One mum has taken to the internet to ask for help to curb the behaviour of her 'bully' of a son.
Penning a short essay on Medium, the mum said she and her wife didn't know where they were going wrong with their parenting and despite their efforts to raise a good son, he has become a 'total jerk'.
The six-year-old, who is an only child, did tend to get everything – within reason, she said, though they did set limits.
While they had tried to instil the 'fundamental meanings of being a good person' and reinforced the importance of not lying, stealing or bullying and of giving back and being kind, nothing had yet clicked.
"He will break his toys on purpose and then expect us to buy him a new one," the mum writes.
"He will say things for no reason other than just to be mean, it seems? Like the other day, he made fun of his other mum's appearance. He then said her outfit was ugly."
The boy was also rude to other children and homeless people.
While the kindergarten student was described as academically 'brilliant for his age', he lacked 'common decency' and empathy.
Taking away his TV privileges and toys and reading books on being kind, had so far been ineffective.
"It feels like no matter what we do, he still acts like a jerk. He's still rude and selfish. He doesn't show empathy or anything close to it"
"We feel like we are failing him as parents! Can anyone help us!? Advice/Wisdom/Guidance?!"
Asking the internet for parenting advice rarely results in a clear consensus - and those quick to share their insights delivered a flurry of conflicting causes and solutions.
While some empathised with the couple's situation, others described their parenting approach as pandering.
'I hate to say this, but your kid is running your house; perhaps not physically or financially, but he's dominating the emotional environment," wrote one.
"My kids went from fairly mild-mannered children to, frankly, young teens who are too mouthy and stubborn by half. We're in therapy and it's helped us re-find our roles in the family structure. I DEEPLY recommend therapy for your family as well."
Another was kinder, gently suggesting the mum was placing too many expectations on six-year-old and said while bullying needed to stop, the root cause of this needed to be explored before the behaviour could be addressed.
"He might be advanced academically, but he seems maybe a bit behind in emotional development. If that's true, it's not his fault - it's something you can help him with, though," they wrote.
"You have to remember, kids - even six-year-olds--are learning about the world. And that takes time."
However, another felt they were too indulgent and needed to take a more authoritarian approach.
"Your problem is you 'go out of your way to ensure he is happy.' You are basically telling him he is the most important person in the world and you will cater to him."
"So of course he behaves this way …it's his right because he is so important. Couple that with the vibe he gets from your feeling he is 'brilliant' and he is now a brilliant VIP and yet you are surprised he acts entitled like one."
Yet another put the onus on the parents.
"I feel for you!! This can be so tricky. I've learnt a lot myself about parenting in the last years and what stood out was that I really had to have a hard look at myself. The kids were acting as a mirror to my behaviour. Maybe changing your perspective could help you get to the bottom of the issue?"