SUMMARY: When your child is being willfully disobedient, there are plans you can make and strategies you can use to keep your commitment of being respectful to your kids, no matter what.

Willful Disobedience and Positive Respect

I know that you are committed to staying respectful to your kids. I also know that it is extra difficult to stay respectful when your kids are being willfully disobedient:

• “No! No! You’re mean! I’m not gonna go!”
• “Leave me alone! Get away from me! Leave me alone!”
• “I hate you! I’m never gonna do what you say!”

If you let yourself get ruled by your emotions in these situations it can be very, very difficult to stay respectful. It’s hard enough to stay respectful when your children disobey you. It is much, much harder when they are also not being respectful.

This is when all your practice at remaining calm which you have learned as part of a spiritual discipline, or as part of stress control, or anger management, or in preparation for childbirth, can come in handy.

• “I’m sorry you feel like that. I didn’t know that you don’t want to go.”
• “Okay. I’ll leave you alone for now, but we are going to have to deal with this.”
• “We both need to cool off. I’m going out in front. We’ll talk later.”

Acknowledge your emotions, feel them and if you want to, share them, tell your children what you are feeling. Just do not let your emotions be in charge of what you do; make sure you, the whole person that you are, is in charge of you.

If you ever cannot control your impulse to react disrespectfully, it might be better to leave the scene until you have calmed down. Make a plan just in case: where can you go; who can watch the kids?

Let this be your bottom line: “I treat my kids with respect, no matter what.”

Although obedience is an integral part of our culture, if you wish to stay respectful, it is better to think in terms of cooperation rather than obedience or disobedience. Believe that if you give them enough information, your son or daughter want to cooperate. If they do not cooperate, then they have good reasons for not doing so.

Find out why they are being uncooperative:

1. Are their needs different than yours? Sometimes doing what you want them to do, in just the way you want them to do it, is going against their own needs. If this is the case, it is a good opportunity to negotiate a win-win solution.

2. Maybe they have misunderstood your needs. Misunderstandings are some of the most common causes of trouble among people. Make sure that your children have understood exactly what you had in mind.

3. Perhaps you have misinterpreted your children’s actions, and think that they are being uncooperative because they did not do exactly what you expected them to do. Sometimes what they actually do really meets your needs, it was just not the way you thought about having those needs met.

4. Often children will not do what you ask the next instant after you ask it. Like many others, they need time to adjust to what you are asking of them, and to end what they are already doing, even if it is making noise.

5. It might also be that they are just tired of being bossed around. Maybe they feel as if everyone has been telling them what to do all day and they are fed up. That could happen to any of us. Sometimes enough is enough and with you it’s often safer to disobey than with others.

Another thing you might look at is yourself, as a behavioral model. How cooperative are you with your children when your needs are different from theirs? Are you ever, or even frequently, uncooperative with your children?

When they let you know what they need and if it is not what you had planned, do you work cooperatively with them to find agreement? Remember, you are one of their primary models of appropriate human behavior.

Once you understand more accurately what is going on with your children and what seems to be disobedience on their part, it is much easier to be respectful with them.

When you take the time to figure things out and not just to react, you can often discover that situations which seemed intolerable to you before are understandable and, with a little effort can be transformed into peaceful, satisfying interactions.

If you want help finding agreement, go to and check out the Win-Win-Win Offer.

Author's Bio: 

“The Miracle Worker...of Education and Parenting”: This name was given to me many years ago because I have mastered Positive Respect, and my results with kids can seem miraculous.

After completing my B.A. in Anthropology, I went to India and ended up enrolling in the Indian Montessori Training Course, where I was trained and certified in the Montessori Method by Mr. A.M. Joosten, who had lived and studied in Dr. Maria Montessori’s household from the age of 14. He asked me to stay on the year after the Training as an Assistant to the Course.

In 1973 my husband and I returned to the United States and founded a Montessori school called Children’s House. We decided to incorporate and Beginnings Incorporated, a nonprofit community service organization, was formed. Then I got State of California funding for Children’s House.
I had three children and remained as head teacher at Children’s House for 15 years. When I was invited to start Community Educational Centers in India, I realized that I needed to share what I had learned about being respectful to kids with my community.
In 1992 I wrote what turned into my first book: Friendly Families. The fourth version, an ebook, Good Parents Good Kids came out in 2016.
Here’s what some people have had to say about version two of this book:
“An easy-to-understand book that gives a bundle of ideas and communication skills for building families that function peacefully and foster the kind of kids every parent wants.”
Dr. Thomas Gordon, Author, P.E.T. Parent Effectiveness Training
“My children are so nice now!” A mother of four, approached me at the Summer Arts Fair. She wanted to thank me for writing Parenting for the New Millennium. She had purchased it the year before, at the previous Summer Arts Fair. Then she implemented what she had learned in this book. She and her children were delighted with the results.
Besides writing, I give workshops, classes, spoke on the radio and wrote for a local magazine and newspaper. I created a website, , which includes a member site with all my writings, audios, videos, and trainings.