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stefanig's avatar

How do I handle a sassy and nasty 9 year old son?

Asked by stefanig (4points) July 3rd, 2010

My son is 9, extremely mature and bosses me around and demands me to serve him day and night. He is fresh and uses terrible language and swears at me constantly.

How do I handle and correct this behavior?

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62 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

A child will repeat everything his parent(s) say in front of him. if you are cussing in front of him, he is going to repeat this, thinking its okay, since you do it. a childs attitude also comes from the parents. parents with a bad attitude will give their child a bad attitude. changes can be made, but they must first start with the parents.

Aster's avatar

Am I right that this has been going on for awhile? Does he have a man around to show him who’s boss? Oh , dear; you have my sympathy if you have to start from scratch. He is convinced this is just “me” and has no reason to change unless he Knows beyond a doubt that each and everytime he curses he’ll get:
1) one thing taken away . No; not for a day. For days.
2) curses again, he gets another thing taken away. For a week. It can be tv for the evening, talking on the phone, an Ipod , lots of things. He Must Feel a Loss. It is Not Mean. It is called discipline.
The problem for you in this is he will try and make it more painful for You than it is for Him. Just smile and act like it’s cool. No problem for you whatsoever.
The Big Guns is taking away an outing of some sort. This is what you do when nothing is left to remove. It takes a Lot of Work to do these things rather than to just say, “how can you talk to me like that?” or , “I don t appreciate that kind of language.” This is simple for you but he’ll get worse if you use those tactics. Boy; this is going to get worse unless you start now . If he acts nice, hug him but do not give the thing back to him until the specified time has lapsed.

dpworkin's avatar

It’s very hard to answer a question like this at a distance, because every parent’s definition of “nasty” is different. I will say, though, that if this problem is really distressing you, and his behavior is really out of line, then you need to try to find some help for both of you right away, because sometimes this kind of behavior can escalate into a disorder.

gailcalled's avatar

For starters, repeat after me, “No.” You can certainly stop the ongoing serving without help. Don’t do it. For the other issues, you will need some professional advice in order to strength your backbone. Nine-year olds walk over parents because the parents are on the floor, like a rug, and saying, “Please walk on me.”

You begin, right now, by changing yourself.

Marva's avatar

I definitly recommend that you consult a child therapist, and not us: sometimes people do the awfulest things, trying to educate their children, some of the advise that you will get will be from people who made those mistakes and don’t knowit yet.
Children are so delicate, there is a reason he is behaving in that way and it needs to be solved from the root, not from the desired consequence! so PLEASE, consult a proffessional! for the sake of you child….

Seaofclouds's avatar

The first thing to do is to stop giving in to his demands. When he demands something of you, tell him no and that he is not asking properly. Explain the correct way to ask for things. When he starts telling you what to do, remind him that he is the child and you are the parent and he can not tell you what to do.

Children model our behavior. Do you ask him to do things or just tell him to do things? Do you say please and thank you to him? The way in which you act towards him teaches him how to act towards you. Does he hear you order other people around or demand things from other people?

When he is does the things you do not find acceptable, do you tell him that it is unacceptable? Deep down, children want to please their parents, knowing that you are not please with his actions may help him want to change.

Aster's avatar

I’d be very suprised if a Child Therapist wouldn’t recommend taking away privileges. I do agree to say please and thank you all the time.

Aster's avatar

`“demands” for you to serve him day and night? Wow; what a deal ! I wish I could do that. LOL ! Say, “could you get it please? I’m….(fill in tired or busy or something.) “Thanks.”
I can’t wrap my head around “he demands.”—to be honest, I’m the type who would really say, “am I your slave?”—but I don’t recommend that approach.

dpworkin's avatar

@Aster do you have any professional experience in treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

judochop's avatar

Times have changed. If I had acted that way towards my mother or father I would not have been allowed TV, outside, games, dessert, anything really.
I have a nine year old little girl and she will test her boundaries from time to time but it is always the job of the parent to make sure they do not over step any lines.
Don’t beat yourself up, kids don’t come with instruction manuals. Every child is different, just make sure you hold fast on your rules not his.

ericnueman's avatar

Inspire him to meet a sassy young girlfriend!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Chores. Give him a list of chores (easy stuff) to do that he can see a reward and punishment from. This allows him to start accepting responsibility for his own actions rather than controlling yours.

