I teach Kindergarten in a low income public school. I have been having tough problems with one child that have now extended to two. One child, who is 5 1/2 has been giving me real problems lately. She refuses to do anything I ask and says she wants her mother. She laughs and plays when she is able, but does not want to work at all. When her behavior is corrected she pouts and runs away from me. If told to go to time out she she throws a temper tantrum on the floor. She is very difficult to deal with. However, now another child has started to copy this behavior, only worse. She does similar things and says "no" to me when asked to do anything she does not want to do. It got so bad today that she was crawling under the table I was at and hitting my legs while I wrote a note to her mother. I called the guidance counselor who took her out of the room to the assistant principal whom she refused to respond to as well. During dismissal I attempted to give her her daily report folder and she threw it on the floor and would not pick it up for either me or the assistant principal. I took the rest of my class out and left her for the assistant principal. After taking the class out, I attempted to take her to her bus and give her her backpack and folder. She refused, so I escorted her to the principal. She would not apologize to me even when prompted by the principal. I am at my wits end. Her mother is coming up Monday, but I fear it will be to no avail. What can I do? I try time out, missing out on activities and time outs in other classrooms. Help!
I am not a teacher...only a clinical social worker that works primarily with children. So, though it sounds like we both deal with difficult children, I work with them one to one, while you work with several at a time. I can only imagine how touch this may be for you...but you obviously care about what's best for your students or you wouldn't be posting. I don't know that I can help you out, but from your post, i do have some observations /questions. First, is there a reason why you think meeting with the mother won't help? I've worked with some children that have extreme behavioral problems, however parents are not necessarily doing anything wrong (sometimes it is the parents, but sometimes not). also, it almost seems as if you're getting into a power struggle with this child, which is something to avoid if possible. She definitely needs to respect you and obey limits, etc....but she also wants respect from you. i'm not implying you're conscioulsy doing anything wrong, etc. and i realize i'm not there in your classroom to really see what's going on. However, often when kids act up like this, it's there way of communicating that something is wrong...either with the way you're speaking to them (your tone of voice, etc), or something may be wrong at home, with another relative, a peer, etc...the possibilities are endless. If it's a low-income neighborhood you work in, chances are she has additional stressors in her environment. Does she have enough food to eat? Getting enough sleep? exposed to violence in neighborhhod? my point is...start asking some questions and investigating. Find out the situation and then decide what to do.
In regards to teacher education. They teach about "typical" classroom management. Not how to deal with a situation such as this. We are having a meeting with the child's mother to see what happens. I've just never had a child who was so defiant to not just me, but other teachers and administration. They ususally respond to the guidance counselor and the principal. That's why this situation is so difficult.
No offense. But isnt there any training or teacher type education that addresses these issues. Surely this is not the first time in the history of teaching that a teacher has encountered this. What does your principal suggest? What about a school counselor?
Amanda - I agree with you. There have always been difficult children, and children who act up for attention, are hard to direct, etc., but I swear this is a new phenomenon of very small children who have no respect for adult authority.
(Usually I say just the opposite, this generation works harder in school, etc, because there's certainly that aspect to it. I never stay up all night studying for a high school test as I see the kids in our high school do.)
But. The other side of this is there are children who come to school who hit and kick teachers and principals. And with those kids, you have almost no hope of reaching the parent's for help either, because they're the ones who raised a child who has no idea that you are supposed to listen to teachers.
I think your best approach, Amanda, is to say this child was a very delightful child, a smart and wonderful child, and has been badly influenced by a classroom dynamic, and you'd really like to see the model of good behavior you so enjoyed at the beginning of the year, because maybe this child can lead the classroom dynamic back.
Make the Mum your ally, and don't assume that because they are in a poor neighborhood that they are not competent parents. The Mum may very well have issues or she could be a smart lady who just doesn't have money. As a mum I can tell you that we honestly want out children to do well and we view the teachers as incredibly important.
Good luck, I know teaching is a very hard job, and poverty often brings along other problems. I hope you will be a shining light in this school to these dear little children.
I'm sorry but I find it very offensive that children are being put in a category of "poor" or there is an assumption that because children live in poverty there are automatically problems.
Alot of very smart and very successful people have come from poverty, Oprah Winfrey for example.
There are just as many problems in schools in upper/middle class suburban areas, look at Columbine.
What is it a child with problems in school is so much more worse because they may not be "well off" but when a child with problems from upper or middle class has problems in school that makes it better?
