My step son is 6 years old, he is a very good boy but he isn't doing good when it comes to following directions. He gives up so easy and beat himself up for things that he fails at. For example in his class, the teacher put him at a table away from other kids because he talks to other kids and distract them, and when the teacher asks him to stop, he stops for a min and then continues again. He also used to pull cards all the time, and the teacher said that when he pulls a card, he looks at other kids and kind of smile like it's nothing serious.

Basically he can't listen, he needs to be told over and over to do something. Like we have to tell him zip your jacket 5 times before he does it. he interrupt people all the time, he gets very impatient with things that need to be done with focus and time. He plays computer games all the time and when we take it away, he throws feet because he can't be entertained. He expects to be entertained all the time, when we ask him to sit with us and have quiet time, he acts uncomfortable and complains that he is bored and he wants us to play with him. So that's all I have to say. I am one of the people that can control him very well. He listens to me more than anyone else, and he tends to take orders from me better. So that makes me realized he is capable of doing good but only with me. How can we get him to do his best with everyone ?

  • 1
    Could you clarify what you mean when you say he used to "pull cards all the time"? By "he throws feet" do you mean he throws his shoes? Does he do this when you're there (you mentioned that he listens to you more than anyone else)?
    – user420
    Apr 24, 2013 at 14:54
  • I think "throws feet" may have meant "throws a fit" (as in has a tantrum"?
    – Vicky
    Apr 24, 2013 at 16:19
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    Well, the urban dictionary defines pulling a card as slang for killing someone. This question may be a little out of our league :-) Apr 24, 2013 at 20:27
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    I suspect that "pulling a card" is a behavioral tool used by his teacher. K-2nd grade teachers used a similar system when I was a kid. Each kid started the day with a "good" card, but if we misbehaved during the day the card was changed to indicate our varying levels of disobedience. In first grade, my teacher used a green/yellow/red light system. Everyone started with a green card at the beginning of the day, but the card could be changed to yellow and then to red if a student misbehaved or failed to follow directions throughout the day. This is a little archaic. Most elementary school
    – Meg Coates
    Apr 25, 2013 at 15:36
  • teachers I know have moved on to a behavior scale that is more of a fluid continuum--meaning kids can move up and down the scale throughout the day instead of only down.
    – Meg Coates
    Apr 25, 2013 at 15:38

3 Answers 3


The behaviour you have described is similar to my son's (now 5 y/o) at his worst. At his best, he is an obedient, intelligent child with good concentration skills.

He has a mild sensory processing disorder. He is fine in a quiet environment. When things get too loud, his senses get overloaded and he cannot filter the din. This makes him agitated, easily distracted, sensory seeking and unable to even listen to a teacher, let alone concentrate in class.

His teacher (and principal) largely wrote him off as having a learning disability within a few weeks of starting school. With his treatment in place (largely consists of an exercise regime), he is now progressing well.

There are many flavours of sensory processing disorder, all with different effects and different treatments. It might be worth checking out a few sites like this.

As for self playing – both our kids suck at it. We limit our son’s video game access as they get him too obsessed and worked up. Instead, we found he will become engrossed in Lego play with a bit of encouragement.


Same struggles here.

What all bad (or not good) behavior boils down to is parent consistency. Somehow, as parents, we forget to be consistent. When our kids were infants, we were really good about following a schedule and consistently correcting not good behavior (such as night wakings, throwing things, etc.), but as soon as they got "older", our rules relaxed. We accepted the not good behavior, because they're "just kids", when, in fact, we have to continue to consistently and vigilantly react in the exact same way every time a behavior is observed. Very much cause and effect.

I read this book, which was written in the early 80's: "The Omnipotent Child", which appeals to my parenting philosophy. It talks more in the language of "you're the parent, you make the rules; children don't have to like the rules (and by extension you), but they do have to follow them." Children not liking their parents should not be confused with not loving them, and the same goes for you as parents. You can hate your child's actions, but that doesn't mean you love them less. It does not encourage rewards systems because its too easy to fall into the trap of having to give rewards for everything, even after a skill (e.g., getting dressing for school) is mastered (completed without parent supervision/nagging), you have to continue to reward them. It advocates a punishment system because punishment systems naturally dwindle down. Keep in mind, punishment in the book is used more as loss of privileges. Every child is entitled to food, clothing, warmth, sleep, and love. They are not entitled to technology, desserts, time with friends, treats, etc.

Every parent-child relationship is different, and how you parent is a combination of both parties' temperaments and personal beliefs. For me, I definitely am more in the 'tough love' camp, so this very much appeals to me.

All this being said, we definitely still have our daily struggles, mostly because we, as parents, are not consistent, but when we do follow this paradigm, the children respond fairly well to it.


What you said is basically a mixture of my partners two eldest, one being 6 and one 9.

Her son (9) play on his computer a lot and complains when he can't. And not just a mild complaint, he throws things, shouts and gets physical. He has calmed down a lot since me and my partner got together.

She would prefer the kids to not shout, so they would normally get their own way. But not anymore. When we started it was crazy, but I gave him a routine. He gets home from school, he sits and does his homework at the table or in the sitting room, if it is too difficult, he has a break and tries again, as opposed to getting angry and giving up.

After his homework, we will have our tea and then he can play on the computer. But if he does something wrong, like tease his sister etc, he comes off the computer.......cue tantrum.......he initially gets 15 mins off the computer, and if he makes a fuss, an extra 15 etc. Within days he realised that the quicker he behaves, the quicker he gets to play.

No some people say that a computer is used as a babysitter, which can be true in some cases, but use it to your advantage, if they misbehave, ban them. If they do it more, ban them longer.

It will be tough initially, bit stick at it and you will get there, but make sure both parents are on the same page, because if one says yes and the other says no, trust me, it will not take a child long to realise and it will cause a lot of problems.

in addition, I mentioned a 6 year old, my partners eldest daughter. She acts like a teenager, full of attitude and its absolutely crazy. But I have a tool, my friend is a police officer and whenever the tantrums start with her, I used to say 'I will ring my friend' and she would stop. After a couple of weeks, all she would do is start, and I wouldn't even need to speak, just put my hands in my pocket and she would think I was getting the phone.

I know I'm rambling now, but I keep thinking of things when I finish a paragraph. As an additional system, you could buy a small whiteboard and two whiteboard markers (green + red) and do smiley faces. Have a set of rules that MUST be followed.

After he does something good, a smiley face, for everything bad, a sad face. And by the Saturday, if he has 10 smiley faces for example, he gets a prize. Maybe a toy, or a day out at the cinema etc, you could turn it into a family thing.

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