How Do I Get My 8 Year Old Son to Stop Acting Rude and Misbehaving?

Updated on June 05, 2017
M.R. asks from Concord, CA
8 answers

hello my son is 8 yrs old and thinks its ok to be rude and to act like a thug he was a very sweet boy but some how he has been acting up for the past year up till now he is misbehaving with his babysitter and with us. he has hurt him self last year and this year he has too but said he was just playing around i dont know about all you mother out there but do you think this behavior is normal for an 8 yr old kid we have seek help from a psychiatrist but she just blamed us and did not even hear us out she basically said "you are asking your child a big question when you ask him why you hit you sister" like what really asking why is not good? she also said that always reward your child even tho he has been rude and acting up so that means if he hit his sister and was rude to his babysitter but did all his homework then he should not get punished at all for the other bad things he should just get rewarded what should i do really nobody will help us and my son is really breaking this family apart.

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So What Happened?

Thank you moms for talking to me and letting us know what you mothers think I should do well to answer some question what I mean about him hurting himself yes he has tried to jam a pencil threw his eye I actually caught him right on time or this would be a different story another time I was driving and he was getting frustrated I don't remember the issue but my wife had to get in the back seat with him to prevent him m from bitting himself and punching him self out daughter who at the time was just 2 started to freak out and cry I lost control and panicked out and my anxiety kicked in luckily we got home safe we hugged him and told him please calm down stop hurting your self so after a few talks and attempts he finally stopped he was so angry that he was sweating and heavy breathing this new incident that happen I caught it again right on time he was wrapping the cord from the laundry bag around his neck when I saw him he knew he was doing something wrong so he looked Ike's at me when I said what are you doing son he said just playing me obviously being the mother my instincts where going to kick in I got mad I got him up and said why are you doing this to your self and like always with a blank stare he said nothing just playing I got so mad I walked away and cried my eyes out like a little kid and I kept telling my self what am I doing. Wrong what did I do to my son to deserve his behavior so that night I called kaiser and told them I needed an appointment asap with a specialist to get my son evaluated my wife said that our son may suffer from physiological problems and may need medication and I really do agree but as a mother you don't want to put your son threw this so when we went to this lady she just looked at me and my wife and just said well he is 8 and boys will be boys I don't think he wants to hurt himself I feel he just wants attention and your love so now stop talking about him like he is an adult and talk to him as a child now my wife and I looked at each other like is she kidding then she said I see nothing wrong with him I just think that the communication is not there between mothers and child so anyways now me and my wife have spoken to Luke and some bad behavior has happen and some good behavior does happen but we are still hopping to get answer for our son and hope everything starts to get better

More Answers


answers from Santa Fe on

(Hm. I wouldn't ask him why he hit. I would tell him no, we don't do that and give him a time out.) When he does something bad then you need to calmly but firmly give him consequences. Make him go to his room for a time out. Take away video game time. Take away his TV time. Whatever works for him. Why don't you have a family meeting and make a poster board of the house rules. Things like: Treat Others with Respect. No Hitting, Kicking, Punching, etc. No Grabbing Toys from Your Sibling. Then tell your children if they break a rule they will get X as a consequence. Just be matter of fact about it. Next time he hits his sister tell him you are disappointed in his behavior and he needs to go to his room for x amount of time to cool off. When you see him being nice to his sister give him a hug and lots of praise. We had our son see a therapist for 4th and 5th grade help him learn to take responsibility for his own actions, his anger when he didn't get his way, his behavior. She saw him one on one and it really helped a lot. He matured a lot those years and he really bonded with her and enjoyed his sessions bc they became good friends. PS - Things should get better. Just keep working on helping him become the best person he can be. Some kids are extra hard.Our son gained a ton of maturity as he got older and right now at age 13 he is a great kid. PPS - My other advice is if you are like I was you are not feeling close to your son right now. You need to bond with him again. Do something one on one with him regularly. Let him show you something he is interested in and spend some time with him learning about it. This really helped my son.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I'm sorry your family is going through this difficult time.

