My children 9 and 4 are acting like brats - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 04-18-2011, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Particularly my nine year old. Both boys. He has this attitude that he is on the same level as me and doesn't treat me and my DP with enough respect. If he knows he wants something he will behave better, but if he is told to do something or doesn't get what he wants, it's nothing but attitude and lip. I'm the "worst meanest mom", he wishes he could live with a grandparent, etc, etc. I really am not asking much, take out the trash, do your homework, bathe, brush teeth, etc. Typical age appropriate stuff. I don't want to negotiate with my children. I expect them to do what is asked of them, without all the griping. I don't spank much, though I have started to try doing so., My four year old isn't terrible, he mostly throws fits which yes is bad, but I guess not as bad as a mouthy child, but he still will tell me know, for example when I tell him to wash his hands. He tests me. I mostly yell and fuss, because it's rediculous. They are the children. I am the adult. I provide for you, I expect respect and obedience. They have plenty of toys and get to do fun things. They are acting like spoiled brats. I am amazed at how angry I am at how things are at this point. I don't know how to fix it and it's literally driving me crazy. It's got to end soon. Please help me fix this.

Mama to and
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#2 of 4 Old 04-18-2011, 08:22 PM
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I cannot find the article I read here once, but it might help you to stay calm to know that children have hormonal surges (similar to the sort of surges seen in puberty and pregnancy) around the age of 4 or 5 and then again at 8 or 9 and then puberty sets they may actually be a little out of control of their emotions, thoughts and actions.  This does not mean they get to walk all over you...not at all, but it might help you take it less personally.  It helped me a lot to keep a calm cool head about the moody lippy BS my DS was handing out around 4.5 or 5.  I seriously wanted to scream.  He was so rude...he was not the boy I had raised.


So once I got that perspective and realized it wasn't personal I was in a much better head space to figure out how to help him cope with his new hormonally driven mood swings.


So instead of saying "What did you just say to me?!"  in a state of shock and rage,  I stopped, closed my eyes and counted to five and rephrased what DS had said to me in a way that was polite and respectful and then stood in front of him and waited for him to repeat it. 


I think it's important to remeber that spanking isn't modelling respect, so that's going to be hard for them to translate that sort of discipline into treating others with respect, right?  It is hard when our kids complain and don't appreciate all they have, but it isn't a personal attack or an attempt to be disrespectful of all we give them.  It is genuine obliviousness to what they have.  They do not get, cannot even FATHOM what it means to provide for them, the sacrifices we make and the hours we toil to provide what they have.  They just don't get it.  You might have the 9yo start contributing to the household chores for his pocket money.  That's what we did with DS at about age 5 and it gave him an incredible sense of responsibility and pride to be able to earn his pocket money through manual labor (watering plants, and weeding)


It is good to discuss your feelings with them, too. Tell them why it makes you angry.  Tell them what your need is (to feel apreciated, to feel valued, to feel respected), and what they can do to help meet that need (say thank you, pitch in happily, etc).  Discuss with them, what they think their needs might be and how you can help them meet those needs without disregarding their responsibilities to the home and family.  When I give a task to do and it is not optional, I have to word it very carefully.  I have to get down to DS's level and make sure he hears me, and understands:  This needs to happen before anything more fun can happen, because it is a responsibility.  But, we can make it fun together.  So if it's doing dishes, we can blow bubbles, or if it's putting away toys, we can make baskets in the toy bucket and the one who wins the most baskets gets to pick the bed time story.  I suppose at nine he's over this, but maybe you can find a way to make it less like a chore and more like a game. 


I think you'll find, too, that some things, like homework, are HIS responsibility and you'll have to let HIM face the consequences of his choices.  If he flunks the year, he'll have to repeat and ultimately, that is his choice and his consequence.


Try to imagine yourself being overrun with hormones.  You find yourself saying and doing things you do not really want to be saying or doing, but you find it hard to apologize because you feel like no one understands you.  Then imagine getting yelled at or spanked for that and feeling like it's not even your fault and you're getting all the blame.  It feels like everyone is against you.  If you approach these years with a little more empathy and little less anger, I promise you, things will get better quicker, and you will build trust and compassion with your kids instead of suspicion and hurt.  It's not easy.  Some say these years are even harder than the teens, but lay the foundation now for trust and empathy and you'll have the tools in your kit to communicate with them later on.




