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My Nine Year Old Son Is Driving Me Daft

Help, Please!! My nine year old son is driving me insane. He is a very intelligent, witty, strong willed, stubborn boy who loves to argue. He always, and I mean always needs to have the last word which needless to say easily turns a small negative situation into a huge one in a hurry.

An example conversation with him would go something like " The way that you spoke to me was mean and disrespectful" (I try not to label him - You are rude etc) His reply would be "So you are saying I am always rude or disrespectful" And I would reply "No that is not what I said" and somehow he continues on. Or I would say something like "You haven't had a good behavior day in a long time" His reply would be "So you're saying I have never been good since I have been born?

What frustrates me with him is that he is excellent when off with others. He just spent the week with his cousin and I was told he was "the best kid - no problems at all". His behavior at school is impeccable. At home he is always mouthing off and disrespectful.

I have tried time outs (is he past the age for these?), talking, yelling ( I don't advocate the yelling, but hey he's getting the best of me)and taking things away. Once when he had a major tantrum I took all of his toys out of his room and put them in the storage shed while he was at school. He cared at first and then found other things to do.

I have also tried to explain to him that a lot of the time his behavior is like a preschooler. He does not seem to care about this either. I have also tried to praise his good behavior. Although I will admit that these days praise has been a little hard.

I want to raise my son to be a respectful, successful man and I feel like I am failing both of us. He is such a challenge and I am always feeling frustrated. I am hoping that there are some moms out there who have good ideas on raising boys and/or difficult children.

I have not had any experience with boys. I babysat a family with four girls, had one sister, three step sisters. No boy cousins or neighbors or anything. I am thinking part of my ineffectiveness is my lack of understanding into the developing male mind. I just don't know.

I know part of his personality issues are genetic. My sister was a difficult child and my father also. Both of them used verbage for argumentative purposes. I want to bring out the clever, witty lovable child. I know he is in there, I just need help in getting to him.

Please if anyone has any positive reinforcement ideas or insights I'd love to hear them. This summer is going to be a long one.

Thanks in advance.


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Featured Answers

Hi C.!
I may know just a small bit of what you are saying here.
My problem was with my son between 12-13. He was intolerable!
I felt that spending any one-on-one quality time with him
would be beneficial.
So, whenever he would allow it and was not committed to a school activity or karate/judo- We'd go to a ahow (of his choice, go get an ice cream, or watch something on the TV
--as long as it was together!! And, don't you know what??
We became closer, had good times that we both remember fondly!

I hope this will be of a help to you!!
I am going to email this letter to my son (26) and see if he would like to add any thoughts. I hope that will be acceptable to you???

By the way he is just about as wonderful a human being as
any mother could hope to raise!! I am very proud indeed!!

Good Luck to You,
C. S.

Where is dad? If he is not there get him a male mentor. My boys knew who was boss, if you are being respectful of him than he needs an adjustment.

He can outmouth you, so do something different. Take him for counseling and let him see his behavior against a neutral background.

My daughter is 9 also and mouthy. Her past counselor suggested Love and Logic. I think the site is www.loveandlogic.com They have ways of saying things that are wonderful. Different situations to choose from. Hope this helps. My son is almost 8 and says similar things- likes to over analyze. Good luck!

More Answers

Hi C.,

I strongly recommend the book "Parenting with Love and Logic" (I can't remember the author at present). I think you'll find some great tips and tools with this method.

In the meantime, the jist of the "love and logic" approach is straightforward. Once the ground rules have been established (speak respectfully), you enforce them by offering two choices, immediate compliance and non-compliance with consequence. This is all done with a cheerful attitude of "I expect compliance." Once the choice is given, don't engage. Either he complies or he takes the consequence. If he wants to argue, make sure the time to do that is during his time (when he does something he wants to do like watch tv, play electronics, be on the computer or whatever else your family does). Here's an example from my an exchange with my son,

"Kyle, you may not speak disrespectfully to me. Please adjust your tone immediately or you may begin cleaning your closet." Kyle tries to argue. "Sorry, Kyle. The time to argue is at 6:30pm tonight." Kyle points out that that 6:30pm is his karate lesson. "Yes. You're right. I'll have lots of time then to listen to you."

I've used this method very successfully in both my classroom (I'm a high school/jr. high teacher of 15 years) and with my sons (my 10 year old is often very difficult). Sometimes kids just jump up and down on that last nerve, and I forget this approach. The results are ugly. But, when I remember to not engage, this method can really work.

You might also google child psychologist John Rosemond. He runs a weekly column in my local paper and many of his approaches have also worked well.

Another approach is the "employment" approach. You and I both know that (theoretically) rude, argumentative people don't succeed in the workforce. If you offer your son an allowance, fine him for disrespect. I've solved lots of bad behavior with my sons with that approach. (I teach personal finance, so this one is a personal favorite! <g>)

My mother in law tried positive reinforcement with something she called "goody tickets." When you catch your son in the act of doing what you want, he earns a "goody ticket." Your son would cash in the goody tickets for priveleges. If he doesn't have enough tickets to do something they wanted (ranging from tv time, to playing outside, to sleepovers, etc.), he can't do it.

I know it's tough. But, you're absolutely doing the right thing by not letting your son get away with being rude. The evidence is how well he behaves when he's out. In my testosterone filled house (two sons, a husband and four male pets), I can tell you that men of all ages respond well to the direct approach, and I do mean direct. Please don't let "genetics" become an excuse. It's all the more reason to stick with it.