Amanda, I think i understand what you're trying to say...that's whay in my last post I said " initially i was offended", but then realized you weren't trying to imply this child's problem is because of being poor and that's it. Whatever the case, I know you're in a tough situation and can use all the support you can get. Also, i agree with you that kids from a lower socio economic background do face stressors that are different from what others face and this could very well be her problem, but not necessarily. Hopefull, her mother will show up and both of you can gain something from this meeting.
rockrose - I agree with you as well about this phenomenon of kids being disrespectful. I am seeing it not only with girls, but boys as well. Many of them come from middle class backgrounds, some also come from poor backgrounds, and many have two parent housholds...at least from my perspective, it's sometimes that parents these days aren't setting limits at home, etc, so these kids go to school, therapy, etc and think they can whatever the want without having to answer to anyone....some of them feel they don't even have to answer to their parents. I'll tell you this..i'm not a parent yet (but soon will be..i'm 23 weeks pregnant)...i feel i'm learning very well what NOT to do as a parent....but the thought of becoming the parent still scares the heck out of me, though i'm excited as well. :)
Have a nice day to both of you and Amanda, keep up the good work and keep on caring like you do.
I said the low income part because like the last poster stated, it can give some insight into the problems these kids face. I have kids in my class with parents in jail, with teeth rotting so bad that they are bleeding at the gums and kids who have seen more in their short lives than most should have. I realize that all poor children do not have behavior problems and that rich kids can too. However, their problems usually stem from different stressers. That's all I meant. As far as her mother is concerened, I have asked for multiple conferences and only seen her once at the beginning of the year and have not had much luck in contacting her.
Amanda, I really hope you post back about your meeting on Monday with the mother. I have a weird sense that this is becoming very common - that young girls are being taught by their mothers (single?) to disrespect authority and not take any "flak" from anyone, and as a result the kids are coming to kindergarten thinking they can kick the principal.
In the past couple years there have been several cases that have made national news, of kindergarteners kicking, throwing things at principals, and the cops eventually have to be called. Amazing and astounding.
And it's always girls, always. When you look at the behavior on video, the child isn't even in a tantrum, they're just openly defiant and are treating the authority figure as an equal, rather than someone in authority.
I think this is a behavioral wave, and I think there is a LOT of hope that the school can make these kids behave, because they seem to be basically normal kids who have been misinformed by their mothers how to treat authority.
I understand what you're saying...it's true that kids that come from middle class / upper class backgrounds have problems as well and no one is immune to being affected by social issues. I'm sorry if you thought my earlier post was impliyng that because this child is in a poor area, that explains all of her problems. i'm also not implying that she is not a bright, intelligent child. However, when someone grows up in a poor area...it's possible that she doesn't have enough food, is exposed to violence, etc..i wasn't saying this is necessarily the case. i've also worked with kids from privliged, rich backgrounds who are the victims of abuse (physical, verbal, sexual)....so i know these problems can affect everyone. You're absolutely right in that her current social status may have absolutely nothing to do with her behavior problems. If you read oprah's biography...yes, she did become successful and beat the odds, however she was affected by things/event in her social environment...just because she's successful, doesn't mean she at times went without food, etc...and she has reported in her biography times where she did "act out" in school because she was hungry, etc. So, sorry if i offended you....and perhaps i didn't word my post correctly..when i work with any kid with behavorial problems...regardless of social class, i ask the same questions...usually there is something going on in their enviroment. It was disrespectful of me to imply that the teacher should ask those questions, BECAUSE of her social status..she should ask them of any child who has issues. I was initially offended by original post because i didn't know why it was necessary to report she worked in a "low-income" school district or it seemed like she was assuming the mother wouldn't be supportive, etc...then i realized that might not be what she was implying. So, sorry to anyone i may have offended if they thought i was implying all her problems only happen with kids who are poor.
more schools should be like the schools your kids go to. It's also great that you worked with your son on social skills, etc....I know that maybe i sound too harsh with regard to some of the schools that I work with. In my opinion, there should be no tolerance at all for bullying...but then i should try to keep in mind that some of the schools districts i work with are struggling with oversized classrooms and underpaid teachers who get little support for the hard they do (i know, i know...alot of schools deal with the same issues, yet are not tolerant of bullies).
like rockrose said...i'm sure your son will be fine as long as you keep advocating for what he needs, etc.
ok...good night everybody...since i've been pregnant, i notice my bedtime is like 9pm.
Tomel, the cases that I've seen on national news (and this behavior is so bizarre, really, it does make national news!) aren't day care kids.
