How To Parent: Kids Ignoring Parents Directions

Does Your Child Say This? “Leave Me Alone!”

Does Your Child Say This? Leave Me Alone!Children can be adept at shutting down, and shutting you out—leaving you with unanswered questions and a whole lot of frustration. If you find your child is shutting down every conversation with “Leave me alone!” or “It’s none of your business!”, here are some ways you can handle their response—and make sure the issue at hand gets addressed in the appropriate way without getting into a power struggle.

By the way, one important thing for parents to remember is that sometimes when your child says “Leave me alone,” it’s appropriate. Kids should have times when they have their own space. You can set a limit on that, but you shouldn’t overreact to requests for space or time alone. Don’t get stuck on your child’s tone unless they’re rude or demeaning.

Child: “Leave me alone!”

Translation: “I don’t want to talk to you about this/perform this task and I’m going to shut you down so I don’t have to.”

Ineffective response: “I will not leave you alone. I want your attention right now.”

Effective response #1: Again, if your child’s request is appropriate and they’re not being rude or demeaning, simply say, “Ok, we’ll talk later,” and walk away. Or better yet, set a time: “OK, we’ll talk at 7 o’clock.” Another way to handle it is by saying, “OK, when would you like to talk about this?”

Effective response #2: If it’s something where you can’t leave your child alone, simply say, “No, we have to address this now, then you can get back to what you were doing.” If it comes down to it, you can say something like, “OK, we don’t have to talk now, but there will be no more phone use until we do talk.”

Does Your Child Say This? “Leave Me Alone!” reprinted with permission from Empowering Parents. For more information, visit

James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James’ foremost goal was to help kids and to “empower parents.”

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