8 Yr Old with a Behavior Problem

Updated on June 07, 2009
H.L. asks from Monte Vista, CO
11 answers

my son is 8 yrs old and talks back constantly. he also can be very rude and disrespectful to adults and children both. my husband and i have tried everything we can think of to get him to understand that it is not appropriate to act in this manner. his rudeness and talking back gets to the point i just want to scream. if anyone has any suggestions i am all ears. thanks

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Give him your undivided attention and a snack for 15 minutes right when he gets home from school.

This helps ease the transition. I don't know if you've ever heard 8 year olds play on the playground...but they're all pretty rude to each other.

I'm a big fan of just asking your kid (at a time he's not doing it) what you can do to help solve the problem. Even if they don't come up with a solution, they'll think about it.

There's another things I do--and I NEVER explain why--as if I'm changing the subject(when he talks back or etc), I give my 8 yr old a task to complete. "oh, run this upstairs and put it in the bathroom" or "run upstairs and touch your bedroom door and then come right back" "just do it - hurry - I'll wait for you" ...

or "I need you to pick up 3 things off the floor and put them away" if they complain/whine/ask why I just add one more thing "4 things....5 things....6 things...wow, that's a lot of things ...do you really want to make it more?...ok...I need you to pick up 10 things and put them away. ....11 things...." until they give up and put stuff away.

When they are done, if they continue being rude, I make a point of looking around to find something for them to do and then give them that job. It's always a really small job--a job that gets a tiny bit harder if they talk back....so eventually they learn that it's easier to just do it at the start. If they stop being rude, I thank them profusely for all their help and give them lots of smiles.

.....this is like a miniature time out. They either improve their attitude or my house gets really clean....and my mood improves with either outcome.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Nothing gets a kid to behave better than having to go clean the toilet! Each time he is rude or disrespectful let him know that there are a million chores that can be assigned to him until he can come up with a nicer way to talk to the people around him (great way to get a clean house).

Other ways to get him to act nicer are to tell him everytime he talks mean to someone he loses his ability to go do fun things like going to a friends house, going to any special classes or sports that he does, etc. There are some great love and logic books out there that give you ways to help your child choose to behave better or they get consequences that make their life not as fun! Hope this helps. T.



answers from Provo on

I watched an episode of Nanny 911 the other day where an eight year old boy was doing the same thing. He was doing this to get his father to lose control and he thought it was fantastic. Nanny usually gets the home under control by the time she leaves but she could not get the boy under control in a week. I know this is a tough one. Maybe your son is screaming out for attention. My older son does this type of thing to the younger one. I just flat out ask him if it makes him feel like a big man when he makes his little brother look stupid. The behavior will stop for a couple of days and then it starts to come out again. I'm not saying that this is your son's problem but I do feel that there is probably a deeper issue here. I can tell a difference in both of my boys when they watch a lot of TV or play violent video games.



answers from Denver on

Get ahold of some Love & Logic books, and apply those techniques.



answers from Denver on

Hi there,
Have you heard of love and logic? They have books and seminars, it is not easy but it does work. I so know how you feel with the talking back, my kids do it too and it is awful! Love and logic will give you tools to deal with this. It's about working ith your kids and getting them involved in decision making and avoiding power struggles. Also it helps to look at your attitude and parenting style to find a solution. Hang in there and good luck!



answers from Fort Collins on

Hi H.:
I have read these responses and I have slapped my son once or twice and I do have chosen to stop that form of disciple, it only teaches more hitting.
One of the mom's spoke of empathy and that is wonderful is the children can understand empathy. There are children out there with a condition called Asperger's that blocks a persons ability to experience empathy so they tend to be more rude and have a harder time understanding that social aspect that so many of us take for granted.
my son is 8 and this year we found out he has Asperger's a high functioning type. I am not saying he has this but to help you get the full picture of what is going on you may want to talk to his teachers and doctor to find out more. I found I wanted to be open to what was going on so that I could handle him better and get the help that he needs. If you want a good resource on Asperger's to see if this sounds like him check out Temple Grandin's books. She is the utmost authority on this. She actually has it herself and she is amazing.
Your son needs postive reinforcement the most, but also he needs to be understood. I wish you all the best and if you want more info please feel free to contact me.



answers from Salt Lake City on

You would really like the book "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk." It pretty much saved my children's lives and cut down on the yelling and tension in our home. It's been out for awhile and you could probably fin it at the library or as a cheap paperback online. I highly, highly recommend it.
I liked Nan's comment a lot. I do something similar. When my seven-year-old is grumbling and saying snotty things, I often don't even address it, but quickly give him a small chore to do. It's usually something small and relatively easy but distracting enough that it keeps the grumbling from escalating. It's usually something that gets him away from his brothers for a few minutes, too.
Keeping children well-fed makes a huge difference at my house, too.
Yes, you need to make sure disrespectful behavior doesn't continue, but there is no benefit in setting up an adversarial relationship with your child--you don't want to set yourself up for being distant and difficult during the teen years when he will need you so much. I got a lot out of the book "Hold On To Your Kids" by Dr. Gordon Neufeld. He talks about the phenomenon of peer-orientation, where children are more attached to their peer group than to the healthy adult role models in their lives. He talks about how to recognize it, and how to fix it. That was also a good read.
My children have responded well to having a "date" with my or my husband alone. Even if it's just a trip to the grocery store and they get to choose Popsicles, it's some positive one-on-one time where defenses can be down and you can get re-attached in a healthy way. I don't want you to think I'm overly lenient or that you're just supposed to put up with rudeness, but I've seen a lot of snottiness decrease through extra gentle attention and positive reinforcement.
I know that feeling of needing to scream! I think it's OK to validate his feelings without encouraging the rudeness. You can say something like, "I can tell you are really disappointed that I said no TV before dinner, but it is not OK to talk to me rudely. You can either find a book to read or help me set the table."
Hang in there.



answers from Provo on

this isn't a solution, but it helped us. i recently had my son put a bean in a jar each time he said something inappropriate throughout the day. the following morning i talked with him about how many beans were in the jar. he is 5, so i made it simple-- "is that a little bit of beans or a lot?" he didn't realize he was speaking rudely so much. we are religious so i put it in terms he would understand. i told him the thing to do now is to repent-- say a prayer for help in using better words and being respectful, dump out the beans and start new. that day the amount of beans was amazingly reduced because he was more aware. the level of beans has not been so high since the first day.



answers from Denver on

I only have one tiny suggestion: each time he misbehaves and you correct him or punish him, as the case may be, discuss this from an empathetic point of view. Something like this: "Children are not supposed to correct adults. It's very, very rude, and the adult is shocked at your behavior. Mrs. Jones has 30 years of experience teaching soccer. When you tell her that she's wrong, we all know that you're actually the one who's wrong, and she feels very bad that you do not respect her expertise. Mrs. Jones is a very important volunteer in our community. She deserves our kindness and respect, not our rudeness."

I have always described behavior to children from the point of view of the person who's witnessing it. That teaches empathy. I've NEVER seen a person solve this type of behavior problem without incorporating empathy lessons.

All the punishments in the wolrd will not teach empathy. Poorly behaved children who simply receive time-outs and punishments fail to learn WHY the poor behavior is unacceptable. And they fail to learn compassion for other humans.

Now when you solve this problem, would you please come teach it to my across-the-street neighbor? LOL Her children are mean to each other, mean to my kids, mean to little kids, and mean to animals! Thank you, I wish you luck, and I'll say a prayer for your success.

Oh! Last comment: keep him away from t.v. The children in t.v. shows are outrageously rude to each other. I've definitely noticed that kids who watch t.v. have more of this behavior.



answers from Billings on

There are a variety of ways to deal with this situation. The first thing, which you've probably tried, is to ask him how he'd like it if someone talked to him that way. If he asks you a question, respond to him the way that he responds to others. Then point out to him how it feels to have someone talk to him that way, and why it is unacceptable.

