My 7 Yr Old Has Been Suspended from School! Help!

Updated on November 02, 2013
L.F. asks from Virginia Beach, VA
25 answers

I totally don't know what to do with my son. He's been having good days and bad days. I can't put my finger on a reason or what to do to help. He was suspended today for spitting on another student. Yesterday, he was in trouble because he wiped spit on another child and then today's incident. My husband and I are thinking seriously about taking trick-or-treating away tomorrow.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! We've tried behavior charts, positive reinforement, medication, etc. I have an appointment on Tues. with a counsilor.

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So What Happened?

My son is taking Strattera for AD/HD. He has days at school where he's absolutely wonderful and then he will have days where he's getting in trouble for talking to loud in the cafeteria, fighting at PE, etc. Yesterday, the 1st time he was in trouble for the spitting, he said it was because he tried to spit and got some on his arm and the little boy kept hitting him in the face so he wiped his arm on him. today, he says he did it because another child did. He's not taking responsibility for his choice which I'm hoping we can address with the appt, next week. I'm so torn on the Trick-or Treating because he's been having really awesome days and then this. I know he knows right from wrong, but at what point do you know whether it's an impulse issue that he truely can't help? I want to help him, not bring him down. It's so hard to know what to do!

*** so we let him go trick or treating, but for only half the time. He gets no more of his candy until after Saturday, no playing with his friends, no electronics until after Saturday. I'm very glad we let him go, but still let him know that what he did was not acceptable ***

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answers from Boston on

Don't take away trick or treating. This isn't a discipline issue, it's a behavioral health issue. Wait until you meet with the counselor before doing anything more.

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answers from Washington DC on

Dont take away trick or treating. In kid world, that is second only to christmas morning. Punish away, but I would leave Halloween out of it. He is only 7.

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answers from Portland on

I have found that positive reinforcement works wonders, as opposed to severe consequences. Let him trick or treat. He's already being punished for spitting. Work on the behavior in a positive way and I bet the counselor will help a ton with coping skills. At age 7, children don't want to be "bad", but they need help learning the appropriate behavior and ways to handle their emotions and impulses, especially if they also are coping with ADHD.

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answers from Portland on

Honestly, as the mom of a kid who had a rough day on Monday--and this was a very unusual one-off-- losing Halloween Trick or Treating will be a consequence if we don't have a good report from the teacher both today and tomorrow. That afternoon, we did ALL of his schoolwork from the day (which he hadn't focused on) and he lost his tv/play time. He knows I mean business and that he's expected to behave at school.

Trick or Treat is a privilege, not a right. You don't get rewarded for being disrespectful to others, for causing the teacher to have to tend to you instead of being able to teach. They know by this age what their job is at school and after one warning about wiping spit on another person, the behavior is completely unacceptable.

If it were me, I'd be looking for counseling help as well, AND Halloween would be gone. It might sound mean, but we don't do our kids any favors by rewarding them for getting suspended. If my son did this, his world would pretty much come to a screeching halt.

ETA: I must respectfully disagree that spitting isn't a big deal. If someone spit on me, I'd be disgusted and deeply offended. Why do we expect other people's kids to put up with behavior we ourselves wouldn't welcome?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

If my girls were suspended from school they would not be going trick or treating (or having play dates, watching TV, etc.). BUT... my kids are neurotypical and should know better than to spit on other children. If your son has ADHD and it's not under control, he might truly not be able to stop himself if he's provoked or all spun up. So, I think you need to sit down with your husband and determine whether your son is capable of controlling himself. Not whether you want him to control himself (because of course you do), but whether he is in a situation at school that so overstimulates him that he can't help himself. Does he express remorse? Is he generally a good kid but certain things push his buttons? If yes, then maybe counseling and a change of medicine is a better avenue to pursue...

I'm not sure I'm explaining this correctly, so here's another example. My daughter Piper is well behaved 98% of the time. So when she has an epic melt down or is completely bratty, I have to first look at whether she's had enough to eat during the day. Because most of the time if she misbehaves, she hasn't. She has had a couple of bites of breakfast, given her mid morning snack away, and gotten distracted at lunch. So by 3 when I pick her up she's running on empty. Then her sister can do something dumb and it sets her off and she flails her arm, yells, and can't be pleasant. It's her fault, but not totally. She truly can't handle the emotions on no calories. In those instances, I don't do a major punishment. Instead, I give her a really big snack and send her to her room to read and think things over. But if she's eaten and the day has gone well and she's just being a jerky small child, and she knows better... she'll lose priviledges. We talk about it and she knows the difference.

