Since he was 8 years old, my son has liked to talk and behave nonsensically in front of me. He likes to act cute, or like a baby mimicking a cute voice, and pretending to be like a baby only to me. To others, he acts his age. When I talk to him seriously, he would say things like "I love you mama, you are awesome," but never focus or respond to what I'm saying.

He also likes to hold and hug me. He likes to kiss me, even when I'm talking about serious stuff. I don't understand why, and I have talked to him since he was 8, but he's never changed, even though he says he will, and he doesn't seem to understand why I'm so upset and pissed off by his behavior.

I don't seem to be able to hold a normal conversation with him. I get frustrated, and resent him. I'm going crazy. I think he is trying to get my attention too much. He is too insecure, and fears I may abandon him even though I assure him I won't. It could also be because of the constant conflict at home. His father and I are divorced. He witnessed too much fighting at home. This could have affected him.

Why is he behaving like this, and what can I do to encourage him to act his age?

  • Could you edit this a bit to make the question more clear? I am not sure what you are asking. Are you looking for reasons? Are you looking for tools to change his behavior? A few linebreaks would help too :)
    – Ida
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 20:59

3 Answers 3


There are a number of problems here, and the reasons why they're happening is anyone's guess.

The most obvious one you've already mentioned: maybe he's afraid of losing your love as he gets older. He might be certain (he probably remembers) you loved him when he was younger, and you fight now, so his solution is to act as he did when he was younger. It could be because of the divorce (may be proof in his eyes that love can be withdrawn), maybe because parents do fight more with their children once adolescence hits, and this is triggering some fear.

Whatever the reason, it sounds like both of you can use help, because the patterns you're engaged in aren't helping either one of you.

That's when therapy is called for. A family therapist deals with the effects of divorce and family discord on children and adults, and will ideally help you both to develop more positive behavior patterns.

In the mean time, if you're having fights over his behavior, you might want to stop, and see what effect that has.

he doesn't seem to understand why I'm so upset and pissed off by his behaviour.

You can't make him change his behavior; you can only change your own. The result is deep frustration when we try to change someone we love and live with.

Any reaction to his behavior - even anger - may be better than none in your insecure son's eyes. The mantra is to reward good behavior (always respond positively to him when his behavior is less infantile), and don't reward the bad (simply ignoring him as much as possible when he acts like a baby.) Don't get angry, don't argue. Make sure to explain thoroughly to him the difference between ignoring his behavior and ignoring him; of disliking his behaviors and disliking him. This takes a lot of wisdom and patience, but it does help while you're waiting for more professional direction.

(I'm sure you've done some of this already. But if you haven't tried a therapist, I strongly recommend that you do.)


I have the feeling that inscribing him and yourself in an improvisation theatre course might be benefitial to both you and him. What you described just makes me remember a time in my life when everything was too heavy for me and the only way to make sense in life was being like a kid. luckly I ended up living in a city called Berlin, where everybody is behaving childish, and this did me unbelievable amounts of good.

Maybe if you both do the improvisation course, he will have a free environment where he can let all of his need to act flow freely, and you will be in an environment which enables you to watch it with a proper mindset. After some time, it could be that his need to act will be satisfied, and he won't need to bring this behaviour to his daily life anymore.

There were times in life where I wanted to behave differently with people so I could test alternative personalities in me, but I knew that some people would get annoyed with me, so I just inscribed myself in a improvisation theater course and it worked wonders on me.

Be sure that he does an improvisation course and not a standard one, because otherwise he will just have to follow some scripts and he won't have the chance of being behaving like what his creativity is ordering him to do.

There is also something called theather (or acting) therapy which could be helpful too.

I hope this helps.

  • Role playing games are a good training to reduce uncertainty, fear, and practice communication and interaction! +1 Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 19:22

This is kind of a role play.

I remember that I and my friends often played like this in secondary school and still at the teacher training college. But not with the parents.

Maybe that your role is rather a to be a friend than the mother.

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