Q&A: My Kindergartener is Having Behavior Problems

CME WebsitesBehavior, Challenging Behavior

blockquote_bgMy 6 year old has been getting in a lot of trouble at school lately. He is having a hard time listening; he has had to have his seat moved in class 3 times, and has a bit of an attitude. The majority of his bad behavior is during unstructured time, so I figured he was just bored. After getting in trouble quite a few times, I finally had a meeting with his principal, the teacher, and the guidance counselor. They all said that his trouble must have been stemming from home or daycare. There has been no change at home and he has no trouble at daycare. I really think the problem stems from within the school. Just recently he got sent home from school for peeing on himself and another child all the while laughing during the whole thing. He has never done anything like that before. When I ask him why he did it all I get from him is “I don’t know” or “I wasn’t thinking”. Now the school has advised me to have him evaluated to see if something is going on with him mentally. I am at the end of my rope and I just don’t know what to do.

What a tough situation for you and your son. I am glad you did have a meeting with the teacher, principal and guidance counselor. Since you are not seeing this behavior at home or day care, it is a possible that something at school or in his classroom is triggering his behaviors. It would be helpful for a behavior specialist to observe him for a few days in the classroom, to try to get to the root of the behavior.

With every behavior there is something that occurs directly before it and after it. Sometimes these things can be changed in order to change a behavior. There is ALWAYS a reason behind a behavior, though what it is (attention, reward, getting out of doing something) is not always clear without careful observation by a professional. You could go ahead with the evaluation as suggested just to rule out any developmental concerns with your child. But, at age 6, children are still not always great at expressing themselves verbally, so him giving you answers such as “I don’t know” is common.

If he is constantly getting reprimanded, his seat moved, etc., it sounds like he IS getting a lot of attention for his behaviors, which may cause them to escalate. If he is having trouble attending or he is bored with the work, a developmental evaluation may help sort that out.

Keep in close contact with the teacher & guidance counselor. Instead of focusing so much on his negative behaviors, perhaps his teacher can start rewarding him for positive actions by setting up a token system, etc. This site has printable behavior charts that can be used at home or school.