This is Why Your 7-Year-Old Doesn’t Listen to You


The idea of a child not listening to you strikes fear into any good parent’s heart. This can be taken really personally and it is frustrating. The parent may wonder if they are just not a good parent.

Why does your 7-year-old not listen to you? Sometimes children are so focused on what they are doing that they do not think to notice you. Physically place yourself in the way of what they are doing so their attention is diverted to you. Another reason may be because they haven’t learned to respect you. Try different things and see what works.

What used to be an enjoyable, talkative kid has now become someone fiercely independent. What do you do with this kind of situation and how do you cope with it in the meantime? Let’s touch on a few ideas.

Perspective is Key

First off, it is going to be okay. This is natural for this stage of the life of a child. Joseph Shrand, M.D., said, “Instead, take a step back and recognize that your child isn’t purposely trying to undermine you — he’s just acting his age,”

Reading that helps put things into perspective for me. It’s nice to hear what I think confirmed by someone who actually studies this stuff.

Just remember that you are a good parent and not a failure. This does not define you in any way. You are still the parent you were before this and you can only improve from here. I have some ideas for combating this, don’t worry.

Since this is just the age that kids begin to ignore you sometimes, you need to find other ways to get them to listen. Put your creative brain on because we’re going somewhere with this post!

Examine the Behavior

So your child has begun to ignore you and you’ve become confused and annoyed. Instead of getting mad, put on your detective cap and grab your magnifying glass because we are going to examine the situation.

Let’s start at home for clues. Examine what you are doing. Do you allow your child to share their thoughts? Do you have an atmosphere where your child feels safe? Examine the home atmosphere.

Talk to your child. Are they experiencing something that really has put a lot of stress on them? Maybe they are sad because they lost a friend or maybe they are being bullied at school?

Talk to them and they will most likely tell you how they are doing. They are precious souls and they need you. Keep up the open dialogue. It is so important for trust.

Being a child is not easy. As a child grows up, they haven’t yet matured enough to understand that they can’t do everything. What I mean by that is there are some restrictions that exist simply because they are not adults.

Because of this, power struggles happen. Children think they are larger than life and you have to pull them out of the clouds. It’s kind of like the line in that song from “The Sound of Music” that says, “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” That’s how it is.

Sometimes this can be a serious problem that has existed longer than this period of their life. If so, you should have a doctor about it and possibly have therapy sessions.

Exist in Physical Space Around Them

That’s just a long, drawn out way of saying, “Hey! I’m here and I exist. I am the parent.” Avoid things like constantly calling for them. That does not work and honestly, it’s annoying to everybody and yourself (Don’t kid yourself, you don’t like it either).

Your kid is not listening to you because they have gotten used to hearing you and they are busy being independent.

When a kid hits about 7 or 8 they get really good at tuning you out, especially when they are doing something they want to do. So you gotta get creative. Get in front of them and whatever they are doing. In some way, shape, or form, you have to get between them and whatever it is that they are doing.

Taps on the shoulder can help. A physical touch of any kind can really get them out of their head and listening to you.

Lonnie Lane, a mom from Portland, Oregon, would say, “Hey, chicken lips!” Get creative. don’t be afraid to make it funny or to put a little drama into it. Say something that will catch your child off guard. Just don’t lie and say something that is not true to get their attention.

Create a System of Accountability and Consequences

Really though, this is probably the best idea. I think so anyways. Instead of always just trying to nag your child about getting things done, tell them you will ask once and then consequences will follow afterwards.

For example, if they don’t wash their dishes, then no reading together tonight, no movie, or any other sort of consequences you want to give them. This is a wonderful idea because it can be extremely specific to the situation and the child’s needs.

It is also effective because it teaches your child that life has consequences. Their actions will lead to good and/or bad things. The home is a fantastic place to start having a structure that will teach your son or daughter these things.

You can say something like, “I am okay with telling you to do this once, but after that, [insert consequence here].” This way it is friendly, it is honest, and it is firm and unchanging. They know what is expected of them.

This really helps with being heard because you only have to say it once. After that, the consequence comes. You don’t have have to ask them a billion times.

The consequence will follow because you have already informed them. They can’t be mad because they knew the consequence. It’s kind of a “Gotcha!” moment.

On a more positive note, praise good behavior! If your child follows through on something or does something of their own accord, let them know that you appreciate it.

If they are obedient and respectful, show them that you appreciate it. I think a huge step is when kids can cooperate peacefully and not get mad. That is worth a huge amount of praise. 

I’m much more of positive reinforcement kind of person. I don’t really believe in rewarding with physical gifts. I feel people should just be good without reward. I think rewards should be given once in a while after a period of improvement. I’ll praise any day, though.

That’s just how I see it, so it is very subjective. You do what you feel is best. Like I always say, you know your child best.

Give A Choice

So as a subtopic of accountability and consequences, I think it is a good idea to give them a choice as well. They need some say because it helps them to think about complex ideas and then problem solve. It’s a classic trail and error process.

Generally, they don’t have a choice in certain things. Some things have to happen, but you can give them a choice of when. They can either comply now or after and suffer the consequences.