Others have a very good point: you don't need a psychiatrist, right now. You need a psychologist who specifically counsels children. And when your son gets counseling, prepare to receive some counseling yourself. It's more than getting a kid to behave; it's about changing the way the family acts.

And if your son has hurt himself intentionally (using a razor blade, or otherwise injuring himself on purpose) please take this seriously. He's not just playing around. Playing around is what kids do when they paint on a fake mustache with a permanent marker to be silly. Stabbing or cutting or burning is NOT playing around. Call the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255) and ask their advice. Now, if you're saying he got so angry that he bruised his hand, or if he kicked something so hard that he broke a toe, that's a different situation, and something for the psychologist.

I agree that asking "why" can be pointless. A kid doesn't comprehend what's underlying the behavior. They don't have the maturity or the vocabulary to express what's happening. And it might be medical or chemical (an imbalance, clinical depression, anxiety, low blood sugar, etc) that really can't be put into words by a child.

When he sees a psychologist, ask the doctor for specific ways you can structure the home life, what you can and should say, and when. My daughter's doctors have actually provided me with a script to say if she has a panic attack (that can include rage and violent behavior) in public. We have a written emergency plan that I can follow. We have received very specific advice. Our daughter has sat with the counselors privately, and she and my husband (her dad) and I have sat together and worked out a plan. And we've been taught, and received constructive criticism which helped tremendously. Your daughter needs to know that you're doing everything to protect her, and to help her brother.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Good advice below.

On the plus side, you went to see a therapist. On the negative side, you see it only as a "blame game" and discounted what she said because you took it personally. I'm not sure what you mean by "she didn't hear us out" - if she didn't listen at all, that's bad. If she didn't sit through sessions of you justifying your reasons, she might be right. I can't believe that she said, "if he does his homework but is rude and violent, it's okay." I think she probably said to "catch the child being good" and reward him for good behaviors even when you give negative consequences for bad behavior. My guess is, you are coming home after he's been with a sitter, and you hear "He's rude, he hit his sister, but he did his homework" and you are trying to deal with all of those things long after they occurred. That's not going to work.

In any case, find another therapist (it doesn't have to be a psychiatrist) - ask your pediatrician for a referral.

What do you mean about "he has hurt himself"? Are you saying he engages in self-harm? Is he cutting or burning himself? Or that he hits so hard that he hurts his hand? The first one requires a qualified therapist's intervention. Hitting a sister is normal, being rude is normal - but self-harm is not.

I don't know why your son is so angry. Unless there is something medically wrong, though, I'm not sure it matters. What matters is that the behavior has to stop. When children are little, we don't ask "Why did you run into the busy street?" We make them stop. We don't ask "Why did you touch the hot stove?" We make them stop.

I agree with the psychiatrist that "Why?" is a big question to ask an 8 year old (who was 7 when this started). He probably doesn't know why he hits. He's frustrated maybe. Maybe his sister taunts him or takes his stuff. What matters is that he uses hitting as a means to get his way or express his frustration.

So, he needs immediate consequences at this age, not some delayed punishment and certainly no physical punishment. Stop focusing on why he does it, and focus on what privileges he loses if he does it. He's doing things for his own gratification or to get rid of his frustration, his choice of hitting has to bring him far greater negative consequences and far more "misery" than restraining himself.

Please take a parenting class to learn about positive discipline, and please find a qualified expert to help you sort this out. Your question indicates that you are blaming your child for tearing the family apart and that you want to be heard by a professional. I think you're not at a point where you can handle this yourself especially because this has been going on for a year.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I would like to suggest that you can use both positive and negative consequences, and you can even use both in the same day within hours of each other.

I agree that you don't ask him why he hit his sister. You say "Hitting is not acceptable in our house. You just lost your iPOD for the rest of the day." (or whatever consequence works best for him). Then you follow through with the consequence and you do NOT give him the iPOD back for any reason, even if he whines, cries, acts up, or tries to play you by suddenly behaving. And you take away his iPOD immediately every single time he hits his sister. You set the consequence for the action and you follow through every time.

