A 6-years-old boy is very bright, intelligent and clever, but on the other hand he's very strong-minded and often like an absent-minded professor.

The problems:

  1. he does not like other people to teach or "instruct" him something, he often seems to block if someone tries to explain and teach him something, especially if he is not able to do it himself instantly
    so he does want to master things, but does not want to learn something with an effort
  2. he gets easily distracted from what he originally wanted to do - he stumbles upon other things and tends to "dawdling", even if he should prepare for something he absolutely wants (like visiting his favorite friend/playmate)
  3. finally, if he does not want to do something (or does want to do it differently), he starts and endless discussion, blocks everything and this is very tiring and annoying for other people - often those who want to show/teach him something, see point 1.

He wears people off with this behavior.

How can his parents help him to understand, that those behaviors tend to push off other people - even those who like him and want to help him - and risk to isolate him?

  • 2
    Is his emotional intelligence in an appropriate state for a six year old as well as his logical/intellectual? If it is not, (compare to others and simply test for yourself) I suggest you get him tested for Autism and Aspergers! (sounds to me that way, even though there is only too little information available from your question).
    – v2r
    Mar 31 '14 at 16:55

First, your child is not at odds with you or anyone else -- not in his view. I hated when people would try to teach me things. At a very young age I even declared openly to my mother that I would not learn from her mistakes; that sometimes learning from my own mistakes was the best way to learn.

You said, "especially if he is not able to do it himself instantly." So what? It's perfectly acceptable to fail on your first try. Thomas Edison didn't have anyone around demanding to show him how to invent something when he failed the first time. Who wants to feel creative and have some other person come in and crash on their creativity?

Your bullet point number 2 is typical of highly creative people (and those with ADHD [yes, I am both.]) When I would get nagged about something where I was perceived as not complying with someone else's timeframe or wishes, I would just give up -- "I don't want to go!", ... and I would stick to my guns. It was my terms or not at all.

Now, for #3... If I came to your house to teach you about programming in Java for Android devices, how would you react? And, if you're a programmer, then if I came to your house to discuss the nature of Ayn Rand's philosophical writings, Graham Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods, etc... and presented my way as the way, how would you react?

Can you see how other people are wearing on him? It is easy to see our children from our own eyes, but let's walk in their shoes.

Now that we've taken a look through what are similar eyes to his...

  1. When others try to teach or instruct, I'd tell them to let him keep working it out and tell him that if he would like a hint or some help, to let you know.

  2. When he's distracted, ask him if there is something you can do to help him prepare. Coming across as helping him achieve his goal will allow him to "make it his own" and by offering a hand, will likely focus his energies since assistance is something he doesn't want.

  3. "He starts an endless discussion" is not possible. It takes two to have a discussion. And only questions, explicit or implied, keep it going in such a type of discussion. First, if it's something you as the parent are requiring him to do, then state it that way and clearly state that you are not willing to discuss it further (he won't like it, but he will have no other choice since none have been presented as acceptable). Second, if it's about showing/teaching, then why can't he engage is such a conversation? Is the point not for him to learn?

He wants to learn. He wants to learn on his own. Grant him that. What will it really hurt?

For those who are set out to show/teach him things, have them back off. He knows how to go to the bathroom, take a shower, brush teeth, etc., so leave the rest of the Universe open to exploration... I am sure he will amaze you!


The primary motivator for many children is attention. If the behaviors he is exhibiting are getting attention from you and others, you might try removing that incentive. This will take much discipline on your part, but if you can stick to your guns, you might be able to shift his behavior.


  1. He wants to learn something but doesn't want to put in the effort to listen to instruction: As soon as he blocks you, say (in a kind voice), "You aren't listening; you must not need my help." Then walk away - remove your attention. He may persist in trying to figure it out on his own, he may get angry with frustration, he may yell at you from the other room - just ignore. If he wants your help to learn, he must ask: "Will you help me figure this out?" If he asks, you happily assist until he starts behaving objectionably, at which point you say, "You aren't listening; you must not need my help." Then walk away. Do this enough times and he will learn.

  2. He dawdles and fails to get ready for something: If you are trailing after him, urging him to get ready, you are rewarding bad behavior with your attention. Let him face the consequences of not getting ready - Tell him that if he isn't ready when the timer goes, he can't go see his friend today. The first few times you do this, he will probably tantrum - you must stay calm. Just keep repeating, "If you are ready when the timer goes, we can go and see your friend." This is a bit trickier for things like school, but a good teacher will work with you on this, letting him face the consequences of being late to school.

  3. He wears you down with conversation designed to avoid: don't engage! Learn the broken record technique of repeating the same thing no matter what he says. Maybe you say something like, "I have made my decision already." He says, "But blah-blah-blah," and you repeat, "I have made my decision already." Don't be worn down by his attempts, and try to stay calm. Kids will not keep arguing with a broken record that always repeats the same thing. They have nothing to gain.

Given his short attention span, talking to your son about how his behaviors make people feel will probably not have much affect. You might try telling him how you feel at some point after the bad behavior has ceased: "This afternoon when I was trying to help you and you kept interrupting, it hurt my feelings. I liked it much better when you came and asked for help and then listened."

It takes HUGE determination on the parent's part to stay calm and not be worn down by behaviors that are designed to do just that, but it is SO worth the effort. Not only will you have a more pleasant relationship with your child, you will teach him an important social skill.


How can his parents help him to understand, that those behaviors tend to push off other people...

Do you want him to understand, on an intellectual level, that these behaviors push off other people? Or do you want him to stop those behaviors?

The former is a challenge for six-year-olds, and does not reliably lead to the latter. (Think of all the adults who do things that they know, intellectually, harm themselves or other people.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.