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Need Help with Disciplining My 8Yr Old Son!!!!

I not sure what to do. My 8yr old son is driving me crazy. He is talking back and being very disrespectful to me and my husband. He acts like he doesn't care if we discipline him for talking back or just being plain rude. We will say something like straighten up and he will be like "oh okay". I have put him in time out sent him to his room, no tv, computer, video games and I am not really sure what else to do.It's getting to the point that I don't even want to spend time with him because everything ends up in a fight. I feel bad and shouldn't feel this way about my son. He doesn't have that many friends anymore because nobody wants to play with him, because he always has to be right and its his way or no way. I try to explain to him that its not always about being right with your friends, and he will say yes it is. I explain that if he keeps it up then they won't want to play and he says that he doesn't care. He acts like he just doesn't care about anything or anyone.
Has anyone else had this same problem.

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What can I do next?

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Try finding the things he IS doing right. Comliment him more and critisize him less.
Also, you might consider one-on-one "date" time each parent a few times a month. He is old enough now to know that you can't really "make" him do much of anything, so there needs to be a bond and mutual respect that makes him want to obey you.

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Maybe you could try reading the book Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. I can understand why you wouldn't want to spend time with him, but it sounds like he is doing all of this negative stuff to get attention--I think Alfie would say what he is really asking for is love. Also, Scott Noelle has a lovely parenting site called Enjoy Parenting--isn't that what we all want? It's http://www.enjoyparenting.com

i hope it helps.

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He sounds VERY much like my eight year old daughter! I read a book that saved my life and my relationship with her, it is called Raising Your Spirited Child (same author, but book before, Kids and Power Struggles). I can't recommend it highly enough. It taught me to look at all of these behaviors (and the labels I was putting on them) as what they would be in the adult world....prized by all. It made ME think differently which in turn made me stop 'hating' my child. *I didn't really hate her but I certainly hated our relationship!*

I am not saying it is easy, we still have a lot of struggles but my parenting has gotten a LOT better! I ask for a do over every time she is disrespectful and sometimes that means she has to say the same thing twenty times before I am satisfied with the tone of voice, facial expression, etc. She has understood what 'inappropriate' means for a few years now and that is my key question. "Is your behavior right now appropriate?" It makes her stop and think. I think just keeping them interactive with us and remembering that we are raising some real go getter adults will see us through. I don't allow the behavior that is terrible but I do allow stuff to go by when I can see it is from a highly emotionally charged place. I have figured out that talking when she is calm and not trying to fight everything I am saying is the best and I know that she is able to absorb what I am saying at that point. Otherwise it is like talking to a rubber ball :)

She also acts as if she doesn't care, but boy is that a cover up! I think she cares more than most and it is a defense mechanism. I also think that it has a lot to do with the fact that she is the oldest and by birthright a lot of pressure is put on the oldest. Anyway, this could become a book but if you want to chat about it shoot me an email.

Take care!

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One silver lining in moments like these is we are given a chance to pause and think about what isn't working and consider what it is we might like to do differently. It gives parents a chance to learn about other ways to address what their family is needing right now, and to grow together.

I agree that the Unconditional Parenting book is very helpful. It really changed how I interact with kids in a positive way.

At one point I worked with children around your son's age and I know that they can be some pretty tough customers! I was very helped by is Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish's "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk". While Kohn's "Unconditional Parenting" brings up a lot of good points and principles, "How to Talk" gives adults some very solid suggestions for defusing power struggles and finding a way for parents and children to speak to each other with respect and empathy, while being authentic. The focus on cooperative problem-solving may also draw your son back into interaction, instead of his pulling away, which is pretty common at this age.I can't say enough good things about this book. (And I have read a lot of books in this department!)

My best to you and your family.

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He sounds very defiant. This may be a stance due to his feeling of being over controlled, getting too many orders, not getting enough positive interpersonal attention from you.It can become a pattern for life.

