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To those of you with sons....

Old 05-20-05, 11:14 AM
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To those of you with sons....

I need some objective advice/comparisons. Granted, I've been in the psych field for a long time but it's a whole lot different dealing with it in your own house.

He is 10 years old, has mild Tourette's Syndrome (mostly motor tics) and has always been high strung. He does not show symptoms of attention deficit and does wonderfully in school.

However, my son has become increasingly argumentative, trying to argue over the least little things. He never accepts responsibility for his behaviors even when confronted with eye-witness testimony. He complains about nearly everything. He even complained that I took him to see Star Wars yesterday after he had been bouncing off the walls for the past month to see it (he has a big test today and I thought the movie would relax him plus it was a father-son outing that he used to enjoy). He doesn't take any advice from us. I have tried to help him improve his batting game for baseball recently because it was suffering. I would show him the correct stance but then do something else...all the while saying he was doing what I showed him.
When we do something nice for him, it is never enough. He's developed a smart-aleck attitude and must get the last word whenever he's in trouble.

I realize he is spoiled but I have tried to remedy that by making rewards a little more difficult to acquire and he must buy his own video games/toys unless it is a special occassion (reward for good grades, birthday, etc.). We have also clamped down on the smart mouth he would give us. If he gives us attitude, he immediately gets sent to his room for a length of time depending on the severity of the infraction. He cannot play or watch TV while in his room. We used to let him read but he sees that as a pleasurable activity (thankfully) so we had to cease that because he didn't mind going to his room if he could read.

This kid is hard-headed!

Anyone else deal with this? Any suggestions? I'm used to dealing with children with severe mood & behavioral disorders but I'm stumped with my own kid!

Last edited by freudguy; 05-20-05 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 05-20-05, 11:27 AM
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Wait until he turns 13 and knows it all...
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Old 05-20-05, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by ANDREMIKE
Wait until he turns 13 and knows it all...

He's already there....
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Old 05-20-05, 11:36 AM
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Seems to me like he's just a few years premature with the normal rebelliousness that comes with puberty, hormones, etc. Is there a test for the onset of puberty? It's only going to get worse, before it gets better, that's just the nature of the beast. You have to decide whether to let him walk all over you (which is what most parents seem to end up doing) or to lay down the law and actually mete out punishment as required.

Of course, if you're too harsh, he'll end up killing you in your sleep when he's 16. Good luck!
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Old 05-20-05, 11:37 AM
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It sounds like your son is going through some relatively normal development issues. On the one hand he is establishing his independance, but on the other hand he is not emotionall mature enough to deal with some of the surrounding issues. I'm pretty sure his tics probably bother him more now than a couple years ago, and it is a point of frustration for him. When a child starts to establish his/her independance, there is a harsh reality that comes with it. The child will know exactly where they fall on the social hiearchy, and they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. I am guessing your son is adapting to some of those new realizations, and he is all over the place with his emotions, hormones, and what he should feel.

Also, he is looking for the push back. Part of the process is measuring the boundaries and seeing what he can do/can't do before you take notice/exception. I think you should probably take some of the same techniques used with your S.E.D. and B.D. and implement them in your house. (Modeling, shaping, token economy, restricted choice, etc) I'm not a huge behaviorist, but these techniques can work suprisingly well for younger children.

Are you consistent with your punishment and praise? Sometimes 'cutting him some slack' is more detrimental than good, so that is another area you should look at. Do you share your parenting responsibilities evenly with your wife (making an assumption you have one, etc)? Does he act differently in other environments, or is it pretty consistant across environments? Has he recently gone through any life changes (changed schools, shifted social circles, started/stopped major activities, etc)?

-pedagogue

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Old 05-20-05, 12:00 PM
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Granted, I don't have a 10 year old, but do have a 6 year old, who gets the same way.

There is still nothing worse than "the talk." Were I in your shoes, I would have a very nice talk about how things need to be. I keep my voice in a "Phil Jackson" tone, and never raise my voice, because the voice raising didn't do the job. If need be, when I do punish him and put him in his room, I sit up there with him. That sucks if you are a kid....you sit in your room mad at your parent, while they sit on the floor and read.

