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10 year old son has rude, disrespectful behavior

Our 10 year old son is exceptionally rude, grumpy and disrespectful and defiant at home.  This tends to peak at half years, ie, has always been worse at 9 1/2 years of age than at 9 or at 10.  We've noticed this pattern since he was a toddler.  I've read lots of books, consulted with the school counselor, a Developmental Psychologist, etc. but we can't seem to get a handle on this.  School is a different story and always has been.  He is a wonderful student, a leader, teachers enjoy him and have great things to say about him.  They are always shocked when I share the difficulty that we experience at home.  None of this behavior is ever displayed at school.  He has many friends, plays sports and guitar.  He is a welcome guest at play dates.  Parents of his friends often comment on his polite behavior and again, are always surprised if I share details of his behavior at home.  

We also have an 8 year old son who does not display these same types of behavior.  Regarding our family life, these children have been raised in a stable, loving, 2 parent family.  We have many close friends and family members.  Everyone is puzzled by this kid, but again, the behaviors only occur within our immediate family.  Never, ever with friends or relatives.  

We are at our wits end.  When he's pleasant, he's so much fun to be around.  I've always said that he's 85% great but the 15% that hard is absolutely grueling.  With everything we've tried, we've never really made any significant difference.  We will have periods of relative peace which can last for a couple of months, but we can never pinpoint why this happens.  Just as we can never know what really sets him off.  

So.....what to do?  Grounding has not helped.  Taking things away doesn't seem to matter.   Talking about the impact of his behavior on other people, ie us, doesn't seem to matter to him.  He seems never to have remorse, just anger when consequences are imposed.  

Any ideas will be appreciated.  Thanks so very much.
128 Responses
Avatar universal
My Gosh.  I could have written this email.  Our 91/2 year old son has all of the same behaviors.  He is a beloved student at school, but a terror at home.  He talks like he's 13 years old.  Disrespectful, angry, selfish.  His 7 year old brother is so easy going and fun to be around.  This kid truly makes our home a miserable place to be much of the time.  No punishment, carrot, etc. helps.

I, too, would be interested in thoughts on this.
Avatar universal
We have the same problem with our 8 year old son. He has numerous allergies and is asthmatic. We often wonder whether this has contributed somehow to his behaviour problem - similar to sandra5263, his is cyclical too but often every 4 - 6 weeks. Inbetween, he is an absolute angel!
Avatar universal
my son is 10yrs old and if i say it nite he would say it day, anyone got some ground rules to handle these know it all children
Avatar universal
i'm at a lost on what to do!!!! whenhe woke up this morning he stated to disagree with me on what he should wear, power struggle!! kurt is suppose to get up and do afew things and get dress and face his face and brush his teeth. this is not hardbut he makes our morning  miserable just talking back disagreeing. i don't know what to do.                   help don;t lnow how to help him and make a better life for all of us
Avatar universal
I would say this could have been my email also.  I have an 11 year old son who displays almost the identical bahavior as your child.  All of his teachers and friends' parents think he is the polite and wonderful child.  Our homelife is greatly disrupted because of his behavior.  Our two other children are very enjoyable, but he antagonizes everyone and causes much stress to them and us parents!  I have purchased The Total Transformation and am working my way through the material, but I have not seen any transformation yet!  I would be very interested how others are coping with this.  Right now, I dream of boarding school!
Avatar universal
yep - could have been my email too!!  We have a boy about to turn 10 and life around him (when at home) is unpleaseant.  So what's the solution?
Avatar universal
Same here - my 11.5 year old son just told me that he hated me, wished I was dead and that he was going to beat me.  We also have a younger, polite and friendly son that is a joy to be with.  There's a pattern here - everyone that has posted has a first born son that is pure hell and several folks have younger siblings that seem to be the opposite.  There's also the cyclical nature several of us have seen.  

