I am feeling helpless here ... I just spent 30 minutes talking to my STBAS's kindergarten teacher. Apparently he has become extremely defiant lately ... won't listen, won't do his classwork. Today he spat on another kid's work. Then at lunch apparently he reached over and touched the boy next to him in the crotch. (I know I should probably freak out about that, but to be honest that part is the least of my concerns ... there is no SA in his past and I think it was completely innocent.)
She said the huge increase in behaviors has been happening ever since coming back from the Thanksgiving break. I was flabbergasted because I haven't noticed anything like that at home. We are definitely having more problems with him not listening and having temper tantrums (as I posted about recently), but it's not as recent as this behavior at school and he isn't really defiant the way he is at school. At home he might not want to do something and he might kick a fuss but generally he will do it.
So what do you do when you're not there and you can't intervene? obviously we will have a long talk with him and reinforce with him that he needs to listen to his teacher. I also asked his teacher to send home any work that he won't do in class, and he will have to complete all of that once he gets home.
One of the big things that my STBAS needs is consistency. NO WAY can you say "no" at first to him and then say "Well, just this once" -- because then he will never take no for an answer again. However, it sounds like that his teacher has to "give in" because she has 20 other kids in the class and she doesn't have the luxury of standing there waiting him out. So I think he may feel that he can do whatever he wants because there are no real consequences. She says that really the only thing she can "take away" from him is recess, and he never seems to care about missing it.
The teacher has had problems with him listening to her for awhile now but not on this scale. She was supposed to do a "color chart" for him (red = bad day, yellow = so-so day, green = good day, blue = awesome day) and send home each day what his status was and we would respond appropriately, but in the last two months she's only sent home a color status 3 times. So I am a little frustrated too on how I can do anything about his behavior at school when I don't even know anything about it until I get one of these phone calls.
Help??? :confused:
In our house, if you get in trouble at school there is no tv at home that night. I have never had to go beyond that until Firecracker. Instead of punishing we started a reward sticker chart at school. I made it and took in the stickers and when she catches him being good or not finishing work then he gets a sticker. At 10 stickers I take him to the bookstore (which he loves to do) This works out really well for him. But you do need the teacher's participation.
I would have her send him to the principal and see if that works. That seems to be my FSs biggest fear.
Thanks for the reply. I sent a big box of stickers to school a couple months ago and the teacher is supposed to reward him with a sticker for every "good" thing he does. She has been very inconsistent about actually doing it and she's tried it again recently but he has no interest.
We don't do much at night during the week because we both work full-time so there really aren't any privileges to lose during the week. I really hate doing a "future" thing like telling him he loses TV or Legos or whatever on the weekend because he doesn't really understand the punishment if it's not something done ASAP.
We've done several different incentive systems and they do work but only for a limited time. I've been thinking I need to come up with a new one to try getting him through this. Not sure what. We've done stickers, charts, rocks. But that will require the teacher's full participation, and I think the stickers aren't working because he lost interest when she wasn't doing it consistently.
Arrgghhh, this is frustrating!!
Side question - is Firecracker still on meds? I read about your problems with the first one you tried and I've been wondering if you've tried anything else or not.
I have this to say about his teacher...its her problem not yours. It sounds like you have been proactive and tried to put processes in place to help and she isn't doing them. If the issues are bothering her that much then I would think she would make the effort to try and fix it and it sounds like she isn't doing that.
I work very hard with the teachers at school and have a good relationship with them and they know that I back them up at home. But if one isn't willing to discipline and work with me then in my opinion it is their problem to deal with not mine.
We stopped the adderall with Firecracker and within a day or two he was better. Went back to the doctor and started concerta -a 10 mg dose. It has been a lot better but he is still becoming hyper-focused on issues and the doctor said it is common for the meds to unmask some OCD behaviors but it is so much less on the concerta. But he wasn't as attentive as they would like so at the last appt. we upped the dosage to 27 mg.
