10 Year Old Attitude

Updated on July 28, 2016
D.G. asks from Mansfield, TX
11 answers

I have a 10 year old son who over the last year or so has completely changed attitudes ! I'm at my wits end. He seems very angry and gets upset over everything. He has a 5 year old brother - who I'll admit starts quite a bit of stuff and agitates him some. My older son HAS to retaliate and won't let the little stuff go (like name calling, mimicing, etc). He has also gotten very defiant and disrespectful to my husband (his dad). Stuff like - Dad just be quiet, leave me alone, go away, No, etc. He is trying this with me but hasn't gotten there yet. He's even hit his dad. My question is - is this normal preteen behavior or is this something I need to get him to a counselor to try and help him deal with things ? I don't want this to become a habit and to where at age 13 or 15 - he is walking out of the house and we don't know where he's at or what he's doing because of the defiance. One note - it has been very stressful at home as my husband has worked very little to none over the last year to year and a half. My husband has also started drinking quite a bit in this time. (I've been continuing to work full time.) Any suggestions would be great !

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the support and suggestions ! I have the names of several counselors to get my son into see and I am going to try to go back to one that I've seen in the past. My husband is not open in any sense to counseling for himself sad to say. I think we are going to start with this and then add in my younger son if necessary. Maybe at some point my husband will participate.

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answers from Dallas on

The problem may or may not be issues at home. I suggest you take him to play therapy. I had a similar experience with my son. I took him to play therapy. Most of the problems we were having at home were stemming from him being bullied at school. We did not know about the bullying. He was acting out at home and "standing up for himself" because he could not do it at school. Therapy helped him learn how to deal with bullies and we have switched schools. Things are so much better now at home and at school.

M. P

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answers from Dayton on

Hi D.,

Sassing off is normal pre-teen behavior to try. Needs to be nipped in the bud, though, because it just gets worse and the kids just get stronger, bigger and faster. Hitting dad is not typical pre-teen behavior and I would suggest a counselor. With the job loss and the drinking your son is probably scared, confused, angry and picking up on the tension in the house. Things feel out of control and he is along for the ride. He is acting out. Talk to a counselor. It will help him understand and cope, and it will help you learn the best way to deal with his outbursts. If dad is willing to get involved it could help him also and help heal his relationship with his son.

Hope this helps, and good luck. Everyone has a point in their lives where they hit a snag or a crisis, I will be praying and believing that you all will come through this stronger than when you went into it.


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answers from Portland on

It's interesting that when there is tension or dysfunction going on in a family, one person (often a sensitive or volatile child) will become the focus of the trouble, or the "designated patient" if a psychologist enters the picture. But that child may be secondary to the root of the problem. I'm guessing that if your husband could address his own issues, your family relations in general, and your son's behavior, would benefit.

If your husband can't or won't find a healthier way to deal with his own discouraging situation, then you and your children may need to find your own way. I have heard that Al Anon programs are truly wonderful for this, and they're free.

My best to you, D.. I'm glad you're reaching out for support.



answers from Dallas on

D., definitely get your son into counseling - Cooks Children Behavioral Health is an excellent and caring place if you need a starting point...

And, I think they would be able to help in recommending resources for you and your husband...by the tone of the email, your family is sliding down a very unpleasant slope that probably cannot be helped in this economy. My guess is that your husband is depressed over his situation and has started drinking to "self-medicate". He may not have the tools he needs to manage his stress, and therefore he isn't equipped to teach your son how to healthily manage stress either...

Your 10 year old is simply acting out the stress that is in the family, so it means that the entire family needs to work at developing the tools needed to handle these sorts of difficult situations. Nobody is the bad guy here - yet. Please take action so that nobody becomes the "bad guy". Just by taking a proactive step teaches your children the tool of getting outside help when the situation warrants it - and that is a lesson that will help them all through life.



answers from Dallas on

I read the other responses first so I could see what others have suggested. I agree with it all. The thing I would add is that reading books and researching might help. I've been reading a book by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend that has been very helpful to me. The title is Boundaries. They've also written some parenting books. The other thing I've seen on this Mamapedia site is something called "Love and Logic" - books, workbooks, tapes, even classes that some churches offer. That is more about the parenting and the behavior.

Off the top of my head - I think your family needs a support group! Your husband needs a little help remembering how to handle stress and difficult situations. Alcohol is not the answer to stress, not having a job or to depression. Your son may be losing respect for his father. Why? Perhaps because Daddy is not acting responsible. Y'all need to find out what the boy is thinking and feeling! Both need to get some help repairing the bond there - I agree with the others that suggested family counseling. This actually is a problem with the whole family. The younger child needs to learn not to instigate trouble! But he's looking for attention from the older brother who is too troubled to give him positive attention right now. Help! The family rhythm is broken!

