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Why doesn't my son listen to me?

Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Answered by: Dr. S. Anandalakshmy
Consultant in Child Development & Education,

Chennai
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Q. My question relates to my son's psychology. I have a 3-years-old son, who is very intelligent and has a very good grasping abilities. He is also a very quick learner. At the age of 1.5 yrs, he used to recognise all the alphabets and numbers. Now he can recognise almost all the cars on the road. But the problem is that he is not at all obedient. He never listens to what I tell him. I cannot get him to practice any regular activities like removing his shoes after returning home, washing hands after returning from park etc. I know he is still young but I think this is the right age to let him know what is right and what is wrong? At school his teachers tell me to make him do certain things with him, certain activities, but I cannot get him to sit with me. No amount of good talking, coaxing, appreciating helps. If at all I raise my voice he starts crying and runs to his grandmom. I have told her a thousand times not to pay attention to him until he listens to what he is told, but she never listens. She is always interfering. Because of this, my son never listens to me and is always spending time with her. I am only required to do the basic things like feeding, bathing etc. My son is very attached to me; he misses me if I am absent for a long time and always wants me at night, before sleeping. I don't know how to deal with this. Please help.

A.  I am glad you have a bright and active child. But don't forget that he is only 3 years old. I think the root of the problem is that there are two sets of authorities: his parents and his grandmother. The very fact that you say that you have told her a 1000 times makes it clear that you do not wish her to support the child in any act that goes against your instruction. But you must sort this out tactfully and quietly with her, not make the child feel he is a pawn on the family chess board. Instead of trying to make the child a perfect child, work at keeping him happy and in good humour. Make a game of what he has to do. With a little relaxation and some humour, he will eventually comply. Show him that the rules apply to everyone in the family and are for hygiene in the home. Be firm without getting so anxious about obedience.

A.  I am glad you have a bright and active child. But don't forget that he is only 3 years old. I think the root of the problem is that there are two sets of authorities: his parents and his grandmother. The very fact that you say that you have told her a 1000 times makes it clear that you do not wish her to support the child in any act that goes against your instruction. But you must sort this out tactfully and quietly with her, not make the child feel he is a pawn on the family chess board. Instead of trying to make the child a perfect child, work at keeping him happy and in good humour. Make a game of what he has to do. With a little relaxation and some humour, he will eventually comply. Show him that the rules apply to everyone in the family and are for hygiene in the home. Be firm without getting so anxious about obedience.

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