Independent 6 year old

Back when I was pregnant, I was frantically looking for all the advice I could get and wanted to know everything that was going on with my little one inside me. I signed up for a weekly email from and would get little notes about my peanut sized fetus and the grapefruit sized baby. When Benjamin was born I learned about when he should be rolling over and sitting up and walking. I even learned a few things about how to nurture him into a smart little man and I learned what to do when he didn’t hit all of his milestones on time. Week by week I have learned so much about how to parent and what my boy would be doing next and it seems that the emails are always so timely now. This week’s email was about my independent 6 year old and how he will be asserting his own will and learning about his new boundaries and pushing those boundaries at every turn. Well, yeah, that email was especially timely because guess what, I have the most independent 6 year old on my hands and I need all the help I can get!

Sorta like a disclosure: You all know that I read a lot of blogs. I try to support my favorite bloggers as much as I possibly can. I also look for new blogs from time to time just because there is so much outstanding content out there to read and I don’t want to miss any of it! Every now and then I come across a blog post, through a link up or just through searching the internet, that inspires me to write something myself. I came across this post – Running With It from Sounds of my Pitter Patter – and I just had to get this out. Despite the troubles I’m about to tell you all about, I’m cherishing every moment with my boy and learning from him every day!

silly boy #whoisthisboy #happymamas

It all started on Monday when the boy woke up cranky and tired and despite what most people think about him, he doesn’t “always” have a smile on his face. He was not happy with his morning and the fights started. He didn’t want to go to school and he didn’t want to get dressed. He had lots of sleep the night before so I knew this was just a crankiness and a Monday blues type of thing, but he can usually snap out of it by the time he makes it to the car. This morning it wasn’t happening. He did NOT want to go to school. This was not an option.

We finally made it to the car, dressed and prepared for the day, but when we got to the line at school, he would not take his seatbelt off. The ladies that stand outside to open car doors usually call him “Smiley” because he’s always so happy to be at school, but today it just wasn’t happening. He did not want to take off the seatbelt and he was not going to get out of the car. We threatened with everything we could think of and it was just not happening. Howard had to get out of the car and unbuckle him and pull him out of the car. The ladies had to walk him into the building and told us to just go and they would take care of it. I knew it wasn’t over.

Later in the morning I received an email from his teacher that he had a rough morning. He didn’t want to participate in class and wouldn’t do his assignments. He laid on the floor so she had to move him to a refocus chair in another classroom. He took off his shoes and refused to put them back on. He was defiant and would not listen. Later in the morning she had to move him to yet another classroom, but eventually he came to her and said he was ready to do his work. He missed recess because he had to finish up his morning assignments.

Monday night was not a fun place in our house…at first. He had to get a spanking that I had told him he would get for not getting out of the car. He had to do chores around the house. He had to do homework. And we all had to talk. I had asked on my personal Facebook page for ideas on consequences and instead got a few suggestions for talking to him about what’s going on at school that makes him not want to go and suggestions about rewards charts and the like. So, we talked. We got nowhere. He didn’t know why he didn’t want to go to school. He was tired. He didn’t want to do his work. He didn’t know…period.

After all the talking and consequences (including no SpongeBob cartoons) we settled into a regular dinner, bath, and family time routine. We ended the night on a positive note and he went to bed on time (maybe a little early) and life was good again.

Tuesday morning was great. He was excited to wake up and watch the beloved SpongeBob. I made him a good protein breakfast (one of the many suggestions) and he dressed himself quickly. He was excited also that Tuesday was the start of Soccer practice again and he knew that if he didn’t have a good day then he would be running laps at practice instead of playing (I know the coach well and that was her idea). He came home all happy and excited to tell me that he had told his class that he was starting Soccer tonight and life was good still. He did his homework and we dressed him in his cleats and shin guards. He even had time to read three books to me!

Then he fell asleep on the way to practice. We live two miles from the Soccer fields.

I woke him up when we got to the fields and he was not happy. It’s like some little switch was turned when he fell asleep and he was tired again. He wanted to “lax” a few more minutes in the car, but that only lead to him falling asleep again. I finally got him out to the field and “shy” Benjamin came out. He has the same team and coach that he had in the Fall so there was no reason to be shy, but he hid behind me and didn’t want to participate. I gave him a choice. He could practice with his team and we would go on a dinner date (he loves to have dinner at a restaurant with just me) or he could sit on the sidelines and we would go home for sandwiches. He whined. He grumped. The coach came over and tried. Another mother tried. He was not budging.

After a little while he stood up and started mocking what the team was doing in practice, but eventually just went to another field to kick the ball around. I refused to leave practice because I was not going to take him home for more TV (what he really wanted) when he was supposed to be getting some physical exercise (what he was accidentally doing on his own) but we also did not go out to eat. I picked up some dinner that I wanted and the little toot faked excitement so that it looked like he won.

He fell asleep early last night so I guess he really was tired after all that running. Oh…I forgot to mention that after practice he also ran the track 1.5 times.

After all my worrying on Facebook about him (I worry way too much) I think I’ve finally figured it out.

He’s an independent 6 year old and he thinks he’s grown. Period.

Of course my sister had to chime in with “what’s the solution” and I’ll get to that eventually, but for now here’s my answer – I’m the grown up, he’s the child. I may not win every battle, but I will win the war. Period.

What experiences do you have with an independent 6 year old? I can use all the advice I can get!

Linking to the Happy Mama Movement on


  1. Oh 6….soooo fun. They are learning so much and so emotional (in my experience). I don’t have any tips…I try to make it to where my kids think what they are doing is their idea. Not all that successfully, however!

