How do I help my 6 year old from acting out in class?
My 6 year old son has been having a very hard time this whole school year. He gets frustrated and throws temper tantrums in class. His teacher has even told him he was behaving like a 3 year old. I know that there is only so much that I can do, being that I'm not at school with him. But Im worried that next year in 1st grade he will act out in the same ways and it will affect his education, his teacher has said that he will not be passed onto 2nd grade if he doesn't change his reactions to things. Any tips or tricks or advice on ways to talk with him at home would be GREATLY APPRECIATED. He does have some tantrums at home but I just ignore them and talk to him when he has calmed down about what he was angry about. But for the most part home is pretty easy going and he reacts fine to not getting his way.
It must be very difficult to hear that your son is struggling at school. As a parent, you want him to be happy and thrive in the classroom, not stressed and suffering.
There are a variety of reasons why your son might be having a difficult time and understanding the source of his pain would help to develop an intervention plan. Therefore, I suggest that you make an effort to request a special education evaluation before school ends, during the summer, or early in the fall.
Ideally, your request will lead to a meeting (sometimes called a student study team or SST) in which you and the school staff will develop a plan for assessing your son's learning and behavior. The possibility exists that he has some significant learning issues that lead to frustration in the classroom and a reduced ability to cope. He may be more prone to tantrums because he is overwhelmed with some of the work.
Alternatively, your son may need certain behavioral supports in the classroom that can assist him in managing the stress of being in class. A behavioral analysis would be appropriate as part of the evaluation. The behavioral analysis would essentially "dissect" his tantrums to understand what typically happens before, during and after each incident. Teachers and administrators can then develop a more informed plan for how to support him.
I have included a link below to a sample letter requesting an evaluation. I have also included a link to an article about different kinds of positive behavior management strategies used in classrooms. Reading the behavior management article will give you some ideas to bring to the meeting as suggestions for how your son's teacher next year can help him.
As for what to say to your son, I think you can let him know that you understand that school is stressful, and you are going to work with the school to better support him in class. Ask him if he has any ideas to make the day go smoother. For instance, some students need a quiet place in the classroom where they can go when they feel themselves getting overwhelmed. They can go there without asking permission, and their teacher knows that they are having a tough time and need a moment to gain their composure. He might have some good ideas to make things go smoother in the classroom.
Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Child Psychologist