View Full Version : Problem child

10-05-2008, 04:06 PM
I have a freind. A single mum with a 11 years old son. She had tried all means to disciplining her son.

1. The son does not like to go to school or study. Sometimes throw temper when ask to go to school.

2. The son always scold her "STUPID", even in public areas.

3. When she tries to talk sense with him, he will start shouting and scold her loudly.

4. The son does not share his toys with anyone. If she insists, he will break the toy first only pass to another child.

5. The son is very possessive over her. He does not like her to show kindness to another child or even buy other ppl meal.

And many, many more. She had tried talked nicely to him, scolded him, beat him etc but all do not work. Her own mum, the son's granny, even asks her to give him away to ppl.

She is very lonely and do not know what to do now.

Can anyone share some advise.

11-05-2008, 03:12 PM
Since she is a single mum, how much time does she get to spend with him? Is she busy at work? He is going through the age where his hormones are starting to kick in. Maybe he just needs someone to relate to and he could be seeking attention from his mother.

12-05-2008, 10:34 PM
Sally, suggest her bringing the son to see a child psychologist. Developmental delay and stagnation is a possibility. It may result in behavioral and emotional problems.

13-05-2008, 08:06 AM
Sally, suggest her bringing the son to see a child psychologist. Developmental delay and stagnation is a possibility. It may result in behavioral and emotional problems.

That is what I suggested to her. Any good child psychologist to recommend?

13-05-2008, 08:10 AM
Since she is a single mum, how much time does she get to spend with him? Is she busy at work? He is going through the age where his hormones are starting to kick in. Maybe he just needs someone to relate to and he could be seeking attention from his mother.

She works from home but on and off she has to go outstation, thrice a month like that. Now, she tries to let her brother-in-law helps her to discipline her son. The problem is he keeps bullying their children.

13-05-2008, 01:12 PM
Sounds like this child has a lot of resentments over some personal and behaviour issues we don't know of. He does need some serious counselling with a child speciallist. I'm not an expert this area eventhough I'm a parent of a teenager and a 9 yr old child.

I have not heard much about the child's father involvements in his life. Raising a male child is very difficult esp. when a male parent is not around to be his role model. Secondly, when a child is raised in a "one child family" it is obvious that s(he) can become a "king" in his own environment, meaning ,most adults would pamper and surrender whenever they throw a tantrum from a very young age. I have a friend whose young teenage child behaves in the exact temperament as your friend's child. My friend told me, as single parent rasing a child is a very lonely journey and just to get some temporary peace in her home she often give-in to whatever whimps her child requests.
But again it's is not impossible to be a single parent if we consistantly remind the child of his/her boundaries.

Btw, smacking a child usually creates more conflict at the age of 11. He is no longer little. What I do with my children is whenever they misbehave or showing disrespects, both parents would agree to deduct their previleges for that entire week or two eg. it could be pocket money, movies, tv programs, holidays or the things they enjoy most. This have always worked in my family.

Best of luck to your friend.

13-05-2008, 05:19 PM
Hello there. I have never been a parent but I'm studying Psychology. I'm particularly interested in Developmental Psychology. I read a bit on Alice Miller's work, and I have been particularly reading on Psychopathy as well as Borderline Personality Disorder.

What we perceive as "behaving", a child's seemingly obedient and quiet demenour does not necessarily mean he has learned to behave. It merely means that he has learned to repress his emotions, thinking that only by sitting still and speak little, would he receive love from his parents. Because when he felt anxious and cried in order to express that anxiety, his parents punished him. So he learned that feeling anxious and afraid is unacceptable.

This may not be an immediate problem. A lot of these children grow up as successful individuals. They may even become scientists and eloquent advocates. But the repressed anxiety remains, albeit deeply buried. It takes only a triggering event to cause the repressed anxiety to resurface. Sometimes, it is expressed as Psychotic episodes or personality disorders. But it can also haunt the person subtly, but effectively. A lot of adults have become very successful but found themselves unable to love or find love. Because as children, parents disciplined them in ways that cause them to internalize anxiety. Some parents withheld love until they behave, so they grow up believing that they should only love another if the person behaves. That's why many adults today say they don't need love and they prefer to remain single. Because loving is too painful.

Since your friend is a single and busy parent, all the more the child needs to be taught how to feel loved, to develop an attachment with his mother. This is called object-relations, and the failure in learning this will result in a grown up child who never quite know how to relate with people. Like someone with borderline personality disorder, they would feel a sense of annihilation and abandonment when their loved ones are out of sight.

Your friend's child and his demand for attention is very real. He has to be taught that mommy's absence does not mean he is unloved. And this cannot simply be told. It has to be trained and guided by an experienced counselor or Psychologist.

14-05-2008, 10:02 AM
Thks yvonne for your advise. The mother knows the big problem she will be facing in future if she does nothing on the child now.

Before they divoced, the father used to beat the child with his belt until breeding. Not long after they divoced, due to the work requirement, she was based in S'pore. The child was sent to ophans home. The father never bother to come and see or call the child. She is the only bread feeder to the family. After 2 years in S'pore, she managed to get the management approval to send her back here working home-based to take care of her child.

The child gives so much troubles that even the tuition centre rejected to take in her child.