They're kids of single mothers, and the mothers have taught them they shouldn't respect authority. One of the moms actually said to the news guy, "I already told that principal not to ever speak to my child, bla bla bla." I mean really. Can you IMAGINE thinking you could TELL A PRINCIPAL of a school not to speak to your child?
I don't think daycare would put up with the insanity for a minute - a child who kicks daycare workers would be out of there by the end of the month.
It's odd, to me, that's it girls doing this. I really think there's a trend, and there are clear home commonalities among the kids who do this.
Well obviously there is something wrong with this particular mother telling the principal not to speak to her daughter. I know the incidant your are talking about.
I will say that just because a couple cases made the "national news" doesnt make it an epidemic. We know the news can make things very exxagerated.
I hope this teacher can come to a resolution with this mother and that the mother is rational.
I know when I was in school if a child kept acting up in ended up in suspension or expulsion.
I think the key with this little girl is to find out what motivates her and use it as a reward. There has to be something that will get her motivated.
I do think some parents feel the school can resolve everything and that should NEVER be the assumption.
I do feel that its not only parents that are failing the children it is the schools as well.
It takes a village people!
also to keep in mind regarding stories that make the national news...like the one you're referring to (rockrose), which I am also aware of that story....news stories such as those also omit certain facts from the case, on purpose. True, that particular child had some behavioral problems. I have a friend who worked in that school district in florida where it happened. There were other children involved in that case, apparently another classmate was picking on her...not that that gives her the right to react how she did. Also, by the time police had arrived (5 policemen for 1 5 yr.old), the girl had calmed down, however they showed up and she felt threatened and reacted to that threat. Perhaps they called the police to teach her a lesson, etc, but the school in that situation also handled the case inappropriately....if i were 5...i would be pretty scared of five policemen =, puting handcuffs on me etc....anyway, i could go on and on and on...but tomel, you're right...it takes a village....other factors are definitely in place that influence how children behave.
Most of my parents in my room don't work. Only two of my children have parents who are together (married or not). And I believe that daycare (or at least pre-K) is important for kids. The children in my class who have never been to pre-K or daycare have a harder time adjusting to school than those who have some experience. There is a balance between daycare and spending time at home. Kids today have much more to influence them, even more than when I was a young child. So much is in their little faces, music and movies. Can you imagine a five year old watching Freddie movies? It would have scared me to death!
Soc - there were actually two very nearly identical stories, the FLorida girl and another girl several months before. I've tried to google search it, but I keep ending up with only the Florida girl.
What is striking about watching the girl in Florida on the video, is that she isn't losing her temper at all, she just will not listen to what she's being told to do. She's walking around punching and kicking, and knocking stuff off shelves, but she's not in a tantrum.
Amanda's story brought her image, and the other girl to my mind, and I think it's the tip of the iceberg, and I think there is a lot of this going on and it's unprecedented.
I think bullies are a big factor for alot of kids behavior as well. Of course the news didnt shadow the fact this girl may be picked on. They needed something "juicy".
My son has a very hard time with his speech and he can have a hard time socially. He is not afraid of going up to any child and trying to play with them. He always tries so hard to make friends and is always asking me if his friends from preschool can come over and play. I do set up playdates for him.
He does get picked on alot and kids can be very mean to him. Even when he was 3 I remember at the park two 3 yr. old boys running away from him on purpose. I guess cause I only have one child who is young (4 yrs old now) its really hard for me to understand how bullies start out so young.
There are alot of bullies at school and from what I recall in high school alot of them came from upper/middle class families.
I know some states are passing bullieing laws, because of some children that have commited suicide.
I dont think teachers should ignore these things when they go on. But they do all the time.
bullying is a BIG issue! In my practice, probably 45% of my clients are victims are being bullied. It's heartbreaking to hear what they have to go through. Schools do have anti-bullying policies, however it doesn't seem to be working. it's starting at a very young age, so i'm not surprised your son has to go through it already at 4 yrs. old! it's so sad and because of this issue, i do work alot with the schools. some school districts / teachers i feel are trying their best to handle this issue. Others are not...i have an 8 yr. old client who was choked with a jump rope by older kids...this happened in front of school librarian. She scolded the older boys, but then told my client he was overereacting to being so upset about it and when i spoke to her she said "boys will be boys." I could hardly believe it. I think the kids who are getting picked on tend to be more passive, while the kids who are bullies are more aggressive...at least the teachers i work with...it seems they don't target bullies because "they don't want to deal with additional behavior problems." (that's what 1 school principle told me). Either way it's a big problem and I'm sorry your son has to go through this. If it continues when he gets to grade school (maybe even now), definitely talk to your son's school about any concerns you have. It's the job of the school to protect kids from bullies, or at least try to protect them to the best of their abilites. not all teachers/schools are like this...i've worked with some that are very compassionate and do everything they can to address these issues. It's so tough growing up these days for kids!
