How To Parent: Kids Who Answer Whatever When Parents Talk To Them

Does Your Child Say This? “Whatever.“


Does Your Child Say This? “Whatever.”

Kids generally say “whatever” to their parents when they’ve already lost the argument. It’s a final attempt to push the parent’s button and to get back at you in some small way for something that your child doesn’t like. Your best bet is to ignore it. If a kid says “whatever,” the odds are that the point has already been decided and you’re in charge of the situation. “Whatever” is their way of trying to save a little face. If you’ve come out on top, don’t compromise your position by letting them draw you into an argument. To challenge it is not effective. If you give it power, you’re losing the ground that you’ve already gained.

Child: “Whatever.”

Translation: “It doesn’t bother me/I don’t care and it doesn’t matter.”

Ineffective response: “What do you mean, ‘whatever?’ Let me tell you something, young lady…”

Effective response: Ignore it, smile and turn around and walk away. You’ve already won the fight.


Does Your Child Say This? “Whatever.“ reprinted with permission from Empowering Parents. For more information, visit www.empoweringparents.com

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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