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<p><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">Our son is acting completely inappropriately at school and we do not know what to do.  Today we were told that everyone was doing projects on a white board and our son proceeded to go over to all of his classmates white boards and start erasing them.  He would NEVER be this rude outside of school.  At home, he has his moments, but the majority of the time, he is a typical 4 year old boy.  He seems to know his limits everywhere else, but when it comes to school and kids his own age, he has zero social skills.  The teachers says he is possibly the smartest kid she has in the class, but he is literally unable to play with peers.  We have him in Karate in a class that is 4.5-12 year olds and while he does some 4 year old behavior, he acts appropriately during training and during the obstacle course which ends the class.  We always ask him if he would do those things at Karate and he says "Oh, no or else I would have to do pushups."  So he can control his behavior, but why is he acting like this in class.  Granted, his school is bound by policies to discipline outside of redirecting and positive praise, so we are really at a loss.  I think that if the punishment does not outweight the act, why would he stop doing it?  I can really use some advice because I am at a complete loss.  If we can reign in our child, we will have a very stress free existence. Thank you.</span></span></p>
 

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<p>Maybe look into a different school?  I dunno, it sounds to me like he understands and responds well to punishment/discipline (screw around in karate- do pushups as an ex.) so maybe he needs a little more than positive/redirection at school.  I'm surprised they at least don't have time out or something of the like, it makes perfect sense to me that a child who is disprupting the class and ruining their projects would be removed from the action.</p>
 

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<p>I think the behavior is pointing to something else. If he's that bright, he probably is rejecting the coercive learning and punishment/praise model that most schools have to abide by to keep the crowd of kids in line. It's not about his learning or what he cares about, and he knows it. At 4 years old he just doesn't know appropriate ways yet to cope with those strong and confusing feelings. Reminds me of my son.</p>
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<p>This post is going to sound a little crochety and my feelings about school are going to show. You will probably hate me. But read on if you dare....(and stay through to the end because it does come 'round to the behavior)  :)</p>
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<p>The question may be what is <span style="text-decoration:underline;">your</span> take on the whole concept of what kind of "education" goes on in a generic school setting and whether it's the right kind for your child. Do you want him to be an independent thinker or to regard education as something that is done "to" him. Mind you, I have zero idea about the type of place your child is in right now. I don't know their philosophy or anything else. But it's a question worth investigating. What do you want your child's relationship to learning to be? A "sit down, shut up and learn what they tell you to learn so you can get good grades and allegedly get a job someday?" or "Learning is exciting, lifelong and 24/7, your mind is your greatest tool, and we can't homeschool you or custom-choose a school for you, so just suck it up while you're here for 14 or so more years; that's the way schools are" or "what the heck am I doing; this kid belongs at home where he can learn at his own pace and we can custom-select what classes, if any, to put him in because he's pretty smart and he's soaking up life at an amazing pace like all kids do at the beginning!". I think your own attitude toward this hot topic will determine how you handle this.</p>
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<p>And he's 4.....if you don't mind my asking, what's he doing in school so soon? If he's going to be in it for the duration of his childhood, have you considered letting him have more of an unstructured childhood before all the rest of it starts and doesn't let up until he graduates?</p>
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<p>If the answer is:   yeah yeah I've thought of all that stuff, and we're resigned that he's got to be in school and he better learn to adapt, then I still think the best way to get at the behavior is to get at its root. If he feels understood and supported by you, he's unlikely to have all this bottled up aggression toward the other kids. At his age "rude" isn't on his top list of concerns. His own feelings are. He needs them heard, understood, validated and only then will (I think) he be in a position where he can <span style="text-decoration:underline;">control his own behavior</span> and not do these antisocial things. I'm a firm believer that if the feelings haven't been dealt with and have to be stuffed down under the banner of "good behavior", then any un-dealt-with anger will simmer, even if he learns to behave.</p>
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<p>This comment of yours also stood out: "<span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">If we can reign in our child, we will have a very stress free existence."</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">You cannot "rein in" your child. It's a recipe for life-long struggle. He has to learn how to rein himself in. That's a whole different animal, isn't it. He may learn some of that self-discipline stuff in karate.</span></span> It is so hard to do on the front-end (i.e. when they are young) but I am thinking that it's worth it. As the years go by, and they get older, if a control-based method is to be used, the negative intensity and battles may just increase. He's got to internalize ways of dealing with his unpleasant feelings that are socially acceptable not only to others but to himself. He still matters to himself and that's a good thing.</p>
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<p>You asked this:  "<span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">I think that if the punishment does not outweight the act, why would he stop doing it? "</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">You are revealing an attitude that people won't change negative behavior unless punished. But there are other reasons people stop. First, the motive for doing it could be removed. Haven't you ever intensely disliked another person and wanted to punch him in the nose or something, but then you learned about his situation and found out why he acts like that, and suddenly you're not mad any more because you understand. Your angry feelings are gone. If the angry feelings toward the person had been allowed to stay, they'd simmer in you, regardless of the fact that it's against the law to go punch someone. And some people, in fact, can't control themselves and if their emotions are strong enough they will break the law and punch the guy anyway. Nothing would have been solved. But if you had learned, for example, if the person was a real jerk all the time because he's a single dad ever since his wife died of cancer and he's worried 24/7 about keeping his home, you might tend to lay off. right? It's an instance where the underlying situation was handled (i.e. in this case through greater understanding) and the desire to do something negative just went away.</span></span></p>
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<p><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:calibri;">I could probably think of better examples but I am hurrying; I need to get work done myself.</span></span> Two books I recommend: "Between Parent and Child" by Haim Ginott and "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" Here is a link I just discovered, regarding the former:  <a href="http://www.betweenparentandchild.com/" target="_blank">http://www.betweenparentandchild.com/</a></p>
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<p>Good luck!</p>
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<p>By the way, none of this means that I think the school he's in should "do nothing" and permit him to be destructive. I am talking about WHY it possibly happens and how I think you ought to approach it (from the inside - out). You can administer consequences (like "sorry you can't work with the other kids on fun projects until this is sorted out") but it needs to be handled wisely....not like a bludgeon.</p>
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<p>p.s. yes, we homeschool. we tried preschool back when we bought the "socialization" myth, and it was a disaster...our son did like yours did. We pulled him out. He hated being there for so much of the day, the other kids were frustrating and not equal to him verbally, and most of all I still hadn't learned to be an understanding parent. I was top-down, behavior&punishment-based. Ugh. Anyway now he is 7 and we have a better relationship. We send him to a science class with 9 to 12 year olds and he does fine. Nature school is with 6 to 8 year olds; fine there too. It's the "smarts" of the adults in his world that really made the difference. He couldn't sort it out himself.</p>
 
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