Difficult parenting can be remedied.


My 5yo son, with whom we have long worked to correct certain behaviors (chiefly rule breaking, obeying, executive functioning, outbursts, needy attention), has begun to bang his head on the floor, punch the wall, pull out his hair, and demand his toys be taken away when we discipline him now. He will also feign being injured like a European soccer player and crumple on the floor if he does receive a quick spanking.

We have a very loving household and he receives plenty of positive attention during the day in addition to firm discipline when he misbehaves. I never minded when he would say “I don’t love daddy right now,” or “I don’t want to live with daddy anymore,” because we know he doesn’t mean it, but I don’t love the self-harm precedent (such as it is), especially when I know where that leads later in life, and the “take my toys away comment” feels like despondency/depression.

At this stage, I believe part of what motivates his behavior are a combination of 1) his wanting to please us but getting frustrated and not wanting to show frustration 2) his desire for a power struggle where he has some control over an outcome. In any event I’m not sure I’ve identified the true problem correctly so as to correct it, but would appreciate some advice on how to address any/all of the above. Thanks.

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