BehaviorGrade Schooler

Help Dealing With Bossy, Whiny Child

I have a 8 year old who thinks he is the boss of everyone!. Not only that, he has a bad temper when something is not going his way or if he is called out when he needs correction. I have tried everything I can think of to try to make him understand that he is the wrong when he is and that he is no one's boss. He ends up whining and making his voice known to the point of total aggravation to his father and I. What can I do to help us with this situation?


Tammy from Jackson, Mo

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June 18, 20080 found this helpful

This sounds like a description of my 8 year old son and he was recently diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. I would talk to your pediatrician. We also were able to get counseling through my husband's employee assistance program which helped refer us to the right kind of parenting books and techniques.

Medication is helping but you really have to change the way you are parenting when you have an oppositional child. I would recommend you check out a book called "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It was pretty helpful.

Good luck!


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June 18, 20080 found this helpful

I am in my 70s and I realize times have changed since I was raising my kids. My second son used to take pleasure in throwing fits while we were out shopping. One day it was extremely bad and I said to him "I can't be with you when you are like this" and I walked away where he couldn't see me but I could see him, after the shocked expression left his face and he looked around and didn't see me he shut his mouth and kept it shut for the rest of that shopping trip. He never did that trick again.


You need to let your son know that in future if he wants to scream he can do it in his room. Explain to him he is a child and while you love him very much he is not in charge of your life or your husband's. His presence at the table is a privilege for him and not a requirement for you and his dad. He can earn his place at table by behaving in a civilized manner. Make sure he understands that nobody wants a squalling child around and he can knock it off or stay in his room. This may seem harsh but if he continues in this behavior someone who doesn't love him will get tired of his demands and kick the bejeepers out of him. He could carry it to the point of landing himself in jail. We all want good things for our children and when they are young it is hard to place restrictions on them but it must be done for their good.

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June 18, 20080 found this helpful

Boy, do I ever agree with MartyD!!! I have a son who was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD and now at 22 years old he tells me he could have done much better but he didn't want to. Too often we (parents) try to not damage their little egos and step so softly so as not to upset them when what they really need to know is that enough is enough and if they keep it up they can tantrum all they want in their rooms, not at the dinner table or the store or any place where there are other people.

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By lisa (Guest Post)
June 18, 20080 found this helpful

I feel your pain. Mine son is 8 and sounds like yours. He is pickey eater and very controlling. When we tell him that he is to bossy and that is why the other kids and his brother won't play with him, he does not believe us. He just say "no I am not". I will be curious to see the feedback you get.


I don't think your child had adhd or anything like that. I just think we got children who know what they want and need to be taught to not be so bossy. Right now it is a bad trait but when they get older and out in the work force you know no one will mess with them. So in away it is a good quality to have, just not at 8.

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June 18, 20080 found this helpful

I am not trying to minimize any exceptional child's issues; I am an Occupational Therapist and spend every work day working with exceptional children. I think discussing your son's behavior with his doctor is not a bad idea. BUT, that said, I think far to many children are getting away with bad behavior simply because it is (or has been) tolerated.


When I child whines and misbehaves to get out of doing something, and gets sent to his room (with toys and books, and maybe a tv or computer), he has accoplished exactly what he set out to do. I agree with Marty's advice about sending him to his room, but with some stipulations:

First: his room gets "sanitized"--that is, all the appealing stuff is removed--he can earn it back later with good behavior.

Second: if he ends up in his room as a consequence for not doing something, the "demand" cannot be removed--he will have to do the task in order to earn his freedom.

I see parents of preschoolers every day who are setting themselves up for what you are dealing with now. Too many parents are too concerned about being "friends" with their children, or worried that they'll make the kids "unhappy".


Trust me, a whiny, bossy, friendless child is not happy. You can teach your child to follow the rules without "breaking his spirit". And it seems that no one wants to teach kids how to be "losers" anymore--in games, sports, etc. We have to teach our kids to lose. It is easier to tackle that outside of the game time, by being proactive and discussing it before playing.

You and your husband will have to be on the same page for disciplne, or your son will learn to play both ends against the middle.

Good luck! It will get harder before it gets better; but it can get much better! (Check out that supernanny show--it will make you feel like your son is a dream kid!)

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By Karen Lawson (Guest Post)
June 20, 20080 found this helpful

I know there are a lot of good books out there on that subject but one I recommend is very old. It helped me a lot when my son was that age, he is now 37! Its Parent Effective Training. I recently saw a copy at a Goodwill! I wish you luck, my dear!

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June 21, 20080 found this helpful

First of all, I would have him checked out and tested. If there isn't anything wrong, then you have to crack down on his behavior, now. My boys are 38 and 39yrs old, and they are respectful, generous, kind, and caring men. I miss them as little boys, but I enjoy being with them as men. I always thought when they were little, if I can't control them now, what am I going to do with them when they are teenagers and they think that they know more than me and their dad.


We started them out from the get go that we are the boss and I didn't put up with the mouth, whining, or disrespect. They knew the LOOK, when we said move they moved, or else. We only had to tell them once, but if we had to tell them twice, then there were consequences. If they acted up in the store, they weren't comforted with toys to keep their mouths shut, they were taken to the car, taken home and put into their beds. We weren't their friends, we were their parents, but they knew we loved them. I still kiss and hug them. They knew we meant what we said.

