Our 7 year old son is getting into trouble at home and in school

Your Question

 Myself and my husband are struggling with our 7yr old son. He is getting in trouble in school for giddiness and rough play. He is also getting in trouble with his after school childcare for lies andshow-boating” with other children. 
At home, he hides food sneaks my phone and lies a lot. He doesn‘t listen and constantly pushes the boundaries. 
We’ve tried everything. Reward charts, taking away privileges.. sitting and talking through why sneaking food is not good. Nothing works. We both feel like we’re failing as parents. 


Hi there,  

Welcome to ask Robyn and thank you for getting in touch. It sounds like there is a lot going on for you, your partner and your son. It also sounds like you have tried a lot of different approaches to try and support your son’s needs and that you have been really patient in doing so. You’ve said that you feel that you’re failing as parents, we really want to reassure you that this is such a common feeling, and you are not alone. You have tried so many approaches and techniques and you have reached out for support, this shows such key qualities of good parenting in taking the time, tuning in to what your child may need and also communicating with other adults in your child’s life.  

It sounds like the key area that you are looking for support with is your child’s behaviour. It may help to think “behaviour is a form of communication,” your son may be trying to communicate that he needs a bit more support around impulsive behaviours. This could be why he is lying or taking things without asking and rough play. This can be a really hard thing for a child to understand and we wonder how have those conversations gone with him when you try to speak about why sneaking food is not good? It may be interesting to observe that maybe he does feel bad about some of these behaviours and require more support around apologising. It’s important to acknowledge how this is hard for your son and validate his feelings of frustration in learning this skill. It is also important to keep in mind that sometimes frustration can be presented as defensiveness or denial and he may not be able to recognise his feelings just yet.   

He may also feel that he is trying really hard and feel that he is only receiving attention when he is in trouble, one approach her could be to try and notice his strengths and give him lots of praise, “catch him being good.” Celebrate little wins such as getting dressed, eating his dinner or any time he plays gently or kindly with peers. Tusla have some advice around supporting behaviour in this way: www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/behaviour-management-for-your-child-an-introduction/ 

There are also some HSE services that can provide further support for you, they have a helpful article here: www2.hse.ie/babies-children/checks-milestones/social-emotional-behavioural/child-behaviour-problems/. Or you may wish to contact your local primary care centre. Primary care centres often have weekly drop in advice clinics you can find your local primary care here: www2.hse.ie/services/primary-care-centres/  

We hope you know that you are not failing as parents and it sounds like you are doing so much already. Make sure to look after yourself and your own well being too. If you would like to talk more about this, you can contact ISPCC’s Support Line which can be contacted by email to [email protected] or by phone from Monday to Friday 9am – 1pm on 01 522 4300  

Take care,   


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