The Value of Clear Expectations: What You Say vs. What They Hear

Posted October 26, 2015 by

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Your daughter is clamoring to go to a Halloween party this weekend. You know the parents so you’re not worried about safety, but you want your daughter to earn the privilege to go. You only ask that she cleans her room, and she’ll be able to attend the party. She happily agrees.

Thirty minutes before it’s time to go, she tells you to come take a look. You notice a pile of clothes in one corner, an unmade bed in the other, and a floor in desperate need of a vacuum.

You explain that she still has some work to do before she can go to the party. She’s not impressed.

I did what you asked me to do and I still can’t go?! This is bull****!

With that attitude, she’s definitely not going. You throw up your hands and think, Why does every day have to be so difficult? Why can’t she just listen to me? What am I doing wrong?

If you identify with this scenario, you’re not alone! I talk to a lot of parents who think they’re being very clear with what they ask of their kids. Commonly, what you say and what your child hears can be two different things. To help your child better understand what you are asking of them, start with being crystal clear with your expectations.

Clearly defined expectations offer your child safety and security. If they don’t understand the boundaries that are being set, they are much less likely to be motivated toward good behavior.

In this example, the parent’s definition of a “clean room” was much different than their daughter’s. Again, it’s important to be specific. Next time try:

If you clean your room – that includes putting your clothes away, making your bed and vacuuming the floor – then you can go to the party this weekend.

The goal is for your kids to earn privileges through good behavior – this parent has it right! When you clearly define what is and isn’t allowed, you help your child understand what your expectations are and how to meet them.

If you’re not explicit when outlining rules and consequences, your child will eventually stop trying to follow the rules and give up. Then, everybody loses. To avoid this, try discussing your expectations as a family. This will help put everyone on the same page, so you’re less likely to be misunderstood.

If you need more help understanding the value of clear expectations, check out Parenting Rules and Expectations: “But Everyone Else is Doing It!”

Remember, we’re here to help you get the most out of your parenting! Keep in touch in the comments below.


Darlene B., Empowering Parents Coach
Learn more about 1-on-1 Coaching

“You have rules and expectations for your child and they are responsible for following those rules. If they don’t follow them, they do not get “paid” with the privileges and rewards they value.” – Megan Devine, LCPC


Darlene Beaulieu is a parent to two teenage daughters, ages 13 and 16. She has been an Empowering Parents Coach since 2009 and has helped thousands of families in that time. She earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling and has worked in school and community settings helping children and families with academic, social, and behavioral issues.

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  1. Maryam Report

    I am a mother of an almost 18 year old boy. he is a senior in high school failing his classes and yesterday he was suspended from school for 3 days for going to school after smoking Mj with his friend outside of the school. he is disrespectful to me and says he likes smoking and has no plan on giving it up. He is not interested in going back to his school says wants to take GED and get his high school diploma. He wants to go into nursing but I am not sure if that is what he really wants. he does not do any homework and does not have good work habits. He lies a lot and seems to have unrealistic expectations. What can I do to help him be respectful, stopsmoking Mj , stay in school and graduate . It seems he does not care about anything.  
    Thank you

    • Almost there (Edit) Report

      @mary Hi, you could start by explaining that smoking Mj is still illegal. He’s now 18 and only got suspended for 3 days. It could have been a lot worst. He could have been arrested and then would have a criminal record which would block him in a lot of future paths…. like nursing.  To be blunt … drug adicts can not be a nurse as they are banned from handling prescriptions, medications…
      As for all the other stuff, I’m looking forward to read other comments…

  2. Tired of fighting in NC (Edit) Report

    I have a 13 yr old that we write everything for her to do out….her list could be:
    Clean your room- do your laundry, make your bed, vacuum the floor
    She REFUSES to do what is expected. Her answer on why she does not do it is…I disn’t want to!!!…. We have had melt down after melt down with her and nothing works…
    What else can I do???
    Tired of fighting in NC!!

