Teenager Attitude In A 7 Year Old Body
Question: Looking for some help in managing my 7 year old son who when one-on-one is the most amazing, brilliant little boy to be around. However, once more people are added into the equation his behaviour noticeably changes.
He's not jealous, nor looking for more attention. He just becomes almost like a teenager, focusing on the negatives and criticizing everything everyone does and says.
He has also been wanting more and more things and wants everything done the way he wants it done (he thinks he's the boss - in charge of everyone). He isn't afraid to work for allowance though - he'll work very hard for hours for only a few dollars. He just wants to do what he wants and gives everyone a hard time that stands in his way.
He is very smart, very athletic, eats nothing but home cooked meals for the most part, and learns things incredibly quickly.
It feels like a teenager in a 7 year old's body. Any suggestions? I'm not getting through to him, and his behaviour is getting him in trouble (not finishing school work on time, talking back, just a general bad attitude about everything). Then the other 50% of the time he's an angel. So frustrating.
Answer: I think some of this behavior can be pretty typical for a 7 year old, but there are some ways to help avoid it from continuing.
Try sitting down with him and laying some ground rules. Tell him specifically what type of behavior is unacceptable and what the consequence will be if he engages in that behavior.
Some ideas would be that he has to provide 2 written positive comments for every negative comment he makes (You will have to keep track of this). He has to complete an extra chore free of charge for every time he talks back.
So, when he does these things simply say, "Oh that's too bad, it looks like you owe me two written positve comments." or "Oh that's too bad, it looks like you owe me one free chore." Don't engage in any other types of arguments or conversations about it. If he continues, state again, "Oh that's too bad it looks like you now owe me 4 positive comments (or 2 free chores)." and so on until he stops.
Free time activities that involve TV, video games, and the computer are only allowed after he has completed any necessary consequences and/or shown you his completed homework for the day. If he conveniently "forgets" it at school, say "Oh that's too bad, maybe you will be able to do these things tomorrow then after you show me your homework."
Make sure to regularly communicate with his teacher by email if needed to ensure that you are aware of when he does have work due to avoid lying about not having any.
You may find some of the free behavior charts to be very useful in reinforcing the behavior he has when he is an angel. Try listing those positive behaviors on a chart and giving stickers or stars when he does those in place of the undesirable behavior.
You can also use them to keep track of the undesirable behaviors you are monitoring and help to know how many comments and free chores he owes you.
Just to warn you his behavior may get worse at first to test whether you will follow through on the consequences. Just stand strong and you will start to notice a difference.
For more great ideas for logical consequences a great book to check out is Parenting with Love and Logic.
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