4 1/2 Year Old Boy with Listening Issues

Updated on March 16, 2008
K.E. asks from Buffalo, NY
10 answers

Let me start by telling you that I have a son that will be 5 in August, he is in Pre-k and the teacher keeps telling me and my babysitter that my son is in the thinking chair (time-out) almost daily, we have asked for direction on how to get him to socially mature and listen to directions the first time and nothing seems to work. I have asked the teacher to give me a weekly or daily update on how his day/week was in a notebook I have supplied her with and she has not writen in it even once, also the TA has told the babysitter that no other child is being put in the thinking chair, but my son tells me who else is put in the thinking chair, if someone else is. They make him out to be an awful child, and I cannot help but feel like I am not doing my job as a Mom. I see him in other venues with other kids, adults so forth and he is a good boy, what am I doing wrong.

Let me tell you what I am doing, I have charts, a good boy chart and a warning chart, so he could visualize what his behavior has been for the day. He also has to tell his dad on the phone each night how his day is so he can reflect on his behavior.

My son is right up with the rest of the kids, he knows how to read, and write his name he recognises almost all the letters and is capable of telling what that letter says, he salo know his address, phone number, he even memorized his father's cell phone number just be reading it on the fridge. He knows all the shapes and colors, he can write almost all the letters. I do not want to live in la la land by thinking my child is too smart and that he might be acting out because he is bored.

Can anyone help me with what to do to get my son to follow directions and follow the rules better, or is it just a matter of time, and he will grasp it.

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So What Happened?

Ok a bit of an update the very next week my son was placed in the "thinking chair" again for breaking the tip of a marker, and playing in water in the sink during bathroom time. So I finnally called the director. I had enough. Ever since I called the director (who agreed to evaluate the class, but not for 1 1/2 week later)he has not been in the thinking chair at all.

More Answers



answers from Albany on

I really do not know. You sound like a responsible parent who makes your son take responsibility for his actions. I think it is brilliant that he talks to daddy on the phone and gives a behavior report. I do this also. I think it is vital to incorporate both parents when it comes to things such as this.

You cannot rush maturity. So don't stress over trying to. He does sound like a bright boy and certainly intelligence can lead to this type of behavior. Do you know what kind of learner he is? Does he learn best by physically doing things, observing, listening? Many children learn through a variety of methods, but one is almost always prominent. I ask because my son is a kinesthetic learner. This means that he needs constant physical stimulation in order to learn best. To the untrained eye it may be confused with hyperactivity or defiance. Thank God he has a preschool teacher that understands this learning style and does not punish him for it.

Here is a link describing learning styles


Perhaps this may be the issue. If not you can pm me and I can go at it from a different angle. Good luck.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi K.,

Background info on me...I am a mom but before was in early childhood education as a preschool teacher and director for 12 years. I am currently working for a company that promotes social and emotional development in young children.

With my background I still look at your situation very personally so this will be a response from my personal perspective. Whether it's called a thinking chair or time out it is still time out. Whatever behavior your son is exhibiting at school will not be remedied by sitting alone feeling upset and ignored by the teachers. It does not benefit him in anyway to sit alone. How does this teach him self-control? How does this teach him to problem solve? How does it teach him to be socially responsible and respectful? By moving him away from the other children the teachers are promoting an avoidance strategy. Children will generally find that they will get the adult attention and a response by behaving negatively. What your son is needing is positive reinforcement from the teachers and an opportunity to be responsible for his actions. You didn't say what it was he was being removed for. There should be understandable consequences for his actions. If he knocks down someone's blocks he needs to help them clean up and rebuild. If he pushes someone he needs to help comfort them and offer them sources of comfort. If he uses inappropriate words the teachers should discuss with him (without singling him out)what is appropriate. If he runs away from the group he needs to hold a partner's hand or a teacher's hand until he feels able to stay with the group.
A child should never be made to feel isolated or "wrong" or excluded. By sitting him alone he is no longer part of the peer group where he would be able to problem solve in a socially responsible way.
Unfortuantely you can't just teach your son to follow directions. Within the classroom it takes a teacher willing to promote and model appropriate behavior. It doesn't sound like the staff is accepting your suggestions which I am sorry to hear. Have you talked with the director? I would bring your concern to him/her and discuss what the school's policiy is on dealing with challenging behaviors.
And certainly at home you can support your son's growing independence while still making aware the needs of the group (your family). Role playing is a great way to make behaviors concrete. I have done this with puppets. Talk with him about how 1)a certain puppet boy feels when he has to sit in the thinking spot, 2) why the puppet boy was in the thinking spot, 3) what the puppet boy could have done instead. You want to empower your son while still providing boundaries and demonstrating that there are rules that need to be followed. Another way that he can feel empowered is to make a chart of what is ok/not ok...and try to phrase as positively as possible. Example: instead of saying "no running indoors," say "we need to use walking feet indoors". If he is allowed to help develop these rules he will feel some positive ownership of the ideas and will more likely be able to follow them. And then you can always go back to the chart if a particular behavior occurs.

Sorry to be so long winded. Good luck to you. You have taken such positive steps to engage the teachers so kudos to you. I know how difficult it is when you don't feel the reciprocation from them.




answers from New York on

The first thing i would do is request to observe your child's classroom during the day. That way you get to see him in action and that will really help you understand just what it is that either sets him off OR sets the teacher off! As a teacher myself I have dealt with many parents who don't have a realistic idea of just how their child behaves in the school. By seeing him in action you may come to understand him and his needs better. On the other end of the spectrum is the teacher and just how he/she runs his/her classroom. It may be that she has a low tolerance for acting up. Some teachers can deal with it simply by a word, a caution, or a diversion. Others go right to the "time out" area, a visit to the principal's office, or "call the parents". By understanding the teacher you'll get a better sense of things. But i gotta say that from your words about asking the teacher to give you input and her not doing anything like that, you've probably got a difficult person to deal with. Persevere though. In order for education to work there has to be a good relationship between teacher/parent/child. If you can't get anywhere there, go to the principal. You need to know exactly what's going on for your child's sake. You may see that the whole thing is blown out of proportion. It could be that his time in the thinking chair is actually productive for both him and the class! Maybe the teacher doesn't really think there's anything out of the ordinary going on. Who knows? That's what you need to find out. A simple observation will help get things started. Just don't be too demanding and accusitory and things should be fine.
Good luck.



answers from New York on

Hi Kelley, I am a mom of 3 boys, 17,11 & 8. I also have a little girl 4. You have described what seems to me like a typical intelligent child acting out of boredom( I know thats not what you want to hear) I had a similar situation with my now 17 year old in second grade. His teacher was adamant about her opinion of him and tried desperately to convince me that my son was just a "bad boy" that needed dicipline. I had him evaluated by the school district and he was found to be well above average. His "smarts" made him socially immature because he felt he could not relate to the other children. She was always very critical of him until I had the evaluation done. The school district instructed her to step up her teaching technique with him if she wanted to see results in the classroom. It was a very humbling moment for her. One suggestion that was made was to have him be a helper in class. Have him hand out materials or even have him help other children who may not finish their tasks as quickly as he does. I hope this teacher is open to these ideas, But in all honesty if you dont see any improvement in his behavior, I would suggest you change his class.This may just be a case of bad chemistry. I hope this helps.



answers from New York on

Hi K.,
I am no expert in the least, but what intuitively came to me when I read your request is that he maybe asking for more attention in a way that is not positive. I know you and your hubby are super busy, but think about how much one-on-one time your son is getting with both of you. It might be that at the end of the day, after the little one is asleep, spend some fun time with him. Play with him in a bubbly bath, ready a story, ..whatever you two do together.
Good Luck:)



answers from New York on

but what if he is too smart and bored and wants to learn more..sometimes school is about social skills also.. so look at the picture. Is he learning enough? Is he getting along socially... what is it he needs or that needs to change.. is it the school..?? Maybe there are other things he could begin to look forward to each day .. like the play time...



