28 answers

Seeking Help on How to Discipline 11 Year Old Boy Geting in Trouble at School

I have an 11 year old boy (will be 12 in May) who is in 6th grade and has been in constant trouble at school for being disruptive in class and rude to his teachers. He has only started having issies since entering middle school. He has always been a very kind, affectionate, outgoing boy who has a lot of friends. I divorced his father when he was 2 1/2 years old and soon after met my current husband who has been a constant, positive influence in his life since he was 3 years old. He still has a relationship with his biological father and sees him every weekend. I am on good terms with my ex and feel that we lead a very normal life. My son has a lot of stability in his life and people that really love him. I got a call from one of his teachers this morning and was told that he has been acting out and seems to have a bit of an anger management problem. This completely floors me because he does not act this way at home. We have tried grounding him and taking privelages away from him, but nothing seems to really be "fixing" the problem. I need help or suggestions on how to handle this situation. I know that he is going through a LOT of hormonal changes right now and I am trying to be understanding of that, but his behavior at school is just not acceptable!

What can I do next?

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I can relate my son's is in trouble over half the time he is in school but the difference is he is in the 8th and he is 13, the other is in th 9th and is 14, one has ADHD, the other we never got tested maybe you want to get him tested or it could be very well the he is board in class and he knows all that they are doing how is his grades? but really think of having him tested either for ADHD or to see if he may be gifted. there may be something there lying domed and you can fix it now .

I do not have any children that have gone through these changes, but I am a teacher. If the behavior is happening only at school and not at home, the problem probably is at school. I would set up a conference with his teachers to find out if any students in his classes are picking on him or giving him a hard time. The teacher may also know if he is hanging around anyone new that exhibits the same rude behaviors. Before you go talk to the teacher, sit down and have a heart to heart with him to see if anything is happening at school, because you know teachers cannot see everything. This could be happening in the cafeteria or in gym (locker room). First and foremost, talk to him. I would be willing to bet something is happening at school! Hope this helps.

You may want to look into what is going on at school. Perhaps he may have some problems with peers or he may have some problems academicly. When they are not understanding their lessons they somtimes act out in an abrupt manner. My son became withdrawn. He was diagnosed with ADD without hyperactivity. Once he was on track with school work things were better.

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HI

Middle schools are horrible. I went thru it with both of my sons and that's when it all starts. The guidance counselors kept saying it was puberty....what a bunch of poop.

The kids are so mean and they bully each other and torment each other. Your son could just be unhappy in that school, especially right now, or maybe something has happened to him in the school or elsewhere. But I do know that this is a very difficult time. Try to get him involved in some extra curriculur activities to help keep his mind off of all of that meanness in those middle schools.

Believe me when I tell you that it is only just beginning. Kids in that age group are just mean to each other. It hurts me sometimes to see what my youngest son still goes thru. Things have changed alot since when I went to school, that's for sure.

I have to wonder if he's struggling with middle school - the expectations, some of the kids, etc. It can be a hard transition for kids. Is he only acting up in certain classes or all the time? How is he handling other aspects of being in the middle school? I think with my stepdaughter, one of the problems she had was her antics were no longer cute and teachers expected a lot more of her. She had to grow up. She also had to get used to being at the bottom of the pack again after 'ruling the school' in 5th grade.

Have you talked to the guidance office? They can probably help, too.

It could just be that there is somehting going on at school. A group of older kids that have made comments, picking on him, etc. I would talk to the school see if they can see anything happening. Problem in the lunchroom, bathroom, maybe there is a girl that he likes.
M.

Have you checked to see if someone at the school is teasing him or giving him a hard time. Most kids this age go through the same thing. Give him a little time to tell you what is going on with him. I would ask him about the teasing or being bulled. My 3 boys went through the same thing. Except back then they knew if they get in trouble at school that your will get in trouble a home if it is something they didn't do I would go to the school and find out what was really going on. Hope this helps. Bless you for having boys and good luck.

