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Patience required

I AM a housewife, and I live with my mum and several family members. I have two boys, aged 10 and five. My husband spoils my eldest son by giving in to his every whim. He used to be a very good, obedient and lovable boy until he turned four. Then he became naughty.

When he was about seven, he became very rude and difficult. We scolded him whenever he did something wrong. He would take it out on his grandma and me. He likes to fight with his brother. My husband takes his side and hardly reprimands him for his wrongdoings.

My husband has a terrible temper. We do not get along, and hardly agree on the same things. I find him illogical. He believes in what his mother taught him, that is, to let kids do what they want and give them what they want.

When my husband sees my mother and me scolding my eldest son and smacking him, he takes pity on the boy. He is also prejudiced. He scolds my younger son when he is naughty, but not the older one.

My mother and I feel that as a father, he is too lenient with our eldest son. My husband becomes angry with us after scolding the kids. He picks fights with me. I have told him never to fight in front of the children, but he still does.

When my husband scolds my son, he uses very harsh words and does not explain the wrong my son has committeed.

My son is a smart boy. He was the top student, from Year One to Three. The teachers say he’s cheerful and intelligent. Lately, he ismischievous in school. His grades have dropped and he has become lazy.

My son likes to drag his feet when it comes to completing homework. Recently, he failed one of the tests and was caned by his teacher. After that, he did not want to go to school. He said he hates school and complained that he was having problems with his friends. We scolded him for not going to school and punished him, but he still refused to go. He insisted on changing schools. His behaviour has changed. He cries easily and has become very demanding.

My husband and I will be moving to our own place next month. We will transfer our son to a school near our new home but we are afraid that he might not want to go to the school.

Distraught Mother

Building a positive parent-child relationship requires a great deal of patience and understanding. When parents constantly find fault with their children’s behaviour and keep correcting them, they may make their children feel rejected and unloved. Punishment and scoldings will further discourage them from working on their ability to function effectively.

A child’s behaviour worsens when his needs are not met or when he is facing difficult challenges. In your son’s case, there is a lot in the home front for him to cope with. He has to deal with conflicting parents, as well as a non-supportive extended family.

Your 10-year-old son probably feels despair when family disputes that centre around him occur daily at home.

If you want to help change your son’s attitude and build his confidence, you must first start with yourself and your relationship with your husband.

Consider your concerns and attitude towards your son first, before you respond to his behaviour. In many cases, a parent who is overly-concerned about a child’s performance can cause him to have difficulties at school. Your reprimands and punishment accentuate the problem, rather than correct it.

Work out your differences with your spouse without involving your children. Even if you disagree on many things, you must show respect when dealing with your children’s well-being.

Young children have a strong need to be proud of their parents. They feel hurt when their parents say unpleasant things about one another. For successful parenting, work on family integration rather than promote competition.

A child’s behaviour is influenced by that of others. Parents are not the only ones who should be responsible for their children’s behaviour. When there is a problem in the family, it should not only be the mother or father who has to deal with it. Children should also learn to be responsible and help out in the family.

The whole family, including the child himself, needs to help solve the problem. When faced with a problem, get the whole family to sit down together to discuss possible solutions.

Every member has an opportunity to put forward his or her ideas and be heard. This way, you can reach out to your son, without frustration and anger.


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