Our expert says:
Maybe his attitude partly causes the situation in which his mother wants nothing to do with him, and maybe it is partly caused by this situation. And if you and your husband fight about this every day, that'll mess up a kid, too. What on earth is there to fight about ? Draw up a set of rules for his behaviour ( which you should also apply to the other kids, even if they don't happen to break the rules ) which BOTH of you agree to and BOTH will apply firmly and consistently. And the penalty for him breaking these basic rules will be time-out for 10 minutes for a minor infraction, and loss of some treat, something he likes ( like TV access ) for a major infraction.
Jessica explains the idea sympathetically. And if dad isn';t around much, he has to agree to back you totally in whatever disciplinary decisions you make while he's away, and not allow himself to become a soft-option for the child. Keep a chart of hours of each day, with a tick or cross for good or bad behaviour, which the dad can review with you each time he's back ; so the boy realizes that dad will know about how badly or well he behaved. And both of you give him praise on the occasions, however rare, when he even accidentally behaves well.
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