29 answers

8 Year Old Acting Out at School

My son has been acting out at school, punching other kids, kicking other kids, even puncturing balls with pencils and so on. He has already had 2 or 3 in school suspensions and a couple where he has been sent home. He currently lives with his father and step-mother with his sister and two step-siblings. There is quite an array of interesting history there, but too long for this request. My concern is that the situation is not getting better. Each time that I attempt to have my two children come back to live with me, their step-mother makes life more unbearable than it already is dealing with her now. Their father is not taking an active role in discipline and my son has voiced to me on multiple occassions that he does not want to live with them any longer. Actually, that he never did. We have left the kids with their father because my daughter loves her school and her friends and doesn't want to leave it. She has told me that she doesn't want to live there either, but doesn't want to leave her friends or the school, so she's "alright for now." Her wish would be that I move to the town they are in so she can live with me, and not have to leave school or friends. That is not an available option right now, so I feel stuck. I don't know how to go forward with my son and the problems he's having, especially since his father refuses to seperate them, and I don't really want to seperate them if I don't absolutely have to.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Update...talked to my son on the phone and asked him to answer a yes or no question for me (since I never know if his father and step-mother are right next to him). That question, "Are you trying to get out of Daddy's house?" "Yes" "Are you trying to get to Mommy's house?" "Yes" I let him know that the acting out wasn't the best way for that to happen and had a potential to have him pulled from both houses if he wasn't careful, but that I was working to get him to Mommy's house. His father, step-mother, principal, counselor at school, his teacher and one of the recess teachers scheduled an appointment to all discuss how to move forward at least through the end of the school year and then they would re-evaluate for next year. They were supposed to call me and have me on speakerphone and "conveniently" my ex "forgot." And, when I tried to call, I was told the principal so I could be on speakerphone through the school, I was told that he was in a meeting. I told the office person that I was the mother of the person they were talking about and she said, "hold please, let me check to see what I can do." I was on hold for a few seconds and then all of the sudden the call ended. Tried to call back and got the same thing. Since I was having to step away from the training I was doing for one of our new girls to make the call, I decided to wait and just see what his father had to say when I called him at lunch. They are going to start doing a behavior chart daily with him (something that he had to do before at another school) and they are going to test him to see if his classes are too hard for him or too easy for him and that's why he's "distracted." So, at this time, we'll see...

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The bottom line here is you are the mom and they are in an emotionally unhealthy situation. It sounds as though you have the ability to remove them from it so just do it. It is what is best for them. They are young they will make new friends. No one ever said that being a mom was easy only whorth it. Summer is coming soon so do it then. Which will give you plenty of time to get them registered for school for the next school year. And they will have all summer to get to know the kids in the neighborhood and make new friends before school.

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You have your own answer in your request for help. They don't want to stay with their father or stepmother any longer. That is probably why your son is now acting out at school. He is not happy with his home life as it is. Your daughter has also said that she isn't happy with her home life either.

You have to be their advocate and protector here, they can't do it. Step up to their father and say that they need to come live with you, that they aren't happy with him. As for the stepmother, SHE is not their mother, YOU are. Don't let her words intimidate you. She didn't give birth to them. She didn't soothe them at 2 am when they had a nightmare. All she is is Dad's new wife. They may call her mom, I don't know, but you are and will always be Mommy.

I don't mean to sound harsh, and I don't know the whole history, but it sounds like you really need to get your kids out of their father's house and into yours. It will be hard for your daughter to leave her friends, but maybe you could have the occasional weekend sleepover for her?

Hope this helps,

6 moms found this helpful

From my experience working with at-risk kids, Melissa, Marda, and Katy are right on point. Your son's behavior shows that he is confused and desperate for loving parental guidance, and apparently not getting enough of it.

Marda has set out some hoops for you to jump through. They look challenging. But the situation will get harder and sadder if you don't try to make a difference now. You obviously love your children. You have invested a lot of yourself to get them to this stage of their lives. Please don't throw up your hands and surrender now.

I don't know what you mean by the stepmother making life more unbearable – for whom and in what ways? You might do well to investigate how to communicate with her and your ex clearly and calmly, and make your legitimate needs known. One particularly useful approach is called Non-Violent Communication, and you can get a one-page primer on it at http://www.masterfacilitatorjournal.com/archives/skill127... – scroll down the page a little ways to "The Point" and "Application."