Then again, is he receiving discipline or punishment? Punishment can set him off, if he feels that it is unfair. Are you dismissive toward him because you are working, tired, depressed or some mixture of the above?

You may need a professional to help you a little bit before things get really out of hand. Your son will be in his teens soon enough and then s--t can really hit the fan.

Children like your son are very strong minded but emotionally sensitive children.Any threat to his inner spirit, his self respect, his sense of survival or his sense of personal position is going to cause him to challenge authority/you. Understanding his dynamic now will help to bring you back together and keep you closer as loving, not angry people.

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Years ago, before we had kids, I was watching my best friend discipline her son. She and her husband were constantly telling Sean "Don't do this or don't do that". Guess what? Sean wasn't given the tools to choose on his own. They did it all for him. Fast forward 15 years later. He still can't make good choices. They were doing him a BIG disservice by not teaching him this. He was still living at home in his mid 20's until his parents moved to another state without him.

So, TELLING him to "Sit up straight" will not work, he will straighten up when he has the confidence to do so.

We found these authors of books & video tapes that make a world of difference. Drs. Kline & Fay give you the tools to talk to him in a non-threatening way, that will give him the power to make a good choice or a bad one. After a few times, he'll start making the good ones. The books have short stories about how to implement them. They are intertaining, funny, but very helpful. The first time I tried it, it worked. The theory is called LOVE AND LOGIC PARENTING. Start by getting the one for young children. They sell them at all bookstores, online- Google="Love & Logic", Amazon, and most libraries or church libraries rent them. They also offer Love & Logic parenting courses at some churches. Worth every penny.
Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

First of all pick your battles. I wouldn't fuss with little things like straighten up. Try to focus on more positive things with him. Give him praise for tasks he does. Right now it seems he is getting attention from you by being negative and receiving negative response.It can be a vicious cycle. I've been there.
He probually acts like he doesn't care as a defense, but I bet he cares a lot. If he wants to play with someone and children aren't thrilled with playing with him, he'll have to figure it out or be lonely. Play games with him, if you win or loss say: that was fun, I enjoyed playing with you. If he has a hard time losing tell him casually: It's fun to play with you, sometimes I win and sometimes you win, it's good to have someone to play with. Then just leave and let him alone. Play other games with him where there are no winners (co-opertive games).

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Try moving away from the disciplining and try to focus on what he's thinking. It looks like he has a perspective your missing out on. I'm glad you're home. My son is not yet eight but whenever I feel like sending him to his room or taking away a priviledge (which still happens of course) I take the time to ask him, making sure he has my full attention. It's amazing what he says and what I've missed. It helps me to understand where he's coming from and why he acted the way he did. More often than not, punishment is averted and our bond grows stronger. Good luck. It might take some time to break the pattern that's been established.

3 moms found this helpful

Try finding the things he IS doing right. Comliment him more and critisize him less.
Also, you might consider one-on-one "date" time each parent a few times a month. He is old enough now to know that you can't really "make" him do much of anything, so there needs to be a bond and mutual respect that makes him want to obey you.

3 moms found this helpful

My daughter always responded to the classic discipline methods in love and logic and positive discipline. So I was shocked when my son seemed simply immune to these techniques. Another parent gave me her copy of "Transforming the Difficult Child" by Howard Glasser. As it seemed to work wonders for her difficult child, I gave it a try. I can't recommend it enough. The book helps kids and parents to learn how to structure responsibilities with a point system so that the kids learn self discipline. My son is still very very active and things are rarely easy but we now have a system to manage.

Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful

I think all parents will have this experience to some degree, a little or a lot, as their children grow toward independence.

And there are always ways for parents to change their own attitudes and behaviors that will make family life easier. So I'm really glad you have asked, and you have been given some great advice in these responses from experienced mamas.

