What Can I Do with a 6 1/2 Yr Old That Does Not Listen

Updated on May 31, 2011
S.T. asks from Phoenix, AZ
12 answers

I had an incident today with my son at the store and i felt so humiliated this is what happened went to store he was thrown a fit when we were at register i tried picking up and carrying him but he ran back to same spot then he dropped his own mnm change jar n it broke the cashier was telling me to let him pick it up cuz of sharp edges n he tried telling my son and my son was trying to pick it up and my son wouldnt let him pick it up my son was throwing a fit before that, n after son woldnt let him get it the cashier goes im done, i have tried discipling my son in different ways and none seem to work, i have had friends and my husband telling me that I am letting him get away with things and I am not, I do get after him they do not see that, I just need advice and options, today i was ready to just cry cuz i just can't seem to control him when we are out at places, and the dr's and his old teachers believe he might have add/adhd, my son is enrolled in counseling but it will take 2 months to go in effect, i need options till then. Thank You.

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answers from Phoenix on

Positive Support Behavior works wonders! You could probably google to find someone or an agency of some kind that teaches PSB. Even if you have to scrimp on groceries for a couple of months, it would be worth it!

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answers from Hartford on

lol wut?

Your son dropped a glass thing and the cashier said, "Don't let him touch that, I'll pick the sharp pieces up" but your son wanted to clean up the mess and cried because he couldn't. Then he kept trying to clean it up anyway and had a tantrum after someone else cleaned it up.

Is that right? I think you need to take your emotions out of the equation. If your child is trying to do something dangerous like clean up broken glass then you physically restrain if you have to. If that was all you were purchasing then you apologize to the cashier and you drag your kid out of the store so that he doesn't have to witness what's upsetting him and you can get him to the car so that other people don't have to witness the tantrum.

You get down to your knees with him, hold him firmly but gently by the wrists and look him in the face. Speak in a low tone and firmly tell him that you expect him to calm down and obey you. You have to tell him what you expect of him and what the appropriate behavior is, and that if he doesn't follow through, what the consequence will be. Do not make a threat that you can't follow through on immediately. Do not threaten with hitting. "If you don't calm down right now, we will leave the store and go home without your ____." Then you follow through and you go back to the store for your other items minus his.

At home, you take away privileges. "Jake, I expect you to clean up your toys. If you clean them up then you can go outside for a while before supper." ::tantrums:: "If you don't calm down, you will not be allowed to go outside and you will still have to clean up your toys." And follow through.

You MUST BE consistent.

Have house rules posted where they can be seen and make sure they include respect and obeying. Include consistent consequences such as loss of TV, loss of video games and computer time, loss of activities that matter. But you also need to have things on there that he can work toward every week. So have a chart that marks his progress and keeps track of his positive behaviors and chores that he does.

EDITED TO ADD: You private messaged me that this was your own change jar. I'd like to know why you put yourself and your son in the position to even break that jar in the first place by taking it with you rather than emptying it out and putting it in something safer that couldn't break BEFORE going to the store. Part of being a parent is keeping our children out of situations like this in the first place, both situations that are upsetting to them AND dangerous situations that could physically hurt them.

I'm sorry, but you're the mom. You said to me also that you "couldn't" just leave with him because there were people in front of you and behind you in line, but isn't that just an excuse for not parenting your child and getting him out of a situation that got out of control? You can't blame other people if you didn't try to remove him by saying, "Excuse me please, I need to leave with my son." People would have given way, trust me.

I also have to say that this really does sound like parenting issues to me. I don't believe for one second that your son has ADD or ADHD. Temper tantrums and misbehavior and disobedience are not what define ADD/ADHD. This IS NOT a matter of "fix the child."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Well, I'm not there so I can't say what you might want to change or try. One thing that helps is a calm mama, so do try to stay calm.

Another thing that helps is to pick ONE method. I've seen parents try one method after another right in a row. First they'll yell, then they'll threaten time-outs or some such thing, then they'll switch to bribery, then they'll yell some more. It's best if you pick one method and stick to it.

