8 Year Old Son Behavior Problems in School

Updated on April 15, 2011
T.C. asks from Birmingham, AL
10 answers

Hi Moms! I need some help. I have an 8 year old boy that has been really hard to manage. He has always been a really strong willed boy. He is very smart and makes all A's in school. He just doesnt listen well and he doesnt follow directions wells at all. If I ask him to put the lotion in the restroom he will put it on the kitchen counter. I will say some thing to him and then he says "huh?" but before I can repeat myself he is answering the questions. He fequently gets all excited and is very hard to settle. He gets in to trouble at school for not listening or following directions. He wants to impress his peers at all costs. He also wants to impress the girls. He is always trying to hug the girls. He i a sweet boy ( his teachers thinks so as well) but at the same time he is always doing the WRONG thing and then trying to say it was a mistake or someone elses fault. I just dont know how to help him. My husband and I are all out of ideas we just dont know how to help him.He just simply makes bad decisions. He CAN make good ones but just chooses not to. He has a problem with impulse control and he just doesnt think things through. His teachers (none of them since kindergarten) nor his pediatrician believes that he has add or adhd. It's just a matter how do I help him make better choices. I have tried charts and rewards and I have tried taking away things. None of it works. Does anyone have experience with this? As you can this has been an ongoing problem for years and I truely am desperate. I am a stay at home mother and I always give him lots of time and attention so I just dont know what it is. I will appreciate your responses..... Thanks Ladies!

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answers from Austin on

Here are some tips and more details at the link below. Good luck!


Children also respond to reasoning – it just needs to be put into their language.

‘Inside feet’ versus ‘outside feet’
‘Soft hands’ versus ‘hard hands’
‘Inside voices’ versus ‘outside voices’

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answers from San Francisco on

Your description of your son reminded me a boy in my kid's class a couple of years ago. I volunteered in the classroom and noticed him, who was such a sweet boy, very polite when he wanted to, but it was impossible to make him follow instructions and often got in trouble.
Some kids function differently, and the regular school system with lots of sitting still and series of instructions to follow doesn't work well for them, especially boys.
I am surprised that the school didn't suggest you for having your son tested for giftedness. He could be gifted and just get so bored at school, and without appropriate challenge, these kids end up having learning disability.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son could have been described exactly like that at age 8. For us a very consistent teacher and maturity have come along at age 9 and things are much better; so don't discount time helping too.

One of the best things we did was get him some counseling. He actually saw a counselor who specializes in ADD, but she agreed with the teachers & drs that he wasn't ADD. However - some of the behavior management tools that work for ADD kids can work well for kids with impulse control problems, and they did for us. We saw her 2x a month for 3 months and it helped tremendously with his impulse control. We also implemented 'good choices' 'poor choices' jars - get caught doing something good and you get a marble in the 'good choices' jar, get caught doing something bad is a marble in the 'poor choices' jar. If the good choices jar is filled first they are both emptied and he earned $10. If the poor choices jar is filled first they are both emptied and he earns no $$, so it reinforces the concept that our poor choices can negate our good choices.
We also started giving him Focus Factor supplements, you can get them on Amazon. I don't know if they actually work, or if his behavior is better because he thinks they work - but the end result is the same and they have helped him.

Consistency is the key, both at home and at school. At the beginning of school this year we told the teacher not to give him 2nd chances; we've had our rough weeks but her holding him to a high standard has worked well. Ds knows we talk to the teacher, and having all of us on the same page has helped tremendously.



answers from Dallas on

YES lol, I also have a very smart, but very hard headed 8 yo boy, who has been getting into trouble lmost everyday at school.
He likes to be the class clown and make the girls laugh, he has trouble concentrating and sitting still, and his worst traits are loudness and low frustration tolerance. Not to mention blindly making stupid decisions without thinking them through
So he has been getting punished every day at school, then every day at home as well.
I really had tried everything, so I decided to flip it all around on him.
If he gets punished at school, then he does not get punished at home - he has already been punished, so I don't need to do it again.
I know you said you had tried charts, but I felt my son needed a goal, something he REAALLLY wanted that I felt was frivolous.
I said if he doesn't get his name on the board at school, he gets a star on his chart, when he gets to 5 he gets a small prize, 10 a small prize, 15 a big prize, 20 a small prize, 25, small, 30 BIG (the thing he wanted)
It has been like having a new child, he has not had his name on the board at school, and every day comes home and puts his star on the chart, counts them and talks about how much closer he is to his prize.
you could try it?



answers from New York on

What are his consequences for his behavior. You didn't mention what type of consequences you are using, just charts and rewards. Also, you may want to go further with some type of testing. Sometimes children just can't help themselves despite consequences, and there is something else underlying. Pediatricians are not always right, and you may need to go further to help your son. I am sure if he knows there is consequence, and you have tried everything, then there must be some reason why he can't control his behavior. I would ask your pediatrician for a recommendation for a child psychologist and have them access him. If it is just behavioral then perhaps they can give you some recommendations and guide you through these tough times. Good luck!!



answers from Oklahoma City on

This sounds just like my daughter. She had all A's and no one thought she had ADHD at school. We had one councelor who refused to test her because she said her grades were too high. Well when we finally took her to someone who specialized in children when I explained how she was acting (just like your son) the first thing he said was sounds like ADHD and ODD. And when she was tested by a specialist that is exacly what was going on. Things have gotten much better already and it has only been a couple of months since we had this done. SO don't wait any longer to look into this. If something is wrong it will not get better with time. It just gets worse. And there is no harm in testing. If nothing is wrong they will let you know and if there is then you have a better idea of how to deal with it.



answers from Chicago on

Ha ha you are describing my 9-year old to a T! Smart girl, doesn't listen, very impulsive, craves attention.

