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After a Recent Move, Young Boy Begins Acting Out


We recently moved to Nebraska, and my now six-year-old has begun acting out. It’s as if he is angry all the time, and spanking or giving him time-outs don’t help. What do I do?



Remember, it is very important that you not engage with your son when he is having a tantrum. If you do, it gives him power over the situation and you are no longer parenting effectively.

As for spanking, it has is been found that physical punishment is ineffective and can actually cause shame that may result in self-esteem issues. Even if it means leaving the room, you must make sure you don’t give in or lose control. Plus, when you lose your temper, you are modeling to your son that anger is the only way to cope. This will cause things to escalate over time.

Effective consequences have certain characteristics. They must be meaningful to your son, happen immediately, be related to the misbehavior, be contingent on​ the behavior and be appropriate in severity. We always recommend that you use the smallest consequence that is effective. If you use big consequences right away, then you’ll have nothing left if the negative behavior continues.

It may be a good idea to go back to the basics. Take time to write down your expectations for your son. Be sure this includes chores, social skills and academic performance. Then write down his privileges. This should include use of electronics, TV, phone, etc. It should also include time spent with friends and snacks. When you get all of this written down, present your expectations to your child. Let him know that when he meets them, he will be able to have the privileges listed. If he does not, he will lose one or more of those privileges.

To improve communication, we encourage you to “catch your son being good.” Try to find the positive things he does and praise him for them. It helps to look in three areas: things he does well that you take for granted, small improvements in the desired behavior and attempts at new skills. Let him know that you are aware that he does good things as well. If children only hear us being critical of them or telling them something they have done wrong, they will soon tune us out. Switch it around and strive to notice the good things he does. But make sure you are consistent and follow through.