    Also, you know where you give them a choice with the same end result? Do you want to brush your teeth before washing your face or do you want to wash your face before brushing your teeth?

  2. Kelly says:

    Mine is only 5 so I need to be getting advice from you! My little one is an independent, stubborn girl and growing up way too fast.

    • janet says:

      I thought 5 was rough, but 6 is a whole new world!

  3. So many challenges! I was just talking to a friend on FB about these hard parenting challenges we often have to make. So many of us are right there with you. I have to think that it’s hard because we’re doing something right! Hang in there!

    • janet says:

      Thank you so much for showing your support and keeping my chin up. Your Happy Mama Movement is perfect for me to keep reminding myself that I’m one very lucky and blessed mama!

  4. Brandi says:

    First of all, I can imagine it’s hard to tell that sweet face “no”. I know the feeling. I have a 4 year old who thinks she’s grown, and you’re right, it’s our job to be the grown-up. We have to rear them, and raise them, and make sure they learn the difference between right and wrong. I’ll be following this journey to see how you handle your baby’s independence, and taking notes!

    • janet says:

      Brandi it is so hard to be a good disciplinarian to this smiley boy. You should come back and read Sarah’s comment that is right on about what I did right and wrong!

  5. Sarah says:

    Janet, you are so brave for blogging about your personal life. I am a teacher. I was going over your post and here are some of the things I noticed. I really appreciate your posts. It makes me a better teacher in a way, and I’m sure it helps other parents too. That being said, it is easy for me to judge on the other side of the screen when I am not there. You are doing a great job as a mom and were on the right track. Since you asked for opinions, here’s my take.

    You said, “I gave him a choice. He could practice with his team and we would go on a dinner date (he loves to have dinner at a restaurant with just me) or he could sit on the sidelines and we would go home for sandwiches.” That was great! Give him choices. But…he must realize that these are the only two choices.

    Then you said,”After a little while he stood up and started mocking what the team was doing in practice, but eventually just went to another field to kick the ball around. I refused to leave practice because I was not going to take him home for more TV…” At that point you needed to be FIRM. There were only 2 choices – play with the team, or sit on the side. You let him make the 3rd choice – mock the team and go play ball by himself on the other field. I wasn’t there, so maybe he could not have joined the team since they were in the middle of the practice, and had already started. If that was the case, his only option left was the sit on the side, or go home with sandwiches (and no TV).

    You also said, “I picked up some dinner that I wanted and the little toot faked excitement so that it looked like he won.” I hate to break it to you, but if you gave him the takeout then he did win all around. He did whatever he wanted at practice, and he got to eat the good meal. I understand you wanted takeout for yourself. There are two choices here. You could have gone home and had the sandwiches with him, or you could have gotten takeout for yourself, and made him a sandwich at home like you said you were.

    Even though it is so hard to do (especially with bright and charming young ones like your son), you have to follow through on EVERYTHING you say. Even if it is a little hassle for you, it will pay off. You were on the right track with the two choices given at soccer practice. I think you thought that once you gave him the choices that the issue had ended. However, your child is very bright and obviously if he doesn’t get his way he is going to try another route – aka sitting on the sideline for a bit, then trying to get away with playing on the side. Your other friends are right. He is testing the waters.

    I don’t know what would motivate him to not want to play with the other children, but choose to play by himself. Maybe ask him why he wanted to go play by himself, instead of playing with the team? Also, “I don’t know” is the most frustrating answer a kid can give you, isn’t it?

    One other thing – positive behavior management focuses on the child and adult always thinking about “What should I be doing right now?” not “What shouldn’t I be doing?” Don’t focus on consequences- focus on rewards. For example, instead of saying “If you don’t get out of the car you are going to get a spanking,” have a goal to work towards such as, “If you get out of the car quickly, I will have a surprise for you after school.” He is only 6. You could get him a prize at the dollar store, and say it is lucky or something. You could even make your own “treasure chest” with stickers or other cheap little things that he would like. Or maybe get a toy that he really likes, and only let him play with it on certain days he earns the right to play with it by cooperating, going to school, etc. Good luck!

    • janet says:

      Sarah you are so right on about your comments and even though it stings it is exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for your honesty and I’m working on all of this!

      • Sarah says:

        Please know that I don’t want to come off as mean or overly critical of you. You were so close to “winning” the other day at soccer practice. Also, if you wanted to work on convincing him to join the team, talk about how you and others might feel if he does not join them. Use “I” statements. This is a good article The whole process seems so cheesy and unnatural at first, but I have seen even the toughest kids melt when they know that I am disappointed or sad that they did not make a good choice.

        • janet says:

          Sarah, I did not take your comment as mean at all! I will check out this article. I’ve used the “you broke my heart” before and it was successful.

  6. Thanks for linking back to me sweet lady! I am so glad you were able to find it encouraging! 🙂 Your boy is adorable by the way! Love that big grin!

    • janet says:

      Thanks lady! It’s that grin that makes him feel like he can get away with anything.

  7. Mari says:

    I’m not a parent, but I was a child once. CONSISTENCY!!!!!

  8. You know, 6 can really just be a rough age. Not a baby (sigh), not even close to grown, but a total mind of their own with limitations to what they can do. In my opinion, he’s just testing you and everyone around him. It should pass. Be patient, continue to discipline (I find that taking things away…like his soccer perhaps?) is most effective for my kids. Oh, and be forewarned, this same exact stage hits again at about 12. You ready for that?

    • janet says:

      Slow down now! He’s barely 6 and you’re asking if I’m ready for 12…um, no!

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