I hope you let us know what you guys end up doing and how this turns out.



answers from Dallas on

There is an excellent website called empoweringparents.com It has lots of great articles and advice for problems with kids. Sorry for the late response.



answers from Stockton on

Part of this is normal but the disrespect is not. If you and your husband have started to drink more, yes it's time for counseling because your son is angry for some reason. By seeing you cope with alcohol, you are teaching him a powerful message he doesn't want to learn. Make sure you find a therapist that your son feels comfortable with and give it at least 3 sessions before quitting or changing. DBT therapy groups are very good in his age group. I would want to know the cause of his moodiness and aggression. Could be hormones but still abusive. Start with PCP and get referral to psychologist for testing. You will have much better idea what your dealing with. Kids feel powerless because in a sense they are. Your son cannot just leave because of your husbands bad behaviors. Your son has to know that his opinion matters and can always call a parent on their stupidity without fear of punishment. He might want to tell your husband how disappointed he is or embarrassed he is by his behavior but is afraid. If this is the case, validate your sons good judgment and support him with confronting his father. Protect him from any blame or deflection your husband may displace and if your son is right, he's right. He has to know this otherwise he won't trust his intuition as a adult and view you as the non protecting by standard which is worse. Like someone said before, lots of families like to scapegoat one family member but it's the whole system that's causing and letting the problem continue. Your son is intuitive and sensitive and his intuition is telling him he's not safe but there is nothing he can do about it.



answers from Dallas on

As a former fourth and sixth grade teacher, I can tell you SOME of this behavior is normal. He's a bit early for some of these behaviors. He DOES seem to have a bit more anger than usual. The added stress of less money, more of dad being home AND drinking may just be a bit much for him at this time. I think a pre-emptive visit to a counselor would be good, before he exhibits more extreme behavior.
Good luck and God bless you and your son!



answers from Santa Barbara on

I have an 11 yo that started the same behaviors around 9 or so. I agree that the disrespect issue needs to be nipped in the bud. I assume that he is picking up on the vibe in the house. It might do you wonders to sit and talk with your son (both Mom and Dad) and see what's going on and be honest with him. He's old enough to understand. There also might be some issue that he hasn't talked to you about, because he doesn't want to upset you more than you both probably already are. I also attribute some of the behavior to hormones. My son is getting bigger, stronger and hairier every day. I know part of his moodiness is hormones regulating. On the flip side, maybe your hubby needs to get some help too. I've been unemployed for about as long as he has. I found myself in a deep depression where getting out of bed was a chore. I can see how easy it would be to slip into a beer or a glass of wine (or several), because it's easier. I just can't afford to buy alcohol, which is a God send, quite honestly.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family,



answers from New York on

Hi D.,
I have a 11 year old girl, we think the hard part part of having kids is to change diapers and wake up every 3 hours to feed, ha! We were so wrong.
I have a 2 years old baby and I found her a lot more easy to talk with.
I think is kind of normal these changes but is not ok for let it happen, if for some reazon your husband is allowing him to do it you should not. Not as much for your husband but for the good of your son.
It is really hard for me to give you an advice because I don't know the relation ship between your husband and your son. It is possible that your husband drinking and the stress at the house is stressing your son as well? Maybe he looks wrong that your husband drinks and he is dissapoint?
My husband is very cold with my 11 years old, he doesn't want to deal with the drama which it piss me off, I often have to be like the coach in my family (which is so tiring job).
I sadly have come to the conclucion that even some good changes have been made, my husband is an adult and is hard to change at that point unless they recognize they are making a mistake and want to fix it.
However I can tell you what it looks that have be work a little with me and my daughter.
I use to be a very strict parent, I was educate old style, with spanking and punishments, so that is what I did, I learn that be afraid is not the same to respect.
I now never hit my daughter, always, always tell her I love her, and I do very often, I sometimes hug her even when se get enoyed but I explain that even if its enoying, I know deep inside she will appreciate...one day.
This doesn't mean that now I let her walk over me, I still ponish her for what she does wrong and I make sure she finish her punishment but I talk more with her, in fact that is one of my punishments, lol.
I said, baby I will not scream not yell and totally not hit, but we (most me) are going to talk and talk and talk and talk and talk. I have the feeling she just get 10% of what I said on those moements but 10% is better than none.
We are talking more now, I try keep the communication rolling even if most of the times is me the one that talks, and I found that sometimes make her laught is as bigger bond then talk, so when I pick her up and turn of the radio and "sing" Lady Gaga as loud as I can!
So I guess my advice is to not let him act wrong, be firm on what is expect but do it with respect and calm... and keep him laughing.



answers from Dallas on

I have two son's as well 11 and 7 so I understand the back and forth with them. That's normal but yes very aggravating!!!!!!! But for his disrespect toward your husband that may and my not be normal but it's not good. I would for sure take him to counseling. Sounds like he's got some anger issues, which is fairly normal but if he can learn how to deal with them now maybe when he get's older it wont be as bad. And sometimes they just need to have someone that is outside of the picture to talk to and to feel that they are heard.

Good luck and God bless you and your family!!!

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