02/11/2009 03:38 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Ask Joanne: Son Scared Of Going Upstairs

What's your question about life as a parent? Our experienced life coach Joanne Mallon is here to help. Send your email to this address and say if you'd like your name changed.

Michaela asks:

I have a 7 year old son who is scared of going upstairs alone (some days he seems more bothered than others). He will if I time him and he has to have constant communication until he is back downstairs. In other people's houses he won't even go into another room alone.

He can also be a bit loud and show off around others and do and say things he normally wouldn't in a boisterous manner. He is generally a well behaved child in the home apart from the normal sibling behaviour with his 12-year-old brother.

He also has developed a "who are you looking at?" attitude recently when out and about and he seems to be testing his boundaries some of the time. I am not sure how best to approach this without making things worse.

Here's our life coach's reply

Dear Michaela

So from what you have said, when you are home together he wants to keep you close, but when you are out and about he's pushing you away - that certainly sounds like boundary pushing, doesn't it?

First of all, I would look at the bigger picture to see if there is anything else going on that might be contributing to him feeling insecure. Any recent changes at home or school? Is there anything you're worried about that he might be picking up on? On the days he's more bothered, what's going on then?

At seven, he's moving into a phase in his life when male role models are particularly important. How does he get on with his dad? If his dad's not around, who else could be a good male role model for him to spend time with? A very good book which will explain more on this is Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph.

If you have eliminated other causes and feel that this is just about testing boundaries, then it's up to you to keep those boundaries firm and consistent. Also it might be worth looking at his bedroom a bit and making sure he likes going there - that way it becomes less about going away from you and more about going towards somewhere safe and secure.

Talk to him about his fears. Don't dismiss them, but focus on possible solutions. What does he think might happen if he's not in constant communication with you? What is his reason for this? What does he think would help him feel better? This fear is created by your son, and if you listen he will help you find its root and its cure as well.

Best wishes


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