How can I make my children understand the problems with their misbehavior?

My 8 year old son has been easing on down the white collar crime road.  First, he forged my name on a note sent home by his teacher. A few weeks later, when it was time to pass homework forward, my child erased a boys name from his paper & wrote his own was an attempt to stay out of trouble for not bringing his homework home.  The first incident I was angered & intrigued; the second incident I was furious & no longer intrigued.

Every since my boys were very little; I referred to them as "My Little Raptors".  You now cunning, smart & always thinking (nod to Jurassic Park); but now they've mutated into the raptors from Jurassic Park 3 & I don't have the egg to give back! :)

In all seriousness; how can I drill home how wrong the actions he took to stay out of trouble were & that he just made more trouble for himself....
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



May 24, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

These behaviors are not, unfortunately, completely unheard of in young children.  In your case it sounds like your child is, at least in part, testing to see how the adults in his life will react. I'm hoping that your son's actions resulted in developmentally appropriate consequences--some important privilege being taken away for a modest period of time, maybe three days for the first offense and a week for the second. Another possibility is that your child is experiencing some learning issues, especially if misbehavior occurs mainly in school. "Forgetting" homework, if it becomes a pattern, may suggest difficulty with either the work or with the organization skills needed to get that task done. That doesn't mean there should not be a consequence for the inappropriate behaviors, just that you have to look past the immediate situation and try to see if the bigger picture is something more than just being either oppositional or mischievous.  Most kids are desperate to please their parents and these behaviors may have been misguided attempts to do this. I don't think you should assume that these behaviors represent significant moral failures. My choice would be normal (though misguided) child behavior to try to stay out of trouble, possibly complicated by learning or attention problems if there is an ongoing pattern of these behaviors. Keep in touch with the school and ask for guidance about when and whether a systematic assessment of the situation is needed.      

Dr. Jeanne Funk clinical child psychology expert

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