Dealing with Rebellion and Nightmares

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Parenting Qualms – Why Does My Child Fight Me?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I bet you hear from many parents wanting you to fix their rowdy kids, and here’s another one. My child just won’t cooperate, and no, he does not have ADHD and I don’t blame his teachers. It’s just that this kid rebels with everything I say. There must be an answer to point him in the right direction.

A: Thank you for your concern and yes, I do believe that challenges with human behavior often have a simple, practical solution that can help to point us in the right direction. When it comes to gaining cooperation from children, consequences applied firmly and fairly are essential.

Included below is a relevant excerpt from my article, “How to Teach a Child Positive Behavior,” published in the February/March 2003 issue of Hawaii Parent, The Magazine For Families, pp. 82-87.

“Choices and Consequences. As parents strive to raise a well-adjusted child, they must keep in mind that it is natural for a child to test limits and rebel. If a child routinely rebels, an age-appropriate consequence should follow. The child must be given a choice. For example, “if you choose not to tidy your room, you will not be able to watch your favorite television program until you do.” This fosters a sense of choice and consequence. As with discipline, consequences are not punitive. They are intended to motivate positive choice.”

Good luck with your parenting challenges.

”Single Parent – How Do I Handle Nightmares?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My 9-year-old is well-adjusted but I am concerned that the Iraq war is affecting him, because he has started having nightmares. I know they talk about it at his school, but I am a single, working mom and when I’m home from work I am so tired, or I have so many chores there’s no time to talk to my son about this. Should I tell his teacher about his nightmares?

A: I can empathize with your busy schedule and the demands of single parenting. However, the influence that a parent can have over a child should not be underestimated, and time spent sharing with family members is invaluable. Let me share with you an except from my article, “Working Parents Prioritize Sharing with their Children,” in the March 2003 issue of “Small Business News”, p. 12.

“Parents should try to never be too busy to share their lives with their children and talk openly with them. This can take the form of family meetings, at breakfast or even before bedtime. This type of sharing can teach children that if they have fears or concerns it is all right to discuss them openly. Then their fear is likely to subside and they can feel important as a member of the family. Family talk and being open with each other are some of the most nurturing experiences a family can have.”

Thank you for reaching out.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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