You can also reward good behavior. For example, a hour after he hit his sister and you took away the iPOD, maybe he finishes his homework on time and without complaint. For this he gets a reward - maybe he gets to choose a board game to play with you. Or maybe he gets to choose a special dessert to have after dinner. Or whatever. (you can let him choose from a variety of rewards BUT he does NOT get his iPOD back).

The most important thing is to carefully pick which battles to fight, and _consistently_ use consequences and rewards to get the result you want.

ETA: I apologize that I missed your reference to self-harm until I saw your SWH. He needs a therapist right away. Since the 1st one didn't take you seriously, find another one and try again. I have heard that it often takes a few tries to find the right fit. Please try again.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I don't get why you saw a psychiatrist. That's a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats mental illness generally.

A psychologist may be helpful if you need guidance - you could go to a few sessions yourself to learn tips on how to deal with a child who is a bit out of control.

My own experience is - firm consistent rules. No discussion needed.

In this house if we hit - go to room to cool down, attention give to the one hit (not the naughty one).

The hitter could come down and rejoin when I had cooled off (I give myself a mommy moment), and they had cooled off, and hit child is no longer upset - and hitter then apologizes for hitting.

That kind of thing. I never rewarded my children when they have done something nasty.

I deal with it one incident at a time. 8 year old boys can be rough and tumble and hitting siblings sometimes happens. I wouldn't chalk it up to a big issue with his personality unless his teachers have complained, etc. The babysitter will take her cues from you - if there are rules in place, have her follow them too - consistently.

Downtime was big for my boys at that age. They got cranky, etc. if not rested or fed. Sometimes space to themselves for a while is key.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

He "thinks it's ok to be rude and to act like a thug".
It's your job to inform him that it's not ok and he will NOT act that way or there will be consequences - and follow through with those same consequences EVERY time he tries it.
Decide what the consequences will be up front.
Keep in mind what his currency is.
If he loves to play certain games or watch certain tv shows (what ever his favorite got to activity is), then when he acts up, he will not be allowed to enjoy that activity for a day.
Inform him of the consequence and then if he steps out of line - follow through.

Also - he's picking this up somewhere else if he's not seeing this behavior in your home.
Consider where he is seeing this behavior - and then make sure he's too busy to hang out with that crowd anymore.
He's at a good age to start taekwondo.
Sign him up and get him to class after school every day.
If he acts up in class the instructors will have him doing a whole lot of pushups and he'll learn to cut it out.
Get it sorted out now because if you don't nip it in the bud, it's going to be much worse by the time he's a teenager.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You are in a tough position. What kind of psychiatrist you went to, but if she was not a childhood specialist, she was the wrong one.

You don't need a psychiatrist - you need a psychologist. Psychiatrists prescribe medicine.

Find someone else to work with you.

About asking him why he hit his sister, it could be that she is saying it's a big question because your son probably doesn't know why he hit her. He's 8. He also seems to have a lot of anger. Where does the anger come from?

The idea that you would reward him and never give him a consequence for bad behavior is ridiculous. However, you need help figuring out what consequences to give him that will actually work, because so far, you haven't been able to figure this one out.

I would meet with a child psychologist on your own for a while. Anyone who won't listen to you is someone you shouldn't go back to. There are good people out there. Find one!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Your SWH provides so much more information. Your son has tried several times to hurt himself. He needs immediate help. Kaiser psych can be very difficult to navigate, but did you tell them about his self-harm when you did the intake? Did you tell the practitioner you met with about this? This is absolutely necessary for any professional to know about. Please tell the therapist about this immediately - everything you just told us about the laundry cord etc. He sounds like he needs a full psych eval to see what's going on, get a proper diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

I have some experience navigating Kaiser in our area so PM me if you want some tips. Good luck and take care.

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