I tell them what to do they just don’t listen! They should know how to do this by now! I’m not rewarding the 9yr old for something my 5yr old can do. 

Sound familiar? 

Some children are born resilient, others are not. If they have physical, mental or cognitive delays this slows down thier capabilities to deal with life. Something that may seem simple for us, isn’t for our children. When they say they won’t do something, it may be because they don’t know how. They may tell us that or they may shut down or act out. If they do say “I don’t know how to do that!” How do you respond? 

“Oh yes you do!”

“Don’t give me that excuse!”

“Whatever! Forget it, I’ll just do it!”


“You don’t? I thought you did? How can I help you?”

The last statement can open doors for you and your child.

1. They will feel heard

2. They will feel like you understand

3. They will be given the skills to do something new

4. They will learn that speaking up and sharing what they need will give them results.

I know it seems like a lot of work. I know your thinking they should just do as they’re told. But they need help. Children don’t usually articulate what they really need or are struggling with. 

” I feel like I can’t do anything right. My sister is perfect and I’m a loser. I can’t even make by bed right, you always fix it.”

If this happens in your home, you get a gold star! Listen to your kids. Don’t jump in with advice or try to correct them. When they are opening up you want them to keep going not shutdown or act out. Listen to understand, not to respond. 

This may take more than one conversation. 

Once you understand the concerns, then you can make a plan together. When you work together and gather everyones ideas, they feel included. This is especially helpful if you have an oppositional child. The idea might be great, but you came up with it… So I don’t like it! If it’s their idea they’re more likely to follow the plan. 

When they do well, reward them. It could be as simple as a high five, a sticker on thier hand or an extra 15 minutes of screen time. Be clear with what behaviour you want to see. You can reward with acknowledgement alone. If they need more of a motivator, then work with them on that. After three checks you get a reward, for example. 

Some children need more help but if we teach them how to do things and acknowledge their efforts you will see more of that good behaviour. 

To teach a new skill

1. Show them how to do it

2. Do it together

3. Watch them do it

4. They do it on their own

Incorporate a visual to help.

Good luck you can do it!