Melz's picture

My 8 year old's drastic change in behavior and the 15 year old boy who wants to play with him?!

Please forgive the long post, but I have two questions and this is my first time posting to a forum. I hope that someone takes the time to read this and offer some advice!

My son is 8 years old and in the last few months he has made drastic changes in his behavior. We have new neighbors from a different state that we gotten to know. They have three children 6, 8, and 10 and all of them..all of them are much more "advanced" socially then my son. They play spin the bottle (even the 6 year old), watch horror movies, and tease other kids...all things that my son has never done before he began playing with them. Since he began playing with them, his attitude has changed quite a bit. Because of a youtube video that they watched at their house, my son is afraid to sleep in his own room (over three months now). He is mean to other kids and is obsessed with playing with only the new neighbors. He has begun lying, sneaking, and swearing. He has a tantrum anytime we have to leave the house, even if it is to go to his baseball games or his swimming lessons. We argue more often and the begging to "rush home" or "go out and play" is relentless! I usually end up giving in, because I can't deal with the constant begging and pleading.
We created a "friend contract" that he promised that his friends would not interfere with his health, his school, or his daily routine...oh and he had to promise to be able to say "no" to his friends when they want to do things that aren't safe. Since we created this (a week ago), I have received a letter from his teacher telling me that she is worried about his recent change in behavior. The teacher said that he doesn't pay attention anymore and that it always looks like there is "something on his mind".
My husband hates the neighbor kids and things that our son should just never go and play, but he is anti-social himself. My mother-in-law said that I should move.. I need real advice from other parents.
Is this just an age thing or is this unhealthy? Is it normal for 8 year old's to be this obsessed with wanting to be with friends?!

On another note, all of the kids recently began to play with this 15 year old. I thought it was odd that a 15 year old would want to play with an 6, 8, and 10 year old, so I took time to get to know him.. to find out why he wants to play with my young son.
I found out that his mother died when he was 10 and as a result he claims to be a addict in recovery, a pyromaniac and a cutter (he showed me several cuts on both arms). He was removed from the public school b/c they were afraid that he was a harm to himself n others he goes to school at a local mental health hospital now. I tried to explain to my son that he is too young to play with this boy and my son insists even begs to play with him each day. The 15 year old drew my son pictures and played soccer with him and said he is "attached" to my son. Scared, I told my son that he could be dangerous still He has been caught sneaking off to play with this older child. In desperation to keep them apart, I told my son that he cuts himself (probably not the best approach) with no result. Our neighbor with three children ages 6, 8, and 10 allow them to play with this 15 year old boy despite my warning. Am I wrong? What can I do?

OFC.JGunther's picture
Melz, You could have a very serious problem on your hands. Do not let your son play with the cutter!!!! That childs problems are too deep and serious for your child to be able to understand. Tell your son "NO" with no exceptions and let him cry all he wants... he will eventually tire when it does not work anymore. Keep him away from the neighbors and their kids as it is apparent they are unsupervised. I have written a lengthy evaluation and possible solutions to your situation with further explanations but this ridiculous message board is saying it is too long.
mom-gram-prof's picture
Truly, I would say run, don't walk, to the nearest source of professional help. So many changes in your son, and in such a short time suggest that he is into things that are disturbing him very much. That may be true even without the added problem of the "cutter". See your school psychologist, a child therapist or even your pediatrician, but see somebody!
Dee Mercer Behaviour's picture
Dee Mercer Behaviour
I read your evidence of your son's behaviour change with dismay. As a behaviour specialist in a secondary school you must seek professional advice immediately. There are too many alarm bells ringing as I read - your son will probably be grateful for you to lay down the rules of no contact with this 15 yr old or the neigbours children. Do it now before things become worse and your son becomes damaged beyond repair. Introduce him to a different freindship group, more suited to his age and stage of development. It is OK as parents to say NO - I know it's difficult and we want our children to be happy - but your boy is not happy and is showing severe signs of distress. Good luck and be strong.
acjennings's picture
Please, go to your school and talk with his teacher and the couselors, then if need be, get your son more help. There is something bad going on and it will only get worse. Parents must set the guidelines and standards for our children that we are comfortable with. I have an only child and I know how hard it is to say no, they just want to be with other kids... but if you set the standards they should quickly separate themselves from bad situations on their own. Your child is not doing this and he and your whole family needs to talk with someone before it goes any further. We will lift your family up in our prayers.
famara's picture
I have small children so I understand. At 8 years old a child is VERY impressionable, and still too young to 'GET' the 'contract' notion. At eight he is not yet at the stage of discernment and reasoning needed to identify what is bad and what is wrong totally. This is why even movies and games are rated. I see adults often who have problems with discernment, reasoning, and 'contracts'... expecting an eight year old to get it--unrealistic. For the sake of your your child take the advise of the people above-- MOVE away. Its not realistic to expect others and your son to not interact. if you keep him inside all the time its just going to make YOU the ogre and push him towards the unwanted alliances. Option 2: get your child involved in LOTS AND LOTS of extracurricular activities away (sports, art, music) and outside of the home with more children --contact with the 'neighbors' is limited. Right now you have control because he is 8.
met's picture
I'd also be concerned that the 15 year old is grooming him,(getting your child to depend on him, like him) in order to begin molesting him. A child molester doesn't generally do something right away, they invest a lot of time into getting younger children to like them, trust them and want to 'hang out' with them before they do anything. Gifts, such as the pictures he's drawn, are also BIG warning signs. It will generally begin 'accidentally'; they're wrestling and he accidentally touches your son's private area, or tickling will be another way of reducing his inhibitions. I'd be extremely concerned that he is attached to your son & that your son is sneaking off to be with him. It sounds as though he has gained quite a bit of trust & control over your son. Get out & get help ASAP!
met's picture
My comments continued: I have a 16 yo. who is an assistant coach for his little brother's little league team. Although he enjoys coaching & spending time at the games and practices with those kids, given a choice he will go hang out with his buddies...that's the difference between a normal healthy teenager spending time with little boys/girls & a teen with an unhealthy relationship with children.
met's picture
absolutely love the suggestion that they get involved in extracurricular activities! It will definitely limit the time exposed to the other kids who are not healthy for this child to be around!!