How to get your oldest child to behave better.

Ashima17 asks: I am the mother of two kids – a nine-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter. I am worried about my elder one; his behaviour is very rude to me. Maybe because I always scold him for studies in front of people He said, “My mother does not love me anymore, every time she hits me, she used wrong words to me.” I agreed that I am doing all this, because he doesn’t want to sit for studies. He always misbehaves, he never listens me. I am worried what to do how to handle him and get him mannered and disciplined.

Hi Ashima17 –



There’s a lot going on here, and I probably don’t know a lot of it, but I can tell you the bit I see.  And really it comes down to two things.


First of all, although there’s a really large age difference between your children, your son is still pretty much guaranteed to have been very affected by the birth of his sister. I get bothered when I see my human friend Handsome pet other dogs, but you went way beyond that. I know you don’t see it this way, but a child will see getting a new sibling as the greatest insult ever.  He was your only one, the center of your universe.  Then suddenly, he’s told “I’m going to cut the attention and focus you get in half.”  Actually probably he’s getting a lot less than that, just because of the amount of care a baby requires.  And there’s no way for him not to be angry and jealous, even if he also loves and enjoys the new baby.


But even if you hadn’t had that little girl, he’d be very likely to go through a phase like this sometime.  The tough question is how you deal with it.


I’m a big fan of a discipline method called “Catch them being good.”  What this means is that, instead of punishing your child for the wrong things he does, you reward him for the good things, even the ones that seem small.  So if he gets a good grade on a test, take him out for ice cream.  And if he does something nice for his baby sister, give him an extra half-hour of TV or computer time.   Now I don’t mean you have to do this every time – it’s actually better if it’s a bit random.


What you’re doing with this is changing the nature of his environment.  Instead of life being a mine-field of ways to do wrong and get punished, each day is filled with opportunities to feel successful and loved.

In a way, Handsome did this with me when I was a puppy.  I was a wildly  obnoxious little girl, always biting him and chewing on his things.  But a trainer taught him how best to deal with me: he filled his house with doggy toys, enough so that there’d always be one in reach. Then if I bit him or some other thing I wasn’t supposed to, he’d instantly say “No!” and get me away from it, and then suddenly jam a toy into my mouth, and start petting and complimenting me, “Oh look what a smart little girl you are!”  Sure enough, before too long, when I wanted to bite someone, I’d instead grab a toy; all was good and successful.


So if you can do that with him, my guess is his behavior would change fairly soon.  Now of course, just as Handsome had to say “No!” to me, you’ll still need to correct your son when he does mean or mistaken things.  What we want is for you to, more often than those, find ways to tell him how good he’s being.


It’s not easy, and it’s not overnight, but my honest guess is that doing that will solve more problems, sooner, than any other method with this.

GOOD LUCK!  And thanks for writing!


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