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Resources to Help Kids Thrive

This newsletter contains a weekly update of content from featuring parenting advice, in-depth articles, and the latest thinking on children’s mental health and learning disorders.

When Kids Don’t Cooperate

March 26, 2024

When kids don’t do what they are asked to do, they pose one of the most common challenges for parents: how to respond effectively. First, you need to understand what’s going on. Are they being defiant or are they just distracted? Are they testing limits? Given that most kids want to get along with the adults in their lives, is there some reason, emotionally, that they can’t comply?

This week on, we explore reasons why children fail to follow instructions, and how parents can work with them to get cooperation. Some kids — especially those on the autism spectrum — have what experts call pathological demand avoidance or PDA. Being told to do something can make them anxious and resistant, even if it’s something they are comfortable doing when it’s their own idea. Transitions are also an issue for a lot of kids who find it distressing to have to stop one activity, particularly something they like to do, and start another. Finally, we look at signs that a child’s pushback has developed into a behavior disorder — oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). And, of course, in each of these situations we explore ways to help parents and kids get on the same team.

– Caroline Miller, Editorial Director | 

Related Resources

Pathological Demand Avoidance in Kids

When children resist anything that feels like a demand.


Increasing Cooperation in Kids With Autism

Strategies for getting kids to work with you.


How to Give Effective Instructions

Techniques for teaching your child to listen and follow directions.


How Can We Help Kids With Transitions?

Tips for helping children change gears without stalling, whining and tantrums.


What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)?

When disruptive behavior drives a wedge between parents and children.


Choosing a Parent Training Program

Learn strategies for handling kids’ behavior challenges.


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