Why is my (almost) 7 year old son a jerk all of a sudden?
My son is about to turn 7, and the past few months it's like he's a different person. He's angry, disagreeable, lying, he won't do anything I ask (or tell) him to do, he refuses to eat pretty much anything unless it's junk food, he screams at me, tells me he hates HIMSELF (not me or anyone else) and that no one loves him, he even says he wishes he weren't alive.
He's never been like this before, I don't know what to do. I'm a single mom, his father and I divorced about 4 years ago. He sees his dad every week. He has no rules at dad's house, but he's always known and followed the rules when at home (I have custody, he lives with me.) I have him on a set schedule and like to make sure he's in bed before a certain time so he can get at least 10 hours of sleep because he's cranky if he gets any less. but lately, he's been waking up once or twice a night, complaining of nightmares. He's all of a sudden scared of things that normally wouldn't scare him, like thunderstorms.
He's in first grade and he says he hates school. He's been doing well so far academically, and I haven't heard anything from the school regarding bad behavior, but he says he has no friends there and no one will play with him. It's a new school for him this year, and I think that he's upset that it's not quite as easy as kindergarten was.
I'm at the end of my rope with him though. I've tried time out, I've tried yelling, I've tried reasoning, I've taking away privileges, I don't know what else to do! What happened to my little boy???
It sounds like he's having a very hard time adjusting to the new school. I would talk to the teacher, and not necessarily take her word that "everything seems fine". In my experience, I've seen teachers completely miss that a child is being ostracized by the whole class.
I think you need to stop punishing him for his cries for help - but rather, get to the bottom of this so your child can return to his happy self.
I totally agree with Rockrose. You don't say "what is going on at school" to the teacher. Instead, you say that my son is having a hard time finding kids to play with, is feeling like he is ignored by the other kids and his self esteem is taking a beating with phrases that are new to him like he hates himself. And send a copy of this information to the school counselor. I've been in this position before. The teacher made some tweaks to her normal things she did such as instead of kids pairing up themselves which can be a hard to for a child that feels like no one wants to be his partner---- she drew names on popscicle sticks and paired them up herself. This took out that 'social' part of my son feeling like people weren't choosing him to work with (which in those early grades happens daily). The teacher also took the time to look at who would be a good match up for my son to build a friendship with and would pair him with this person. This was really helpful.
The counselor also was helpful with things like 'friendship groups' in which she took small kids in the same grade and set them up to work on projects together to build relationships.
Recess and lunch are the two tough times for kids. Any problem solving you and the teachers can do to make this easier for your son, the better.
First grade is hard for a lot of kids. My son is also 7 and last year when he entered first grade, he had a hard time too. He was so exhausted and had tantrums that he'd never had before. He was trying hard in school and for him, he did like it, but he'd fall apart when he got home to his 'safe place'.
I think I'd work on finding a child in class you can invite over for a play date. Ask his teacher OR him if there is anyone at all that he'd maybe be a good match for and set this play date up. Also, any activities you can get him involved in with kids from school is awesome such as cub scouts. My sons like sports--- right now, kids are begining to start thinking about basketball (as soccer and football are under way and it would be harder to find a team)---- so start asking about b ball programs that other kids from school are doing. Go to pta meetings and such to get to know the other moms or ask your neighbors.
You ask "What happened to my little boy???" If I were 6 and had to move away from my friends and familiar classroom routine, and now had a different school where I knew nobody and nobody included me, and when I told my primary parent the problem she yelled at me and punished me, I guess I would act a little different from the trusting and happy boy I used to be too. You don't mention reassurance, hugs, sympathy, arranging to sit in on a class session, or talking to his teacher. Why couldn't he go to first grade with his kinder friends, was it out of the area?
School hasn't been in session very long, but if I got that kind of feedback from my son, it wouldn't be much longer before I would be sitting in one of those uncomfortable little chairs in the classroom and discussing things with his teacher. Sometimes you just have to trust what your kid is telling you, and not impute a different motive like him disliking that it's not as easy as before. Kids will work really hard if they are happy, the claim that somehow he is being lazy just doesn't sound like the issue.
Try the talking-to-the-teacher route, and in the meantime, talk sympathetically with your son. He might be able to give you more details.
Ha , you've said "he refuses to eat anything but junk food". Take the junk food out of the house, have him eat fruit if he wants something sweet.
"he has no rules at his dad's house". and you do, right? what kid wouldn't fight the establishment if they thought they could get an easier ride? maybe your husband trash talks you? this might come out in your son's therapy. maybe this is happening because your son's dad wants full custody and is setting your son up for failure at your house? It's been done before.
You need to try to get into therapy for you and your husband so that there is not such an adjustment from one house to another.
A good way to to this is to have your son go to a therapist and suggest that you and your husband get therapy to "get on the same page" for the good of the child. Maybe you can't get through to your husband, but maybe your son's therapist can.
Any way you look at it, it should like it's out of control and you need HELP NOW!!!
Please feel that you can vent here on Medhelp, we are all here to help each other through this sort of thing.
I also think it's school related, Switching schools is HARD, he's way out of his comfort zone, and is having a hard time making friends. That's enough to change a child's behavior and outlook completely.
Try a more compassionate, patient approach. I know you're frustrated because he's acting up and causing issues, but I think you taking a more hard line approach is actually making things worse. That's evident to me in that he's becoming more fearful in general.
Talk to your son's teacher also. My son is in 1st grade, and he absolutely LOVES it, even though it's a LOT more work than kindergarten was last year. So, I don't think that the extra work would cause a child to act in the ways you are seeing.
Also, you need to get Dad involved as well. Tell him what's going on, so he can be consistent with any kind of approach you decide on.... at HIS house too. That's so important. You have primary custody, but it's vital that your child knows that BOTH parents are involved with ALL aspects of his daily life. I would say that both of you need to meet with the teacher.
Very best of luck to you...hope you can figure it out!
I'm experiencing the same thing with my 8 year old son. The difference being that he hasn't switched schools. He was great all summer, hardly got into any trouble, but the minute school started, he started having a bad attitude, lying, cranky in the mornings (in the summer he was up that early on his own), and behavioral problems at school. He's in 3rd grade and recieved his first detention last week. We are scheduling an appointment to see a professional because last week, while at his weekly visit with his dad, he was told to get off the couch for jumping up and down on the cushions, then he proceeded to pick up their kitten and throw it. The kitten hit the front door, thankfully, it wasn't injured. He hasn't had any rules at his dad's in the past, but that has changed in the recent months, he also doesn't act out to this degree at home. At home, it is minor infractions typical of his developmental level. Sorry this was so long, but i know how you feel. It is heartbreaking and frustrating. I also have a meeting with his teachers Monday to figure out whats going on with his bullying at school.
While I don't know that it's necessarily the pressure of a new school (his old school closed, he knew he would be in a new school before last school year was over. Some of his old classmates are in this new school, too.) I do think that his new, earlier schedule is a major factor. I'm putting him to bed an hour earlier (thank goodness for autumn and shorter daytimes!) and it has been helping a little.
He also opened up to me about the kids at school and we've been focusing on making friends and avoiding people that just aren't nice. He's been coming home happier and has been talking about new friends.
I was able to speak with his teacher and have asked her to please keep an eye on him and to let me know if he seems to be having any troubles in class, be it with students or academically.
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