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06 Sep 2011

Children acting up
Hi Doc, please can you advise me! My husband was retrenched in Feb. Still hasn''t found a full time job, although he''s being doing lots of odd jobs to keep the wolves at bay. A lot of this work has taken him away from home during the week and home on the weekends and he''s now just got a job that''s for 38 days away from home. I''m left at home with our two boys - aged 6 and 4 (next month).
My 6 year old is very close to dad and I''m worried about him as he''s acting up. I was prepared for it from both of them as they miss their dad very much. We''ve tried to explain to them both that it''s only for a month and he''ll be back and daddy calls them every night before bedtime to say goodnight.
However, my son gets very angry and frustrated at times - especially with me. Whenever I ask him to do things i.e. brush teeth, get dressed (basic things), he takes forever to do them after 4 / 5 times of now nagging.
I''m doing star charts to monitor their good behaviours with a reward at the end of the month and mostly it works, but at times he acts out so angrily at me. Telling me I don''t love him and wish he was never born. I''ve never in my life said those things or even thought them as my children are my entire life. Naturally it hurts me when he says them.

My youngest is also acting out on his anger with me, but hitting things and having tantrums (more than usual). However, he''s still extremely loving and is always hugging me and kissing me. He too is acting up at school.

I have spoken to their teachers at pre-school who are very aware of our family situation and they''re monitoring them for me. But ultimately they are my children and I just want to love them and keep them safe from stress and pain.

How can I get them to understand that although things are tough at home right now, they''re still very much loved and that daddy is coming home again (we''re not getting separated or divorced - marriage still strong). Things will get better, I have to believe it, but it''s hard on all of us and I hate to see my children playing up at home and at school.

Any advice would be greatly welcome.

Thank you.
Answer 440 views
Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Admiration is indeed in order.
Kids, even the very nicest ones, are naturally skilled at sensing changed circumstances, parental tensions, and opportunities for trying to take advantage of such situations.
Have the pair of you sat down and chatted to the kids, especially the 6 year-old, about what's happening, why dad is away for periods of time, and that it is hoped this wont be a permanent situation ? We often forget both that kids can often handle much worse situations so long as (a) they roughly understand what's happening, and (b) the parents seem to be handling it well.
Could you forestall some of the nagging set-ups, by enlisting your son's help, as the Big Boy who is needed to help his mom deal with things while dad's away ? Emphasizing how much you love him and need him, and how valuable he is.
And try not to get so hurt by his comments, which are more about how frustrated and angry he feels, than actually meant comments on how he feels about you or about himself
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