12 Year-Old Boy Won’t Accept “No”


We implemented a plan to help our 12 year old son learn the importance of keeping his room clean: He must keep it clean for ten days in order to order anything online, get a ride, etc. He did it for five days then stopped when he lost a school function for grades. He refuses to start it again. He also is begging over and over to download a song, but we continue to say no.

In retaliation, we think, he has now resorted to leaving books out in the study. He actually hides them under a pillow but leaves a corner out for us to see. It's not even the books he reads so he obviously goes out of his way to do it. Another thing we have noticed is that he keeps running the same load of laundry through and leaving it. We believe he is trying to get us to react by having to ask him to remove it. He seems to be looking for situations where he can say "I'll do x if you let me have y". Any suggestions are great to get him back on track without the power struggle?


Thanks for the question! You are definitely on the right track.

~First, continue with the no ordering online, etc. Take away the device he uses for downloading music.
~While he's at school, empty his room. Nothing but school clothes, furniture, and study materials should be left.
~Set a time for you and your husband to calmly tell him (maybe at dinner) that you are serious about him tidying his room, but even more serious about him refusing to obey.
~Because of his refusal to accept your authority, he's lost all privileges for two weeks, and will be confined to his room when he's not at school, having dinner with the family, or involved in a family activity. There is no benefit to gradually increasing the severity of the consequences. If you impose a serious consequence now, he will get the message, and you shouldn't have to deal with this again.

NOTE: He will be angry. You will hate having to do this, and will be tempted to give in. If you do, you will have lost this opportunity and will have to do it again. The key is to be firm, calm, and unbending. Beware of thoughts like, "He's missing out! He's just a kid!", etc. That's the whole point--he IS missing out, but you want him to learn to accept authority while he's "just a kid" instead of wrangling with teachers and employers in the future.

If you haven't already done so, read "The Well-Behaved Child" by John Rosemond for further guidance and encouragement!

You can do this!

All the best,
Kaye Wilson, Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

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