Dealing with a toddler who does not want to take ‘No’, for an answer, and has a meltdown. He does not want to follow instructions, hence he doesn’t want to cooperate.

An uncooperative child usually does not want to accept NO for an answer. They also do not want to follow instructions from the parent. In this scenario, we are dealing with a 3-year old son, let’s call him Pat. Mom is having trouble getting cooperation from this boy.

Uncooperative child-the mom

I would encourage mom to work on the relationship between herself and the son. When there is a good relationship between the two, it’s easier for the son to listen to the mom. Mom needs to be intentional about the relationship issues. for instance, she needs to spend time with Pat doing something the son loves. If he loves watching cartoons, mom once in a while, joins the son and participate. Also, being present by getting in the same mode of enjoying.

Mom to empathize with the son, thereby connecting on an emotional level. Especially, after mom says,’ No’ to the son, and he shows that he is not happy. She needs to let him know that she understands his disappointment, but the answer is still,” No.” Mom needs to be firm, but loving. Even in situations where mom is not involved. Where somebody denied Pat something. She needs to validate the son’s pain or disappointment. Then moves to suggestions if needed. Since empathy communicates love, at the same time allowing the child to accept responsibility for the problem. Children can take as much pressure as the relationship allows.

‘Things done’ department

Mom also needs to work in the things done department. By giving Pat chores that are appropriate for his age. This fosters life skills such as

  • cooperation,
  • responsiveness to authority,
  • giving up one’s agenda,
  • contributing to family life
  • and taking initiative.

Mom to teach son to pick up his toys after playtime. Take his plate to the kitchen when done eating. Washing hands after using the bathroom. And help out with little things in the house.


Even though the son resists Instruction Routine and is uncooperative, mom should keep at it. Knowing that sometimes children resist change. In order to gain the most from an Instructional Routine, mom should keep an eye on the heart. https://nurturenavigation.com/2019/10/25/heart/




The Instructional Routine

Step 1

The parent: get close to the child. Don’t shout your instructions across the room or house. By getting close to the child,

  • it gives value to what you are about to say. For younger children, you may hold their hands and look them in the eye.
  • getting close to the child breaks the child’s concentration on what he is doing. He gets to listen to what you have to say.
  • this increases cooperation.

The child– comes when called. Dr. Scott Turansky and Johanne Miller RN BSN in the book- Parenting Is Heart Work training manual:

In fact, coming when called is a “preschool survival skill.”

They emphasize that older children need to come when called too. For younger children, you can make it a game. You may say, ” Pat, I want you to sit on the couch. When I call you, you come over and say, “what mom?”

When Pat comes over after you call him, validate him. Tell him he is learning how to obey. Use a lot of encouragement and praise.

Step 2

Parent– evaluate your timing before you speak. If your child is upset, you need to deal with the situation first. Show empathy and that your relationship with him is more important than the instruction.

The child- children must be ready to receive instructions, ALL the time. Because it’s not about their convenience. In the instructional process, children learn,

  • how to give up their own agenda
  • to think about others instead of themselves.
  • and it’s practice for the future

Step 3-make sure the child knows its NOT a suggestion

Parent: Give instructions. Make sure your child knows its not a suggestion, but an instruction. You don’t say, “Pat, would you like to go take a bath, now?”

Instead, you say, “Pat, go to the bathroom. Its time to take a path.”

Use a calm, matter-of-fact voice. Avoid loudness and intensity, because it wears on the relationship.

Child: The child answers. ” okay, mom”

The response tells the parent 3 things:

  • the child heard what you said.
  • the child intends to follow through.
  • gives the parent a clue about the child’s attitude. If Pat says,” Okaaaaay Moooooom! ” Then, you know you need to deal with the attitude.

Step 4– The tricky stage for most parents

Parent– Wait expectantly. Don’t nag. Give your child time so they learn to be responsible. The child needs to feel uncomfortable until they are done with the assignment. You may remind the child wisely. ” Pat, I’m waiting”

Child: To do the job as if on a mission

Step 5– The only stage the child starts

Child: Reports back to the parent.,” Here is the book mom.” Reporting back teaches children accountability. By this, the child shows that he knows that the job is important.

Parent: Inspects and releases.

if the job needs some inspection. If the child needs to do some touch up tell him so. Praise for a job well done.

Release by the parent gives the child a sense of freedom.

In Conclusion

Cooperation and responsibility grow out of a good Instructional Routine. Because a good Instructional Routine has a balance of :

  • firstly, clarity
  • also affirmation,
  • furthermore firmness,
  • finally, teamwork.

Consequently, the child moves from an uncooperative child to being cooperative, a team player and responsible. Mom spends time adjusting the way she gives instructions. And the way the son responds to the instructions will dramatically improve their relationship, thereby, making family life work more efficiently, and teach the son valuable lessons for the future. When necessary mom to use The Break https://nurturenavigation.com/2019/12/09/the-parent-can-use-the-break-methodrepentent-method-instead-of-time-out-which-is-a-sentence-for-the-offence/ to help the son think through things and repent.

The parent to continue praying and loving their child. Knowing change is a process. Even the Instructional routine can take a while for some kids to follow through. But, hey it’s doable. Keep on keeping on.