Son Pushing and Not Keeping Hands to Himself

Updated on October 22, 2011
J.F. asks from Saginaw, MI
4 answers

My son is going to be 6 in a couple of weeks he was having issues at his school with behavior so we took him out of that school and put him in a school in my area. His dad and I are divorced so we thought if he seen me more he would behave better. His dad wasn't working at the time of the divorce so he kept him most of the time. He is pushing kids in his class at the new school and having trouble keeping his hands to himself. Any ideas on how to deal with this and get him to stop?

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So What Happened?

First of all Thank you everyone for your input. My son had a very bad day on Thursday and we talked about it. I told him it was unacceptable and that it wasn't nice to push other kids and that he needed to keep his hands to himself. He was upset with me for bringing it up. I told his dad about the day infront of him (to let him know that me and his dad are on the same page) when his dad came to pick him up. He has been doing better the teacher said in the email she sent me. I had his dad remind him that he needed to behave and keep his hands to himself at school and on the bus when he dropped him off at the daycare. I remind him in the mornings when I drop him off too. I think we seem to have a pattern down now. Thank you again everyone.

More Answers



answers from Sacramento on

Six is a tough age for boys especially, and combined with the move and divorce you could have a very confused and maybe angry little guy... It sounds like he's having some trouble expressing his feelings and doesn't know how to do it other than pushing.

When you say having trouble keeping hands to himself, is this in the classroom? Keeping hands to himself int he classroom is a different issue to me than inappropriate behavior on the playground. My son has this problem and we've worked on different things he can do to calm himself or resist the impulse to touch other people or things. Some things that have worked are to deep breathe and count to ten when he's in line coming into the classroom to refocus his energy away from play and back into class. Sit on his hands or to clasp his hands together.

His teacher has also recognized that he just has trouble with close personal space, so she moves him or asks him if he needs to move to the back table in the classroom so he doesn't have kids close to him. It's not a punishment, and he doesn't view it that way. It's a space where he is not distracted (and therefore does not distract his classmates), and he can better focus on his work.

It could be that your son is just immature, as is the case with mine. I don't agree with punishment at home for things that are going on with school. I'd have a meeting with the teacher and see what kind of consequences she gives and build from that. Also given what you've said here, I'd try giving him resources and tools to support good behavior rather than punitive behavior. He needs to leann boundaries and have guidance for *how* to have better behavior and more positive actions/reactions not be punished for not knowing how to cope with his feelings.


answers from Seattle on

Find the source of his acting out. Is he an only child? If so he may not be used to sharing or not being the center of attention. Also is he hitting on gender more then another? One of my step-sons who is 5 had a trouble hitting girls and it turns out because when the teacher wasn't looking they would pinch him. He was still punished because hitting is not ok. Mom, Dad, and I all talked about it and decided that it was best to encourage the teacher to use time out (the punishment used most at home) or if we were notified then we would restrict his play time or TV time. At 6, he should know better but kids do things that we don't always understand. Some times all you can do is re-enforce that the behavior is not ok with constructive punishment that is consistent and always reminds him why he is in trouble. Hopefully he grows out of it. Be patient and believe me when I say I know that it is hard.

Also he may be acting out because of the divorce and now the added stress of the school switch. Have you considered having him talk one on one with the school counselor? It may help him.



answers from Washington DC on

It's a done deal now, but -- is he just starting first grade (or K, depending on when his birthday falls)? If he was "having issues" in just the first few weeks of first grade or K, moving him may have made things temporarily more difficult; working with the teachers and school counselor at the original school might have helped, but maybe you tried that. Anyway it's done now and you don't want to move him again. He's possibly confused by the move -- he may have been having problems at the first school, but now after just starting to get used to that environment, he must get used to a different environment. He may even feel somewhat guilty, like "I was bad so mom and dad moved me and now I can't see dad so much and it's all my fault." On top of that he may be feeliing angry too, at you and dad and the new school as well. He may be too young still to really articulate those feelings but with the help of the school counselor (see below...) you can learn how to question him to help get those feelings to the surface.

So bear that change in mind and be certain that the teachers, principal and school counselor -- be sure to include the counselor, this is why they're there! -- are fully aware of not only the reasons you changed his school but also the fact he is now spending more time with one parent and less with the parent he'd been seeing more often. Talk with the counselor about how to talk with your son to find out what he feels -- guilt, anger, confusion -- and how to help him through those emotions, which are normal ones for a kid undergoing changes.

Both the school change and the change in which parent he sees most (not sure if you had a custody change or what) are big for a kid this age. And both are happening when he's new to school. He may be in first and not K but first is a big, big step up from K, socially and in terms of expectations.

Even if he is not acting out because of all the changes, be aware that pushing and putting hands on other kids is totally, completely a normal issue for children this age, both boys and girls, though from what I've seen, boys tend to be more prone to it. If that is his only or main issue at the new school, you are all actually doing pretty well!

See the teacher (without your son there, but preferably with your ex there, so you and he get the same information and treat this issue and any discipline in exactly the same ways at both your homes). Ask for the counselor to sit in if the teacher's OK with that. Approach it from the attitude of, "We know he's doing this and it's inappropriate. What do you do here at school to discipline for it? What specific steps and tactics do you recommend we do at home to reinforce and back up what you do here at school?" And yes, the idea of a daily or weekly report from the teacher is excellent - if the teacher has time and is receptive. You're likelier to get the teacher's cooperation if you and your ex both take that "We agree with you, it's a problem, let's help him cope better" approach, and don't defend your son. (It sounds like you won't anyway.)

If you get some form of report from the teacher, it puts your son on notice that what he does at school DOES matter when he's at home. Many kids do not realize that their parents can know what is going on in school and it's a huge revelation to them when they come home one day and mom says, "I know that today you had to stay in from recess because you and Jim could not keep your hands off each other on the way to music," and so on.

When he has not been in trouble at school, and is calm, sit down with him (after you talk with the teacher and/or counselor) and work out a way to discipline at home based on what happens at school. Not easy. But ask the teacher if she thinks a chart system -- rewards for days with no infractions, something he values, like TV time, taken away on days he has been pushing/touching and you know about it -- would work for him. A child has to be mature enough to control some impulses and connect his behavior with the consequence for this to work well. But at 6, he should be able to get that connection.

And again, this is pretty typical, unless he's really walloping kids or hitting to act out, and it doesn't sound like that.



answers from Wichita Falls on

Get the teacher to give you a "daily log" of his behavior. Then, at home, reward or punish accordingly, taking away the things he likes best.

Good luck and good job in the mom department for getting a handle on it NOW!

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