Need to Vent (again)...difficult 9 Yr Old Son.

Updated on May 08, 2013
C.T. asks from Red River, NM
13 answers

Does anyone else have a child like this? Did anyone raise them successfully and have them turn out as a nice, kind adult? Can anyone give me some good advice? Really I just need to vent. I had a bad day yesterday and I’m just so exhausted being his parent. He takes so much work all the time….it’s been 9 years of nonstop working my a** off. I truly think parents of regular kids cannot really understand. So many days I think what did I do to deserve this? I’m a nice person…I was a good, kind kid. Ok…I’ll stop ranting. I have 2 kids. One has a regular temperament and just seems so darn easy all the time. She responds to consequences. She eats what you feed her. She has empathy for others. My first child, my son who is 9, is just plain hard. He was a HARD baby…not sleeping, often waking every 15 minutes. Cry it out did not work. He was a rollercoaster of emotions and still is. The woman who ran the baby classes where I lived said he was one of the hardest babies she had seen in 30 years. He was a hard toddler and now he’s a hard kid. I have totally vented about him before on this site…but I just NEED to do it again. It’s like therapy. He had/has a lot of sensory issues that he has mostly outgrown. He is extra sensitive to things…noise, clothes, food textures. He is sensitive about other things too…when he is in trouble and is getting a talking to from us or consequences he always thinks we are yelling at him when we never yell, we are just using a stern tone of voice. His feelings get hurt easily. He is academically smart…has a high IQ. This was the kid who was talking a LOT at age 1 and speaking like an adult by age 2…it was weird. He is in the GATE program at school now…after his testing the man came out and seemed very surprised…he wanted to know how we were raising this kid that just blew him away. It sounds like I’m bragging but I’m not…I’d rather have him be a kind person than smart any day. My son is uber confident about things….and no,he is not always right but he thinks he is. God, he is going to be one of those super annoying adults. He is incredibly stubborn…crazy crazy stubborn. He NEVER gives up…it’s exhausting. We have learned to not interact and send him to his room when he is in trouble about something (his behavior) and wants to debate you and can’t let it go. He is VERY picky with food…he needs eating therapy I think but I feel like it is too late now. I just try to get good, healthy foods into him but I don’t battle him about it. He knows the dinner table rules. He is very mouthy…it’s like he has been a mini teenager since he was 3. He never seemed to have sweet innocence like other kids. I remember when we’d have little friends come over to play I’d be so surprised at how sweet they were. Yes, he gets punished for speaking rudely. Over and over and over again he has gotten consequences for this. Nothing sinks in. He is super competitive but this comes out in a bad way…if he cannot be the best at something he does not want to participate. We are constantly working on him about how it’s ok to not win…you can do something just to enjoy doing it. In the heat of the moment, he seems to have no empathy. When he is upset about something he only can think about his own feelings. This makes him mean at times…mean to his little sister or to whoever he is mad at. Later when he is calm again we can talk to him about how the other person feels and he seems to get it. He gets VERY upset during these conversations and will cover his ears and cry. He asks us to stop talking over and over…. bc he feels guilty. We have learned to be pretty black and white with him. We try to stay calm and if he is rude or mean or does something wrong he gets consequences…he gets his precious video games taken away or loses his privilege to have friends come play (he’s very social). He gets sent to his room. He gets VERY upset so I know we are picking the right consequences. He gets ANGRY very easily when he does not get his way. Yesterday he got upset about his homework and did not want to do it. He wanted me to give him the answers and I was trying to help him figure it out himself. He got MAD and had a 9 year old temper tantrum. I calmly sent him to his room to calm down and he was yelling at me that I hate him. You hate me! You hate me! He lost video games for a week for yelling after I gave him one warning. He was sobbing and mad and trying to get me to change his mind (from up in his room) for a long time till he calmed down. He refused to eat dinner and told me he was going to rip up my mother’s day card. I calmly gave him another consequence and sent him to his room again. Things like this happen regularly for us. His dad and I are very consistent with him. He’s SO exhausting. And to top it all off, I am not a stubborn, battling kind of person. I am the person who likes to help others, and is sensitive to other’s feelings. I hate fighting and I try to be kind to people. I am sensitive and yes, he hurts my feelings. But, no, I don’t let him know! I just try to be a strong, consistent mom with this kid. It so goes against my nature though…having to be black and white with discipline, the consequences, the battles. I just want everyone to get along and be sweet to each other! I spend so much time worrying about this strong willed kid. I really hope I don’t raise this little person who turns out to be an a**hole of an adult.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for your responses. I've talked to the pediatrician about him and even taken him to a child therapist. He is an extremely social and popular child....although the "leader" with his friends. He comes across as too bossy to me, which we talk about. Adults love him...his teachers all rave about him, so yes, he is very good at school. He has a great, joking relationship with his teacher. He is very well behaved for others...he's definitely letting it all out at home bc he knows he is loved/safe here. The doctors have told us he is just smart and stubborn and unique...and have not diagnosed him with anything. I was sure when he was 5 that he needed a diagnosis. Who else do I talk to? Where do I get OT? How do I get a professional to test him? Is it a regular doctor who tests for food allergies or a "non western" doctor. Geez, if he did not eat gluten he would eat so few foods...what would I feed him?

