9-Year Old's Behavior Feels Disrespectful

Updated on May 28, 2015
O.L. asks from Long Beach, CA
15 answers

My 9-year old son is disrespectful at times around adults. While I'm talking to another adult, he'll demand that we leave or go home from where we are at. Usually, it's after school while I'm talking to other adults. Or, tonight while I was talking to a friend, he kept saying, "Let's go Mom. Oh, that's right you'll probably say NO because you're mean." At one point, I asked him to stop knocking me in the back over and over again with his hand. He kept doing it over and over again while I was talking.I find myself feeling so humiliated in front of the other parents.

He's a good kid, but I don't want to tolerate disrespectful behavior when I see it.

How would you handle this? What would you do to make sure that this behavior stops?

I've tried taking things away, grounding him, etc. Nothing seems to be working.

What can I do next?

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answers from Austin on

I've worked at a few schools, and often the most troubling times are after school when the parents are chatting and the kids have been cooped up all day and are really wanting to get home.

I'm in no way excusing disrespect or rudeness. But it might help you to observe your son, and maybe understand that its hard for him to either behave or wait patiently while you talk with other adults.

If you know that every day after school you'll be catching up with the other parents, plan ahead. Talk to him about what he can do while you're talking. If he has to wait in the car, could he have a few minutes to unwind with a little game system like a Nintendo DS or whatever portable game systems are popular or affordable? Could he read a comic book before heading home to chores and homework?

I'm just encouraging you to acknowledge that it can be hard for kids who have had to behave in school all day and then have to remain quiet after school while parents visit. Imagine taking several classes yourself, struggling to get to your next class on time, sitting quietly, behaving, dealing with difficult situations, and then just when you get outside, and the day is over, your husband is there waiting to pick you up. But he gets a business phone call and tells you to stand quietly while he discusses a long complicated deal. You'd probably fidget and get impatient. We all would.

So plan ahead. You like your friends, you enjoy catching up with other parents, and your son has been in school all day or otherwise having to be quiet. Talk with him. What could he do while waiting? It doesn't have to be super-productive like homework. It could be a handheld game, light reading, even a small portable container of Legos that you could hand him. And talk with him about letting you know, quietly and politely, that he wants to go. And listen to him respectfully. Look him in the eye, and tell him that you'll go soon. And follow through. Schedule other times when you can visit with your friends. Use the after school time to pick up your son and talk with him. He needs you then, and he's trying to express it (he's expressing it badly, and in an unacceptable manner, but he's trying to tell you that he needs you). Teach him about expressing himself to you in a polite manner ("mommy, I want to tell you about my day." "Mommy, please could I talk with you?"), and then make sure that you listen to him with the same respect that you want from him.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Are you one of those, we will leave in a minute, at 7:00, whatever and that never happens? For kids that need structure that is pure torture. Even the ambiguous non answer isn't really fair.

As I remember you have said your son has spectrum issues, I think you call them sensory but what you describe is spectrum. They need structure and when you mess with their schedule this is what you get. If you want it to stop you tell him up front, I will be chatting until 3:30 and then we will leave. Just know at 3:31 you will get this same behavior. It is not a want, they need to know what is coming next.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