  3. Lost mom4 (Edit) Report

    I have a 17 year old daughter a 14 year old son and a 9 year old daughter.. the treat eachother like crap. My son is ugly to his lil sister calls her names and then she get mad and act like she is going to smack him then he grabs her arms and squeezes them hurting her. Them my 17 year old think it ok to be disrespectful to me and her step mom. She is a senor in high school. She works but she is acting to big for her own good. Her selfishness and her disrespectfulness cause me and my spouse to argue a lot. We work 6 days a week long hours, some times I am to tired for stuff. But when they want some thing my god I am a bad mom. All the kids never give me and my spouse time by ourself or me alone time. They fight all the time rude to me act like I always owe them something. I really don’t knw how to say anything to get them to listion to or behave. Or even get them to stop fighting. Some times I feel stuck in the middle with my wife and daughter because my daughter says I don’t lotion or do any thing for them only for her. That’s not true. I work to keep us ok. I really want to be a better parent. Or just a mom they lotion to and have respectful to.

  4. Dwallis68 (Edit) Report

    I am having similar problems with my 17 year old step daughter. But the main problem seems to revolve around consistent lying, not taking accountability, blaming everyone else and blatant defiance and disrespect. Her father, my fiancée seems to feel that instead of holding her totally accountable it may be better to just leave things alone to avoid another blow up. This is starting to affect my ability to sleep and concentrate, negative affecting my 14 year old son, and most definitely effecting my relationship with my fiancée, ( her father) and I do not know where to turn. I have actually thought about leaving my fiancée because of this. Please please, if anyone has suggestions I would appreciate anything!!!
    Desperately seeking help!

    • dbeaulieu Report


      It can be challenging when you
      don’t agree with how the biological parent wants to handle their child’s
      behavior. The truth is, you don’t have to agree, because ultimately it is their
      choice to make. What it really comes down to is,  are you able to find
      ways to accept it and cope with it or not. Ideally you and your fiancé can work
      together on coming to an agreement on how the behavior should be handled and
      then he would address it with his daughter. If he is not willing to compromise
      with you and wants to handle it his way, again, that is his choice to make. I
      know this is not an easy situation to be in and I hope things get better for
      you and your family soon. Thank you for writing in.

    • ethan (Edit) Report

      Dwallis68 as a frustrated step father (with 2 step daughters – they were 7 and 11 when I got married to their mother – and 2 kids from our marriage ) I’d give you this opinion:
      – You and your fiancée must be absolutely in sync here, otherwise the ‘kid’ will always benefit from the lack of agreement between the leaders in the house;- If you don’t absolutely love this kid as if it was yours it will turn out a nightmare (as you’ve mentioned) to live in the same place – much resentment will grow from all parts involved (you against your fiancée – future husband omg – your fiancée against you – as you don’t treat the kid as a loving mother – and the kid against you primarily – the stranger trying to tell her what to and not do);- You (couple) have to have a framework as how things should work in the house and that should be followed strictly – parents are parents and kids are kids;As you may have noticed I wrote I’m a frustrated step father that wasn’t able to implement these in my own house and our relationship (among all of us – sad) got really affected with the results:- Disobedience from my step daughters and I ending up giving up on them (which turned things to worse – lack of love/care is felt, you don’t need to say a word – all that anger and resentment just flows out of you and your attitudes);- Giving up on them made the house not run as I wanted (organized and as a family), we became strangers to one another (me and the girls), and therefore they lived almost as they wanted – only when things were too absurd I’d intervene, but that is/was far from a good behavior;- My oldest step daughter ended up going to her grandparent’s after a fight/discussion we had (me and her);
      – My youngest daughter hates me and had serious problems when a teen – cutting herself :0;- During all the years I blamed my wife and she blamed me (much less than I blamed her) for the situation – again not a good thing for the couple, believe me;- I feel like crap (specially because I call myself an evangelical christian) when I remember I wasn’t able to manage the situation as a mature man by loving them until the end as if they were my daughters; – and many other bad feelings and same kind of negative things you can imagine . Wish you wisdom and grace from God.Sincerely.

