My 6 y.o. DS suddenly acting up in school!.. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 11-30-2011, 07:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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As the headline already states, my 6 y.o. DS is suddenly acting up at school (1st grade) and I have no clue what I can do to make him stop this behavior!?!.. He's been called to the principle's office now the past 2 days in a row, every time claiming that the other child having called him names for which he first hit the one child and the 2nd time even bit the child!. (When I asked him today what happened, he said he fell off a seat and by accident with his face onto the hand of the child who sat on the carpet.. Now I'm unsure if that's actually what happened or not. To me it really doesn't sound like my son suddenly biting another child! [He had that phase when he was 2 y.o., unfortunately...] 

 

Yesterday after the first incident I've talked to him, took all his privileges away, grounded him so he couldn't go out to play with friends and also told him that Santa will not bring him any toys if he keeps on acting up!.. Now after today's incident (which to me still sounds more like an accident than actual biting, but apparently DS' story changed 2x while talking to his teacher and later principle..) I asked him what's going on etc. and he said he feels very angry when the other kids laugh at him etc. I realize I must focus more on DS' feelings and pay more attention to is, helping him re-directing his emotions or better say expressing them differently!..

But aside of that, what else can I do to make sure he's going to be a good boy in school again? I honestly don't know why or where the change in him comes from suddenly!? The only thing that changed is that I've started talking in German to my kids more again (I'm a German National who unfortunately didn't stick to talking to both of my kids from birth on in German...Now I'm picking it up again because DH & I finally made the decision to retire in Germany in 1.5 yrs when DH is retiring from the US Navy, so we're preparing the kids now already. But  that's a whole 'nother story..). DS is doing great, remembering words and starting to use full sentences etc.

I'm being quite relaxed with teaching my kids German as I don't want them to feel forced etc., so I don't think that could have anything to do with his behavior.. but maybe I'm wrong???

 

I've now started reading 'How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk' by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish and have written down a few other books that have been mentioned in other threads here.

 

I'd just like to get some input from other parents on this subject.. What else could I do to enforce DS' good behavior in school? (He's been more 'fresh' towards me at home too, stating it was all "just fun" but some of his comments or responses are clearly more disrespectful and his teacher mentioned today that he's been more acting up with her in front of his classmates as well..)

 

Thank you for listening/reading!!! I'm really looking forward to hear some opinions from you!


~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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#2 of 12 Old 11-30-2011, 11:52 AM
 
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Wow. I had a reply all typed out and it vanished. Let me try this again….

It sounds like he is very angry. School is very hard for young kids. They have so little control over what they do all day, what they learn, how they learn it, who they can talk to and when, when they can go to the bathroom, etc. They are told to sit still for long periods of time, long before they are developmentally ready or able to, and punished or labeled when they can't.

You sound like you are reading a great book. I'd also read Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott.

I would recommend listening to him and REALLY hearing him. Clearly we all know that the inappropriate behaviors cannot continue, but until he feels like the most important people in the whole world understand and hear his feelings, he's going to keep trying to get them out….probably in the wrong way. I would recommend active listening, as the book says. Let him tell you his feelings, his fears, his frustrations, all without lecturing. (you can talk to him about appropriate behavior later, but doing it while he's opening up to you will defeat the purpose) Hug him. Understand him. He needs to be able to count on you to support him in his struggle to behave well. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He WOULD behave if he could manage it, but it sounds like he can't right now. Find out what he needs.

I would steer away from pounding home the idea of how wrong or bad he is, which is the message punishment sends. Obviously kids want to do the right thing if they feel good and whole, but if they feel all out of sorts, they aren't going to be able to, or willing.  If I were your son and I got home after a horrible experience at school and then had punishments heaped upon me, I think the anger and sadness of it would be unbearable. And at his age I bet I'd act out too.

So the message from me is build him up from within. Concentrate not on punishing or correcting, but on FEEDING whatever it is inside him that needs building up, so that when he goes to school and faces whatever frustrations or challenges, he feels supported, capable, ABLE to handle it, knowing that you are cheering him on from the sidelines.

Your troubles feel familiar to me. I used to try to punish (allegedly gently) "behaviors" out of my kid before realizing that they don't just arise arbitrarily. You love him, you're on his side, you want him to succeed. If you are trying to correct this with punishments, that message won't get through to him and he will continue to be in pain.

