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abooth asks:
Q:

Almost 6 year old who is in mean at home, doesn't listen, and is terrible (acting & grade wise) at school. What should we do?

My almost six year old is the baby. He has to older sisters ages 7,9. He has been being extremely mean to both of them including hitting and kicking to where the 7 year old got a black eye. This has been going on for about 8 months now and we have tried everything. Not only is he disrespectful to us and his sisters but it is the same at school. The school gives out stamps if the child was good that day. He never has a stamp and gets in trouble a minimum of 5 times a day at school. He is in kindergarten getting ready to go to first grade. We have tried time out and it doesn't work. We have tried giving him a chore to do if he is bad. Also he has to do a chore to help pay for the things he's broke when hes been upset and just wanted to break something. We have tried everything we don't like to spank him but we did try that and it didn't even work. We are at a lost right now with what to do. HELP PLEASE!!! He used to be the sweetest most gentle loving kid. He was great in kindergarten they loved him because he was so quite and good but now hes the complete opposite. Its at the point where my husband and I are fighting with each other on what to do....he thinks we should just ignore it and I believe that if that happens the my son would just do it more...hes already is disrespectful and tells me all the time NO and I don't want to. Please any advice would be great.
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Hand in Hand
Apr 21, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Good for you for reaching out and searching for new ideas to help your son! He is very lucky to have you there, caring so much about helping him to be the best that he can be. It sounds like he is having a very hard time right now.

Going to school, with all its new experiences, many children, and opportunities to master powerful skills like reading and math, should be exciting and fun for children, but this can also be a very stressful for them. They are faced with lots of rules, lots of new folks to learn to get along with, lots of pressure to perform at this new task or that new challenge. It's tough work!

At home, children need kindness, affection, and some measure of one-on-one time with their parents, even if it's as little as a five-minute snuggle before going to sleep every night. Children need large amounts of physical affection and closeness. Closeness fuels their confidence and frees their minds of worries about whether or not they're OK. If they're unsure about whether they're OK, they can't concentrate on learning or on behaving well with the family members they dearly love.

So you might try setting aside ten minutes as soon as your son gets home from school, for just the two of you to reconnect and to allow him to have a safe place to 'take off' the stress of his day. Set a timer and warmly tell him you'd like to play anything he wants with him, for the next ten minutes. Happily go along with whatever he chooses, adding in as much physical affection and appreciation of him as possible. Guard the time and don't let anything interrupt you and your son for those ten minutes. That close connecting time will become precious to you both.

Your willingness to share your time, attention and caring dissolves the crusty feelings from his day that keep him from being the loving and cooperative boy you know he can be with his family. We call this process "Special Time" and there's lots more information about how it can work on our website at www.handinhandparenting.org. Once you start to see the results of this process helping with relationships at home, you might want to start doing another ten minutes of Special Time each morning, to help your son with the day ahead of him. The closer and more connected he feels to you, the better he is going to be able to handle the challenges of his day away from your loving care.

I'll also attach an article on "Supporting Sibling Friendships" that you might find helpful, and also one on "Partnering with Our Children" that many parents have found useful.

Your son is still that sweet, gentle, loving kid inside. That's the person you can help him be again.

We'll be thinking about you guys,

Juli

Julianne Idleman
Hand in Hand Program Director
http://www.handinhandparenting.org

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Additional Answers (3)

LDSolutions
LDSolutions , Child Professional writes:
I recommend you use a very positive reeinforcement behavior modification program.  Your child is not reacting well to the negative reeinforcement.  In school - because he never gets a stamp he has given up trying.  Children stop trying if they realize they are set up for failure every day.  My suggestion to you is to start a "caught being good" system.  This means that everytime you catch your child behaving well you give him a token in a jar.  He can be just playing by himself quietly and you approach him and say, "I really like how you are playing by yourself and not bothering your sister."  Then give him a token to put into the jar.  You HAVE to put a few tokens in that jar everyday to motivate him and never ever ever take any tokens back out.  He earned those and needs to feel that accomplishment. Always catch him being good when he isn't expecting it.  After he achieves a certain amount of tokens maybe he gets to pick dinner that night and help you prepare it (kids love doing this). Make the goals very easy to achieve.  Say after 5 or 6 tokens he gets his reward. And also keep the rewards very simple.  Some suggestions are: extra park playtime, 10 minutes later to bed than his sisters, half hour alone time with mom or dad, art activity with mom, etc.  
Don't give up!  You are a good mom, keep loving your son and keep the home environment positive and hopefully things will turn around for you.
> 60 days ago

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Boys Town National Hotline
It sounds like the question for you is, what has happened between kindergarten and now that has made your son change his behavior so drastically? I'm sure you're very frustrated by his actions right now. I can understand how it must be causing conflict between you and your husband about how to deal with his behavior.

You mentioned that you have tried giving your son time-outs. spanking, and extra jobs when he does something inappropriate, all of which have been unsuccessful. Don't give up because you have lots of other options.

Because his behavior has changed so drastically, consider whether you have had any big life changes for your family in the past year or so. Have you experienced a job loss, a move, death in the family, or divorce/change in relationship? If so, your son may be confused, upset and acting out as a way of getting attention. Have you tried to sit down and calmly ask your son if something is going on that's making him upset? You may also want to ask him if somebody did something to hurt or upset him. If this is not the case, it's time to set clear guidelines and consequences for his behavior.

Children behave best when their expectations are consistent and clearly stated. Make a list of things he has to accomplish daily and weekly. Set specific negative and positive consequences for his behavior. If he's following the rules, reward him using verbal praise and possibly other tangible things. If he's not acting according to the expectations that have been set for him, take away rewards and privileges. Keep things consistent for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference in his behavior.

In regards to his trouble in school, schedule a meeting with his teacher and school counselor to discuss strategies for handling your son's behavior. Ask everyone to come up with a behavior plan that can be continued at home after school.

Good luck, and please feel free to call our parenting hotline if you want to talk to someone more in depth about your situation.

Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000
> 60 days ago

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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hello - I'm so sorry to hear about your situation with your son. My heart broke reading your post because I was thinking how hard it must be for ALL of you (you, your husband, your daughters, and your son) to have things be so different now than they used to be.

I wonder if it would help to try talking to your son about how hard his life is right now. I know it would be hard, but maybe you can just put aside how miserable he's making you and the rest of the family and just talk to him from his perspective. Maybe saying something like "I bet it makes you feel really left out when the other kids in your class get a stamp every day and you don't. And I remember when I was your age I felt really sad when my mom and dad were mad at me. I bet it feels really lonely to have your sisters and me and dad mad at you all the time huh?...etc etc". If you can get him talking about how rough it is to be where he is right now, maybe then you can start to talk to him about how to get things back in a better direction - again, helping him see that you're on his side. Maybe you could say things that could give him hope again like "I wonder what it would feel like for you to start getting stamps at school and to be able to play with your sisters at home?". Maybe if he starts to think in that way, he could give you some ideas for how he could turn the situation around.

Perhaps you could take a break from the punishments you've been trying and just try a whole new approach of letting him know that you're on his side (a team!) and that you're going to support him in making the changes he needs to make to make his life happier. You can give him ideas of what he needs to do to stop getting in trouble like "We really need you to talk to us in a more respectful way - and we're all also going to work to talk to you in a really respectful way."

Good luck, and I really hope things get better for all of you soon!

Kat
> 60 days ago

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