  5. KarlaDeLaRosa (Edit) Report

    What about boys? They’re not as easy as girls, I often tell my 9 year old boy to pick up his tennis shoes and he doesn’t do it I even bribe him into using the tablet or play his favorite game and it doesn’t work, what can I do to get him to cooperate? I have done everything my mind thinks even putting myself as example

    • dbeaulieu Report


      This is not uncommon behavior
      for both boys and girls. It is just not as important to them as it is to you.
      If your son is doing something else that he would prefer doing, picking up his
      shoes is not going to be very appealing to him. With that said, it is still
      something he needs to do. You could try having a special place by the door or a
      shoe box or basket set up for him to put his shoes in. We do support positive
      reinforcement and would recommend having a reward system to motivate him to put
      his shoes in the box every time he takes them off. This is different from a
      bribe. Letting him know ahead of time what you expect and having a
      pre-established reward set up is much more effective then negotiating an
      incentive in the moment in an attempt to get him to do it.  Erin Schlicher
      explains this concept further in her article Good luck
      as you continue to work through this. Thank you for writing in.

  6. lateteenmom (Edit) Report

    What about a young girl going on 19.  How does one manage to get her to complete the tasks given, like simply keeping her room clean.  When that’s not done, how do we give her consequences when she feels, since she’s an adult, we don’t have the right – yet she lives at home.  I need ideas on consequences too, not certain what is age appropriate.

  7. kbmgirls3 (Edit) Report

    I recently went through this with my eldest daughter. She wanted to go to a concert and I told her , she couldn’t go provided she clean the bathroom. I was explicit I told her clean the sink, bathtub and toilet. I also told her to sweep and mop the floor. I understood if I didn’t include every detail of what I expected excuses would be made. I’m glad when I read the newsletter for advice it helps me to rethink how to deal with my children with out getting as frustrated as I use too!

  8. teenmomat65 (Edit) Report

    After retiring my husband & I adopted a baby girl, who is now 13. Since our older daughter was a good student, thoughtful and honest we felt we were up to the task. No words were ever more wrong. All was good until she turned 10. Then our world took a nose dive and now it has all but crashed and burned. There has been a small health issue that she now uses to her advantage for being late to school, 3-5 days a week. On top of that she has been diagnosed as ODD. When she is home the entire family wants to flee. Backtalk is the least of our problems. No amount of talking about how she needs to take responsibility for herself and her school performance gets us anywhere. She is like a black hole sucking the life force from us. When we tell her she will be grounded, cell phone taken away, no tv time the yelling erupts like a volcano. She is small for her age but very solid and unmovable. Short of paddling her, right, or dragging her, sending her to her room is nearly impossible. Then she screams she is being physically hurt.  It may not sound like it but we all do love her. I have looked into therapy but she says she won’t go. We are at a junction that has no clear path, just obstacles. We are desparate.

    • elizzah Report


      We have similar
      circumstances in our family, with a grandchild. It seems they hit the wall
      at 10. Their understanding of why and how they are not with their biological
      parents plays havoc with their emotions. The physical abuse towards me is
      unbearable and unstoppable for at least 30 minutes and afterwards she is
      remorseful. I try humour, but lately I am choosing not to react. But it’s just
      a continually rollercoaster. ODD is definitely my diagnose for our child
      as well. People keep telling me to set boundaries and I think I always do plus
      consequences, but these are children with special needs and
      “ordinary”  parenting applications often don’t work.
      I have found that many counsellors are not equipped to deal with
      adoptive/children in care, so it means a lot of searching to find a specialist
      counsellor. I keep our child busy with afterschool activities, even though it
      is draining on me. However without these activities I would be home subject to
      her insults. I attend  a Grandparents/Carer’s group and we share our
      trails and tribulations. At least as adults we can understand the overwhelming
      situation, whereas the child is just floundering. It’s a difficult
      situation. Try to nurture and pamper yourself while she is at school or after
      school activities to help give you emotional strength