This is my opinion, anyway. I have a challenging boy; I sympathize and hope this helps.
 

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#3 of 12 Old 11-30-2011, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Nellie,

thank you SO much for your kind response!!! I appreciate it especially considering you had it all typed out once before and had to re-do it! (I hate when that happens!!!)

Reading your words made me see some things in a different light (coming home after an incident at school only to be punished on top of it..) and I really thank you for saying it all loud and clear for me to understand!!!

 

You're right, I seem to make the mistake too often and not really listen to my kids or worse ignoring their true feelings by not realizing them!..

My son has always been more of an angry little man when he doesn't get his will or something goes wrong (he's the youngest and I know I've probably made way to many mistakes in 'pampering' him, giving him the 'prince treatment' shy.gif, so now of course he expects everything to go his way or he flips out quickly..*sigh*). What makes me wonder is just that 2 weeks ago, when I went to the parent-teacher meeting there was no such thing going on! The teacher told me how he's nice to his class mates, respectful to her etc. [Which I was grateful to hear as I thought at least he's only  a 'handful' at home, but not at school you know?]

 

I will definitely actively listen from now on and check out the book you recommended as well! I also have 3 more to read here on that subject; Kid cooperation by Elizabeth Pantley, Love and Logic by Jim Fay and last not least The five love languages of children. I know, the latter is not necessarily gentle discipline related but I feel this will help me as well to maybe understand DS better as he's so different than from DD, with whom I rarely have any issues really.. [She was a 'nightmare' as a baby up until 3 and then it went all good, DS was the opposite, he went 'downhill' ever since he started pre-school...]

 

Thank you again for reading my post and giving me advice!!!


~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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#4 of 12 Old 11-30-2011, 04:51 PM
 
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Wow. I'm thrilled. I kind of half expected to be told I went too far again (I am rather opinionated and I feel so strongly about things). I am so happy to hear my words were well-received!

 

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#5 of 12 Old 11-30-2011, 07:23 PM
 
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I think you need to ask for a conference with the teacher to see if he is going from low level naughty to over the top unacceptable or if these things are truly isolated incidents. Did the principal call you to tell you what happened or did you get all the details from your son? If you got them all from your son I suggest checking on his story when you call to schedule a conference. I also think you shouldn't take privelages if he is the one telling you about the visit to th
e office.
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#6 of 12 Old 11-30-2011, 11:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I think you need to ask for a conference with the teacher to see if he is going from low level naughty to over the top unacceptable or if these things are truly isolated incidents. Did the principal call you to tell you what happened or did you get all the details from your son? If you got them all from your son I suggest checking on his story when you call to schedule a conference. I also think you shouldn't take privelages if he is the one telling you about the visit to th
e office.


Yes, I'm going over to have a chat with the teacher today! Considering it's been only those 2 incidents and the 2nd IMHO blown out of  proportion (I believe my son when he says he accidentally fell with his face no the other child's hand and hit it with his teeth. That IMO is not 'biting'!) I feel it's best to talk vis-a-vis with her.

The principle called me and told me "Your son is in my office because he bit another classmate", which at this point I was so shocked, I didn't ask what exactly happened! He then said my son told him it was an accident but the other child claims that it was on purpose. 

Obviously, being his mom and knowing how he is, I rather believe him than the other child! I know he can get hot-headed and lash out verbally when he gets defensive (or upset..) but biting is really not his 'MO'!

Later when my DS came home, I asked him and heard his version. I should have asked the principle on the phone already what my DS had to say instead of immediately believing the teacher's/principle's statement without questioning!

 

Unfortunately kids seem to get called her to the principle's office rather quickly. I don't know if it's only this school's [DoDD] rules or all over the schools in the USA as well, but personally I think it's not good immediately putting the label of a 'bad' on a child!..

So, in order to discuss this, I'll be seeing the teacher today. Should DS get called to the principle's office again in the future, I know better now and really ask what happened and go talk to him personally!

