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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My son turned six last saturday. He is quite active,

Customer Question

My son turned six last saturday. He is quite active, extremely intelligent, and socially adept. Given his energy and personality, he can be a challenge for his teachers. Usually the challenge is positive -- basically seeking ways to reign him in a little and channel his many positive attributes. However, when I travel, as I am doing now, his behavior deteriorates. He is such a dominating personality, that he can be quite disruptive to his classes and teachers in such circumstances. His main teacher just called my wife and told him that he is acting out (although they also realize that he is often like this when I am traveling for extended period). I will skype with him tonight and try to get him talking about how he feels, but I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone could give me and my wife. This is particularly important to me, as I may be deployed for an extended period starting this summer, and we are worried how he will react. thank you so much for any guidance you are able to give us.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

Your son sounds like a wonderful little boy and quite a challenge! Children with personalities such as his often take on leadership roles when they grow up.

It sounds like you and your wife have done a great job of being there for him and helping him with your absences. What you may want to try is some behavioral reinforcements to deal with the acting out at school.

First, develop a method of passing on the responsibility of "caring for Mommy" to your son. Yes, this is a bit chauvinistic in our day and age, but it helps him feel important. Make a big deal of it, like a special medal he wears or some kind of token. Tell him that in order to care for Mom right, he must show his best behavior in all places, home and school.

Try small rewards for good behavior. Before he leaves for school, have his mother remind him that she and Dad are expecting the best behavior and give him a small reward, like a small toy. After school, if he has done well, give him another small reward. If he is good for three days in a row, then take him for ice cream or something similar.

Since he is acting out because he misses you, give him something you feel is special to hold on to for you. It could be anything that he has seen you with before. Remind him to keep it safe and anytime he feels he misses you, he can take it out and look at it. It can also be something small he can carry with him to school.

Along with your contact with him each night on Skype, promise to read to him while you talk with him, if you have the time. Or pick another rewarding activity that he can share with just you, no one else. Tell him you will not do this if he misbehaves in school that day.

Plan a big event for when you get back. Something he loves like a day with Dad at the game and eating out or something else the two of you can do. Remind him of that day as you talk with him.

Eventually, he should learn to deal with his feelings and be able to understand that you will be back to see him.

I hope this has helped you,


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
thank you. all good advice
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

You are welcome! I am glad it helped you.