My 6, soon to be 7-year old has begun to have discipline problems when he is away from home. It all began the summer he advanced to the first grade. He is disobedient and summer camps and will not listen to instructors. In school, he is always a follower. Doing whatever his classmates tell him to do. He becomes very angry and has violent reactions when he does not get his way at school. However, when his father or myself are around, he is very well-mannered. I feel that he behaves this way in camp and school because he knows that he can get away with it. But in all acutuality he does not because his behavioral problems are reported to us and he is disciplined. We have tried time-outs, spankings, and even taking away some of his leisure activities, but nothing seems to work.
We have tried to work with the school and they seem to believe that there is no problem or that we as the parents are the problem. What is a parent to do when they are trying to stop a pattern from occuring when the only time the school, or even the state government will intervene is when our child injures or hurts another child. Can you suggest any programs that will help to channel some of the anger that he has, give him some focus and leadership ability.
When children are well behaved at home, and are not well behaved outside the home, it is generally regarded as a definite problem (the more normal situation relative to childhood behavior problems is for a child to behave well in out-of-home situations and to display some problems, not serious, at home).
You describe behavioral difficulties at school, and also mention that the school is telling you there is no problem with your son. What does this mean, do you think? What is the school trying to communcate to you?
Sometimes, human nature being what it is, we tend to become defensive if people suggest that there is something wrong with our own behavior. Ask the school what they think would be helpful, and express curiosity and interest in their point of view, even as it pertains to you.
At the very least, a systematic plan for behavior management will be needed, involving both positive reinforcement for your son's displaying the kinds of behavior you expect, and predictable consequences for not meeting those expectations. If you want help designing such a plan, consult with a pediatric behavioral health professional.
Children so young do not misbehave on purpose, so to speak. It's not as if there's a reason that is on their conscious minds. That is why parents often hear the words "I don't know" when they ask children why they misbehaved in some way. The challenge is to figure out a coherent framework for why your child is acting in this particular pattern. The behavioral health clinician can be of use to you in figuring this out as well.
My 5 yr old son's behavior problems started at school also and he was not exhibiting them at home. He probably does not do it because he can get away with it but because he cannot control himself. He may be having some type of stress now and does not know how to deal with it. Try talking to him at a good time (like right before bedtime - my son tells me everything then)to see if he knows why he is doing it, if he knows he is not supposed to act that way, if he is having any problems at school with a bully, learning problems, etc.
Try specific praise for positive behavior and try ignoring the bad behavior. Yelling, spanking, and giving attention to the bad behavior usually makes it worse. Try giving him a reward for going a week at school with no outbursts, such as a trip to the park or a movie. My son works very well with motivators. He wanted the $36 Dinosaur egg so I told him if he could go a whole month with no anger problems at school we would get it - never dreaming he could go the whole month. He surprised us and the teacher by not only being nearly perfect but also helping to defuse problems with the other kids.
"The Defiant Child" is a good book on how to deal with this type of behavior.
Thanks for your suggestions bcollie. I just read your reply this morning and it just confirmed what decisions his father and I made last night. I took our son for a drive and we talked and I must say thatwe both learned from our discussion. I guess it is so hard for me to understand why he has these behavioral problems when he is obviously so intelligent when it comes to academics. I explained to him last night about rules and that rules are in place for his protection--not just so adults can be controlling. While we were driving, I came to a railroad crossing and the lights were blinking. I took the opportunity to use that as an example for him of why we must be obedient. That if I chose to disregard the warning signals, i.e. the rules, and crossed the tracks, we both would die. In hindsight, I thought it may have seemed to be a little strong, but he took the message well and it opened up our dialog. I don't know how things will be from here, but the next few days will tell if he took my message to heart.
Thanks again for the advise(confirmation).
You may need to reinforce this quite a few times. Use every opportunity you can to use situations/places you are in to discuss rules and appropriate behavior. And let him know that EVERYONE has to follow rules all their lives; the rules just change as you grow older.
My 5 yr old is ADHD and it has taken MONTHS before he finally understood about rules, appropriate behavior, that yelling, aggressiveness and hitting is not the way to solve frustration and anger. So just be patient and keep going over the "rules" of life and remember to give specific praise for positive behavior to keep his self esteem high.
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