How to Teach Children Not to Pout to Get Their Way: 5 Steps
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Don't give in to that face.

You have to admit, kids really do get creative when they want something. Some throw temper tantrums mid-shopping trip, some scream loud enough to shatter glass and some defiantly cross their little arms and throw out their lower lip. There are even some that actually do what is asked of them with a “Sure, Mom.” No, the latter is not an illusion or magic trick. It’s all about how you approach the subject and react to their attempts to get the thing they had their eye on.


  1. 1
    Stay calm and don’t react to this type of behavior. Children learn extremely early on what works and what doesn’t. If you give in and hand over the goodies when she pouts, this tells her “Hey, if I stick my lip out far enough for a while, she’ll give me candy. I’m gonna keep doing that!” When she doesn’t get your attention, she is more likely to try something else. If you have to, look away from the amusing sight of that little defiant face, arms crossed and lip sticking out so far that birds could land on it.
  2. 2
    Wait until the lip is put back in place and then address her behavior. Instead of leading with, “Don’t do that again or you’re going to get it,” try using a more positive approach to expressing your feelings. Something along the lines of, “I see that you’re upset. It’s tough not getting what you want all the time, isn’t it? What do you think we could do about that?” Let her talk about her feelings. Even though she's young, she has real feelings and she should be able to express them. This shows that you care, but also that you will not give in just because the big lip came out.
  3. 3
    Lay out your expectations and define some rules. If your little lady knows what is expected of her, then there is no surprise when you say something about her behavior. Write the rules and expectations out on a piece of paper or cardstock and put a sticker or draw a picture that represents each rule. For example, a bed sticker for making her bed or a picture of a toothbrush for brushing her teeth. Post the rules somewhere where she can see them. Agree on some rewards for good behavior and consequences for negative behaviors. This way it gives her a constructive way to work toward the thing she wants and she feels like she has a say in how this goes down, instead of making it a power struggle. You can make a sticker chart to go with the rule list. For example, every time she completes her chores, she will get a sticker. After so many stickers, she gets a reward, like a book she has been wanting. If she doesn’t do her stuff, it will take her longer to get the prize. Don’t take stickers away -- she earned those.
  4. 4
    Praise good behavior. When you see your child doing something nice and say something about it, she is more likely to continue that kind of behavior because she likes the positive reinforcement. “I like how you picked up your toys. Since we agreed that after the toys are picked up that I would read you a story, why don’t you pick one out?” This recognizes what she has made a good decision and also allows you to follow through on rules and agreements.
  5. 5
    Model the behaviors that you want her to express. Young children learn by observation. If she sees you playing a guilt trip or pouting to get your husband to do things, she will try that approach. If you discuss your feelings calmly and negotiate fairly, she will pick up on those behaviors. You can’t get mad if she is copying what you do.

EditThings You'll Need

  • Paper or cardstock
  • Pen or marker
  • Stickers

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

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