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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
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Experience:  Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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Lately my six year old son has been acting out more at home

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Lately my six year old son has been acting out more at home (talking back, using a disrepectful tone, not following directions). When I try to correct his behavior or show anger or frustration, he laughs. This actually makes me more angry than his original negative behavior. I feel like I'm not handling things well because these behaviors are not changing. I am wondering how to best handle these situations and what is behind this "laughing at mommy when she's upset".
Hello my friend. How does your son behave at school? Are both parents in the home? Is he an only child?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
At school he is mostly compliant and well behaved. He has had some minor issues one or two times this year (tattling too much and requiring several reminders before following the teacher's directions). He is an only child of a now 40 year old mom and 50 year old dad. Dad has been working out of state since the first of January. We talk to him via web cam every night, but I know our son has been greatly affected by his absence. We completely expected more challenging behaviors and acting out because of this change but my main concern is that my "easy to manage angel" does not respond to the discipline measures that have worked so well before and his Laughing when he's in trouble really concerns me. We have not ever used spanking or physical punishment of any kind, but I have to admit that having him laugh in my face when I'm already frustrated makes me rethink the no spanking choice in the heat of the moment.
When his dad was around, who was the main disciplinarian?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I have been the primary disciplinarian but my husband would step in when he saw that i was getting to a point of frustration. I am an elementary school teacher, so I feel that I am harder on our son. When I see behaviors that remind me of "bad behaviors" that I've seen in my classroom, I jump right on it in an effort to nip it in the bud. My husband is more willing to let things slide.


Your son may be acting out in frustration as a reaction to the absence of his father. Since the behavior only seems to happen at home, your son is not pleased with things at home. His laughing at you when you are trying to discipline him is simply a cover for the pain that he feels inside especially if he is/was really close to his dad.


Try this and see what the outcome would be. Tell him to draw a picture of his family doing something really fun that makes him happy in his own kid like drawing way. Then have him explain his picture. If he has left a parent out of the picture, ask him why didn't he draw that parent. Your goal is to get him to open up to you and discuss what is on his mind. If he draws himself and both parents, that's great. Display the picture so that you and he see it daily.


But as for his disrespectful behavior, that must be curtailed. Try focusing more on the positive behavior and REALLY praise him when he is behaving more appropriately. When you discipline him, the main goal of a disciplinarian is to teach rather than to punish. When he speaks to you in a disrespectful manner, stop him. Tell him the way he should respond to you and then have him repeat it. You will have to do this continuously every time he misbehaves until he realizes that he must change his behavior.


When he will not follow directions, then give him a choice to either do as he is told or continue with the time out: maybe sitting in a chair facing the wall for 5-10 minutes. It will seem like torture to him but it is more effective than spanking.


You must be consistent with the suggestions that I have provided. As an elementary school teacher, you are familiar with a behavior chart. You may need to utilize one for your son which focuses on the good behavior.


Hope I have provided some insight. If not, please ask further questions. Have a great Friday.

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