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5 year old not listening at school, either

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

We've been struggling for a long time trying to teach DS (5) consequences and it just hasn't been working. We use as many natural and logical consequences as we can, but often there just isn't one. Now in preschool he is having so many issues that the teacher threatened to "talk to mom today" if he didn't knock it off. He didn't.

 

A lot of it is impulse control and I don't know how to help him with that. But he KNOWS the right thing and just chooses not to do it, and it's happening more frequently. Then when he gets in trouble for it (i.e., has to come inside b/c he couldn't play nicely outside), he cries and says we just want him to be in trouble. I can't seem to convince him that he's the one in control of his choices. He just can't hear us.

 

We've always tried to be understanding, but "Oh, he's only 2" has become "He's 5 -- WHEN is he going to get it?" We are very consistent with our rules (and there aren't many) and timeouts have never worked, even though he gets one every time he needs to be separated from the action. The cooling down/thinking time just doesn't cut it for him. He sees it as a punishment, does the "time" and goes back to his old tricks, even though I have always told him it's time to calm down/think about better choices/etc.

 

What am I doing wrong? It used to be only a problem here at home, but now it's at school too. He did well for awhile with sticker charts, but I put a stop to that, b/c he proved he knows how to behave and shouldn't need a bribe to do what he knows is right. I don't get paid for being a good person, and neither should he. 

post #2 of 31

Children do well if they can , they are not choosing , kids would prefer to be successful and adaptive , so he is already motivated and trying hard. Rewards and consequences focus on motivation and not even intrinsic motivation. They don't solve underlying problems or teach lagging skills. Dr Ross Greene has a book ' Lost at school ' to help parents and teachers help struggling pupils with their lagging skills.Rewards can sometimes make a kid look good in the short term or dom the opposite and create more stress. his struggle in school is also a product of the interaction between him and the teacher and the deamnds placed on him that outstrip his skills. A kid needs to feel supported and understood and not being told that he chose the punishment. It is  not easy , education is a long process 

post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 

I guess you hit it right on the head where I'm waffling. I agree that he really does want to succeed. He is a "good kid." And after I posted and had more time to think about things, I think what he really needs is more attention. Except that he is already getting as much as I can possibly give him without abandoning all my household and other-kid duties. But that doesn't mean he doesn't need more....

 

And yet, I do believe he is choosing. He's not consciously choosing to be punished (although maybe he is, b/c it gets him attention), so to speak, but he chooses his actions and then doesn't want consequences. He does not ever take responsibility for his actions, and when I ask for specifics on what happened at school, or even at home to see if he can tell me what went wrong, he refuses to talk about it. If pressed, he can easily tell me what his choice was and why it wasn't a good one. But he'll do his best to get away with not talking about it at all.

 

I am doing the best I can to find all the positives in a day and praise him for those. I talk to DH about him at dinner (in front of him) and tell him all the good things I can about the day. I save the negatives for later, after bed time. But the negatives do happen, and they do need to be addressed. I can't just let him get away with abusing his friends at school, but I don't know how to get through to him without it just being me reprimanding him or getting frustrated and yelling. Or making him feel like I'm yelling at him when I'm not....

post #4 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post
He did well for awhile with sticker charts, but I put a stop to that, b/c he proved he knows how to behave and shouldn't need a bribe to do what he knows is right. I don't get paid for being a good person, and neither should he. 

 

 

He's five, and needs more feedback. Stickers are a form of feedback based on catching kids being good. They let kids know that we are paying attention to them, and appreciate their efforts. They break down the way to be successful into little tiny increments that they can handle, rather than expecting to just be good from now on. For some kids, they make life manageable by letting them focus on one task, or one segment of time.

 

You know what works for your child, but you don't want to do it because no one gives you stickers. He won't always need the stickers, but they work for him for now.

 

Has he had an evaluation?

 

(BTW, I help administer behavior plans for kids with special needs and/or behavior issues at a school. Sticker charts work well for some kids, and not at all for other kids. But they work for your child. There are millions of ways to motivate children, and the more creative you can get about how to cash in a sticker chart, the better you will feel about it  AND the more effective it will be for your son. One child I know gets to spend time at a special art table set up just for her when she gets enough stickers. There is something that would make your heart sing and highly motivate your son -- just figure out what it is, and let him earn it with stickers.)

post #5 of 31

An approach to parenting will usually depend on how we view kid's behavior and whether our goal is to promote intrinsic motivation , helping kids motivate themselves rather than using control - consequences or seducation. 