So that's what I mean for your son. If you think he was well set up for success, then don't let him trick or treat. But if he hasn't been sleeping well and the teacher isn't helping, and the other kid is overwhelming him... you may find it's better to hug him, ask how you can help, and get him a doctors appointment.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Your previous post said that he had ADHD. it sounds like he should be seen by a professional to help control is behavior and impulsiveness. Ask the school counselor for some referrals.

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answers from Springfield on

Will he be going to school tomorrow? If so, let him know that if he gets into any trouble at school he cannot go trick-or-treating.

I do not think it is appropriate to decide to punish him if he had no real way to understand that punishing him might happen.

Our 7 year old has good days and bad days. But he knows that a consequence to bad days is loss of electronics. Each night I read a few pages of Harry Potter (we're on book 3), and he knows that if he is too rambunctious during our bedtime routine, I will not read Harry Potter.

At 7 years old, it is still appropriate to give them one warning, one opportunity to change their behavior, before issuing a consequence.

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answers from Denver on

Oh I don't think you should take away trick or treating. Maybe consequences starting Friday would be losing 1-2 pieces of candy per infraction if he makes bad choices going forward. He is 7- watching you take away a kit kat will be devastating enough. Seriously, I wouldn't take away trick or treating.

I'm thinking the counselor will be a bigger help then us because he/she will be able to see the big picture. I will say that structure is imperative with these kiddos, as well as consistency. I think the biggest thing that happens is parents think they are following through, but they aren't doing it as often as they think. Take a good luck at how consistent you are and how predictable his routine is.

Let us know what happens after the appointment. I don't have great advice for you because I think you are beyond friendly, vague advice. I do want to say that you sound like you are being a great advocate for your son, and taking his behavior seriously and finding him help. I know this must be hard for you and you are very brave to take these steps. Good luck to you all.

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answers from Dallas on

No, he wouldn't be going trick or treating at my house if he was suspended from school. He seems to have some kind of anger that needs to be addressed. Has something changed in his life, is he being bullied at school, or is this an inappropriate cry for attention???? Hopefully, you can get some positive results quickly and teach him some anger management techniques before his behavior gets even further out of hand. Good luck.

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answers from Sacramento on

One of the huge clues our son's ADHD medication isn't working anymore is the report of bad behavior at school. He was suspended twice in third grade while we were trying to get the medication back on track. Same type of awful behavior.

I would go back to your son's psychiatrist and explain what's happening at school. His impulse control is off and the medication will take care of that. Strattera is a non-stimulant and generally used for mild ADHD; it may be that his has progressed and it's time to consider a stimulant. In any case, the psychiatrist can help you sort that out.

If you're not taking him to a behavioral therapist, I'd get started with one, too. Ours has been a great source of advice through all of the ups and downs of ADHD. He/she can tell you exactly what to do in these situations as far as consequences. With kids with ADHD, it's an entirely different ball game than neurotypical kids. I wouldn't take trick or treating away, esp. since it sounds like a medication problem, but do give a meaningful consequence, like taking away video games or another "currency" of his for a day or two max. You don't want to lose the motivating power of his currency going forward. Kids with ADHD have a horrible sense of time, too, so one day will truly be meaningful to him.

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answers from Honolulu on

ETA: Your son, NEEDS an Aide with him in school. Advocate for one. He had an IEP, right?
All the ADHD kids at my kids' school, have an Aide. Teachers are not trained, to handle SPED kids. It is a different realm.

So apparently per your previous posts, your son had an IEP.
What was the result of that????
Does he, or will he get, an Aide in school to manage him?
And, does he have a Therapist, who he is seeing, for his issues???
If not, you need to get him one.

Apparently your son has a consistent history.... of bad behavior in school. This is not the first time.
So after ALL these incidents of wrong behavior, he was suspended.

No, he does not go trick or treating.
That is a consequence and repercussion of his behavior.
That is life.

Some may say that well he is 7, he just spit on another kid and that is what kids do, they are so young.
But no, per your son, he has a HISTORY of, making trouble to others in school. And not behaving.
Only a Professional, can help him... and you as a parent.
And he needs to have a professional assessment and diagnosis, on what is wrong or going on with him.
So that, you have a baseline of what, the problem is... and then, get help for him. Professional help.
So you as a parent are not guessing in the dark, about him and what his issues are.

