The Demanding Phase


Our son and daughter are like night and day, winter and summer, I Love Lucy and Modern Family.

One thing they do have in common, they have both gone through a bit of a DEMANDING phase. It's normal, all kids tend to go through a Demanding phase. You know, they are relentless in their requests and they want things RIGHT. NOW. Sound familiar?

Our first instinct might be to give in so the demands will stop. But, just like with temper tantrums and talking back, rolling over and giving in will only make things worse.

What ever you do, don't give in to the Relentless Demands.

So what can we do?

First...Lay it all out on the line.
Make it VERY clear to your child what is expected and acceptable. Also make it clear that there are consequences to their demanding behavior and language. You expect them to use kind words and ask for things in a "nice" voice, with respect. If they don't heed to the clearly stated rules you will not listen. Literally. Explain that if they do not ask politely, then you will go about your business. Then walk away and go about your business. Stay strong. You don't need to keep reminding them, turning around and asking them to "use nice words," etc... State the rules and stick to them. It won't take very long for them to learn.

Second...Only acknowledge a "nice voice."
Make it really clear when you "lay it all out on the line," that a demanding, whinny, relentless voice will not be tolerated. Our kids know that if they have a request, it has to be made in a "nice voice." And, saying things once will suffice. I can hear them. Don't acknowledge demanding relentless requests. Before you start enforcing, teach your child what it sounds like to use a nice voice. We have talked about role play before. This is the perfect time to use that skill. Go through some common examples of demanding situations you have experienced in your home. Demonstrate a "nice voice" and then ask your child to repeat the voice back to you. Give them a few sample situations where they can practice being respectful and kind.

Third...Say No.
It is okay to say no. Don't let your child intimidate you. Demanding kids feel like life revolves around them. You have to change that. The only way is by saying no to some of their requests. This means we have to stay strong and not give in. Stick to your guns. When we give in to the demands, we have just taught our children that when they are demanding and relentless, they get what they want. The exact opposite of what we are trying to teach.

Fourth...Teach Necessary and Not Necessary.
When children are young it is hard for them to understand the difference between necessary and not necessary, or needs and wants. We have to teach them. Getting to dance class on time is necessary. Buying silly bands (are these big at your school?) is not necessary. Take some time to explain the difference, then work to only address the "needs" when your child uses a "nice" voice.

Fifth...Ask: How would this make you feel.
One time when our daughter was acting demanding and relentless, including jumping up and down and whining, I sat still until she was done. Then I acted like she just had and asked her how my actions made her feel. She looked at me and said "is that what I look like?" Why yes it is I told her. It was a huge turning point. Ask your children how they would feel if they were interrupted? If they were woken up? or if someone "talked to them that way?" Help them understand how their demanding actions make others feel.

Other things to Consider
1. Is your child demanding because they don't feel they are getting enough attention? Take time to listen to them without multi tasking. Sit down, look them in the eyes and just listen. Laugh together, watch their eyes, observe their story telling actions. Forget about the laundry.

2. Is your child demanding because that is how you talk to them? Evaluate the way you talk to your children. We might find that we are relentless and demanding in our communication and our kids are just copying us. Yikes.

3. Is your child demanding because they have always gotten what they want? Set some guidelines and stand your ground. Make it clear that that type of behavior does not get them what they want.



  1. Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to hear today. :)

  2. PERFECT timing for this post!! It seems that over the last week or so my sweet (most of the time ;) son has turned in to a demanding, inpatient stranger that I don't even recognize! :) After working all day, I hate to admit,that sometimes it is just easier to give in, but I have to remind hubby and I WE CAN'T!!! Thank you for this post!

    Have a great day!!

  3. Thanks for the info. I'll be putting it to use today.
    I don't think there's silly bands at our school. Or maybe my kids don't care yet?

  4. It's funny you mention silly bands and talking in a nice voice in the same post... I actually bought a few packages of silly bands in an effort to teach my daughter (4yrs.) to talk/ask nice. She would get one in the morning to start things out, and then as the day went on if she talked nice, wasn't whiny, demanding, rude, etc. she would recieve another. If she didn't talk nice then she would lose a silly band. At the end of the day we would count how many she earned and she would say "tomorrow I'm going to be REALLY nice and get even more!" It worked pretty well while I stuck with it.
    (By the way, I'm on the east coast and silly bands have been all the rage for quite some time now...It seems like it's finally starting to die off though!)


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