I've been really amazed at how successful the schools my kids go to are at dealing with bullies. It makes the atmosphere SO COMFORTABLE for all the kids, even the kids who would in fact probably have been the bullies. All the tension just is ramped down a notch.
They don't tolerate bullying, and call it "harrassment". Kids who are "harrassed" are truly listened to, and the kids who do it are punished in harsher and harsher ways until they stop it. In a few cases I've actually seen the school come down a little too hard on normally sweet kids for a moment of being unkind, but I guess that goes with the territory.
My oldest son, who now has great social skills, was pretty nerdy when he was younger, and I had to work SO HARD to teach him skills that would keep him from being bullied. LIke, how to not be chased by bullies at recess. Don't run. Try to chase someone who's not running! Also, in preschool he used to go up to kids he didn't know and say "will you be my friend?" Oh man, that's a loser of a line. Go up and say want to toss a ball, want to race, etc.
Best wishes with your son, Tomel. I think with you as his advocate, he'll be fine.
Dont you think mabye alot of this has to do with parents that are not able to stay home with their children and the children are raised in daycare?
Since the rise of daycare and the rise of working mothers it seems alot of the problmes have started to occur.
The mother may be single (May not be by choice, cant make that assumption)
Alot of working mothers have no choice because they dont make good money, So they struggle and do the best they can. Alot of times the children suffer because they dont have the stable home environment and spend all day being raised by strangers.
Young children will exhibit behaviors when they dont feel they are getting enought attention from their parents. I am a stay at home mom and my son will "act up" If dad or I dont spend enought quality time with him.I highly doubt that single mothers are willingly teaching their children not to respect authority. Im sure alot of them want the best for their children.
I was raised in a single parent home. We struggled very much. I wasnt defiant with teachers.. Now I am married to a wonderful man who makes a good income, so I have seen both sides. Everyone knows how hard it can be to make ends meat, now imagine trying to make ends meat as a single mother with an income of $25k or less a yr. The problem isnt poor or rich the problem is our society, period!
Congratulations for being a great teacher, all of the kids in this world need caring teachers. My 6 year old had a "speaking out loud" and speaking while the teacher was talking problem. This was last year, this year she is with her mother and I dont know if there have been problems, because the mother has cut us off from any informtion. However, my step-daughter had alot of behavorial problems at home and a problem with authority. Her teacher was male, and he was a great teacher. She had very good learning habits but this problem and an occasional "hitting" a kid or making someone cry bothered me. I talked to her teacher, we made an agreement that if she kept doing it, she would spend her lunch in RTC, or go to the principals office instead of playing, and be grounded at home. The hitting stopped at school, but she could not keep from being disruptive, so he enforced a couple of the RTC, made her write about it and when she got home, she would be grounded for the day. By the end of the school year she had pretty much stopped, or maybe the teacher just stopped paying attention to it. I don't know, but I do know that you as the teacher need to get the mother to help, whether it be at school or at home. Kids need the structure whether at home or out so it just has to be done. I would talk with the principal and have her come to the meeting, and ask the mother if the behavior is the same at home. Any parent that cares about their children will offer information to help the situation. If you all, including the child, can come to some sort of an agreement with appropriate consequences, missing lunch play to go to the office, sitting in a corner for a session while the other kids do fun things, having to sit outside the classroom, etc. then maybe she will see that her behavior cannot be accepted and she will change it. Also if you can agree with the mother to call her when there is a problem, and even have the mother sort it out, then that may help too. If their are other problems at the house, the mother may need some suggestions to help, maybe the child needs to see the counselor or maybe her and the mother need a recomendation to a counselor outside of school. If the mother does not seem to listen or care, then you and the principal should recomend that she see the counselor and if the behavior persists, the child will have far more consequences put to her. I do not know the legalities, but I do know that there are suspensions, detention, etc.
Problems usually are from home and brought to school, so hopefully just an ear will help. Good luck and I hope everything goes well from here, when you have one kid being disruptive it doesn't take very long for the others to follow, then you have a whole class of problems, so its best to get this nipped in the bud.
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