Little children, little boundaries, bigger children, bigger boundaries. Children need discipline and love. If they don't respect you, then they won't respect anyone else or any rules. I have three lifelong girlfriends and between us there are thirteen children, all adults now. We never had a minutes problem with any of them, because they were raised to respect us and our rules. Make sure you and his dad are on the same page, because he will notice that you are not. Good luck and stay firm. You will be rewarded when he is a grown man and a good man.

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By Linda (Guest Post)
June 22, 20080 found this helpful

Watch "The Nanny" on TV and learn from it. You are letting your son think he is the boss. You NEED to take control. I don't like it when I hear mothers counting because they never finish. They start over several times and I don't see any point in this. I spanked my son and he was good and turned out just fine. Our granddaughters were spanked and they are great kids. I said "spank" not beat or abuse. Time out. What's that? I wish I could go to my room and watch TV without someone interrupting my program. I know I will be bashed for saying these things but parents NEED to take control of their kids and demand disicipline.

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June 22, 20080 found this helpful

It seems you have been given some very good advice. I have raised 29 children, and I completely agree that a firm hand and strong discipline coupled with plenty of reassurances that they are loved is the absolute best formula. My children came from homes with alcoholic, drug-abusing and neglectful parents. Some had been seriously abused. They didn't like my approach, but they have grown up to be loving, hard-working adults. I get lots of visits, and calls on Mother's Day and my birthday. This year for my husband's birthday, one girl drove to Idaho from California and another flew in from Oklahoma. They are not rich. They just happen to be very nice people. I didn't use time-outs. I took away privileges or give them jobs to do. Since we heat with firewood, we would often have them cut firewood with a hand saw. There was only one boy who buffaloed me. He said he was running away about ten times. Finally I said he could pack his bags and I would take him to the bus station. He could go stay with family. He had enough money in his bank account for a ticket. He changed his mind. Don't let the little twerp get the best of you. You're the parents. If he gets enough attention and firm discipline when necessary, he will come out just fine. Inside him is a great kid, just waiting to come out. One thing, though. Picky eaters never forget what they don't like. We had a three-bite rule. They had to take three bites of any offered food. After that, they didn't have to clean it up if they didn't like it. Fair is fair. Our youngest still can't get a mushroom down, and she's 36! I wouldn't serve anything they were allergic to, of course. P. S. It helps if you can be a stay-at-home mom.

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June 23, 20080 found this helpful

I just had a couple more things to say. When my boys were little and they misbehaved, all I had to do was walk toward the drawer that held the wooden spoon. Please understand that I had never used this on them, but when Mr. Spoon came out of the drawer, I cracked it on the counter, the wall as I was walking toward them and laid it on the stand until they cleaned their rooms or did what they didn't want to do, then Mr. Spoon went back into the drawer. That is all I had to do. Also, I told them that if they got in trouble in school, they were in bigger trouble when they got home. There was no way their Dad and I would put up with them disrespecting the teacher or causing any fights. I have friends that are teachers and they can't stand these parents today that blame everything on the teachers and not their little brats. What happened to discipline and respect. These children are the responsibility of the parents and parents should be held responsible for the actions of their children. I get so upset, as you can see, at the lack of discipline and respect that should be taught at home.

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By Carol in PA (Guest Post)
July 2, 20080 found this helpful

Be very sure your child knows there are consequences for his actions. Reward good behavior. You will need to think about good rewards. Sometimes all that is needed is a hug to accomplish this. Think of short term and long term rewards.

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By Dena (Guest Post)
September 7, 20080 found this helpful

Well, I have a 10 year old who was diagnosed with PDD and let me tell you, My husband and I have tried several techniques since he was 4 to contol his tantrums and bad behavior and we simply exhausted ourselves doing it. Finally, thank you Dr, Phil, I took everything out of my sons room, nothing in there but a bed and a dresser and that's where he went when he misbehaved, bossed, had a tantrum, spoke back, etc. It worked for most of our issues but he is still socially innappropriate and I'm sick and tired of judgmental parents who think they know it all looking down on me and my husband in public because he acts inappropriately. So please, please, please don't be so quick to judge a parent by a child, you have NO idea what these parents have or haven't done nor been through. My son got so used to the routine of going to his empty room he would actually take himself there when he felt he needed some time to cool down. He can also earn things back in his room for good behavior, which we really go over with him for every public outing or when he is with his friends but sometimes he seriously cannot control himself, meds only help somewhat, without the meds he is violent too. I would definitely consult with a child developmental pediatrician asap to see if something more is going on. ALL children are NOT just simply brats that need to be threatened by a spoon or spanked. Spanking NEVER helped in our situation. And he is not a brat, he is actually very polite most of the time, although in certain situations, he can act like a brat. His anxiety takes over but he still has consequences as well as rewards that we continue to stick to. He also sees a psych, goes to a special private school for children with spectrum disorders and have therapy 2 nights per week with social skills.

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