ADHD or not, not all kids do that.
And some kids who continually act that way... create so many problems for all the other kids in school and for the teachers too. I know and see it, everyday at the school I work at. Some are now in 5th grade, and STILL have not... improved or learned, better. And all the other kids, know darn well... that they cause trouble. The parents of the other kids, know it too.
So yes, address this NOW.

There is a kid at the school I work at, that is always misbehaving... in varying degrees of badness. AND, it takes not only the boy's Teacher to intervene... BUT everyone/every staff on campus... has to keep their eyes open for him. The boy, needs constant, shadowing.... and he STILL causes trouble. He is 6. Even just walking to the bathroom, like 10 feet away, he will cause trouble to others or the school property. Even if he is by himself or among others. And all the students know. They look out for him, too. It is a LOT... of "labor" keeping this kid in check. And, a single Teacher from his classroom, cannot possibly ONLY tend to him. The Teacher has a whole classroom to tend to too and teach and manage.
So you see, how things like this, can affect an entire classroom/school/other students, too.
And, it creates a LOT of stress, on others. Just because of this one, kid.
And it takes a lot of time, away from the usual classroom time and teaching, for this one kid. Because, his actions interrupt... everything in the classroom and for other students. And therefore, the other kids, may not be getting time they need, from the Teacher or other staff.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I don't think I would ever take away trick or treating. You can only do that 1x per year and there are only a handful of years you really want to go. That punishment seems way to harsh. Although I do not condone spitting, perhaps the kid he spit on deserved it and your son was showing great restraint by only spitting on him.
I have told my children they are not to allow any one to bully them. They are to do whatever it takes to stop it. If they hit a bully (or spit on a bully) to stop their behavior then so be it.
I think it would be helpful to provide some of the back story as to why your child is spitting on other kids.

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answers from Chicago on

We are similar...have good days which are awesome and bad days which are so troublesome. We go to a therapist that helps both our son and us with the problems, adjustments, and parenting techniques to help us. I would encourage this if you are able. We are also working with an ADHD kid which we educating ourselves on. As we learn more about the way he thinks and why he does things differently it really helps us respond more appropriately. Regardless of why he does what he does bad behavior is still bad behavior.

Was he provoked? Does he have any speech/verbal problems that make it difficult to express himself of communicate his frustration to others? This was/is a big problem for us. There is a great book our therapist recommended called the ABC's of Anger by Ray Ali. This is a great tool for talks about tons of emotions kids feel and gives you good questions for discussion on how to handle them in different situations. I highly recommend it. My son is 6 and some were a bit beyond us but it has been really really helpful to serve as a guide on the overwhelming emotions our kids feel.

I would say that taking trick or treating away from him would leave an impression and that sounds like something he needs. Sometimes leaving the party when my son is not behaving really makes an impression on him (we've had to do this twice) He is really let down and it is horrible to see him unhappy but you gotta make sure they know you mean business. I may be harder on you though but if you can I think that sounds like a good idea. He is not going to be scared for life.

Good Luck to you!

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answers from Seattle on

What Heather said.

And the comment below about suggesting you hit your kiddo with a belt a couple of times was just _ugh_. I'm not sure how hitting a kid with a belt is not beating them. Does not compute.

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answers from Louisville on

I guess I'm a big softie but I can't see any situation that would cause me to take away trick-or-treating. It's once a year, with so much build up and anticipation. And I can't believe your kiddo was suspended for spitting. I think that's overkill. If it were my kiddo, I'd probably say the school had handled the punishment .... And I'd probably talk about it w/ my kiddo .... And I'd have that be the end of it.

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answers from San Francisco on

He's only 7, and he's a boy. He was suspended for the spitting, so he's had his consequence.

Childhood is short, and Halloween is very special. Trick-or-treating is not related to spitting so it's not a natural or logical consequence.

Let him trick or treat.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would keep him home and have him hand out the candy to the kids that come to your house.

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answers from Chicago on

Taking away trick or treating is not going to teach him anything. He needs a specialist since this is not the first time your son has been in trouble at school. It sounds like he needs some major interventions for social/emotional learning. Talk with the principal and see what kind of resources you can get for him.

Good Luck.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

He should have a 504 plan since he's taking medication and has a diagnosis. Once this is in place they can't suspend him they have to use the behavior plan in the paper to provide him the best option to succeed in school.

On the other hand, what does trick or treating have to do with anything at school? He did this at school and they need to manage this at school. Not at home.

I think you need to be up there tomorrow talking to the principle and get his plan going so they will have to honor it.

