"A child who can't take "no" for an answer always has parents who can't say it and mean it. "

Ticket to Change


My 7-year-old son has a habit of expressing his frustration, questioning me, or complaining about what I've told him to do or said “no” to.

He asks, “Why not?” and I answer simply, “Because I said so”, but he proceeds to walk away saying things like, "I don't know what the big deal is," etc. He also does this at school when the teacher tells him to do (or not do) something.

Do I ignore the things he says or give him a consequence for it? Should it be the Ticket Method for a target behavior?

He used to have an expressive delay and was in speech therapy. Is it possible that I am using this as an excuse and am enabling his behavior so now he expresses everything as though the “mind voice” is out loud instead of quiet?


Thank you for your question. In summary, regarding your explanation of your son’s behavior, yes, you ignore the things he says AND start a ticket chart for one behavior at a time. You might start with making negative comments, after explaining to him what that means as plainly as you can to a seven-year-old. Key to your success will be your ability to refrain from being frustrated and defensive by the things that he says when you know he is not speaking the truth.

Concerning the expressive delay and “mind voice” – what will they come up with next? That is a board term that has been added to the already cumbersome list of psychobabble language. You could be enabling his behavior if you are using this as an excuse. Your task is to figure out what resonates with your son in the form of a consequence that will cause a memorable experience he can draw from when he is tempted to violate a directive. Remember that since he has been able to express himself in this manner for many years, the remedy may take some time. You can do this, stay the course and keep in touch.

Gretchen Slover

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