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Worried about 6yo nephew - is this normal?

(17 Posts)
ismay Thu 11-Aug-11 14:30:29

My nephew has been staying with us for a week and I have been surprised by some of his behaviour so would like a bit of a view on whether it is okay.

He is incredibly competitive so everything is a race and or competition - down to eating quickly/ going to the loo quickly etc. My DCs are younger and getting a bit upset by the constant attempt to start races and competitions followed by gloating when he wins something. He generally invents them out of the blue so although i try to calm it down, it gets out of hand very quickly.

He is very aggressive at times. DS was playing happily this morning by himself and Dnephew went over and pushed him off his toys. I told Dnephew off and said it was unkind, he then came and stood very very close to me, pushed his face into mine and shouted 'take that back you bitch' really loudly. This was followed very shortly by 'don't you dare look at me like that or I will smack you'. I told him I wasn't prepared to put up with that behaviour and that if he couldn't calm down he should go back to bed. He did calm down but I felt a bit shaken and ridiculous for being upset by a 6yo.

We have also had some difficulty with him claiming he is allowed to do ridiculous things at home (that I know are forbidden) e.g watch 18 films, drink litres of coca cola etc and then has tantrums when we say no.

Is this just testing boundaries at a new place (and boy, is it testing!) or is there actually something to worry about.

TheMonster Thu 11-Aug-11 14:32:44

The claims of what he is allowed to do at home are normal, I think.

However, the shouting in your face is not at all acceptable, especially the use of the word 'bitch'. Have you any contact with his parents while he is with you?

RitaMorgan Thu 11-Aug-11 14:37:54

Competitiveness, claiming to be allowed to do things at home sound within normal to me.

The swearing and threatening you sounds to me like he is either witnessing, or the victim of, some fairly abusive behaviour at home.

flimflammery Thu 11-Aug-11 14:38:32

The over-competetiveness is normal I think, but calling you 'bitch' and threatening to smack you is not, and I would have been shocked too. But why is he staying with you for a week? Is it possible that he feels insecure being an outsider in your family unit, hence the acting up? Or rejected by his parents?
Of course it's also possible that he's just never had proper boundaries laid down by his parents.

cat64 Thu 11-Aug-11 14:46:20

Message withdrawn

ismay Thu 11-Aug-11 14:48:49

Thanks. That is more or less what I'd thought. We'd originally discussed having him for a long weekend -3 days but my brother didn't want to pay for the holiday club for a week if he was only going to get a little bit of use out of it. My mum (Dnephew's grandma) and other brother live locally so he has had lots of adult attention. He came on saturday and has spoken to SIL twice.

I feel a bit funny about it really. I don't think he has a very good time at home. DB and SIL have a 6mo baby girl as well and they find Dnephew difficult to deal with. He is certainly smacked a bit and might have thought I'm a bit soft because I don't do that.

mistlethrush Thu 11-Aug-11 15:01:27

Yes, the shouting at you and aggression is not acceptable - although my 6yo will sometimes go out of the room shouting 'I hate you all' and stomp upstairs to his bedroom. (although these are normally short-lived wink).

Very firm boundaries are in order, and I would make sure that your children know that they don't need to race etc - and that Dn has an advantage anyway as he's older than they are.

It is, of course, a very good way of getting your attention - maybe he's lacking in attention at home due to new baby and has found that this sort of behaviour is the only way to get the attention back?

RitaMorgan Thu 11-Aug-11 15:04:48

Poor kid - probably more than an occasional smack at home.

ismay Thu 11-Aug-11 15:05:50

Thank you. I think (much as I love my brother and SIL) that they do shout / smack etc quite a bit which he has picked up on as an appropriate response. I'm going to try again to talk to my brother and suggest he does something with DN, football or acting or something to give him something else to do and a bit of time together. Is there anything else you would suggest?

wahwahwah Thu 11-Aug-11 15:12:03

Maybe try martial arts - he needs the discipline and activity. He will learn respect and self control.

mistlethrush Thu 11-Aug-11 15:12:24

Ds does karate - started through school, but also classes outside school with the same group - very good on self discipline and control etc.

Notquitegrownup Thu 11-Aug-11 15:14:41

He is echoing what he hears at home sad. Thank goodness that he is with you for a week. Be clear on your expectations - 'we don't use that word here, ever' and go right back to basics. Try distraction if things are getting tense - you aren't going to change his basic behaviour in a week; plan some fun things, which he won't have chance to do at home with just a little sister around - make a giant batch of playdough? buy cheap water pistols for the garden? Build a huge pile of cushions/pillows to leap on? make your own popcorn to eat whilst watching a dvd? Give him shorter times to play, lots of love and snuggles and bedtime stories, lots of fresh air and clear boundaries. Can you have a chat with him about being the eldest there and make it something special - he is the big one who can set a good example and teach them how to do things. Perhaps you could find him a responsibility - helping to wash the car (which can be a fun activity too) laying the table or even washing/drying up - and then heap praise on him for being helpful

We had a relative who was horribly verbally abused by a step-parent, and who used to have holidays with us. 30 years later, he still says that he learned how to be a child, and how to love, during those breaks.

Notquitegrownup Thu 11-Aug-11 15:16:38

Karate is a great idea. Sports clubs of all sorts are useful but my ds found it really useful when not knowing what to do with all of his testosterone fuelled energy. And many of the teachers are such amazing role models too. Lots of teaching about self control and positive self image.

PeopleCallMeTricky Thu 11-Aug-11 15:21:10

Karate may or may not be a good thing for an aggressive child to be taught, but I would be seriously worried about him calling you a bitch! He hasn't got that from school had he? I would be worried he was either a victim of or a witness to abuse. Have you told his parents?

cory Thu 11-Aug-11 18:26:08

Agree that it is the word bitch that is really worrying. Have known healthy well cared-for 6yos to be aggressive occasionally, but this is not a word children tend to use in the playground without someone having learnt it at home- I would be worried about the influences he is exposed to.

Miggsie Thu 11-Aug-11 18:32:48

It does sound like he is repeating what goes on at home. The uber competitiveness could just be boy stuff (and if he goes to a boy's prep school totally normal) but the aggressive posture and language is not. He has seen that somewhere and is copying it.

He is testing you, to see where he stands in the family, I would surmise that at home his baby sister is now getting all the attention and cosseting and he is expected suddenly to "be a man" and that his parents have frozen him out of love, affection and cuddles, believing wrongly that a 6 yo boy doesn't need emotional reassurance or support.

ismay Thu 11-Aug-11 19:36:13

Thank you all so much. I think it is fair to say that DB and SIL have a slightly rocky relationship so wouldn't be surprised if he has heard things he shouldn't. I am sure they both love him but also that they find him difficult to cope with especially compared to the very easy baby.

I am happy to have him over for time in holidays etc. My DCs all adore him and really look up to him so are happy to have him over. I think he has had a good time here so would love to be able to give him and his parents a break so they can all miss each other and calm down. I will suggest karate, football and tell SIL about the 'bitch' when we take him home.

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