answers from New York on

Take him to a quiet area away from the group .Bend down so your face is on the same level and talk to him in a normal voice and and tell him what you want him to do.Never yell at him to do something or compete for his attention with TV et. Don't let another person in the conversation. Give him 100% of your attention. Remember he only copies behavior he has viewed,so if he asks you something-stop what you are doing and answer him. The teacher is probably overwhelmed.You can tell him about manners and rudeness and respect but the best way to teach him is by your own example.



answers from Syracuse on

I agree with Christina R. You have reached out to the teacher to try to establish a rapport to try to help with the issue at hand and it does not seem like she is willing to try to fix or address the issue. I would reach out to her a final time and keep documentation of time you have spoke/written to her. I would then approach the principal/director if things do not seem to get better. The reason why I say to document the contact you have had with the teacher is because they will want to ensure that effort has been made on your part (they always tend to take the part of the teacher).
I am all about keeping the lines of communication open with teachers but sometimes you will run into one that is difficult or will clash with your child.
I have three kids two teens and one that is nine. For the most part teachers are great!
BTW how does your babysitter feel about your son and is it appropriate that they are discussing behavioural problems with her? I have an issue with the school speaking with her unless you gave express permission for them to do so.



answers from Elmira on

You say you also work full time so this may be a bit hard for you but may be the best thing to do. I suggest that you take a day to observe your son in the class room. Sit at the back of the room and watch...or if at all posible with out him knowing. Then talk with the teacher afterwards...
My daughter, the oldest of 2 one day thought she could also bend the rules...when I got to the school and found out she was surprized that I backed the teacher up. I agreed to a detention if nessary. I never had an issue with her bending or not following the rules after that.
Another thing that the oldest tends to do...is try and get attention...even bad attention is okay because the focus is on them.
So you can try giving a lot of happy positive feedback when he does well, with a promise of a weekend trip to the park, chucky cheese, or something like that for good behavior all week. That means all 5 days!(this is good because he is still getting attention but the fun way.)
Does your son follow rules at home? Is he easily distracted from task you ask him to do? There are many factors to consider....He may need a change in diet...I read cutting down on sugar...helps a child focus.
( I do not believe in taking alot of medicine for young children )
Well I hope something I wrote may help.



answers from Syracuse on

By the teacher not responding to your requests I am led to believe that teacher feels there is no fix or she is not willing to work to fix it, not all teachers/schools are created equally...I thought I had my son in a wonderful pre-k, until the progress reports came home and he was marked at below average for writing and using scissors( he was 3 and could write over 50 words)that's when I scheduled a meeting and found out that the teacher and her aide had no idea my son was left handed and they were placing everything in his right hand(btw it was march and he had been there since sept and the class only had 12 kids). They offered to "fix" him...needless to say I shopped around and found another pre-k and we were all much happier...it could be a simple as a personality clash(not everyone likes everyone)or it could be teacher laziness or burnout, see if you can switch teachers or look some place else...you are your childs advocate, if the teacher doesn't want to work with you find a new one who will...if you are concerned with his listening skills have him tested to make sure that nothing else is wrong(for piece of mind)...2 of my sons have been tested for speech and they test for everything...I wouldn't worry to much he is obviously learning...and remember all kids are different...I have 5 boys and 4 of them do what I ask them to the first time and the other guy needs about 20 reminders and still forgets...he's just busy with other things and gets distracted. You know your sons personality and what works best for him....and before he goes to kindergarden get in and meet the principal and explain the issues you've had and your expectations and concerns....ask for the type of teacher your son needs (soft spoken/strict/extremely routine...whatever works for him) the principal will value your imput and you will get a better match with his teacher...Best of luck!

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