C., good luck. Raising good men is the toughest job in the world.

3 moms found this helpful

Hi C. -
There are a lot of good advice. As a mom of 3 boys, I had my share of them driving me crazy as well, esp. w/my 2nd child. We used to have shouting matches which raised my blood pressure to boiling point. There are few things I noticed w/him that caused him to have his "bad/rude" attitudes.

1. not getting enough sleep. We had a lot more shouting matches when he doesn't get his full night of sleep. He usually end up going into his room and fall asleep after our arguments. Then he comes out apologizing to me. I have him write apology letters to me for his bad behaviors. I have quite a collections.

2. friends/peers - I sometimes see some of his friends acting rude to their parents. And I think he tries to test how far he can get away with me. I don't let him get away with it at all. When he speaks to me in a rude manner, I just stop him and say, "excuse me, is that how you speak to me? please try that again." I have him do it until he gets it right. I don't speak to him in a demeaning or sarcastic tone, just very matter-of-fact tone. I'll also say to him that it may be ok with his friends and their parents, but it's not ok in this family. I'm very firm with that.

3. Boredom - sometime kids will get in trouble when they're bored and that includes rude behaviors. Sign him up in different activities (but make sure you don't overload his schedule.) Maybe some type of music or sport lessons, ie. drums, guitar, golf, tennis, martial arts, etc. Get him out of the house, have some type of structured time that he needs to report to another person in authority. He needs some away time from you and vice versa.

4. spend time with him - of the 3 boys, my 2nd one is the one that's always asking to have Family Fun Night. He enjoys spending time w/the whole family and just having fun.

5. Surprise your son with hugs. It really doesn't matter how old they are, they still enjoy hugs. For my oldest, I cannot hug him in front of others, but when I got into his room while he's at his desk, I go up to him and give him a hug, he doesn't push me away. They want to know that you care about them. My 2nd son will let me hug him anywhere in the house, but not in public. So I try to hug him as much as I can around the house. Of course with my 3rd son (my baby), I can still hug him anywhere and anytime. And they all love it.

6. Have your husband spend time w/him. Sons need to know dad cares as much as mom. I tell my husband to spend more time w/our 2nd son, esp. when he's giving me attitude problem. Your husband need to show your son how to treat you with respect and love.

Hope that helps. Good luck.

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What does your husband say and what is his disipline strategy? Your hubby needs to teach your son that is not OK to treat any woman, especially his mom, this way. Boys need good, strong role models to help them grow into men.
Getting him into karate would also be a good step. Karate is very focused on respect, self discipline and focus.

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He is totally manipulating you. Next time he mouths off put him in time-out (I used to put my third graders in time-out, it worked WAY better than benching them at recess.) Do not respond to his banter, he is just trying to get a reaction. When his 9 minutes are up then you tell him what he did/said was unacceptable - THE END. If your not comfortable putting him in a chair for time-out, send him to his room for 9 minutes. He's not too old.

He sounds very smart to me. Do you have him in any non-sports activities? An instrument? Chess? Monopoly? Your description reminds me of a student I knew years ago. He could be very manipulative and he really thrived on games of strategy, I'm sure today he is a D&D Master. LOL My husband is also very smart and loves to argue - his guitar has really settled him. I think highly intelligent people truly need an outlet that challenge them and your son will be easier to deal with once he finds his.


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I have an 8 yr old stepdaughter that is the same way, I bought the book "The Everything Parents Guide to the Strong Willed Child". We "try" to follow it as best we can, but I also do a "reward chart" meaning at the end of the day she picks a piece of folded paper with a number and it corresponds to a reward on the chart on her door. She then gets the reward. She and I decided the rewards together. Simple, like extra 1/2 hour of tv, extra dessert, free day of cleaning room, paint nails, etc. We also have a "consequence chart" on the frig. Right out in the open and when she acts out, talks back, etc. I simply say "wanna go to the frig?" almost works everytime. The behavior and consequense is clearly spelled out and there is no frustration on my part as to the "what do I do" syndrome. I am also a stay at home mom of the 8 yr old and our 2-1/2 yr old daughter. Hope it helps.

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I can really, really relate to your challenge. My son has always been very strong willed. Part of it is that I think boys need to have a strong nature to make their way in the world and they start by being strong willed in their micro world (the family) to see how it works. The more it works the more tyrannical they can become.

I have a background in Psychology and was so frustrated because I couldn't motivate my son into better behavior and developing empathy. I read all sorts of books, tried systems and they had value but only had temporary effects on his behavior. That was when a light bulb went off in my head. I could develop my own system that would incorporate all that I have learned. It worked brilliantly. We went from arguing and negotiating all day long to near immediate compliance. That was when he had just turned 8 years old. He is now 12 1/2 and a wonderful boy. He is still strong willed but has a much more respectful attitude then he ever did. Now my challenge is getting him to do his chores, which I would much prefer that, then the challenge of getting him to respect me and the home.

Friends of mine and my father said I had to write this system down because they saw such a transformation in his behavior. I wrote out what I did and how I implemented what I call the Acceptable Behavior Checkbook system. It is currently available as an ebook. It is going through final editing and will soon be a physical book too.