I don't know your son, and you don't know if he has ADD but do pick one discipline method like time outs. Be firm, and calm. Let him know he has to comply or else time out (and you CAN do time-out in public! I just saw a mama put her kid in time-out at the grocery store. She made him sit off to the side next to the shopping cart!) Set a timer. Keep putting him back in time-out when he gets out.

Be clear and firm on the rules. Let him know the rule he broke and use simple and specific terms. Don't say "you've been bad" (you shouldn't tell a child they are bad) let him know what exactly he did (he didn't listen).

You may get after him, but perhaps you could try a different method. I don't know what you use, but give it a good shot.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

You need consequences for bad behavior and follow through each and every time.
We have opportunity at home to practice and role play with our kids so we dont have to be embarrassed by them in public.
Decide how you want to punish. Sit your son down and tell him how the new rules are going to work so he's aware and wont be shocked.
You need to always keep your composure, no screaming, yelling or acting like a lunatic in front of your child..... that kind of behavior from a parent is SO confusing for a child.
If going to his room for a time out to "think" about what he did wrong is the punishment you choose, use it each and every time. Mine had to stay in their room until they came out and said they were sorry and explained to me why they were put in their room in the first place. Once they get the concept you will find yourself having to punish less.

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answers from Seattle on

So here's the situation:

Your child broke something.
And he really, really, wanted to make it better by cleaning it up.
And two adults were telling him he couldn't.
And he threw a fit.

I seriously doubt the problem is discipline. Most kids do not throw a fit because someone else is insisting on cleaning up their mess. A more normal pattern is to throw a fit because they are being required to clean up a mess. Lots of possibilities as to the real problem. Here are a few:

A sensory disorder. Read "The Out-of-Sync Child", see if anything looks familiar. This is often mistaken for ADD.

A language disorder. My son will often get very angry to cover up the fact that he doesn't understand what is being asked of him.

Some type of challenge with emotional control. Most people would be upset if they dropped a change jar, but would calm down quickly. A child with emotional control problems might not be able to calm down, and stay stuck in that adrenalin rush.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Not likely, but if he *always* must clean up specific messes in a specific way, this might be something to look at.

ADD/ADHD? Maybe. The story you told doesn't sound like ADD to me, but I assume there are lots of other stories.

Consider keeping a detailed journal for a week or so to see if you can identify any patterns in when he behaves well or badly.

Your friends and husband need to help you find the real problem or shut their mouths. This is not your fault.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

If you speak to your son the same way you write it's not wonder he can't understand you. Be sure you use complete sentences with subjects and verbs. Make the sentences short and to the point. Do not repeat yourself.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

It sounds like you have a challenging child. Is his dad helping to raise him or just criticizing you? That doesnt sound helpful. Does he behave much better for his Dad? Does your husband not believe that your son is ADD? It is like a blow to men's ego when kids have any problems! What are your friends witnessing that makes them think that? Do they see you discipline him and it is unsuccessful ? or do you know it will be unsuccessful so you are embarrassed to try anything in front of them? Sometimes when children are very difficult parents do kinda give up when you try what works with other children and it doesnt work it highlights how difficult your child is. But you cant give up especially when it is dangerous behavior! or aggressive with other kids. I hope the counselor can help



answers from Chicago on

No matter what, I think consistency is the key.

Try making a little chart of "offenses" and "consequences". There is a Bearenstein Bears book about this, and they created a little list on the last page.

I think it helps kids to 1) understand what is expected of them and 2) for parents to follow through consistently.

There's a book called Logical Consequence I've heard a lot about too. The idea is that kids make choices - good ones and bad ones. And just like in life, each choice has a consequence.

It's really helped us to have mom/dad get out of the "bad guy" role by explaining to our kids, "You made a bad choice, now you loose _______. I bet you're really upset that now you lost a playdate because you didn't finish your chores." Then WE aren't "making" them do anything, or "giving" the punishment, it's their choice to behave or not.

