Self Control Issues with Almost 8 Year Old Son.

Updated on November 02, 2009
T.W. asks from Windsor, CA
16 answers

My older son is almost 8 and has been getting in trouble a lot in class because he has trouble controlling himself. He tends to blurt out, not only not raising his hand but just in general, he would rather talk with his friends than pay attention. He feeds off of other kids misbehavior even when he knows what they are doing is wrong. How do I get him to control his self? Also he knows how to read but doesn't want to, If you quiz him he does fine but when you tell him to read something(anything) he says he can't and I know that he just doesn't want to but I am at a loss as to how to help him enjoy reading as much as I do. We are reading every night(I read to both of my boys) from Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone and he realizes how much more info(better) is in the book but he still is lacking the drive. One last thing I would be appreciative of is of the ways that you have found work best in disciplining your children. Thank you all for you advice.

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answers from Portland on

The first questions that come to my mind are 1) When did he have a vision exam with an eye doctor? 2) Does he teacher notice or do you notice if he squints to read? 3) Could he be dyslexic? After you answer those questions everything is a-ok then my suggestion is to talk to him about it. Don't accuse but talk to him and prompt him by telling him you are trying to understand what it is about reading that he doesn't like. Are there certain books he would prefer to read over others? My now 13 yr old son had the same issues. He hated to read so then I found out he thinks books are boring. I found out he likes comic books so I bought him a few age appropriate and then I started designing comic books loosely based off of other books he is reading in school. Granted that is time consuming but he loved it and he now likes to read.

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answers from San Francisco on

The unfortunate part of schooling is that not all kids just can sit still and be quiet for extended periods of time. Some techniques that have helped kids that just "gotta move" is giving them a therapy ball to sit on at their desk. This allows them to bounce a little, wiggle a little while staying in one spot. Also, some have found that chewing gum can help concentration for those kids on the go. Ideally, the classroom setting should be dynamic, a good teacher will see the strengths of children and use them. Perhaps, allowing the child to help with the teaching, being the one who writes problems on the board, passing out papers, etc.

There is a great story of this little girl who could just not sit still. The mother was called into the principles office with the girl. The principle told the little girl that he and her mom needed to step outside the office and talk for a moment. As he did he put on some music. The principle asked the mother to look into the office. The little girl was up and dancing. He told the mother, there is nothing wrong with your little girl. She is a dancer, it would be wise to get her into dance school. The little girl grew up to become a famous choreographer, Cats was one of her most famous choreographed pieces. : )

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answers from San Francisco on

Dear T.,

Maybe you and dad are just too busy with all the outside activities and you older son doesn’t want to be as busy as the two of you.

I would start by cutting out some of the activities, making school, home life, church and ONE other outside sports or scout activity for each child the main stay. I would also limit tv and video games.

A Suggestion on discipline is to say; “If you mess up in school, you lose the outside activity plus other things dear to him.”

Have a weekly or bi-weekly trip to the library. Don’t just check out a book and leave. Have him select a few and stay there and peruse the books to see which one he likes best.

They also have books on tape that might help him to get more interested in reading.


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answers from San Francisco on

Hi T.,

Wow you are busy. You have lots of cool hobbies too, I share a liking for those as well.

You can try to help your son's central nervous system with minerals and vitamins. vit b complex drops under the tounge can help with concentration and attention span. do it in the morning so it doesn't affect sleep.

In the evening (because it will induce sleepiness) magnesium oil sprayed on the skin, or Natural Calm drink, will bring up cellular magnesium. This helps muscles, emotional stability, blurting out, memory, concentration, anxiety. Eating more protien will help with absorption.

I personally like cod liver oil for a feeling of well being.I just feel calmer and less agitated after I take it. (high in vit d- it is called the mood vitamin) Carlsons lemon flavored brand.

You didn't mention hyperactivity per se, but hyperactivity can be a sign of thyroid malfunction. Much thyroid issues are due to high levels of estrogen. SOY milk and soy additives in processed foods are a major culprit. The estrogen in soy reduces blood serum magnesium further contributing to magnesium deficiency symptoms.

If you can reduce sugar and processed carbs, and of course soy, it will help greatly.

I am a christian and I use the concepts in the book "shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp.It so works for me. I am also a homeschooler and that makes it easier to discipline because my kids are always with me and have minimal outside influences. Boys do go through a phase where they go along with the pack - I sure had my boy doing the same thing at about 8. he just wanted so bad to fit in with the boys.



answers from San Francisco on

Make a daily behavior contract that the teacher has to mark each day and make photo copies (or ask the teacher to make one up). Just something where the teacher can circle the words that apply to his behavior, because teachers often are in a rush at the end of the day. Something like: name, date, today I ...followed the rules/ paid attention/ was disruptive/ completed my work/ was helpful/ shouted answers/ raised my hand/
(whatever you DO or DON'T want him to do, and the teacher can circle the ones that apply)
If he gets a good report for the day, he gets a simple reward and a happy mom-- if a bad report, no reward (or maybe some punishment). I made a deal with my kid once that he would have chocolate ice cream everyday after school, but if he had a bad report, or "lost" his report, no ice cream. For him, this was a major motivator. Think about what might work for your kid.

