I am a 24 year old boy. My aunt was visiting our home. Her son is an eight year old. He is a most uncontrollable, hyperactive boy. For example, he will switch on the television, watch it from about half a metre away from it, at full volume. He is always pestering me to play with me, which I oblige mostly. But when I have my own work, it is impossible if this kid is nearby. I was trying to study in some other room. The adults were in another room talking but he would follow me around everywhere and wouldn't leave me alone for a second. Basically, I cannot touch my phone to even chat cause he is addicted to games and would forcefully take my phone. When it would not open, he would tap it hard. Even if your phone does not have games, don't worry, because this kid will download some games too. He is a bother but mostly I can handle him, when I am at leisure. Thankfully, I don't have to deal with often, as he lives a bit far off.

Today was different though. I had to study and I was under quite a bit of stress. Also, I was under stress due to some other factors too. I tried balancing both (studying and my cousin's attention), would interact with him some and then tell him I have to study now. Sometimes he would oblige, sometimes he would bang things for my attention, or close all windows or whatever. So, I finally gave up. It was almost time for my aunt to leave, so I opened my e-book reader to read. Now, my cousin comes up and forcefully taps on it for my attention. This was probably the first time he had seen an ebook reader, and he wants me to play with him. I said no, so he continues tapping on it. This time I snapped. I slapped him. He tried to keep a brave face and was smiling still, but he was obviously hurt and his eyes were moist by the time he left. I was shocked too. i tried to ask him if he was hurt. It wasn't a hard smack but I had lost control. I tried playing with him but the awkwardness was there. Soon, aunt called for him to leave. Nobody knew about it and he didn't tell anyone either.

I didn't get the opportunity to apologise properly, and I regret the incident. Whatever be the situation it was my failing and I will never let something like that happen again. In retrospect, I should have just kept the ebook reader inside when he started "tapping" on it. [By the way, not a justification but he damaged my old tablet in the past also one of the reasons why I snapped.]

I feel I lack tact when dealing with such situations, like I am very straight laced and not good at coming up with lies, even white ones. Is there any way to make him understand that he should respect other people's feelings too and that there are boundaries. At this age, is it not normal for kids to have grasped these things?

What's the generally accepted social protocol of dealing with recalcitrant kids of this age, especially when they are not yours and their parents are loving the fact that the kid is bothering someone else and not them?

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    Have a look at Parenting.SE as well, there might be some related questions. Jul 18, 2018 at 18:29
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    "But when I have my own work, it is impossible if this kid is nearby" have you told the kid himself that you're busy and don't want to play? How does he respond? Did he ignore you and bother you anyways?
    – scohe001
    Jul 18, 2018 at 19:22
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    Yeah, logic is not a strong point of the kid. Doesn't respond to explanations that do not suit him. generally ignores and bothers me anyways. Jul 19, 2018 at 4:28
  • The child's behavior is a pattern that has worked for him. He has yet to understand it doesn't work for everyone... unfortunately that pushed you well beyond what you can handle so you flipped out, which is unfortunate, definitely wrong, and a better tactic needs to be developed. The fact that the child bothered you until he got his way is reinforcing the behavior...
    – Nelson
    May 28, 2020 at 8:59

2 Answers 2


Background: I have a 9 year old brother that is not spoiled, but has had a difficult background (foster care). His behavior has improved over the years, thanks to my mom's and family's unending patience and support.

There are a few options to what you can do to prevent another situation like this:

Express to the adults that you wish to study and not be disturbed.

The parents and aunt should respect your wishes, and if they tell you they need to have someone look after them, firmly tell them

I am not available, because I have to study. When I have finished/am satisfied, I can come and play.

If they still do not listen to that, the second option here should work either way.

Go to another room inaccessible by your cousin.

You could lock yourself in your bedroom, after expressing to your parents and aunt that you would rather spend time studying then when you are done, you can play with your cousin.

In regards to how you both behave after this situation:

Next time they come, I think it is best to be up front and honest about what happened and explain why in a clear, confident, and short statement:

Hello, (Aunt) and (cousin)! Last time we were playing, I was stressed out and pushed (cousin) in a rude manner, I apologize for that (maybe shake hands with cousin here). The reason I snapped like that is that I was trying to get my studying done and still pay attention to him at the same time, which in hindsight may not have been the best choice.

After that, establish your boundary with your cousin in front of your parents and aunt:

"I decided I will study either before or after playing with him, and he will have to be patient with me while I go study in X room. If he comes and wants to play, and I am not finished yet, I will lock the door. If he continues to try and draw my attention, I will come and tell (aunt) and parents. (add emphasis) I really don't want to get you (look at cousin) in trouble... I will play with you as soon as I am done."

If you express your desires clearly, concisely, and confidently, your parents and aunt will respect that, they will let you go study and let the kid fend for himself until you have satisfied your studies. Because you also presented it in a "If this, then that" argument "If you don't bother me, I will come play potentially sooner and in a better mood" to the cousin, he will understand clearly (hopefully) and behave accordingly. If not, then that will be on your aunt, not you.

Note: My mother has told me that kids under age 9-10 have a hard time realizing time span, and how long they have to wait for something. That doesn't help with teaching them patience, but this is a good time to start reminding him (cousin) that the world doesn't revolve around him , in a firm and gentle way.

Source: Development Milestones (Emphasis mine)

Decentration is another hallmark of this stage. Thus, your child can now more successfully take another’s point of view and can consider more than one dimension simultaneously, as long as the considerations remain concrete. He can more effectively communicate about objects that the listener cannot see, and can think about how others perceive him.


The key to dealing with people who are difficult - and someone who forcefully takes things and breaks them if they don't work as expected is definitely difficult - is setting boundaries. It sounds like this kid doesn't respect boundaries, and that the parents either don't respect them or don't understand the extent of how much their child is a pest.

You will probably need your parents help if you are going to be home when this family visits and you have any hope of setting boundaries. I recommend enlisting your parents' help in establishing boundaries that will make the situation more manageable.

Another thing you can do with him is trying to have things for him to do that help him control his tendencies: activities he likes to do, being outside, things he can do by himself when you need to do something else, etc. One thing to remember with children is that they have a lot of energy and when it is left unfocused it can exacerbate bad habits. If you think it's likely to work, it'd be good for you to involve his parents in planning these activities (perhaps with the help of your parents).

Obviously, hitting people isn't good behavior, and taking the time to apologize sincerely will probably help your future relationship with both your cousin and his parents.

Lastly, if your family is unresponsive or unhelpful, you can try not being there when he comes over. (Perhaps take your portable electronics with you.) You could tell your parents that you really need to study, that you just need to get out of the house, or that you can only stand 1 hour of giving him constant attention and need to be gone for the other parts of the visit. At the very least this will reduce the total stress of the visit.

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