 

 

 


~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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#7 of 12 Old 12-01-2011, 07:18 PM
 
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I don't know how your specific principal is, but the ones I have been around are very careful to get the facts first before calling parents. If there was a bite mark it doesn't sound like an accident. A child had to clamp down fairly hard for a mark to last more than a few minutes. It may be that your son relayed the event accurately but I have found that my dd is generally not the most accurate source when it comes to getting facts about what she did at school. Hopefully your meeting went well.
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#8 of 12 Old 12-02-2011, 04:58 AM
 
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This might sound wierd, but do you know if he has his 6 yr molars yet? My niece went through an 'exorcist'phase at this age - sudden horrible inexplicable rages over very minor things. In talking with other mothers my sister found that many children go through a second 'terrible twos' when their 6 yr molars are coming in. It passed after 2 mos or so.

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#9 of 12 Old 12-02-2011, 05:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I don't know how your specific principal is, but the ones I have been around are very careful to get the facts first before calling parents. If there was a bite mark it doesn't sound like an accident. A child had to clamp down fairly hard for a mark to last more than a few minutes. It may be that your son relayed the event accurately but I have found that my dd is generally not the most accurate source when it comes to getting facts about what she did at school. Hopefully your meeting went well.

 See, I don't know!.. This principle is fairly new here and while he seems nice, I get a bit the impression of him wanting to be involved in everything, trying to make everything better than before etc. (I guess there's a lot of pressure for a new principle, I get that!) 

As to my son.. yeah, unfortunately I don't even think he knows what to believe anymore. Of course being his mother I'd like to believe him rather than anyone else, naturally.. I didn't get the feeling that he's consciously lying to me... even after I gave him plenty of opportunities to come clean with me also much later, telling him I wouldn't be upset if he felt he needed to tell me something more about it.. He swore up and down he's telling the truth!.. I'm honestly afraid that if I keep on insisting to "tell me the truth" while in his mind he is already, I'm only causing a negative effect, showing him I'm not believing him!..

If I'd have thought quickly and with my head rather than with my heart, I should have asked to see the other child's hand, just to get the certainty, you know? As it is I still tend to think it was handled as something worse than it actually was.. 

 

The punishment for DS was to sit for lunch by himself.. which I don't approve of this method as it causes more of an 'outcast' feeling and while I was at the school to talk to the teacher [and later principle], several other 1st graders approached me and asked me if I knew that my DS bit his teacher! So rumors already started spreading and I don't like that at all! I'd understand for a child needing to sit alone if he/she caused trouble during lunch but not as a punishment for something that happened someplace else!.. Aside from that no play time during recess..

Since the punishment was set for 2 days, I'm hoping DS learned enough of a lesson (if he really did intentionally bit the other child and not accidental like he says..) that it'll never happen but I think I might approach the principle again to speak about this method to sit alone on a separate table at lunch..

 

Unfortunately my husband isn't home with us right now, having to get operated in a military hospital in Germany.. otherwise I'd have had him handle the situation with the teacher/principle since he's always more rational and asks the right questions. (He's a criminal investigator in the Navy so I guess it comes naturally to him). I'm more thinking with my heart and feel sad for my child and am not always able to think straight, if that makes sense?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ma Cactus View Post

This might sound wierd, but do you know if he has his 6 yr molars yet? My niece went through an 'exorcist'phase at this age - sudden horrible inexplicable rages over very minor things. In talking with other mothers my sister found that many children go through a second 'terrible twos' when their 6 yr molars are coming in. It passed after 2 mos or so.

Oh wow, I haven't even thought about that! No, I don't think he has them yet! I'll have to check that out, thanks for your input! 
 

 


~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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#10 of 12 Old 12-02-2011, 07:03 PM
 
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Perhaps you're onto something about speaking in German again and that causing him stress?  Can you postpone that process for a few more months?  I have one child who really struggles with change.  When he was six, he would become very upset with minor changes like if we rearranged the furniture in the family room, or if the children's librarian was out for a few weeks with an illness and there was a subsitute leader for storytime. 

 

I would put all your focus on trying to reconnect with him and empathize with his feelings, and completely back off the "punishment" stuff.  I'm personally not a big fan of threatening to take away holiday treats, because that makes your support of him seem conditional, even if you love him with all your heart, as I'm sure you do. 