I wish you luck. I know how hard it is. Be firm,loving and acknowledge the encourage the positive behaviors and remember to keep your sense of humor. Strong willed children work much better with a non confrontational approach. So using humor can work wonders to motivate and show them what they are doing is not ok.

warm regards,


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Hi C.:
Very simply said: (Pick your battles)Don't debate with him,don't argue,don't yell and scream,and try not to nic-pick about the little things he does,that you disagree with or are slightly disapointed about.Allow him to be an individual,and to make a few mistakes. Thats how children learn to become independant,and knowledgable.The way you discribed the little spat you had,it would appear, that he feels you look at him as one disapointment after another.Let him agree to disagree once in a while.After all, he is an individual,and soon to be going through puperty.The very best to you and your growing son.

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I raised 3 boys and have 6 grandsons, and yes, boys are different.
I recommend an excellent book: RAISING RESPECTFUL CHILDREN IN A DISRESPECTFUL WORLD by Jill Rigby. Dr. Laura Schlesinger recommends this book.
Your son is disrespectful to you because you let him be.
However, he is good at it and you have had it, I don't blame you one bit, I too would be frustrated. This book will help you now and in the future with this boy.

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Too start, I recommend "Screamfree Parenting" I don't remmember the author off hand, but it helps. Now...
Your son is not your sister. Your son is not your father. You need to tell yourself this every day, and every time you start to get mad at him for 'being like them'. He is not them, he is your child and you can control how he talks to you. Don't argue with him. When he talks back to you, tell him that it isn't appropriate to talk to his mother in that way/tone. If he tries to continue, send him to time out or his room or whatever, and walk away. When the time out is over, I have heard one minute for every year, approach him and discuss calmly what the problem is. If he continues to be disrespectful let him have more time out, and leave.
A couple of things you need to think about.
Talk to him about what you expect of him. List it out on a chart. List punishments out on a chart. That way, both of you know what is expected and what happens when he doesn't meet expectations. Have him write a list of what he expects from you. You might be surprised.
If your children have their own room/space, you need to not invade it. Taking his stuff out while he is gone just erodes his sense of security. If you want to take stuff away from him, have him hand it to you, with you outside his room. That way he is acknowledges why you are taking something. Let him be the boss of his space. Let him know that twice a year his space will be clean, as the rest of the house is...Spring and fall cleaning... Other than that, stay out!
You sound like a good mom, you can do this.
Good luck

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Hi there. First of all I just want to say to you, take a deep breath, relax and smile. Now, don't you feel better already. I bet if your beautiful future great leader were next to you, he would feel your peace. That's what he wants from you. He wants to know that you believe in him. And that he has what it takes period. All the other stuff is hogwash to him. All the trying to make him a "better person", "kinder boy", etc., etc. is just egging him on and giving him a huge amount of ammunition to use against you and you alone. And that, keeps him from thinking about what he is doing or not doing. Boys thrive on this kind of thing.

I have three of them and also two girls. Granted they are 30, 24, and 14, but my last one was as you say "strong willed".

I love this line.....give it recognition, give it strengh. Whatever you are giving recognition to the most is what is possibly feeding the situation. Wow...ouch it sounds like I am pointing the finger at mama here. No, not at all whatsoever. There is so much here. There is history, as you say with your father and sister. You didn't mention a father in his life so I don't know the details on that one.

But, I think you get the picture. He sounds like an amazing person. Like a said, a leader. Boys love to be pumped up. Especially by mom. Since he does swimmingly at other arenas in his life, school and friends' homes, it doesn't seem to be a chemical imbalance or "sugar" issue.

It's not going to be easy to change the situation...but it will be worth it. It's going to have to start with you. You are the adult. Search inside yourself. How you treating your little girl? What's her personality. Are you two fast friends and pals. Probably. You understand girls....and they are so different and easily relatable to you.

I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I will say, start with not being hard on yourself. Sounds like you probably take the blame for a lot of the stuff going on. Forgive yourself, forgive him, forgive your dad, forgive your sister...it's all okay and it will be okay.

Your son wants you to enjoy him. He wants you to embrace those parts of him that are male and yes "manly". Especially since he is the first born, an extra burden on him rest assured.

That's all for now....have a really peaceful and enoyable summer..and most of all enjoy that future leader of America.

Hang in there. This is all happening for a reason and everything is as it should be.

Peace and joy to you,


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Mom of four boys here, the youngest is 9, oldest is 26. You stated that you try not to label your son but you have. You have labeled him as a difficult child. You are engaging him in verbal "sparring matches". Why? Stop! Stop arguing with him. From what you describe, he is feeling criticized and put down. You need to change tactics. Change your behavior and his will eventually change. You are the adult. Make a change, because what you have been doing is not having the desired results. It is not working. Try ignoring his negative behaviors and focus only on the good. If you cannot make this change and give it a good solid try for several months, you will know that the root problem is with you, not with him. Good luck!

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Hi C.,

Boy, my son was like this. I hated, HATED his third and fourth grade years. He's 11 now and going into middle school in the fall and I'm happy to say things have settled down tremendously.

Once we were able to get past the defiance and actually talk about what he was feeling we discover a few things:

1. He felt he wasn't getting enough attention from either parent, but especially his dad.
2. He felt that his father favored our daughter. He was right.
3. He was very stressed about school, the expectations placed on him as a smart kid and already feeling the loss of his childhood to homework.
4. He was having trouble with a friend and didn't know how to resolve it.

