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6 yo language and disrespect

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I need a WWYD thread here....

My son just turned six. Over the summer he has been transforming into a kid who is disrespectful, doesn't listen to us (ie we have a conversation about behavior expectations when we go to someone's house, and does the opposite), has started using bad language and then lies about it (he doesn't hear it in our house, but from other people/occasional movies), and has been treating DH with absolutely no respect. (DH is his stepdad. The only dad he's ever known, has been in the dad role since DS was 3, and we are in the process of stepparent adoption.)

Last night was just the last straw for me. This has been the last week of summer vacation before DS goes back to school on Monday. We've been doing so many fun things - beach 3 times, pool three times, family birthday party for DS who got many gifts, extra video game time, etc. So yesterday, after an active morning at DS's soccer game, we let him play a video game for two hours during a thunderstorm. When we told him it was time to be done with video games for the day he got really pouty and angry (keep in mind he played video games w/DH for a couple hours the night before while I was at a Birth Network meeting, as well - all not normal, but with his Montessorri school starting back up on Mon we've just been trying to really enjoy ourselves and him this last week). Anyway, we had a talk about how it's better to show thanks for the extra gaming time he got than be mean when it is time to stop, that he can tell us he'd love to just play all day or that he's upset that he can't keep playing, he just has to tell us respectfully, etc etc.

About a half hour later I guess he still had frustration over it. I was in another room with a friend's baby, but DH tells me that DS was standing on DD's little wooden rocking chair. He asked him to get off, just explained tht he's too heavy and the chair could break and he'd get hurt. A minute later DH looks up from cleaning and DS is standing there waving his middle finger in the air. So DH says "Do you know that's a bad word?" and DS tells him yes. I know he does because we had a conversation about it when a kid at school told him about it. He ended up being sent to bed (it was pretty much his bedtime anyway but he didn't get to read any stories).

I'm at a loss because he's always been such a kind, compassionate, easygoing kid that this behavior deterioration has me thrown for a loop. So, WWYD????
post #2 of 12
Before deciding on a course of action I would urge you to keep a few things in perspective - I know my own dd (6.75yo) always has some testing of behaviors/anxiety just before the new school year (okay always means last year and this year lol) and even if he is happy/excited about it it may make behavior challenges more likely...

Also - I find the more 'lax we become in our standards/routines (with movies and "extras") that it almost ALWAYS results in poor behavior - that doesn't mean we won't do this, but in hind sight it seems pretty consistent

Thirdly - this age is ALL about testing and pushing limits and what he sees others doing he is going to try out on you guys.

With all of that in mind, it may be easier??? to do what you, IMO must do most and that is to remain calm and consistent. The finger waving is very over the top and I know my gut would be to "react" and be angry and indignant. But he is probably LOOKING for a reaction - If at all possible (hard when you are shocked, I know) stay calm - given the scenario you spelled out I think a swift bedtime is perfectly in order. Calmly convey your disappointment in such blatant disrespect in the moment, not much more then getting him to bed - in my house I would add that "you must be awfully tired to have made such a poor decision" to sort of add the "logical consequence" factor

Just know that these are trying times - you know the kind, good natured boy beneath it all so trust that with consistency and calm, that he will return.

Also just thought that bday parties always key kids up - AND if you are openly talking about the adoption stuff he may be doing some extra testing as well - kind of "will dad still want to adopt me if I act like this kind of stuff"

It wouldn't hurt to try to find some books that address kindness and respect to read to him (and the finger waving would certainly warrant a discussion the following day after all had calmed down) sorry for the ramble here

post #3 of 12
I agree that he could be testing your dh due to anxiety about the adoption process. Also, he could be craving the structure that school brings.

I also think he's might want more autonomy in regard to the video game system, but I'm not sure how that would work on a practical level, and it might be irrelevant when school starts up and he has less time available for it anyway.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
He is unaware of the adoption process - we're still waiting on the papers back from the (literal) sperm donor. We know it's what he wants, because he's been asking to have his Daddy's last name for a couple years now, but we didn't want to involve him in the stress of getting the paperwork taken care of - especially because his bio-father was literally a SD, as in handed a specimen cup, so there is no relationship being lost in the process. Once that gets back is when he'll know.

