I often hear the statement, “Why won’t my kids obey?” There are many facets involved in fully answering this question. Studies have been commissioned. Books have been written. Papers have explored the reasons and motivations of children. This post is meant to be a quick check on the basics.

If you aren’t doing these things, your kids won’t have any reason to obey or respect you.


The old debate was quality time vs quantity time. Let’s answer that right now. For children, there is no quality without quantity. The simplest solution is to give your kids the time they need. Some kids need more time, some need less. When you don’t spend the time the child needs, you send the message that they aren’t worth it.


Inconsistency teaches children that they cannot trust you. If you say one thing and do another, not only are you open to manipulation, you teach them that you are unpredictable. Kids don’t trust unpredictable.


If you don’t respect them, they won’t respect you. Compliance is not respect. If you don’t respect your spouse, they won’t respect you. That’s their other parent, and if you aren’t respecting that person, they will wonder when you will be disrespectful to them. Or they will expect you to be disrespectful toward them.

Same Page

You’ve heard that parents should be a united front when dealing with their kids. While that is true, I say that doesn’t go far enough. Kids are far more observant than we give them credit for. For example, they know if their parents trust, love and respect each other. They observe behaviors, but they also pick up on the atmosphere, what it feels like in the room. They interpret these signals and integrate them into their decision making. If you aren’t trusting, loving and respecting your spouse, why should they do so with you?

That’s the quick version. Beyond these things, if you are inadvertently teaching your children to disobey you, that’s another post.


Todd has been a therapist for over 20 years in a variety of settings. An unconventional therapist who tells the truth, Todd has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, and authored his first book, Simply Relate.

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