All of these issues are related to self image, which was suffering. As his mom, particularly with the dad issue, I was his constant and his safe place. I also became his battering ram because of it. Recognizing that, I realized it was a priveledge to be the safe person for him. That made it easier for me to not personalize the comments and focus on him.

To resolve this you need to take a two prong approach. First, you have to stop the disrespectful behavior. When my son said something I didn't like, I would use a variation on "I'm sorry, but saying it that way isn't going to work for me. Try again." or even a game show approach, "Beeeep! Wrong answer. Try again." This has to be said in a straight fashion, no sarcasm or condescention. Humor is okay, if it won't inflame him. We have also talked extensively about the concept of a "big world vs. little world" meaning when he is respectful and trustworthy he gets to enjoy the privelidges of a big world, a longer leash so to speak. If he isn't then he his world gets smaller. If he is disrespectful of me infront of a friend, the friend goes home with our apologies. That's automatic. His world just got smaller, even though he's still at home.

Second, you need to find out what he's struggling with inside. As many moms have pointed out, you don't mention your husband in your post. We SAHM's have a tendency to take over full responsibility for parenting while our husbands are responsible for financing everything. At nine, your son needs his time and attention regularly. When we looked closely at our situation, we realize that dad was not spending any real time with our son. Dad found son difficult to be around,(and refused to use proven parenting techniques) and so he actively avoided him. Therefore, for a while, the only interaction between them was negative. My point is that you have to know what's going on in your son's world so you can actively tackle each of the issues to show him he's worth fighting for. Leave your daughter with a friend and take your son out for lunch, batting practice, mini-golf, etc. Chat him up regularly, especially in the car when he can't escape. It may take some time for him to trust your sincerity in being on his side, so keep at it. There are underlying issues and you'll find them.

Just a follow up to the whole, "You don't pay enough attention to me" complaint. The flip side of this was his computer game addiction. I called him on it saying that he was at least half responsible for that one since he was so addicted to his game and maybe if he's walk away when we are available he's get more attention. aBeing the bright boy that he is, he agreed. So I'm not saying that you have to give, give, give without question. It's appropriate to challenge them too.

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where in the world is your son getting these 'come backs' from? do you talk that way in your daily convos with others? i had a niece 8 yrs old who lived with me after her parents divorced, she had a negative repy all the time, especially after court order visits. i swear it was like hearing a teen. finally i would use words and metaphors that i knew she wouldn't get it and she was like, what?, in her mind. after that she never tried to go one on one with me.

Wow, you sound just like me but my son is 4 1/2 years old. A little frightening if this goes on for another 5 years!!!
My son is a huge negotioator as well. I can tell him to do the simpliest thing like put on your clothes and shoes so we can go and he will say "How about I just put my clothes on and not my socks and shoes." Everything has to be a negotiation with him and depending on the timing or issue sometimes these simple tasks become a full blowm argument.

Do you have a good answer for when he asks me "why" for everything he is told to do. I know this is part of the age with my son but I am running out of things to say.

I'm sure it is all part of the males species. Unfortunately I do not have any good advise to give you. Sounds like you are doing the best that you can. Hang in there. Asking these questions means you care so you are on the right track.

Take care and try to be patient.

I have a daughter like this. Part of it is that she is very bright, part is that she honestly enjoys arguing at first, before it gets frustrating for her, and part is that she wants to establish her place in the world. Unfortunately, she was this way with everyone, not just me.

The less talking, explaining, justifying and the like you do, the better! This was very hard for me, because I'm an explainer (sometimes an overexplainer), but I learned that the more I gave her a chance to argue, complain or justify, the worse it got. I had to give very short answers, including the old standby, "Because I said so." When she would attempt to turn around something she'd been told, as in your example, I'd say, "Excuse me, we both know that isn't what I said. I am not going to discuss this with you if you're going to behave this way." What she really wanted was my complete attention, so she'd attempt to start the argument up again. Two or three times I'd repeat that I was not going to discuss it, and if she persisted I sent her to her room.

Because she craved the attention, and the sense of dominating the conversation and me, this was more effective than anything else - explaining, clarifying or punishing. She hated it, and would say things like, "Oh, so now I'm not even allowed to talk?" I'd answer, "That's right. Not unless you're going to be polite." She'd attempt to bait me into arguing by saying things like, "You're not being polite!" but I'd refuse to discuss it, and send her to her room if need be.

She'd even try to start an argument in public by complaining to someone (in the store, at a relative's house) something like, "I'm not even allowed to watch TV, even though everybody else in the family does!" I'd respond, "That's right. That's because you were watching without your chores being done," and then I'd change the subject, refusing to go back and rehash or justify whatever it was. If she continued, I'd remind her that we were not going to discuss it further, and again send her out of the room if I had to.

I worried that her teenage years would be misery, but as she got older she actually got a bit better. She's 20 now, and often delightful, and learning to save her energy for things that really matter. Sometimes, she'll start reflexively arguing, but she's SO MUCH better now. This too will pass, as long as you refuse to feed the behavior. Hang in there!

I wish I had helpful advice to give you, but I don't.

I just wanted to say, I feel for you. As I was reading your post, I thought you could have been standing in my house describing my 5 1/2 year old son. He is also extremely stubborn and argumentative, regardless of the wording or punishments used.

