Say This, Not That by Ilana Kukoff and Jessica Huddy

Dealing with Disrespect

Dear Ilana and Jess: My eight-year-old daughter, Sheila, has developed a serious attitude. When I ask her to do something, she ignores me or tells me she’ll do it later. How do I get her to respect me? - Meredith

Dear Meredith: We’re going to stop you right there. The first problem: you’re asking her, not telling her. When giving a command, make sure it’s just that. Avoid phrasing requests as questions or suggestions. So, instead of saying, “Could you please do ____?” say, “Sheila, I need you to do ____.” In addition, make sure you’re specific about what you need her to do, so she can’t find a loophole.

Make eye contact. Before you start talking, make sure Sheila gives you her full attention. If she isn’t looking at you, call her name and pause. If, given a beat, she still does not look at you, prompt her directly to do so. Don’t continue talking until she complies.

Give a deadline and a consequence. If Sheila ignores you the first time you prompt her to do something, give a warning. You might say, “Sheila, I told you to take out your backpack once. If you don’t take it out now, I’m going to take your phone away until the homework is done.”

Finally, mind your tone. Make sure you’re speaking in a clear, authoritative voice. You don’t need to be loud or domineering, but give commands with confidence.

Say This: “Sheila: Look at me, please. I need you to take out your backpack and start your homework.”

Not That: “Sheila, do you want to start your homework now?”

Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: