By all accounts, I'm very lucky. My nine-year-old son, Jack, is a great kid. He’s polite, kind, compassionate, outgoing, and does well in school. He even still lets me sneak kisses and hugs in fairly regularly.
Lately, though, things have been tough. I forgot how difficult the “odd” years are. Jack never went through the Terrible Twos, so when he turned three and his behavior drastically shifted to that of a wild child, I was shocked. By the time his fourth birthday rolled around, he was back to his gentle, sweet, and mild-mannered self. This cycle has continued every other year since Jack’s third birthday.
The long, unstructured days of winter break, augmented by dangerously low temperatures, have proven extremely difficult. My once easy-going, polite, and mild-mannered child has become moody, lazy, and way too quick to talk back. His insistence on getting the last word in just may drive me crazy by the time school rolls back around in one short week.
To combat this wild child behavior, my husband and I have had lengthy conversations with Jack, explaining to him that if he can’t get his behavior under control, we will have no choice but to cancel both the tennis and sailing camps he looks forward to all year. We’ve taken away all electronics: his phone, his iPad, his laptop, his XBox, and even his television privileges. So far, nothing has worked.
Out of sheer frustration, I began doing some research. My goal was to learn how I could better handle Jack’s newly-developed attitude. What I learned shocked me! Much to my surprise, nine-year-olds are considered “tweens,” and in the early stages of puberty! I had no idea my baby was so close to becoming a teenager. If his recent behavior is any indication of how his teenage years are going to be, I’m certainly not looking forward to them!
While I understand it’s completely normal for a nine-year-old to desire independence, I refuse to accept blatant disrespect from my child. Furthermore, I refuse to allow him to grow into a spoiled, arrogant man with a sense of entitlement.
As I’ve reflected on Jack’s behavior and all I’ve learned through my research, I’ve come to realize I carry a lot of the blame for Jack’s current attitude. He's my only child, and I dote on Jack endlessly. Anything he asks for, he gets, and on the rare occasion that my husband or I actually tell him “no,” a meltdown immediately ensues.
I’ve come to realize that we absolutely have to stop giving into Jack. We’re not doing him any favors; we're spoiling him. If he continues to get whatever he wants when he wants it, what incentive will he have to improve his behavior? Only time will tell how our plan of scaling back will work. I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to be harder for us than it will be for Jack.
Wish us luck!