Also, some smart kids misbehave in school or don't read because they are bored.
He might need something to stimulate him more.
Is he curious about nature or science?
For some boys, they don't like a lot of "cute stories", but they will read nonfiction, about earthquakes and volcanoes and things like that.
There are also books with really gross stuff, scary stuff, funny stuff.
The books they have in school are just not interesting to some kids. Try looking for things he has never even seen before, and maybe he will get interested and expand his horizons.

Discipline is not one size fits all---you have to know what your kid cares about about, and target THAT.
Also show him that when he is good you are in a cheery mood and are lots more fun, and there are fun activities and laughter, but when he is not good, you are really grumpy and everyone is having a bad day. That is reality!



answers from Sacramento on

Lack of focus and impulse control are a couple of key indicators of ADHD. Our son has this condition and I would urge you to contact your son's pediatrician for a referral to a specialist who can evaluate him. The fact is that he may not be able to control himself no matter what you do or say as a parent. If he has the condition, getting medical help can make all the difference in the world in helping him to thrive at school and at home.



answers from San Francisco on

First I would agree that maybe your son should be evaluated for vision, hearing, and possible learning difficulties. Kids are really good at hiding these things. Not on pupose, but because God made us all so adaptable that kids with differences learn quickly how to adapt to them. I have dyslexia, but no on knew for years. :o)

Aside from that, I would like to agree with Toni that sometimes kids of busy, driven parents have difficulties living up to that norm. Your hubby owns his own biz and you are trying to start one up along with your other hobbies and volunteering several times a week. While that is great for you and your hubby, it may not be the way your son is put together. Not that I would condone letting him lay around playing video games all day, just that not everyone is built to be going 24/7. Just something to think about.

As far as discipline, that really starts with understanding the definition of the word. Discipline is not punishment, or consequences, although those are part of it. Discipline is developing a way to go/be. Getting daily exercise, eating well, and other healthy habits are all a matter of discipline. In our house part of our discipline is no tv during the school week and limited 2 hours or so on weekend days. A lot of bad attitude and bad habits are learned from tv, so we limit it to help us with self discipline. This is not a punishment, just how it is in our house. Video games are also limited. In our house kids that show good self discipline (homework done, room clean, teeth brushed, good attitudes, etc.) have a lot of freedom with their time. If they would rather go outside a play after school and do their homework later, that is fine since they have shown me that they consistently complete the things they are responsible for without my intervention. However, if they start showing me that they need more training in the responsiblility area, I step right back in. 'Sorry sweetie, but yesterday you didn't get your homework done before bedtime, so today you must do it before you can do anything else.' Not mad, not a punishment, just setting the expectation/example of being responsible.

Lastly, I wanted to share a great resource for parenting advice/info. This site also has other great resources for other areas of life, but here is the link specifically for parenting and families. Everything is available to download for free or if you prefer cds they can be purchased very inexpensively. Positive Parenting and What I Want for My Children are my favorites! Now my kids are older, Parenting Teens is my current helper. These resources really help to keep me on track with my kids. Reminding me of what is important and why we all do what we do. We all want to raise great kids! Anyway here is the link

Enjoy your adventure!



answers from San Francisco on

Often children act out when they have some type of learning issues - dyslexia (reading problem) or add (adhd) attention problem. Write a letter to the school to get your son evaluated for everything that you think would help. Also, how well does he understand what you tell him and how good is he at expressing himself. These two items are related to expressive and receptive language.
If you get him evaluated and he gets the appropriate assistance, I believe the behaviors will disappear.




answers from San Francisco on

Have his eyes checked.



answers from Yuba City on

T. -

I really think Toni V said it best in her post. Cut back on doing too much, keep your life better by keeping it simple. We have 5 kids and can only participate in so much. Our 5 year old's behavior changes when we are too busy for too long. She gets restless and bored easily and loses focus quickly. Start there, then in discipline, just be consistent, don't be wishy-washy, kids will spot that a mile off.