You can google 504 plans and what they can do for you and your son.

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answers from San Francisco on

Why not try some negative consequences. Don't give him the excuse that he can't control his impulses. You are setting him up for failure by not making him assume responsibility for his actions.

My daughter and GD both had that problem. So when I talked to them about bad behavior, the rule was they could ONLY talk about themselves; they could not mention anyone else except what THEY HAD DONE to the victim; not what they thought the victim did to deserve it. I only wanted to hear about THEIR behavior.

You have tried all this "flowery" stuff with him and it's not working. Sometimes kids/people mistake kindness for weakness. Make sure that's not how your son is seeing you - weak in that you can't bring yourself to really punish him.

Spitting is really gross and once he gets older, he can actually be arrested for spitting on someone. Perhaps a conversation with a police officer might have some effect.

I know if he were to spit on my GD, she would turn around and clock him and I would be thrilled that she did.

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answers from Fresno on

So I guess that we can all say that we don't get the advice we want to hear as well as receiving advice that......well I guess I'll just say it. I have a 7 and an 8 year old daughter. If either got suspended for spitting on or wiping spit on someone, I would ground them which means no tv, playing games, drawing, coloring, play with friends, play outside...pretty much anything that they like doing...take it away. However, the first thing I would do would take the belt straight to the behind. My children know already what I expect from them and know that we must respect ourselves and each other. That is not okay. Probably others on here might not agree with me and I'm not saying beat him, just one or two butt wipons. Sorry but it's my honest opinion. I know that my daughter would NOT be going trick or treating. When they are suspended from school for misbehavior, we don't reward them. Good luck Mommy!

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answers from San Francisco on

If he's on ADHD meds I assume he's under psych care? A pediatrician alone isn't enough (though I know many peds are happy to prescribe these drugs all the time.)
Is the Tuesday appointment with a school counselor? That's a great place to start, but also make sure he's getting outside therapy. Meds and behavior problems need to be monitored closely, and regularly, by medical and psychological professionals.

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answers from Columbia on

In my opinion, based upon my experience with Strattera for my son, it's pretty worthless. We tried it because it's a non-stimulant, but it made my son depressed, angry, and generally a bit of an a--hole while he was on it. When he started telling me how unhappy he felt all the time, I stopped giving it to him and took him back to the doctor to discuss other options. The doctor started him on Intuniv (also a non stimulant) and we've been very happy with it for 3 years or so.

Please also recognize that for some kids with ADHD, non-stimulants aren't helpful. My older son with ADHD is on intuniv AND Vyvanse because his ADHD is more severe.

I think that the suspension (and some chores and hard work at home for getting suspended, as well as ensuring he stays caught up on homework) is a good, real life consequence. No TV, no games, no fun play. If the suspension is over the Halloween holiday, yes, I would cancel his trick or treating, but if you have any other children be sure that THEY still get to go out.

I've found that a really good, logical consequence such as NOT having any fun because he made poor choices, is the best way to deal with kids with ADHD. Be sure you are very specific about the fact that HE made the choice and HE is responsible for being suspended and losing Halloween privleges. Tell him, "you must feel disappointed, huh? What will you do differently next time? What could you have done instead?"

This is not just punishment time, it's lesson time. :-) And in my opinion, though you might feel bad taking away Halloween, the lessons taught this way are some of the best parts of parenting.

Good luck!

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answers from Washington DC on

Please do some research before taking some of the advice below.

1) A 504 plan isn't automatically granted for a child on ADD/ADHD medication. About 15% of my students are on medication, but only about 1% have a 504 plan and I teach at a school with a high population of kids with learning disabilities and emotional challenges.

2) And even if a child has a 504 plan or IEP, a manifestation hearing must be held to determine whether the incident is a manifestation of the condition. Specially trained staff including a school psychologist must make that determination. Most of the time for children in a regular school setting (not an alternative program) who have done things that non-disabled kids also do, it is not deemed a manifestation and the child is held responsible.



answers from Las Vegas on

I wouldn't take trick or treat away from him entirely, but I do think what he did was completely wrong and he should probably know better by now.

Not only is spitting disrespect, but we have to keep our own body fluids to ourselves, which is a for health and sanitary reasons.

So he made a poor choice and should have some sort of consequence for it. I would probably give him a little something to think about. I would probably let him know that his trick or treating will be cut short by 30 minutes due to his actions.

Next question: Teenagers Trick-or-treating & Dishonesty Consequence