My 7yr Old Won’t Attempt Basic Skills

My 7yr Old Won't Attempt Basic Skills

I have four kids. 7yo boy, 6yo boy, 6yo girl, 1yo boy. As you can imagine, our household is pretty chaotic.

My oldest child refuses to learn basic skills. We tried teaching him how to tie his shoes in kindergarten. It’s a tough skill for a little one to learn, and he made it tougher by refusing to listen to instruction, being difficult and eventually ending in tears every time. He would suck every ounce of patience I had and make me feel like a crazy person in a way that only a difficult child can.

I got to a point where I said, fuck it–I weaned him, potty trained him, and taught him how to read–It was Daddy’s turn to take on a project. But Daddy didn’t have any luck either.

Which is better these days?
SchoolHome education

We tried to teach him to ride a bike without training wheels. Same thing happened. Now he begs his sister to share her Hello Kitty bike because it has training wheels.

This year after buying school clothes, I’ve noticed that as he gets out of the “T” sizes, the jeans have actual buttons instead of snaps. No, they’re not easy to button. But surely other kids his age can do these things?

In the last year, his 6yo brother has learned to tie his shoes, button his jeans and ride a bike without training wheels. His 6yo sister is working diligently at learning to tie her shoes in kindergarten this year.

I also feel like it’s important to point out that this child is not delayed in ANYTHING else. He gets average grades in school when he puts in the effort, he is crazy good at video games, can operate any kind of technology you put in front of him, does well in sports…

Is it a safe bet to say that he’s just being lazy? I can’t keep sending him to school in Velcro shoes and buttoning his pants for him, right? This morning I told him he needed to take a break from his video games during Christmas Break and instead practice tying his shoes and buttoning his pants. He is in his room crying now while his siblings enjoy relaxing over their break from school…

EDIT: I have a lot of people suggesting developmental delays and fine motor skills… I appreciate the concern and advice (I see how you might think that is the problem) but I don’t believe this to be the case for my son. His handwriting is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l, he can draw, he can type on a keyboard, paint, use an xbox controller and do all kinds of things that are fun or that he enjoys.

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Comments: 3
  1. lushlilli

    It might not be that he won’t do it but that he can’t do it. He sounds similar to me, I had a lot of difficulty learning to tie my shoes, ride a two wheeler etc. I also had major difficulties with handwriting and spelling, it turned out I have dyslexic dysgraphia and it happens to have side effects on fine motor skills like… Tiring shoes. Consider that these might be symptoms of something deeper

  2. Andy

    I remember having a very sweet, sympathetic friend show me an easier, “cheater” way of tying my shoes (unfortunately it is one of those “easy to show/hard to explain” type of things) after I kept getting teased about it. I had no developmental issues and wasn’t lazy (about that. I was lazy about cleaning my room lol but the shoe thing wasn’t laziness.) I was advanced on some things, but shoe tying and riding a two wheeled bike were things that just didn’t want to “click” with me for whatever reason. And I can imagine crumbling under the pressure if I knew the person trying to teach me was getting frustrated with the lack of results (heck I frustrated myself trying.) I could write just fine too, so it wasn’t a generalized coordination issue.

    I can do those things now just fine, I was just one of the last of my peers to really pick them up.

    Coincidentally I also had trouble with jean buttons. They were really tough for me. Luckily I was (well, and still am) a girl and so was able to put off wearing proper jeans for quite awhile until my fingers got stronger. It was annoying though because I never was very into dresses, I just really hated dealing with that damn button lol

    OP’s kid may be lazy, but he might also genuinely have a really hard time with those tasks, and I as a kid tended to try to avoid tasks that demonstrated my weaknesses because it is frustrating and embarrassing. Quadruple so if those around you are also getting frustrated about your lack of competence.

  3. brcvrac

    We had this problem with 2 kids, and it was a 10 year old who couldn’t tie his shoes, or ride a bike, or all manner of things, and melted down whenever asked to try. They were not raised in a manner where they got any practice “trying” at anything, as their mother would give in to whining and do it for them, then prevent dad from trying to break through the wining because it was “cruel” to make them do something they didn’t want to.

    These kids’ difficulties are that they have no practice at expending effort (so they get inconsolably frustrated almost immediately), no practice at examination during learning (so they will keep trying to bang a square peg in a round hole instead of looking at the peg and reasoning about it), and almost zero manual dexterity (all they’ve ever used fine motor skills for is video game controllers). It’s really tough for them, because they’re trying to learn all this stuff at once for one task and they should have built the foundation of some of these skills as toddlers.

    The trick is to require them to do age appropriate things, and actually require them to do them every time. If they are too old for help at that thing, you can show them how to do it, but you will not help them directly or do it for them. I’ve had a lot of success being right next to them with my own set of the thing, and doing it very slowly so they can follow along from their perspective.

    The major thing they’re learning here is not how to button their pants, or tie their shoes, but in fact how to try to learn something new. Learning how to try, and learning how to learn, are the major focuses.

    Sometimes I worry that he just doesn’t try at anything that’s not on the xbox.

    We have pretty severely limited xBox time because of this. If video games are available, that is the only thing the kids want to do. The only thing. It is almost impossible to even have a conversation with them otherwise, they just leave mid-sentence to go back to games. Having the video games there is like taking a heroin addict to the Louvre and saying “Here’s a big pile of heroin and some amazing artwork that has changed the world,” then being shocked and disappointed when they’re face down in the smack instead of on the museum tour.

    When they know games are not on the table for the rest of the day, they don’t rush through things without paying attention to get back to the crack, are not sneaking off constantly to get back on the crack, and aren’t hostile and pissy when you take their crack away. It gives them some mental space to actually try things without the constant pull of the screen.

    ETA: If this is a dyslexia or dysgraphia problem clearly they need additional help. Our problem happens to be on the trying side, rather than the capabilities side, but even kids with issues that make things harder still need to learn how to try to do things.

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