Josh is doing what he’s asked, when he’s asked!


This story of Jessica & Josh is a composite that represents typical scenarios faced by Triple P families around the world.

I have a great time with Josh, but he was becoming quite disobedient. If he didn’t want to do something, he’d just ignore me. It was like talking to a brick wall!

I’d ask him to leave his toys and come and get his dinner. But he’d just sit there -- as if I’d said nothing at all. I’d ask again and again and again and eventually I’d be screaming. Finally, he’d do as I asked. Other times, I’d tell him I wanted him to clean his room before he could go out and play but I’d come back half an hour later and he would have done nothing. His clothes would be on the floor, the toys were everywhere and then he’d get really upset with me when I wouldn’t let him meet his friends.

This kind of thing was happening more and more. So I decided to see whether getting some Triple P support could help me sort it out. And it sure did! Straight away I discovered that I was falling into some really common traps. They called one “the escalation trap”. This meant that Josh and I had got ourselves into a pattern where I’d have to yell before he’d take any notice. That’s the only time he thought I was being serious!

Triple P helped me practise asking without yelling. I let Josh know that I would calmly ask him to do something. If he didn’t budge, I’d ask again – still in a normal speaking voice. Then, if he ignored me the second time, there’d be a consequence. It had to be something appropriate – like no model trains after school the next day. But it started working almost straight away. He knew there wouldn’t be yelling but that he would be expected to do as he was asked.

Another trap was that I was being too vague. So asking him to clean his room just didn’t give him enough information. I should have said “pick up your clothes and put them in the basket” and “stack your toys back on the shelves”.

Sometimes I’d give him too many instructions at once. “Clean your room”, “do your homework”, “have a bath” and “go and tell your sister to come inside” just confused him. It was too much to remember so he wouldn’t do any of it. Now I’ve discovered that one clear and direct instruction at a time works much better!

Things are much better these days. Josh and I still get on famously. But there’s no more yelling!