 

We all want attention, the difference is we know how to get attention in positive ways. If we think the problem is motivation and we all we need to do is make him ' wanna' behave , many advise - praise , catching him being good , dangling doggie biscuits in front of him , giving him attention idf he behaves himself etc. 

Even if we are non-judgemental , non-punitive etc kids have a hard time discussing with us when they screw up - not only is it a matter of trust - that you are there to suuport them rather than reprimand or punish them , even praise is disliked because it is judgmental - but it is a skill to articulate one's concerns . This is more true when the focus is only on parental expectations and how the kid screwed up and the kid's concerns are ignored.

 

In the cps - collaborative problem solving approavch model , we don't talk about behaviors - we talk about unsolved problems beginning with the kid's concerns and only later talking about our concerns and expectations. 

 

It is these conversations that promote life skills and trust. It is not easy - it is a process. 

 

Parents start the cps process by looking at a list of potential lagging skills a kid may display. This helps them wear new lenses and start working on solving problems 

post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 

Linda, you might be right. I just don't like the bribery angle. It's not about me not being rewarded so neither should he, it's about how real life works. Certain things that we do that are special, we may get an external reward, but basic common decency, we usually don't. We are expected to behave nicely or at least not harm others. There's no reward given for that. But we have been talking more about the reward being how we feel about ourselves and our behavior, and he was asking about what happens if they get a sticker they didn't really earn. I guess the teacher must still be using stickers in some capacity. Maybe he's not ready to give that up yet.

 

Today I focused less on the negative behaviors we want to eradicate and more on the positives. I told him before school to remember three "good choices" to tell me about at the end of the day. Even that, he couldn't do without help from the teacher. We talked about examples beforehand so he had a concrete idea of the kinds of things we mean when we say "good choices" and that's what he spit back at me. I doubt he actually did those things exactly, but as long as she indicated that he listened to her when she gave him a reminder I'm okay with that. He got a special treat in the car for having a "good" report from the teacher. (There were still problems during the day, but at least they stopped when she told him to stop.)

 

I'm having a hard time deciphering what "skills" are "lagging" other than keeping it together when he doesn't have something engaging enough to keep him from lashing out. Maybe it's my skill of keeping him occupied and engaged at all times that is lagging?

post #7 of 31

I recently started a reward chart for my 5-YO daughter for not hurting other people when she is really angry.  The first one she's ever had.  I wouldn't go so far as to call it bribery but it is definately a reward and I have tried to avoid those because I believe they do diminish intrinsic motivation, and therefore had always been resistant to doing a reward chart.  What has helped me is thinking of some of her behaviors as bad habits she's gotten into, and it is OK to pull out all the stops to jump-start a change in those habits because habits are hard to break!  At the same time I am working on the underlying reasons the behaviors are occuring in the first place and what we can do differently when she gets angry.  Yes, I cringe a little at how my daughter likes seeing me put a check mark on her chart and how she likes the reward.  But she is proud of herself for acting in a way that isn't hurting other people.  Her behavior is changing.

 

It would probably help if he could get the stickers at school, so he sees the reward immediately.

post #8 of 31
I get an extrinsic reward every time I go to work. It's called a paycheck ;-)

Reinforcement is not bribery, it's acknowledging good choices in a kid-friendly way. Of course, the sticker alone is not enough. The child should always be told WHY he or she received a sticker along with a hug, high five, etc. this will help the child learn exactly what needs to do to earn another.
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 

The trouble I had with the sticker chart was that he never seemed to be able to "remember" why he didn't get a sticker for a particular part of the day. Then we switched to getting a sticker at the end of the day if it was overall a "good" day, but he was always convinced he deserved one, until the teacher took the wind out of his sails by reminding him of whatever happened that meant he shouldn't get one. So I put an end to that, and now I think we need to focus on the positive instead of rewarding for the absence of the negative. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.)

 

I'm going to try out the more positive focus and see if that helps. It has not worked in the past, but I'd rather focus on the positive. Basically, the problem is that any amount of talking (no matter how little) doesn't get through.

 

Frankly, the paycheck thing doesn't sell me. It's not a reward, it's a trade. Fee for services rendered. If you do an excellent job, you get a reward in the form of a raise or a bonus or extra time off or lunch out or whatever. He goes to school. That is not enough. He needs to listen, learn, and be kind. THAT is his "job." Obviously, since he's little and in need of extra motivation, I'm happy to reward him for less-than-excellent-over-the-top performance as long as nothing really bad happened that day. But the sticker thing was starting to feel like extortion. It was contentious, and started to cause a real problem if he didn't get one even when he knew he didn't deserve it.

post #10 of 31
Reinforcing "good" behavior is far too subjective and abstract for a LO. Also, reinforcements are meant to increase positive behavior, not decrease negative. Children should be presented with a clear, concrete reason for getting a sticker, token, etc. For example, "I put my toys in the bin" is more doable than "I cleaned my room." "I talked to mom when I got angry" is easier to "get" than "I was good today." Also, I agree, reinforcement works best for a 5yo when immediate.