But, when he is with others, he behaves like a perfect angel. I'm grateful for that, but not sure how to keep from pulling my hair out when he's at home.

Good luck! My thoughts are with you.

My daughter is 9 also and mouthy. Her past counselor suggested Love and Logic. I think the site is www.loveandlogic.com They have ways of saying things that are wonderful. Different situations to choose from. Hope this helps. My son is almost 8 and says similar things- likes to over analyze. Good luck!

I have an 8 year old daughter that is the same way. Way too wise for her age and very willful! I always have to keep a step in front of her and get inside her thinking. I know exactly what she is going to do before she does it because I can see the wheels turning in her mind as she's getting ready to do something. I have to catch her off-guard and say "Dont' do it!" and she'll look at me like "What?" and I say to her that I know what she's thinking and she better not do it. She always argues with us and starts with the "buts" and I tell her that her only response is "yes, Mom" or "yes, Dad". She always gets the last word that way, but it's in compliance with what we just said to her.

Sounds like he's baiting you into arguing with him. He knows how to get you annoyed/frustrated, and thus win your attention. The trick is not getting into an argument with him, and being firm with what you say. "I don't like the way you answered me. The next time you answer me like that, [insert penalty]." If he has a smart answer, bite your tongue and ignore him. If he keeps at it, follow through with the penalty.

Also, try spending some alone time doing a fun activity you both enjoy. Sounds like you both need some mom-son bonding time.

Hi C....

I also have a nine yr. old boy. You are not alone. Except
mine has been doing the things you described for yrs. My best advice would be to read Scream Free Parenting. It really hit home for me. Its not all about parents who scream, It's about taking back "Your Life". All I can say
is it worked for me.... Our household is not perfect, but
it is alot happier and my son knows now who is in charge
and certain behavior is not acceptable and consequenses WILL be enforced if he chooses to make bad choices. Following through on consequenses is a big one too.

Good Luck


Best of luck to you. I have the same situation, but mine is now 12.. almost 13.
I can tel you that it has gotten better. I'm not sure if you have his father (or a daily father-figure) in his life, but I can tell you that for me, letting my husband take over the discipline, and be my defender REALLY helped. My son's level of disrespect and arguementation decreased greatly once he realized that dad was not going to stand for mom being talked to and argued with in a way he would not stand for.
My son was in a power struggle with me, and this enforced the fact that he was NOT in charge, and that DAD was and would not tolerate such behavior to his nmother.
Hope this helps!


Sounds like your son is enjoying getting the better of you. Try not reacting to his comments. The hardest thing to do as a parent is having our children see our point of view. I will bet that at school the teacher states the facts and moves on, not feeding into the debate. This also works with adults.

Best Wishes

Hey There,

Sounds like your son is pushing your buttons and already knows what breaks you down!! I have a son and he is 17 now!! And "yes" a "smart mouth" too!! You need boundaries he knows he should not cross!! He is and never will be too old for time outs!! When my son started to act up and would not listen, he was and still is sent to his room for time outs with the door open!! He is allowed to read but everything else, like no TV, no video games, no drawing (his favorite thing to do) and the only thing he can read is something that is educational!! Or he has to clean his room or do something constructive around the house!! Is he around someone that acts this way!!

Don't bargain with him, that what he is doing when he gives you answers like the ones he gives you, let him know from the get go that you are not here to bargain with him, that he is to do what you said or else!! If you don't stop this behavior with him now, he will do this with all the women in his life....setting him up for some challenging relationships!! Yes, I will say it, men are defiantly different creatures but they need their Mom to show them they emotional and soft side and Dad to show their macho and ragged side!! Is Dad in his life!! I wish you luck and remember stay consitant and firm!! V.

Hi C.,
Your son sounds incredibly intelligent and challenging. My oldest is not yet 3 1/2 and he started arguing with us almost a year ago. It was cute for about a week, until we realized what was going on. He contradicts us constantly and always has his own ideas about how things should be done. I am a firm believer in good old-fashioned discipline, but I also want to recognize my son's unique personality and abilities and encourage him to fulfill his potential.
A friend of mine was having a lot of trouble with her 5 year old son, sounds very similar to what you're going through, (just a a 5 year old version of it), and whenever he was away from home, she always got glowing reports about how wonderful he was. A counselor recommended the book "The Two Sides of Love" by Gary Smalley and John Trent. These authors are well-known Christian psychologists so I'm sure they write from a Christian standpoint. I don't know if that appeals to you or not, but even if you do not hold to Christian beliefs, I think there would still be a lot of helpful, practical advice for you in this book. My friend said it helped her to recognize her son's unique personality and how to interract with him, diffusing potentially volatile situations before they started. He has been such a challenge for her and she was always frustrated, but she says their entire home atmosphere has changed since she has learned how to deal with him.
I know you got a lot of advice and several other recommendations for books, and probably nowhere near the time you would need to read them all, but I hope this helps! I plan to borrow this book from my friend and hope to learn how to encourage my son's potential and avoid these constant battles.