    • Lisa (Edit) Report

      @teenmomat65 Hang in there mom!  I feel your pain….my daughter is 15 and we have had some of the same issues you described from age 5 to present.  I’m not perfect and fall off the wagon sometimes (LOL!) but I get the best results by being very consistent in consequences to her actions (it’s hard to not back down because they perceive it as a weakness; mine remarked about how she knew that I’d cave in anyway  – that was a good tip off in how I need to change MY behavior).  In addition, try to remain very calm and give direction in a quiet voice, which will automatically make them listen more. My daughter was/is constantly pushing my buttons, trying to get a rise out of me and divert my request (clean your room, put your dishes in the dishwasher, time to get started on homework, etc.)  until  it became all about the argument and not about the behavior I was trying to modify. When I consciously stayed calm and didn’t get wrapped into discussions (she’s a master debater) she tried to provoke me by saying I was yelling at her (I guess in her mind she thought we were going back down that path) but I didn’t get pulled in and got better results.  My latest “weapon” is to simply not repeat my requests and cajole her to complete her tasks (come on now, you know you can’t go to Erin’s house until you clean your room/do your homework.  I gave you a deadline of noon and now it’s already 11.  This isn’t fair to your friend……and on and on and on until I feel like I’m going to blow my top)… I just turn off the internet access.  You need to find something they care about having and withhold it….and stick to it.  Things are getting done in a more timely manner now, although I’m afraid it will always be a battle. You have to be a little more “selfish” – give a deadline and if it’s not done by then, go off and do your own things. Don’t let yourself be held hostage.  P.S. please don’t resort to physical punishment (paddling), she’s too old and it isn’t effective. It just makes you look out of control and sends the message that it’s okay to use violence to get what you want in life.  Maybe you and your husband should try a little therapy to help identify how to best get her into therapy.  At 13, she shouldn’t be allowed to drive the train on that issue.

    • kuwarashok (Edit) Report

      I know you love her. Its very clear. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been reading these articles and looking for help. I am no professional but have a little advise out of my experience.

      Keep loving her but do give clear consequences. Not too harsh but be firm with consequences. Consistency is very important. 

      But when things are cool, take the opportunity to built strong relationship with clearly showing (not saying only but showing with your actions) how much you love her. Once in a while you can mention why do you have to be strict with her. During such times reinforce her positive behaviour. Dont give lectures. But encourage her by reminding how well she is doing. Concentrate on her positives which she would have in abundance if you concentrate. This is the most important aspect please. 

      And lastly accept her problem. She isnt to be blamed and neither you are to be blamed. Both of you are result of some circumstances beyond your own control. Hence just remember you have to make the best of what you have. 

      You may take professional help when she is willing. You can always find something to convince her for professional help like:- 

      With what you explained she must not be having close friends. You can mention that there is this counselor who can advise her how to make friends. Or something else but that she feels she needs help with not her behaviour patterns that you feel are wrong but what she feels she needs help with. And once the professional guides her to make good friends, obviously he is working on her behaviour. 

      Once again I am not a professional at all. I am just advising from experience. You may consult others before trying this out. But I am pretty sure it should work. But dont forget to concentrate on her positives and encouraging her with that and keep loving her consistently.


  9. ChildAdvocate (Edit) Report

    I appreciate this add a great deal. I reside in a household where the parent is an adoptive parent. The parent would make the request for the child to clean the bedroom WITHOUT a clear set of guidelines for exactly what you, as the parent, want to see as a clean bedroom. First of all there are no drawers for cloths, no clothing hampers for soiled, no shelving for shoes and no hangers for the good clothing. So after hours in the bedroom cleaning the parent arrives to what the child assumes to be a clean room. Now, instead of the parent calmly stating that the room is not where she thought it to be and outline what should have been done, She instantly sees red and goes off on the child.

    I totally believe in the fact that most children do not need boot camp sergeants as parents. If a child doesn’t get something done as you think it should be done, at that point you have to look at the psychological aspect of the thought process. Most children take several years to develop adult thinking. How can I expect my 13 year old to think like me and I’m 26.

  10. Pamchi (Edit) Report

    The painfull part of being a parent from my experience, is the NEED for continuous emphasis. Its tiring to keep saying the same thing again and again but perseverance pays. It works eventually. As long as its clear instructions

  11. AdoptivMom (Edit) Report

    I have a 14 year old son who’s the size and has the strength of an adult. He has a problem controlling his temper and has thrown stuff that has caused damage and barely missed his 13 yr old sister. He doesn’t listen when asked to do chores. He refuses to clean his room or clean up after himself unless he wants to go to a friends, then he will sort of clean his room sometimes. He’s always eating and is a messy eater. Often he will put things that should go into the garbage, on his way to the garbage can or throw it into someone else’s room. He has also been mean to his younger brother. He was seeing a counsellor for a while but he denies anything that he could have done wrong and plays the ‘good guy’ with her. So as a result she tells me that he’s doing good and he has no need to see her anymore. My son is on ADHD medication and is better when on it, but now since the counsellor said he was doing so good he will sometimes tell me he took his pill, but he didn’t or he puts it in his pant pocket or throws it on the floor when I’m not looking. When he doesn’t take his medication he’s just terrible and we don’t feel safe around him. What can I do? Everything seems to work for a little while or not at all. He’s a very selfish, ungrateful and argumentative person. He’s also keeps saying hurtful things to and about the family, especially he’s 13 yr old sister and younger brother.