He started that yesterday and came home from school with a personal paw. These are given by teachers to kids who do something really great at school - they are hard to get. He got one yesterday for completely his classwork for the first time ever!!! We were so excited. I am really hoping this is the right dose. Things are much more bearable at home. On Sat. we didn't give him the medicine...once I realized DH didn't give it to him, we were out and I didn't have it to give and by the time we got home it was too late in the day. And he went back to the old behaviors - not as bad but it helped me see the difference the meds are making.
Things are much more peaceful here. He still isn't perfect but he listens better and is more focused and easier to have conversations with and more willing to learn.
Maybe the sticker isn't concrete enough (for her or for STAS?)
AS is having similar behavior issues at school lately and his teacher has a tool in place b/c she sees this kind of thing A LOT.
She uses a small sheet of paper (like maybe a quarter or half a regular sheet) and prints out a chart on them that has the day's "schedule" of activities. For each activity, there is a picture and the word so the kids can learn to read, etc. too. After each section of the day, the teacher takes a second to put a sticker on the chart if the kid did well. If he didn't, no sticker.
At the end of the day, they take a minute and go over the chart, the teacher reinforces any times when the kid did great (like sharing a toy or helping a friend), and talks about why there's no sticker on a certain activity (well, remember you punched your friend at lunchtime? that wasn't a good choice, was it? Let's try again tomorrow).
AS is trying hard to get all 8 stickers on his chart, b/c if he does, he gets an extra for his shirt.
So his chart is something like:
Circle time
Outside time
Centers (indoor play)
Circle time
(He's in preschool, so I'm sure kindy has a different schedule, but you get the idea.)
So far, it's working. He does ask what if he doesn't get any stickers one day. I don't see that happening.
The teacher also suggested doing something similar at home, and trying to have a regular routine at home to help reinforce it. I am trying to come up with our biggest trouble spots here at home to put on the chart (like getting dressed the first time I ask, washing hands WITH SOAP, clean-up time, story time (he likes to be silly and interrupt), bed time, etc.)
I think it's worth a try. DS "can't remember" why he misses out on a sticker here and there, but he can see the chart and see where one is missing and that will help him "remember" a bit better than just "I got a sticker today, don't know why...."
As a teacher and a parent, I can tell you that it's the teachers fault. You have offered various incentive systems, you have conferenced with her, you have talked to him. SHE is the one who is not following through on her part.
My next conversation with her would be in person with the principal, and it would go something like "I really like you as a teacher, and respect you, but I feel that my FS has issues that are not being addressed properly. I have offered you X, Y, and Z to help deal with them, and you have been very inconsistent. My job is to support you, but I can't do that if he goes to school and what we said we would do hasn't been done. How can we address this going forward, to help FS do as well as possible?"
Good luck, and honestly your job is to support what she is doing. If she isn't doing anything, then it's up to her to start something that you can support.
I agree with other posters. If the teacher wants to see change, she needs to be a part of the solution. I wanted to he the only child in your home? It sounds like he suffers from "single child syndrome". I would recommend the book "Parenting an only child". We dealt with many similar behaviors with our son. Basically, he has been around adults most of the time. The rules are different. We insist our child goes through the door first. Now he has to wait for others. Our son would knock other children over just to go first!
He also went through a "punching private" stages that was not SA related but had me freaked out for a little while.
This is probably why the teacher is having all the trouble and your not. There is no way to "re-create" the social situations he has with other children in school since there are no other children to "practice" with at home.
Before I read the book, I gave consequences. After the book, I spoke with him about etiquette. Turns out, the old adage "teach by being a good example" has its limits. I had to follow up with actual verbal teaching...who knew?
Kiddo (he turned 7 a month after placement) had absolutely horrible behavior at school (and home too). Maybe he's destined to be an engineer because we discovered everything needed to be very precise and clear. His teacher and I came up with a behavior chart for the day and he could earn up to 14 happy faces a day.
14-stay up an extra 15 minutes, choose dinner among x choices
13-choose dinner among x choices
12-keep everything
11-lose DS (he was ADDICTED to this thing)
10-lose DS, TV
9-lose DS, TV, outside
8-lose DS, TV, outside, toys (except books)
7 and below-straight to bed after dinner because not enough sleep makes for cranky days.
