Q: My son is 5½ going on 15, saying things like “yeah riiight” and “sor-REE.” He has even told us: “I can do whatever I like. You are not my master. I am.” We don’t talk like that. How can I get him to drop the attitude?
A: He has heard this language somewhere and now wants to try it out. If you try to find the source, you’ll be wasting your time because he may not even remember where it originated. But he thinks it’s fun and new, and your response is part of the novelty.
Tell your son in clear language that he’s being rude and you simply will not allow anyone to be rude to you. Let him know you just aren’t going to let him upset you. So when he talks like that you are going to ignore him. Then do so: No words, just turn your back and wait. As soon as he’s civil, respond and don’t even refer to his previous comments.
If he really seems to have a problem figuring out what to say, role-play with him at a time when he’s calm.
When he says he is the master, remind him that you are the parent and are, in fact, in charge — however, there are certain things he can control, such as what to wear or what to have for snack.