When a nice child becomes a nasty child

After having nearly 6 years of a lovely little boy, N is going through a nasty phase. I don’t think he realises he’s doing it, and from talking to people it sounds like lots of children go through it. But it’s really sad to be on the receiving end of some of the things he says.  It’s strange having his personality transplant moving from nice child to nasty child.

We’ve had it lucky so far with him. He’s generally been a joy to have as a son. As a baby he was easy to look after and easy going.

We had no terrible twos.

Around his 3rd birthday there were a few times we had a lot of no’s. But after a month he was over that and back to normal.

At 4 and 5 he’s generally been no bother. He’s just a nice happy little boy who likes to joke around with his dad, but has largely been as easy going as usual.

Until the last week or so approaching his 6th birthday.

He’s really started to cosy up to his dad and side with him on everything. Even when the OH backs me up on telling him to do his reading or homework (mainly because he’ll get to watch the news in peace), N doesn’t mind him telling him that. But when I remind him he has to do it, there’s ructions.

It seems anything can set it off.  Usually I’ll make a suggestion or ask N to pick up some mess and it’ll be met with a scowl and a snarled no.  Mostly it’s when I’ve mentioned that he’s not put his breakfast bowl in the kitchen or cut up yet more pieces of paper and left them and the scissors on the floor in the back room.  I spend all my time picking up after him because he’s not done it after several times of asking.  Reward charts aren’t working for tidying.  Why he won’t tidy up after himself at home when he will help at after school club or school is beyond me.

This week I wasn’t happy.  I’d got his breakfast and yet again told him to eat it in the kitchen reminding him that afterwards, spoon and bowl should be in the dishwasher or at least by the sink, yoghurt pot in the recycling and lid in the bin.  And please could he pick up all the new bits of paper he’d shredded on the floor (anyone else got a child obsessed with scissors and cutting up pieces of paper?).

When nice children turn into nasty children - Bubbablue and me

Of course he didn’t, so when I came down after my shower, everything was still in the room, lights were on all over the house, bits were still all over the floor, and I’d spotted a second empty yoghurt pot under the chair.  I wouldn’t have minded so much, but only the day before I’d picked up another yoghurt pot and a half eaten banana complete with skin from the floor behind the chair!   Oh yes, and found a dried up bowl of weetabix left in the utility room when he decided he didn’t want to eat it after all.

I was impressed I didn’t shout. I turned off the tv, reminded him he shouldn’t be watching it if he’s not done any reading, writing or spellings first, and asked him why his breakfast stuff hadn’t gone into the kitchen, why he was eating outside the kitchen, and asked him to pick up the mess.  All while cleaning it up myself. I explained why he was asked to do them – respecting being part of the household, part of the family, everyone doing their thing, helping out, learning how to be tidy ready for when he has his own house and family.  His response.

‘I hate you mummmy, I wish you were dead’.

Thanks N.  I was a bit flabbergasted.  Ok, I might have expected it during teenage years and moodiness, but from a generally happy 5 year old.

‘Really? That’s not a nice thing to say, why do you think that?’ No answer.

So I just started to talk about how it made me feel, how saying words like that was also bullying and how he didn’t like bullying so why is he saying nasty things to other people. How I wouldn’t expect him to speak to people like that, especially not his parents. And wondering why he’d started saying horrible things.

The only thing he said was ‘why does it make you sad?’. I couldn’t believe he didn’t realise.  I think I talked myself into it, but I cried.  Cried in front of N.  Not something I ever thought I’d do when I was telling him off, and especially knowing that lots of other parents hear it from their children. And that of course, it’s probably a phase.

But crying might have worked. He, like most children, doesn’t like to see anyone upset, and pointing out that his words had made me cry might just have made him understand how much saying hurtful words can upset people.

I left him to it because I couldn’t talk anymore.

Then I realised that it probably wasn’t a good idea to walk away.  I headed back in then had to look behind the door to see N crouched behind the chair with a tissue.  So maybe it had upset him too, not realising what he’d said.

He happily gave me a hug and said he’d been joking.  Not a very funny joke – I blame his dad for permanently tricking people about things and joking about.

I’ve had a few days previously where he’s said ‘the house isn’t for you mummy, it’s only mine and dad’s’, but that’s easily headed off.  But thankfully there’s been no more nasty comments like these.

Although N did ask me why I picked him up from school on Fridays.

‘I like picking you up from school or after school club. I get to see how you are, speak to other mums and dads and the teacher, and feel part of the school’.  His dad’s been finishing early over the winter, so has been able to pick up N from after school club so N seems to think that it’s no longer my job.  Hopefully after our discussion he knows that it’s not because I don’t want to, but just because dad’s beaten me to it.

I did ask him if he liked me again.  I was relieved when he said yes, and that he was only joking. Hopefully I’ve shocked him a bit into thinking more about what he says first.

Have your children gone through a nasty child phase?  How did you deal with it?

 

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6 thoughts on “When a nice child becomes a nasty child

  1. Oh my gosh this is so difficult to deal with you poor thing! I have never had either of my children say anything so awful to me but they know to be nice and I am sure given time I will have my fair share of flack to deal with.

  2. It’s really hard. My son is a Daddy’s boy and will play us off against each other especially as Dad says yws when Mum says no.

    I think you handled it well.No shouting, giving explanations. I find that boys try to emulate their Dads and as main caregivers we get taken for granted. Mum will always be there.

    My son loves his Dad picking him up after school as it is a rare treat but he does give me nice hugs when he sees me after school.

    I have learnt not to take it personally. We spend a lot of time together and he doesn’t see his Dad as much so naturally asks after his Dad and is more excited to see him than me.

    1. N’s not got to the play us off stage yet, but you’re so right about the main person being taken for granted. N definitely wants to be like his dad – I just want him to learn that houses have to have some rules to make it function, and that everyone needs to pull their weight.

  3. Oh dear, I’m sorry this happened. No, I haven’t experienced this with T … yet. BUT I’ve heard a friend’s son say it too, to his mum. I was shocked when I heard it and was even more surprised when she didn’t seem upset. When I asked her about it she said “Oh that’s not the first time he’s said it to me”. She was very nonchalant about it and like it was no big deal and I didn’t say anything anymore because… Because it’s not my business right? I think you handled it well actually and the fact that he saw how upset you were… at least he knows now what happens when you say something mean to someone. x

    1. Thanks Dean. A friend messaged me and said her son has said the same to her as well (and N’s friend has been saying similar types of things to his dad). It seems to be with us to the person who’s seen as the ‘bad’ guy, who ges them to do stuff, and keep a routine. I’m hoping he’ll get over it. He did seem a bit sorry and said he didn’t mean it, so hopefully he won’t say stuff he doesn’t mean anymore.

      Thanks for commenting

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