6 Year Old with an ATTITUDE

Updated on March 22, 2008
D.M. asks from Lyndonville, VT
21 answers

My 6 year old son spends most of his weekdays now at school (Kindergarten) and has been home with me for most of his life. He has this horrible attitude towards me when he is here and hates me at least 6 times a day. He is very demanding - Give me a drink now or When I get home you will play this with me or else. I don't know where this comes from because according to his teacher he is very friendly to all his classmates at school and sensitive as well. He is also mean to his younger 3 y.o sister and hates her too if she doesn't want to play what HE wants. How do you change this behavior to something more positive?? Is this normal behavior for a 6 year old?? It is just so frustrating because sometimes his sister does it to me as well when she sees big brother doing it.

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T.M.

answers from Providence on

I also have a 6 year old in kingergarten, he comes home with the same kind of issues. The teacher says he is also great in school. I think it is a stage they are going through. Just try to keep positive, I know thats hard. But if it is just a phase then this too shall pass.

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N.D.

answers from Boston on

HI D.,
My son went through a similar thing. He is 7 now and a lot more pleasant to be around. It is probably a stage. It was like he was a teenager--awful! Anyway, the way we handled it was to ask him to ask again using a nicer tone. I also realized that sometimes he needed a snack.
I hope that helps!
N.
(mom of 2--boy-7 girl-4)

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S.A.

answers from Hartford on

The best advice I ever got about that kind of attitude was to always -ALWAYS - make it counter-productive. In other words, if he says, "Get me a drink now." Your response is a simple no. If he gets upset about it, explain that that kind of behavior does not get "rewarded." He can politely ask with the appropriate tone of voice and attitude and then he can be "rewarded." Or that you will NOT play with him until his attitude changes and he has a happy heart. NEVER give in, and always make his rude demands counter productive. Otherwise, you reinforce his negative behaviour. Even if you give in one time, he knows to keep trying it. 100% consistency and also, by the way, that your responses be spoken calmly and respectfully to him, so that he understands the appropriate way to speak to others as well. He knows, of course, but kids learn better by our deeds than actions. SO, even when that kind of behaviour frustrates the snot out of you, if you can remain calm yet firm in your response, it won't be a battle that he feels he needs to win, but rather a situation where he obviously has no choice but to change his behavior in order to get whatever it is he is hoping to get.

1 mom found this helpful
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E.B.

answers from Barnstable on

Hi my name is E. i am a stay at home mom/beauty consultant with mary kay, i have a 6 year daughter who started kindergarten this year and a 2 year daughter. My husband is currently deployed in iraq!!! I have been going through the same problem with her she is great at school and everybody else's house but her attitude with me is horrible she is in my face yelling and just being plain rude this even started before my husband had to go i have no idea what to do either i have tried alot i feel your pain though E.

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C.K.

answers from Hartford on

Hi D.,
I think that some of it is the age. My 6 year old has been "hating" and calling everything "stupid" lately. His younger brother and sister are starting to pick up on it. It drives me crazy. We have tried talking to him about being a role model and how it isn't ok for the little guys. I have been sending him up to his room when he gets too negative. I think that he is trying out the things he is learning in school and on the bus to see what reaction he will get. I try really hard not to get too upset by it, but calmly let him know that it is not ok and send him to another room.
Good luck.

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X.D.

answers from Boston on

Your son is still little. Has he been sleeping well? Eating well? There's a lot of tension to behave at school. Who else can the little boy dump on? Try to give him an appropriate avenue for his anger/stress/tiredness. Tell him to go outside and run around the house two times if he feels mad (or hit a pillow or spend some quiet time in his room). I would also limit the television and make sure I was monitoring things when he plays with friends. My child often comes home tired from afternoon kindergarten. A good snack and some quiet time usually does the trick, but sometimes a romp in the sunshine works just as well! Good-luck and don't take it personally! P.S. If things persist, I would mention it to this pediatrician as well!

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L.M.

answers from Boston on

Hi D., I hear you only my son is an only child. My son is the best student in school. He started Kindergarten in September after spending 3 years in preschool. All of his teachers have said the same thing he is a pleasure to have in class. His teacher this year has stated that out of 21 children in the class he is one of two children that she has never had to speak to. She actually uses him as a behavior role model and says, "If you want to know how to behave in class look at Cameron!" When I go to parent/teacher and try to explain that he is not like this at home she blocks her ears and says jokingly of course, I don't want to hear anything bad! His mouth is atrocious. I asked her and she said that he's growing into his age. He's becoming a little boy who is setting his own limits as we set them for him! Imagine that I am told on a daily basis that I am mean because I ask him to pick up his mess he made. He constantly tells me he didn't do it. Well noone else did, Cameron is an only child. I thought it was me for a while, but I now know it is not. It will pass as long as we do not draw attention to it. I just remind him that the way he is speaking to me is unacceptable and until he can speak to me in a proper tone and using nicer words I will not acknowledge him because if we encourage or draw attention to it, he will learn that it is okay. I hope this helps. My email is [email protected]____.com anytime you want to chat! L.