I honestly don't think she has matured enough to "think ahead" of her actions. Also, she doesn't care about school. All she cares about is being the center of attention and impressing people.

So we've started focusing on what will bring her positive attention. We've enrolled her in lots of social activities where she can be a "star" and we consistently explain "here is where you can goof around, here is where you listen."

We make consequences immediate and drastic because nothing else works. She's impulsive and only thinks "in the now" so you have to "catch" her in the act and punishment has to be swift or the connection is not made. Also, don't forget to "catch" him being good and reward him accordingly.

For example, she was at a competition and she was getting rowdy waiting for her turn. She got one warning. When she didn't stop we removed her from the competition. Drastic? Yes, it raised a few eyebrows from others. Did it work? Absolutely! She was never rowdy again at a competition.

I figure if she continues to be like this as an adult, the consequences will be drastic. Better she have them now as a child where it won't ruin her life.

Love your son for the outgoing and wonderful person he is. Know that he won't get pushed around as an adult with that personality and that's a good thing! And do your best to explain, over and over, and it eventually will sink in.



answers from Columbus on

Who cares what anyone "thinks" because, as you say, nothing is working, so it is time to quit "thinking" and find out.

Call a board certified Child psychiatrist, make an appointment and request that your child be evaluated first by a Neuropsychologist so that you can bring that report to your first visit. Do it today. You will be kicking yourself all the way out of the Neurospychologists office and all the way to the psychiatrists office that you did not do this sooner. You need to know where his relative weaknesses are and how he processes information and if he is not a "typical" presentaion for a disorder that pediatricinas have no bussiness diagnosing anyway, what they "thinki" without data is irrelevant.

This poor boy has a problem. He needs help, and the only way you can get it for him is to look at the standard scores in the subtests that identify how he processes information, because kids this age do not "choose" to be like this if they can help it, and using the times when he "can" do something the beat him over the head every time he "can't" is causing him secondary issues, that will be life long, so STOP it and have his teachers STOP it too, until you are holding a neurosphycchological evaluation that tells you that this is just a good kid who makes bad choices...that kid needs help before he lives down to this garbage because he can't figure out how to make his brain function reliably.

Read the book "The myth of Lazyness" and "All kinds of Minds" by Dr. Mel Levine in the mean time. You will see your son and get to the bottom of his real issue so that he gets the help he needs, no mater what anyone "thinks." I personaly don't give a hoot what someone thinks...I care about what they do, and shame on your pediatrician for doing nothing.

Here is an exercise for you. Insert "pee" for every behaviro your son has. If your pediatrician "thinks" that he does not have any kind of kidney or bladder issue, and yet, he continues to "choose" to pee on himself sometimes, wouldn't you insist that the pediatrician have him tested instead of throwing your hands up in the air and blaming your child for doing this deliberately, based only on a thought? No, you would have been to a Urologist a long time ago. Go find out. You are in for a very informative session that will give you the help you need to help him.




answers from Detroit on

Try reading the following:

"How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and How To Listen So Your Kids Will Talk" by Fabler and Mazlish

"Love and Logic" - Jim Fay

"Setting Limits For The Strong-Willed Child" by Dr. Robert MacKenzie

See if you find any of it useful in your situation with your son. If you start using the techniques outlined in these books consistently, and you don't start seeing a positive difference, maybe speak with a family therapist or child psychologist or other professional and see what they recommend.



answers from Washington DC on

You are doing the right thing to intervene now. As he progresses in school, so much will be expected of him as of every child.

He will need to be able not only to listen and follow directions but also to remember what to pack in his backpack to bring home; what form to give you that the teacher says his parents just have to complete tonight; what to do for homework (and to put it iin his backpack when he completes it, so it's not sittiing at home the next day while he says to the teacher, "But I did do it!"); where he left his lunch box (so he's not sitting at lunch starving, and therefore grumpy and even less focused all afternoon); which bus to take on the one day he has a different schedule and needs to go somewhere other than home; etc. It sounds like he's not yet on track for that kind of responsibility and remembering, and it will come upon him, and you, quickly now that he's in elementary school.

Get him evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychologist or counselor (have you started with the school counselor??) who specializes in child behavior. Emphasize that he doesn't have issues with anger or violence and doesn't seem to be ADD or ADHD, but a typical kid who is "scattered." You should get specific advice and techniques for helping him at home with improving his attention, his ability to do tasks as asked and when asked, etc.

Do try the school counselor first; this is why they're there, and if he or she thinks your son needs more help outside school, ask for referrals to professionals. But do it soon -- the school year is nearly over and you need to start working on this now, in the school setting, before summer comes and he's relaxed and listening even less.

One small thing to help might be lists, lists, lists. We knew a boy with this issue of keeping things together, bringing home what he neede to bring home from school, taking the right things to school, doing what he had to remember to do, etc., and the counselor told his folks to POST lists everywhere: On his bathroom mirror for his morning get-ready tasks, on the back of the front door for his "what must go to school" list, on top of his desk at school for what must come home....It was a good start on organizing him. Make sure you are there to go over the home lists with your son each day for a long time, so he gets used to following them.

And work with his teachers on getting him out of trouble and more able to follow directions at school. Are there certain times of day he has more issues with following directions? Is he more wound up and less able to do as he's told, for instance, right after recess? Before lunch? Late in the day? Pick apart the circumstances that seem to be toughest for him and talk with the teacher about whether things can be done to "set him up for success" and make it easier for him to follow directions. And praise him a LOT when he does follow them and when he is able to calm himself down appropriately too.

And one person asked what consequences you were using along with charts and rewards. Whatever you do both for rewards and consequences, settle on something and be consistent -- don't shift from one consequence to another etc. He needs to know exactly what happens EVERY time he does X, or what the reward is every time he does Y.

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