Or just kick his little ungrateful ass up and down the block a few times until he turns around.

ericnueman's avatar

Einstein failed early classes and was thought to be good for nothing in his early school days!!!

ericnueman's avatar

Many young people need more love, appreciation, attention, teaching by example, more Love, wisdom, and understanding, tact, & interest in their lives on their level and home schooling after withdrawing them from the dead public school systems of the West.

ericnueman's avatar

And the parents do too!

Marva's avatar

@aster and @stefanig I am not a mother, and I state it to begin with because I know it’s “easier said then done”, but I disagree with @Aster, about the toppic of punishment and of proffessional’s supporting punishment of most kinds:

The approach of child therapy, and child handling for that matter, has changed a lot in the past decade. Today, there is room for other understandings aswell:
It is understood, for once, that children always have a reason for behaving in a certain way. It is definitly not a reason that follows our adult reasoning, but it is one that follows their own. For example, he could be very angry with you for things that you are totally unaware of (“why don’t I have a father, why do you make me go to grandma when I don’t want to, why don’t you ever buy me the toys I want….and many things that would only occur in a child’s brain).
It is a delicate issue to understand exactly what is the problem that is causing it, but doing so will be the attentive thing to do, it will also open a clear communication channel between you and him, (yes! children of 9 have alot of smart things to say).

Punishments, on the other hand, can also send out a message of “you have no rights/ I don’t love you when you behave a certain way/ you are weak and I am strong” and many other wrong messages that children can again occur only in children’s brains. These sort of messages can also make the problem worse and even bring them to a no-return point.

Many therapists agree today on much more subtle approaches: relating to the child as an equal member of the family, trying to understand what went wrong that caused the behavior, understanding his true needs, working things out with a conversation to his level of understanding. These are not easy to do, one needs to learn the logic of a child’s thought, that is why I suggested a proffessional.

I know many addults who still feel the pain of the misunderstanding of their parents, and the punishments they recieved, probably you aswell, as I, as most people. Do you want that for your child? proabbly no.

ericnueman's avatar

Child chastening takes real love to perform and explaining what the limits are in every home is very important to perform before warnings are issued and punishment given iand all this in great care and Love.

Aster's avatar

@dpworkin No experience except I learned , as much as I wanted to be like her son, the second my dad walked in my behavior ceased. That’s all it took. Strong father figure.
Let her go to a therapist. If he’s good, he’ll give the kid fish oil and vitamin E. If he’s like you, he’ll be given Ritalin. One of them might work slightly.
Now ask the same of the other posters. I’ll be reading their replies to you.

dpworkin's avatar

@Aster Thank you for having made my point: You have no idea what you are talking about, yet you are giving advice to someone who may be in desperate need of professional help. I would say, “Shame on you”, but I’m sure you have no shame, even though you may do a family some serious damage.

Aster's avatar

@dpworkin You’re right. I , like all the other posters, Have No Shame whatsoever. In fact, since people Always do what I suggest, I’m sure I’ll do many families Serious Damage.
Thanks so much for your sage wisdom. Oh-and by all means, don’t get too close to any firecrackers. Happy 4th !!

Marva's avatar

@dpworkin As I usually adore reading your posts and wise advice, I do agree with @Aster that you were a little harsh with her… We are all doing our best at giving advice in the best way we see fit, and at the best of our experience. Luckily for the asker, there were also many who supported approaches similar to yours…

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Marva's avatar

don’t get me wrong @Aster, I don’t support insult on any direction it goes…

Val123's avatar

I’d swat. Hard. Now, before he gets too old. The most important thing is set your boundaries and don’t allow him to move them, period. Have a consistent plan of “discipline” and use it everytime he pushes.

Val123's avatar

I guess, I can’t help but wonder, where did he get the idea he could boss you around? And do you DO his bidding? I’d think he’d stop if it wasn’t working. Swearing???? I don’t THINK so! my kids would feel the pain so fast it’d make their head spin!! They never tested me on that, either. Well, my daughter did, once, when she was 16. “Once” is the key word here.

