My 6.5 yo is morphing into a kid I don't recognize these days. That's a slight exaggeration, of course, but he has recently (as in the last 6 months) become more disrespectful in how he talks to me and DH, his brothers, even his music teacher. He seems WAY more into his friends and what they think and just, well, has become kind of brat at home.
For some backstory - he has always been this very thoughtful, well-spoken little boy and has never, ever, given us any trouble in this department. So he's caught us off guard and I'm not sure how to deal with it.
Is it a "normal" developmental milestone or something? I know he is becoming more independent and maybe wants to flex those muscles a bit. But, obviously, he can't go around saying "whatever" and rolling his eyes when I tell him he needs to pick his backpack up off the floor, for example. My response up to this point has been to say "Excuse me? That was disrespectful and we don't talk that way." Which is usually followed by him saying something like "Jeez, I was getting it!"
He sounds like a surly preteen and he's only in the 1st grade!
I've also heard him bossing/being rude to his 5 yo brother. They play together a lot and I hear "No, don't do it THAT way!!! Look, you ruined it. If you could learn how to do something right then this wouldn't have happened!" I mean, seriously, he's brow beating his little brother! And, no, we don't talk to him or his brothers like that at home.
He's also taking music lessons and while he used to be able to sit still, participate, be a good, helpful student, he is suddenly doing rude and disruptive things like leaning back in his chair and loudly yawning or repeatedly asking the teacher when the lesson is over.
I've tried talking to him about how he'd feel if someone treated him like that and he tends to express remorse and say he's sorry and he wouldn't like it, etc. But in the moment he just responds however he wants.
Anyone have experience with this? I'm trying to figure out how best to get him on track with respectful talk and don't know what to do besides talk to him about it. There don't seem to be any natural consequences for being rude (well, eventually there are, but at this point his 5yo brother still wants to play with him even though he talks to him rudely).
I think kids have times where they try to separate a bit and have more autonomy, and maybe this is one of those ages. They aren't always as pleasant to be around when they're trying to be their own people and have control over their own lives as they are when they're lovey and cuddly. But it is a part of growing up.
So I do think it's normal, but I also think you're absolutely right to teach him how his words make others feel. When my dd gets like this, I tell her how it makes me feel when she talks like that and tell her to rephrase it, consistently. It gets repetitive but I think it's an important lesson, to learn to talk to people nicely and that phrasing the same thing in different ways can make the person you're talking to feel completely different. I think a lot of problems take an extreme amount of consistency to change them, and since I think it is partially a developmental thing, it can take a while, but again it's an important lesson and worth the investment of time.
If it is partly an issue of growing up and desiring more autonomy, finding ways he can be autonomous and finding "grown up" jobs for him to do might help. Can he do any part of meal preparation, even just helping you stir things and that kind of thing? My dd always is a lot easier to get along with when she feels useful. Vacuuming is another job that makes her feel grown up, though she doesn't do it consistently. It's weird that she likes doing some things like that when it's still hard to get her to clean up after herself.
ITA with mamazee. its totally what it is. and its a normal phase and if it gives you any peace he is spot on.
it was a time for me to rethink my parenting. to not come off as 'because i say so'. u will have to deal with a little bit of the sauciness. dont be too harsh as he is trying to figure out where the boundaries lie.
however i have given dd the right to roll her eyes at me. at others she needs to be aware of how she talks. its not so much on the words that i have focused but on the tone of voice and how she is saying or doing it. seriously they have no clue they come off as rude.
also i started making dd feel the area was a community place and how much it would help others if she kept her eyes open. main thing too i made sure she had a place to put things down. things like backpack, jacket, etc seh knows wherre to put them so she puts them there the moment she gets in the door. that is a good habit to start. and i started making requests. 'could you please pick up ur backpack and put it away. it would really help me as i'd trip over it and it wont be in the way when we have to start dinner.
i still get attitude sometimes and i think that is ok and will always be there. i know her dad will absolutely not tolerate it and as long as she is showing attitude with me and not others i am ok with it.
dont worry pretty soon he is going to get into the conscience awareness stage - 7-8 and they become even more aware of their actions.
my poor dd - now i have been become more insistent about correcting her because she is a far worst critique than me. somedays nowadays she'll come and apologize that her words came out ruder than she meant them. so this stage is coming too - so dont worry too much about it.
Thank you so much for the responses. I didn't realize how common it is at this age and it helps to know it's probably a phase and not a new personality trait. I appreciate your thoughts on how to deal with it, too.
There is another thread on this forum about the same issue, which has also helped. I bought "Your Six Year Old" by Ames hoping she can shed some light on how to constructively deal with my new sassy son.
I agree that this seems to be a common 6yo trait.
I wanted to speak briefly about the music lessons. My dd (just turned 7) takes violin lessons. She has been engaging in that kind of behaviour with her teacher.... well... since she turned 6. We have had LOTS of conversations about "how would that make you feel?" without making too much headway. While I think those conversations are crucial in the long run, I also see the importance of a quicker fix as I too am a music teacher (piano) and I have lived what her teacher is living and it sucks. In our family we shy pretty strongly away from rewards and bribes, but to deal with this issue I've started a reward program with dd. At each lesson she has the chance to earn 2 stickers. If she does everything her teacher asks, without complaining or trying to change the subject, the FIRST TIME then she gets 2 stickers for that lesson. If she only needs 1 reminder from the teacher then she gets 1 sticker. If the teacher has to remind her/coax her several times then it's no sticker. If she earns a certain amount of stickers by a certain date I will take her on an outing to see an exhibit of Japanese lanterns that's at our Botanical Gardens right now.
I will also say that my take, as a music teacher, is that it's part of *my* job to deal with problematic behaviour during lessons (like a school teacher would). I get help from parents only if there has been a serious behaviour problem. I keep things moving in lessons (lots of activities, songs at the piano mixed up with activities away from the piano) which keeps students engaged and less likely to ask the dreaded "how long till the end of the lesson" question. I always try to keep things fun as much as possible and make things into games whenever I can. I also do not hesitate to have a serious conversation with my student about my expectations if necessary. The kids know me as a "fun" teacher, so when I get serious it makes an impact.
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
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