Hi C., it sounds to me like he is playing mind games with you, see you're correcting him, and instead of responding in a respectful way, and being sorry, he's taking the focuss of of himself and putting it on you. It is OK to tell him he is being rude, by telling him, that is the only way he will understand he is being rude, in also his responses to you is borderlined talking back, he has found a way to talk back to, you with a disguise. So` when he response in this manner, i would send him him to is roon, and i would tell him, when you can answer me properly, and say you are sorry you need to go to your room. You need to cut him off when her starts to respond this way, because C., by listining to it, in away you are encouranging it. He's a smart little boy. so out smart him. J.

Hi C.,
It was very important for me to teach my son (now 11) to think for himself. However, it was our experience that he seemed too smart for his own good. He didn't know when to use his critical thinking skills, hence the constant arguments. I realized that since he obviously learned to think for himself, the next step was to teach him when to use those skills & to not use them against me. As simple as it sounds, he needed to understand that I'm always on his side & that when I scold or question him, it is for his future benefit of becoming a strong man. Once that was finally understood, he was able to know & trust that he need not think the worst of ME. He stopped the arguments & was more trusting. The question is...how do you get this across to your son? For us, I became even more affectionate with him to express my unconditional love. I started spending more 1 on 1 time with him. We played board games, checkers, chess & cards. My objecitve was not to compete with him but to teach him strategy. He learned that each choice leads to a consequence & all his choices combined lead to his ultimate goal of becoming a better player or winning. He then understood that I'm always trying to teach him to make good choices for himself that balance his goals & reflect our family values whether in a game or real life situations including his behavior, education, relationships, time management, cleanliness & so on. Now, our dialogue consists of him confiding in me & asking me for guidance in any aspect of life. He knows he can count on me for anything. We give each other truth & respect. It is wonderful. You're on the right path. Just think of it as a stage of learning...just like the diaper stage. Some toddles take longer to potty train. The more time & energy you dedicate, the more thorough the training is. It's a learning process. Don't take it personally. Be proud he's searching for guidance & he's choosing you to guide him...that's why it only happens with you. Just make sure you practice what you preach. He'll remind you when you slip. Just accept it & apologize when it happens. He'll respect you for it & continue to trust you.
Good luck & take care.

Hi! C.,
Rather than telling him what he is being or doing, tell him how you feel about what he just said. Like "Ouch! That hurts!",but say it in a tone that shows that you are hurt. He really does care. I have a neice who has some learning problems ( not that your does) and she has always been an angel at school, but when she gets home she can't hold it together anymore and explodes at anyone and everyone.

Hi C.. I have a five year old boy who is mastering how to get the best of me as well. It is a difficult thing and I've often felt as though I've lost control, which becomes evident with my own emotions (anger, bitterness) and responses (yelling, toe-to-toe verbal combat; not good, not good at all). You should try this book, Bringing Up Boys, by James Dobson. It was recommended to me and though I haven't gotten through it yet, I've heard really great things about it. God bless you and your family. G.

Where is dad? If he is not there get him a male mentor. My boys knew who was boss, if you are being respectful of him than he needs an adjustment.

He can outmouth you, so do something different. Take him for counseling and let him see his behavior against a neutral background.


I have a 9 yr old son who not too long ago had some behavioral issues. I'm not sure what your son's responsibilities are at home but for my son, once I implemented chores and enforced it, his behavior changed almost over night. I think it made him feel like we've moved on to the next stage, like he's getting ready for his tweens. He is polite, respectful, trustworthy and will do 'extra stuff' for me now. If you would have asked me this 6 mos ago I would have given you a whole different description of him. Maybe your son needs more challenges at home. He will start to see how hard you work and will respect you more and will proud that he can help out with that. I know my son loves to 'make me happy' now. By him helping it frees me up so I have more time to do constructive things with him like work on homework (yes! even in the summer) read books or just hang out. Worked for us.

I had to get my glasses and read that again. You didn't say one word about his dad. If there's no dad in the picture, that's your problem. He is getting to the age where Mom is not the role-model and he knows it, so he's challenging you at every turn. You're probably going to need an uncle or 'big brother'.... somebody to set him straight. You just can't let this disrespect go onand you've got to get help.....now. At 9 you might be able to teach him with a (small) reward for each day that he is NOT disrespectful toward you. Definitely keep a chart of the days that he IS disrespectful.

Hi C.,
You had some wonderful advice! I agree that the best way to deal with kids who like to argue, is NOT to argue. He's 9 years old, and he knows exactly what he is doing. You must not feed the fire. If he does something that is punishable, then punish him. If it is a time out, then you tell him why he is getting a time out and no more talking. It's usless to talk about it when this is the way it is going to be, period. Consistancy is alway key is situations like this. Things will change for the better if you just stop arguing with him. If he asks you questions that you know are rediculous, then tell him you will not respond to silly questions. That is his warning, then ignore the rest of his questions. If he asks you something that is appropiate, then answer him (not if he is in time out though)
I hope someones advice helps you and your son. Don't worry about the things poeple are asking you about a man in his life. You disipline him, so YOU need to find the way to do it properly.
Good luck to you!

In public and at school is exactly where you want him to be "good". At home is where he can let off his steam and let a little of the dark side/frustrations out. Could it be that he had a little to let out after being away from you for a week? I find when my kids are away from me for too long they do act superb but when they get home they "give it to me" or let it out! I think time outs are appropriate at any age. "I can see that you need to express yourself. Maybe you should have that time in your room" I try to be present for the beginning of the outbursts but if they go on and on, I ask my kids to go to their room. At this age, why do we all have to suffer.

