5 ways to resist children’s pester power

10 April 2017

5 ways to resist children’s pester power

  • Behaviour
by Michael Grose

Do you have a child who won’t take “no” for an answer?

“Mum, can you buy me a treat?”
“MUUUMMMM, can you get me some new clothes?”
“It’s not fair. You never let me have any fun.”

Sound familiar?

Kids have a way of getting under your skin when they really want something. You can refuse their request for a treat, some extra time out of bed or some new clothes, and they can keep at you until you give in.

Whining, tantrums and appeals to fairness are common tactics that kids use to break down parental resolve.

Some kids when they receive a knock back from one parent, will try the other parent out. “Okay, mum said no to an ice cream, I’ll just check to see what dad says” is the type of tactic I‘m talking about here.

Solo parents can easily become worn down by pester power as there is no one to share the burden with.

Pester power hasn’t always been a problem for parents. In the days of large families, when four or more children were common, not only was there less propensity to give kids what they wanted but siblings had their own way of dealing with rebellious or ‘prima-donna’ type behaviour.

There is no doubt that kids’ pester power is alive and well and living in Australian homes right now. In these times of smaller families the voice of one child resisting can be the only voice a parent hears.

If your kids don’t take no for answer, particularly when they want you to buy, buy, buy consider these well-tested resistance strategies:

1. Keep explanations to a minimum

It’s worth remembering that it’s okay to say no… without always having to explain yourself. While kids should know why we don’t give/allow them something that doesn’t mean we have to give answers every single time. Most of the times kids know why we say no, but they just keep pushing the boundaries.

2. Make yourself scarce

My wife was an expert making herself scarce physically or psychologicallywhen my kids used to argue the point with her. She would ignore attempts to change her mind, going about her business as if they weren’t there. They soon realised that arguing was futile. So have I… except it took me a little longer!!

3. Communicate with your partner

Teenagers are adept at putting pressure on parents to acquiesce to their demands, particularly when it comes to going out. Get into the habit of bringing your partner into the picture. “I’m not sure about that. I’ll check with your father/mother and get back to you” is a handy response.

4. Draw strength from a friend

It helps, particularly if you are on your own, to phone a friend to check if you are being reasonable. It’s easy to doubt yourself, and your sanity, when you are on your own.

5. How can you make this happen

Sometimes it’s best to put the onus on to kids, particularly when they pester you to buy them things. “Sure, you can have a new mobile phone. Have you got enough money to buy it now or do you have to save for it?” is the type of response I suggest for kids who just love you to be their automatic teller machine.

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Michael Grose

Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s an award-winning speaker and the author of 12 books for parents including Spoonfed Generation, and the bestselling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It. Michael is a former teacher with 15 years experience, and has 30 years experience in parenting education. He also holds a Master of Educational Studies from Monash University specialising in parenting education.