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8 year old never listens. Nothing gets "through." What am I supposed to do?

I've got a smart, great, kind kid that just never "hears" me. Every day, I tell him to make his bed, brush his teeth, don't stay up talking at night, eat at the table, pick up Legos, etc. These are minor things but at almost 9 years old, why do I have to still tell him this stuff more than once a day?

It's driving me mad. Worse, his lack of interest in listening worries me as far as safety things are concerned. For example, we were at a huge outdoor fountain and he kept running around it and while I don't blame him, it was really slick. He slipped several times but ran anyway, despite my looking him the face and calmly saying, "Hey kid, it's dangerous, please walk!"

Am I overreacting? What do you do with a kid like this? And yes, there are far worse things and I am very lucky. Do I just keep on this routine of doing the same nagging till he's 21? UGH!


Asked by jeanclaudia at 12:44 AM on Jul. 3, 2013 in General Parenting

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This question is closed.
Answers (14)
  • I never expected any 8yo to remember any of this stuff, because no one ever suggested to me that it was a reasonable expectation.

    You can nag, or not, as you choose, but it won't have any more effect on his ability to hear your voice than silence will.

    Answer by LindaClement at 12:47 AM on Jul. 3, 2013

  • My 4 yr old is just as bad...but I see it doesn't get better with age... Oh god help me! lol I will not survive!

    Answer by Michigan-Mom74 at 12:47 AM on Jul. 3, 2013

  • Do you just nag or are there repercussions for not listening? If he hasn't picked up the lego's, why does he still have them?

    Answer by PartyGalAnne at 12:52 AM on Jul. 3, 2013

  • I agree; put some teeth in what you say. If he won't walk, he can't be trusted for safety's sake by the fountain, he holds your hand like a kindergartner. If he doesn't pick up his Legos, they get confiscated. If you just nag, he'll tune you out. You may have to be more proactive at making him mind.

    Answer by Ballad at 1:23 AM on Jul. 3, 2013

  • Yep- back to the drawing board. Sit him down & lay down the law, Mama Sherriff is back in town :p Tell him just what these ladies said.
    1- Everyone who wants to eat, does so at the table, or they don't eat.
    2- The longer he takes getting ready for bed, the earlier he has to go to bed the next night. If he takes 15 mins. arguing or avoiding brushing his teeth, then he's in bed 15 minutes earlier the next nite.
    3 -Won't pick up his toys....If you have to do it, they will be taken, & must be earned back by better behavior.

    It's summertime, and I think that some kids miss the structure of school. Maybe that's what he's trying to tell you w/ his behavior. GL

    Answer by mrsmom110 at 8:01 AM on Jul. 3, 2013

  • sounds normal to me- both of mine were like that from about 5 to 10 or 12!

    remind him of things he needs to do- or make him a list so he can see it.
    also - cosequences for not getting stuff done, your room isn't picked up? you cannot play with friends/ cannot play video games...whatever

    eat at the tabe- NO negotiating. You eat there, or you don't eat
    going to bed- remind him when it's time to call it a night. Give him a few min to wrap it up and then if he is still screwing around- next night he goes to bed earlier.


    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 9:44 AM on Jul. 3, 2013

  • I don't think you NEED to create an adversarial dynamic in order to address the "listening" issue.
    It sounds like you don't have major complaints with your relationship (how he treats you) and you don't really believe that he is "trying to push your buttons" or anything calculated like that, but that it's more that you feel frustrated that he doesn't respond to your prompts about certain annoyances. And he did not listen to your instructions at the fountain.
    I think addressing this in respectful ways (such as paying attention to your communication) rather than using leverage (negative consequences) to force his "responsiveness" will be more likely to encourage actual responsiveness & cooperation.
    There is a section in the book Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon called something like "when the parent owns the problem." It's exactly stuff like this--the kid likes to use tools but leaves them all over. How to proceed?

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:59 AM on Jul. 3, 2013

  • The book lays out principles of communication for those time when the parent has an issue and wants the other person to be responsive. This way of communicating tends to resolve the issue of "not listening" because it's a shift away from the communication patterns that kids tune out (or resist), but also "not listening" itself can be addressed AS the issue in the same way if/when it does happen in times where the kid sees no problem but the parent is unhappy or wants something different to happen. I've found that when I handle those times (when I "own the problem" or when the issue is something that is bugging me) by relying on respectful communication & personal responsibility, I don't have to force outcomes with my kids. It isn't this escalating thing, where I'm thinking of consequences to impose, and essentially "making them" listen or comply. Instead, I have real responsiveness. It's reciprocal.

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:20 AM on Jul. 3, 2013

  • I own a couple of these children myself, nothing has worked, until I would get right in front of them and march them, to the bathroom, to the car, etc. They got it soon enough, Rule is I ask twice, and after that something they value goes away for a week.
    For example your fountain thing, I told you to walk twice, now it is time to get out for the rest of the day.
    We had to leave the pool twice this summer, because my son refuses to walk, after 2x's we have learned to walk at the pool.

    Answer by 2kids2dogs2cats at 1:25 PM on Jul. 3, 2013

  • You need to give him consequences for his actions (or lack of them).

    One that I find is effective is for every extra time I have to say something my daughter loses a day of computer/mp4/television/etc. They start responding smartish after a few days with no computer access :)

    Eating at table? In my home, you are only allowed to eat at the table. End of story.

    Why is he allowed to stay up talking late? Set a bedtime and stick to it.

    What often gets kids to be more obedient is a structured routine. There are times to do things and you stick to it. He makes his bed when he gets out of it. He brushes his teeth immediately after breakfast. He goes to bed at X o'clock and there's no discussion permitted about it. You may have to stand over him for the first few days but things will get better. Most kids find a routine reassuring and, like I said, make sure there are meaningful consequences ...

    Answer by goldpandora at 5:16 AM on Jul. 3, 2013