Perhaps there's a sibling jealousy thing going on - that must be part of it.  Another part could be if everyone who has posted is a mom and the dads are being somewhat disrespectful to us.  I think that could give the oldest son a message that the mother does not need to be respected. That is certainly true in my case with my ex-husband.  He actually smirks if he catches my son rejecting me like he 'won'.  
Avatar universal
Ok, my nearly 11 year old son is exactly the same -  PLEASE HELP
Avatar universal
Well, I think that as parents, especially mothers, we should never put up with rude or disrespectful behavior from our kids.

First of all, it is very damaging, if our child sees our husband/partner disrespecting us.  So we should do all we can to improve this.  Boys around this age are very impressionable as they are starting to define themselves as members of "male" world, and they quickly copycat their dads' attitude towards their mothers.  Beware of keeping verbally abusive husband or boyfirend at home around your children.

Second, make sure that your kid hangs out with good kids and do not spend unsupervised time browsing internet or chatting.  Have you installed good parental controls on his computer so that you can go over his chats and see what they are talking about?  You would be shocked and surprised (as I was myself) when you read what 10 year old kids are talking about and how they express themselves...  They swear, they talk about sex, they repeat what they hear at movies (beware of some PG13!!!), they may not fully understant that is being said, but they pick up on bad attitudes very fast...  

Eliminate your child's exposure to violent games- do not think it's okay that he plays it because "everybody else plays it" - make an effort and actually see what is this game about.  If our kid spends hours chopping off heads and fighting monsters with a sword - how can we expect him to be a kind and well behaved kid??  

Have you met his friends?  Do you know how they talk when you are not around?  Keep in mind, they are your son's teachers as well.  

Like with everything, consistency is the key.  Each time your child says something rude to you or acts disrespectfully, you have to stop whatever you are doing and talk to him.  Explain, punish, explain, punish, explain.  It doesn't have to be your fault, there are often some black sheep in the best families.  It is our responsibility as parents to keep on trying to get rid of this behavior while he is still a child and we have some say in his life.  

I think it is crucial that we fight hard for our kids.  We do not want to end up with an adult son who slaps us around and treats us like dirt.  Demand respect, ALWAYS.
Avatar universal
Here here. We are getting really bummed out a lot lately. Our sweet little boy is ELEVEN and acts like a surly teenager pretty much all the time. Is this what we can expect in the dreaded teenage years????

And to make matters worse he has tow younger sisters who seem to emulate his every move.

We do wonder if it is mainly concentrated on the home. Talking to teachers and other parents who are around him is a great place to start. Thanks for that.

Good luck everybody. And please wish us the same ....
Avatar universal
I have a 9 and a half year son and he also has many of these behaviors.  However, he is like this with many of the adults that he feels comfortable with.  My mom and dad, his aunties....ect.  He is well behaved at school for the most part but I do get phone calls from teachers and parents about his semi hurtful behavior towards other students.  
I feel like our emotional life at home is dictated by him.  He is grumpy and rude and insolent and he argues everything we say.  It is sooooo frustrating.  When reading the other posts I saw the one about monitoring his movies and computers...the funny thing is we don't have a television nor does he get to play the computer very often.  He does have a nintendo DS but he only plays it an hour each weekend day.  His friends at school also have the same rules...for the most part.  
I came on this site to see if anyone had any suggestions.  I so want our family life to be fun and friendly and caring.  
Sometimes I feel like he is trying to teach me about myself.  I can be rude and mean to my husband when I am tired or sick...or annoyed.  I have a hard time with my own personality defaults - how am I supposed to expect any better from my 9 year old?
My son is never happy with the status quo - he is always wanting more than what he has - never happy with what he already does has.  I need a solution...I need a way to make this better.  
Avatar universal
I have the same problem with my eight year old girl. It is amazing to hear that other families also have the exact same scenarios in their households. I just wonder where I went wrong and how to correct the problem. She also have a younger sibling age 6 that does not exhibit these behaviors.
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