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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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My son is 11 and has become increasing obstinate, rude and

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My son is 11 and has become increasing obstinate, rude and hard to manage. We've found that some since being allowed to play some teen games that have more violent themes this has come about. We have recently taken these away and are feeling the backlash. He struggles at reading and has some mild auditory learning issues. His comment to his father was that we were taking away his cool and making him a nerd again because somehow he feels his social life has gotten better since he's become more cool (rude and somewhat obnoxious). I feel this has something to do with being able to do well at the games compared to learning and in turn this has given him a skewed perception of self esteem which in turn made it easier for him to be less timid around his peers which made them more welcoming to him. Can you tell me how I can help him with his self esteem without using negative video games etc. and be able to have a real conversation on his terms? Thank You, D.
Hello and thanks for using!

It sounds as though you're hitting some pre-teen behavior. While it's normal for him to begin to push away from you and display an attitude at times, it's not easy to deal with and certainly not something you have to tolerate. You're very perceptive to realize his desire to succeed at something and fit in with friends. Video games (particularly those that adults don't necessarily approve of) are definitely all the rage in this age group for some boys. The question, though, is whether there are other "cool kids" he might connect with. You may try contacting your son's school counselor or school psychologist (based on the learning issues you've described, you may already have a working relationship with this person). Ask if there are any social groups he might participate in. This may include school groups (when school begins again), summer camps, sports and rec opportunities, and even "jobs" for your son to take on during the summer. Look for ways to make him feel good about himself by helping others -- He's certainly not too young to begin volunteering in the community and doing that as a family is a great way to spend some time together and instill some positive values. Are there other activities he's shown an interest in? Group activities such as a soccer league might help him to find more positive peers and build his self-esteem. Trying an altogether different hobby (e.g., horseback riding, chess) is another way to make new friends and broaden his horizons.

I applaud you for limiting his access to violent games. I can't tell you how many risk screens I've done on students who spend their free time playing those types of games and the research undoubtedly shows a connection between the types of activities children engage in and their perception of the world.

In dealing with the negative behavior, I'd suggest some Love and Logic strategies. Love and Logic is a great parenting / teaching philosophy for handling misbehavior that I recommend often to the parents and teachers I work with (and use with my own daughter). The website ( has many free articles and videos for parents and they have several books that are readily available at most public libraries. An example of how Love and Logic would suggest responding to backtalk is to simply say, "I love you too much to argue about it." It's a positive message that gets the point across (this discussion is over). They would also recommend you send the message regarding your family values regarding violent content by simply saying, "Our family doesn't play violent games, but I'd love to play (acceptable option) with you!" There are a number of responses they recommend for handling the attitude you're describing.

The fact that you're here asking for help tells me you're already a fantastic parent. It's the ones who don't set boundaries that I worry about! Keep up the great work!!
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