Let me share the thing that jumped out at me from your words, D.. You said, "We will say something like straighten up…." I noticed there was only a demand in the way you stated that, and a rather disrespectful demand, at that. Your statement may not have been accurately descriptive, but if that's the way you correct your son, may I suggest that he might NEED more respect, empathy, and compassion from you in order to learn how to "do" those positive things in his own interactions with others.

There are many ways to make that request that will show love and concern, and demonstrate your respect for your child's feelings. Instead of "Straighten up!" you might try to provide more information about how YOU CARE for your son:

It might sound more like, "I see you sitting slumped over, and I worry that you feel sad or tense inside. If something is keeping you from standing up and feeling positive, I'd like to hear about it." Or you might be feeling, "I worry about you, and about how other people will see you when you slouch like that. Have you noticed how positive and successful people learn how to use their bodies to show their strength to others? It appears to me that people who slouch don't earn as much respect."

Even learning to routinely say "please" when you speak to him would be a positive move. It sounds as though your son might have a very active internal "compass" around the principles of fairness and right and wrong, and he could reasonably feel that you don't live up to his principles, resulting in diminishing respect toward you. I've seen parents tighten up with their own fear when kids begin to rebel, and become more harsh and less respectful.

Of course they care intensely, or they wouldn't get so uptight, but their love doesn't show in their behavior. And it only makes matters worse. Rebellious children need to continue to hear plainly that you love them and care about who they are inside, even if they are being difficult on the outside.

YOU are the adult here, and the more gently and consistently you can model that, the better your family life is likely to be – for all of you, including your young daughter. Look at your family rules and boundaries from your children's point of view. Some correction may be absurd or unneeded, and if so, would best be retired. For example, nagging a kid about standing up straight might be more of a control issue for you both than a useful rule. Identify and stick with the ones that make family life better, safer, more positive, and more compassionate for all of you.

My best to you. And please don't overlook the possibility that your son might do well to have a psychiatric evaluation. Some children are wired in ways that they don't like and can't help. I have a younger sister who didn't get the emotional and medical support she needed when she was young, and suffers with the consequences every day. And of course, the rest of the family still suffers along with her.

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Yes we have with our 15 year old son. I think there is underlying causes. With him it was getting suspended from school for not ratting out a friend. He was privy to a vandalism situation and would not tell the principal who did it. He got suspended along with the perp. I ended up challenging the suspension and going to the school board to get him back in school. He had also befriended a troubled teen and tried to "save" him. Finally did go to the counselor and seek help when his friend overdosed in school. I was proud that he sought help and "ratted" out his friend when he saw his life was in danger and saddened when teachers and EMT's commented that the troubled boy was not worth saving. Our son was so angry and felt so disrespected and unfaired against that he became that angry mouthy teen we never thought we would have. We tried counseling, anger management and having him diagnosed for ADHD and ODD which he does not have, but I think he just had no where to shine in the sun and felt the school had let him down. He gave up caring and I thought he was in danger of flunking out. This is a very intelligent and loving young man. We felt he was on the brink of heading for disaster. We tried everything with no way of getting through. Even his big bro who is his best friend said we should kick him out of the house. Our home was a stress filled war zone.
Finally I asked my bro who our folks kicked out at 15 what to do. He said let go and let him grow up. I read a zillion books and the love and logic said just let him fail. I was not really able to accept the consequence of him failing 9th grade so I continued to helicopter parent and get him to pass. Yay summer.
Things eased and got better without school and peer pressure.
We sent him to Alaska to work for his Uncle doing marble and granite installation and spend time with his Grandfather and Grandmother. I got a call from him last week saying "Mom Grandpa is a slave driver he wants me to mow the lawn, pull weeds, clean house, fertilize, I've been wearing the same clothes for 4 days and he won't take me to Uncle's to get new clothes...I can't wait to come home" I had to laugh. I think the change of environment and time with extended family, travel and change in perspective has been a godsend.
Long story short I think he and I are both having pre empty nest syndrome - his big bro and our beloved first born just graduated and is in training to join the Navy Seals which is scary. I think bad behavior is a signal that there are underlying stresses and causes of pain in our life we cannot control and don't know how to deal with.
I feel your pain.
Don't give up.
Talk to your friends, pastor, teacher's, family and any resources out there and don't give up! You are your son's biggest advocate and he needs you to navigate this big wide scary world and love him no matter what.
God bless you and your family. Parenting ain't for sissies and remember to take care of you.

