This came at a good time for us, as last night my husband and I considered if we need help with some strategies for our 9 year old son, but don’t know where to look for advice. We’ve been here a year, and are well settled but our son is not happy at school, or in general. Everything I ask him to do, however trivial, seems to provoke an angry response. He makes everything a battle, from getting up and dressed in the morning, to homework, to outdoor activities – whatever it is, he becomes argumentative and rude. Given time, in his room, to calm down, he will eventually re-appear and apologise, but we are finding the behaviour very wearing. He is an only child, and certainly does not want for attention, but we are aware that in some respects he is lonely here. He has a good friend in a local boy, but even when he is happy in his company, his behaviour to us does not change. We remove privileges and refuse the treats he enjoys in response to his behaviour, and i t will improve for a couple of days, but then it’s back to square one. Underneath it all, is a lovely and very loving and affectionate boy. We have asked him what is causing this behaviour – he says he can’t help it, that it is his personality, and that he is unhappy here – there is some truth in the last part, but to be honest, this behaviour has been with us for a long time, and has just got more extreme. We would be really grateful for some advice.
My Response

Hello Mum. While reading your question, I felt a lot of sadness and anguish (distress). Nowadays everybody has Google and can have a search what might be normal, but there isn’t a set normal. Something I feel comfortable in saying is that your son seems to be angry with you. How would you feel if you had to follow someone and couldn’t really object to his/her choices? It seems a little bit like revenge to me. He loves you a lot, and the only way he can express his disagreement about your choice of moving here, seem to be this being aggressive even when you ask trivial things. Maybe you could try to let him express his negative emotions in a somehow regulated way. For instance giving him a moment where he can speak his mind aloud and also making him take responsibility for his own feelings. What does he want? What does he think would help him feel better? He might be thinking he would like to go back to his old buddies. Maybe if it is possible he could go back once a month or every few months to visit them. Do this only if you feel you are ready to face the pain of what he might say could cause you. As parents we all fear our “mistakes”, but there are no mistakes believe me,when you do your best to find a compromise between choices that need to be made and individuals’ happiness. Being a parent is often hard because we don’t always get to be understood and empathized by our children, and yet we must do choices that involve them, even if at first they don’t like and/or understand them, because we are the grown up.

Submit your questions to Ask Paolo:

Dr. Paolo Molino, psychotherapist, Via Scialoja 68, Firenze. Cell 331-1064726 email: Website:

Disclaimer: All information contained herein is the opinion and view of the writer. It is intended to provide helpful and informative material on the subjects addressed and is not meant to malign any organization, religion, ethnic group, or individual. Readers should consult their personal specialists before adopting any of the recommendations or drawing inference from information contained herein. The writer specifically disclaims all responsibility for any liability, loss, risk — personal or otherwise — incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from the use and application of any material provided.

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