this would not fly with me at all. by the time my kids were this age they knew better than to try it, as any of this was firmly nipped in the bud during toddlerhood.
you start by not ignoring it. that's just begging him to escalate it. it should never have been a case for him to 'keep' saying 'let's go.' the very first time should have brought a swift 'knock it off' along with a stinkeye that backed him right up against the wall. if you don't have that stinkeye, develop it.
and hitting you? repeatedly? really?
he may well be a good kid, but this is not good kid behavior.
removing privileges is all very well, but immediate and dire consequences are sometimes called for. and sometimes public humiliation, while a poor tactic as a go-to, is a very effective quasher of rudeness.
'michaelangelo, i'm having a conversation with mrs. whiting at the moment. it may take several minutes. do not interrupt me again. excuse me? are you a 3 year old who doesn't understand? if you behave like a toddler in public, i will treat you like a toddler in public. one more word and you'll be standing in that corner. we'll finish this conversation when we get home, young man.'
not yelling, but an elevated tone that indicates shocked disbelief and no small degree of anger that your big boy is being such a tiny turd. and it should all be real. this is not okay.
but the flip side to this is that you don't keep shunting him aside. i've got relatives who do this to their kids all the time, starting at toddlerhood and ending up with big kids who do exactly what your son is doing, so i can't help but suspect that he's anticipating being ignored. if you bind yourself to the same rules that you expect of your kids, everyone's on the same page. and that means that when you say 'i'll be with you in a moment' that you don't keep them hanging and dancing with impatience for 5 minutes more. when you say 'we'll leave in 5 minutes' you don't keep them cooling their heels for 15.
give him the respect you expect from him, and lower the boom when you don't get it. but also apologize to him and do better when you let down your end of the bargain.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I agree with consistency on all parts. If you are talking too long on a regular basis and you know this causes your son to have these issues, why not try to plan adult conversations when he is occupied with something else, versus standing and waiting? And then give him deadlines. If I tell my kids 10 minutes and 15 go by without us realizing, then they typically tell me. I apologize and wrap up what I'm doing then go, because it's what I said I would do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

On the surface it certainly sounds disrespectful, but it seems like it's always basically about the same thing - how long you're taking to stop talking and get moving. The 'mean' comment suggests that it is such a frequent occurrence that he is predicting your answer.

Take a moment to consider the scenarios from an outside perspective.

When you say you're talking to someone after school, do you mean for a minute or two to say "Hello, nice weather, have a good one?" or are you standing still having conversations about stuff while your kid just wants to get home and have a snack? Are you ever late getting somewhere because you got wrapped up in talking to someone? When you go somewhere with him for the intention of being social, do you tell him in advance that you're staying until 5pm and then you'll leave? (And then do you leave at that time without getting sucked back into talking?)

I'm NOT saying you should put up with what he's doing. You got great advice about how to handle that. What I'm suggesting is that you think about what you're doing to determine if there are changes you can make with your own actions that would head off some of the conflict.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

Me: "Excuse me one moment."
Turn to son.
"You will not hit me and you will not interrupt me again. You will go stand over by the door where I can see you and wait for me. If you do not, you are going to see just how mean I can be when we get home."

Stick to your threat if he acts up again. Have a define punishment for this action. My suggestion: The moment you get in the door, he sits, does his homework then goes to his room until dinner. He then eats, showers and does to bed.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think that being impatient is common with all kids (mine all are) and if I don't stop to acknowledge them it's worse. So I take the minute to say "could you go play on the swings for 5 more minutes, then we will be leaving". I give them a time and I stick to it. I also will say "Sorry, I know you're bored .. but I need 5 more minutes" if there's nothing to keep them occupied.

Now I've not had mine knock me in the back or speak out of turn, but I've had "mommmm...." and that's when I started giving them the time. I think knowing I get they want to leave is all it takes for them to back off.

If they were disrespectful in public, I get them to apologize to the other person. And then we leave immediately - away from people I give the a talking to, and then no fun (they don't get to come out next time if they are rude). And I'll find something to not include them in that day. I don't wait till the next outing. It has to be pronto so they get it.

It works for us - I rarely have mine act out in public. At home, yes :) But in public, no. I also have that horrible mean mom look - one glare and they get it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

in a calm moment.. explain the rule.. that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. list the behavior that you find disrespectful..

then if he does it again.. follow through.. find whatever it is that will get him.. take away video games.. or no playdates with friends.. or make him do chores.. every child has something that will get them motivated.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I like what Laurie A. said about having a signal (hand on arm) and the acknowledgement that you have gotten the message. Rewarding with praise afterwards (not interruption yourself at the time) is great.

When that doesn't work and the interruptions are constant (especially that whacking you on the back, which is a no-no), then you have to take steps and give consequences. At 9, they can understand consequences that are a little delayed (vs. a 5 year old who needs to have immediate ones).

I've definitely stopped the car and turned off the engine as mentioned below. I've definitely walked out of a situation (at great inconvenience to myself) to give my kid the message that something is unacceptable.

