7 Ways to Put an End to a Child's Pestering When You've Said No

Pestering is an annoying behavior that should be addressed effectively.
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“Please Mom? Can we?” Those words repeated over and over again can wear down even the most resolute parent.

If your child whines, begs, and pesters until you can’t take it anymore, these discipline strategies can help you teach her that "no means no."

1. Never Give In

Most kids learn from a young age that annoying their parents into submission is one of the best weapons they have. But, each time you cave into your child's pleading, you'll reinforce that pestering is a good way to get what she wants.

Make it clear to your child that pestering won’t work. If you’ve said no, tell her that begging isn’t going to change your mind. Going back on your word will only increase behavior problems over the long-term.

2. Stay Calm

Losing your cool reinforces to your child that she has power to upset you. The more frustrated you become, the more likely you’ll be to blow up or say something you regret.

Take some deep breaths, walk away, or repeat positive affirmations are just a few ways to stay calm when your child misbehaves.

3. Ignore the Ongoing Protests

Ignoring attention-seeking behavior is one of the best ways to stop annoying habits. Simply, turn away and don’t give your child any attention as long as she’s pestering you. When she realizes that her attempts to gain attention aren't effective, she'll eventually give up.

Sometimes, behavior gets worse before it gets better when you withdraw your attention.

So don’t be surprised if your child raises her voice or becomes more frantic to gain your attention.

That means your response is working – she’s not getting your attention and she's working harder to get you to notice. Eventually, she'll grow tired when her efforts aren't successful.

4. Use an If…Then Statement

If your child’s behavior crosses the line into something you can’t ignore – like she’s yelling loudly in a public place or she begins grabbing onto your clothing – provide her with one warning.

Say something like, “If you don’t stop yelling, then you’ll have to go to time-out.”

5. Follow Through with a Consequence

If your child doesn’t comply, follow through with a negative consequence. Use time-out, take away a privilege, or use a logical consequence. Make it clear that when pestering crosses the line, it won’t be tolerated.

6. Be Consistent with Your Discipline

Consistency is key to extinguishing nagging and pestering. If some days you give in when your child repeatedly says, “Please can I?” you’ll undo your efforts. Make sure that you approach the behavior the same way each time – no matter how tired or frustrated you feel.

7. Teach Your Child Healthy Ways to Deal with Feelings

Kids pester parents for two reasons – they want to get their way and they don’t want to feel bad. So in an effort to avoid the disappointment she’s going to feel when you say no, she’s likely to pester you in hopes you’ll change your mind.

Teach your child how to deal with uncomfortable emotions like disappointment, sadness, and anger.

Emotion regulation is an important skill for kids to have. Proactively teach your child healthy coping skills that will help her manage her feelings in a socially acceptable manner.

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