"Children show respect for parents by obeying them. Parents show respect for children by expecting them to obey. "

Hop off the Argument Merry Go Round

Question

Hi there,

My almost 5-year-old has come a long way from his 3-year-old self. I suppose maturity helps. He's no longer throwing tantrums (a.k.a crying loudly) or hitting when he doesn't get his way but he's still trying his darndest to be in charge.

When given an instruction, his first reaction is arguing and giving excuses or making all sorts of requests "But I have to do this first," "But I have to use the toilet," "Can you set my clock?" "I'm thirsty, I'll drink water first." We let it go at first, requiring that as long as that instruction gets done, we're fine with drinking water first or whatever. Now he's pulling free on the carpark, darting out to hold daddy's hand instead. He argues with me about that. He pretends not to understand or hear instructions when we're outside. I'm ashamed to say, sometimes I have yelled out of no choice.

At home, we usually state the instruction and walk away. But!! He'll either dawdle and not do it, or he'll follow me around most persistently, pestering me about "but this, but that", whatever the "but" is, there will be at least one excuse it can't get done immediately. He's a real pro in getting a parent into the boxing ring of to-and-fro arguments. We don't engage but this is very, very unpleasant as its happening all the time.

Three daily strikes for not listening immediately or room and early bedtime isn't persuading him to stop this bad habit. By the way, he's very accustomed to being sent into his room for the day. He'll even argue with me incessantly about consequences - no TV or whatever! Oh, and when in his room, he'll keep coming out to make various requests. I'll sternly tell him to go back in only for him to pop out again and call loudly for me. Same thing if I lock the door. I can't really ignore the noise as it's a small house and his sister is doing homework in the next room. If I become stern, he's got a reaction out of me. If I Ignore it, he amps up the noise. What do I do? He's not listening to his teachers at kinder or violin lesson either. He doesn't defy outrightly but just ignores instructions and does something else instead or dawdles, just like at home. Having him behave at home also doesn't guarantee he'll behave outside - it's like having a loose cannon! What do we do?

How do we put a stop to this once and for all? I thought we'd sorted this out - but it's just morphed into something else from the Same root.

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