5 Yr Old Acting Out in School

Updated on February 26, 2010
A.W. asks from Austin, TX
7 answers

Hi all! My 5, soon to be 6, yr old son has started acting out in school. I am getting phone calls at work as well as I've received an email from the school's principal about his behavior. He has had two major lifestyle changes: 1) my husband and I have recently separated and he is no longer living in our home, 2) my son's kinder teacher had to take a leave of absence mid-year to tend to her dying mother and was replaced by a younger, male teacher. I have elected to send him to counseling as I believe he might be acting out due to the changes, but I'm not sure. We start our first session today. I don't have a problem with him at all at home, he knows the rules and enjoys his things and his privileges and would not want them taken away, however I feel he "thinks" the consequences of misbehaving at school are not as severe as at home. Granted, they do place them in time out, but it doesn't seem to bother him. The only time when he straightens up is when I've been called up to the school and I pull him out to have a talk with him. Any advice on what could be going on?

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So What Happened?

So, I ended up placing my son in counseling, he has already had two sessions that he seems to enjoy. I've taken the suggestion of doing a behavioral chart at home, allowing him to earn certain rewards and privileges for good behavior at school, as well taking away certain privileges for poor behavior, it has not worked so far and believe me, I'm sticking to my guns. Recently, my son was given Saturday detention for dumping sand on some 1st graders, along with two other children, after being told not to throw sand on anyone. My son;s father and I feel like detention is kind of harsh for a child his age, so we've scheduled to meet with the teacher and principal. Also, last week, the teacher called and asked if I or my husband could come up to the school and talk to our son because he was being silly during Spanish class. The teacher seems to call for every little thing my son does. My son's father and I are started to wondering if it might be the teacher? He has only been teaching this age group for the last 6 weeks, prior to him taking over we never received phone calls at all! The teacher is very young, early to mid 30's and he and his wife, who also works at the school, do not have any children. My son's father seems to think that he shouldn't be teaching this age range of children with his age and very little experience. Does this sound right? I have wondered. Has anyone every experienced or know of anyone who has experienced something similar where it might actually be a teachers lack of experience? Also, the counselor seems to think that some of my son's silliness and lack of focus could be due to his asthma medications, which he takes daily and include a steroid. Does this sound logical as well? I'm just confused because I do not have a problem with his behavior at home, even with my husband being gone... or maybe I've got blinders on? Help please... :-S

More Answers



answers from Houston on

Hi A., I have a son the same age and have been dealing with the same as well. My ex left the home when he was 4 yrs old and it was really hard on him. He behaves at home for me but would act out at day care & now kindergarten. The day care wasn't so bad. He had the same teacher who is an older woman who knew the situation & he felt comfortable with her but kindergarten was a whole new ball game. He was constantly in trouble at school some of the things I agreed with and some I thought were petty, however it had to be addressed. I started a behavoiral chart at home and worked in things for school as well. If he obtained so many magnets by the end of the week, he got to do something fun like a play date or ice cream. Occasionally a toy but not often. If he acted up in school he would lose magnets, which made it harder and depending on what he got in trouble for, he would lose his toy room and only get flash cards to play with for the rest of the day. Needless to say he didn't like that.

His teacher (kindergarten) was young & this is her first year to teach so not alot of experience and to top it off it was a very large class of 28 kids, which is too many in my opinion. I did have some problems with the teacher as well with some statements made to my son so I ended up changing his class, which is the best thing I could have done. He was placed in a class with an older teacher with only 17 children in the class. His behavoir has been fantastic & he loves his new teacher & friends. He gets up every morning wanting to go to school because it's fun. I feel like he is getting alot more individual attention, which he needs at this time, & I have already noticed an improvement in his work & his attitude.

What you are going thru is just a bump in the road and you & your son will get over it in time. That is the key "Time". I wish you all the best & hope this helps.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

a lot has happened to throw an adult off the loop let alone a young boy :(.
next time you talk to school people ask for them to put him in behavioral chart. something like 5 days a week, two times a day (am and pm) he's supposed to get a sticker. he's allowed to miss two times a week. at the end of the week either you or the father, if your son, has gotten at least 8 stickers, then you treat him with something.
it worked with my daughter in kindergarten. if he misses more than two stickers no punishment except no reward. if he continues missing more than 2 stickers a week then the school (ie teacher) should start taking 5 minutes from recess per acting out.
hang in there mom. i honestly don't believe in counseling at such a young age. he just needs to understand you and dad will always be there for him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Wow! The poor kid has been hit with a double whammy--dad and his teacher (kids are kind of close to their Kinder teachers, I think). I agree with Deniece about continuing the punishment at home when he has acted out in school. Review the school rules with him often, also. Sorry you're going through this and I hope it gets better. I hope the counseling will help him as well. You sound like a great mom.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

It probably is because of all the changes and that is understandable but he still shouldn't be allowed to act out and get in trouble at school. I would make it clear to him that if he gets in trouble at school, then he gets grounded at home that day. No TV, no toys, no playtime with friends and no special after school snacks. Follow through with it and don't cave in. If you don't nip this in the bud now, it could lead to a lifelong habit.
Also, be very loving and empathetic. It is hard on children when big changes are going on and I'm glad you have him in counseling. I think it will help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I was going to say the same thing as Deniece. If my 5 yr old gets in trouble at school she is grounded for the day. No tv, toys,or friends. The only thing she is allowed to do is educational stuff. Learn words, read books, work in the workbooks I buy from the dollar store,puzzles, that sort of thing. But your child is acting out because of all the changes and it will take some time for him to readjust. Just be patient. If you stand your ground this phase won't last long. Make sure to spend as much "quality" time as you can with him. This could be a good way for him to begin to share his feelings with you.



answers from San Antonio on

Hi there, I am adopting 3 young children that I fostered for a year and a half so I think I know what is going on here. You are the one safe dependable thing in his life right now and he wants to be sure that you will be there when he needs you. Also, the fact that the new teacher is a male may be causing him to act out towards him because of his feelings about his father moving out. You are doing the right thing by taking him to counseling. They will get him to talk about things that he may not even realize are bothering him and they will help reassure him so he can feel safe and secure again. Just remember that you have to keep enforcing the consequences of bad behavior or he will pick up some pretty bad habits throughout this whole thing. Good luck.



answers from College Station on

Those two situations by themselves alone are enough to rock you little guys world! Does the school know that you and DH have separated?

I would have a conference with the teacher and principal to work out some of his issues at school Let them know he is in therapy. The therapist should also be willing to work with the school or give them some suggestions on behavior modifications.

Good Luck!

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