9 Things Kids Do That Drive Parents Crazy the Most

The 9 Things Kids Do That Drive Parents Crazy the Most

girl sticking out tongue
Bad behavior can drive parents crazy. Brad Killer/Getty Images

We love our children more than we can describe in mere words or measure in any quantity. But sometimes, every once in a while, they can drive us absolutely up the wall until we are just about ready to scream. Here are the top kid behaviors that push parents' buttons the most--and real solutions we can use to make them stop!


mother comforting son - whining in children
Whining is not pleasant to hear; the good news is that you can help your child learn not to do it. Fuse/Getty Images

First up: whining. There's a reason why this behavior tops most lists of crazy-making things kids do. It's unpleasant, annoying, and so very common. It's like kids are born knowing how to do this, as if it's in their DNA (One wonders if parents in the caveman age were also plugging their ears when their children made whining noises).

The good news is that how we react to this behavior and what we say and do to teach kids to express themselves differently can put a stop to whining. Read about 7 effective ways to stop whining in kids and breathe a huge sigh of relief that this behavior is something you can change.

Ignoring you, not listening to you

child not listening
With patience and time, you can get a child to listen better to you. Claudia Dewald/Getty Images

Whether your child doesn't listen and ignores you deliberately or unintentionally (like when he's distracted, for instance), this is a behavior you'll want to nip in the bud. When it happens, keep calm, and let your child know that it is something that is not respectful, and that it is not a nice way to treat anyone, especially someone you love.

If this happens repeatedly, let your child know that you would like to show him what it's like to be ignored. Tell him that you will spend a certain amount of time (say, about 30 minutes) ignoring him. It won't be long before your child sees how unpleasant it is to have someone he wants to talk to give him the cold shoulder. (Be sure to give your child lots of preparation so that he knows exactly what will happen; you want to make it clear that you're only showing him what it's like--not actually ignoring him.) For more tips on how to get kids to listen, read, "Why Your Child Is Not Listening to You."

Talking back

boy angry, talking back
When kids get angry and talk back, stay calm and show them how they must speak to be heard. Westend61/Getty Images

Back talk is one of those things that can either be a good thing or a negative thing. The difference depends on how a child is presenting his ideas and opinions. Yelling, being angry, or not respecting your opinions or authority are no-no's, and that way of speaking should be corrected, ASAP; calmly expressing what he thinks, on the other hand, can strengthen good parent-child communication and may even be good for a child in the long run.

The good news is that there are positive sides to back talk--as long as it's done respectfully and in a calm and nice manner, without any sass or anger. In fact, research shows that kids who are able to discuss their thoughts and opinions with parents, even when they disagree, are less likely to go along when peers are experimenting with substances like alcohol or drugs. For more on how to teach kids the right way to speak to you so that they can be heard, read, "How to Handle a Child Who is Talking Back."

Saying, "No!" and being defiant. Right in your face.

boy angry, defiant, talking back
Stay calm when kids are defiant, angry, and talking back. Bruno Maccanti Pescador/Getty Images

A close cousin of back talk, defiance is a normal part of a child's development and is an important way for kids to establish their identity and independence and test their limits and parental authority. (Defiance that persists and is constant and interferes with school and family life, however, may be a sign of oppositional defiant disorder, and you may want to consider consulting your child's pediatrician.)

While pushing back may be normal, it's important for parents to firmly establish ground rules, such as not speaking to you in a rude manner or talking in a calm way when she is frustrated. You can also work with your child to figure out ways you may reach a compromise over certain things, as long as it doesn't affect her health or development. For more ideas on how to deal with defiance in kids, read, "7 Effective Ways to Handle Defiant Children."


dawdling - boy playing with dinosaurs
If your child tends to play and dawdle instead of getting dressed, try some strategies to get him moving. KidStock/Getty Images

While some children's personalities may make them more prone to dawdling, almost all young children have, at one time or another, had trouble transitioning from one thing to another as promptly as they were supposed to. (Heck, it can be tough for even adults, sometimes!) Yes, it can drive parents crazy when a child has to be asked to get ready five times before he gets around to putting on his socks, but the fact is that kids can sometimes become so engrossed in something that it's hard for them to switch tracks when they're asked to do so.

Be patient and understanding, and take a deep breath. Explain to your child what the consequences are of his dawdling (he may miss sharing time in class if he doesn't get to school on time; he may not get reading time or snuggle time if he can't put on his jammies when he's supposed to; etc.), and try to find ways to help him make things go faster. For more ideas on how to get kids moving on time, read, "How to Handle Dawdling."

Fighting with a sibling

sibling fighting - sisters fighting
Parents can help minimize sibling fighting and help strengthen their bond. Image Source/Getty Images

Having more than one child means you're bound to have some sibling rivalry and fighting bubble up every once in a while. But if you have to referee arguments and skirmishes every day, it can get very old--and extremely exasperating.

To help your kids get along and build and nurture a loving and respectful relationship, try to find out what may be at the root of their conflict (personality differences, feeling like they're constantly competing for things, jealousy, etc.). Listen to what each child says, and help them work together to find solutions. You'll have a much more peaceful home and everyone will be much happier. For more tips on what to do about sibling conflict, read, "8 Solutions for Sibling Fighting and Rivalry."

Asking for something again and again. And again.

girl asking mom for something
Kids often ask parents for something over and over again, which can drive parents crazy. Steve Debenport/Getty Images

They ask. You say no. They ask again. And again. The biggest mistake you can make is to give in and let them have whatever they wanted. Sure, there are exceptions (You may decide that it might be okay to have ice cream before dinner, just this once, since it's a special occasion, for example). But letting your child persuade you to do something she wants every time will send a clear message that begging and asking repeatedly is effective.

Giving you the ol' eye roll

Girl eye roll
The ol' eye roll can be a behavior problem that can drive parents crazy. dlewis33/Getty Images

The first time this happens, you may find yourself wondering what happened to that sweet baby/toddler who would never have done such a thing. But anyone who has a school-age kid will tell you that eye rolls in kids this age are, alas, likely to happen. Oh, and they may be accompanied by a dramatic sigh.

Talk to your child about what respectful communication is (and how eye rolls are the opposite of that), and demonstrate it every day by speaking to your child in a calm and loving manner, even--and especially--when kids do something wrong. It's important to discipline children, but it's also essential that parents show kids that they don't need to yell or lose control when there's a problem. Find ways to build time to talk and communicate with your child every day and strengthen your bond. If eye rolls and other signs of disrespect and frustration continue, take away privileges (time with friends, cell phone, TV time, etc.) and have your child sit quietly in her room with a book until she can respect you the way you respect her.

Being downright obsessed.

Whether it's Minecraft, wanting to see for the 110th time, or constantly wanting to play games or text friends on a cell phone or tablet, kids can become very fixated on things. It's normal for kids to become fixated on certain things like a toy or a movie or video game. Normal obsessions are different from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). And while autism and OCD can often co-exist, they are not always linked.

If you see your child engaging with friends and talking about her interest, and showing that she can be flexible (can watch other princess movies and not just Frozen, for instance, or can do another activity and still have fun), then it's likely that there's nothing to worry about and your child will soon be focused on something else.

Consider the positives of having such laser focus on an interest (Your child might take up a musical instrument and want to practice all the time, for example, or become an avid reader who loves books). It may drive you crazy, but it'll pass.

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