She really does not know what to do now, both soft and hard approach also do not work. Sometimes she feels that she is a failure mother.

14-05-2008, 10:20 AM
Hi Sally. I'm truly sorry to hear about the family's predicament. We get all sort of difficulties in life, sometimes it's hard to remain positive when all else is against you. I passed the message to a lecturer and a former classmate now on internship, working with autistic children. I hope we'll find someone able to help soon. Hold on tight and don't give up! =)

14-05-2008, 10:48 AM
Thks so much for you help, yvonne. I really appreciate it.

15-05-2008, 01:30 PM
Hey, Sally. Do check your private messages.

Do advice your friend not to be hard on the boy. If he doesn't want to attend school, then don't force him. I am concerned that forcing him to school would cause more emotional stress for him, making interventions to elevate the stress harder.

15-05-2008, 03:12 PM
I agree with Yvonne, a good suggestion is maybe the mother takes a long holiday and try to re-establish the relationship with her son. Change her methods. Maybe since he is reacting in a negative way, she should show more positive reaction. Instead of focusing on his faults, praise and reward him for even a small good act that he does. He will respond better this way.

15-05-2008, 03:41 PM
Err buddies...it would seem that Orchi would be the only kehpohmale thus far...to offer some opinions on this sticky issue...

Now...at 11 years of age...the boy is no child...so he ought to be disciplined n taught to be well mannered...

Over protecting or trying to sweet talk a rebellious boy like him at this age...into behaving himself properly...is going to be an uphill task.

Should the mother not be able to 'educate' the boy at home...imagine what sort of ruckus he might caused...while at school.

Give him the ultimatum to choose...to behave...or send him off to do hard labour...or send him off to a welfare facility...n see if he could survive 1 month without his mother being on his bedside telling him pleasing stories...

Life gets tougher for both the mom n boy...it's high time to resort to drastic measures...or it could be too late...

16-05-2008, 11:03 AM
Hello Orchipalar. I do agree with you that kids his age should be old enough to act responsibly.

But our school environment is not supportive. We have 1 teacher to every 40-50 schoolchildren. They are being forced to conform and respond mechanically. Children need to express their individual emotions and impulse through play, but play is hardly permitted in our schools. Lessons are planned in a fashion that box up the children. If the kid doesn't learn to let go of his childhood trauma and is forced to attend school, his trauma will be boxed up and this is painful for the child.

It is unfortunate that a lot of children in Malaysia have developmental delay when parents, teachers, or caretakers act in ways that impede their development. (Sally said the child was abused) Thus, they are not capable of handling the emotional and cognitive tasks your average 11-year-old should.

When you discipline a child in that condition, you will not get real results. The child merely learns to behave in ways the adults consider acceptable. But he will not understand why. This is incongruent. The child must learn to be congruent, by first expressing himself and learning to relate with his mother.

I would take LMEI's suggestion.. By demonstrating positive regard, the boy may learn that he is worthy and capable of love. But parents often make the mistake of conditional positive regard. That is, showing love on condition. That isn't good as well. The child would not learn to be true to himself, always doing things for the sake of pleasing his parents, leading to an incongruent child.

Before I end, I'd like to remind you that, developmental delay may be very subtle and repressed, only to resurface and lead to other problems later in life. Psychological intervention is a long-term plan.

16-05-2008, 01:36 PM
4. The son does not share his toys with anyone. If she insists, he will break the toy first only pass to another child...

She is very lonely and do not know what to do now..
Dear Sally755,

I am glad that your friend have you to talk with - about the problems with his 11 year old son. By being able to discuss with you as a friend, you have already lessen her burden.

As for the 11 year old son, the damaged has been done. By sending the child to an orphanage - 2 years will feel like 20 years of loneliness and torture to him. The 11 year old son is also releasing his anger especially to the one that he loves - his mother. Normally, a child will beat/hurt the one that he loves most. In this case - his mother.

My siblings and I were also from poor broken family. We grew up without a father. That does not mean we all ended up as crooks or bank robbers. :)

In my humble opinion, it will be good to let the 11 year old son to be involved in sports or school activities such as scouts. Ask your friend to take note of which sports he likes - football or squash or karate etc.

Benefits of sports & school activities
1. Teenagers have alot of energy. In this case + anger. By focusing his energy to just hit the ball & being tired at the end of the day, then his energy will not go to hitting his mother.
2. Get the mother to try to spend time with him during his activities. Just by sitting down at the bench watching - is already a positive sign.
3. It will be great to get him to be involved in scouts or red cresent. During my time, I join Brownies in Primary School, Girl Guides and Rovers in Secondary School. We used to volunteer to clean Old Folks homes such as the one in Lendu, Melaka. By being exposed to worse life conditions, makes us realise that what we have is still much better than the world outside.
4. As for the mother, do not give up hope for his 11 year old son. It is no point disciplining the child at this age. She has to be patient and most likely after his son is married and have a child of his own, then only he can look back and appreciate what his mother has done for him.

Just like the toy that the boy purposely breaks - after it is broken, it should not be replaced with a new one/similar toy. If I am the mother, I will not buy the same toy anymore for the rest of his life.

Just let the boy focus his energy on a positive activity. I do not recommend caning at the age of 11 years and above. Hope the above sharing is hepful.