swaywitme59 asks:

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



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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