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Helping a 10-Year-Old Follow Instructions


How do you get a 10-year-old to mind you? My son will not do chores, go to bed or do what he is told in general. He just responds, “No.”



At age 10, your son should be able to sit down with you and discuss the situation. Have this conversation with him when your family is not busy and everyone is calm and neutral. He will feel less defensive and thus, be likely to participate. Tell him what you are seeing and why you want him to change. Make certain you include things that he does well. 

Point out how these changes will benefit him. For instance, say “When you do your chores, you will earn more free time and trust. I will be able to trust you to go to the park more often because I know you are following instructions and are being safe.”

He needs to learn to follow instructions. He is to follow your instructions to go to bed and do his chores, and he should answer you with “OK” and not “No.” Many times we tend to tell our children what NOT to do instead of telling them appropriate ways to respond. This includes saying “OK” instead of arguing when we tell them to do something.

He is going through a time in his life in which he will be looking toward his peers for approval rather than you for approval and positive reinforcement. Have you seen this? Are his friends becoming more important? This is a normal part of growing up. But try to make sure he is involved with a positive group of kids. 

Involve him in sports and other organized activities. Typically, kids who are involved in these types of activities learn to respect other adults, are more motivated to be successful and feel more self-confident.

Also, try to point out all of the positive things he is doing. Studies show that children learn best when we say eight positive things for every correction or negative ​comment.