Im sure that by the way you describe him, he will be and is an excellent kid. I know it feels like that disrespect will be with him forever, but it wont. Just keep talking to him about what is acceptable in your family and what is not. Not long lectures at this age, but short bursts of info. I teach a parenting course and I always find that if you speak to the kids when they want something like a playdate or tv time, they are much more receptive! Good luck and hang in there. It sounds like you can detach a little and keep going within. YOU HAVE ALL OF THE ANSWERS.

Hi C., to me it sounds like he's playing with you- pushing the boundaries and seeing how you react. I do think part of the reason why so many people tend to let down and let it loose at home, is because we're comfortable. He knows no matter what that you love him. he doesn't necessarily know how outsiders will treat him when he acts up. If I was in the situation, I would try to only use positive, unless there was something major going on. Also- with my kids if they mouthed off to me, and were not respectful- I would state my opinion and walk away. That way I could cool off, the kids could cool off and think about what they were doing. I don't think that telling him he's acting like a preschooler is very effective, it sounds demeaning. It's like if someone is crying and somebody says "stop acting like a baby." Well, just about everybody cries sometimes, so that's not effective".

Since he's so smart, using "I" statements would be a better way off handling it. e.g. "When you say, "You're so stupid Mom", I feel hurt and angry. I do not want to be around you when you say such things." Then walk away. If he says something worse- keep going. He's trying to get a rise out of you. As we say at work "Negative attention is better than no attention". Some kids get into that mentality. The rare (if it seems like it now) times when he is respectful or fun to be around- mention it, but don't overdo the praise. Maybe you can also ask him what he'd like to do with you- just the two of you. Also have some alone time with your 6 year old.

Some kids are just harder to raise- that is true. I was blessed in that my 3 kids were not particularly difficult, although they had their moments. I have worked with plenty of difficult kids though.

Hi C.,

I highly recommend you get a copy of Faber's "How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk." It offers excellent strategies for communicating with your children.

My son is very much like yours -- highly intelligent and a terrific "lawyer." I finally learned to not engage him in the types of arguments you describe. Instead, I learned to rely on phrases such as "Because I'm the mom and I said so. When you're the parent, you can make the rules. Period." and "You can think whatever you like and twist it whatever way you choose, but you know and I know exactly what I said and I'm not going to play this game. It is a waste of time and energy for both of us." Then, walk away and don't engage him in conversation for any reason.

As harsh as it may seem, these types of phrases never squashed my son's intelligence, but they definitely kept me much saner than I would have been arguing with him!

Good Luck -- sounds like you'r in for one heck of a ride!


Hi C.!
I may know just a small bit of what you are saying here.
My problem was with my son between 12-13. He was intolerable!
I felt that spending any one-on-one quality time with him
would be beneficial.
So, whenever he would allow it and was not committed to a school activity or karate/judo- We'd go to a ahow (of his choice, go get an ice cream, or watch something on the TV
--as long as it was together!! And, don't you know what??
We became closer, had good times that we both remember fondly!

I hope this will be of a help to you!!
I am going to email this letter to my son (26) and see if he would like to add any thoughts. I hope that will be acceptable to you???

By the way he is just about as wonderful a human being as
any mother could hope to raise!! I am very proud indeed!!

Good Luck to You,
C. S.

Does he do this with your husband? If so what does your husband do? I agree with what someone said earlier, your husband needs to get involved and show him how to respect you and all women. If dad isn't in the picture then maybe an uncle or grandfather could help.
My son is only 5 but he'll occasionally get disrespectful with me and argue about stuff that shouldn't be argued about. When this happens I tell him how his behavior makes me feel. If it continues we both get a time out. Him so he can think about what he did and why it's not ok and me so I can evaluate how I'm going to react when I go and talk to him.

I know exactly how you are feeling. I'm having similar issues with my 4 1/2 year old. I've been reading, "10 Days to a Less Defiant Child: The Breakthrough Program for Overcoming Your Child's Difficult Behavior" by Jeffrey Bernstein and it is GREAT! I would highly recommend this book. I can see my son's behavior improve quickly when I implement Bernstein's stratagies. Good luck!

Hi C.,
Aside from all of the wonderful parenting advice you are getting, you are right. Boys are different and we, as mothers and women, need to know and understand that there is a biological and social diffference between the sexes and that we cannot expect them to think as we do. I have a son too and have read several books on raising boys and they have helped me tremendously. The most helpful ones are, REAL BOYS, by William Pollack (this book was amazing!, RAISING CAIN, by Dan Kindlon, THE WONDER OF BOYS, by Michael Gurian. I haven't read, but want to read, WHY GENDER MATTERS, by Leonard Sax. I know it is a lot of reading, maybe you like to read like I do. If not, at least read REAL BOYS. Seriously.

Boys are under a lot of stress to live up to the expetations that society has placed on them. Their bodies (emotions and minds) tell them one thing and society tells them another. Boys are under a lot of stress to be who they are expected to be. They wear "masks" to hide who they are in order to live up to what our society expects of them. When they wear these "masks", they supress all that is true in them. This can lead to very real and deep problems for our boys. It is very confusing for them. They may even see themselves as "bad" because they feel one way, but are expected to be another way.

We need to understand the pressure that our boys are under and learn to help them be their true selves, the men they were born to be, while still dealing with the unrealistic expectations of others.

