Dealing with the "I don't want to" - Ideas Welcome!

I think we've just hit the hardest-to-deal-with (to date) stage of raising children. The "I don't want to" stage. For a few days I would venture to say that 90% of Judah's responses to us started with "I don't want to..."

We have by no means eliminated the "I don't want to" response, but we have seen a drastic decrease in the amount he says it and a huge change in his attitude over the last few days by changing a few things. We're not sure what specifically caused the change, so for now we're going to keep all of these things in play:

1. Paul (if he is home) or I sit down with him first thing in the morning and tell him that we don't want him saying "I not" or "I don't want to" today. We tell him what is punishment will be each time he says it (more on that in a minute) and we then pray with him and ask God to help him honor God by obeying without arguing. This is literally the first thing we do with him - it comes before changing his diaper even.

2. Even though Judah is only 2.5 and probably too young to grasp this concept we reinforce to him throughout the day that it doesn't matter if you want to do something or not - you still need to do it and you need to be joyful.
For example, Paul has casually brought up to Judah that he doesn't want to go to work and leave us at home because he misses us while he is gone but that he has to because it is his job to provide for us. Judah's response to that was "Oh ok. That's cool daddy."
I don't think he understands, but we want him to grow up with the understanding that we don't always get to do what we want to do but we need to always do what God has asked us to do - and for Judah that would be obeying his parents.

3. Because of the frequency of Judah's "I don't want to..." comments we had to get creative with a punishment - he would say it at home, in the store, at church - anywhere and everywhere. We tried many different things and the one we have found most efficient (we saw a HUGE difference within hours of doing this!) and have stuck with is making him do push ups. Each time he back talks and says "I don't want to..." I ask him to do 2-10 push ups depending on the situation. He has been doing push ups for several months now as a fun "lets be like daddy" type activity and so I wasn't sure at first how he would respond to it being used as a form of discipline.
I'm not kidding when I say that within a couple hours of using push ups the amount of arguing decreased noticeably.
What is really odd about it is that he doesn't mind doing the push ups - he would rather do push ups then be sent to his room, and yet push ups are a more efficient form of punishment than being sent to his room! I thought that was interesting.

4. On top of those things we have also completely eliminated all movies from his viewing - just prior to this "I don't want to" attitude he started to watch Bob the Builder or Curious George or a similar type shows once a day/every two days - we aren't convinced that his attitude is connected to the shows, but we decided to eliminate them completely just to see.

Like I said at the beginning, we haven't eliminated this attitude but it has decreased. We are finding ourselves ever more in need of God's wisdom and grace in knowing what to do and how to respond to our boys.

If you've been through this "I don't want to" stage I would love to hear your creative ideas for dealing with it! :) We're open to all ideas!


Jessica said...

Oh, gosh.....I'm so glad I read this. I know it's coming in a couple of years and I know I won't remember what you said and won't remember where you said it, but for now, I'm finding comfort in the fact that we're all learning as we go and that none of us has all the answers. Thanks for your ideas and your honesty...and for raising little boys who will honor God!

Anonymous said...

Jessica -
I'm past that stage for the most part, even though I still hear it occasionally from either my 8 or 10 year olds! BUT when my kiddos were the age of Judah, I had 2 responses to the "I don't want to" whine. One was "I'm sorry you don't want to, but we can't do __________ until you do what you've been told. The second was; "I'm sorry you don't want to, but you WILL do as you are told. If you choose not to there will be consequences." We had decided on consequences before we started this and they were different for different kids.


Shannon said...

I have friends that do the pushup thing too, cept they just have to hold the position. They have a 10 year old an 8 year old boy, and twin 5 year old girls.. Their punishment is almost always pushups or spanking. It is funny to walk in when all four are in trouble and in the pushup position!

ashleigh said...

i see no light at the end of this tunnel! lol! jack is the worst at that and pretty much the best at the terrible twos!!

michelle@somedaycrafts said...

One question: Can boys get any more beautiful than your two boys? Holy cow! I love their hair and eyes. Definite model material for GAP! I loved the idea you had for burlap at my blog. I think the brown paper to write on would be such a great idea at my families' Thanksgiving Dinner too. I hope you do it. I also loved your cinnamon sticks post and featured it at somedaycrafts.blogspot.com

Sarah said...

:D :D :D I love reading your growing and expanding thoughts!!!

Around our house it is called "Attitude check" and it is generally jumping jacks...sometimes push ups or running, but mostly jumping jacks. If I see an attitude I don't like I ask if they are going to check their attitude or if I have to do it for them. I usually give them a minute to think about it, and generally it works out well and the attitude they were perpetuating stops pretty fast. It works well beyond the 3yo stage though!!!

That's what Judah is getting into...the 3yo stage. Some kids whine more, some just are more obstinate...all seem to come from one main source- they want more independence and want to make more decisions on their own. So while squelching the whining/obstinate behavior, I also try to give them more of a say in things...it REALLY helps.

As to the "I don't want to..." response, I catch myself often saying "I didn't ask if you wanted to...". It can be tiring some days, but it is well worth it to train your kids from early on as you are choosing to do. GREAT JOB GUYS!!!! I can't wait to see your boys 10 years from now and see what they turn into then because of your teaching and training now!!

Di said...

Sounds like you've got it handled!!!
I wonder if the push up thing will work with a 13 and 15 yr old. I just may try it tonight!

Charity Grace said...

Wise thoughts! It's so important for little ones to know that sometimes we have to do things whether we want to or not. :)

KD said...

i totally agree with sarah. daniel is a little young for it yet, but i have seen it with other kids. giving some choices can work wonders... ie. instead of asking him to get into the car when you are leaving the grocery store say "do you want to get in the car now or help me load up the groceries first?"... this way he feels like he has chosen what needs to be done and is less likely to fuss.

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