What to Do When a Kid Refuses to Do Anything

Recently, someone asked me about what to do with non-behavior.

I was stumped! What does that even mean?

I took a deep breath and responded, “What do you mean, non-behavior?”

She said, “My challenge is not with big tantrums or wild outbursts. It is with my daughter’s non-behavior. You know, when she just sits there. She won’t say hello when someone comes into our home, instead she just sits there. When I ask her a question, she looks at me, so I know she heard me, and then just sits there. How do I get her to do something?”

Got it!

Here’s an important clarification: Non-behavior is actually a behavior, more often than not an escape behavior. (Tweet) Some big beings will call it shyness or reserve, others will call it defiance. Either way, it can be a challenge.

The first step is to recognize that this reaction is a behavior and that you must face it.

Then you'll want to take action. Here are some strategies to get you started:

  • Stop making excuses. Some children are shy and some are perfectionists. But even with the best of intentions, non-action is still a defiant behavior. And the more you make excuses for it, the more your small being will engage in this behavior.
  • Take small steps. Be realistic about what your small being is currently doing and ask them to take one small step closer to your desired behavior. If you want them to greet a guest when they come over, maybe start with a wave from her bedroom door. Don’t jump all the way into the full expression of the behavior, as that will be too difficult.
  • Give clear, action-based direction. When a situation calls for a specific behavior or action, your small being's hesitation can become strikingly obvious. You can give them a prompt to help them initiate. Be clear about what you need them to do.
  • Stop doing things for them. If you’re willing to step in and do the hard work for your small being, then they don’t have do anything. Stop doing the heavy lifting for them. When a small being realizes that they must do something themselves, it is more likely that they will do it.
  • Don’t let them see how frustrated you are at their defiance. Small beings love pushing their parents' buttons. So, even if your small being's non-action started out as a behavior from being shy, it may be maintained by your small being's subconscious satisfaction at your frustration.

By using even one of these ideas you will see a difference in the level of defiance in your small being!

Insight Into Action!

Parents: How have you dealt with "non-behavior" in your small being? What has worked? 

Teachers: How do you see "non-behavior" manifest in your classroom?


Feedback? Thoughts? Comments? Leave 'um below or email me at: Info@BehaviorAndBeyond.net.

With a little help we can all grow. If a special person in your life can use this information, then please forward this blog.

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