From Disruptive Children to Relationship Mistakes

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Disruptions — Why Won’t My Child Listen?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

My child brought home a note from school that she is being disruptive in class. This is not the first note of this type, and I’ve talked with the teacher and I’m trying to give consequences, but I don’t think it’s working. Where do I go from here?


Dear Unsure:

Many parents have found that when a desired behavior change is not forthcoming, this may be linked to the fact that consequences are not severe enough to encourage positive behavior. In such instances, some parents have found that an effective approach includes continuing to increase the level of consequences until the child gets the message. This can be supplemented with calling the principal or teacher and having a heart to heart talk with them and asking them to please not tolerate disruptive behavior. “Call me at home if necessary and I will come immediately to discipline my child,” said one concerned parent to his child’s teachers. It is so important for there to be communication and cooperation between school authorities and parents in order to avoid the development of disruptive behavior.

”Divorce — What About the Children?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My wife and I have been divorced for some time. Our teenage daughter is starting to date and I’m afraid she may repeat my mistakes and end up in a bad relationship. I’m already not too pleased with the type of boys she’s choosing. How can I make sure she gets on the right track?

Getting It Right

Dear Getting It Right:

It is unfortunate that many children find themselves traumatized by parental separation and divorce. However, I certainly understand that sometimes two individuals experience incompatible behavior that can drive them apart. That is why it is so important, if necessary, that both parents have the freedom to nurture and spend time with their children. Then the children can be in a good position to resolve and outgrow separation-related difficulties, and they can learn from their parents’ experiences and be better equipped to more carefully choose a mate when they are ready.

In my opinion it is usually the parent who suffers more emotional agony surviving divorce than the children do. The primary harm that I believe parents in such situations could cause their children would be to feel sorry for them and cater to their whims because of it. It is important to treat such children in the same way as one would if both parents were present, encouraging children not to blame either parent for the separation. If necessary, parents can explain about the incompatibility that caused the separation. This can satisfy a common concern that children have — that they are still loved.

”’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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