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Books that I found extremely helpful with challenging times with my daughter are:
Talk so your kids will listen, and listen so your kids will talk

Kids, Parents, & Power Struggles

Unconditional Parenting

I've found that when I know where they are coming from in their little brains, I'm not quite triggered the same way, and have strategies that are effective. Best of luck to you!
Oh, and these books are likely available at the library, I know that U.P. comes as a DVD too.

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Maybe you could try reading the book Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. I can understand why you wouldn't want to spend time with him, but it sounds like he is doing all of this negative stuff to get attention--I think Alfie would say what he is really asking for is love. Also, Scott Noelle has a lovely parenting site called Enjoy Parenting--isn't that what we all want? It's http://www.enjoyparenting.com

i hope it helps.

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How painful for you all - . Has your boy been happier in the past? More friendships??? Did something happen in the recent past to '''knock him off the rails???''''. How is he doing in school ? Teacher having any difficulty? --. ( as a retired special ed teacher - I STRONGLY urge you to talk to the school psychologist - or district staff and request an evaluation for problems --- they must do that free of chaarge = and it would give you good background information - is there any hearing problem or hearing processing problem? - any vision or vision processing problem?? - etc --- some fairly subtle things can make a kid miserable - and be impossible for a parent - however much love you have and devotion- to fix the problem from ''inside'')

One thing I did that really helped my grandson- now 9 - when he was 5 . ( he sounds fairly similar to your boy) - one day we're driving down the road and he demands to stop at the store and buy a pop - I told him ''no, I brought water and we'll be home in 10 minutes''' He began to erupt ''' I WANT--"" So I said quietly ''' dont be scared, I'll take care of you''' ( I knew things in his life were scaring him- and that was fueling his growing rages) This went on for 3 more rounds of his screaming at me to do what he wanted and my answering very quietly - ''don't be scared - I'll take care of you ''
Then he snarled '''I'm NOT scared""" - to which I replied ''' Oh, ok- sometimes when people are SO angry I think they might be scared'' -- there was silence for a few moments and then he said '''' maybe there's a rock in my stomach and it hurts and that's why Im so mad'' First thing I did was check that he wasn't talking about pain in his belly - no, he wasn't. Because of our family's spiritual base - I told Brian that we could pray the rock would be water and he could pee it out
( remember now- I'm driving down the road and doing life survival skils at the same time - wasn't brillilant but it helped him) -- The '''proof ''' that we were on the right track??? - several times in the last 4 years he has refered to that we & we've talked more about the ''rock in his stomach''.
If you can make progress NOW onwhat is hurting him, -you will save a ton on trouble down the line. Also - check out a program called ''Love and Logic''' - there are tapes and books in the library- it's MADE for situations like yours -
and it will make you laugh- I promise.

old Mom
aka- J.

