Do You Have Consequences at Home for School Behavior?

Updated on October 19, 2015
K.W. asks from Santa Monica, CA
14 answers

My son is having a rough time in kindergarten and I'm really disappointed in his behavior. It seems he is not following directions, being very silly, having a hard time transitioning between activities, and often becoming angry (about things others did, things he couldn't do, etc) and he is unable to calm himself down and join his class. He is spending a lot of time in time-out and now in another classroom, I assume because he is too disruptive to stay in his own class. he had a lot of these behaviors in preschool too but it seems to be getting worse instead of better.
I'm conflicted. On the one hand I know he can do better and would do anything if it would motivate him to change. He is a very smart, social, loving kid who should be excelling in kinder, but he is also emotional and impulsive and has attention-seeking behaviors. he needs to get a grip on himself. When he's calm we reflect all the time about his behavior and he understands and agrees to try harder, but he just doesn't follow through. He doesn't seem bothered by being sent to time out. We've taken away his tv viewing (he usually enjoys watching 1 show a night) and special activities, but he still doesn't change. It's like he's adjusted to having none of that and has given up on getting them back. Or he's decided that being the class clown is better than the end of day reward. Last year we got daily updates from his teacher, would give stickers to earn rewards, and it never really improved. I want to support his teacher but don't know how.
On the otherhand, what we do at home doesn't seem to have worked and I really just want to enjoy the time with my kid! Is that wrong?? Hearing about his day is so disappointing and is the worst part of my day. My whole family hates it. I hate being the parent of That Kid. But his behavior at home is great. He listens, he cleans up, he's kind to his siblings, he gets ready for school and to bed on time with no complaints. I'm not saying the problem is his school (I really like his school and teacher and all the other kids seem fine), it's just that the problem is the nature of school- sticking with the group schedule, being quiet, ignoring distractions of friends, etc, things we just don't have at home and therefore can't really practice.
So what can I do?

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So What Happened?

Thanks Diane B. That help. To answer your questions- yes, I'm projecting I guess that others are judging us on his behaviors. I guess I worry kids and other parents will see him and think he's a bad kid, but that's not my main concern. I pick him and his brother up together, so his brother hears his teacher if she tells me about his day. Yesterday my husband picked him up early from school and witnessed some of his antics and he was angry, which affects the mood of the family...

Thanks everyone- I feel better now. I think this is pretty normal behavior and certainly consistent with some of his personality traits that we love about him (his sense of humor, passion, etc). I think I'll focus on praising his efforts and trying not to stress about the bad days. I do want him to enjoy school afterall.

More Answers


answers from San Francisco on

What he needs most right now is support and guidance NOT punishment. I hope if he's struggling as much as you say you are meeting or at least speaking with his teacher on a regular basis, and that she has a solid plan in place to help him do well. K is a big adjustment, it truly is the "new" first grade and can be hard for many kids.
Try to reward him and praise him whenever appropriate and work with the teacher (and school counselor or psychologist if necessary.) The school wants your son to succeed as much as you do.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Honestly, I think it's very hard to have consequences at home for what occurred at 9 or 11 AM. Kids don't have that kind of attention span, so the punishments seem completely disconnected from the offenses. I think the school needs to handle it at the time of the occurrence.

If your child exhibits similar behaviors at home - not listening, being goofy, then you deal with those at the moment. He'll learn that impulse control is important all the time, at school or at home. He'll learn that jumping up from the dinner table is just as unacceptable as jumping up from the cafeteria lunch table. But you can't discipline for both, just for what occurs in your home.

If your child has persistent behavior issues that may be related to diet or epigenetic changes or sleep issues or things like ADD or autism (or anything else), then you can deal with those nutritionally or medically or behaviorally - or all 3.

If your child is so lovely at home, then do you have any type of schedule he needs to follow? Or is it more free-flowing? Maybe he's just having trouble with a schedule. But if you have clean up time and bed time routines, that's fine.

That said - he's in kindergarten, and it's only October. He's in a big group and he's not the center of attention - that's tough for a lot of kids. Give it time. Get over the constant feelings of disappointment in your child - that's got to be awful for him, and for you. When you say you hate being the parent of "That Child", what do you mean? Do you fear public condemnation or a dent in your reputation? What has the school told you to give you that feeling? Or are you projecting these value judgments onto yourself? What do you mean that your "whole family hates it"? Who is being told about his bad day? All of the kids in the family? Then keep it to yourself. Stop asking him about all the bad stuff that occurred.