Your family will be in my prayers. I hope you will write in a few weeks about "what happened." I'll bet lots of mamas out here will be rooting for you.

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I think that your son's behavior could be a serious behavior that will only increase. He is angry and doesn't have a healthy way to express it. This sort of behavior that starts when one is youg can be the beginning of teen rebellion with drugs, alcohol, running away, etc.

Does their father have a court order giving him custody? If not then you must step in a get your son some help. Start out with an evaluation. Talk with the school and get their suggestions. If they think it's a good idea take him to see a psychiatrist to get his viewpoint. If he thinks that your son should needs help, see that he gets it.

If your ex doesn't have court ordered custody I'd suggest bringing both children back home with you. Because your ex is unlikely to agree with this talk with an attorney first so that you can do it in the manner that will most likely give you the results that you want.

How old is your daughter? I can understand wanting to stay in same area and same school but is she mature enough to make that decision herself? If she's not in high school I would seriously question allowing her to make the decision since both kids are having difficulty with living with their father. I would question the decision, thinking about whether or not it's really the right thing to do even if she is in high school. Again, I'd get some professional help. I'd also talk with teachers at her school to see how well she is actually doing. It's quite possible that she's not doing well but she is hesitant to tell you for a variety of possible reasons.

It is the responsibility fo adults to make these decisions. Input from the kids should be considered but reality may tell you that what they want is not best for them.

Consider that courts listen to kids expecially when children are saying in words and deed that this is not a good place for them.

Could you be too concerned about keeping the step-mother and father satisfied? Your kids need you to stand up for them. Talk with an attorney to find out what you can do!!!!!!!

Why is separating the kids not an available option? Perhaps it's the one that needs to be fought for.

And what does "alright for now" mean. That phrase intimates that there may be difficulty down the line. It's better to prevent difficulty especially with children. Their experiences now will affect them the rest of their lives.

I'm very glad that you've asked this question. It's good to get our opinions but you most need the opinions of professionals who work with troubled kids. Your son is definitely troubled in a serious way.

3 moms found this helpful

Move your kids home to live with you. 50 miles is not that far for your daughter to keep up her relationship with her friends at her school. She'll also make new friends in your town. Your son's life & healthy development depends on it! Good luck!

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Dear L.,

You say moving their is not an option right now. The actual fact is staying where you are is an the option. Those are your children! They are living in anotherhome watching their father care for and love another womans children. Think of how your kids feel. You have very few chances in life to do the right thing. You must move to where your children are and provide for them, nurture them daily, be their suppport. Their is nothing in your life more important than your children. Your son is acting out.....wow go figure, I wonder why. His mother is an hour away and he lives with another womans children. I know this sounds harsh. But shame on you for not making the choice to be with your children. YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE.


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Your kids are "worth" moving closer to be with them. They should be the first priority. Their chaotic, unhappy life is not their choosing, and is being done to them by circumstances beyond their control. They deserve better. Your son isn't going to be better until his situation is better. I also recommend John Rosemond's Six Point Plan for Raising Happy Healthy Children (a book). Good luck!

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Hello L., My opinion is that you need to do what's in the best interest for your children. It's not about what your daughter wants, it's about what is best for both of them. And it looks like it's best if they are removed from the environment that they are in and that your son receive some counseling. Something is going on that is causing him to act out this way. Go with your gut and your heart. Your children are resilient and will recover as long as they are in a safe and loving environment. Keep us posted.

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I was a first grade teacher, as well as having a step son that had some problems. My suggestion--if you live in a state that has a program that will appoint someone to represent your son and only your son. Since you have been divorce and most likely have a parenting agreement this should be relatively easy.

In the mean time, keep listening to your son. Even if it means calling him every day. Cell phones are great. Tell him he is acting out because he is angry at home, but that is not an excuse for acting out at school.

Reinforce the fact that he is a good kid and you love him very much. Talk to his teacher frequently so you know what he is studying and you can talking about it. Talk about history, science, geography-- the fun stuff of school.

Develop a hobby for him that he can look forward to when he comes to your house. Get a magazine subscription for him that he can take to his father's home.

I hope some of these ideas help. Good luck. W.

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