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I live in a joint family with two of my uncles, and I have a very naughty five year old nephew who's a nuisance to the entire household.

We live in a flat and my nephew throws stuff out of the window including important things like my sister's mobile phone, my grandmother's inhaler and bars of soap; and he does this deliberately in front of people to annoy them.

He loves breaking pots and vases, bringing his cycle into the living room, and repeatedly pressing the doorbell at odd times of the day when everyone else is asleep.

The worst part of it all is that my aunt never reprimands him. She has allowed him to become so mischievous by never punishing him. Yes, she does shout at him but that's all she does.

When he's doing something he shouldn't be doing she never tries to stop him. She just follows him around shouting at him, and that makes no difference to him. He still does just what he wants to do.

This really gets on my nerves. Sometimes I really wish I could give him a tight slap to make him think twice before misbehaving, but his mother doesn't like that one bit. My father and my aunt had gotten into a really big fight once because he slapped my nephew for spitting in his face.

We try to stop him from misbehaving as much as possible. We never open the front door when he constantly rings, forcing his mother to open it. We try to put things on higher shelves so that he can't throw them away, etc.

However he still continues misbehaving. When we try take away things he gets his hands on he runs away, shouts and cries till his mother comes. Then he kicks, bites, pulls peoples' hair and spits on them.

My parents, siblings, grandmother and my other cousins, aunt and uncle are all daggers against him. He's a spoiled brat who loves disrupting the household with a smile, and his mother is an absolutely careless parent.

What strategies may we employ to deal with such a naughty boy?

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up vote 17 down vote accepted

One, no slapping. Besides being very unpleasant it is counter-productive and will make the problem worse. The reason your nephew is misbehaving this way is because he gets attention. You have a problem because there's little you can do yourself, parenting must come from the mother and father.

The problem is he's getting lots of the wrong kind of attention and little of the right kind of attention. His behavior is a desperate cry for help, not a sign he's intrinsically a bad person. He needs someone to give him attention for doing the right things, not attention for doing the wrong things. Tell him what is expected of him, and let him live up to it.

Start noticing things he does well, and right. Don't praise him too much, he'll want praise for every little thing he does right. Praise effort and really good results. Offer a reward for good behavior - "if you're good all day I'll take you out for an ice cream", then then stick to it. If he isn't a good boy he gets nothing, if you cave in he'll know he can act however he wants.

I hate to take things away from kids as punishment, but in extreme cases it's necessary. If he throws someone's phone out the window he loses his favorite toy for 2 days. If he goes a day without being really naughty people note how pleasant it is to be with him. Above all, don't lose your temper, show patience!

You can do this on your own, but it would be more effective to get everyone to work with you on it. Good luck!

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+1 he's not getting the right kind of attention. I bet this kid would show dramatic improvements if you played with him and pointed his good behavior out to him. Maybe it would set a good example for his mom as well. –  KitFox Feb 15 '13 at 11:30
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