How Can I Help My Fourth-Grader Communicate Better?
By Dr. Lisa Hunter, Child Psychologist
I am a single mother of a 9-year-old. My major concern for him is his showing expression, or rather lack of communication. If he doesn't get his way, he cries. His bad attitude has gotten progressively worse over the years. Do you have any suggestions as far as how I can solve this?
I would suggest establishing clear expectations for your son's behavior at home. Take some time to think carefully about what type of behavior you find acceptable and not acceptable at home, and then decide upon three to five home rules. The rules should be short, clearly stated and focus on what you want your son to do. In addition, identify how you will reward your son for following the rules and what consequences he will face for breaking rules. Once you have identified your home rules, rewards and consequences, discuss them with your son, making sure he understands the rules and is capable of following them.
Now comes the hard part - consistently enforcing the rules and following through with rewards and consequences! When you first start enforcing the rules, your son may not respond favorably and test you to see if you will stick with them. Don't be discouraged! This type of behavior is quite common when children are faced with new behavioral expectations. Chances are if you consistently enforce the rules, reward your son when he follows them and apply appropriate consequences when he does not, his behavior will improve. If it does not, consider seeking additional assistance from a child psychologist or other mental health professional.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.