They key is teaching positive alternatives for negative behaviors. If a sticker helps a child remember to use those alternatives, than so be it. He won't need a sticker chart forever.
post #11 of 31
Also, adults use extrinsic motivators to help break habits all the time. "I can eat birthday cake if I make healthful choices all week." Finding something to help motivate us to make a positive change is not wrong, unrealistic, bribery. It's a helpful coping strategy when done correctly.
post #12 of 31

Maybe he has auditory processing disorder-his brain doesnt process sound properly. here are too many noises in the classroom, he cant make out what the teacher is saying, so he doesnt  'listen', and acts out, does is own thing...looks like adhd, looks like bad behavior...my 7yo is like this. I thought it was a disciplinary issue in the past as well ( i posted about it somewhere). Google auditory processing disorder, or sensory processing disorder... i hope this helps...he sounds  so much like my son.

 

I had no clue, until one day we were going through a math workbook. He loved working through it and did it  efficiently, speedily, with gusto, with focus, until...we came  to a word math problem. He couldnt read  at the time, so i  read him the verbal question....in an instant all the noisemaking, not paying attention, not listening, started up....but when i put the problem in a visual format, he went back to his focussed self.

post #13 of 31
Thread Starter 

Ohhhhh my. I have a call in to a SI therapist. Hopefully she will call me back. After reading a bunch about SPD b/c of my younger DS, I started to suspect there might be an issue with the 5 yo. Now that others with experience in that area are saying that, too, I wonder. Is it that those of us who are aware of SPD are all hearing hoofbeats and thinking zebras, or is it really a zebra this time? B/c most of my friends (and the ped) say horses, but none of them have seen too many zebras, IYKWIM.

post #14 of 31
Brain development can't be rushed and cognitive function is responsible for impulse control.
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

After reading a bunch about SPD b/c of my younger DS, I started to suspect there might be an issue with the 5 yo. Now that others with experience in that area are saying that, too, I wonder. Is it that those of us who are aware of SPD are all hearing hoofbeats and thinking zebras, or is it really a zebra this time?

 

Behaviors that children can be bribed or punished to stop are NOT related to sensory processing issues. Sensory issues run deeper than that, and bribes and punishments don't effect them. They truly are things that the children can not help and the adults are left figuring how to change the sensory input.  Because his behaviors are effected by rewards, they aren't caused by sensory issues.

 

However, it sounds like your son has a variety of issues in a variety of settings. Has he had an evaluation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

The trouble I had with the sticker chart was that he never seemed to be able to "remember" why he didn't get a sticker for a particular part of the day. Then we switched to getting a sticker at the end of the day if it was overall a "good" day, but he was always convinced he deserved one, until the teacher took the wind out of his sails by reminding him of whatever happened that meant he shouldn't get one. So I put an end to that, and now I think we need to focus on the positive instead of rewarding for the absence of the negative. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.)


I think your expectation that he be able to recount why he gets each sticker is inappropriate for a 5 year old. Again, that is your hang up and doesn't have anything to do with it working for your son.

 

Saying a day was overall good or overall bad is really subjective. A zillion little opportunities happen everyday, and honestly what counts as successful for a child with behavior issues varies from child to child. Using a chart allows a way to break it into segments or tasks -- a smaller chunk that the child CAN understand. Your son's lack of ability to list each segment with details doesn't mean that it didn't work for him. A child gets the hang of how many stickers is a "good day" for them. It gives them a concrete measure. Most kids on behavior plans are not going to have perfect days, so being able to quantify it as a "good day" based on the total number of stickers helps kids instead of requesting they make a judgment. They can't. 

 

The kids I work with are a couple of years older than your son, and we work A LOT on helping them understand and then recount why a choice they made was positive or negative. Its a skill they are are developing, not one they have down. And we are working on one segment of the day, not the whole day.

 

Sometimes, the positive and the absence of negative are ways of stating the exact same thing. "maintained a calm body" is a positive way to state a lack of a negative behavior. I do think it is helpful to phrase things in a positive way for small children to the greatest extent possible. "don't hit your classmates" isn't as helpful as "keep your hands to yourself."