Best wishes



answers from Phoenix on

I truly understand an out of control child. My son was the same way. He was misdiagnosed as having ADD/ADHD based on his behaviors. However, it turned out that he had a vision problem that was very easily solved with Vision Therapy. He did not need glasses but he did need to learn how to work his eyes together as a team. Prior to Vision Therapy, he was so mad and so poorly behaved. Discipline did not change his behavior either and I tried everything. Once he started therapy all that changed. He was a completely different kid. Everything that the other moms said about discipline is correct. You must be consistent!! But before you accept any ADD/ADHD diagnoses, please have your son seen by a Behavioral Optometrist. You can find one in your area at www.covd.org or www.oepf.org. My son academically went from far far below to top of his class is less than 9 months. His behavior changed for the better also. He was even awarded a prize from his school for his academic greatness and showing great character all the time. I cannot stress this enough, TAKE HIM TO SEE A BEHAVIORAL OPTOMETRIST. Most eye doctors are NOT trained in Vision Therapy so they do not test for all the possible vision problems that can exist. It takes 17 visual skills to be successful at school. And reading an eye chart 20 feet away is just one of those skills - visual acuity. My son had Convergence Insufficiency and when he tried to do up close work, the words would dance on the page. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please send me a private note. Best of luck!!




answers from San Francisco on

I agree with the other mamas here. Consistency is the key. However, I didn't use the same consequences for everything. I used a consequence that made sense for the offense.

If they didn't clean up their toys when asked the first time, they would lose those toys for a week. If they didn't come in from the yard when asked the first time, they had to stay inside with no tv for the rest of that day, plus the next day. If I asked them to do something and they didn't do it right away, they were given a second thing to do. Talking back, or other smart mouth behavior would send them to sit on their beds with no toys, music, nothing, until they were ready to apologize change their attitude.

In the situation you described, I would have told him once to stop and if he continued, I would pick him up and carry him to the car. If he screamed and yelled, oh well. Once in the car, I would explain that since he can not behave when you are out, he will have to stay home for two days with no tv, video games, etc. Do this everytime. As soon as he acts up while you are out, just take him to the car. If he throws a fit, oh well. Try to get your errands taken car of while he is at school, so you can follow through with staying home. After a few days of 'boredom therapy' he will figure it out. :)

Yelling never works, so just stay as calm as you can and follow through. Sit down with him and let him know that you expect him to follow directions the first time and if he doesn't there will be consequences. I wouldn't give warnings in the begining. Just go straight to the consequence if he doesn't mind the first time. Once his behavior begins to change and he is in the habit of obeying, you can occasionally give a warning to remind him, but only after he is consistantly following directions.

It will take some time and perserverance on your part, but you can do this. He needs to learn to obey rules and follow directions, or his life will be very difficult. ADD does not limit a child's ability to obey. It can affect their ability to stay on task, etc., but basic obedience is not any more difficult for ADD kids.

You can do this. Be consistent and be brave!



answers from Phoenix on

I agree with Jen S. You need to give an immediate consequence to each act of disobedience. But you need to first sit down with your child as a family and explaine that there are going to be some changes. Everything should be spelled out for him and he needs to know what the consequences are going to be. Once he knows, you need to be consistent with them. We used a tally system with our ADHD child. Every act of disobedience, noncompliance, or disrespect would get a tally mark on a sheet. (For every minute of noncompliance he gets another tally mark) Once a certain amount of tallies are reached, he lost a specific privelage. These were written out and he knew them. After loosing all 7 levels of privelages, he would have nothing to do but sit and think! We started with 12 tallies and moved down to 4 a day. If he made it under the limit for 3 days in a row, he would get a reward, this moved to all week when his behavior improved. Eventually we didn't need the chart or rewards, but we do bring out the system from time to time when we see behaviors returning. We started when he was 6 and now he is 11. He likes the system becuase everything is spelled out and there are no surprises in the consquences. Find a system that works and be consistent - yelling never works they just tune you out.



answers from Spokane on

Every time you give him an instruction or ask him a question, it should be on his level. Kneel down, look him in the eye, and talk to him kindly and calmly. Make a chart with simple picture clues to show him what behaviors are expected of him - this should be short and clear, maybe 5 behaviors, not 12.
If he truly has ADD/HD, then he probably isn't hearing you at all when you speak to him unless you have his FULL attention.(Even if he doesn't have ADD, he still probably isn't hearing you! :))

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