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Question
Posted by: Portia | 2011/04/21

3 year old behaviour

Dear Doc,
My son is turning 3 in 2 week''s time. His behaviour at creche has worsened. He spends alot of timeout at creche as a form of discipline because he takes toys from other children or throws them with things. This behaviour was never present, but as soon as my husband comes back from offshore, then my son acts up. This the teacher has noticed that when daddy is gone, my child is fine, but when daddy is back, my son''s behaviour changes. He becomes less patient, grabs every toy and takes chances. My husband has this attitude to buy my son toys every day no matter if he plays with it or not. To make up for the times he''s away. I think this causes my son''s behaviour at creche. It''s becoming a concern at creche and I''ve asked my husband to stop, but he laughs it off. Please tell me if him entertaining my son with toys all the time could be the factor in this case? When he wants my son to sit with him he''ll say " daddy''s gonna buy you a toy" , etc. I dont want my son to loose his friends or be kicked out from creche. Please please help me.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Is he, perhaps, an only child ? This would mean he has not yet learned about sharing with other children, whether attention or toys.
Its an interesting observation that he only seems to show this behaviour when he father is BACK. Is he perhaps trying to get more attention from his father ? Certainly the pattern of buying the child too many toys at those times will disturb the kid and make him fel entitled to any toy he sees, not undertanding that some belong to other children. The father needs to know that the child will, given a fair chance, love him for being Dad, and no just as the guy who buys me toys.
A child psychologist or similar counsellor could help with a couple of family sessions, so you both understand what's going on, and plan a way, together,to help the child improve his behaviour
As maria says, maybe, being away so much, your husband doesn't know how else top spend time with his son or to be loving with the boy.
Discipline is as important as nutrotion, and both parents must agree and maintain the same rules and expectations, and the same responses to bad behaviour.
Also, as she says, if, understandably, there are tensions between the two of you, kids are sensitive to picking that up, and this would also disrupt his behaviour.

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4
Our users say:
Posted by: Liza | 2011/04/21

Your husband is spoiling your son and that is most probably the reason for him acting up. You''re going to have to have a long serious talk with your husband. Parents have to be consistent in the way they interact with their children. It doesn''t help if one parent says yes and the other says no. Both parents have to agree or problems are guaranteed.

Your husband might feel guilty because he''s not always there for his son but buying his love will never work. If this continues, the child will start to want money instead of toys as he gets older. A father who just gives and gives will then give the child enough money to start doing things like drugs and by then things go seriously pear-shaped.

Also, when parents are consistent in the way they treat their kids and the way they discipline their kids, it is almost impossible for a child to play the parents against each other. Parents who can be played only leads to even further marriage problems as well as having a problem child.

Good Luck
Liza

Reply to Liza
Posted by: Maria | 2011/04/21

When your husband interacts with your son, does he put down boundaries or is your son allowed to do whatever he wants? If you husband does not discipline him for bad behaviour he will feel insecure. Kids need boundaries, even though they fight against them, it makes them feel safe and that the adults are in control. Letting a child run wild is not a sign of caring and loving, quite the opposite.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Maria | 2011/04/21

Tell your husband you cannot buy a child''s love. The kid is obviously unsettled with daddy coming and going. The best thing for him would be to keep the routine and ways of doing things the same, whether dad is there or not. Dad must give love and attention, not things. Is the problem perhaps that your husband doesn''t actually know how to interact with your son? Play games and involve him, do things together as a family. Tell dad to take him to the park, or the aquarium, or just for a walk.

The other things is, do you and your husband have conflict between you when he is home? That would also cause your son to act out at creche.

Good luck, your husband will have to acknowledge that there is a problem before anything will change.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/04/21

Is he, perhaps, an only child ? This would mean he has not yet learned about sharing with other children, whether attention or toys.
Its an interesting observation that he only seems to show this behaviour when he father is BACK. Is he perhaps trying to get more attention from his father ? Certainly the pattern of buying the child too many toys at those times will disturb the kid and make him fel entitled to any toy he sees, not undertanding that some belong to other children. The father needs to know that the child will, given a fair chance, love him for being Dad, and no just as the guy who buys me toys.
A child psychologist or similar counsellor could help with a couple of family sessions, so you both understand what's going on, and plan a way, together,to help the child improve his behaviour
As maria says, maybe, being away so much, your husband doesn't know how else top spend time with his son or to be loving with the boy.
Discipline is as important as nutrotion, and both parents must agree and maintain the same rules and expectations, and the same responses to bad behaviour.
Also, as she says, if, understandably, there are tensions between the two of you, kids are sensitive to picking that up, and this would also disrupt his behaviour.

Reply to cybershrink

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