My Son Is Testing Me

Dear Sara,

My seven year old son has to be told four or five times to do something. It’s almost like a game to him. He will be standing close to me and appears to hear me but he just stands there when I tell him to do something. Only when I finally get aggravated will he move. He’s a little immature but other than that he seems normal. How can I get him to listen without getting physical?

Dear Emily,

It does sound like your son is playing with you. You might want to tell him you are going to tell him one and time only. If he doesn’t move by the time you count to three then he will face a consequence.

I’m pretty sure he will test you on this. For a consequence you could sit him on a chair in the hall or place him where you can watch him. Make sure to keep him away from activities for ten minutes.  You could also limit his TV time or some other thing he likes to do. Just be consistent and don’t back down.

There may be a possibility of hearing loss or ADD, so you might want to have him evaluated for these things if you continue having problems.


  1. Scott Reynolds says:

    What a joke,when I was 5 (1976) if my mother told me to do something I was doing it halfway through her demand or there was heLL to pay! She never came close to abusing me,probably because I listened..My how times have changed.

  2. Yep, tell him ONE time ONLY! Then tell him, YOU choose when you want to do (whatever the chore is) but you will NOT get to do (whatever he wants) until it’s done. Then walk away. End of discussion. Put the ball in his court and stick to your guns!

  3. When I address my Grandchildren I start with calling their name. When they answer I know I have their attention. Only then do I tell them what I want of them. This works and they can’t use an excuse of “ I didn’t hear you”. I also “inspect “ what I “expect”. If their choirs are accomplished successfully I acknowledge a job well done. This process does wonders for their self-esteem. Something that a lot of our young people do not have today

  4. Have to disagree with Sara, tell him one time only. No counting to three, that creates some of the same rebellion she has now. If you train them to only do something when you they are at last straw, or know they have until the count of 3. That is what they will do. Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No. They will respect and love your for your word. If they know they can count on your work- then they will; for everything. Not just punishment.
    -As stated, make sure you know the child hears you.

  5. First have a talk w/him of your concerns with his health. You’ll be talking to his teachers to ask of their concerns for hearing and following directions as well. The possibly of going to the doctor for tests should handle the problem.

  6. Donald R Laster Jr says:

    It sounds like an integrity issue. It would appear the son does not believe the mother is serious until she gets aggravated. The mother need to insure no means no, yes means yes, and if she is not sure say maybe. She needs to tell the son what to do and if he fails to do it when instructed she need to impose some sort of punishment for the failure to obey. And she has to be consistent.

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