If he knows how it feels, and doesn't care, then you need to start punishment. Like it or not, it IS unacceptable, and I've got to be honest with you, when kids are rude to me, it doesn't hurt my feelings or make me feel bad. I simply think what rude, trashy little kids they are. Period. This kind of behavior does reflect not only poorly on the kids themselves, but parents as well. Call him out on this behavior in front of the people that he is rude to. A little public embarrassment will go a long way....and yes, it IS okay. He will probably get mad at you and try to blame you, but you need to put your foot down and be the adult. Point out to him in no uncertain terms that HIS bad behavior is what started the argument and it is entirely appropriate for him to be punished for his bad behavior. He SHOULD be embarrassed by it, and if he's not embarrassed enough by the behavior itself, he will be embarrassed by the consequences.

If that doesn't work, keep doing it, but also try this:

Find out what matters to him. Do you give him presents? Does he have things like an ipod, cd player, tv in his room, special toys, that kind of thing? Do you buy him things even when he's bad? Does he get to do things with his friends? What does he enjoy? If nothing else works, then start taking away things that he likes so he feels it in some capacity. The idea is, that he may not care what others feel or think, but he WILL feel it in some way or another, thus getting through to him that whether he likes it or not, he CANNOT behave that way, and doesn't deserve nice or fun things if he doesn't behave correctly.

If he does start using polite language, make sure to let him know that you have noticed. Don't bubble over and start rewarding him.....kids shouldn't be rewarded for behaving in an appropriate manner. But make sure if he says something like, "Mom, can I please have a drink? Thank you." Or if you ask him to do something, and he doesn't argue, make sure to point out to him that you noticed this and that you appreciate it.

This can be a frustrating situation, but if you stick to it, it can be fixed. Good luck.



answers from Salt Lake City on

We had a great system we used with our children. Make a list of rules that are applicable for your family situation. Include everyone in the process, and do not list too many. They can be general, such as "Listen to Mom and Dad" to specific "No Talking Back". Then, next to the "Rule" you will have 3 consequences. For the first consequence (1st time rule is broken after a "reminder"--or warning): "Time Out for 10 minutes". Then, for the 2nd consequence "Time Out for 1 Hour", then the 3rd consequence "Time Out for the Rest of the Day"---no tv, computer, games, etc. Then, make sure to be consistent and firm. Post the rules where everyone can see them, and let everyone know these are the "house rules", they apply to everyone. Now, the first time he talks back (and he will--he will test you a few times to be sure you are serious), remind him of the rule, and tell him to go to Time Out for 10 minutes. If he argues, tell him to go to Time Out immediately or he will earn the 2nd consequence (an hour)---and this will usually work. Especially if he knows that being in Time Out for the rest of the day is a possibility. You must do all this with firmness but absolutely no yelling. And if you need to change your plans to be home all day because he broke the rules, do it, because I promise that once he knows you mean business he'll probably shape up pretty quickly.There is a good chance he will act up while you are out (usually kids will sense that their parents are too embarrassed to make a scene in public). Well, let him know that the rules apply all the time, and that if you are out you will not hesitate to take him home immediately. We actually did this once when we were at a restaurant, and 2 of our kids started misbehaving. We immediately left the restaurant and told our children they did not deserve the privilege of eating out. Well there was lots of crying and fussing and apologizing (we bit our tongues and kept our cool but told them that until they could behave respectfully they would not be enjoying any meals at restaurants).... The next time we ate out--and from then on, our kids behaved like angels when we went out, because they knew we would not hesitate to remove them if they acted up.
There may be some Rules where Time Out is not necessary, but another consequence is more appropriate (for example, lying is a huge "no-no" in our house, so the only consequence for lying was to be grounded for a week). Or if kids fought over toys, the toy was taken away for awhile...)
Another thought, please make sure that everyone in the family treats one another respectfully, with simple things like remembering to say "please" and "thank you" to speaking nicely to each other. And catch him being nice and praise him for it. There should absolutely be no put-downs or name calling, and if you find that the people he is around tend to do that,or it is something he sees in movies or tv, then see what you can do to help control his environment.
Good Luck!

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