I can relate my son's is in trouble over half the time he is in school but the difference is he is in the 8th and he is 13, the other is in th 9th and is 14, one has ADHD, the other we never got tested maybe you want to get him tested or it could be very well the he is board in class and he knows all that they are doing how is his grades? but really think of having him tested either for ADHD or to see if he may be gifted. there may be something there lying domed and you can fix it now .

Your son is at that age of trouble. Have you or your husband tried having a heart to heart talk with your son? Can you find out the underlying issue causing his anger? Perhaps before the talk you could scedule a really fun family outing to break the ice. If you are church going people, is there a youth group at church that might meet your son's needs? I pray God gives you wisdom. AF

My son has had similar issues this year. His teacher has been very helpful and supportive - she even suggested the behavior modification program we are using currently with a lot of success. It's called "Discipline Without Stress", and the website is http://www.marvinmarshall.com/parenting.htm.
Good luck.

When you say he has friends, do you know his friends? Have they been over to your house? Have you observed their behavior?

The reason why I ask this is because I have taught in the Middle Schools here and have observed how kids can treat each other, and it is not always kind.

I would recommend speaking to your son and asking him about what's going on in class, who is he hanging with, how do they treat him.

These issues could stem from a variety of sources; internal things linked to hormones, family stress, peer pressure or just kids rebelling.

Talk to your son, but watch him more closely at home. See if there are any clues, listen to him on the phone. Listen to what his friends say about "him."

I have 4 kids ranging from 14 down to 5 and parenting is an on-going process and sometimes the kid we see at home is not the same kid at school.

I would guess that it is a few things at once. One is he is approaching being a teen and he is in a middle school (both things cause a lot of changes for a child). Add to that the possibility of an issue with bullies and you have a child who is acting out. Talk to your son and see what he says is happening and also speak to the guidance counselor and teachers to see what is going on. Ask them to pay closer attention to what is happening around your son (even when not in the classroom setting).

I also noticed that you have a 3 year old son. Does your child have an issue with not being your little boy anymore? Now that your husband has a son of his own, does your older son feel that relationship has changed(whether or not it is true doesn't matter, just what he perceives)? If the answer to that question is yes, then you need to determine if it is accurate (and correct it) or inaccurate (make sure your son knows too). Either way, you'll want to reassure him.

Positive discipline is the key. Long before I had a child, I read this book :How to talk to kids so kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk". I read it because I had significantly younger siblings with whom I had to deal with. It is perfect reading for someone with a child your age.

Remember that children act out for a number of reasons. Children with good stable homes like yours also act out. Its not a reflection on you or your home. Learning to handle emotions and anger is a skill that needs to be acquired just like walking. I believe this book is a great book in learning this skill.

Good luck.

Hi there. Take a deep breath and release. It's okay. Our difficulties began earlier than 6th grade. Our oldest son, now 12 (13 in November), is so sweet and loving. I always have said, and still do, that he has such a huge heart and wants the best for everyone. So when his behavior became an issue in school we took immediate action because it is unacceptable in our home too. He has always been the happy-go-lucky kid with friends everywhere he goes. So when this behavior "thing" happened we didn't know what to do. Finally, after one and one-half school years, he said to me while crying, "Mom, I don't care how much trouble I get into, I won't let my friends see how stupid I am!" Peer-pressure, especially as a "tween", is so hard for many children to handle at first. BUT...think about the first time you went to work. Most likely you were not the best at it until you kept doing it over and over. These are the years that our children are learning; both good things called what to do's and not so good things called what not to do's. They are also learning that wrong choices equal consequences. This is real life leasons that they have to learn. For us, I think especially Moms, we hate to see them hurt, in trouble, and/or making wrong choices. We tend to be "fixers or menders" and want to make it all better. As hard as it can be some days, please keep doing what you are doing. Allow him to make the choice: acceptable behavior vs unacceptable behavior. (be sure he knows exactly (detailed) what you expect from him everyday) And then show him, point it out for him, the result of his decision every day. It is obvious in your posting that you are a great Mom and you need to remember that often. Many of us have unhealthy habbits of taking on the blame for our children's poor choices. We think others will beleive it's because of something we have done or are doing wrong at home. More often than not, that is not the case. Think about it this way, our children are our future. They will one day lead this country. As a citizen, I would rather your son learn these real life leasons now than when he is say in the White House! LOL Don't give up! Your consistency will prevail! We have 3 boys 12,7 & 2. Email me anytime even if you just need to "vent." ____@____.com. Remember...you ARE a GREAT Mom! =) N.