If they choose not to comply, they will see the consequence happen and they will most likely do what you asked next time. Your kid is smart enough not to make a decision like that twice.

All of this will not work if you don’t follow through on your consequences. Following through teaches them that mom/dad are serious and they won’t try to dupe you.

Make Your Expectations Known

Another part of this making sure they know what is expected of them. Yeah, we have already basically covered this topic but I wanted to give special attention to it.

Sit your child down and let them know exactly what you expect. No wavering. It may not work perfectly the first time because kids can be forgetful. You may need to remind before the situation happens just ot refresh them.

For example, say they don’t get ice cream if they don’t clean their dishes. Well they forgot so you have to remind and you may have to do it a couple of times.

Keep trying and they will get it, unless they are in complete defiance. We will talk a little about that next.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

It can be really easy to just blow up and be mad if your child is being defiant. I get that. I would get mad when my younger sister’s would not obey me. But you have to keep your cool.

I don’t know why it is this way but if one person blows up, the other generally reacts the same. I guess it is mirror neurons or something. Don’t actually quote me on that.

Anyways, getting mad and firing at your child will only make them more defiant. I know it will feel good in the moment but do NOT blow up if you can help it.

If you need time to calm down, do so. Calming down helps to bring clarity. It’s better to wait than have your child fire back in disobedience and disrespect.

Your Child Needs to Be Heard

You know that phrase, “Children should be seen but not heard?” Yeah whoever made that obviously didn’t love their children. Listening to your child will help them respect you which can also translate to them listening to you.

According to research published in a UNICEF Press Release in 2003, children who are not heard in the home can fail to develop skills such as the ability to express themselves, negotiate differences, assume responsibility, etc. 

“Our first response must be simply to listen to what they’re saying, because in fact what they’re saying is that we do not listen enough.”

Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF

Now obviously this is extremely healthy for the children. That is no doubt, but why would it be important for you?

Your kids need someone they can trust. They need someone to respect them and their ideas. Our children will eventually be leaders one day. If we don’t allow them to speak their mind get their wheels turning, how are they going to be effective in society.

If your kid wants to share with you for the one-hundredth time why their stuffed animal needs to be fixed by Doc Mcstuffins and how it has happened before, you better listen up. If your child comes in from left field with some crazy deep thought or questions, you better be able to sit down and strap in for the ride.

I don’t know if kids are aware or even conscientiously register the times that you listened or the good things that you have done for them but deep inside, they will know that they can trust you with what they feel and think about the world around them.

When your child is struggling, teach them to express and name their emotions. Teach them what anger means. Teach them what it means to be frustrated or annoyed. Also, teach them positive emotions like what it means to be happy or excited.

When you child is explaining to you how they feel, say, “I think what you are feeling is annoyed. You really care about that stuffed animal and you don’t want to have to share it.”

Teach them the word and then proceed to teach them what it means in real situations. What a great teaching moment. This can be highly effective if you really put in the effort.

Pick Your Battles

Honestly, sometimes you are just not going to win. Sometimes you just need to let things go. Life is busy with children and sometimes the unimportant things that might seem important need to be evaluated and seen for what they really are: Unimportant.

Make sure the important things like getting dressed and doing homework are done. Of course, those take the highest priority. But small things like shoes left out or clothes not put away properly can be handled at another time. Sometimes you just are not going to win.

According to Dr. Fick, kids in our modern society feel overwhelmed frequently and are more likely to cooperate with parents if they feel that they are asked to do only the most important of things.

Now, some part of me believes that children should always do what parents ask and that all things should be done. Get ‘er done, right? Well, I’m not a parent but I hope to be someday. I will probably learn at that time what it is like dealing with a 7-year-old.

But I think what I partially believe is true. You should expect a lot from your kids. I really think that you should. I think that it will vary from child to child on what you can do. You know your children and you can adjust where needed.

Have Fun and Be Creative

Above all else, enjoy your child and the stage they are at. You won’t have them this way forever. I think that if you take the time ot think about how to help your child, you will come up with really creative ideas.

Like the chick lips thing, you can create words or ideas to use. I know somebody who uses unique whistles for each of the children when they need them. Weird, right? But that is the point! It’s your family, you can be as weird as you want. As long as you love your kids and it is working, what else matters?

Get creative.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty in creative measures. Who knows, you might actually enjoy yourself while breaking your child’s habit of not listening to you.

Related Questions

How do I deal with my defiant child? One of the most important things that you can do is hold your child accountable. Their actions have consequences. Reinforce positive behavior. Make sure you have the power. You do this by acting and not reacting. You have to keep your cool. Choose which battles are important. Once a punishment or consequence is set, don’t change it. You have to be firm.

What causes a child to have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)? There are a wide variety of factors ranging from biological, psychological, or even social factors. It is seen to happen within families who have a history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It can even be from a history of mood disorders or bipolar disorder. I would consult a doctor to find some reasons why. That is your best source.

How do you discipline a child without hitting them? You should put your child in timeout or remove yourself from a little bit if you get agitated fast. If you get frustrated with your child, do not hit them. That is so damaging. Maybe you should seek some help from others. Count to 10. Teach yourself breathing exercises. Find ways to calm down so you don’t feel the need to hit your child.

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