    • Themadanimator (Edit) Report

      Sounds like our son. Have you talked to his doctor about trying a different medication? Sometimes “coming down” from ADD meds can cause kids to become angry and violent, I’ve been through it. The next time he’s getting out of hand note the time and see if there is a correlation between that and the wearing off of his meds. Also, depression in kids, especially with ADD can mask itself as anger. Talk to his doctor about that too.

    • MomofADD_ODD_MoodDis (Edit) Report

      I completely feel your pain! I have a 16 year old like this. We’ve been going through this since he was 3. He’s older and bigger now, his room is full of holes in the wall. He’s grounded most of the time. We’ve attempted time and time again to hit the reset button, talk and talk and talk.. and then it’s almost as if hes laughing at us, like I got them now.
      He manipulates! Only kind when he wants something. He is so mean to his 8 year old brother. Walks into a room and no matter who’s watching the tv, he changes the channel.
      We’ve tried reward, punishment, praise, bribery.. Lol..NOTHING WORKS.. He is selfish and if it doesn’t benefit him, he wants nothing to do with it.
      School work, attending classes, that’s all optional to him. He’ll manipulate his way out of something.
      We’ve involved AFY, a program, Alternatives for youth. Worked for a little bit, but back to his old ways again. Sad, his life can be so much easier!

      • Elizabethanna Report

        MomofADD_ODD_MoodDis I have a 17 yr old son that has been defiant and it’s been difficult as we lost his dad 5 months ago! I take away privileges from my son when he acts up and throws a fit. I make him get out and walk it off. Exercise really helps! Otherwise, I have to have a timeout with him .. as he needs a timeout with me.. and the only time we can talk is when we are both calm.. when we finally calm down, we take turns talking.. we hold an object such as a stuffed little animal and the person holding it is the one who has their turn to talk.. and I listen and not talk til it’s my turn. We usually get things resolved this way. I have learned that my son holds things in and eventually it “boils over” and he’s angry.. so I try to wait til he’s calm and try the above technique. Of course I have unconditional l love for my son.
        The main thing for me is trying to get my son into counseling to talk to someone about the loss of his father.. my son saw his father have a heart attack and I performed CPR in our home trying to save him… so I know my son needs to talk to someone, but I can’t get him to go… can someone please give me advice on how to GET my son to COUNSELING please???  Thank you and God bless us all!

        • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

          I am so sorry for your loss. It’s understandable you would
          want your son to see a grief counselor to help him find ways of coping with
          what he witnessed and  his father’s death. Unfortunately, you can’t make
          him go, and, even if you were able to get him there, it’s no guarantee he will
          be an active participant in the counseling. From what you have written, it
          sounds like you have been doing a great job getting your son to open up and
          communicate with you when he is facing challenges.  You can continue to
          offer him the option of counseling but trying to make him go probably isn’t
          going to be productive. We appreciate you writing in and sharing your story.
          Good luck to you and your son moving forward. Take care.

  12. Becky12 (Edit) Report

    Our daughter is 15 honor roll straight As excellent in everything except gratitude and respect ! She gets promoted to varsity crew, expects to go on a trip to compete. Does not asks but expects it. As we are talking she gets frustrated and calls me  stupid . Lovely. We now tell her she us not going on trip due to attitude. Turns into huge battle. She is very upset. How can I explain to her she did this to herself by being disrespectful
    Tired. Becky

    • dbeaulieu Report


      I can understand your
      frustration. Attitude and disrespect are something every parents faces at one
      time or another. Seeing things from your daughter’s perspective, it is
      reasonable she would assume she would be able to go on the trip and compete
      because that is part of being on the crew team. I can also see how that would
      be frustrating for her if you were having a conversation about possibly not
      being able to go. She is involved in a team sport and it does not just affect
      her if she does not go. Calling you names is definitely not an appropriate way
      to manage her frustration and I would tell her that. However, taking away the
      competition is not an appropriate consequence for this behavior. Something like
      the loss of her cell phone for 24 hours and requiring her to be respectful for
      that 24 hours to earn it back would be more effective. This way she earns the
      privilege back by showing you appropriate behavior versus just punishing her.
      For more on effective consequences check out this article by Megan Devine: Thanks
      for writing in.