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

 

Certain things that we do that are special, we may get an external reward, but basic common decency, we usually don't. We are expected to behave nicely or at least not harm others. There's no reward given for that. But we have been talking more about the reward being how we feel about ourselves and our behavior,

 

 

I'm basically a nice person, and I get a lot of rewards for that. I have friends, neighbors who like me, I get invited places, and I'm in a very positive and supportive marriage. Being kind to people really pays off for me.

 

Most school age children can understand that their behavior effects whether or not other kids want to play with them. Most children want to have friends and want to be liked. They can understand the very natural consequence of being unkind is that the other kids don't want to hang out with them.

 

You said that you don't think he should get rewards because he can do these behaviors seemed to miss a part of what is happening. Your son can do these behaviors *with extra help and support.*  If he really don't do the behaviors, then the sticker chart wouldn't have made a different -- you can't motivate some one to do something that they really, truly, aren't capable of. This is really, really hard for him. He can't do it consistently. He has to really work at it. He needs to have help and support with it.

 

For children who need to change their behavior towards other because it is consistently hurtful (and it sounds like your son's is) I think that addressing it in several different ways is helpful. Breaking it down into smaller steps, monitoring it, providing lots of attention for being good to minimize the risk of seeking attention in negative ways, talking to them about how their behavior effects others, etc are all good things. Sticker charts can help with tracking and motivation. They are just a tool.

 

Having watched kids with behavior plans and sticker charts, I can tell you that they get a LOT more attention from the teacher than most kids, and that they have the opportunity to get a LOT more attention for positive behavior than most kids. Telling the teacher to not reward your child for positive behavior leaves the teacher with no choice but to wait until your child misbehaves and then punish them in some way. How is that positive?

 

An excellent book you might find helpful is "smart by scattered"

post #16 of 31
Is it possible that you are engaging in too much back and forth to convince him that his choice earned him the consequence? IME engaging in a lot of discussion takesthe focus off the behavior and puts it on arguing and trying to be right. It is OK for a child to be unhappy about nor making a good choice and not getting to continue an activity because of that and it is OK to state something once and not engage in argument in an attempt to convince them to go along with the consequence without whining or arguing further.

Imposing any consequence can feel so wrong and kids pick up on that and use it to their advantage, not because they are bad or manipulative but because they are normal humans who don't want a consequence they don't like. If you are going to impose a decision or consequence on your child you need to find a way to be OK letting them feel disappointed without trying to argue them out of showing their disappointment.
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ISISandOSIRIS View Post

Also, adults use extrinsic motivators to help break habits all the time. "I can eat birthday cake if I make healthful choices all week." Finding something to help motivate us to make a positive change is not wrong, unrealistic, bribery. It's a helpful coping strategy when done correctly.

This is a good example of what I meant about using reward of the the chart to help break a habit.  Thinking of it in the above terms helped me get more comfortable with using a rewards chart.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISISandOSIRIS View Post

Reinforcing "good" behavior is far too subjective and abstract for a LO. Also, reinforcements are meant to increase positive behavior, not decrease negative. Children should be presented with a clear, concrete reason for getting a sticker, token, etc. For example, "I put my toys in the bin" is more doable than "I cleaned my room." "I talked to mom when I got angry" is easier to "get" than "I was good today." Also, I agree, reinforcement works best for a 5yo when immediate.

They key is teaching positive alternatives for negative behaviors. If a sticker helps a child remember to use those alternatives, than so be it. He won't need a sticker chart forever.

Good point.  My daughter's reward chart for not hitting when she is angry is actually called "DD's Good Choices Even When Really, Really Angry" chart (she helped me come up with the title).  

post #18 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

 

A lot of it is impulse control and I don't know how to help him with that. But he KNOWS the right thing and just chooses not to do it, and it's happening more frequently.

 

I still struggle with impulse control as an adult.  I sometimes still make bad choices (I'm thinking of how I yell at my husband or kids sometimes) before I even realize I've actually made a choice, especially when I'm tired or stressed (my daughter is in preschool a full school day and she is tired and stressed at the end of the day, too).  When I am thinking about how my kids keep doing these annoying/bad things I try to remember how hard it is for me to choose to do the right thing sometimes.  Not that this is a solution, but I find it helps me feel less stressed out about my kids' behaviors and look at things from their points of view and get into a problem-solving mode.

 

Then when he gets in trouble for it (i.e., has to come inside b/c he couldn't play nicely outside), he cries and says we just want him to be in trouble.

