Updated on May 21, 2009
M.P. asks from Longmont, CO
9 answers

Hey, ladies. You are always my resource when I need help, so here I am once again. This has to do with my twin boys who are five years old and finishing their first year of school at a Montessori. The issue this year has been trying to teach the boys to use their words when they are upset. They kick, bite, hit, run out of the room, etc. when they don't get their own way, or when another child instigates an altercation. We beleive that they should use their words, so we are trying to keep that consistant, but we also notice that our boys do NOT tell the teacher when another child instigates the fight. Why?????

Here's the problem...we have had soooo many of these write-ups at the school where our boys are physically hurting other children. The teachers say it's "impulsive", but I know for a fact that this is the wrong term. They are simply "reactive" in a situatin. They aren't just sitting down, doing some work, and then all of a sudden pouncing on another child - instead they are reacting to their environment. Either way, this last altercation was on a TEACHER today at school. One of our boys was running around the classroom, and the teacher took him outside to run around, to re-direct him. When she did this he KICKED her! To my husband and I (and the teacher) we think this is a respect issue and are trying to figure out where we went wrong with teaching self-respect to our child and respect for adults...this is a hard pill to swallow, my friends!

For the previous altercations at school we have tried everything...reading stories from the Bible to show peace keeping, time-outs, discussing how we can change our behavior, taking away tv time, threatening to take toys away, etc. This has gotten to the point where I feel they are seeing through all of this and simply know which buttons to push in order to get attention. They are starting to crave negative attention so much that they say things like, "I hate myself" or "I'm such an idiot" (thanks so much Buzz and Woody!) because they know it gets a rise out of us. (When I ask them at calm times if they hate themselves they say, "no, I just wanted that toy.") I used to pride myself on the whole Love and Logic approach, but I guess I have lost my touch!

We are trying very hard to incorporate MORE positive attention throughout the day, but apparently it's not enough. ANY ideas you ladies have on this situation we're in, or how to give more positive attention would be fabulous!!!

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So What Happened?

Laides, you rule! After reading your posts, we feel very happy with the new school we have chosen for our boys next year. It's a Catholic (our religion) school that is much more structured, AND they use the Love and Logic technique. We also have an order in for the CD's and a couple of books from L&L (we gave ours out thinking we were set - hello!!!). Since the boys know I'm a teacher and I back their teachers, we already have a meeting set up with the next teacher - just a positive meeting where we can introduce ourselves and begin to establish respect early in the school year. Yay to you all for reminding me so much that I have forgotten. It's time for a jog...maybe even some wine with the hubby...oh dear!!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Boys need an outlet. Get a punching bag or let them punch an old couch pillow. Teach them to stomp their foot and say, "I'm angry."

Kids follow the examples of other kids to learn how to behave. Twins follow each other....without either knowing good behavior.

I agree that Montessori might not be the best for them. I'd look into a different preschool. Do they have a preschool at the highschool you teach at?

Also, they might do better if they're not in the same class.

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answers from Denver on

Hi M.,
I see you know about love and logic, I have the books and have watched the video's. Sometime's it is hard to remember all of the nuances! I have been doing it for about three years and I find i constatly need to be re reading the info etc. because I tend to go back to my old ways( which I am sure are something like what I grew up with which is what I really don't want for my kids!). So I suggest you get all the books and read them over and over until you really get it! I just realized my self that I was feeling pretty bad about how my kids were treating me, I am tired of feeling bad! We put the kids first and that just does not work! I have three kids 12, 10 and 6 and I have discovered that it is about my own self respect and expectaions from my kids toward me and my husband. This is so simple and it took alot of trial and error and I believe the love and logic works. This is what I say, " I do thing's for kids who treat me with respect", no anger, frustation, and definately no threats or warning's! So if they can't get a ride to a playdate or a cookie from the cabinet, you get it! I only say the sentence when they come to me for something, not as a warning!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And taking away all their stuff and punishing will not work in the long term, in fact it will possibly backfire. ( been there, done that). And stop making excuses for your kids misbehaving at school and worrying about "using words", I know this is harsh but I think you see it. And don't worry about weather or not they f\"feel good" or what ever, they will feel good when they have loving parents who treat themselves with respect and expect the same from their kids. Are they doing chores at home? They are old enough for sure! And as far as the bad self talk this is all for you, they are figuring out how to get there way by manipulating you, stop worrying about positive and negative attention, that's not what this is about! See Love and logic teaches that you and hubby are first, how much time have you had to take from your life to deal with this? You must be so busy with working and grad school( which is great by the way, good for you), and added stress! So make it simple, when they treat you with respect they will get what they want if you can make it work for you! I hope I wasn't to blunt, I just have been there and in our society today we tend to focus so much on" self esteem" blah blah! So hang in there, it may get worse before it gets better and stay strong no matter how much screaming and crying( which means it is working by the way!) and kicking, what ever! Good luck! ( And I am sure my grammatical errors are horrible, sorry!)



answers from Provo on

my 5 yr old has been behaving horribly lately too and i feel exasperated. but the truth of it is, i AM being consistent in my disciplining, i AM following through, i DON'T just let him have his way because of a fit. and you probably are doing the same. we need to remember that children have free agency and their behavior is not always something we can control. my son has been telling me for months that he hates going to school. for a while he was hitting other kids as well as acting out at home and i was so frustrated because i thought he had grown out of behavior like that. then he started behaving even worse at home and doing fine at school. he still was mad that he couldn't play all day, just redirected his bad behavior. but i just reminded him that school is a must. i don't want him to learn that just because he isn't having fun, it's ok to quit school, because he has many years of schooling left in his life. and that's really what it had come down to-- he wanted to play instead of sit down to work. he is perfectly capable of sitting still for long periods of time and of concentrating on school work. he is also capable of using his words instead of cursing or hitting. he just doesn't want to right now. yesterday was his last day of school and he was soooooo happy! he just wants to be free to play at his leisure. another mamasource mom reminded me that every 5 year old wants to be in control. i know it stinks, especially to have teachers talk to you about your kids' bad behavior. but it doesn't mean you went wrong somewhere teaching respect. it just means they are not finished learning the lesson. it can take years. keep going with the good examples and discipline. they will get it eventually! i am taking comfort in the fact that my son is old enough to understand being grounded from things. it has been quite effective lately to ground him from playing with friends or going to the park. i also tried asking him what he thinks his punishment should be (don't do it every time). one time he came up with a reasonable punishment and i followed through with it. it worked well. good luck and God Bless!



answers from Denver on

I seen the same kind of issues with children when my own went to a montessori was horrible and the teachers were not the best at keeping things under control...what i seen was parents wanting the children in this atmosphere of learning...but since there is so much freedom in montessori...things backfired when children haad a lack of respect and discipline. Montessori is probably NOT the best type of learning environment for them...i would check into other types of schools. I can say that ours went to Compass Montessori in wheatridge and whne a child was kicking and hitting and bad name calling one of our oldest daughters...nothing was done...parent involvement and money also became an issue that allowed teachers and head staff to "let" things go. IMO I would start looking for change of structure...which montessori does NOT have.



answers from Denver on

I think you and the teachers are saying the same thing. I'm a child psychologist and being "reactive" and being "impulsive" are exactly the same thing. It means you are not thinking before you act. It has nothing to do with showing respect - it has to do with learning to control behavioral impulses and make good judgements.

A more structured school setting may be more helpful in teaching the boys how to behave. They may crave negative attention because they are not getting consistent positive attention - love and logic is an excellent program, but it must be followed very consistently - good consequences immediately (rewards) for positive behavior and negative consequences immediately such as loss of privileges (taking away TV or favorite toys for most misbehaviors or time out just for hitting or kicking or biting) for negative behaviors. Talking to 5 year olds and expecting them to remember for more than a few minutes is pretty hopeless - a behavior plan is much more useful!! Getting help from a therapist may be helpful given that things have escalated so much.


answers from Denver on

I am wondereing where the boys may be learning the reactive behaviors. Children learn from modeling-what they see another do. We can lecture our kids about right and wrong until we are blue in the face and they will still learn from modeling first.

