Why the Why Matters: Getting Kids to Comply

Learn two strategies to start using TODAY to help your kids listen better. Spend less time repeating and have a calmer, more relaxed home when you implement these two strategies from Lessons and Learning for Littles. #toddlerroutine #toddlers #motherhood

Have you ever wanted your child to do something and they’ve flat out refused? Do you feel like you have battles with your children over what they need to (or should) do?


We all have, right?


It’s part of being a parent. It just goes with the territory.


And, it’s natural.


But, it’s not fun.


It’s frustrating.


It can be embarrassing.


Depending on when it happens, where, and what else has happened that day, it can be down right infuriating too.


We feel like we’re being disrespected, like our word doesn’t mean anything, we might be confused, especially if it’s something we do all the time and suddenly our child is refusing… lots of emotions come into play.


So, what are we to do?


I’m a big fan of telling kids why I need them to do something. I’ve found, more often than not, that by them understanding what we’re doing (and when and how), they’re more apt to comply.


No one likes to blindly follow orders or doing something just because someone said to. If we’re supposed to be a team and work together as a family, then kids have the right to know why we’re doing something. Now, I’m not saying that I give a big ‘ol long drawn out lecture and explanation, but a few sentences helps.


Let’s look at an example.


Me: “We need to clean up these toys before we go to the grocery store and the park.”


Met with silence or inaction.


Me: “Hey kiddos, I’d love to go the the park. It’s a nice day out. But, we also need to get something from the store. And, before we leave, the floors need to be cleaned so that we’re not stepping on toys, and so that we can vacuum tonight. We didn’t do that yet today. Let’s pick up the toys so that when we come home from the park, the floor is already clean and we can eat dinner.”


I usually get compliance from that, even without a trip to the park, because I give the why.  They also will often interrupt with a “and that wouldn’t be safe” or “that would be bad” in reference to leaving the toys out and them getting stepped on or “vacuumed up.” (ha,ha, that one hasn’t happened, but the kids think it might and I’ve let that one go a bit).


The difference between the two is the reason. The kids saw that when they come home, they won’t have to clean the toys. They also know what’s ahead: clean up toys, grocery store, park, dinner. Removing the uncertainty helps them feel more secure and in control. They like to be a part of things, and knowing what’s coming up helps with that.


Do you usually tell your kids why you need them to do something?


Here, it’s often a short explanation.


Why do we need to brush our teeth?

  1. To keep them healthy and strong.
  2. It’s what we do every day because the dentist told us we need to. Do you remember when we went to the dentist and she said…?


I don’t want to get dressed.

  1. We’re going out. You’ll be cold if you don’t get dressed properly. Do we usually see people wearing pajamas at the store?
    1. No, that would be silly, Mommy!


Sometimes, giving the why isn’t enough.


I know, I just got done telling you why giving them the why helps. But, no two kids are alike. And, they go through stages.


And, honestly, sometimes, our little ones aren’t complying because they lack consistency and routine.  The why doesn’t matter. The chaos does. They feel like there’s not a sense of order to their day, or like they don’t have any control or say in anything.


That’s where having a routine or schedules comes into play.


Schedules and routines help kids know what to expect. They know what’s ahead, so they can look forward to it. They know the order they’ll do something or the order their day will go in. That helps a LOT. I’m guessing you don’t like handing over the reigns to someone else and having absolutely NO clue what’s coming next. The uncertainty can be stressful, cause anxiety, make us lose focus… not fun! It’s the same for our kids. They may not have a sense of time yet, but knowing what’s coming next helps them.

Routines and schedules can make or break a toddler mom's day. Learn how to fine-tune your routines, schedules, and systems and create routines and schedules that actually work for you and your family in this FREE online program from Lessons and Learning for Littles. #toddlerroutine #toddlerschedule #mom #timesavinghacks #motherhood

Not sure how to get started with routines and schedules?

Try the Routine Queen program. Routines help SOOOO much with decreasing tantrums and refusals to cooperate. They were KEY to success when I was still in the classroom teaching, and they’re key to success now too.


As much as I love how easy routines make our live, I’m not one to stick to the routine or schedule just because that’s what the schedule says we’re supposed to do today. Take Sunday, for example. We were “supposed” to be baking because one of the kids chose to, eat a picnic dinner (because the other kiddo chose that), and do some cleaning and board games. We got invited over to my parents’ house for a bonfire. I asked the kids what they wanted to do, and it was unanimous- bonfire.


So, we ditched our plans (cleaning can wait!), and enjoyed fresh air, a bonfire, and an impromptu dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, complete with homemade apple pie. The occasion for the pie? Buddy Boy (2yo) had been wanting one, so we made one.


But, that’s what life is all about though, right?



Making adjustments.

Communicating with one another.


Coming up with solutions (we had to clean up the next morning, but we all remembered why- because we chose to have a different kind of fun the night before)… ALL a LOT easier when the kids are in a routine and there’s a predictable flow to the day. 🙂


Diving Deep into WHY the behavior is happening

We look into why the behavior is happening. Sometimes it’s because kids don’t know why something is important to us or why they need to do a certain task. That’s why we offer a short explanation for “why.” We include them. When people feel included, they’re more apt to be compliant. Kids are the same way, even little ones.


But, sometimes, that doesn’t work. That’s where Taming Tantrums comes in (affiliate link). It’s a new book out by my friend Wendy over at Imperfect Mom. Wendy is a parent coach who helps parents deal with challenging behavior. Her book walks you through the process of uncovering why your child might not want to do something and what to do instead so that you put the end to tantrums and power struggles. I love that Taming Tantrums is easy to read, easy to use, and full of real examples and things that we can start doing right away to help make our homes more peaceful and calmer.


You’ve read this far. Please join the discussion or take some action. Check out The Routine Queen or Taming Tantrums. Your sanity and your kids will thank you for it. 🙂


Pin it for later or for a friend. 🙂

Wondering how to have a calm, peaceful home when it feels like your kids never listen? Learn two strategies to start using TODAY to help your kids listen better. Spend less time repeating and have a calmer, more relaxed home when you implement these two strategies from Lessons and Learning for Littles. #toddlerroutine #toddlers #motherhood

Learn two strategies to start using TODAY to help your kids listen better. Spend less time repeating and have a calmer, more relaxed home when you implement these two strategies from Lessons and Learning for Littles. #toddlerroutine #toddlers #motherhood