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Author: AlaGeoff Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 974  
Subject: Re: I'm acting Date: 6/19/2000 3:11 PM
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Let me jump in with a few opinions here.

First, your child doesn't sound damaged, in fact, he could be just the opposite. Children with above average intelligence often have trouble emotionally. My guess is that they are aware of more things they cannot control and it is very frustrating for them. A bright child is a special joy, but is much harder to rear than a child that progresses along the 'standard' development path.

My father was much like the child you describe. He was also allowed to learn that actions didn't have consequences, since his mother shielded him from any meaningful discipline. Fortunately for him, he was released from prison before he died. Unfortunately, he died relatively young from side-effects of chronic alcoholism.

I am writing this to impress on you the seriousness of what you are doing. If you want your child to grow up to be a person you are proud of, YOU must make it happen. If you do not change his behavior, he will likely end up with a similar fate.

Part of your child's uncontrollability is his frustration at a seemingly inconsistant world. He is trying to make it conform to what he wants, which, of course, is as changeable as a child's whim. You need to provide a consistant set of rules so he can understand how the world works.

The single lesson that you must teach is that actions have consequences. Immediate, real, and consistant consequences. Future threats don't work on children who's only concepts of time are 'now' and 'not now'. The consequences must matter to the child. Your hurt feelings don't. His hurt behind does. Find what works and stick to it, whether it is corporal punishment, taking toys or priviledges, or time-out. Consistancy is the key to making this work. Every time he acts up, you respond with an immediate, real punishment. For a while he will hate you and express it loudly. Later, he will come to expect the punishment as a natural consequence of his actions. You no longer will be the focus of his anger. Actually, his anger will no longer be there at all. Your rules will provide a sound framework for his entire world.

Of course, explain to him why he is being punished. Don't use your feelings as a justification. He cannot control your feelings. Punishments are a result of his actions, which he can control.

Finally, some recommendations about yourself. Don't look at this as caring for an ungrateful, difficult brat. Look at this as learning about and meeting the most important person in your life. You get to guide this person into adulthood. You get to learn about the world all over again through their eyes. You are definitely the most important person in their life. Yes, there will be bad days and difficult times. Yes, it can seem mind-numbing to read the same story for the umpteenth time. Yes, these are magic times for a child and they can be for you too.

Geoff
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