Remember that adorable chatty child who not long ago hung lovingly on your every word and considered you her number-one pal and confidant? Now she often seems like a glassy-eyed pre-tween who's turned ignoring you into an art form and transformed even the simplest request ("Please turn off the TV" or "Put your socks in the hamper") into an exercise in mind-numbing repetition.
Your child isn't deliberately trying to drive you insane (successful though she may be), and her maddening new behavior has more to do with her sense of self than how she feels about you. Seven- and 8-year-olds are experiencing an increasing sense of control over their own lives, and they're focusing more than ever before on the outside world and the interesting things going on there, like school, friends, fads, and sports, says Mary Rourke, Ph.D., director of school psychology at Widener University's Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology, in Chester, Pennsylvania. Their selective deafness is one way of testing the limits of their growing independence.
It's also a method of dealing with new pressures and responsibilities. "Kids this age spend most of the school day following instructions," says Carla Fick, Psy.D., a child psychologist and clinical director of the nonprofit Smart Love Family Services, in Chicago. "School is more demanding, so they have fewer opportunities to zone out, de-stress, and exercise their own choices." Because they feel safest at home, it's the place they're most likely to assert themselves and take the time they need to chill out. Often, the way they do that is by acting as if their parents have faded into the furniture. However, you can regain your child's ear without losing your voice or your cool just by listening to our advice -- no bullhorn necessary.