I think the "over and over" is what you have to stop. But DO lose the sense of being humiliated - all parents, if honest, will admit they've been there. I think it's actually more frustrating to allow it to continue than to stop it after the first warning. Say to the other parent, "I'm sorry, I need to deal with this right now." Take your son out of there and put him in the car and say, "You DON'T interrupt like that. And you don't hit me. Ever." Drive 1/4 mile away. Stop the car. If you have childproof door locks in the back seat, use them. Get out. Stand where he can see you but you can't hear him wailing. Talk on the phone or do a crossword puzzle (I keep a little book in my purse for unexpected waiting anyway so it comes in handy). Take your time. Then get back in and explain that it took much longer for him to get your attention and to go home than it would have if he had been polite. Tell him this will happen every time. And make sure it does.

You say you are taking things away and grounding him - so either you aren't doing it often enough and consistently enough, or it's too delayed from the incident for him to make the connection. He's still getting a "payoff" for his behavior because you are responding to him in some way. So I think making him miserable within a few minutes of the "offense" is more to the point at this age. Maybe you are talking to him about it too much, and he is tuning you out? If you implement the hand signal recommended below, and he's hitting you in the back, take his hand and place it where you designated (such as your forearm) and hold it there. If that doesn't work, tell the other people you need to deal with this disrespectful behavior.

I also think telling him that he can't go to things - birthday parties, play dates, etc. - because he is too young to be trusted around other adults may be helpful. Not just "you're grounded because of how you treat me" but "you can't go anywhere without me to supervise you and take you out, and it's not convenient for me." Then you can wait a few days, then say you'll give it a try and see if he's learned anything. Take him somewhere with the express intention of taking him out if he transgresses. In a way, you hope he WILL - so you can teach him what the consequences are. It should only take a few times. If you inconvenience HIM and make him realize it's worse for HIM when he does these things, it's more effective in the long run. But don't cave in - it IS hard for you but only in the short run.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

If he does not have any special behavioral issues, or learning disabilities, then you speak with him alone at another time and explain that his behavior is not acceptable. And let him know what the consequences will be the next time he does this. Figure out what it is that he loves to do. Or something he is looking forward to. Or something he does not enjoy and make him do more of it.

He is old enough to understand that when adults are speaking he is to wait patiently, unless it is an emergency.
Patiently means not interrupting vocally or physically.

He can sit down and read a book or play close by.

IF he breaks this behavior rule, he will lose.. what ever is his currency.. Less game time, an extra 20 minutes doing a chore for you.. You need to figure out what that is. Every child has something. For us it was we would tell her, we were very disappointed in her behavior.

Also come up with a code for these events. For our daughter, she would place her hand on my arm and wait patiently. I would then place my hand on hers to let her know, I was aware and would be with her in a moment.

AND I really did, come to a stop and tell the adult, "pardon me, I think "daughter" needs to tell me something. Then I would say, "Thank you for your patience, what do you need?"

Now mom... Here is the REAL secret. When he DOES allow you to have a conversation without interrupting! Reward him! Not with a treat, but with a hug and a "thank you for being patient!" or "Gosh I loved how patient you were while I was speaking with John's mom!"

The more positive recognition you give when he is great, the more he will want to do the right thing.

Also model this behavior at home. If he is speaking or talking with a friend, Go to him and say, "excuse me son, I need to tell you something. Or go to him and say, Sorry to interrupt but I have something important I need to let you know.
Or son, when you finish this game, please come find me, I need to let you know something.

Most children only have a small amount of patience naturally, so you have to help them learn to keep themselves occupied, to allow them to decide what they will do while they wait.
Our daughter always had something to read, or would draw while waiting.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think you have to discuss with him what to expect before the event happens. "Timmy, when I pick you up from school I will be talking with the other moms for a while. I'm probably going to do this every day or most days. You can play with their kids while I talk or not. I expect you to wait patiently while I talk with my friends, and to keep your hands to yourself. If you don't, there will be a consequence when we get home. But I promise I'll keep my chats to no more than 15 minutes. I'll let you know when 15 minutes is done."