When I would pick him up, he could tell me exactly what kind of evening he'd be having. Same days were bad because we all have bad days but 12 became pretty standard and 13/14 became regular. He made giant strides in his school performance and started making some friends. His teacher and all his school service providers were completely on board with making changes to support him, including the decision to use 123 Magic tools at school and home so things were consistent as possible for him. If the teacher can't/won't do her part then it's just not going to work. I second (or third...) the idea of setting up a face to face meeting with her, the principal and any other school service providers.
Agree with others that it's the teacher's fault at this point. Do feel compassion for her, AFA managing that many children in her class. With that said, IF you can work a situation where he has little quarter-page charts on his desk (maybe you'd need to design and format? or search for same online, then put in your own sections) -- then you might set up rewards.
May I suggest don't ask him to be perfect. But say, days when he had only 1-2 areas with no sticker would count. Ask him what *he* would like to have, something medium big. Trip someplace? A particular toy? Then say that if he goes ONE week with stickers in most places (you define), then he gets that thing.
I got this reward idea from a friend. Think about it, it can be easier to work for a reward, than to try to avoid punishment. I did this with a 15-year-old FAS foster boy who was an absolute nightmare at school at year end, in office constantly, even suspended! He had to get a lady at school to sign off on a chart I made, that he hadn't been in trouble for x number of days... then I would take him to Dairy Queen and buy him up to $20 of food. (That reward as I knew he'd like it.)
You know what? He turned his behavior around! It was the reward that motivated him.
I'll chime in as a teacher and a parent, too. Please keep in mind that the make-up of the class sometimes makes it very, very difficult for a teacher to invest the consistent time she needs for one child's specific behavior needs. Not saying it should be that way, but the reality of how thin we can be stretched is there nonetheless. I know that I've had classes where I absolutely would be on board with whatever sticker charts, etc. a parent had in mind if my usual motivational materials/plan weren't working, but I've also had classes where the make-up of kids and issues were kryptonite to getting much educating done at all. Sure, I can do these fifteen sticker charts, and those ten reward charts, and do all the tracking paperwork for SpEd, and with twenty of them getting pulled in and out in rotations for a billion different things, no one in here will learn to read... It's very frustrating for the teacher, too, because they can't tell a parent that. Then you get into how supportive the admin is in balancing these issues between rooms also balanced against SpEd paperwork requirements like aides and modifications, etc. There's just so much at play. Working in several districts has given me quite a bit of insight into how good things can be and how effective teachers can be when schools are managed with reason and care, and also unfortunately how difficult things can be and how tied teachers' hands can become when things are managed based on paper and theory policies only. Just a thought to keep in your mind as you interact and try to vet out which scenario you are working with.
Now, that said, being told she'd do a color chart and then not doing it, is not okay. You can't help if you're in the dark, and she may simply be inexperienced or a poor teacher after all. Just in case, tempering your concerns when requesting your face to face meeting with, "I'm not sure if it's the make-up of the class, or what may be going on..." allows you to be gracious until you've got a good bead on what really is going on. If it turns out to be inexperience or ineptitude, asking to be moved to another class is always an option.
Thanks everyone for the advice. I feel a little better to hear that others think the teacher isn't holding up her end of the bargain. But I am still ultimately responsible for my child's behavior, and technically he shouldn't even be behaving that way in the first place. So even if the teacher isn't doing anything I still have to figure out a way to get through to him.
We did have a long talk with him Friday morning and discussed "earning" something with stickers. We decided that once he'd earned 20 stickers that I would take him shopping for a new pair of pajamas -- with feet. I talked to his teacher Friday afternoon and his behavior had improved hugely, and he'd earned 7 stickers already. So we will see how things go. I am hoping that if he gets to figure out beforehand what he wants his reward to be that he will be more inclined to work for it. I haven't heard how today went so hopefully they didn't go back to square one today. Now, this is going to hinge on the teacher giving him opportunities to earn stickers ... so this may end up fizzling out if she stops giving him opportunities. I guess we will see how it goes.