The other thing I do is borrowed from my psych background, a few car salesmen, etc. I ask him what it would take to make him happy. After he tells me, I say, "Well, we can't do that, so what kind of compromise can we make....what if we....?" That works well. Being a hick, it generally involves letting him watch The Dukes of Hazzard on Friday nights.

But if he is mouthy, angry, etc., the worst thing you could do is meet anger with anger because it will only increase. You need to model that being under control gets more things than being angry.

However, with the baseball thing, it isn't that important. If you quit helping him, life would go on. Simply ask him (when he is mouthy), "Would you like me to stop helping you?" and do what he says. Stop if he doesn't want the help (and later let him know that you are willing again if he changes his mind), and if he wants help, you let him know the conditions.....you don't improve if you can't listen and try something different.
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Old 05-20-05, 12:54 PM
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A lot of that sounds like my stepson--without the Tourette's and to less of a degree--but he's only 8. If I could tell you what worked, I would. I'm still trying to figure it out.
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Old 05-20-05, 01:03 PM
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The baseball thing was just an example of how he almost consistently argues. He can do or say something right in front of us and if we try to help/correct/discipline him, he completely denies it.

We have tried tokens but if he hits a stride of negative behavior and does not earn a respectable amount of tokens for a few days, he loses interest and doesn't care about how many he earns.

We have tried Love and Logic and met minimal results, which was surprising to me because I have seen it work well with other families.

There is some information I left out above for fear of creating a book-long post. He has a 13 month old sister whom he adores. My wife & I feel like we have done a very good job at splitting our attention between them and involve him in her care (which he likes very much).

The tics began 18 months ago, 2-3 months after a heart procedure (RF ablation for tachycardia) and we have tackled that.

I feel that the issues of his new sister and heart procedure 2 years ago are separate from the current issues.

As for the mention of cutting him slack, I don't do this. My wife and in-laws on the other hand do and I recognize this as a problem. However, my mother-in-law is so conceited and hard-headed when it comes to raising children that speaking with her is as pleasurable as shoving a 12 inch replica of the Empire State Building up my nose. She reminds me of the grandmother in Finding Neverland, only more passive-aggressive.

My wife and I are almost on the same page now that she realizes that he would use her to get out of trouble. She does think that I am hateful at times to him but I see myself as just being blunt.

Eh, it's just so mentally demanding. My wife says, "You're the one in the psychology field, what's wrong?" She doesn't understand that it's so much different when it's your own family.
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Old 05-20-05, 01:07 PM
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I have a 7 year old with ADHD that takes meds and needs constant supervision. Oh the arguing he does! *Shudder*

One of the ways we deal with him when he gets really bad is we sit his butt down at the table and have him write his feelings or copy a page from the Bible - whichever I think will work the best. In the time it takes to get him to do the writing, he usually calms down enough to talk with. It doesn't always work but its the best thing next to smacking him with a 2x4.

Good luck with your boy, just be firm and consistant and things will work out.
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Old 05-20-05, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by SleepyW
A lot of that sounds like my stepson--without the Tourette's and to less of a degree--but he's only 8. If I could tell you what worked, I would. I'm still trying to figure it out.
Actually I was thinking that alot of this sounds like our 10 year old daughter!

Great advice given here already. And I think both of "us" should use it as well. Especially the not raising the voice part. eh hem!

My only advice here is to do what I decided to do last weekend when I was mouthed off to: make him do hard work; pulling weeds was what happened to them last week, and they hated every minute of it. Now I'm on to emptying the dishwasher, and there's more to come. Grounding them and sending them to their rooms doesn't work in this house... and it ends up pissing everybody off because there are more complaints and push-backs and then everybody has to suffer. My plan is to make a slave out of them.
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Old 05-20-05, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by freudguy

...has become increasingly argumentative, trying to argue over the least little things. ...never accepts responsibility ... complains about nearly everything... doesn't take any advice...must get the last word...

Sounds more like my wife
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Old 05-20-05, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
If need be, when I do punish him and put him in his room, I sit up there with him. That sucks if you are a kid....you sit in your room mad at your parent, while they sit on the floor and read.
Where did you get that idea & does it work (sitting with him)? Never heard of that before. I can understand taking items away so he doesn't enjoy the "sent to his room" punishment but what do you get by staying in there?

Just curious since I have a 14 month old boy and get to look forward to all of these things in the future.
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Old 05-20-05, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by freudguy
She does think that I am hateful at times to him but I see myself as just being blunt.
Whats an example of something you do that she considers hateful? Granted I won't have any advice on any of the situation, since I am millions of miles away from having a kid (hopefully), much to my parents dismay. I just am curious for entertainments sake on this boring Friday afternoon...
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Old 05-20-05, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by brianluvdvd
Where did you get that idea & does it work (sitting with him)? Never heard of that before. I can understand taking items away so he doesn't enjoy the "sent to his room" punishment but what do you get by staying in there?

Just curious since I have a 14 month old boy and get to look forward to all of these things in the future.
Just like the OP said, sending me to my room wasn't a punishment. This was before TVs in every childs room, but I was perfectly happy to read or sleep. If I was reading, I'd just toss the book behind the bed when I heard them come to the door. If my mother had been sitting in there with me...well that would have actually been a punishment.
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Old 05-20-05, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by freudguy
He can do or say something right in front of us and if we try to help/correct/discipline him, he completely denies it.
Hmm....I think this would be a good place to use Choice/Consequence (aka Forced Choice). In the instance that he is acting inappropriately, you give him a choice: 1. Stop yelling and finish XYZ. 2. Continue your actions and lose TV priveledges for 1 week.

It SOUNDS like what you normally say to him, but your presentation of the options will be different. You will not raise your voice and you will not get emotional. Now when you do it, you have to keep your emotions in check and be prepared to follow through on the punishment. In some instances exacting a punishment right away is not feasible, but right when it IS feasible, you need to administer the punishment and state why it is happening (to allow the child to link the cause and effect)

You can also do something called Active Ignoring, which can be effective, though I don't prefer this method. There are plenty of other things you can do...but the two options I described have both shown to be effective. You can eventually augment the Choice/Consequence to allow your son to suggest a solution, but this should only be allowed when he has shown prior compliance in other activities and has earned the 'right' to provide an alternative solution.

Originally Posted by freudguy
We have tried tokens but if he hits a stride of negative behavior and does not earn a respectable amount of tokens for a few days, he loses interest and doesn't care about how many he earns.
The active ignoring technique described above can be an effective way to extinguish some negative behavior...but it will take some time and awareness on your part to adhere to the principles of active ignoring.

You can also choose to augment the Token System to a smaller time frame and/or lower 'reward'. You can do things on a daily basis (tv time, time with friends, and video games are all prime daily motivation factors to most kids)

Sometimes temporarily suspending a Token System will allow you to revisit it later when he may be more accepting of it.

Originally Posted by freudguy
We have tried Love and Logic and met minimal results, which was surprising to me because I have seen it work well with other families.
All approaches should include Love and Logic...it is just the emphasis and action/reaction that are different. Don't discount the effectiveness of directed praise. (Highlighting when your son does something by specifically referencing it. Many times parents will say, "You are doing a great job" instead of, "You are doing a great job working quietly on your homework".)

You can also tie in positive group activities. Many times a child really wants attention, but does not know how to attract 'positive' attention. Sometimes something as simple as taking an afternoon trip to the park will allow for some 'new' interactions between the child and the family. (Routines are sometimes good, and sometimes bad.) Positive group activities can be dependant on his behavior over the previous week.

You'd be suprised how your child will react if you ignored him completely for a day. He will probably react negatively at first...but give him some time, and then he'll try another approach. Reward the positive approach and ignore his negative approach. This is part of the theory behind Active Ignoring.

Originally Posted by freudguy
As for the mention of cutting him slack, I don't do this. My wife and in-laws on the other hand do and I recognize this as a problem. However, my mother-in-law is so conceited and hard-headed when it comes to raising children...
If you and your wife can form a united front....hopefully that will mostly negate what the MIL does. If your wife doesn't agree....you are fighting an uphill battle....

Originally Posted by freudguy
My wife and I are almost on the same page now that she realizes that he would use her to get out of trouble. She does think that I am hateful at times to him but I see myself as just being blunt.
This is why it is important to remove emotion from punishment. Parents need to learn how to deal with their emotions just as much as their children. It takes some practice, but you can be much more effective when you remove the emotion. Children are conditioned to read their parents. They know, based on the tone of voice, how much slack they have with their parents. If you remove the 'emotion' component, they will need to reset their 'breaking point' for you. Many children won't bother complying UNTIL the parent raises their voice....which is a poor precedent to set.

Originally Posted by freudguy
Eh, it's just so mentally demanding. My wife says, "You're the one in the psychology field, what's wrong?" She doesn't understand that it's so much different when it's your own family.
Ahh....just like when a lawyer gets a lawyer for a personal case. It is a much different animal when you are primarily involved. Your inability to remain completely objective really makes it tough to be effective.

-pedagogue

ps. Let me know if any of this is helpful. There are a ton of other things you can do, but the techniques above are some of the easiest to administer and 'live with'.

Last edited by NotThatGuy; 05-20-05 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 05-20-05, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by brianluvdvd
Where did you get that idea & does it work (sitting with him)? Never heard of that before. I can understand taking items away so he doesn't enjoy the "sent to his room" punishment but what do you get by staying in there?

Just curious since I have a 14 month old boy and get to look forward to all of these things in the future.
Stupid ass trial and error

Keep in mind my kids are younger, but one of them would throw things at the door when he was in his room. Finally, after trying most everything else, I decided to sit in there with him. He tried to talk to me, and I would tell him that it is punishment and we couldn't talk. It sucks for me, but usually after 5-10 minutes, he is much more calm, usually has said he was sorry several times, and wants a hug.

When they use to stay in their room by themselves, they would still be mad after the time was up (probably just getting more angry as the time went on) and would rarely even come down when the time was up because they were so mad. For whatever reason, it seems to work well. That may change when they are older, but so far I think they view it as "family punishment" because someone in the family was bad, and they try to be a better member of the family.
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Old 05-20-05, 03:20 PM
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I would recommend not sending him to his room...send him to yours, or to whatever room in the house would represent the most boring place to have to sit in silence, even if it's the bathroom. Correct me if I'm wrong, but his room probably has any or all of these: TV, VCR, DVD player, videogame console and games, books, comics, toys, etc. You're in effect, sending him to an amusement park for punishment. Send him somewhere where it hurts, where there is no enjoyment to be found, even peripherally. Not only does it have the obvious effect of making his punishment have a more substantial impact, it also avoids creating the perceptual schism of making his own private domain--a place he's supposed to enjoy, take respite from the outside world, and call his own--also be the ground zero of punishment.
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Old 05-20-05, 03:27 PM
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Very good suggestion Filmmaker. The punishment is the removal of stimuli (if the child wants stimuli and/or attention).

A chair in corner of the living room (facing the wall/corner) can also be effective.

-pedagogue
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Old 05-20-05, 03:38 PM
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My 14 year old went through that about two or three years ago. He seems to have come through it pretty well. In fact we still joke a little about it as I completely outlawed some phrases he had. The worse one that I charged him $5.00 every time he said was "you have no idea...." To this day if he starts a sentence with "you have no idea" he has to pay me or mom $5.00. I think it has been two years or so since we had to collect. As I say he seems to have "come through the light".

In fact, I'm very, very proud of him. Today is 8th grade graduation for him. He goes to private school and he had to apply to High Schools he wanted to go to. Two years ago I had strong doubts if he would get accepted to ANY private high school (only fair grades and some disipline issues-tho minor), and even a year ago I wondered if he would get in the school of his choice. But he has worked hard and got accepted to all three schools he applied for and decided on a fairly difficult school with an awesome reputation. He also made the decision on his own to attend an optional "summer school" to get one required class out of the way. He has come a long way in a short time.

