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How can my son’s behaviour changes be managed?

Q: My 11 years old son is a bright child. Recently, I have noticed some behaviour changes, which reflect in his academics too. I am concerned about the constant lies that he rolls out despite being caught telling lies and advising him to stop that. He never studies at home and has a habit of looking at the book only on the eve of a test or exam. He prefers to be alone unless I force him to accompany us out somewhere. His friends at school are also complaining of the same. I have grown up in a very strict environment with a constant fear of physical punishment. I also sometimes punish him physically. As he is entering adolescence I am not sure how to handle him. I am also concerned about his younger sister. Recently, his mid-term exams were over and answer sheets were provided but he did not show us any answer sheets. Apparently his marks are a bit low. How should I handle this situation?

A:Your son is at a very important threshold in his life. Many growing up children show changes of the nature you have described above. It is hard for parents to handle some of these as you describe in your mail. What catches my attention, however, is that you use physical punishment on your children? You are aware that your own experience of it has been negative, in your childhood, but your analysis of its impact on the child is short sighted.

Physical punishment not only induces fear but also is very humiliating and confusing for a child of any age. To avoid it then children lie, hide, etc. It is possible that all of what you describe in your mail is linked. Please stop hitting your children or you will end up isolating them and causing them to hate you and also the mother for it seems she does not protect them either. Start building up a positive relationship with your kids, when they display disobedience talk and find out their reasons. Lay down boundaries that are respectable towards your needs and theirs.

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