You may want to look into what is going on at school. Perhaps he may have some problems with peers or he may have some problems academicly. When they are not understanding their lessons they somtimes act out in an abrupt manner. My son became withdrawn. He was diagnosed with ADD without hyperactivity. Once he was on track with school work things were better.

You may want to try to give him positive rewards such as give him things back as you hear he is making good choices at school. It is very important to maintain communication with his teachers and counselor so that he knows that all of you are talking and on the same page. This will also allow you to get positive feed back. I would recommend emailing teachers once a week just to check in. I think once he sees you all are a team he will improve and you will feel better about this situation.

Have you, husband, and/or ex tried to talk one on one with him? Just to see what could be the culprit. The "problem" isn't being addressed when you punish him b/c it isn't being discussed.
While hormones could be part of the issue, I think there's something else going on. It could be a number of things though, so don't go crazy trying to figure it out.
My suggestion (I'm a social worker) is to have the closest adult to him try to have some one on one time with him to figure out what's going on. Like I said, it could be a number of things. It sounds as if it's def something at school, maybe trying to impress someone (friends, gf, etc).
Good luck!

Hi!
I wonder if this child is being bullied by other kids at school. He is reacting to something that is going on in the classroom. I'd schedule a meeting with the teachers, the principal, the guidance counselor, and yourself. I'd put your boy into counseling with a psychiatrist that has nothing to do with the school system and I'd figure it out now!!!

Best of luck to you.
LBC

Hi J.,

My name is M. and I have an 11 year old boy in 6th grade middle school and he'll be 12 in July, so I hope I can help. Having started middle school 7 months ago, I gather your son's behavioral problems began then. My question is have you determined whether he is being bullied in anyway? The children at that age can be so cruel and it doesn't have to be physical to inflict hurt. It just seems the timeline would suggest that it is not your home environment that has spured this change, but rather school. My son had a similar affect last year. A normally sweet, kind and outgoing boy suddenly became moody, sullen, shy and absolutely hating school,(beyond the normal not liking it). He would throw a pillow over his head in the morning, sobbing and say how he just hated school. His grades dropped and he got in trouble. We focused hard on our end, but what I discovered was that he was being continually taunted at school by certain classmates and teachers seldom see that. He is an only child so teasing is unfamiliar to him and he is very susceptible, thus making him a perfect target. Yes, hormones play a huge part as well and can only highten negative feelings and conflict. We spoke to his teacher, provided a safe "haven" at home where he can be himself and feel loved and accepted. Got some books on what happens in adolescence, to insure that he knows what he is experiencing is happening to everyone, again not just the physical but emotional too i.e. insecurities. Lastly, we had him evaluate his friends, and instilling the importance of choosing them wisely. He is involved in other social venues outside of school, such as sports, church youth group, boyscouts. We expect a lot from him(only child syndrome)and he delivers, but we found it really helps when we are his advocate first, in talking to him especially when there are discipline issues. Good luck.

Hi J.!
Could your son possibly be bored? My son (now 20) had problems in middle school also. He learned to socialize more in middle school. Middle School kids these days are a lot different than when we were in school, they're mean (not all) but maybe he's acting out because the other ones do & lucky him, he just happens to get caught (mine always did). Maybe call the counselor & see how good his test scores are because like I said he may just need to be challenged more. Keep your chin up though as long as family life is good, it may just be a phase. Yahoo, teenage years!!
Good luck!

