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Why is my child so misbehaved?

Q: My son is seven years old, very active and makes friends easily. He is poor at English reading and writing, maths and generally across the board, which he is assisted at school and has 20 minutes of homework 6 nights a week (alternating reading, time tables etc). I find my son’s behaviour very demanding, I ask him to do a simple task i.e. brush his teeth and it turns out to be a gigantic task just getting him to do it. But more frustrating is that his general behaviour has become quite nasty/negative. For instance he will get up in the morning and be nasty to his sister (14 years), and then continue to not listen to me if I am asking him to behave and if I tell him off, it ends up with him explaining why he shouldn't be told off and blaming it on everyone else. I do listen to my son but he seems to not understand why he should get punished and why he shouldn't be doing the things he does. My son never seems to learn as everyday is the same. His dad does live with us, but is always working. He does behave when his father is around and he behaves himself at school. Could you please advise me on how I can improve things, as I very frustrated?

A:Your letter was incomplete and did not have a specific question. Doing some guessing, I expect that you would like your son to me more amenable to his homework and to the home setting. Since you have not mentioned the father, I am not clear whether the child is missing him and in some ways blaming you for his absence. Your use of the word nasty for his behaviour, bothers me as it reflects your intolerance of it. Children do express their distress in many ways and want to be noticed and attended to. Give him some special time in the morning and some responsibility at his level, so that he feels useful. Discuss your child with his teachers and find out what they think. Gradually let the child be responsible for his hygiene and cleanliness, but do this with some playfulness and humour, so that he realizes that you have seen through his stubbornness. If you still have problems managing, see a Psychologist with your son and see what can be done.

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