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Q: I'm concerned about my seven-year-old. He always bothers both of his siblings -- my eight-year-old son and two-year-old daughter -- to the point where they start crying. He also makes weird annoying noises. He's very emotional -- he always cries and hollers before he talks. He also is very disruptive in school. His teacher says he does very well academically, but he's always talking to everyone around him. I find myself always irritated with him and I don't want to have a bad relationship with my son. I want to re-establish the bond we once had. What can I do?
A: You don't indicate when you began to see these behaviors. Did they start when your daughter was born? It sounds like this is more than simple attention-seeking, but it's a good idea to rule that out first. Try giving your younger son some extra positive attention on his own, but be sure to do it when he is showing appropriate behavior.
You would also be wise to rule out any physical cause for the behaviors you're seeing. Talk with your pediatrician about what's going on and ask her if there could be some physical problem causing this. Talk with your son's teacher and set up a positive reward system for good behavior. Also talk with the school counselor. He may be able to give your son some individual time or include him in a small group on good behavior. Ask the counselor to observe your son in the classroom so that you can get an objective opinion of what may be causing the problem behaviors there.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.