Work with the teachers in conference or in meetings with the school psychologist. Give them time to get a handle on your child and what works/what doesn't. Then get him the help he needs in the school setting, either through changes in discipline there, help transitioning, or even an aide in the class. Those are services the district provides to kids with needs. He may not be able to help himself - so don't blame so much as investigate. And be patient.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

First of all: "We've taken away his tv viewing (he usually enjoys watching 1 show a night) and special activities, but HE STILL DOESN'T CHANGE."

So obviously this punitive approach is not working. Stop it. No, you are not wrong for wanting to enjoy the time with your kid. So enjoy it, and stop punishing him for immature behaviors at school.

Educationally, and in just about every other way, your time with your child is more important than what he is doing at school, especially at this age. So stop making it unpleasant. In addition, if you keep punishing him for things related to school, you are setting school up to be something negative.

When your kids are all grown up, and you go back to an elementary school and look at kindergarteners, you see what teeny tiny little babies they still are, something you didn't see when you were in the midst of it all. Your child is still just a baby, and adult behaviors shouldn't be expected of him just yet.

At his age, allow the consequences to happen at school. If he spends time in another class, so be it. If the school personnel can never figure out any other way to engage your child, maybe you will eventually want to find another school, a charter school possibly. If he's the class clown, who knows, maybe he will end up being a comedian. The way you best support the school is by giving him a calm, loving, supportive foundation at home.

And read to him.

eta: I certainly appreciate the support of a parent like Michelle M., but then I'm a middle school teacher. Save such consequences for middle school.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

The idea that children can't be held responsible for their behavior because it happened a few hours earlier is absurd. They aren't puppies for crying out loud. Johnny slapped Jimmy today, but it happened at morning recess and now it's after school, so we can't hold him responsible? No way. However, this is something that depends on the age/grade of the child. Because your son is so young, a lot of the advice here is sound. However, once he is older I would say that consequences at home are very appropriate. My kids are still in elementary school but in older grades, and it is very obvious on field trips, etc. which kids have consequences at home and which do not. If my kid is rude and back talks a teacher? You can be dang sure there is a consequence at home. If my kid damages property, inadvertently or not, we deal with it at home and offer to make it right. Just be aware that this is a fluid issue that will change as your child gets older.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

He sounds like a happy, fun and great kid. He is not the problem, he is just being a child. The idea that children should sit and ignore distractions and "learn" is, well, stupid. It is a proven fact that children are not ready for these things and some show it more than others. Some are more compliant and seem to be ready. You are in a catch 22. Recognize that. Look into other ways and don't let this become a real problem developing. He is not deciding to be a class clown, he's just a fun boy being .a boy. Look at his resilience, look at all the positives, look at the fact that he's a boy not a little robot fulfilling out an agenda. The schools motives have very little to do with real growth, understanding or true discipline. (But I'm sure I sound a bit skeptical and perhaps even harsh, which is not my intention, it's just that I've been through these kinds of things many times and with many children and I use to do exactly as they instructed with no avail. And I'm aware as to how so many teachers make children into a personality they are not and label them from an early age and pass it on to the next teacher through not only their verbal communication but their records too. Don't let your boy become something he was never meant to be.)

Read Kim John Payne's books, you may discover an enlightening way about all of this. Simplicity Parenting and The Soul of Discipline (I think that's the titles) Check it out on Amazon. You won't be sorry and it'll make All the difference in your life and his.

Sending the very best to you and your boy. Peace Out

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Maturity will help a lot in this regard. In our case, our son has ADD (diagnosed about seven months ago or so) and we've found that earning privileges (instead of threatening punishments) is more effective. He has many of the same issues as your son and really needs help in attending to what he's supposed to be doing and definitely gets pulled into foolishness with his friends. We've worked with his teacher, he has a plan which she checks in with him on throughout the day to help him assess how he's doing and this has helped. As your son gets older, he will be able to gain more awareness in regard to his actions.

