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This All-Too-Common Situation Cries Out for Parenting Help

Mar 15, 2008
Todd Sampson is six years old. He lives with his father, mother, and ten-year-old sister. Todd presents serious behavior management problems to his family.

He is active and distractible. He frequently gets into things he has been told not to play with and he must be nagged continually to pick up things in his room.

Todd throws at least one temper tantrum per day when he becomes frustrated or does not get his way. He tends to embarrass his parents when out in a restaurant or grocery store by running, touching and demanding things, or whining.

He has few, if any, friends; when interacting with peers, Todd tends to boss, bully, or hurt them.

Todd performs marginally at school, although his teacher feels he has the capability to do better. Todd also is a poor eater, preferring junk foods. He hates going to bed and wets his bed nightly.

His parents are quite frustrated with him and his behavior.

Mrs. Sampson has talked with the pediatrician, their clergyman, and the school teacher. She has been given considerable advice from many people regarding what to do with Todd; she has tried several strategies with Todd but she has not had much success.

She often becomes angry at Todd for his misbehavior and then becomes upset with herself for losing her temper. She finds that she is becoming ashamed of her son and his behavior and often makes excuses for him.

More and more she arranges her schedule to shop and go places so that she does not have to take Todd with her. She dreads taking any trips with Todd because she knows that ultimately the outing will result in her son exhibiting bad behavior and her screaming and scolding.

Mrs. Sampson feels unfulfilled as a mother. She had planned on having more children but after Todd thoughts of additional children were quickly abandoned.

Mr. Sampson is just as frustrated with Todd and his behavior. He feels, though, that Todd generally minds him better than he does Mrs. Sampson. He resents the way Todd disobeys, manipulates, and ignores his wife, but cannot help feeling that if his wife was only a little more strict with Todd, things would be different.

He has suggested many times to his wife that she should be more firm with Todd, but she responds that if he would spend more time with the children, perhaps she would not be having such a hard time with them.

In truth, Mr. Sampson chooses to spend little time with Todd because he is usually so difficult. He often purposely comes home late from work so that the children will already be in bed and he will not have to interact with them.

Mr. Sampson has become quite tired of hearing his wife complain about Todd; any discussions they have usually come around to Todd, his bad behavior, and the resulting family discomfort. Mr. Sampson has occasional thoughts of divorce.

If you or someone you know is in a similar situation take heart in knowing that it is possible to take action to break this negative, hurtful cycle.
About the Author
Larry Waldman, Ph.D., psychologist and author, is one of the leading parenting and relationship authorities in the United States. To find out how to improve your family relationships, visit his web site at: http://www.the-relationship-doctor.com.
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