Help! My Son is Picking Up Bad Habits from His Father… What Should I Do?

BY: - 28 Nov '17 | Parenting

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

My 8-year-old son has recently started to act out in a very aggressive manner toward female children at school. His temper is getting worse by the day. Initially, I did not understand where he was learning the behavior. However, after talking to the school therapist, I learned that he might be picking up the behavior from my husband.

My husband is a very aggressive person and he does not always pay attention to whether or not our son is observing him. He loses his temper quickly and says whatever comes to his mind. My husband is kind to our son, but he displays aggression toward me. The school therapist talked to me about kids learning behavior through vicarious experience. I really did not understand what she was talking about and I was too embarrassed to ask her to clarify. For the sake of my son, can you please explain? My Son Is Learning The Wrong Things: What Is Vicarious Observation?


Confused Parent

Ask Dr. Buckingham

Dear Confused Parent,

I appreciate your willingness to seek understanding. The best way that you can help your son is to gain knowledge about things that influence him. Human behavior is a social science and the more you know about the better prepared you will be to deal with it. Unfortunately, a lot of parents do not seek understanding of things that are very technical or scientific in nature.

Vicarious observation refers to a process where a child compares him or herself to someone else. Children typically learn more from vicarious experience because they are uncertain about their own abilities and have limited personal experience. Therefore, parents are instrumental in influencing their children through observational and vicarious learning. For example, if a child observes a model of an aggressive parent, the child is likely to engage in similar behavior or avoid the behavior, depending on the outcome.


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As an illustration, social scientists conducted an experiment in which children were exposed to a model who acted aggressively against a large inflatable plastic punching doll. After observing the models’ aggressiveness toward the doll, each child was placed in a room and shortly after entering the room each child imitated similar aggressive behavior toward the doll. The results of the experiment revealed that an aggressive model could motivate a child to behave aggressively in new, unmolded ways.

Through vicarious arousal, children acquire attitudes, values, and emotional dispositions toward persons, places, and things. Vicarious learning enables children to learn new behaviors without experiencing difficulties or challenges in performing the task. For example, through vicarious learning, children can learn appropriate and/or inappropriate ways of expressing and processing emotional arousal by observing their parent(s) engage in such behavior. When children observe individuals functioning in a positive manner and treating others pleasantly, positive affect is generated. In contrast, when children observe individuals functioning in a negative manner and treating others unpleasantly, negative affect is generated. This occurs because children are easily aroused by the emotional expressions of others.

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Initial childhood developmental experiences are centered in the family and are mediated by adults. Children’s exposure to and/or observation of certain behaviors in their environments can strongly influence the development of their cognitive self-arousal and emotional reactions. Children typically model emotional reactions they observe, and through vicarious and observational learning, perceptions regarding task performance or accomplishment are developed. Children acquire lasting attitudes and emotional reactions that may extend into adulthood. With this in mind, one could assume that your son’s behavior is a by-product of observing your husband.

Again, I thank you for seeking understanding because parents are key figures in their children’s development and can make things happen through their actions. Both personal behavior and environmental influences shape children’s behavior. Given this, I would recommend that you speak with your husband about his behavior and consider seeking professional counseling.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 216 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at


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5 Things I Wish I Knew About My Body Before Having Babies

BY: - 18 Dec '17 | Parenting

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I have a confession to make. Last summer was the first time in almost 15 years that I was brave enough to wear a bikini. After having 4 kids, I was unhappy with my body and didn’t want to show all of my imperfections (i.e. my belly rolls, stretch marks, thigh dimples, leg veins etc.). But last year, I put all my insecurities aside, and I had a new-found confidence about my body.

And no, I did not lose a bunch of weight or get a make-over. The major difference was my mindset. I decided that although I had not reached my ideal weight, I was going to appreciate the body that I had. And having a positive self-image was really all that it took for me to start loving my body.

So here are 5 things I would tell my pre-mommy self to prepare her for a post-pregnancy body:

Appreciate the now.

When I was 25, I wish I had my 20-year-old body. When I was 30, I wish I had my 25-year-old body, and when I was 40 I wish I had my 30-year-old body. Don’t waste so much time thinking about the body you had.  Spend more time appreciating the body you have.

My girl's trip to Cuba, May 2017

My girl’s trip to Cuba, May 2017

Change your mindset.

I have friends of all shapes and sizes that would not hesitate to put on a bikini and wear it confidently. If you start with loving yourself inside, you will also love yourself on the outside.

Embrace your curves.

As you mature, your body is going to change. Every stretch mark and wrinkle tell the story of your journey. Love your journey and love your curves.

My girl's trip to Cuba, May 2017.

My girl’s trip to Cuba, May 2017.

Turn your pain into purpose.

Take Action! If you’re not happy about your body, don’t just complain about it…do something about it.

Talk to others.

When you open up and talk to other women about the changes you’re experiencing, you will find that you are not alone. Sharing with other women will help you put things into perspective and will make you feel comforted.

My girl's trip to Cuba, May 2017

My girl’s trip to Cuba, May 2017

Since we’re speaking of post-pregnancy bodies, did you know that 1 in 3 women experience bladder leaks1? Or that African American women experience bladder leaks at a rate of 1 in 21? Also, women who experience bladder leaks feel 9 years older than are1.

But perhaps, they would not feel that way if they shared with other women about what they are experiencing in their bodies. (As a side note: When I told my friends that I would be talking about the stigma around bladder leaks and how Always Discreet pads and liners provide superior bladder protection, at least half of them shared that they experienced bladder leaks after childbirth.  I was so shocked…I never knew that.)

Bladder leaks, stretch marks, or belly fat….none of these things should stop you from living your best life.

Having a sensitive bladder not only affects your confidence, but it can affect your style and your relationships. But as women, we don’t have to compromise. These days, products such as Always Discreet pads and liners not only provide great protection, they provide the right form and fit to allow you to  live confidently despite having a sensitive bladder. Bladder leaks, stretch marks, or belly fat….none of these things should stop you from living your best life.

Always Discreet for sensitive bladders provides incredible-performing, discreet protection, with a line of products that feature exclusive technology including, RapidDry™ that absorbs leaks in seconds, Dual LeakGuards™ that help stop leaks where they happen most and OdorLock™ that neutralizes urine odors instantly.

Always Discreet for sensitive bladders provides incredible-performing, discreet protection, with a line of products that feature exclusive technology including, RapidDry™ that absorbs leaks in seconds, Dual LeakGuards™ that help stop leaks where they happen most and OdorLock™ that neutralizes urine odors instantly.

At a conference on Saturday, a woman walked up to me and said: “I just wanted to tell you that you are beautiful.” Normally, I would have started to fidget. I would have given a goofy smile, snorted out a goofy laugh, and found a reason to return the compliment.  Then, I would have hightailed it outta there because I wouldn’t want anyone watching me.  But I didn’t do any of those things. I just smiled and said “Thank you!” because I am confident enough to receive compliments now.  So, to my pre-mommy self I say, “Always be confident in being you!”

BMWK – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pre-mommy self about your body?

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Always. The opinions and text are all mine.

1Fem Care AI analysis – Nielson Homescan Panel ending Mach 2012 looking a Fem Care purchases in HH 50+ that have no teenagers at home.

About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 528 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.


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