My 6 yr old son runs my household. He screams and yells. He argues about everything. He talks back, disrespects adults. He laughs at me when I spank his butt. please give me some advice on something I can try that will help me regain my control.

A: I am very, very glad you wrote. You and your son are now locked in a battle for control and you are both losing. You lose control and hit him. But he shows you how bankrupt you really are by laughing at you. I’m sure this makes you even more furious. Neither one of you is getting what you really want which is a loving relationship. You were right to write. This has to stop.

Your son learned this behavior somehow. He wasn’t born wanting to be in a power struggle with his mother. If you want to change the situation, you need to learn more about what makes him do what he does. You also need to get some understanding of what you are currently doing that is actually helping it continue.

The solution is in two parts: Stop your part of the tug-of-war between you. Start doing things that will turn it all around. If you knew how to do that you would have done it already. So I’m guessing that you need to learn some new techniques for handling your son so you can have the warm and cooperative relationship you both really want.

Please consider getting involved with a parent study group or a family therapist to learn new ways to handle your child. I did search the web and found several resources for parenting classes in your city. Just search “parenting classes.”

You made a very important first step by writing to us here at PsychCentral. Your son is only 6. With some effort on your part (which probably involves a 6 – 10 week class), you can change his behavior and make a better family life for both of you for the years to come.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie