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Dr. Bonnie
Dr. Bonnie, Psychologist and RN
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  35 years experience counseling children and families
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Hi, my 6 year old son is so negative, moody and grumpy, mean

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Hi, my 6 year old son is so negative, moody and grumpy, mean to his 4 year old brother, rude to visitors (even if they are his friends) and when we have visitors he tries to get my attention by running into me and trying to knock me down. I'm tired of all this. He has been like this ever since his brother was born! I try time out and other incentives.
On the positive side he is an excellent school student and teachers love him, he is very articulate and has a very creative imagination. He is not confident with sports or swimming etc, very cautious and will try anything new in his own time. He drives his sport nut Father nuts!

I'm worried that he is going to be a mean human being, my husband and I and my 4 year old are pretty easy going.

Is there anything we can do to help make my son a happy easy going little boy?

The behavior you describe is oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) behavior but since he does not display these behaviors at school, he would not be officially diagnosed. The behaviors usually are an expression of anger that the child is not able to verbalize. One expert in this area, Russell Barkley, recommends the behavior modification that are using.....combined with.....lots of praise for good behavior (which you are already doing too) and special mommy or daddy time. The special time occurs regularly (every day) and does not need to be long (30-45 minutes) and should be doing something that you both enjoy so that it is sincerely XXXXX XXXXX you too. His advice is outlined in his book which I highly recommend called Your Defiant Child.
Also if you do a web search using key words "token economy" you will find many variations on the behavior mod strategies that may be helpful.

Finally, if all else fails, he should have a some short term therapy from a child therapist to learn to verbalize or express his angry feelings in a more acceptable manner. There are also some books to read him which may help at Magination Press. such as What to Do When You Grumble Too Much and The Grouchies.

Hope this has helped some (you are already on the right track mostly).

Best wishes,
Dr. Bonnie and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you so much, this is all very helpful. We had fun on the trampoline together today (a few outbursts of anger when it wasn't going his way) and a bike ride. Will google everything you have advised.

He was the most perfect baby, honestly everyone said how lucky we were... then it all went downhill...and we have felt like we have let him down somehow. I will keep you posted how we get on;) We are feeling alot more positive already.

That would be great. If you post again put my name "Bonnie" in the subject line so that I am sure to see it. Good luck.

Edited by Dr. Bonnie Behee-Semler on 1/12/2011 at 12:56 PM EST