Take care,




answers from San Francisco on

One of the first things I would do is look at everything he eats...there is so much garbage in what we call food that affects children. Sugar, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and on and on. I had a child that was allergic to so many things and had to meet with a dietician at the hospital that he use to go to all the time, many people felt sorry for me but I am actually glad in the way that I know how to read a label. It's really not that hard. One thing that is super easy...the shorter the ingredients, the better, if it's a mile long, I don't even bother reading it. Stay away from high fructose corn syrup which is in so many things including juices. There are many books & online to help you. He could learn along with you and you could both pack lunches together so he has choices, good ol fruits and veggies, whole wheat bread and snacks and many more good things. You might also see if he has any allergies to any foods as well and I agree about having his eyes checked. Learning about good food is fun. Who knows, he may become a chef!! Good Luck



answers from San Francisco on


I see that you attend church. You might want to check with your leadership at church about the spiritual aspects of young children reading about Harry Potter and books like the Sorcerer and the Stone.

Yes, there is a fight between good and evil, yet the main idea is to use magic which is not relying upon God's power. Harry Potter literally teaches your children how to actively casts spells. Witchcraft is like rebellion to God. He is jealous after all.

You might want to look into whether or not your child is exhibiting Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder ADHD (ADD) symptoms. If he has had these behavior issues for 6 months or more, then you need to look into it any possible learning disabilities that are in addition to ADHD.

PBS has a helpful website about learning disabilities and provides simulation of what is like if children are dealing with these issues. You can watch videos and try the examples of the simulated activities that help others without disabilities to relate to those who have them.

One other thing to consider is the effectiveness of exercise and sports involvement. If your son has excess energy then he might excel at sports. Also, exercise is known to increase seratonin levels in the brain and help the mind to concentrate on getting academic work done. Sometimes children need to run off their extra energy outside and then get back to work. The physical activity helps them to release the extra energy or need to squirm around when they can't sit down. Check out the following website regarding this at:

God Bless you,



answers from Modesto on

Hi T.,

As far as books, I have found that the books with CD's are what has helped my 7yr old like reading more. I've bought a few furing the last year through Scholastic Book Club orders.. Your can try to check it out. The Book orders are so cheap, yet fun for the kids to receive. I always buy 1 or 2 for them to keep the reading "going'......

Discipline is hard........especially finding the right way for your own individual kid. In my home, consistency was the "key" to success. I had the SAME routine EVERY single day, the boys knre what I expected of them and it was easier for them to keep up with life. This includes bedtime and waking up. My kids are in bed by 8:15pm every night. Yes, they can lay there and read and/or watch TV (yes, they have TV's in their room) but when they go to bed by 8-8:15 they are "resting" their body and makes it easier for them to rise and shine :O)

I also have a "Ticket Jar".....for simle things. They are my disciplinary tools, actually. they get 1-3 tickets for doing something good-great......then I threaten to remove a ticket if they are not behaving. once they reach 30 tickets we go pick out at $25 toy/game of their choice. I STILL use it for my 13yr old, and he saves for 50 tickets to get a Wii game :O)..... My ticket jat has been the best $10 investment for me :O) $6.00 for the roll of tickets, and $4.00 for the 2 jars......

Well, that's all of the simple 'tricks" that I have to offer you :O) Don't worry, you will find something that works for you and your boys.

~N. :o)



answers from San Francisco on

One thing I've learned over the course of parenting three kids is that by and large their personalities and behavior characteristics don't change much from when they're in preschool. So if you have a kid who goofs around and isn't a scholar, don't expect it to change a lot during the course of his school career. If you don't have overly high expectations, or expectations that you can actually change a person, you will not be so disappointed when he turns out different than you had dreamed.

Maybe he'll never be a scholar. Maybe he'll be really social and have a career where that is an asset. Not everyone was meant to sit still in class and get all A's.

Maybe he'll never be a huge reader. Keep reading to him anyway, it's still good for him and a great bonding experience. None of my kids is as avid a reader as I was.

My 20 year-old son is out today applying to be a Navy Seal. I wanted him to do 4 years in college and then get some kind of white collar job. Here I sit, mourning my dreams for him. They are who they are; we have to let them be that.



answers from Sacramento on

Always find the good in your son and he will follow your lead. If you can find all the good that he does and congratulate him on each and every good thing, believe me he'll change into that behavior your looking for...



answers from San Francisco on

Hi T.,

Our daughter, who is dyslexic, did not start reading books on her own until well into 2nd grade. But it not easy to know that is what the problem is, especially when it is your first child. And it is not always easy to get the school to diagnose this sort of thing either. Talk to your son's teacher.

Our son, who is not dyslexic, just was not that interested in reading, until he got into comic books. He loves the Calvin and Hobbes comics, so much so, that he has been creating his own. (They made a series of books that are compilations of the comic strips from the paper. Our school library even has them.) The Captain Underpants books are also good for getting a boy into reading. Try giving him a comic book (or a LEGO catalog, or something else he is highly motivated about) to read. If he still is not interested, then that would be another indicator that perhaps it is a learning issue.

Good luck!

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