I do not have any children that have gone through these changes, but I am a teacher. If the behavior is happening only at school and not at home, the problem probably is at school. I would set up a conference with his teachers to find out if any students in his classes are picking on him or giving him a hard time. The teacher may also know if he is hanging around anyone new that exhibits the same rude behaviors. Before you go talk to the teacher, sit down and have a heart to heart with him to see if anything is happening at school, because you know teachers cannot see everything. This could be happening in the cafeteria or in gym (locker room). First and foremost, talk to him. I would be willing to bet something is happening at school! Hope this helps.

If your son is being disrespectful at school, I would reevaluate how he is acting towards you and your husband. If he is allowed to be disrespectful to you (in ANY way), he will most definitely apply that to all adults. He is testing his limits, and he wants to see how much he can get away with. He has to be taught about the real world, and in the real world you have to respect others and respect those in authority, both so he can be successful in his life and future career, and in future relationships (i.e. marriage).

It sounds to me like he's getting the opportunity to treat adults however he pleases, and that has to stop. Right now you are his parent, and not his friend. Your job is to help him learn the skills he needs to be successful in his life, and this behavior is extremely damaging. If it gets worse, have the guts to make the hard decision to possibly change his educational method (home school, private, etc). Loving your child is teaching him not to hurt himself and others, and he's learning that he can hurt his reputation and hurt others, and that it's acceptable.

Hi J.,

There is more going on here than meets the eye.

At this age, there is alot of changes going on in Brain development as well as hormonal changes. Dr. Lauie Dietzel is a child development specialist in Maryland. Write to her and give her your information and hopefully she can give you some help.

Her e-mail address is ____@____.com

Hope she can help. Good luck. D.

I would suggest involving his real father, perhaps even having him change residences. No matter how wonderful everything seems in your family, and how close he is to his stepfather, we must EXPECT anger issues in any divorce and re-marriage scenario. It's just the way it is and I wish more people would realize this BEFORE they split.
You say your life seems normal, but children living with a parent and step-parent and seeing their father on the weekends know that this is not the way it was meant to be, even if that's how the majority of their friends live. I am not meaning to be harsh on you here, because I can tell from what you say that you love your son very much and you have done the best you could. We're all human and make mistakes. Given the right help, your son will get through this and channel his anger into positive outlets. I would imagine that he is angry with you for not keeping your marriage together in the first place. I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't even aware of his anger at you and if he is aware, it would be very dangerous (in his mind) to direct it at you. I'd seek some guidance through his school. They will know where to direct you.
I'd suggest that you take a few days off work and you and his father (not stepfather) accompany him to school and any classes where he has been rude to the teacher, require him to verbally apologize in front of you. (I wouldn't suggest any other students in the room at the time.) If your son sees you and his father on the same page and that you care enough to put him ahead of your jobs and all else, his anger level should go down immediately. If he knows that his teachers are also on that same page, his school behavior could improve immediately.
Best of luck!

Hi J.

Welcome to the teens! I'm on my second set of teenagers! My twins are 18 years old and will be graduating this June. My first set of kids are 35 & 33 years old and between the two, I have six wonderful grandkids ages 6 months to 13 years old.

First I'd like to say to you that YOU cannot fix the problem, only he can. So the first thing you must do is work on yourself, once you come to a feel good place of acceptance then you can begin to assist him through his adulthood. (this is the hard part! lol)

At 12 yrs old he is now a young adult and making his own life decissions based on the wonderful teachings from you in his childhood. Now he is finding his own way. That's where acceptance comes in! Your role as parent has now changed. You as the parent are no longer in control of his choices. That doesn't mean you have to like or agree with his choices, just that they are his choices.

Communication is very key. Instead of talking to or at him, have him do the talking. Ask thought provoking questions and let him come up with the answers, with guidance of course.

Start with... Son you are becoming an adult and making adult, life changing decisions for your self, as your Mom I can assist you but ultimately, this is your life and you are in charge of it.

Then start asking questions. "Do you think it's a good idea to act up in school?" "What do you think will happen because of your choices" and then let him talk, bite your tonge if you have too! LOL Ask him what he plans to do to correct the issue and what he wants you to do, to assist him.

