If your previously sweet little boy has hit his ninth birthday and turned into a raging emotional mess, complete with temper tantrums, back talk and snotty behavior, you might be wondering where you've gone wrong. While much of this behavior goes with the age, you certainly can't just ignore it and hope it goes away. Instead, determine what's causing the behavior problems and develop a few strategies that motivate your son to use appropriate manners and tone of voice, as well as follow the rules. It'll take some time, but consistent discipline will most likely get him back on track.
The type of behavior problems your 9-year-old displays depend largely on your house rules, but most boys this age display a set of behaviors that are universal. Your son isn't the only one acting up. Nine-year-old boys thrive on obnoxious behavior, which can include crude talk and potty humor, as well as screaming, yelling and stomping off in a huff. They also dislike not getting their way, which can lead to belligerent behavior back talk. If your 9-year-old isn't behaving the way you want, getting to the bottom of the cause is the first step in getting rid of the offending behaviors.
Boys this age are starting to become more independent from their parents, according to Louise Bates Ames and Carol Chase Haber, authors of "Your Nine Year Old: Thoughtful and Mysterious." That means they naturally assume they should have more freedom to do whatever they want. In less common instances, an underlying medical or mental disorder, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, can lead to bad behavior, according to MayoClinic.com. For example, boys with attention deficit disorder often lack the self-control necessary to rein in disruptive and impulsive behavior. If your son has a hard time seeing the board, he might act up at school because he doesn't understand what he's supposed to be doing. If you suspect a medical problem, speak with your son's doctor to determine what could be behind his behavior.
Once you've pinpointed what's causing your 9-year-old to misbehave, create a discipline plan that will help him change the way he acts. Sit your son down and explicitly explain your rules. Let him ask questions and make suggestions. If he feels that he's part of the process, he's far more likely to follow the rules. Outline consequences, too. Your son needs to know what will happen if he chooses to break the rules, the KidsHealth website reports. Come up with an incentive plan, as well. You might award him points when he makes good choices and allow him to cash in his points for special privileges, such as an extra few minutes of television or a trip to a nearby skate park. Praise his good behavior, too. When you focus on what he's doing right, he'll enjoy the positive attention and strive to keep impressing you.
The key to seeing good behavior is consistency, according to Ames and Haber. When you consistently reinforce the rules, your son will begin to realize that you mean business. Make the consequences unpleasant, as well, to really drive that message home. For example, if you son adores video games, take them away as a consequence. When the consequence hurts, your son is more likely to change his behavior. Hand down the consequence as soon as your son gets into trouble, as well, because that's when it'll mean the most, Ames and Haber suggest. If your son's behavior won't change no matter what you try, set up an appointment with his doctor. His pediatrician has the resources to help you develop a new plan, as well as to run certain tests that could explain why your son isn't behaving.
- KidsHealth: Disciplining Your Child
- Your Nine Year Old: Thoughtful and Mysterious; Louise Bates Ames and Carol Chase Haber
- MayoClinic.com: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images