  13. Mommy2six (Edit) Report

    My 12 year old daughter and 10 year old son is perfect in school but at home tends to act out and throw off nasty behavior with back talking, eye rolling, stomping of feet and so on.. How do I stop this?

    • dbeaulieu Report


      It is not uncommon for kids to
      behave in school and test limits at home. We hear about this often, so you’re
      not alone.  With behaviors like eye rolling and stomping, it is most
      effective to completely ignore it. It is ok that your children are unhappy with
      what you have asked of them or if they are not getting what they want. It is
      also ok if they vent about that a bit. It is completely normal for this age. As
      far as backtalk goes, you will want to ignore that most of the time as well. If
      they are saying things like, “that’s not fair” or “I am not going to listen to
      you” but they end up complying, let that go. If they are cursing or name
      calling or being defiant, you will want to set a firm limit on that behavior.
      Janet Lehman talks more about this in her article Thank you for writing
      in. Let us know if we can be of any further help. Take care.

  14. Mehrin (Edit) Report

    Hi I’ve noticed that I take time out to talk to my kids and make things clear in a patient way , crystal clear but they seem to forget and I end up pressing things but they don’t listen. Every new day means new revision of rules.they are supported by father and it’s becoming increasingly difficult with 5 kids aged 10..9…7and 4.I wish u could tell how to handle.
    Confused mother

    • BeccaAdams (Edit) Report

      I suggest adding consequences to the instructions. I’d say when I get back from the store these dishes need to be washed and put away. If they are not you will not be watching tv after dinner tonight at all instead you can replace it with a book and you still will do the dishes. Then say Do you understand me? Then wait for a response. Then think of all their usual excuses and say so if you forget, or the phone rings, or a friend stops by, or even if you didn’t think ill be back so soon if I get home and the dishes are not done no tv! Do you understand? And get a yes. Then if they don’t have it done remind them of their agreement and stick with your consequence. They’ll stop “forgetting” trust me because they have to deal with the weight of their forgetfulness and not you and there will be no way around it. You can even get them to sign it on paper before you leave and bring the document back when they have not complied. Showing what they agreed to and how they must be held responsible.

  15. Suzieg (Edit) Report

    What can I do with an 18 year old who does not listen at all. He smokes in my house when we are not home, on the property / not considerate of us or neighbors.

    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      Thank you for writing in and sharing your story. It sounds
      like you have set clear limits around smoking in your home. It can be tough to
      hold someone
      accountable when you’re not there. It may be helpful to develop a living
      agreement with your son, as outlined in the article, that
      clearly outlines for your son what expectations he will need to meet in order
      to continue living in your home. One thing to keep in mind is your son is now
      an adult. What this means is anything you provide for him is a choice on your
      part, and a privilege for him.
      If he’s not meeting the limits and expectations you have, then it may come down
      to developing a plan for him to move out on his own. I hope you find the
      article useful. We have several more articles that give tips for parenting an
      adult child. You can find a list of those here: We appreciate you writing in. Good
      luck moving forward. Take care.

    • angelakazel (Edit) Report

      If he can’t follow rules as an adult, he cannot be there. I know it sounds cruel but he is am adult and wilfully disrespecting you and your neighbors without a care because he thinks “what are YOU going to do about it? “

  16. cincitycoffee (Edit) Report

    I always think about how much common sense our children have when they do the things they do. I have 3 boys 20, 15, 7 and they’re good boys. My 7yr old however is very testy with his words. If this were my child I would’ve said, “Are those your dirty clothes, you can go to your party but when you come back we need to work on this pile together”. They don’t like when I sit snd help them so its not an issue the next time, but there will always be something. I have too much patience I’m told by friends and family. I just feel that I’m not perfect and I don’t expect them to be either. I’m happy with whatever I can get from them. It’s a challenge but I try to handle situations with the children in a way that won’t cause either of us to argue.

