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Does Your Child Say This? “Whatever.“

by James Lehman, MSW
Does Your Child Say This? “Whatever.“

Does Your Child Say This? "Whatever."

Kids generally say “whatever” to their parents when they’ve already lost the argument. It’s a final attempt to push the parent’s button and to get back at you in some small way for something that your child doesn’t like. Your best bet is to ignore it. If a kid says "whatever," the odds are that the point has already been decided and you’re in charge of the situation. "Whatever" is their way of trying to save a little face. If you’ve come out on top, don’t compromise your position by letting them draw you into an argument. To challenge it is not effective. If you give it power, you’re losing the ground that you’ve already gained.

Child: “Whatever.”

Translation: “It doesn’t bother me/I don’t care and it doesn’t matter.”

Ineffective response: “What do you mean, ‘whatever?’ Let me tell you something, young lady…”

Effective response: Ignore it, smile and turn around and walk away. You’ve already won the fight.

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James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James' foremost goal was to help kids and to "empower parents."


I actually have a question and that is what do you do with rude grandchildren and the parents don't say anything to them about their rude behavior? Do I tell the parents not to bring them over if they can't make them mind ? I love my grandchildren and my children.

Comment By : snowowl

Wonderful response. It's good to remind parents to not get sucked into that trap. Even though a comment like that is difficult to ignore, parents need to learn to pick their fights, and "whatever" should not be one of them.

Comment By : Jen

What do you do about rude grandkids who jumb on the furniture, go in rooms they are not alloed in and open drawers and doors that they have no business in. The parents do nothing and I wind uo being the bad person.

Comment By : curls58

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Responses to questions posted on are not intended to replace qualified medical or mental health assessments. We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline.

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