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I really feel for you. I don't have good advise, but I wanted to let you know that I feel the same way, wondering if anyone else has issues like this. I DO!! Big time. I have a 6 year old who thinks he should be living on his own! He has a huge problem with opposition and can't handle his emotions that well. I have sought out professionals to help me work on something specific. I haven't had much success. My husband and I have to discipline consistently (which is a challenge for me) and remove all privileges. I see an improvement when I spend time on character training and we talk about scripture pertaining to that character. He seems to do a little better then, but this takes a lot of time and I have a 9 year old daughter and twin 2 year old boys. I try to "head him off at the pass (so to speak)" by praising him or giving him some time before an incident happens.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi D. first of all has your son always be difficult even as a infant ex.. always very needy or needing to be the center of attention doing anything to get attention from you even if it is negative if so welcome to my world
I have a son he is 12 now but has always been a hard child to deal with I use to tell people we had a love hate relationship sometimes I would adore him the next minute hate him and he would feel the same way I always thought it was me not being a good parent but finally after several years of this my husband and I agreed and disided to look into child therapy it helped for alwhile he liked talking to someone about his feelings but he was still having anger issues we then disisded to go to someone and have him tested for ADD and sure enough he has it and also has what is called oppositional defiant disorder ODD we were shocked yet not so much either my husband and I were really uncomforable with putting him on any kind of meds so we continued with the therapy for another 6 months or so but the problems weren't getting any better and he was struggling in school now also so after along discussion we disised to try some meds and WOW what a difference he is able to focus in school his grades have inproved he gets along better at home with everyone he does not get so upset when you try to tell him to do something
it has been a godsend for our household we had him on Ritalin the lowest dose they have and it was fine he wasn't a zombie and it hasn't stunted his growth at all it just made things better for him he wasn't so easily upset and he was able to take disciple better without the back talk and rudness now that he is older we have had to change his meds to something that last a little longer but he is still doing great and our relationship has improved the fighting has almost completely stopped (now just normal teenage stuff) his grades are excellent (made honor roll twice this last yr.) I know it is hard to believe your child may have some of these problems but it is definently worth the time and money to look into it there may be something wrong that he doesn't understand why he is behaving so badly kids with some of these disorder don't even realize what they are doing is so wrong or even remember what they did all they understand is that you are angry with them and they don't know why and the anger is what they will remember the most about you look into this if you would like to improve your relationship with your son and to calm the tension at home for your husband and daughter and yourself if your family is anything like mine your daughter is suffering just as much because of all the fighting and all the negative attention that is directed at your son she may feel she is being ignored and if your husband is like mine he is also tired of the fighting and having to be the middle man believe me our home life is so much better all around I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck

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To some degree he is learning life lessons and natural consequences, like losing friends because of his pride and desire to be a know it all. However maybe he is feeling unloved and unhappy. I wonder if there's been a traumatic change in his life, or some other explanation for his behavior? I can remember putting up walls sometimes as a child and acting like I didn't care about the consequences when I felt attacked or had my feelings hurt. I often felt picked on (by my parents) and was often sad. I felt like I was yelled at a lot, which is really hurtful and damaging.

With my five-year-old son, I've found that when he is defiant and particularly obnoxious, it's usually a reaction to my parenting. Trying to force him generally backfires, and gets the whole house up in arms. From the parenting with love and logic school of thought, it does seem to be better to tell him what I am going to do, instead of trying to tell him what to do. For instance, "I'll have breakfast ready when beds are made and kids are dressed..." That school of thought has a lot of strategies that can help.

I really love reading John Rosemond, a parenting expert/author. He has a weekly newspaper column and a lot of books that are interesting and full of parenting wisdom. His book Six Point Plan for Raising Happy Healthy Children is excellent. I can't recommend him enough. We don't have nearly the attitude and nonsense from our 5 and 2 year-old boys that we did before reading some of his books and implementing common-sense strategies. You can get a feel for him at www.rosemond.com. Good luck!

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It sounds like he NEEDS boundaries. He is acting out because he isn't receiving positive attention; so any kind of attention (i.e. negative attention) will do. I would give out empathy when situations don't go well with his friends. The last thing you wanted when you were a kid was advice from your parents?!? It's not any different with kids today. Kids need parents to set the boundaries and STICK TO THEM!!! Kids are a constant testing site to see if parents will continue to abide by what we say. If you remain consistent and persistent your kids know that you will be there for them through it all!!! We as parents have a very difficult job. Sometimes it's day to day that we learn our lessons. But don't give up on him!!! He is counting on you to be there NO MATTER WHAT!!!! Just remember that love shines even on the rainy cloudy days. He loves you very much and he needs you to feel and show the same of him. I know it's difficult but you will teach him valuable lessons and morals if you let him learn some of them (lessons from his mistakes) on him own. Just love him for who he is.... but don't let him get away with bad behavior. Punish the behavior not the child. He'll come around....

