Mr. Negativity, 9 year old stepson


My 9 y/o stepson seems increasingly negative and anxious. We thought it was due to our move (still within a half hour of the mother) but his mom mentioned he complains he has no friends at school since his friends are in different classes/recesses. It coincides with him crying when his father leaves for work (he didn't do this previously), crying after he comes here because he misses his mom, and crying when he goes there because he misses his dad. There is lots of crying for other reasons as well. I don't know if he does it at school but I suspect if he does that is increasing his social isolation. The only times he truly lights up is when he describes past injuries or illnesses, or say, the paper cut he got that day. He played goalie for hockey and the first thing he told me was he caught a puck on bare skin. Not that he blocked a bunch of shots and they won the game. We try to emphasize the good happening and downplay every gripe he gives. From what I know of his other home environment, small injuries are fawned over and all feelings are discussed and parsed/etc. When he's with other kids, he delights in enforcing rules and lording over people, despite not being particularly good at the games/sports. When I showed my latest ultrasound pics (this behavior came on well before the pregnancy/announcement), his first response was "wow he's ugly!" Granted 4D pictures are not perfectly lifelike and I explained that to them, but I was thinking wow, what a little punk. I mentioned to his dad that he is really becoming that guy we all avoid at office Christmas parties. He's a bit shy when it comes to making friends and I am afraid some of these behaviors are going to be off-putting to peers, making his situation worse. Side note, I am leaning hard on his father to eliminate rather than restrict the tablets his mother gave him - even got a land line to ensure complete access to call her without "needing" to use FaceTime. I'm a nurse and I know what addiction/withdrawal looks like - he clearly shows signs and I would guess this adds to the mix of his generally unhappy demeanor as of late. 3 videos in his recent viewing history of mostly nonsense had titles involving harming/killing classmates and babies, but they were relatively isolated from his normal viewing (he's been at her house the past couple weeks - we take the devices from him during weekdays and restrict time on weekends). His mom is pushing for therapy and my husband is inclined to agree with that. I am not sure he's to that level and tend to view therapy similarly to you all. Anyway, that's a lot of info but - what do you suggest we do to redirect him? I had similar friend difficulties as a kid, including a school year in which all friends had a difference recess, so I thought I would approach the topic by talking about that and also explaining what "you reap what you sow" means. However, I've been a stepmom for a year and generally didn't interact with kids prior to now. I would love to know what you all think. Thanks!

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