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

Jesh.. you are describing my now 4.5 year old to a T..

1. OT has helped us alot.
2. Accupunture, is doing wonders for us. (No NEEDLES, it is magnetic) He loves it, it makes him feel more comfortable.
3. He had early intervention at 3.5, which I think is the only reason why I can say some days are better than others.

Have you read the Out Of Sync Child? It might help you with insight, and make things easier.

Have you had him tested for food allergies? My son was very difficult, my nurse suggested we try Gluten Free.. WHOLY COW.. huge difference. We went 4 days, then it was Thanksgiving.. he had gluten.. later that night he told me his tummy hurt.. That was the last time I allowed him to eat gluten intenionally ( We still make mistakes). Maybe a diet change could help..

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

He needs a child psychiatrist to help him learn how to cope and interact.
You need a therapist/counselor/psychiatrist for yourself to learn how to cope and interact with him too.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

He sounds like a very emotionally intense person - and if he's gifted, sometimes that goes along with that. I have a friend with a son (6) who has been evaluated and is gifted in reading and math, but is also very stubborn, argues constantly, throws fits, etc. It's like he's advanced academically, but emotionally they tend to lag behind. She just has to be very firm with him on the rules, and picks her battles. If he insists on wearing certain socks and these are the only socks that "feel right" to him, so be it. But if he wants to keep taking a toy to school and that's not allowed, that's just the way it is. If he refuses to eat dinner, fine - but she doesn't make him anything different and when he decides he's hungry, he can fix himself a PBJ sandwich or bowl of cereal.

I guess what I would really wonder though is, how does he get along with others when you are not around? What have his teachers said? How is he with friends? If he's only this way with you, then it might be simply that he feels comfortable enough with you because you are never going to stop loving him, no matter what - and he knows it. With others, he may know he needs to compromise and keep his emotions in check if he wants to stay in their good graces.

If you feel like you are having this much difficulty getting along and his behavior is getting in the way of having a more positive relationship, consider meeting with a family counselor. He/she may be able to help with things like more effective communication, so you can understand each other better, rather than it always being about bad behavior getting met with punishment. I would also look for ways to work in some positive reinforcement - i.e. he gets more video game time for cooperating with you. It almost sounds like you are trying to control him more but the more you try to clamp down, the more he is going to rebel and resist.

AND consider that sometimes, there has to be "natural consequences", also known as learning the hard way. If he refuses to do his homework, he will get a bad mark at school - his choice, not the end of the world, but maybe it will hit home more. Sometimes you just have to decide to let go, not help so much, and make him figure it out for himself. Let him know you will not help him if he is going to be mean to you. My daughter is 5 and sometimes when she wants something but isn't going about it in a nice polite manner, I simply walk away. She gets mad about it, but is starting to figure it out real quick that Mom doesn't cater to those who can't remember their manners.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Honestly - a lot of that sounds like a "gifted child".

"My son is uber confident about things….and no,he is not always right but he thinks he is. He is incredibly stubborn…crazy crazy stubborn. He NEVER gives up…it’s exhausting. [He] wants to debate you and can’t let it go. He is very mouthy…it’s like he has been a mini teenager since he was 3. He is super competitive but this comes out in a bad way…if he cannot be the best at something he does not want to participate."

That's stuff that you wrote is all qualities that many gifted kids exhibit. Gifted isn't just being smart - that's a bright child, who is infinitely easier to handle - a gifted's brain is just wired differently and they think and perceive things differently.

A lot of the other stuff - the lack of empathy, selfishness, pickiness sounds like he might have a mild form of Asperger's.

While, I don't have solutions for you, the best thing is to keep with the consistency. I was very similar in my childhood. Had a lot of the same "gifted" tendencies (I was also labeled gifted) as well as a lot of the same Asperger-like symptoms (only they didn't classify it as that in my childhood - just quirky). TO give you some hope - I'm not a completely a**hole of an adult. But a lot of my reactions/behaviors were learned and are not natural. I am not empathetic (simply because I don't like emotions and feelings - though if forced to feel, I feel to the extreme, like your son's guilt reactions), but I have learned how to express a good illusion of empathy and sympathy. That was mainly through my father, who, every time I got in trouble, would mainly talk about the injured party's feelings. So, while it's not a knee-jerk reaction, nor do I understand it a lot of times, I've been trained to think about others. So, your son sounds like he just needs to be trained on normal societal reactions. He may not understand them, and it may not be his initial response, but he can be taught the "proper" ways.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Let me first say that I have not read you other posts, nor have I experienced a difficult child to the level that you have. The child you describe sounds a lot like the character "Max" on the show "Parenthood"; "Max" has Aspergers. What does your pediatrician say about his behavior?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You just described a relative of my, who is also a child. Yes he can be VERY draining to be around.

Have you ever considered having him tested for high-functioning Autism? I have tried to get my inlaws to do this testing, but they refuse. They don't want him labelled. So labelling him for smarts is okay, but for this is not, even tho it would be labeling him for being smart?!?