Aster's avatar

@Val123 I’m not suggesting this is what happened to the questioner but within my own family I’ve noticed that when parents are super permissive its often because of their own guilt. They sometimes feel guilty for working too much and try to make up for what they consider parental negect by being permissive. They’re afraid if they punish, the child will feel even More unloved than they imagine he’s feeling now. Other times, the parent was spanked or worse so often that he wants to save the child from the resentment and pain he himself feels from the perceived abuse.
Some children do quite well without discipline. But I think most of them feel the parent simply doesn’t care one way or the other what he says or does when left to himself to do or say as he pleases.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I agree with @dpworkin about professional help, not for your child, but for you in the form of parent coaching. Undoing behavior patterns with difficult children involve identifying your own behaviors, behavior patterns and triggers. That’s more complicated than can be answered here, and it’s certainly more than hitting your child can solve.

The child acts, you react. A learned pattern is set up. Why the child acts is often dependent on what other patterns are. You have to fix the real problem that results in a sassy and nasty 9 year old. It could stem from television viewing, from coming home from school and day care too hungry and tired, from not being able to get your undivided attention when he needs it, from a pattern of being “bought off” to go away and leave you alone, from the expectation that because he’s smart, he’s capable of reasoning like an adult because he sounds like an adult (asynchronistic development).

We don’t know you. And perhaps you can’t see what the dynamics of your relationship with your son are like when compared to optimal for his temperament. Start with his pediatrician, and ask for a referral. I am not saying the problem is you. I am saying that as an adult, you are responsible for managing the process for fixing the problem as best as you can, and that starts with exploring fully why the behavior problems exist in the first place.

Val123's avatar

My really, real thought are….he’s spent 9 years getting to this point. All I can say, is “Young parents! Start now! If they’re bratty at two, they’ll be 20 times worse at 9. And even worse at 16.”
Excellent post @PandoraBoxx

Maybe you could sign up for Nanny 911 or something?

Val123's avatar

@Aster Good points.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

This unwarranted sense of entitlement that the youth of modernity attempts to justify is an ugly horrible thing. Kill it dead as soon as possible.

NanciDru's avatar

Two words…..FIRM HAND!

dpworkin's avatar

The symptoms described by the OP can sometimes indicate a problem that goes way beyond changing parenting techniques, and has a pretty lousy prognosis unless there is professional intvervention. On that chance, I think it improvident not to encourage a professional visit.

Val123's avatar

@Aster I just read your post. You said “Does he have a man around to show him who’s boss? ” Didn’t quite get that. My kids never had a man around, not one, to show them who was “boss.” I was boss, and they knew it. Plus, it’s not a question of who’s “boss.” That smacks of heavy handed, harsh, demanding, unreasonable and unquestioning obedience. Everytime I hear those words I envision some drunken bubba going “I’ll show YOU who’s boss!!” to his wife or little kid or whoever, then knocking the shit out of them to show them. That breeds nothing but hatred and fear, not respect. I think the issue here IS one of basic respect. That’s got nothing to do with showing someone “who’s boss.”

Perfecto fish!

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Val123's avatar

Nevermind. @dp…you don’t have any professional experience either, but you’re dispensing your opinions too.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Val123's avatar

Rick just told me this…had to share

Val123's avatar

@dpworkin OK. I think you’re being unreasonably harsh wit @Aster. The OP obviously was asking for personal opinion, so every thing goes.

ON THE OTHER HAND I have to agree with the fact that this kid is beyond “beginning parenting.” I mean, I’m saying what I would have done if my nine-year-old had ever thought of cussing at me or bossing me around….it would have been a short lived issue because, well, he wouldn’t have lived to see 10. I raised the kids from day one with certain expectations, and certainly cussing wasn’t part of that. In other words, my kids would have never have dreamed of cussing at me or bossing me around because of the way I raised them, from day one. To that end, all of our advice is pointless, especially since we don’t know the situation. We can’t say, “Well, remember the other day when he did this, and you just ignored it?”