When it comes to gaming during the summer, our rules are simply "You have to do some active things also if you want to play video games." This stems from the fact that given the choice, he would sit and watch movies/game all day, every day. He could easily sit in front of the tv from breakfast until bedtime and still ask for another movie, I guarantee you. So the compromise is simply that he needs to balance his time with active play - which we incorporate by doing things as a family most of the time, like the beach, pool, family bike rides, etc, because he doesnt yet enjoy just going out in the backyard and playing. During the school year it's usually weekends only - there's just not really enough time in the day during the week anyway!

I forgot to menton that yesterday he also informed DH that he doesn't like his birthday presents. This kid got the entire action figure set for The Last Airbender, plus mask and swords to dress as one of the characters. He got an impressive Iron Man that shoots missiles, etc. He got two Leapster video games. He got Sculpey, paints, a wooden birdhouse to build, and a wooden pirate ship to paint. Oh, and a Lego City space police ship. Of course this was from us and a bunch of other family members. This is all stuff that he loves. :

I'm just at a loss - he's had such an amazing, enriching, awesome summer. You look in from the outside and he's got so, so much. (And we're a one, modest income family, so we pinch pennies to make stuff happen.) He goes to private Montessori school. He plays soccer. Both DH and I are very very actively involved with him. DH works 24 hrs on, 48 hrs off - and purposely didn't work hours at his extra job this summer so we could go on vacation and do things as a family. It's quality time, not just quantity.

So I'm just at a loss as to the hows and whys of his behavior deterioration. We always have talks about interacting with other people, respect, compassion, etc.. reading books as well, or discussing things we see in movies. Not lectures as much as just discussions stemming naturally from things that happen.

post #5 of 12
I just know my dd gets a bit stir crazy or something every year just before school starts. It could be about school. I don't think I'd get too worried unless it continues after he's been at school for a week or two. If it does continue, then it sounds like he has some kind of anger or something toward your dh to me, and I'd be looking for what that's about. Maybe if he doens't know about the adoption plans he's upset because he thinks your dh doesn't want to adopt him? I don't know, just reaching, but it does sound like it's aimed at him. Anyway, I think it's most likely a before-school-starts thing, but if it doesn't clear up within a couple of weeks I'd try figuring out if there's anger or anxiety there for some reason.
post #6 of 12
We've been having challenging times with our 7 y.o. here too. Our circumstances are different than yours, but there is a web site you can Google called Hand in Hand Parenting which has many articles that I found helpful.....I mean I was really at the point of tears and after reading them I feel so hopeful. It really helped me understand my son better. Best of luck.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
I checked out that site, and it is helpful in a lot of ways, but (so far anyway) it seems like they almost advocate letting your child break down into emotion whenever, wherever it happens and that being "ok". I get it in theory, but I guess I just don't agree with that application. I think it's my job as a parent to help him learn to release his emotion at appropriate times - for example, there was a kid bullying him at soccer and DS went up and starting yelling about it loudly, in the kid's face, and just in general at the end of the practice. I explained that his feelings were perfectly valid, and he could tell Mommy and Daddy all about how it made him feel once we were in the car, but that causing a scene doesn't fix the problem. Maybe I just haven't read enough articles yet. I do like the basis of what they say, though, and I'm going to try to incorporate some of that. It is interesting to think that his behavior this summer could be in direct relation to stored up emotion from busier, stressful times. Just having that idea in my head kind of makes it easier to think about options in handling it rather than being stuck in my anger/frustration over this.
post #8 of 12
Might I add that it also seems like you are wanting a bit of gratitude from ds for ALL that he has and you have done? I struggle with this a bit too, but it is a little bit early to expect that kind of maturity - but not too early to begin to teach it - you might say that if he is really not happy with his gifts he has the option of donating them to some charity - I wouldn't be all snarky in my tone (and I think of course he'll rethink that) But I think it's a legitimate conversation to have...