What they don't understand it that if he were to be diagnosed with Autism, that there are groups, gatherings, other kids and parents that are experiencing the same trials that having the diagnosis would let you meet. It would give him a group of peers that he currently doesn't know about. If would give them people who have been there/are doing that to bounce things off of.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hugs. He sounds difficult. He also sounds a lot like me, only perhaps a bit better. I was/am strong willed, clever, righteous, picky and hard headed. He is better than me in that he displays sensitivity to the consequences of his behavior, and feels guilty about that.

He sounds difficult, but your eager to please nature, and that of your daughter's makes his strong willed nature harder to bear.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

PS- Your kid would get on fine as an adult in NYC. I mean that as a compliment.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

He needs to be seen by a child psychiatrist, not a pediatrician. A psychiatrist specializes in figuring out cases like yours.

Our son has ADHD and is just like your son (although you don't mention this condition). Extremely smart. Same extreme behavior. Our son has punched holes in his bedroom door before when we did something offensive, like ask him to do his homework. Same love of video games. Same severe issues with food (our son has food neophobia ... look it up and see if it sounds familiar).

His psychiatrist has been extremely valuable in helping us address the problems. We also go to a behavioral therapist. Can't recommend that strongly enough in giving you strategies for dealing with extreme behavior. Ours is like our lifeline.

No matter what, I'd get the ball rolling with a child psychiatrist right away. The sooner you get some answers, the sooner you can get things on track.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

You know what????
Reading this about your son, I thought: OMG! My sibling was and is... JUST LIKE THAT!
I thought you were talking about my sibling. A sister I have.

Yes, it is difficult.
Yes it was hell, for my parents and me, literally... while she was growing up. Yes she was difficult since she was born. AND all the way until she was an adult. Then, she was a difficult as hell, adult.
Highly successful and genius intelligence and uber sensitive etc. She is just like, your son.
Anyway, it was HELL for me, as her sibling. She treated others like a doormat. Then nothing was her fault etc. Ever.
All her life, she had bad relationships, bad choices in friends, just dysfunctional all around.
Abusive, even. To others. Because, they think they are so "smart" etc.
But the flip side is: no one likes them. Even their own family.
So then, they are in emotional pain.
Oh and yes, she was so much nicer to her friends and peers and Teachers. Just a Jekyll and Hyde.
And, we were raised, the same.
But she was just... a hellish child.

Anyway, the bottom line is:
They need, professional help. AND to be, assessed and diagnosed.
Because, no matter how smart or gifted a person is... acting like that, is simply wrong.
And they cannot control themselves. Their impulses and moods.

So anyway, my sibling, one day she just seemed to become normal. After ALL these hellish years.
She apparently was seeing a Psychiatrist and has meds.
Though she will not admit it.
But I know.
She is now "normal" and seems much happier.
You see... her being that way was was NO ONES fault. It was her's.
She is just, imbalanced.
And it is just beyond being "strong willed."
When it is that bad... it is just dysfunctional, and Toxic.
And something, needs to be done.

People like that, are in a sense, ABUSIVE.
My sibling at that age... gawd, you should see how she treated my parents. And my parents tried all kinds of things.... to help her.
Then as she got older, she just was a time bomb.

*At some point, something has to be done, to help him. This is beyond, what a layperson can do, or a parent. Professional help, is needed. The adults/Doctors, seem to just not take it seriously and just say he is "smart" and unique etc.
But this is also, not normal. Not all smart/confident/genius kids, are like this. Nor adults.
And yes, you need to be concerned... and get him properly diagnosed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Check out the book, Living with Intensity. I find it to be very helpful with my extremely intelligent, extremely sensitive 9 year old son. Here is a link on amazon:

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Flagstaff on

While a child psychiatrist might help, I would start by looking for a pediatric developmental specialist. A big part of their job is to put a finger on what is going on with your son. That's what helped us.

And if you haven't already, start documenting his episodes...what sets him off, how long they last, etc. There may be a pattern, and the doctor may be able to see it if you document.

Hang in there! Parenting tough kids is rough on you, so make sure you get a break now and then if you can.



answers from Phoenix on

Reading your post made me sad. My 6.5 year old is exactly as you describe your son. He is extremely difficult for us, but an angel at school. He is doing 1st grade level work in Kindergarten. He is an advanced reader for his age. He is very smart. But he is exhausting. My husband and I have 6 kids between us and he is definitely the "black sheep" of the bunch. He always has been. Consequences are unsuccessful, praises are hard to find. I love him so much, I just keep hoping he'll grow out of it. I often wonder where I went wrong. I really hope it gets better for you.



answers from Phoenix on

Blister his butt. I know you young parents don't believe in that any more. but it worked for hundreds of years. and then society got soft. we are all paying for it now, notice how the moral fabric of society is decaying? getting sent to his room for punishment, is a joke. I would have loved to have been sent to my room when I got myself into trouble, But instead I got the business end of a strap. that was no joke. I laugh when I hear about" time outs", and sending kids to their rooms for punishment. I don't work. Parenting is a lost art, parents now days just don't get it. that's why this country is a failure. in just about every way, shape and form, parents are wusses.

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