So….like what @RealEyesRealizeRealLies said, that elephant’s gotten awfully big to try and train now…..

dpworkin's avatar

I happen to think that Aster’s advice could lead to a genuine catastrophe, so maybe I expressed my opinion more strongly than necessary. This kids needs serious professional help as soon as possible, because the road he is going down is known to end in a very bed prognosis. Now is the time for an intervention; not next week.

NanciDru's avatar

@dpworkin our lives are not dictated by the DSM IV, V, VI etc. What happened before the advent of psychology.Labeling is not a good thing to do.

gailcalled's avatar

And think primarily of the damage this boy is doing to himself. The parent is there to teach a child about limits, boundaries, and suitable behavior in order to survive in a civilized world.

This kid is learning terrible lessons that will make his life miserable.

The labels are useful, but the prognosis need not be couched in psychological terms in order to be a dire one.

dpworkin's avatar

@NanciDru Which label from the DSM did I use to characterize this child? I specifically said that no one can really tell from a distance. Labeling and diagnosis are two different things. You can’t treat something if you don’t know what you are treating. I believe this child needs a professional diagnosis, and apposite treatment. Other people may believe that he should just continue to slide down the path to hell. There are always two schools of thought.

NanciDru's avatar

Mom needs to learn the word NO and suffer with the consequences and be consistent. That worked before Freud, Skinner, etc.

dpworkin's avatar

We disagree, but that’s life on an answer site.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

What if the child’s behavior is acting out because he’s being abused or molested by an older sibling, step-sibling, cousin, babysitter and feels that he can’t tell because something worse will happen?

dpworkin's avatar

@PandoraBoxx That’s what specialists are for. To determine just such things.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

OP “My son is 9, extremely mature and bosses me around and demands me to serve him day and night. He is fresh and uses terrible language and swears at me constantly.”

Children act the way their peers act, and attempt to act out what they see on television as well.

Many times in modern children movies, the hero is portrayed as arrogant or the villain is idolized. This can be a source of misbehavior as well. I’ve raised two sons and dealt with this constantly through Teenage Mutant Turtles and Power Rangers. Letting them stay up and watch Adult Swim with shows like South Park and Family Guy are major sources of rude and arrogant behavior.

A parent is fighting a war against media these days. Commercials and TV are battling to control the minds of youth. It begins with shock value, rudeness and cheap fart jokes. They feed the mind junk food just like a fast food restaurant. It’s easy to digest but fosters moral and ethical indigestion.

It breeds a lack of taste all the way into adulthood, making Wine in a Box taste better than Chteau La Mondotte. It blurs the lines between Raphael and the local Arts & Craft Fair.

Nine years old is still young enough to change a young man’s perspective on life. Consider exposing him to the same types of cultural influences that you would have him pursue. Spend time with him as an adult, showing him the pathway into adulthood. Get him out of the house and away from the Wii. Take him to a Renaissance Festival. Plan a nature walk in a State Park. Go to an Art Museum, a Science Fair, or to a Play in an old Theater with real ActorsGet him away from the Screen.

It will take time. But he will be a much better young man because of it. Build his character. Mold his character by changing the characteristics he associates with.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Run an ad on Craigslist (or ask your friends) for a younger well mannered teenage boy (a few years older than your son) to come and hang out with him. Pay him! Do whatever it takes to put your young 9 year old son in the presence of exactly the type of teenager you would have him be like.

Encourage him!

Try your best not to put a rift between the two of you. You are the adult, and I know it can be very frustrating. But you must admit that these past 9 years can to a great degree be attributed to your behavior as a parent. By your hand, and your thoughtful planning, you can also be the seed of changing him for the betterment of all, including yourself.

Marva's avatar

I consider smacking, hitting, bossing, and all other forms of dominating the child, to be no more than Trauma therapy!, teaching the child like an animal: you do this, you get hurt!
Taming the child solves nothing but, maybe, the parent’s headache, for now. But the child will take these traumas with him through all of his life.
A lot of adults fear life, suffer from a constant feeling that everything can be taken away from them at any minuete, have a problem to stand their ground in fear of “not being good” have issues with bosses and at working places and so on and on and on, all caused by an imbalace in the parent-child relationship.
To top that, @PandoraBoxx has a strong point: What if the child is acting out because of problems @ school? with another adult? being harrassed by other kids? molested? (god forbid) How is hitting him to make him “behave” going to solve the problem?????
Treat it from the root!

