5 Ways to Manage High-Maintenance Kids :: Michael Grose

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High maintenance kids are demanding, exasperating and exhausting. They can be tearful, self-indulgent, argumentative, bossy and just plain stubborn.

High maintenance kids always want more – more possessions, more of your attention and more of your time. They never have enough of these commodities. Spend all day with a high maintenance child and they wonder why you won’t spend the night with them too. High maintenance kids can be like jack-in-the-boxes at bed-time. Put them to bed and they come out ten minutes later wanting a drink, a kiss or one more book. They want none of these. What they really want is YOU!!!! Enough!!!

Here are five ideas to help you manage high maintenance kids:

1. Ignore them when they misbehave to get attention.

When they want your attention do something completely different. But be ready for their attention-seeking stuff to escalate. So hang in there.

2. Make yourself scarce

It’s hard to ignore high maintenance kids so it’s best to keep yourself busy, or make yourself scarce. This can force high maintenance kids to draw on their own resources. Just be prepared to give them plenty of attention when you are around them.

3. Do the unexpected

Sometimes doing the unexpected or doing something from left field is your best ally when you have kids who make continuous demands on your time. If you have a child who continually whinges, invite him to sit down and listen to you have a good old whine about your day. “You’ve had a bad day, you should hear about mine……” They’ll be off like a shot rather than listen to a whining parent.

4. Attend to more to needs, and less to wants

Be clear in your own mind about the difference between a ‘want’ and a ‘need’. High maintenance kids have more wants than needs. For instance, they may want ice cream but they don’t need it.  They need food. A toddler may need you to cut his food up but he wants you to sit with him while he eats.  He doesn’t need you to sit with him.

5. Teach them to be independent

High maintenance kids usually become dependent on their parents. That’s part of the deal, so make sure you spend good time with them teaching them self-help skills.  That way, you wean them off needing you! They may still want you, but they won’t necessarily need you!

  • Guest

    HELP!!  I have a very argumentative & determined nearly 5 year old son.  What is the best way to manage inappropriate behaviour and get him to do as he is asked when he flatly refuses to back down and the situation then very quickly escalates out of control and becomes a battle of wills?  If we do eventually reach a resolution he is quick to go into battle over the next thing that he needs to do.  My patience is constantly tested to its limits and I am at my wits end.  I feel like I am failing as a parent.

  • Jenng

    Oh I just read this today, and this is my 9 year old daughter to a tee!!! She always WANTS just girl time with mommy – we have a girl day, she wants more…she gets a treat, it’s never enough. Today her brother stayed home sick – she pitched a fit that it wasn’t fair that he got to stay home??? Seriously! I love her to pieces, and even her dramatic and needy ways can be endearing…but then again, it can be very trying.


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