When You Ask 3 Times and They STILL Don’t Listen

It starts out feeling annoying, then ramps up to frustrating, and ultimately infuriating: you ask your child to do something and they IGNORE you. You try to ask nicely. You ask several times…and it’s like your child has mysteriously gone deaf. Cue to you to grit your teeth and turn red in the face with frustration.

Don’t grind down your teeth. There’s a way through this that doesn’t leave you in a constant state of exasperation. Here are 6 steps to get through this moment Mindful Parenting style:

#1 Stop & Regulate Yourself

You are really frustrated right now. That’s understandable! It’s time to “name it to tame it:” acknowledge your feelings out loud. This interrupts your autopilot reactivity. Then use tools to down-regulate your upset nervous system. The breath is cliché because it works! Down-regulating allows you to use your whole brain—you’ll need it.

#2 Get Curious

Curiosity is the opposite of snap judgments. Ask yourself: what is going on with my child? Are they hungry/tired/stressed? Why are they resisting your request? Do they want more choice or autonomy? If you can understand what’s under the surface, you can offer a more skillful response.

#3 How Are You “Asking?”

Listen to the language you use. Are you using orders or direct commands? From the perspective of the child, we can see that orders cause resentment. Children resist being told what to do. The parent is cracking the whip and the child may want to “save face.” Instead, how would you ask your friend’s child to do the same thing?

#4 Describe, Breathe, Begin Anew

Name out loud what is happening: “I’m feeling frustrated. You look distracted and like you want to play. But it’s time to go to bed and I’m feeling really tired. I’m going to sit here and breathe to calm down for a minute.” If it’s not an emergency, take that minute to sit and breathe. Then, ask again using the “friend’s child” filter.

Sometimes shifting from giving commands to asking a question that makes your kiddo think will do the trick! Instead of saying "Put your shoes on so we can go to the playground. try "What do you need to do to get ready to go to the playground?" When it is their idea, they are more likely to do it!

#5 Allow Time

Our children aren’t robots with instantaneous responses and that’s okay! Give them a couple of minutes to respond to your request. This time feels like an eternity, so use a timer if it helps. In that waiting time, tell yourself, “This is not an emergency. It’s okay for my kid to need time to process.”

#6 Gently Insist

You can hold a boundary kindly and gently. Using a soft (not yelly) voice, insist on what needs to be done. Give your child information why this needs to happen. Remember, you are teaching your child. You may run out of time to do the fun things, or there may be other natural consequences if they delay. That’s okay.

Parenting skills are learned, not innate. It can change everything to get help! Mindful Parenting helps parents from around the world calm their reactivity and communicate in positive ways with their children, changing harmful generational patterns. To learn more about Mindful Parenting, get on the waitlist at