that type of behavior does not get them what they want.



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  1. 1

    This is so where we are right now with my 2 1/2 year old. She started with the demanding voice followed by a strong “NOW!” about two weeks ago and I’ve done some of what you suggested here, but some of it definitely sounds helpful! Thanks!

  2. 2
    Tian Kinasih says:

    Thank you for the tips. Thank God my daughter is not a demanding child, but I found your tips really helpful for my enrichment about parenting.

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