 

A book you might find helpful is Laurie A. Couture's Instead of Medicating and Punishing.  She adopted a son and has a lot of experience dealing with oppositional behavior in a very attachment parenting way.  She also says a lot about the particular stresses kids face in school, and how to help them with these.  My local library didn't have the book, but I got it through Interlibrary Loan, and I think amazon carries it.

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#11 of 12 Old 12-02-2011, 08:23 PM
 
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Your husband isn't home "at the moment" = stress

A bit of change in language rules at home = stress

Variable school weeks due to Thanksgiving holiday = out of routine = stress

Social troubles (real or perceived) = stress

 

I would start by talking to the teacher. Explain that your son has reported "being laughed at". Ask the teacher if s/he has noticed any social problems and if they have any suggestions for ways to help him out. Then tell the teacher that  your son has had a little extra stress because dad's gone, and ask if there's a way to make things predictable and consistent at school. Ask the teacher that since your son is feeling socially awkward and vulnerable, what can you work on together to help him feel more connected to class?

 

I don't think the "truth" matters any more. I would suspect my child had bitten the other child, or at least caused some hurt (intentional or not). Kids are often not reliable narrators, and since he was punished the first time, he has a vested interest in telling a polite fiction that holds him not responsible. The other thing is that at that age, my kids had a hard time realizing that if they hurt someone, accidentally or not, they still had to make amends. Ds (who's 10 and old enough to know better) kicked his sister this fall. His sister complained, we called him up to ask what had happened. He said, "I didn't kick her. I touched her with my foot." eyesroll.gif

 

I agree with NellieKatz too - I don't punish at home for things that happen at school. We talk, I let them know if I'm not pleased, but I don't add to it. They've gotten their consequences at school. They don't need me to add to them. We do talk about possible other strategies. We do sometimes role play or brainstorm ideas. (This is much more of an issue with my spirited 7 year old. My 10 year old son is very mild mannered and freezes rather than lashes out when he's stressed.)

 

My recommendations would be:

Extra one-on-one time where HE leads the play -- you can often get a really good idea about what's bothering a child by following their lead in play

Someway to communicate daily with dad -- whether that's e-mail or Skype. (If your husband isn't in a position to send e-mail daily, maybe he could send a lot of short messages to you at once , and you can read them out one day at a  time).

A few play dates with some kids in the class so he's feeling socially connected

 

For you, I'd recommend a couple more books:

1. The Challenging Child (I don't know if he's truly challenging, but that books has been big help to me)

2. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind -- this book has been really helpful to me because it's given me strategies to help our daughter connect her feelings with her thinking brain. I'm just barely finished with it, but it's been really helpful for me to reframe my thinking and use some new tools.

 

 

 

 


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#12 of 12 Old 12-02-2011, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post

Perhaps you're onto something about speaking in German again and that causing him stress?  Can you postpone that process for a few more months?  I have one child who really struggles with change.  When he was six, he would become very upset with minor changes like if we rearranged the furniture in the family room, or if the children's librarian was out for a few weeks with an illness and there was a subsitute leader for storytime. 

 

I would put all your focus on trying to reconnect with him and empathize with his feelings, and completely back off the "punishment" stuff.  I'm personally not a big fan of threatening to take away holiday treats, because that makes your support of him seem conditional, even if you love him with all your heart, as I'm sure you do. 

 

A book you might find helpful is Laurie A. Couture's Instead of Medicating and Punishing.  She adopted a son and has a lot of experience dealing with oppositional behavior in a very attachment parenting way.  She also says a lot about the particular stresses kids face in school, and how to help them with these.  My local library didn't have the book, but I got it through Interlibrary Loan, and I think amazon carries it.

Well, postponing German for a few months wouldn't be really good as we're planning on retiring in Germany in 18 months and the sooner both kids get used to me speaking German again and understanding me, the better, you know? I still talk more English than German and if I speak German, I repeat it in English. The funny thing is, DS has been the one who's been asking on his own more about what this and that is called in German and started saying his first sentences on his own as well, sometimes not even to me but to his sister, so I really think he actually likes it..

But I will keep it in my mind none the less, of course!

 

You're absolutely right about the threat of removing holiday treats making my support seem conditional! I didn't realize it send that message!greensad.gif That's of course the least I want him to think/feel!

