By Rossi Davis
Does your child act out mostly at home and is well behaved at school? If so, this is a cue that he is acting out at home for a reason. Perhaps he is trying to get your attention. Children that feel that they are competing for attention with a sibling or a new born baby for the attention of their parents may misbehave as a result of it. Attention is a strong motivator for children. At times they are so desperate for it that it won’t matter if they receive positive or negative attention.
Children that come home from visiting their non-custodial parent may also act out. It is possible that he is acting out in order to test you to see if you will be consistent in your parenting. In cases where one parent possesses characteristics of the Sensible Parent and the other of the Reactive Parent, children will misbehave especially after spending time with the Reactive Parent. Since one of the characteristics of the Reactive Parent is hands off attitude, the child gets mixed messages when he is expected by the Sensible Parent to do chores, or is consequented for unacceptable behavior. This may confuse children as they misinterpret the parent’s intention. The child is confused why there are no chores when he visits Dad on the weekend or perhaps why there is a bedtime at dad’s house when there is none while at Mom’s house. It is the parent’s responsibility to discuss this with his ex partner and to also explain to the child that there are rules to be followed. As a parent you may say something like: “I know you do not have to put your dishes away when visiting Mom but since you live here everyone needs to contribute.” Or: “I know there is not bed time at Dad’s house but you’re there on the weekends and then you are here you have school in the morning.” Try to give explanations that are age appropriate and avoid blaming the other parent. After all, you’re trying to be a role model and to teach the child that ultimately he is the one responsible for his own choices and subsequent behaviors. Try to see who owns the problem – you or the child.
Author of: My Kid is Acting Out and I am About to Shout: Parenting Made Easy.