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04 Feb 2004

Problem with child
Hi Cybershrink,
I have 2 children, aged 11 and 8. My 8 year old child is a constant challenge to me, and I fear that I am fighting a losing battle. He is an absolute exhibitionist and always tries to be the centre of attention. It is very difficult to get him to be serious for even a moment. I think that this behaviour may stem from shyness, as I am shy and tend to behave in an extrovert manner to cover up my shyness (you can comment on that theory:-)). He is also uninterested in school work and is falling behind the class yet again. He hates reading, and often just chooses not to do him homework and take the consequences. He loves sport, and I have tried to bargain with that, but also to no avail. He also lies an awful lot, about everything, from what he's done during the day, to brushing his teeth, to his score in cricket, to test marks - almost everything.
I am at the end of my tether, and am not sure where to turn. He is such an adorable, loving child, but I worry constantly about how is he going to get through childhood. Please help.
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Dear Ajay,
I hear your theory, and indeed some of us do behave paradoxically at times. We feel shy so we overcompensate, or try to hide that shyness, by showing off. Obviously you've been doing something right, because he is an "adorable, loving child" and many parents wish they could have one of those ! It's hard at a distance to guess at what may have been disturbing him lately. it would be worth getting him assessed by an educational psychologist. For instance, a child may have some specific learning difficulties, some form of dyslexia, or similar problems, which make it hard to achieve well in school, and may react to that, like the shy guy showing of, by making a joke or making light of it, and pretending that he is choosing to regard school academic achievements as unimportant. Maybe he has difficulties in reading --- a child who can read normally may not choose reading as his preferred pasttime, but even if nuts about cricket, would enjoy reading about cricket, for instance.
Similarly, one reason a child may resort to lying is because he finds the truth about himself disappointing or painful. Again, a psychological assessment could shed useful light on such things.
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