This is such a hard time...and you just made me realize that in 3 years I'm going to be exactly where you are now, one 4 yo and one 9 yo...Oy!   

Rebekah - mom to Ben 03/05 and Emily 01/10, a peace educator, and a veg*n and wife to Jamie.
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#3 of 4 Old 04-18-2011, 10:09 PM
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A really good book is: How to talk so your children will listen by Faber and Mazlish. It has a lot of the same kind of talk that hakeber described in Aldort's book in an easier to read format. Another one I like is called the Secret of Parenting by Anthony Wolfe. (Wolf?)


Why does your son being mouthy make you so angry? What are you afraid of? When we have this kind of intense reaction to our children's behavior, I think it's worth figuring out why it bothers you so much -- usually it's a fear that we've got, or something left over from our childhood (which is where the book by Aldort could provide insight).


After you examine your own reaction, I'd encourage you to think of how you're teaching your children how it's appropriate to behave. I have spent a lot of the time in the last couple of years saying "That sounded rude. Did you mean, "I'd like a glass of water, please?" or "That was rude. Try again." Kids often don't understand how their tone is coming across, or even if they do, they don't have the same kind of control over their emotions that we expect from adults. While they shouldn't get away with rudeness, I don't think you can judge a child's behavior by the same standards as an adult's. They need help to understand what they sound like and how to make it better. We spend a lot of time modeling how we talk to each other and how we treat each other appropriately. Then we add direct teaching to that.


In terms of helping out or doing what's expected of them, I find that it helps to have routines to do this. We have 'chore time' every night right after dinner. Chores vary (tonight dd helped dh pull weeds and ds mopped the kitchen floor). Obviously, dh and I do a lot more around the house at  other times, but my kids spend 15-20 minutes every day helping out. Because it's part of the routine, it works. We started this when the kids were very young (~3-4), and in the early stages, they weren't all that much help and they needed a lot of direction to keep on task. My instructions would literally be things like "pick up 5 books". But now, I can send dd upstairs with a basket of folded laundry and she puts it away. Ds can sort and start a load of laundry with minimal help ('is this dark or light? gets asked about 30 times, but he's learning).


I'd encourage you to look for reasons behind what your kids are doing, and then have the consequences for misbehavior match the 'crime'. Being whiny and rude in our house means that you get to go spend some time in your room until you can be civil again. Throwing a fit about brushing your teeth means that we start bedtime earlier because it usually means you're too tired. Throwing something across the room means that something goes away. Hitting someone means you go to your room until everyone calms down and then you apologize and help make amends. (This goes for grown-ups as well as kids -- no one deserves to be hit.) Failure to do your chores = earlier bedtime, because again it probably means you're tired. And it means mom/dad don't have time to read you your bedtime story because they have to do your chores.


Finally, I'd encourage you to spend some 1-1 time each day 'playing' with your kids. What that play will look like will depend on your child. For my 9, nearly 10, year old, it means playing nerf basketball in the kitchen, or wiffle ball in the yard, or baseball on the Wii. For my 6 year old, it's imaginary play and making stuffed animals talk with her. If I spend 30 minutes or more 3-4 times a week doing this, my kids feel loved and respected, and they're much happier and more helpful. If I meet their needs, then they have something to give back. But they're too young to be able to give much if their own needs aren't met first.




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#4 of 4 Old 04-19-2011, 06:42 AM
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I'm in the same boat, sort of, with my same aged kids. 


The thing I'm finding with my 9 year old is that he has no clue of how his body language and tone come across.  So we're working on that alot.  With him, I try really hard not to react to what he says, just how to rephrase it.  And we talk alot about how people don't know what he's thinking, only what he's putting out there.


With my 4 year old, right now, we're just trying to get through and working mostly on talking nicely.  How people will gladly help if you ask nicely instead of demanding and throwing a fit.  4 always seemed hard with my kids because they're trying to be independent and can't always do it, so it is frustrating. 


We do the "go to your room" thing, but it's not so much a punishment as a reset button.  Being tired and hungry is a huge trigger for my kids, so I moved up my 4 year old's bedtime.  And it's had amazing results.

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