I'll look into the recommended book! I have a few more books coming my way that have been recommended to me. Unfortunately our library on base is very small and other than Dr.Spock there are no newer parenting books available, so I have to buy them from Amazon..

 

Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

Your husband isn't home "at the moment" = stress

A bit of change in language rules at home = stress

Variable school weeks due to Thanksgiving holiday = out of routine = stress

Social troubles (real or perceived) = stress

 

I would start by talking to the teacher. Explain that your son has reported "being laughed at". Ask the teacher if s/he has noticed any social problems and if they have any suggestions for ways to help him out. Then tell the teacher that  your son has had a little extra stress because dad's gone, and ask if there's a way to make things predictable and consistent at school. Ask the teacher that since your son is feeling socially awkward and vulnerable, what can you work on together to help him feel more connected to class?

 

I don't think the "truth" matters any more. I would suspect my child had bitten the other child, or at least caused some hurt (intentional or not). Kids are often not reliable narrators, and since he was punished the first time, he has a vested interest in telling a polite fiction that holds him not responsible. The other thing is that at that age, my kids had a hard time realizing that if they hurt someone, accidentally or not, they still had to make amends. Ds (who's 10 and old enough to know better) kicked his sister this fall. His sister complained, we called him up to ask what had happened. He said, "I didn't kick her. I touched her with my foot." eyesroll.gif

 

I agree with NellieKatz too - I don't punish at home for things that happen at school. We talk, I let them know if I'm not pleased, but I don't add to it. They've gotten their consequences at school. They don't need me to add to them. We do talk about possible other strategies. We do sometimes role play or brainstorm ideas. (This is much more of an issue with my spirited 7 year old. My 10 year old son is very mild mannered and freezes rather than lashes out when he's stressed.)

 

My recommendations would be:

Extra one-on-one time where HE leads the play -- you can often get a really good idea about what's bothering a child by following their lead in play

Someway to communicate daily with dad -- whether that's e-mail or Skype. (If your husband isn't in a position to send e-mail daily, maybe he could send a lot of short messages to you at once , and you can read them out one day at a  time).

A few play dates with some kids in the class so he's feeling socially connected

 

For you, I'd recommend a couple more books:

1. The Challenging Child (I don't know if he's truly challenging, but that books has been big help to me)

2. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind -- this book has been really helpful to me because it's given me strategies to help our daughter connect her feelings with her thinking brain. I'm just barely finished with it, but it's been really helpful for me to reframe my thinking and use some new tools.

See, the thing is, when I went to talk to the teacher and told her how my son said he'd bee laughed at, she said most of the times he acts like the class clown and does silly things. Now to me it doesn't sound like my son, but I know sometimes kids can be different at school than at home!.. I'm thinking that he might 'cover'  some of the moments where he's embarrassed (like falling at the playground etc.) with acting silly... *or* he might also not realize that when he's being silly and his classmates laugh, they don't laugh at him but about his silly act?

Either way the teacher was also very surprised and said it doesn't fit his personality at school... She knows about my husband being gone to get operated though as well as me speaking German to my kids as DS also came to her and told her a few German words. [When I met her for the parent-teacher meeting a few weeks ago, I told her about me speaking German again to my kids and she said "Kids will pick it up quickly!". She's taught at a DoDD school in Germany before..]

So that all being said, I'd say the teacher (as well as principle) technically knows that there have been some stressful changes in DS' life lately...

 

We definitely talk to my DH every day; he calls in the morning as well as in the evening to talk to DS & DD; I will focus more on extra one-on-one time with him for sure! (I only need to make sure DD gets her time as well since she already told me "He always gets more attention!"...irked.gif -Needless to say I have a book on sibling rivalry coming too!.. I think it might be helpful!)

 

With play dates, we're in military housing and there's only 1-2 kids from his class he's interested in playing with, 1 of them unfortunately always in after-day school care (both parents work). The other one was a constant house guest for the past weeks but then he got sick and we went on a hiatus...

 

Thank you for the recommendation on the 2 books, I'll put them on my WL on Amazon!

 

Thanks again to everyone for your responses and input, I really appreciate it!!!
 

 


~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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