So, if he was a real problem for the teacher, yes, we have the consequence of no tv time and no playtimes/playground hang out with friends after school. However, if he hits all of his goals, he earns his Minecraft time (fave activity)... so, all that to day, give your son a chance to *earn* things instead of punishing. For our Kiddo, realizing that some of this was out of his control being so young really helped. We don't give him a free pass to do what he wants, but we do make sure that he knows *we* know this is a challenge for him and boy, those 100% perfect days are small victories!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

This is pretty typical behavior that many kids his age deal with.
He'll out grow it sooner or later.
He's getting use to working in a group, raising hands to get attention before talking, walking in a line with other kids - and it's a lot for a kid to remember.
But they do get it sooner or later.
A lot of the time our son would tell me what someone did in class (breaking rules) and I'd have to tell him to let the teacher deal with it.
"Never mind what Johnny is doing - you listen to the teacher and if you have questions about what to do then raise your hand and ask your question when you have the teachers attention.".
Kindergarten and first grade were similar but it gradually got better.
After school I'd spend time with him in the rocking chair and listen to him.
It's not a punishment - we'd talk and rock and relax.
When he has a good day don't forget to tell him how proud of him you are.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

No I never punished for school things. Since I wasn't there to witness what happened and didn't set the rules or guidelines for the class it isn't up to me to do anything. I felt that I was supporting the teacher by allowing her to deal with school behavior at school.

Your son's behavior is pretty typical for his age. It takes some kids a little longer to figure it out. You might want to practice with him at home by making sure he listens to your directions instead of cutting him breaks so you can enjoy the little time you have. You shouldn't have to tell him more than once to do things. If you do then you can't expect different results at school. Set good guidelines at home and praise him when he does a good job of following them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

He sounds like a typical kindergarten boy with lots of energy. The teacher needs to be handling this at school. She also needs some positive methods of handling this. When my son was that age his teacher had a whole group of boys that year who were all exactly like this...energetic and had a hard time sitting and following directions. She finally came up with a system where if they were good all day they got two gummi bears to eat as they headed out the door. This really helped for many of the boys but not all. Another year my son's teacher would have everyone run laps outside before they sat down to work. Another year the teacher would turn on a power yoga video a couple times a day when the class was feeling too energetic. You and your whole family don't need to feel so disappointed and "hate it"'s just normal energetic kid behavior and in no way means your son is a bad person! He just has lots of energy! How about instead of punishing at home you just keep encouraging him and offer him a positive reward if you start hearing good reports about his day.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Do you call up the school saying he sneaked some ice cream so he can't go to recess? Yeah, because that would be strange and unproductive. So is trying to discipline a child at home for what happens in school.

Still because he is having such issues with structure I am willing to guess there is no structure at home. Like clear your plate is either never asked or never happens. Pick up your toys, same thing. We are leaving in five minutes is more like 30 and you do all the work. A school will have a very hard time getting a child to accept structure when there is none at home so even though it isn't a punishment, you need to make him have rules and live by them at home

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answers from Chicago on

The 4.5-6 crowd are learning to control big emotions. They even have a unique scream of death. This really is a wild age with big emotions, inability to calm down,étc. But with gentle coaching, they can learn to calm down and use gentle words to express the same emotions. If you haven't taught your son balloon breathing, now is the time to do it.

The things you mention are all developmental appropriate behaviors for kinders. The school is the problem, not your child. Seriously.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My little one's class has a stationary bike meant just for kids in the classroom. For those kids who need to cycle off some energy!

And there are little screens that they use for kids who act silly or are distracting (or get distracted). They go on top of their desks. At least 4 kids have them in that classroom. My friend's son used one at another school.

So some of this is very typical. I would say probably most of it is. Not all kids are at the same social or developmental stage when they start school. My mom taught kindergarten her whole career. She saw everything. But this was fairly typical.

I had calls - and like you - I dreaded them. I also assumed my child was way worse than everyone else's. Nope. At the end of the year at a birthday party, the moms all stood waiting to pick up our kids and someone mentioned how many calls they'd had over the year. How I wished I'd known that back in October!!

Just make sure you aren't sending sugary (even hidden sugar) snacks, maybe even switch out juice for water, that kind of thing. Lots of rest and I used to run my guy ragged (exercise) when he got home. He just had a hard time sitting. He also came from a very hands on pre-school where it wasn't super structured - so following a set routine wasn't easy for him to adjust to. By the end of the year, he was doing well.