Aster's avatar

My mother held an intervention on my rear end once but not twice.
“Spare the rod spoil the child.” (not that I’d recommend a rod )

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“My son is 9, extremely mature…”

He may have been introduced to adulthood a bit early. How or why only you can know.

My eldest, currently 20, went through an odd phase around 9–10 years old. He reverted back to early youthful fancies. He began playing with old kiddie toys again and speaking in kiddie/baby talk. This lasted for nearly six months.

My first inclination was to discourage this behavior. But his mother advised everyone to embrace it, play along, and take one last walk with him back into early childhood. I’m so happy that we did, and grateful for the opportunity to revisit his most innocent years.

He grew out of it soon enough, on his own schedule, and has become the most admirable young adult I know of… 5.6 gpa and full scholarship to major university.

Aside from my proud bragging, the point is that if your son has reached such a level of maturity at such a young age, you may consider the possible benefits of allowing him to revert to an earlier (more comfortable) stage in his life.

Pull out some of the old toys and clean them up. Get goofy and let him catch you playing with them. He will join in. He won’t be able to help himself from the temptation. When he does, take the opportunity to tell him how cute and beautiful he is. Tell him how much you love him and how important and smart he is. Enjoy that revisit of early childhood and encourage his comfort there, in that place. I guarantee you won’t regret it, no matter how short lived it may be. Embrace these years with your child. You won’t have them much longer. Blink once, and he is grown and gone. Don’t blink… Love him.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dpworkin I agree that the child needs professional help NOW. But all of this, all of our opinions, might be of use to young parents who are in the process of raising their little ones….

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

It’s summer time. He’s 9 years old.

Send him to camp.

the boy needs activity

Aster's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I wish she could send him to camp for the entire summer. A camp emphasizing discipline. Lack of activity is a major cause of acting out in this society. If they get tired of their Ipod or Iphone – what’s left to do?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Aster “what’s left to do?”

Yard work, house cleaning, art projects, reading, writing a letter to grandma (with a real stamp and envelope), volunteering to the community, saying hello to the neighbors (maybe even helping them with their yard work), going to the art museum, building a fort or tree house, and altogether letting the imagination run wild and manifest itself into physicality… rather than allowing the imagination of some game programmer or cartoon infest itself into the viewers mind and thereby taking it over, killing it dead.

Aster's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Right!! Plus, if the kids are made to do the dishes, vacuum, dust and clean their rooms they’ll want to move out of the house and be on their own!! Sounds like a good plan to me.
Merely having a curfew made me want to leave home.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Gosh, that makes me feel like a bad mother because mine like it at home. Their friends like it at my house. I have two friends with dead children because of curfews.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

My son enjoys going to his friends home as well. Mostly because all they do is sit around with no responsibility and play video games, which isn’t allowed at our home. I have no problem with that as long as he attends to his responsibilities at our home, earning his free time with friends.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a Wii and it gets much use. We play it together, and we also have shows that we watch on tv together. But his entire summer will not be summed up with a game review.

He is mandated to walk the dog, and experience the outdoors. He is mandated to learn how to use lawn tools like branch cutters, lawn mowers and hedge trimmers. He is mandated to learn how to do laundry and fold clothing, putting it into the drawers. He is mandated to learn the dishwasher and put dishes away. He is mandated to share his homework and discuss current classroom activities. He is mandated to engage in the processes that build character and give him the skills to become a healthy happy adult. When he turns 18, he’ll be mandated to pay rent for his room, or he may move out if it suits him.

He may put up a fight and not like it all the time. But he will never hold it against me later in life. He will probably thank me and be very grateful for the experiences.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies, he may hold it against you for a brief period, but somewhere in his early twenties, he’ll become amazed at how smart you’ve recently become. teeheehee

My daughter worked as a camp counselor for middle school aged children in another country, and said that she found herself sounding just like me, and realized what it was like to be responsible for other people.

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