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This is a very hard age. He is going through what they call the 9 year change. You could try looking into "love and logic". They have a web site and several books to read along with cd's or tapes. I totally recommend them. Unfortunately, the friend thing, he will be one of those children that will have to learn the hard way. The sassiness is a stage as long as he hasn't and doesn't EVER get away with it. I believe the most inportant thing is to always remind him that you and your husband love him unconditionally even when he's being rotten. It is very inportant that you BOTH tell him you love him. You can say things like "Oh, it's sad for you that your choosing to talk like that. Do you like it when poeple talk to you like that? When he wants to go do something, very kind and lovingly remind him the way he talked to you earlier "I would love for you to go play with ______, it's a real bummer that you choose to be sassy to me earlier. Maybe next time you could go play." They cd's from love and logic aslo tell you to use "When you tald to me like that it drains my energy. Then I don't have the energy to (cook dinner, laundry, dust or clean something). That would mean, if you choose to treat me this way then you can "repay" me by doing something I lost the energy for." When he does carry on with a attitude remember to tell him you love him and there is nothing he can do to change that, but that you don't like the way he's acting or treating you right now.
Has there been any change in his life recently, that could be causing a change in his behavior?

I LOVE love aand logic. It's almost funny to me how simple he makes it.

Hang in there. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


You just described my 4 year old to a T. Everything is a race and he always wins, he's trying to be a grown up and boss his little sister, etc. When he acts like this he spends a lot of time in his room, he gets time outs, he gets spankings, he gets things taken away, he doesn't get to do things he wants to do.

I've tried explaining to him that when he's mean nobody wants to play with him. He hasn't shown signs that he gets it yet though. I'm waiting for him to start school, take something that isn't his away from the owner, and get knocked flat. It's not the best, but I think that'll get his attention.

Oh, a thought: Talk with a mom of one of his friends that doesn't really want to play anymore. Tell her that you are trying to teach your son a lesson and was wondering if she'd help. Then have your son call to see if Johnny can play, then give the answer of sorry, Johnny doesn't like the way you play with him and doesn't want to play. Or something like that. Seems like kids get it better when "it" comes from peers and not Mom and Dad.


Have you thought about a child therapist? Perhaps something else is going on that he doesn't want to talk about with you.

I would take him to a doctor for evaluation, It sounds like the start of BPD or a personality disorder. They do not diagnosis personality disorders til 18, but his attitude in my book is a little over the top.

I have a son that just turned 9 but he is not that way. My 12 year old on the other hand has very much the I don't care attitude. Grounding and taking away privilages never worked. What works really well is when you are grounded it means extra chores. If you get really bad it turns into a "MOM DAY" which is doing all your chores and all of mom's chores for the entire day. they hate mom days because I usually make up chores for them to do to stay busy. as far as the friends thing. He will have to learn the hard way ahd not have any friend for a while. My 12 year old is now seeing that if you want friends you have to treat them like you want to be treated or they will tell you to get lost!. J., SAHM of 5. 4 boys 1 set boy/girl twins

When did this behavior start? Was there a moment in time you can think of when his attitude changed?

If something bad happened to him in school, home, or somewhere else, and he never told anyone about it, he could be bottling up pain, hurt, and anger, causing him to fight you and everything he loves.

I have a 9yr old son - he started doing that when he turned 8. I hear that it goes away! We take away things & he has to earn them back. He also loses privledges like having friends over, or playing with friends.. Good luck!

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