So while I don't have specific advise for you, stay your course, keep working with him and hope for the best! We all go through a learning curve and hopefully one day the light will come on for him.
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Old 05-20-05, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Filmmaker
I would recommend not sending him to his room...send him to yours, or to whatever room in the house would represent the most boring place to have to sit in silence, even if it's the bathroom. Correct me if I'm wrong, but his room probably has any or all of these: TV, VCR, DVD player, videogame console and games, books, comics, toys, etc. You're in effect, sending him to an amusement park for punishment. Send him somewhere where it hurts, where there is no enjoyment to be found, even peripherally. Not only does it have the obvious effect of making his punishment have a more substantial impact, it also avoids creating the perceptual schism of making his own private domain--a place he's supposed to enjoy, take respite from the outside world, and call his own--also be the ground zero of punishment.
I learned this lesson well as a child. When I was in 4th or 5th grade I got in trouble once again & my parents had to come in for a teacher's conference. My dad was super-pissed as this was the 2nd or third time they had to meet with my teachers and/or the principal due to my behavior. They said the next time was going to result in a suspension.

My dad lost it. He and Mom drove home and made me walk home. I had to go straight to my room (which as many of you had mentioned, was fine by me). He and mom came in with a listof things and calmly went over them with me. For the next six weeks my life was to proceed like this:
1. I had to go pick and own switch and get a whipping (just one and it was done right after we went over the checklist).
2. Prison rules were to begin...meaning I would come straight home from school and stay in my room until I left for school the next day. I could not even eat dinner with my family. I had to stay in my room all day on weekends could only go out for church. I could only leave my room to use the bathroom.
3. My TV (a massive 5 inch B&W at the time) was removed. My Atari, comic books, Star Wars toys, radio & tapes, phone, etc. were all removed.
4. They gave me an AM only radio and could only listen to the local Christian music station.
5. I had to listen to a Christian radio show at the time hosted by a guy named Bob Larson who found sin in practically everything. I had to write a report on his show everyday.
6. I had to write reports on many various books dealing with manners, friendship, sharing, etc. Books were by Childcraft if I remember correctly.
7. I had to do reports on the Bible and several other bible study stuff.

I am sure there are other things I have blocked from my memory but that covers most of it. This lasted for 6 weeks and my Dad did not give an inch the entire 6 weeks. One of the worst periods of my life and I was only 9 or 10 years old at the time.

Needless to say, I came home with straight A's in all my classes and most importantly in Conduct. I was released from "prison" and never returned again.

My Dad and I have a decent relationship and we joke about it to this day but I think he regrets it a little. Surprisingly he wonders why I am an atheist.
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Old 05-22-05, 12:26 AM
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Wow...pretty harsh (but hey, it seemed to work.)

Unfortunately, few parents have that kind of willpower (I know I'll struggle with stuff like that.)
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Old 05-22-05, 09:05 AM
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Well, IMHO at some point the kids have to want to be better. I don't believe you can really force them to be better. Yes, you can disipline them till they act like they are better, but are they really? And are they only better in front of you?

Don't get me wrong, at some point on somethings, you just got to lay the law down and come down hard. But if you can coach and guide them, have them think it through. For example on my son, he really wanted to go to school with several of his friends, but didn't have the grades for it. So he realized he had to get better grades, asked for help, worked harder, etc. Now he does not even have the same friends, but has found other motivations.

Again, I agree. At some points and some things there can only be the parents way. But if you can help them understand, help them find their own motivation, then it won't be such a fight. IMHO
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Old 05-22-05, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by brianluvdvd
Surprisingly he wonders why I am an atheist.
LOL! Yeah, frankly, as a fellow non-theist, I was shuddering just hearing about the punishment...
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Old 05-22-05, 03:52 PM
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Positve regard and positive reward have a longer impact than negative regard and/or punishment. Sometimes you need to go negative in the short term, but it doesn't work in the long term.
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Old 05-22-05, 04:07 PM
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Just be glad he isn't a 15 year old girl. The things my sister goes through with that child. Almost makes me not want to have children - or look for ways to make it a boy .

My sis also has an 11 year old daughter - and she does the same exact things your son does: mouths off, talks back, etc. She also thinks she is the smartest little thing with her "real world" knowledge. She argues about doing chores, doesn't come when you call her (even though you call her 10 times), and talks back when you say she is wrong - she thinks she always right.

I think a lot of what your son is doing is what any 10 year old kid would be doing, actually. I remember I was the same way. It's at the age when you want to be independent (but you can't) and you are about to hit puberty and want NOTHING to do with your parents. That sounds bad, but it's normal. Life.
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