I struggle with wanting dd to maintain her innocence with really understanding just how great she's got it - we do volunteer/donation stuff and try and explain it to her but it's a SLOW process...
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
bonamarq, both of your posts have resonated with me. Yes, it's not so much that I'm looking for adoration and gratitude as my "reward" or anything, but downright rudeness instead of appreciation is so hard to handle. We do donate and stuff but I guess he's never really seen what kind of conditions other people deal with.

I did ask him if he wanted to find other homes for his new toys and he got very upset at the idea. I think as much as I'll miss him when school starts, the routine will be better overall.
post #10 of 12
I'm glad you found my comments helpful - I can't tell you how many times I look at someones post and think about responding but can see SO MANY well worded and insightful ones already I just don't bother - but b/c I also have a 6 yo and see some of the same issues I couldn't help myself -

Having the distance I think helps give some clarity - for everyone.... my job has me doing lots of student-teacher observations and while some are uncomfortable (teachers that is) I always try and let them know how helpful it is to simply be the OBSERVER - when you take yourself out of the interaction you are able to "SEE" so much more....

good luck and enjoy a little peace when school starts
post #11 of 12
I've got a 6 year old. They're often dramatic and emotional and can be very harsh with their language. Their thinking tends to be very black and white. Emotionally, they're still very young and they have a hard time judging the effects of the things that they say on other kids. When it's time for us to eat and the kids playing at our house to go home, dd will say "You have to leave now." We're working on a little tact.

It sounds to me like you've had a very busy time this summer, and especially this week. You went to the pool and the beach 3 times, and had a major family birthday. That's extremely emotionally draining for anyone, but especially a child. When we've had weeks like that, I know that my 6 year old is going to have a major meltdown at some point. She has all these pent up emotions and no reserves to deal with them. It's not personal, it just means she needs to go to bed and we need to take it easy for a couple of days.

I would actually cut back on the activities, start a loose schedule and make sure he gets enough sleep. It's important to start getting ready for the sleep needs of school now. I'd also make sure that you get some extra one-on-one time with him this week/weekend. When he's out of line, gently point it out. If he's antisocial, ask him to go to his room. But don't worry that your kind sweet kid is becoming a monster. The kind sweet kid will be back.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Lynn, your post almost made me cry with relief lol. Around here, I know a few AP type moms but they all have babies/toddlers - I haven't met/gotten to know anyone who has an older son.

Everyone I do know with sons this age are spankers. Not in public. But they are capable of shutting their kids misbehavior down quickly with a reminder. I am NOWHERE near considering spanking, but it does leave me feeling inadequate when there's my child just... not listening. Like our last trip to the beach, when it was time to go DS ran back into the water and quite literally refused to come out even though everything was packed up. We were there with his schoolmate and mom and she kind of looked at me sideways and said they would head to the car so that maybe he'd get the hint. I'm standing there w/fussy DD in arms and forced to yell to get him to get out of the water. Turns out he was angry he didn't get to finish his sandwich (even though he'd been working on it for 2 hours! and even though I had told him he could eat it in the car)...

I also think my DH has a low tolerance for normal misbehavior, because DS has always been such an amazingly low key kid up until this year. I'm realizing rightthissecond that has been stressing me out!!! It makes me sad to think that there are times when I'm harder on DS than I would be if I wasn't feelign stressed that DH is getting "fed up". I know there are a couple recommended books on raising boys I've seen mentioned around here, i think it's time to find them. Don't get me wrong. DH is not some mean dad - he's very involved and very loving - but he's often tired from coming off shift, no sleep, etc, and just like everyone else, has a harder time with the little things on days like that. And he doesn't get mean w/DS - but as the other adult, I can feel the effect of his annoyance if that makes sense.

I think I'm being very long winded here. I just meant to say that hearing gentle words from other mamas here has helped me far more than you will ever know.
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