Our Discussions

Behavior problem
1 (a madar)

Hi Soheila,

I wonder if anybody can help us with this problem. My husband and I are recently facing. Recently, our 6-year-old son is acting up with us. He disobey what we ask him, he yells at us for waking him up to go to school or go to bed or doing his homework, (these are some of the examples of his recent attitude). We have tried different approaches but it seems nothing is working at all. We stop buying him his favorite toys unless he behave better and be more respectful, or we send him to his room to think about what he has done and talk to him all the time, however nothing seems to work at all. I would like to know if there are other parents that have dealt with the same or similar situation. Our son's teacher is also unhappy with him in class. It seems that he keeps putting his fingers or part of his clothe into his mouth to avoid not listening to teacher. I thank every one in advance for helping us out with the new challenging situation we are dealing with.

2 (a madar)

unruly behavior in children of this age is not at all unusual. kids this age are trying to assert their newfound independance and it takes them a while to distinguish between independance and disobedience. but, if you think your son is stepping over his limits, these are some of the things you may want to check:

1. has anything changed in his environment (birth of a new sibling, a grandparent moving in or out of the house, death or illness of a loved one, new school or nanny, etc. etc. etc.)? children do not like big changes in their environment, and when these things happen they rebel against it. if any of the above has recently happened to you guys, try to help your son learn how to cope with it.

2. is everything ok at home (are you and his father getting along ok; is there any financial problems in the house; etc.)? when children face these kinds of problems they try to avert the attention to themselves in an attempt to relieve the daily stress.

3. is he ok with his school and friends (is the teacher treating him well; is he getting along with his classmates; does he have any friends to play with)? sometimes, kids bring their school problems home since it's easier to yell at their parents than total strangers at school.

if everything is ok around your son and he is still being unruly, it may be worth speaking about it with his pediatrician. but, always remember to keep your cool and assert your love for him even in those thoughest moments when you feel like pulling your hair out :-).

one more important thing: make sure you give him as much (or even more) attention when he's "good" as when he's misbehaving. sometimes, kids act up just to gain more attention from the people around them.

hope this helps!

3 (a madar)

We have had this problem with my daughter (same age) at home though her school behavior did not change much or I did not notice it. We also tried different common "correctional" methods that educators would use, but they all failed. my experience is that she was primarily jealous of the amount of attention her younger sibling got. I guess the older sibling is always a victim because we always consider them mature (comparing with the younger one) and expect too much from them while the second one always enjoys the benefits of being the *baby* of the family. also, with the first one our parenthood skills are not polished yet. so, we expect too much from the older one without paying enough attention to him/her.

This is what I learned from some American friends and did after my "educator methods" (I mean the methods that teachers use at school for their students) failed: I spent some private one-to-one time with her with NO lecturing about her behavior. for example, we went to a fancy place for ice-cream where we sat and enjoyed our ice cream in a serene environment, watching other people, talking about the furniture around us,... We took our time and there was no specific agenda, except for that we need to spend some time together sometime without the younger child, and it is fun to be together. I wanted to give her the msg that I care about her, I am willing to spend time with her and I enjoy it. then we went to a book store where she sat reading some children books and trying to find one to buy. it took her a long time, but I was patient. We finally bought her a book and finished our "date" together. At the end, we decided to do it more often because it really was fun. My main objective was to open a communication channel with my child and let her know that you love her and let her talk without being interrupted by the younger one. now we do it once in a month or so, though my American friend said she does it every other week. BTW, I think I will start doing it with the younger one soon.

One thing about using the "educator method": I personally think that even though parents teach their children many things, but should not act like teachers all the time. It is okay to "louss" your child sometimes, and should not always use "correctional" reactions such as time-outs or stop-buying toys specially if the problem is serious. I have learned from my daughter's behavior that the best method is to ensure her that I love her and want to help her and ask her how I can help when I provide a good opportunity for her to talk and LISTEN to what she says (rather than lecturing to her which I often tend to do).

Good Luck.

4 (a madar)

The following books has helped me to realize who is the real creator of the Behavior problems I was noticing on my almost 5 years old daughter. Hope it will help you too;

1)Parenting With Love and Logic : Teaching Children Responsibility [Audio Cassette]
2)How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
3)The 7 Worst Things (good) Parents Do [Paperback]
4)Teach Your Child to Behave : Disciplining With Love from 2 to 8 Years
5)The Loving Parent's Guide to Discipline : How to Teach Your Child to Behave-With Kindness, Understanding and Respect [Paperback]

I have orderd them all from Amazon.com

5 (a mother)

I have read the article on behavior problems and I am facing the exact same situation. I am single mother so it is even more difficult. As soon as I seem that part about a grand parent moving in I felt much better. There were things that I could get my child to do like taking a bath and going to be which is a HUGE struggle to do now. My mother moved in with me in January. He was still a little unruly for his age but it has gotten significantly worse. The only thing I worry about now is that even though my mom will be moving out in July what will happen when I start dating????

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

Back to madar-pedar