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H.D.

answers from Barnstable on

My son started doing that to me when he began 5th grade. He had always been very polite and helpful before. I thought it might be due to testing out what his friends do. I quickly told him that is was unacceptable and disrespectful and if he wanted to ever leave the house again he would start begin polite and respectful to me again. Thankfully, after a couple of times(plus I called in help...I pulled out the mother card) he shaped up and is back to his old self again. He occasionally has his slip-ups, but usually catches himself and apologizes right away.

Let him know what he's doing and what it looks like(maybe video tape him). Above all be consistent! It's frustrating, but it's the only way.

Good luck!

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E.C.

answers from Providence on

I agree with all the advice to remind him to speak politely and not give in. Time outs as well. I want to add one thing -- could your child be upset with you because he is in school now? I am going through this with my four year old. I have worked his entire life but took a six month maternity leave in the fall. Since I returned to work, he has been very difficult when I get home but only to me. He is awesome for my mom who watches him, he is awesome at preschool the couple afternoons he goes, etc. From the minute I get home he is tough for me. Luckily I have a son who is able to express himself and he has made enough comments about it for me to put together that he is upset because he wants to be home with me again. Try talking to your son and see if you can figure out what is bothering him. Reassure him how much you love him and that you will always love him even though he is misbehaving. Make sure he understands why he goes to school and that it isn't because you don't want him at school. Kids can get really mixed up feelings when they have a big change like starting school and it is amazing sometimes what they think. Be open with him. Also, are the behaviors worse after school? He may just be exhausted from the long day.

Good luck!

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C.T.

answers from Bangor on

Lol - As I'm reading this, my 6 yr old son is using my displine on me: "If you don't come play with me right now, then I'm going to scream all night at you so you won't get any sleep" he says. I repeated to him that he had his answer, I will be there in 5 minutes, but I'd be happy to change that to not at all because I don't like to play with bullies.

It's a phase, I'm sure.. but a hard one. Remember, you are the adult. In case my son is looking for power, I try to give it to him in another way. I provide choices I can live with. I say "one more game" and he responds "No, 5!" I respond "One or none - you choose".
Good luck. :-)

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S.D.

answers from Boston on

D.,

Are you sure you're not living in our house...boy does this sound like we're going through. Our son just turned 6, is in Kindergarden and our other son is 4 1/2. My 6 year old has been demanding since birth but it has gotten much worse over the last couple of months. If he says "I want a drink". My response will be "when I can be spoken to with proper manners & respect". This is basically my answer for everything these days. The fighting with his brother has been solved by sending him to his room for a time out. He comes down and does apologize right away. We have also talked about how words hurt and how important it is to use kind words and gentle hands. So my advise from one mom to another would be to stop doing the things he's demanding until he can ask for them properly. I don't know how you disipline in your home but I give our son a time out when he's inappropriate to his younger brother or to me. This way our 4 1/2 year old is seeing the consequense of mis-behaving.

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A.A.

answers from Boston on

Hi D.
I also have a 6year old son (turned 6 in Feb), an almost 4 year old daughter and a newborn. My son (also in Kindergarten) has been going through A LOT of the same behaviors and I could not figure out why, but was at my wits end. I found a book that explained it all! Your 6-year-old; loving and defiant" by Louise Bates Ames, PHD. The book offers developmental explainations for your child's behavior, so it is not your parenting, nor is your child "abnormal". Passionate and oppositional were 2 words I walked away from this book thinking about 6 year olds. As a result, I have been trying REAL hard to embrace the good things my son is doing (open to trying new activities, being a little daring, really exploring humor) and our days have been better. Hope this helps?

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T.H.

answers from Boston on

This is a tough age for trying out all kinds of behaviors especially power and control issues. What sometimes works for me is saying in calm voice" Try Again" and waiting to be spoken to appropriately. As for the sister stuff I would empower your daughter to tell him that she will not play with him if he treats her that way. It's probably a stage but you do need to keep consistent with your expectations for your family on the wholeand set limits now or you will really bein trouble later. GOOD LUCK!!