You're not the only mom to get stressed and then feel she has to solve it once they are home. But I agree - it's hard to handle stuff that happens at school. I always just supported the teachers, did what I could, would discuss stuff that happened (that was their requirement from the school) and talk about what would be better behaviors.

But a big thing I've learned to do (slowly over the years) is to listen. If your son is acting like class clown or being silly, find out why. Is that how he is attracting friends? Finding out why they do certain behaviors is much more helpful at curbing them - then punishing. Or why is he finding it hard to transition? Maybe the teacher could give him a 10 mins (or even 5 minutes) heads up? That's the kind of thing that can go a long way.

Good luck :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I would not punish him at home for what happened at school. I would presume that the teacher has methods to deal with disruptive behavior and is working with your son.

It seems like you're doing a great job parenting him - providing stability, requiring politeness,teaching responsibility through chores and taking care of himself, limiting tv time, being able to talk with your child, and all that.

BUT - you say that hearing about his day is disappointing, and the whole family hates it. My question is: how are you hearing about this? Does he come home and tell you that he had to spend X amount of time in "time out" or in another classroom, or that he couldn't go out for recess? Or do you get some kind of note? Or do you ask him how his behavior was and then listen as he recites the various misdemeanors and problems that occurred during the day, and then scold him or fret or talk about it over and over?

I'd like to suggest that you give him no audience at all for telling you about his behavior. If he says "mommy, I had to go to the time out room" or "hey everybody, I had all my stickers taken away today because I _____", then silence him immediately. Redirect with a different question, about something neutral. "Was your friend Jimmy back in school today after being out sick?" "Has your teacher talked about the class party yet?" "Tell me about your favorite thing to do at recess." "I'm so glad you're learning about zoo animals. I like the monkeys the best. What are your favorites?" "Oh, this week is about the letter T? I can see four things in this room that start with T. Can you?" If he begins to talk about the behaviors and the punishments, hold your hand up like a stop sign. No eye contact, no response from you. Get the rest of the family on board with this. If he insists on talking louder, get them to pretend like he is not there. If he starts telling you how much fun he had in recess, or a funny thing that happened, or something cool that the teacher taught them, then listen with great attentiveness. Then, later, when there's only him and you, and no audience, just simply remind him that you expect good behavior at school. That's it. Perhaps he's enjoying the attention, the drama, the sighs, the frowns, the talks, the family circus that happens when he starts talking about being the class clown. Replace it with positive attention about his good behavior and see what happens.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My advice is coming from a mom of a fifth grader and third grader who also is a substitute teacher. (Used to teach full time).

Kinder is tough they are learning social skills...and there are always little ones who need that time out or to go sit in another class. I would say about 50% of them end up by 2nd grade on track and good to go behavior wise. They can now sit in their desks or at tables and be less impulsive...maybe act up now and then but are pretty typical once they mature. The other 50% no dice still up and walking around, talking and doing just about anything that pops into their head.

One thing I did with my son is I let the school handle the little things and those stayed at school in Kinder and 1st. I did step in with consequences starting around 2nd grade, if the infraction was bigger. Once he made a huge mess at school and so I arranged after school for him to come up and spend some of his after school time cleaning. I introduced him to all the custodians and his eyes were opened to all the messes they faced everyday. I knew the message got across. I tried to make the consequences match the "crime" so to say. Once he was caught spitting on the school...typical little boy thing, right? But once I explained what it meant to spit on someone or something, he cried. He told me he loved his school and didn't hate it or disrespect it. He wrote a note to the vice principle explaining he had no idea what spitting meant and how he wouldn't be doing that anymore.

So, I would keep talking to him about it but keep it short and sweet. Don't make it topics of dinner conversation but a quick visit between the two of you. Remind him that it is important to keep working on his behavior.

One thing I have seen with my friends kids that worked really well was practicing just sitting doing nothing. Working up, to being able to sit still in a chair for 15 minutes. Starting with like 3 minutes, then 5, then 7 etc. Because if he can sit still for that long at school when he has something to work on he will start having better success. No Kinder teacher worth her salt is going to expect to get more than about 15 minutes of sitting in one place out of a child.

Good luck!! Big hugs!!

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