 

We had to increase the severity of our consequences and get extremely consistent with them.  If you have to come inside you don't get to go out again tomorrow (it used to just be you had to come inside).  There is a yes/no sign that shows if you are allowed to go out next time and it gets flipped to "no" if we have to haul you in.  The visual cue is huge.  Even my 2-year-old gets into it. 

 

We've always tried to be understanding, but "Oh, he's only 2" has become "He's 5 -- WHEN is he going to get it?"

 

Oh, I am so with you on this one.  I really thought my daughter would grow out of so much stuff.  And then she was 4, and then 5 and still at it.  I honestly started to think my daughter just wasn't going to get it unless I changed how I was parenting her.  Which is what I'm working on now.  Not sure if that is true or not but it's where I'm working from right now.   Most of 5-year-olds I see seem to be fairly reasonable little people.  Compared to them my daughter sometimes seems like a 3-year-old in so many ways. 

 

We are very consistent with our rules (and there aren't many) and timeouts have never worked, even though he gets one every time he needs to be separated from the action. The cooling down/thinking time just doesn't cut it for him. He sees it as a punishment, does the "time" and goes back to his old tricks, even though I have always told him it's time to calm down/think about better choices/etc.

 

I think consistency in rules and consequences is really important (and where I have a lot of work to do).   It's great that you already have this structure for your son.  You might try writing dow the rules where he can see them so he knows what they are.  Anyway, I haven't tried timeouts with my daughter yet, but I have been reading a lot on the Aha Parenting website about them and she makes a good argument about why she thinks they aren't helpful.  If you are giving a ton of timeouts everyday and they aren't working it might be time to focus on other things (which it looks like you are doing anyway).

 

What also has helped a ton with my daughter is setting aside some time for one-on-one with me and her, and with her father and her.  Before that she had almost no fun time with parents without her brother around.  Not sure if this is applicable in your case. 

 

 

post #19 of 31

The problem with rewards is they do sometimes work in the short term. When it kid learns that it pays to be nice, you are teaching him to ask what's in it for me and not what kind of person I want to be - I am kind  etc - because that is who I am. If we want commitment to values underlying behavior we need to focus on kids finding meaning, purpose  and value in what they do , they are competent , they feel self directed and not doing things to please others or get a reward and the relationship is unconditional - not dependent on how they behave . This is when reinforcement takes place. When we use rewards , the only thing we are reinforcing is the child's motivation to get more rewards. Rewards can be self determined - meaning that we as adults or kids want to achieve a certain goal and use some extrinsic motivation to help us along - when we use behavior charts , the goal of the kid is to get the reward and we use the reward as a source of control. So when we use consequences , rewards etc we are now responsible for the kids behavior , the locus of control is with us . Also from a values perspective why convert a behavior which expresses a value into money - we should be doing the opposite showing how we use money or give up money to invest in helping others and doing things that are more pro-social , spiritual etc  

 

So if we must use rewards make sure they are self determined - the kid sees them as a help to further his expectations , not only yours . And before that do some collaborative problem solving getting your child's concerns and expectations on the table, then yours , define the problem and then try and find a mutually satisfying solution - this is hard and messy but engaging in the process the kid is acquring the many cognitive skills he is lacking . The process is difficult but more respectable - rewards are so easy but at a price 

post #20 of 31

To me, rewards are really no different than punishment (call it "consequences" if you want). Extrinsic motivation. Works with some kids; not so much with others. I get the OP's attitude that sticker charts externalize the motivation. But time-outs do exactly the same thing. Natural consequences (if you leave your bike out, it will get rusty or stolen) are part of life in the real world. Sometimes it plays out in the real world - if you are mean, the other kids won't want to play with you. But it still doesn't directly teach any particular skill. If you play nicely, other kids will want to play with you may be the natural truth, but doesn't help teach a skill either.

 

Mom saying, "If you hit, you must come inside, take a time out, apologize, then go out and play again", whether that is in 10 minutes or tomorrow or whenever, doesn't teach any skill. Putting a sticker on a chart doesn't teach any problem-solving skill either. If the problem is staying calm and communicating when another child takes your toy, that is the lagging skill. Maybe the kids need closer supervision right now, so Mom can intervene earlier, to suggest a problem-solving strategy (turn-taking, sharing, whatever the moment calls for) before the incident gets out of hand. As a therapeutic foster parent, most of my kids started with 24/7 line of sight supervision. I know how exhausting and intense this is. But it really was an opportunity to teach the precise lagging skills. Over time, they earned my trust in small increments (although I never put it to them that way - I found it worked better to silently slip from the scene for a moment at a time, gradually increasing the freedom).

 

This intense parenting doesn't translate well to school, but one hopes the skills the child learns will.

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