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9 year old with an Attitude!

I baby-sit my niece and nephew while I am at home with my daughter. My nephew is 9 years old and is getting in trouble a lot more lately. He is talking back and has an attitude towards just about everybody especially when he doesn't get his way. He has been through a lot but I know saying that he is having a tough time doesn't excuse the way he is acting. His mom and step-dad just went through a divorce which has been really hard on him. His step-dad has been in his life since he was 2 and now doesn't see him anymore. Have any moms out there dealt with this, and if so how? I don't know if this is also just a phase since he is getting older and thinks he should be treated like an adult or if its mainly the stuff he has been going through.

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Asked by Anonymous at 3:59 PM on Aug. 2, 2011 in Tweens (9-12)

Answers (7)
  • My son is 9 1/2 and I was just talking to my husband about how this summer he and I have really begun to butt heads. He gets an attitude whenever asked to do something and has begun to have a sassy mouth. Not that he was an angel before but this has come on within the past 6 mo. I am hoping its just the age but I do think it is just the beginning. Kids are exposed to so much these days than in the past and they seem to begin maturing and coming into their own much earlier. At least it seems that way to me. I try to talk to him everyday about what is going on with him and I let him do most of the talking if he wants. I hope everything works out and I hope he gets through his tough situation alright but its sounds like he is lucky to have such a great aunt who is so concerned. Best of luck~~

    Answer by ditchen4 at 4:09 PM on Aug. 2, 2011

  • Is your nephew seeing a counselor? It sounds like he has a lot of pent up resentment and frustration that he's taking out on those around him. Kids don't have the maturity to deal with intense emotions, and sometimes they express them in innapropriate ways. I'd talk to him, but casually. Ask him how's he's doing, how he's feeling, if he needs a hug, that sort of thing. He's likely feeling very rejected, since he wasn't involved in his parents' decision and feels helpless. He's also probably feeling very defensive, since there is likely animosity between his mother and step-father and he may feel forced to choose between them. And since nothing his going his way, he may feel that the little things deserve to go his way, hence the disrespect and backtalk when things don't. I would suggest counseling and lending a sympathetic ear.

    Answer by GlowWorm889 at 6:47 PM on Aug. 2, 2011

  • (cont.)

    However, his feelings do not excuse bad behavior. You need to redirect and set consequences for bad behavior. When he backtalks, take a pause and then ask him if he'd like to rephrase that in a more respectful way. If he doesn't or tries to act out physically, he needs a total cease-fire from activity. Children who are mean and disrespectful don't get to play with the Wii/toy/baby/his sister, etc. He needs to sit in a quiet room and cool down, and he can come out when he's feeling a little less angry. When he comes out, ask him what's making him feel so upset and respond positively only if he does. If he's still acting out and backtalking, say you feel he still needs to cool down, and back into the room he goes. :)

    Answer by GlowWorm889 at 6:51 PM on Aug. 2, 2011

  • Is it possible that he's acting out to get attention? Sometimes kids will do things to get any kind of attention, even if it is negative attention.

    Answer by tspillane at 12:39 AM on Aug. 3, 2011

  • GlowWorm889-Thanks! I know he had been talking to a counselor while he was in school, but I think he definitely needs a neutral person to talk to and someone that has more experience with kids and these types of problems. I know he is feeling rejected. He is not being pressure to pick between the two though. He sees his real dad every other weekend and since the divorce his step-dad thought that it would be better for him not to have 2 guys in his life to call dad. He thought it would be more confusing for him in the long run. But it really hurt him. This has been his dad for the past 8 years and now he is just up and out of his life. But his step-dad still takes his sister and does special things with her that she comes home and talks about. Its really confusing for him. He is starting to badmouth his step-dad a lot and I don't think its right to punish him for that because I don't agree with what his step-dad has done.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 2:06 PM on Aug. 3, 2011

  • But at the same time I don't want his sister to be hearing negative things about her dad. Right now he is sent to stand in the corner for 9 minutes if he is back-talking or hitting or acting out after he's had a warning. He is just arguing with me about everything and he never used to.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 2:07 PM on Aug. 3, 2011

  • Hmmm...I see the problem here. It seems perfectly fair for him to bad-mouth his step-father; he feels abandoned, though obviously not acceptable. I would sit and talk with his step-father, and try to explain that your nephew misses the relationship and is suffering from the lack of it. There are lots of kids who call both father and step-father "Dad", or both mother and step-mother "Mom". Children benefit from ALL positive relationships, not just parental ones. Have your nephew talk to him, too, or write him a letter. If he's seeing a therapist, it's likely a therapist will pinpoint this as a major part of your nephew's unahappiness and call Step-Dad in for a talk.

    Answer by GlowWorm889 at 5:51 PM on Aug. 3, 2011

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