This by no means is to say that it is OK to be disrespectful, rude, etc. But it helps us understand what is going on and why. They will feel so happy to know we care about how they are feeing and that we will help them channel those stregths in positve ways.

I really beleive this! All my best to you and your son, C.. I know how you feel.

One thing I say to my kids if they are disrespectful is that they are not taking that behavior out the door. It costs them 3 perfect days of respect to have a go out the door privilege. I know that this is hard, but if you are firm and consistant...it works.

My kids laugh at eachother if they hear one go off, because they know it's costing them 3 days or to give them an option...a day of hard labor will cut out 3 days and most of the time, the boys will take the labor and the girls will take the 3 days.

Other rules I have are, they don't have phone privileges or computer until they read the bible and did a devotion. Nowadays it's so hard with all the cell phones and text messaging...we can't get them to do anything but run up their ph;bill. I can't see why their dad does this...anyway, be happy that your son is on check in school and with others.

SOunds like he's very close with you and loves to play around. Just draw the line for sanity sake.

Hi C.,

I am so sorry...raising kids is so hard and scary! It sounds like he is trying to get your attention? Try a game night once a week (gives the kids something to look forward to) mine love charades. I find if I focus on my kids they get so dang happy and sweet. (they love when the phone rings and I don't answer it) also try this....get a poster board for everyone in your family. Sit down with glue sticks and scissors and magazines. Have everyone pick out pictures they like and would like to see in their future. Make your own board too. It is fun to do together and really will make things happen in your life :)

Hi C.,
I don't have any advice but I wanted to wish you good luck. You sound like a wonderful mother and I'm sure your boy is very lucky to have you:)
Best wishes,

How about haveing a hiden camera on a remote and let him see and hope he will understand what he is putting you through each time. Or may be one day he might be a good lawer:)

Tell him he is so smart that you can sit him down and discuss what you expect from him and won't tolerant any less. A lot of times boys say things you tell them it isn't apporpiate but then you need to go a step further and tell him what is. They don't just know. They minds don't work like ours. So when he mouths off say that is disrepectful to me a response like such and such would be better. If he continues to mouth off say into your room and the rule is he must stay in there until he decides he can speak to you in a mammer without attitude so he always gets to decide when to come out but his mouth has to be in the right place. If and when he argues, don't argue back. It's hard but don't respond. That means when he says so Ive been bad since I was born you don't even say a word.You tell him whatever you need to say then when he starts with the mouth you tell him into your room and close your mouth. Only repeat that if needed once or twice. Tell him he may come out when he can stop arguing and tell him some things that would be a better way to respond. Have this talk with him before you start your new way of interacting with him and tell him he will no longer be allowed to argue or disrepect you period.The things I would take away are playing with his friends and going place with them. If he wants to question you about something he has to ask permission to raise that question.(So you both know he not trying to argue) Then when YOU say stop his time is over. When he does mouth off tell him the above go to your room and stick with it. If he doesn't follow this at any time friend privilegs are lost. Dont give up. You must do this now before he gets any older or the troubles will be bigger.Hopefully the rest of your family will not allow it either(his father) Start now with the talk. Good luck PS Start each sentence with his good qualities but you need him to work on this by doing this and so on. Be specific since they don't think like us. Tell him you know he can do this cause he's such a great kid and you love him. Don't back down. Don't yell, stay calm even if he's not. It will help him calm down sooner and show him an example of what is expected.Always tell him what behavior you expect from him exactly so no room for him not to understand. D. G.

Hi C.,

My daughter loved to argue when she was younger, and to a certain extent I encouraged it. I didn't want her mindlessly obeying someone who wanted to harm her, I wanted her to be able to think. But I had rules about it. If she asked something and I said no she could try to change my mind, but if I said no again, that was it, unless she had a different arguement. And "cause I want to" didn't cut it. She actually came up with good arguements and changed my mind sometimes.

That said, I didn't tolerate "attitude". I praise her when she is good and my goal was to catch her being good 4 times for every time I caught her being bad. Good attention is better than bad attention, but bad attention is better than being ignored. It does sound like he needs reassurance you think highly of him. "You are saying I have never been good."

I also combined that with punishment that was "swift, silent and deadly". Or at least most the time, I wasn't always silent. But it was the best thing I did. I stopped arguing with her, and responded quickly with whatever I had decided was the "punishment" and it was to the point. I only had to follow thru once or twice. After that she knew I meant it. The one that stands out was we were supposed to go out to a potluck and she wouldn't take her bath and get cleaned up first. I told her if she didn't take her bath we would take the food, drop it off and come right home. She got in the tub no further arguement.

It's a two prong approach, but it really helped.

Best of luck.

HI there sister. What a well written plea! I am sorry Ryan is such a turd! I hope that my sisterly and teaching strategy advice has helped somewhat. ANything to help! I love you!


I don't blame you for feeling annoyed, I have a 10 year old who, on occasion, act's like your son. Often these kids use words asa way to mask their feelings, and it sounds to me like your son is really angry about something.

You can also cut this nonsense down by not responding to it.When he answers back just walk away, or say something that sets the boundries - I'm the parent and that how it is. Whatever you do, don't engage him. The minute you participate he's "won" the control game. Sounds to me like you would both benefit from a good therapist (for him) who can help him find a better way to share his feelings, and help you come up with a workable parenting plan. Good luck.

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