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swaywitme59
swaywitme59 asks:
Q:

How can I help my 9 year old son who has been very disruptive in class and lying to me about not having homework?  

His teacher is always sending these p.i.n notes home, and in one week he rec'd 3 of them so i grounded him for a week, and as soon as he gets off punishment, he hands me another p.i.n note as i am dropping him off to daycare. i really dont know what else to do, i feel terrible b/c im always grounding him or lecturing him, and i ask him what the problem is and he will blame it on everybody else. i dont know how to get it through to him, hes a very smart child,he dont have any mental or learning disiblities, i dont know what to do anymore. plz help
In Topics: Motivation and achievement at school
> 60 days ago

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Expert

MomSOS
Oct 14, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

It sounds like you are dealing with a behavioral issue, not a learning disability.
Some research is in order to find out what the purpose is of your son's interfering behaviors. I suggest you speak to your child's teacher and guidance counselor  to get to the root of the problem. Once the motivation behind these behaviors can be determined, you can work with your son's teachers and guidance counselor to develop a behavior plan.  I agree with Kat_Eden who wrote that it is important to define what isn't working. And Kat_Eden offers lots of ideas about possibilities too.  She is also on the right track with her ideas about creating reinforcements for the behaviors you want.

You may be able to derive enough information from conversations with staff to determine what is going on. However, if not, the next level would be to consider an evaluation in which someone within the school (or an outside agency if the school does not offer the service) would conduct  a behavioral assessment to determine what is causing your son to act out, and generate a report with a behavior plan that you and teachers can follow.

Another suggestion which might suffice instead of a formal assessment, or in addition to one, would be to find a counselor who specializes in children's behavior issues.  Be prepared that you and other family members may need to participate in this type of counseling. Sometimes the poor behavioral choices a child is making is a way of signaling that there are problems in his/her larger environment, which for a child is always his family or living situation as well as his school and peer life.  

From the little bit of information in your question, my educated but limited guess would be that there is some sort of attention seeking behavior going on.  His behaviors are definitely getting your attention, even though it is in a frustrated or negative manner.  

Whatever route you take, please bear in mind that a plan is needed. The best plan is one that gives strategies that can fit both school and home contexts.  The more consistent teachers and parents are in responding, the better chance the behaviors can be reshaped.  The way you are addressing these behaviors currently is not extinguishing them.  There are reasons they are still happening.  You need to know why they are happening, and what is keeping them going in order to know the correct responses to reshape your son's choices and actions.

I wish you luck with this.  It is frustrating, but a great opportunity to help your son learn how to make better choices that bring consequences that help him learn and help him feel good about himself.

Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP
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Additional Answers (2)

kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hello! It sounds like both you and your son's teacher have gotten stuck in kind of a routine (she sends home a note, you ground your son) that's not working very well. If I were you I'd call her and ask to have a meeting where you can create a new plan from scratch. I think the goal of the meeting should be to define the things your son is doing that aren't working (it needs to be very specific. Not just "being disruptive in class" but exactly what he's doing that's disruptive).

Then together, you and the teacher could go through the list with your son to talk about why the behaviors are occurring. This also needs to get very specific. Maybe he's disrupting class because he doesn't understand the lesson, or because he can't see the board, or because he's sitting next to someone that he has a hard time being quiet around. Maybe he's struggling with homework because he doesn't have a good system in place for writing down his assignments and getting them from school to home. There may also be something bigger going on in his head/heart that he needs support on. Maybe he's having a hard time making friends and is trying to draw attention to himself. Maybe something's happening at home that he's upset about but isn't talking about. I'm NOT suggesting that he gets off the hook by blaming others, I'm just saying that helping everyone have a better understanding about why the behaviors are happening is the first step in helping your son take responsibility for his behavior.

Once you understand why the behaviors are occurring, the three of you can work together to find ways to change things that might help address the underlying issues. (Get him extra help to get caught up, move his seat, make sure he has a good homework notebook, set up time for him with the school counselor, or whatever you think he needs).

Once those issues have been managed, you can talk about positive or negative reinforcements to set up for his behavior. For example, you might say that if he goes all day without disrupting the class, he'll earn a star and when he gets five stars he'll earn some kind of reward. He might earn a star every time he gets his homework done. He might lose a star if he ever lies to you. etc.

This might not be the perfect solution, but I think it will be a step in the right direction rather than staying in the same cycle you're in now which is frustrating for you and I'm sure also for him and for his teacher.

Good luck!

Kat
> 60 days ago

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lajo
lajo writes:
a good spanking would do wonders
> 60 days ago

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