You made a reference to Toy Story: How much tv/movies are they exposed to? Is anyone else in the family impulsive/reactive when they are under stress? Are there any friends or other family members that are reactive and especially physically so? How do you and your husband deal with your own stress? It sounds like you have a lot on your plate: Are you finding yourself shouting at the boys or grabbing them or spanking them out of exhaustion and being at your wits end? How are you resourcing yourself (self-care) through all of the things you have going on?

Sometimes we don't even realize where we are showing our kids how to behave a certain way. Often we are not conscious as to all the things they are actually being exposed to. Disney movies are fun and also filled with violence as are a ton of our tv shows.

I am one to start questioning all the things both internal and external that may be effecting myself or my children. Do your boys feel a great deal of pressure to "be good", perform well, sit still for long periods of time, or anything else that feels like stress to an active 5-year old child? What tools do they have to help them release stress? Some examples might be: yelling in a pillow, coloring a crazy, scribbled picture, running around outside, having permission to say no, etc.

"Threatening to take toys away" could be an example of where discipline is not followed through. If you establish that if a certain behavior happens then a certain consequence will happen then it needs to happen every time. Threats are meaningless to children.

Like you said, they know how to push your buttons. That is what kids do, however, as much as it feels like it, they aren't doing it "to" you. What the button does is turn on our old tapes about our own unresolved "stuff". It was my greatest challenge to be aware it was MY issue they were triggering and therefore I needed to deal with that seperately from my disciplining. The book 1-2-3 Magic helped me to understand that process for myself. I learned to zip it during a confrontation with my kids, follow through with the consequences, and then go and deal with whatever issue had been triggered for me. In support of You, T.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Montessori may not be the best environment for them. Keep in mind children are allowed to work at their own pace and while instruction is there, I have noticed that it is not the kind that is effective for children who need more structure (they get a lot of freedom to work at their own pace and have time to think about other things, like getting negative attention when they are finished or not challenged the right way).

Have you considered another schooling alternative? Possibly even a parochial school. They are all about respect; for God (make sure you consider one that won't clash with your personal beliefs), yourself and the community, and offer structure and self control instruction.

It doesn't sound like your boys are ADD or ADHD, so it really is just about learning the social skills (respect, self control and boundaries) required to be in those situations, possibly providing structure. It could be the teacher, too, but if I remember correctly at Montessori they are not allowed to move up until they have achieved the grade level requirements to do so. Whether it take 6 mos or 18 months, right? Something to think about...Good Luck!



answers from Denver on

I am with Mandy, if you are familiar with Love and Logic, you might need to refresh yourself on the techniques. Especially since you are using the words "threatening" and "time outs." Love and Logic teaches to make your words gold by not threatening but by doing what you say you are going to do. There are no warnings and no constant reminders. And everything should be delivered to the kids in a loving, empathetic manner. If you are angry with their behaviors, which is completely understandable, use a delayed consequence and say, "I am too angry right now to decide what to do, I think and react better when I am calm, I will let you know when I am calm what I am going to do about this." If you are giving them negative attention by being angry and frustrated, they are winning and they are in control.

I would strongly recommend listening to or reading the main books, but also the cd on the 4 Steps to Responsibility. It does directly talk about respect for themselves and others by allowing kids to solve their own problems. My daughter has had the same problem of saying, "I hate myself or I am so stupid." Since listening to that cd, my new response has been, "How sad to feel that way about yourself; what are you going to do about it?" We still get those sometimes, but not as often.

Love and Logic does not actually teach time out. Bedroom time is not a time out. There is not a set time for them to be in their room. They teach that they can stay in there until they are sweet. The child needs to decide when that time is, and if they come out and are not sweet, they need to return until they are sweet. THEN, and this is the step most people forget, set the timer for 5 or 10 more minutes once they are sweet so they can see if they are still sweet after that amount of time. This is when they have their time to actually think about staying sweet.

Definitely give yourself a Love and Logic refresher and remember a parent-centered house is home that can be so much more calm. (I am actually an independent Love and Logic facilitator, if you want information about classes, let me know.)



answers from Denver on

You've made a good attempt at tryig to solve this problem. I suggest consulting with a behavior therapist at this point, to really solve this problem, before it becomes a chronic lifestyle.

You would hire a tutor if your son were failing math. Think of this as hiring a behavior tutor.

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