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Thursday, 14 September 2000

Rude Son

Written by  Toby Klein Greenwald

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QDear WholeMom:

I am struggling with my nine year old son. For the past two years he has become increasingly rude and even yells at me. He doesn't seem to realize that he is yelling or being rude. Anything I say to him gets a negative response with an inappropriate tone. I am finding it very hard to come up with positive things about him.

He was an only child for seven years and now has a two year old sister. He said to me once, "Why do you only like us when we are babies?" It is hard because my two year old is so good and my nine year old seems to thrive on negative attention. I am trying to be more positive, but he pushes all my buttons. He enjoys teaching his sister things I don't want her to do or say (for example: She says "Mommy's a jerk"). She adores him and will parrot anything he does or says to me. He is jealous of her, but enjoys the fact she will mimic him against mom and dad. Any helpful suggestions?


ADear Alexandra,

It is probably no coincidence that his behavior changes coincide with the birth of your second child, but that may be oversimplifying. If there was nothing bothering him before the birth of your little girl, he should not have reacted so extremely, and continued to react, two years later.

Have you tried speaking to his teachers? Perhaps there is something that is bothering him at school, socially or with his studies. Conversely, perhaps his unhappiness is causing problems at school. Have there been any recent conflicts between him and his friends?

You say that he pushes all your buttons. The first thing you should do is not allow him the satisfaction of knowing that he is accomplishing that. Try ignoring him and walking out of the room when he is rude. Explain to him that if he is not respectful to you, you will not be respectful to him and will not even give him the respect of a reply. On the other hand, when he is behaving, spend some time alone with him, perhaps out somewhere, like the library or shopping, without your little girl. Maybe he needs more time alone with his dad, too.

It would also be wise to consult with the school psychologist or counselor. If the situation shows no improvement in the next few months, he may need some professional counseling to get to the bottom of what is bothering him and to get beyond it.

Good luck,


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Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald, Executive V.P. Creative Development, is a founding partner and the editor-in-chief of WholeFamily. Toby is an educator, journalist, photographer, scriptwriter, poet, playwright, lyricist, and theater director, including for populations that have experienced trauma or are at risk. She is a Playback Theater conductor and is the recipient of Israel's Ministry of Education's Egerest Award for Culture, for her work in educational and community theater. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience and has served on numerous educational think tanks. Her specialties include the creation of innovative educational programs, and teaching Creative Writing and Film to AD(H)D and LD high school students, and to senior citizens. Toby is married to Yaakov and they have six children, most of whom have made her a proud mother-in-law and grandmother.

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