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Wants Own Way

What to do:

Self-Talk. Say to yourself, "I don't like it when my child gets upset when he doesn't get what he wants immediately, but I can deal with it. I'll teach him how to be patient and cope with frustration. He can practice positive self-talk, just like I'm doing."

Empathy. Ask yourself, "How many times have I gotten frustrated because I had to wait to get my own way? Many! So, I understand that it's even more difficult for my child to to cope with it. He hasn't yet learned patience and thinks the whole world should do what he wants when he wants it!"

Teach. Tell yourself, "I can help my child learn how to cope with frustration and not get his own way all the time."

Help Your Child Learn Empathy. When your child demands his own way, ask: How do you think I feel when you yell to get what you want? How would you feel if I demanded that you do everything I want you to do immediately? It feels better to calmly wait for what we want than to yell and scream about it. Those angry feelings are hard to cope with-it feels better to be patient, doesn't it?

Practice Positive Self-Talk. When your child demands he goes outside "NOW!", teach him to say to himself: I want to go outside now, but it's not the end of the world to have to wait. I can deal with not going right now. I don't want to wait, but it's okay." Practice with him saying those words-you can both learn how to self-calm when you get upset!

Praise Patience. When your child is able to delay getting what he wants for even a few minutes, say, "You are being so patient. Thank you for waiting so calmly for your dad to come home before you can go play catch."

Remain Calm and Model Patience. When you have to wait until after work to go for a run, for example, calmly tell your child about it. Your patiently role-modeling that you have to wait sometimes to get your own way helps your child see that he's not the only one who doesn't always get to do what he wants when he wants to do it.

Use Grandma's Rule. If your child is screaming, "Go! Go! Go to the park!" simply say what he must do to satisfy his wants. Say, "When you've put the books back on the bookshelf, then we'll go to the park." Having him do what he needs to do before doing what he wants to do is an important life skill that will help your child get homework done before playing, for example. You can reinforce this lesson by following Grandma's Rule yourself. Say, "When I finish loading the washing machine, I can play with you."

Avoid Saying "No" if You Can Say "Yes". You can often say "Yes" to your child's demands by using Grandma's Rule to teach your child how to get what he wants. If your child wants an apple, say, "Yes, when you've washed your hands, then you may have an apple."

What not to do:

Don't Demand that Your Child Do Something "Now". Demanding that your child immediately do what you want contradicts the lesson you're trying to teach. If you don't want him to demand instant results, don't do it yourself.

Don't Give-In to Demanding. Though your child may moan and groan throughout the waiting time, make sure he knows that you are getting in the car because you're ready and your jobs are done, not because he wailed his way out the door. Say, "I've finished washing the dishes. Now we can go."

Don't Reward Impatience. Don't do what your child wants every time she wants her own way. Although it's tempting to put off what you're doing to satisfy your child and avoid a battle or tantrum, giving her her own way when she's demanding it only increases the likelihood of her continuing to expect to get her own way immediately and always.

The authors and Raised with Love and Limits Foundation disclaim responsibility for any harmful consequences, loss, injury or damage associated with the use and application of information or advice contained in these prescriptions and on this website. These protocols are clinical guidelines that must be used in conjunction with critical thinking and critical judgment.