  17. KaitsMommy (Edit) Report

    I honestly would be shocked for my 9 year old to say BS. I probably would laugh then give her a consequence.  We have issues with her cleaning her room period.  I end up doing it because its not going to get done correctly.  I know I am horrible.. However, her room also serves as our guest room..

    • DJ Bright JJO III (Edit) Report

      @ Kaitsmommy,
      Have you ever tried cleaning the room with the child? If not, do so as a team and explain fully how you want things done and they can have a visual of what needs to be done. If they do exactly what you want, praise them and do something special for them, meaning make it meaningful for the child and not you. So you have to find out what your child would really like to do. This is the beginning stage. Praise goes a long way with kids. Continue to try this for a few days and slowly remove yourself from the chore to see if the child continues doing a good job. And be aware of not expecting the 9yr old to clean the room like a parent; however, show the child how you would like to see the room cleaned. Lead by example. Reward them in other ways that work for you and your child.
      DJ Bright JJO III

      • momincontrol (Edit) Report

        Good advice. My daughter is 14. Very messy, doesnt pick up after herself, my husband found a yogurt cup turned over spilling yogurt on the couch. She left it there. Her room is an absolute wreck. I offered to help her clean it. I gave her a time snd said I wouldn’t be available after that time and that if she didnt clean it, everything stopped. She asked me for help. Although I did most of the work, I’ll take it for now. A great by product of this method was that while we worked, she talked to me……kind of like I was a friend. Her room was such a pit, it took a while to clean it, so she actually started talking to me. It turned out to be surprisingly fun in a bonding kind of way.

    • Phyllis Report

      KaitsMommy Dear Kaitsmommy I remember when I would have been shocked to hear, my now 19 year old, speak to me with disrespect. I just want to say you are on the right path that you are in this forum as it will perhaps help this to never happen. 

      It is shocking and sad when the child you love speaks to you this way, but yes it does happen, even from the mouth of a highly successful student who was admitted to a highly competitive college.

      Look up the term “helicopter parent” I just had a good friend tell me to stop being a helicopter parent and when I looked it up I was shocked to see how I could have contributed to the issues my son and I are now having. 

      Good luck!
      Read more:

    • sfletcher34 Report

      Well, unfortunately, she is being taught that you really dont think she can handle it by doing it for her. Probably should show her how you want it done and then step back and let her do it even if its not to your expectations. If you must have it cleaner due to the guest room issue, fix it up with her when you have a guest coming in. 🙂

  18. Jude (Edit) Report

    Although we’ve made clear expectations for our 15 y.o. Honor Roll student she is clearly defying the one area we do not agree on. . . she’s lieing about it and calling us controlling . . .  What can we do when she’s basically a great kid but choosing to do what she wants against our rules.

    • Empowering Parents Coach Marissa Stephens, 1-on-1 Coach Report


      I can certainly understand your frustration around your
      daughter’s defiant behaviors. Ultimately though, you can’t control the choices
      she makes, but rather focus on problem solving and holding her accountable when
      she makes poor choices or goes against your rules. It can also be helpful to
      pick your battles carefully, and not engage in power struggles over things like
      her calling you controlling. Good luck as you continue to work on these
      behaviors with your daughter.

    • Phyllis Report

      @Jude Jude I would like to say I hear you! I have been where you are most of the past 19 years. I say hold firm now. I always felt as you do…but he’s such a great kid, I’ll let it slide. Don’t or you will be where I am today, a lot of small things letting them slide lead to a bigger problem as their world gets bigger. Today you have the ability to hold her to your expectations to help her make better ones when she leaves your home and heads off to school alone.

      I wish I had started earlier! We are making progress but it is slow and painful for both my son and me.
      Read more:

    • DJ Bright JJO III (Edit) Report

      @ Jude,
      If expectations continue to not be met, the privileges would have to be taken away one by one until your child gets the point. Meaning take away things they enjoy doing. If you continue to ask and not receive the behavior you want but continue to give them what they want, it doesn’t make it fair to you as a parent. Try the win/win approach (compromise). I give you something and you get what you want in return. The approach to kids means a lot so say what you mean and mean what you say in a sincere statement and leave no room for arguing. Do not give in just because they have good grades. Continue to praise them for that; however, they must also realize that they are not the parent and its their responsibility to listen and complete the task or not receive what they want out of the deal. If that makes sense.
      D.J. Bright JJO III



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