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S.K.

answers from Boston on

I have been threatened with beheading and banishment (we read fairy tales and Greek myths). I am thinking it is a phase. And although my son (4) can be pretty nasty for some long stretches he is also still often sweet and kind to me. Just harder to remember those times while being commanded to make something different for dinner. I keep telling him that that is not how we talk to each other in our family. That it is ok to be mad, but not to be mean. Don't know if it is working, I've only been at it for months and I suspect it will take years.

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A.B.

answers from Boston on

I probably is a phase, but I wouldn't just tolerate it. especially where there is younger children who are watching every move. Kids tend to test out what they hear from other kids at school when they get home and feel safe. I started to read a book called "the Brat stops here" Didn't finish it because it wasn't mine and I had so many others to read. The basic ideas seemed very helpful though. I can't vouch for the whole thing but it was basically say no calmly then refuse to fight regardless of what they do or say. In fact completely ignore the fight as though it wasn't even happening. Much easier said then done, but may be worth a look at the book. I know it's hard, I'm sure it will pass, but it may need a little help so it doesn't become a habit. I feel for you!

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S.D.

answers from Hartford on

I used to say, that's fine, that's okay - because I love you enough for the both of us anyways. Don't let him know you're rattled by it, act cool over it. Otherwise he'll figured he knows how to push your buttons. Stay firm, stay consistant with punishments and always follow-thru.

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K.F.

answers from Boston on

YOU are the parent. When he gives you an ultimatum, you remind him of that. If he demands something, do not give it to him unless his manner changes. If not, send him to his room, or Time-Out corner, or you get the idea. Be firm and consistant. Do NOT allow that behavior to continue.

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L.L.

answers from Boston on

Well I have 2 boys that are 5 and 7 that have that attitude as well. I have been working with a lady from child and family services and she has helped me out alot. My kids have a written schedule, and chore chart so there is no room for arguing. And when my child damands from me i tell him until he talks to me the correct way he will get nothing. and it will not improve overnight. I have been working on it for about a month now and a see improvment little by little, so I know that if i stick with this it will help.

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L.S.

answers from Hartford on

My daughter has shown theses traits also since age 2. She always thinks that she is getting cheatted out of attention and stuff, but the teachers really do not see this going on at school. She is extremely sensitive also.
Have you tryed taking away his privledges, clean his room out of toys and such and when his respectfullness returns then dole out the toy or video game with your permission and only for a 1/2 hr to 1hr time frame. Timeouts/that 123 magic works great.

This is not normal behavior when a child is this disturbing to you and your family settings at home, please take him to your pedia doctor and make sure you have documented this behavior, you need to nip this in the butt now, while you still can.

D.B.

answers from Boston on

It's hard to tell why he's doing this, but he may feel that you and his sister are having all the fun while he's at school. Try NOT engaging with him when he exhibits this behavior. He will continue to do it as long as he gets some sort of payoff, even if it's negative attention from you. You can simply say to him that his language or behavior is not acceptable, and then remove yourself (and your daughter, if she is being victimized) from the situation. Tell him you cannot respond to him while he talks like that. If she gets your attention when he is mean to her, he will stop. If she copies his behavior, then remove yourself from her presence as well. You can leave the room, or put them in their own rooms and tell them they can come out when they can behave and speak nicely. You might check with the teacher to see what specific language she uses to set the standards for behavior and discipline, and use the same ones if they are comfortable for you. But that's not necessary. Just use the same words every time and do not yell or keep arguing. As hard as it is, the silent treatment is NOT what he wants. Maybe each of you gets a day to decide on the game or activity - Monday is his day, Tuesday is your daughter's, Wednesday is yours, etc. Or they each get a half hour every day. Whatever works. But the consistency is important as well as the transmission of your values. Tell him you love him but you do not want to play with or talk to anyone who uses that kind of bossy language. Then when he's good, notice it and say how much fun it is to play with him when he's cooperative or happy. This won't work the first time but you have to be consistent so he gets the message. Good luck!

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J.G.

answers from Hartford on

These responses are all great - I agree with not giving him what he is asking for if he asks rudely and the times outs work well for us too - some time out rules that work well are set the timer for one min per his age (ie he is 6, he should go to a time out for 6 minutes). Tell him calmly, "You need to sit here with no toys for 6 minutes because _________." The walk away and IGNORE him (crucial - do not respond to him) - then when the timer goes off, remind him why he was in the time out and ask him to apologize (a hug is nice to). Another line that works well for me for rude requests is, "Can you think of a better way to say that?" ANyway - good luck - it is normal! J.

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