If he knows what to expect, and that you will not be talking for an hour (that's how long he feels it is after a long day at school) he may have a better handle of the situation.

He must have a currency that will work - screen time etc. If not, then I may say (if it were me), "gosh, I had to spend so much time after school telling you to behave while I talked with my friends, I didn't have time to empty the garbage or xxxx. I'm going to need your help with that now."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I would have a serious talk with him. I would say that it's not ok that he interrupts me when I'm talking and ESPECIALLY hit me and call me names and that it was going to stop immediately. I would say it's not only embarrassing for him to be acting like that but embarrasses me too. So if he does that again, there will be an immediate consequence and tell him what it will be. Then next time he does it, I would turn to the person I'm talking to and say, I'm sorry we are being interrupted like this and he is acting this way but I need to take my son home now and deal with him, I will talk to you later. I would then grab him up, pinch him under the arm where he can feel it and when we got home he would lose EVERYTHING for the night. No electronics at all. He can play outside or in his room (assuming there's no TV in there). That always hits my kids hard. I NEVER take away physical activities because they need it, but they sure miss the electronics. Then make sure you do this every time. Even if you are at the store and he starts in because he can't have any candy. Get a clerk, give them your cart full of stuff, apologize and leave. When you get home he loses everything. He should start to understand you mean business and it won't be worth him acting like that in public. And also be aware that if you are chatting after school and he wants to go because he's hungry or whatever, try not to do that. Make plans to call your friend later or text. I already know that my kids are NOT good hanging out after church. They are hungry and so am I. So my friends know that once "amen" is said, we run out the door. lol So figure out what triggers your son to act out and try to adjust to those times. JMO. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You aren't the only mom to say you don't like your 9 yr old. I think some of it is normal behavior for his age - however, it doesn't mean it gets tolerated. I would tell him you are talking and that you will leave when you are ready to leave. And then talk to him at home about disrespecting you in front of others. If he's knocking you in the back over and over to get your attention, tell him to go sit on the side of the room and you will tell him when he can get up again.

Something a friend used was a "clock". Anytime the behavior wasn't something they could do much about at the time (in her case, her SD acting up just before going back to her mom's house, thinking she would escape any consequence), they would say "that's 10 minutes on the clock". The child would owe the 10 minutes later - either through a time out, early bedtime, chores or sitting watching other kids play while she gave back the time she took by being bad. Friend said it helped. If you used the clock, you could say "If I have to tell you one more time, that's 10 minutes on the clock" and then he gets to scrub toilets or something later.

You might also think about how you ask. I know we don't want to be Mean Mom in front of others, but there's a difference between, "Johnny, please don't do that, ok?" and a firm, "John Andrew. You will stop that right now." Use The Voice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Pick your battles Mom...you wanna throw down on this issue then do it! The next available time turn & handle it immediately. Lay down the law & give him rules!!

~Now with that being said, my kids are all handled with only talking & the evil eye! It's how I was raised & it's how I do it as well. Manners are a must Mom & so is showing all of us with respect & interrupting & laying hands on eachother only have a certain place in our lives & you chit chatting or going about your day is neither. Please also note that if your child is getting frustrated because he is trying to manage your time appropriately & feels it's his job to keep you on task that's a whole other issue all together :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

my son has ADHD, and when he was younger he had a very hard time not interrupting, waiting patiently, respecting grownups, etc. What worked for him (after MUCH repetition) was him raising his hand when he needs something, and me using the phrase, "One Minute". Raising his hand is good because it reinforces what he has to do at school, "One Minute" works, because he gets to use it too (if he is in the restroom and taking too long and I'm hurrying him along, for example). I respect the "One Minute" when he uses it, and he respects it when I use it. After the hand raise and the "One Minute", then when the grownup and I have a pause in the conversation, I address him. Many times that's all it takes, if he knows he has been heard, he can wait a bit longer. (fwiw, i would also have a good talk with him about his behavior, at home before it is an issue. Putting hands on someone is NEVER okay, and that needs to be addressed as well.) Good luck!

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