Non-Compliant Behavior. Parent’s and teachers alike agree that one of the most frustrating behavior problems to address with children is non-compliance. What is Non-Compliance?. Put simply, non-compliance is an unwillingness to follow through with a
Parent’s and teachers alike agree that
one of the most frustrating
behavior problems to address with
children is non-compliance.
Put simply, non-compliance is an
unwillingness to follow through with a
directive given by another person. On
many occasions the person giving the
directive is a person in a position of
Many things can cause a child to exhibit non-compliant behavior, but
the three most common causes would be:
1. Young children may be going through a developmental phase where
they are exercising their autonomy, and testing the authority of adults.
2. Some children have a history of poor relationships with adults and
do to resentment feel they don’t have to comply with adults requests.
3. Sometimes adults fail to consistently make children follow through
with directives early on, and the child learns they don’t necessarily
have to comply.
We address non-compliance by teaching
children to be compliant.
We can teach compliance using a method
called Errorless Compliance Training.
With paper and pen sit down and think about the child’s behavior.
1. Make a list of 4-5 things that the child will do for you without
question when asked. This could be things such as: give you a hug,
retrieve a fork or spoon, get you some milk out of the refrigerator.
We will call these “high probability requests”
2. Make a second list of 4-5 things the child will do for you, but
typically result in whining, fussing, repeated prodding. This could
be things such as brushing teeth, getting clothes ready for tomorrow,
going to bed on time. We will call these “moderate probability requests”.
Now make a third list of 4-5 things that you know the child will not do,
regardless of how many times you ask, beg, or plead. These could
include, cleaning the bedroom, doing homework, taking out the trash,
doing laundry, coming home on time. We will call these “low probability
Take your list of high probability requests, and over the next week ask
the child frequently throughout the day to complete some of those
tasks. Make your request and promptly walk away.
*Make sure you have the child’s attention when making your request
(turned toward you, making eye contact, and listening).
It is critical that when you ask the child to do something that you ask
in a firm, but polite manner.
If the child complies with your directive, immediately give the child lots
of praise and attention for complying.
If the child fails to comply with your request, do not immediately make
the same request again, as this could lead to a power struggle between
yourself and the child, which could escalate into an argument.
Wait awhile (15 to 20 minutes) then approach the child and make a
request to do a different high probability task. If the child complies,
provide praise and attention immediately. Wait awhile, and then
request that they do the task they did not follow through with
The following week continue throughout the day to
frequently make high probability requests of the child.
However, on occasion ask the child to do a task from your
moderate probability list. If they comply, provide
immediate praise and attention for complying.
If they fail to comply follow the steps detailed on the
During the second week continue to mix high and
moderate level requests.
On the third week continue with high and moderate level
requests, but occasionally sneak in a Low Probability
request. If the child complies, immediately provide lots
of praise and attention, tell them how proud you are of
If the student fails to comply with the Low
Probability request, follow the steps
described in the previous slides. i.e., back
off for a period of time and return to
Moderate or Low Probability requests.
If the methods described in this training are implemented
correctly and consistently everyday, you should see a
significant change in the child’s level of compliance
within a month.
Remember that you will need to provide numerous
opportunities throughout the day to train compliance.
Three or four times per day is not sufficient to change
a behavior that has become ingrained over time.
Why do we need to teach compliance?
Simply, over the course of a child’s lifetime they will be
asked thousands of times to do things they may not want
to do. By teaching children compliance at an early age, we
are arming them with a valuable skill that will be of great
benefit to them throughout adulthood.