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Gone are the days when your child would cower in fear as you raise your voice and command him to listen to carry out a task. These days, even locking him up in his room no longer upsets him or makes him fear you. You might open the door to his room an hour later and find him playing with his toys or happily watching something on his computer instead. Frustrated? We’d be too. Persisting in this method will not change things, so maybe it’s time for you to sit down and rethink about what’s happening to the relationship between you and your child, and reevaluate your discipline methods. 

Why is my child acting this way?

It is natural to feel alarmed when your child starts acting in ways that are unfamiliar to you, especially if he starts showing signs of rebellion, but it might not be helpful for you to panic and try to hold on to your child with tighter reins (taking away ALL his TV and computer privileges, not allowing him to go out, etc). As your child grows, he feels both the need to exert his independence and to test boundaries of behaviour to see what would evoke a gentle chiding, and what exactly evokes a scream fest. He might not understand your reasoning to certain issues, and would probably see your refusal to allow him to have fast food at 11pm for supper as something that threatens his very happiness and reason for existence but you need to control your anger and frustration. Sit down and have a talk with him, not in a naggy or antagonistic manner, but in a calm one. Your child needs to hear your reasoning, but this cannot happen if you’re scolding him. Let him know your concerns and worries, that perhaps having fast food at night is not healthy for him and that you care for him too much to let him harm himself that way. More often than not, emotional connection can get through to someone even when logic and reasoning fail. 

Why does my child talk back to me?

This usually also happens when your child is trying to exercise some form of control in their lives, even at an early age. When they’re younger, replying with a “Because I say so” could work (although that isn’t a recommended response) but the older they get, the more you run the risk of alienating them with your I-Say-Sos. If you get more commanding as the conversation drags on, you will face more resistance from your child. Again, the best thing to do is talk to him about how his behaviour is making you feel. If you feel hurt, let him know. Letting him see his behaviour frustrates and hurts your feelings doesn’t mean you are weak or backing down, it doesn’t mean he is “winning” this little argument – this isn’t a competition of who remains the most stubborn. 

If your child starts talking back to you at a young age, teach him basic manners like saying please and thank you. Reinforce good language and good behaviour. You could use movies as discussion points to talk about unacceptable behaviour. Get him to think about how he would feel if someone were to speak to him rudely. This also means that you cannot be rude to people around you, as children will look to their parents for behavioural cues and will form their own ideas about what is acceptable or not from your behaviour. 

Why does my child lie?

Sigh. The feeling you get when you find out you’ve been lied to by your child hurts deeper than a lot of other things, especially when you realise that it is the first time he is lying to you, and you’re imagining that this is the start of years of rebellion and angst. According to Anthony Fok, author of Understanding The Singaporean Teenage Child, children lie for three reasons: it could be a developmental issue, a communication issue or a test. 

Developmental issue: Your child is making that transition from a family-centric life to a peer-centric one and this might be as much a confusing period for him as it is a frustrating one for you. They might feel the need to lie when they are trying to establish independence.

Communication issue: Maintaining an open, honest and consistent communication with your child, or with anyone for that matter, is not an easy task. Think back on days when you were so tired you refuse to allow him to go out with friends and did not wait to hear his explanations. The next time he faces the same desire to go out, he might lie to you to avoid the hurt he felt at your prior refusal. 

Test: Again, your child might be testing boundaries with you and are waiting to see your reactions to his behaviour. He might also attribute your reactions, or lack thereof, to how you view him as a person and how you view your parent-child relationship. Some things that go on in his head might be “Are you watching? Am I important enough to you for you to be aware of what I am doing?” 

So how exactly do you manage lying behaviour?

Once again, talk. Listen to his views, and truly, genuinely try to understand him because this is the foundation of any relationship, and especially important in relationships with your children. Talk calmly, listen openly, and don’t flare up. 

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