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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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I have a real problem. For about 5 years now, my now nine

Customer Question

I have a real problem. For about 5 years now, my now nine year old son acts perfect at home, but when he gets away from the house, he acts horrible! He is rude to other children, is a "know it all", cuts in line, has to be first, and gets into little squabbles. It is totally embarrassing me, and I dont know what to do. It seems like he has symptoms of hyperactivity, however he makes straight A's in school.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using!

I'm sorry to hear about this problem. It's actually fairly common for children to behave differently at home than they do elsewhere (different environment, dynamics, expectations, discipline, etc.)

Have you tried a behavior plan?? You could work with him to create a plan where his behavior will be rewarded. Be specific and identify 1-2 goals for him to work toward. Keep them positive - E.g., "I will be respectful by using a nice tone of voice, good manners, and keeping my hands to myself" vs. "I won't be rude to others" (too vague, negative, and easily misinterpreted). Talk about what his goal means and give examples of the behavior. Also brainstorm possible rewards for him to earn based upon good behavior (start small -- a playdate, for example -- then work up to full days). Rewards don't have to be big. Examples might be stickers, choosing what's for dinner, control of the TV remote for an hour, playing a game with parents, etc. The more involved he is in the creation of the plan, the more tied into it he will be. Positive reinforcement might be more effective with him than the time-outs and loss of privileges (sounds like you've already tried those approaches).

One last recommendation -- Look into a parenting theory called Love and Logic. I recommend their approach to parents and teachers often and their website ( has several free articles and videos for parents on a variety of behavioral concerns. They have several books as well -- Worth checking your local library. I wish you the best of luck!