Put the responsibility back on him. Treat him as a young adult with love and respect, chances are he will start treating others the same.

FYI, my twins still have issues with teachers and school officals, in regards to how they are treated. Some adults treat them like little kids and are very disrespectful, but my twins have learned to stand up for themselves without being rude or disrespectful to others.

You've raised a fine young man J., now step back and let him fine tune himself with your assistance.

Be blessed and be a blessing,
T.

He is obviously going through something... Does he go to a public school? There may be some influences at school which make him feel like this is the way he should behave there. I am an educator and I see this type of behavior all the time. It may also be a part of what is expected of him being a young black male in the school environment and he feels like if he behaves the way he knows he should, he will be ostrasized by his friends/peers and made to be an example of "how they should act" by his teachers.... You may want to discuss with him the importance of being his own person and doing what he KNOWS is right regardless of what other people think or say. He is in the middle of the change from boy hood to young adulthood and is probably feeling puberty's pull making him want to rebel or be more "manly" you have to show him that being a man is not always being aggressive, loud and angry. I hope this helps.

Hi J.-
I have a 14 yr old step-son, I've been fortunate not to have this issue with him. But, I've seen it happen with many of his friends. Great kids tempting trouble. When mine was younger I made it a point to make my house their haven. He and his friends have all always given me mucho respect and they get it/got it back in re-turn. My boys incentive for behaving is racing motor-cross, not a sport for everyone. But that is his love and he knows that if he messes up he loses out. I also have 2 baby girls (2&3), so I understand the challenges of finding time to dedicate to the older child. Their being so self-sufficient, it's natural to put their needs second, at least for me. If you haven't already try to dedicate some one on one time with your eldest. An entire day, but do it as a reward for something he's done that impressed you, like washing his own clothes...and, let him know that the reward is coming. I've found that chores help me have more time for my eldest and gives him a feeling of accomplishment. One-on-one time, with him can still include one of his best friends. Don't ever forget that if their friends like you it's harder for them to rebel against you ;) Anyway, our perfect day is generally full of shopping for "cool" clothes (LOL), his hair cut, McD's McFlurry, movie rentals (one for him & one for me he has to watch), a trip to the skate park and he takes me on a tour of his MySpace page. I can't promise this will work for you, but it works for me. Your home life seems similar so maybe it'll work. Best of luck!!!
-S.

Have you talked to him about what might be happening at school? Or asked the school? Finding time to sit down with his teachers and asking about his interaction with his classmates and teacher is a must. Pull in his guidance counselor as well. The more people talking to him, the more likely something will leak out and offer you a clue to his behavior.

Take what he loves most away from him. Again, show him the proper way to behave in order to get it back. As a family group stick to your decision of action. Breath, its not forever, and say I love you, no matter how rude he gets. Provide him with the tools to work with to make better choices. HE makes those choices. Show him the worst case scenerio with consequences of poor choices. Take the time, be patient with his learning process. Communicate..dont take it personally, and dont assume anything..clarify..be consistant.. all the while do it with love in you voice.

He may be bored. My children go to public school & do fine but I have found, particularly with my 8 yr old son, that "acting out" equates to finishing his work too soon & excelling at to the point where his "idle hands" get him into trouble. How are his grades? Is he above average and ahead of his peers in some things? Perhaps he needs to be challenged more? Too often, excelerated children are deemed "problems" by a system that has been streamlined to treat all kids the same regardless of their abilities & personalities. Anyone, most assuredly professionals, should know that no 2 kids are alike. Good luck & follow your gut on this one. No one knows your son like you do.

I have a son who just turned 11 and I have had that problem in the past. My son's biological father is no where around but my current boyfriend has been a really good influence on him. Even though your son's biological father is in his life, he may still have issues with you and his father not being together but will not tell you because he doesn't want to hurt your feelings. If his school has a school counselor, try having him talk to him or her. That is how my son's real issues came up. I could never get him to tell me what was wrong but the counselor could get him to open up.

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