Here come the stroppy sevens

A child who is clearly going through the stroppy sevens.

I’ve been a parent for almost seven years. In that time, I’ve learned lots about kids’ behaviour and how to at least try and manage it.

I’ve negotiated both the terrible twos and threenagers twice and emerged unscathed. The latest challenge would now appear to be here. From what I’ve witnessed so far, the stroppy sevens are going to be a sterner proposition.

Almost overnight, Dylan has transformed. He was a studious little lad who loved school and his interests. He’s now a little oik with a proper attitude.

He answers back and gets argumentative when he doesn’t get his way. He even calls me ‘Tom’ instead of ‘Dad’ sometimes. I’ve just about accepted not being ‘Daddy’ anymore, so this is quite the insult.

He’s much harder to reason with than he was a week or two ago. He can even fly off the handle over little things that hadn’t bothered him since the toddler years. Not being allowed his favourite two-tone yoghurt twice in a day usually results in a noisy rant.

It’s behaviour worthy of a teenager. I wasn’t expecting that yet! I had previously heard theories about boys his age experiencing a testosterone rush, but knew that experts had since dismissed them. After doing what any self-respecting modern parent would do in this situation – Googling it – my mind was put at rest a little.

It seems that the stroppy sevens are a pretty normal thing. In short, they’re best described as a growth spurt of the mind which results in bad behaviour. This comes from respected psychologist Jean Piaget so that’s good enough for me.

Suddenly, everything is that much better when you know loads of other parents are going through the same with their kids. It doesn’t make it any easier, of course, but misery loves company!

That said, we sort of have the problem in stereo. You see, Xander really looks up to Dylan. It’s almost as if he wants to be him. As a result, he mimics his big brother’s behaviour on occasion. Both independently and as part of a double act. My sons have turned into Kevin and Perry way ahead of their time.

One is the bad-tempered would-be leader. The other dutifully follows him around trying to emulate him. It’s exhausting.

It’s also quite funny at times, but laughing doesn’t help. This isn’t always possible. Especially when the immortal line “I HATE YOU!” gets an airing.

This takes me back to my own actual teenage years when amusing things happened during school assemblies. You know you can’t laugh, but it’s going to happen.

Still, as it seems to be entirely normal we’ll just ride it out. And hope that there’s some respite between this and Amelie getting properly into the terrible twos…

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