Do not give up on him

Dear Counsellor,
My brother and I are one class apart. He is a smart guy but he always tries to seek attention, and never in a good way. He is what you call a ‘problem child’ and he is older than me so I don’t know how to go about it. He is always in trouble, and the worst part is, he goes looking for it. How can I help him change?


In everybody’s growth cycle, the juvenile stage can be the most chaotic period. During this time, children’s bodies and minds go through rapid and disorderly changes. These changes are marked by overwhelming, and often, uncontrollable emotions, poor impulse-control; high-risk taking and conflicts between, peers, siblings, parents and strangers will be inevitable as they struggle to find their own identity. These are normal changes in behaviour due to growth and development. The difference is that, these changes manifest in each child at varying levels from time to time and your brother is undergoing the same.  Whether it’s an ability to communicate, accept boundaries, meet responsibilities, or get along with others, your brother hasn’t grasped the adult method of compromise, win-win situations and problem solving. Instead, he instigates trouble, seeks attention and destabilises peaceful situations.   


As a result, he is now ruled by anger and often uses crisis as a coping skill. Your brother is now exploring and learning to adapt to the varied demands of school, peers, family and the world at large, yet his behaviour makes people feel frustrated and angry. Fortunately, this period won’t last forever and this should provide opportunities for you to connect with him in healthy ways, with patience. You need to first work on strengthening your relationship and then approach him with understanding so that he sees you as a friend who supports and wants him out of trouble. Sit down with your brother and calmly discuss the consequences of causing trouble.  Show him your willingness to help him transform into a trouble-free child, both at home and at school. Siblings who have a good relationship often listen to each other and reach harmony quickly. The idea is to soften defensiveness and substitute it with alliance.


Your parents or guardians have a responsibility to shape their son in a way that will help him socialise with people without causing trouble.  Discuss this issue with them. If your parents feel that the boy’s behaviour has exceeded what most teenagers do, and it has become sufficiently alarming to warrant intervention from outside authorities, they should involve trusted teachers and a school counsellor to hold live advising sessions to help him stop his aggressive behaviour. Counsellors are trained to help troubled teenagers like your brother. The school should monitor his behaviour and class performance. However, you should also note that internal mechanisms for self-control can be learned by your brother gradually as he steps out of adolescence. Don’t give up on him. He will change with time.


Their thoughts...

Micheal Tangishaka, Student
It’s obvious that he is seeking attention which I believe he doesn’t get, and that’s why he gets into trouble. My advice is that you try to give your brother more attention, and this will create a friendlier environment for you both. It’s from this friendship that you will get close to him and help him better.

Patience Isaro, Student
Help him seek school counselling. Many people do not take therapy seriously but it’s an effective method that helps problematic students get back in line. Introduce your brother to a school counsellor to help him go about life in a more productive way. him go about life in a more productive way.with.

Jean-Claude Nizeyimana, Businessman
Most students who seek attention in the wrong way usually don’t have good friends to associate with, thus, I think a better solution would be to help your brother make good friends to hang out with. By having friends, he won’t have time to go and look for trouble.eventually make you more confident.

Abbas Kubwimana, Student
Talk to your parents to spare time for your brother and guide him through this. He is still young and there is a lot going on in his head, and the fact that he seeks attention in the wrong way is proof that he thinks people around him don’t notice him. Your parents should hear him out and guide him accordingly.participate even in class.

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