"There are no argumentative children; only adults who argue with children."

Take Charge of Bedtime Shenanigans


I have a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old. They are not listening to me when I tell them it's time for bed. For example, when I say it’s time for bed and tell them to brush their teeth, the older one starts to giggle, grabs younger one and they run off, therefore not listening. I’m doing my best to not let it get under my skin, but after a while I lose it! What do I do?


Hello, and thanks for reaching out to Parent Guru.

Your children are currently in two different seasons of development. Your two-year-old has ended the Season of Service (Birth – 2 years) and has entered into the transition year (age 2-3). Your 6-year-old is in the Season of Leadership and Authority (ages 3-13). Two-year-old’s are not able to think ahead and are too impulsive to predict consequences. The 2-year-old is following your daughter's lead.

You state that your children are not listening. It is quite likely, however, that they are listening but not doing. You also state that “after many situations [you] lose it.” Clearly, the monkey is on your back and you are the one wearing thin. Your children are not following your directives because they are not viewing you as an authoritative leader. Time to transfer the monkey!

You offer the bedtime issue as an example. Though you don’t say, I’m thinking there may well be other instances where your 6-year-old does not follow your directives. I suggest starting her on the ticket system outlined on pages 69-77 in Rosemond’s book, The Well-Behaved Child. Start with no more than two, concretely stated, target behaviors. It may be that just focusing on one target behavior such as ‘refusing to do what we (parents) tell you to do’ will suffice. If not, you can cite two specific behaviors in need of correction. It is important that you follow the ticket system procedure with fidelity. And yes, requiring your daughter to go to bed immediately after dinner is certainly an acceptable consequence if she loses all of her tickets.

I also suggest reading the section in The Well-Behaved Child on Alpha Speech (p. 21-25). Parents who use Alpha Speech send a clear message to their children that they know what is best. They say what they mean and mean what they say, and exude an assuredness and confidence that conveys that they can be counted on. Mastering Alpha Speech can be key to making disciples of children.

Stand firm and hang in there!

Sharon Lamberth
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

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