Our 6-year-old son is obsessed with Spider-Man to the point that he thinks he is Spider-Man and only wants to play Spider-Man. This is affecting his friendships and his time at school. When he raises his hand, he wants his teacher to ask him if his question is Spiderman-related. Nine times out of 10 it is. Our son is not as happy as he once was. How do we tame his interest in Spider-Man to include other hobbies without breaking his heart by confiscating all of his Spider-Man toys?
When your son’s interest in Spider-Man interferes with school and his daily schedule it is time to set limits. Talk to your son about how everyone has interests. If you are a golfer, you can’t talk about golf all the time, bring your clubs to work or practice your swing during business meetings. There is a time and a place for hobbies.
The classroom is NOT the time and place for Spider-Man. Spidey can surface at recess. But even then, Spider-Man cannot be around all the time at recess; sometimes Peter Parker has to be the role he plays in order to live a more normal life. During school, your son needs to be “normal” and focused on school.
Perhaps it would be helpful to introduce him to some other superheroes such as the Hulk or Superman since they have qualities a 6-year-old can admire. If you can, purchase plastic figures of these superheroes for each of his friends to use when they come over to play superheroes.
My four year-old son hits others. When I tell him to stop he yells at me saying that he doesn’t have to do what I tell him to do. Sometimes, he will run away from me into his uncle’s room. How can I help him change his behavior?
There's reason behind every behavior. At four years-old, your son is still testing boundaries and exploring his surroundings. When he hits it's important that you act on the unwanted behavior immediately after it happens. For example, take his hand and say "no, we don't hit" and then explain that hitting is wrong because it hurts others. It may take several repetitions before he actually understands what you are trying to teach him. His ability to comprehend and make sense of things is much different compared to that of a teenager or an adult.
Effectively utilizing consequences can be a helpful way to change unwanted behavior. Consequences can be positive and negative. A positive consequence, like more playtime or a treat, increases the chances of a behavior happening. A negative consequence, like a time out, decreases the chances of a behavior happening again.
When administering consequences it's important to keep four things in mind:
- Keep it important to the child (a special toy or book)
- Make it immediate (directly following the unwanted/wanted behavior)
- Keep it appropriate (not too big and not too small)
- Make it relate to your child's behavior (if he hits with a toy, take the toy away)
It sounds like just telling him isn't working, so now is the time to try something new. If he is not supposed to talk back and if he's not supposed to go into his uncle's room then those are both unwanted behaviors and appropriate consequences need to be applied. Be consistent. If you stick with your new routine, his behavior should change.
My 6-year-old son likes to play with fake swords and guns but recently has begun using them in inappropriate ways. His behavior seems to have changed since he made a new friend about a week ago. He has stopped listening to his leaders in his after-school program, strays from the group and has even started poking girls with sticks and pinching them. I have taken away the swords for a day and explained that he must change his behavior in order to get them back. He is on the brink of getting kicked out of the after-school program because of his behavior. What else can I do to correct his recent change in behavior?
Thank you for contacting us with your parenting frustrations. Please know that it is normal for 6-year-old boys to play "guns and swords." They will pick up a branch or even a cucumber or banana and use it for a gun or sword. It is best to teach them never to point it at another person and if they do, they lose the privilege of playing with whatever it was. Tell your son that he cannot play guns and swords in certain areas.
At six, he will need lots of reminders. We recommend that you talk about it every day at some point in the day. You can have the conversation by asking him what he is allowed to point the gun at and where he can play guns and where he can't. Also ask him why he shouldn't play guns in those areas. Praise him when he provides the correct answers.
Other issues that you mentioned can be addressed at home by describing to him how he should listen when someone is talking. Let him know that he should:
- Stop what he is doing immediately
- Look at the person who is talking
- Nod his head or say “okay” to indicate that he is listening
- Not interrupt, but wait to ask questions when he does not understand
Again, he will need lots of reminders and practice. Before you begin to talk with him, remind him to use his "listening skill." Ask if he remembers the steps to listening. Have him actually tell you what they are before you begin to tell him something. When he uses all of the steps, praise him. If he does not remember them all, review the steps again, then practice in a pretend situation.
Try these techniques and let us know if they are helping.