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'Controlling' behaviour

This is seen when children cope with their difficulties by trying to dominate others. They tell people what to do, defy adults, and generally seek to dominate and control situations.

The best way to manage such behaviour is to give the child some areas where he does have control, for example choosing his clothes, helping to select items at the supermarket, and deciding how to spend his pocket money (within reason!). Allocate some pleasant task that becomes his responsibility and reward him for doing it. Explain to him that certain tasks are his domain, but others are not.

When giving him instructions, do this in the form of choices whenever possible: ‘Do you want to tidy up your room while I do the lounge, or will you do the lounge while I do your room?’. This is less likely to make him feel that he is losing autonomy.


Some children develop a habit of quitting as a way of coping with their difficulty. In school work and in games, they give up the moment they encounter difficulties and often refuse to continue.

If your child behaves in this manner you should first talk to him about the importance of persevering. Tell him stories about great people who did not give up when they were facing defeat. Children’s libraries often have books with stories that teach children particular virtues like courage or persistence.

Make certain that the tasks that your child has to accomplish are within his capabilities, and give him rewards for accomplishment. You could give him some special job to do that requires persistence and have a reward system for when he finishes it. In this way he will have the opportunity to learn that persistence does pay.

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