Dear Savvy Auntie,

I'm a 24 year old college student living with my parents and my sister's family that includes three boys.

I'm trying extremely hard to not over-step my boundaries, but my sister lets things slide too often with my nephews. My biggest struggle is with my 11-year old nephew. He clearly has no respect. He slams doors and throws things when he can't get out of chores or get his way. I can barely get him to pick up after himself. He even boasts about being mean to a kid that hit him a year ago.

I've tried talking to my sister but every response is: "What do you want me to do, beat my child?" I need advice on how to approach my headstrong nephew that doesn't end with: "You're not my parent!"

Living with Nephews

Dear Living with Nephews,

Your nephew is probably entering the tween age of development, if this behavior is just beginning. This stage is often difficult behaviorally. Kids become oppositional, aggressive, self absorbed, and angry. They are trying to become their own person by pulling and pushing away from their parents and other authority figures. My first suggestion is that he get involved in team sports. This will help channel his negative energy and help him find a structure and an outlet. Coaches are the best people to support and channel them through this time.

You can help him by respecting his independence by increasing his independence and rewarding him with complements for jobs well done as well as his attempts to try new ways of being more on his own even being the expert in the family on various topics. At the same time family activities like game nights offers him a safe arena to exert himself.

Good luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Homepage photo: mandygodbehear
Published: September 28, 2016

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