I’m Not Going to Change My Mind

This statement is used effectively by one of our teachers https://kidworkschildrenscenter.com/team/lisa-escobar/ and has caught on with the others.  Maybe it will with you too!  It is concise because it pierces like a laser to stop negotiations and frustration between adult and child.   When do teachers say it?  Why is it effective?


3-year-old Suzy is changing into dry clothes after messy, outside play.  Suzy is consistently capable of dressing herself, including her shoes.  She tells the teacher, Ms. Green, “I want you to put on my shoes”.  Generally, teachers do not do for a child what they are competent to do for themselves.  Ms. Green answers with a smile, “You can do it”.

“I can’t”, “It’s too hard” and  “I want you to do it”, Suzy replies. Ms. Green encourages and supports Suzy’s own ability.  Suzy has decided to influence Ms. Green to change her mind and so begins to cry and scream loudly for all to see and hear. Ms. Green says in a neutral voice–

“I’m not going to change my mind.”

Seven short words informed Suzy that Ms. Green chooses not to be influenced.

Effective Words for Learning to Cope

“I’m not going to change my mind” short-circuits a child’s demand for instant gratification. For Suzy, it’s time to practice coping with doing what she doesn’t want to do. Coping is a necessary life skill to begin building in early childhood so that when life’s difficulties come to visit, the child has had some practice.

Wants vs. Needs

Fulfilling your child’s wants is not loving because you reduce the number of coping practice sessions. You lead them to believe they can expect life to be easy even when you know that it isn’t.

Children’s wants should not be confused with their needs. (Suzy didn’t need Ms. Green’s help, she wanted her to do the job for her.)  When parents or caregivers regularly meet children’s’ wants, children develop a low tolerance for stress.  They also develop negative attitudes over putting forth effort if they usually get by putting in very little of it.

Effective for the Adult

Parents often get wrangled into negotiated settlements led by their child.  They make bargains with their child to keep them happy.  (What exactly is so devastating if your preschooler is angry at you?  Parents need coping practice too.)

“I’m not going to change my mind” is powerful for the adult who speaks it because it is confidence-building self-talk. Saying it out loud helps him stick to it.  The adult asserts with matter-of-fact neutrality,

“I’m not going to change my mind.”

Try it and let us know how it works!




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