Tired of your kids always saying ‘no’ when you ask them to do even the smallest thing? And that attitude – it can make you want to scream, right?

Been there! My client, Cara, and her hubby know the struggle well.

Their seven-year-old seems to say ‘no’ faster than the speed of sound, and even the smallest request can turn into a drama fest – and dad goes from zero to sixty.

Breaking habits is tough, especially the nagging kind.

But guess what? When you stop repeating yourself, magic happens. Kids realize you mean business with just one tell. Today, Cara told her son to do something once, and he replied with a loud ‘no.’ Both parents froze, wondering if it was defiance or just his big bad attitude.

I suggested that when they give their son an instruction, no matter his reaction, they remain calm. If he screams “No,” they can say “I understand” or “I would feel the same way too” or not say anything and turn attention elsewhere.

Turns out, he did it anyway – attitude and all.

Kid With Trash

Let your kids have their attitude, as long as they do what you tell them the first time around, even if it takes five, ten, or thirty minutes (you will feel out the time because you know your kid, and patience is what matters most here). Eventually, they will get in the habit of doing it the first time if you stay the course, remain authoritative, and trust they will do it.

If your kids aren’t doing what they’re told the first time, you may need to get their attention with a meaningful consequence. Hint: Taking away a smartphone for an evening is not a meaningful consequence for most kids.

If you want your kids to listen to you the first time, practice saying things only once. Don’t be afraid to be authoritative.