Parenting Advice Needed!

Yes, I am seriously asking. This is your chance to tell another mom what you really think she should do about her misbehavin’ kid.

Luke got in trouble at school. Again. It’s like the third? or fourth? time this year I’ve gotten an after school call from his teacher. I’m getting very tired of it. As Barney Fife says,

Nip It.  In. the. bud.

(Sorry, I’ve been watching Andy Griffith every night at bedtime and I am just enamored with the whole show.  To the point where I’m making 40 year old references that no one else will even get…)

The first time he got in trouble, I had him write a letter to me explaining why what he did was wrong.  If you knew how much the boy hates to write, you’d understand how that could be a painful punishment for him.  There was much crying and gnashing of teeth.

And yet…  it didn’t stop him from misbehaving again.

So then, I had him write another letter, and this time he had to take it to school and read it to his teacher.  The pain of writing PLUS the humiliation of reading an apology letter out loud!  Surely that would do it.

But no.

Here we are, again.

This time he found trouble at recess.  Standing in a planter.  Tearing at a tree.  Throwing the berries at other kids.

Oh the embarrassment.  (Mine.  Apparently HE doesn’t feel shame over these things.)

The recess teacher wanted to send him to the principal.  His teacher said, “Don’t worry, his mother will handle this.”  (Apparently including her in his last punishment made an impression?)  And then she called me.

No computer for a week.  Writing another letter.  Which he will again read to his teacher.  Plus, I’m going to tell his teacher that next time she should send him to the principal.  The boy needs to be afraid of the consequences.

But it still doesn’t feel like enough.  For one thing, he didn’t cry at all this time.  Hardly any teeth gnashing.

It’s getting to be old hat or something.

I’m stumped.  We don’t spank.  Time outs are kind of pointless at this age.  I already took away his favorite thing in the world (computer time).  I’ve never had a kid that required this much discipline!

What should we do?  What would YOU do?

If only I could get Barney Fife to give my boy a good talking to.

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9 thoughts on “Parenting Advice Needed!

  1. I’d start by thinking about what the misbehaviors have in common. Is he bored? Having trouble with impulse control? Needing more structure? You didn’t mention what the first two were but the third doesn’t sound unlike what most kids his age would do without even pausing to consider why it’s wrong. Not trying to encourage making excuses for him but did they ask him to stop and he didn’t? Or just automatic principal threat?

    1. Nicki, It’s impulse control, I think. In this case, he says a friend started with the berry throwing first. (this is a theme with him… some kid does a bad thing, and then he joins in. Why??? I can’t seem to get it through to him that he should not join in! I’m having scary visions of my little boy taking weed from some bad seed kid in the 5th grade…)
      I’m pretty sure there wasn’t like a “stop” first and then a “you didn’t stop, so now you are in trouble.”… I think they figured he knew he shouldn’t be standing in a planter, destroying a tree and pelting his classmates with berries.

  2. I don’t have any good advice for you (sorry), but I did get your 40 year old reference. If that helps. I hate to throw old cliches at you when I know you’re hoping for something more- but remember… This, too, shall pass. Everything will be okay. It doesn’t mean he’ll be an ax murderer, or anything.

    Just a thought… Have you asked him WHY he’s doing these things? What does he say? If I’m reading the details correctly, it sounded like it’s only happening at school and not other places, like Sunday School, etc. Is that right? Is it only since you moved, or was it going on before?

    1. Oh yay, you got the reference. 🙂 Will it pass? It’s feeling like it won’t. I know, it always feels like that. But what if it doesn’t? (did you hear my voice go all high and panicky there?) It’s mostly happening at school. But then again, just the other day he came to me with his hand on a bloody cut above his eye and said, “Leah said to drag her so I dragged her…” So I’m thinking it’s not so much a school thing.
      Also, he did get in trouble before we moved. Not so very much, but I did get a couple of calls last year. Sigh.

      1. Definitely sounds like impulse control combined with not really thinking things through. This is very familiar to me!!

        I think it’s primarily important to remember that he’s not intentionally being naughty or even mischeivious. There is a big difference between the behavior of a kid who is being manipulative and truly acting out and a kid who just gets caught up in the moment. Luckily for you in my experience Michelle is right. It’ll pass as he gets more mature and mellow. I would be pretty surprised if he was able to slow himself down long enough to make the kind of analytical decisions about behavior that you are hoping for at his age. It also sounds like it might be pretty confusing for him if its always him getting pegged even though it sounds like it isn’t usually him alone that acted inappropriatly.

        Maybe sit down and ask him to help you come up with ideas on ways he can slow down and think through other kids’ bad choices. Usually if the idea comes from the kid it is WAY more likely to be implemented. But still it might just take time.

        I also think its different than regular peer pressure. Addy has major impulse control issues and she has enough issues controlling herself on her own but if someone instigates or joins in all bets are off. She’d be in big trouble at school. I don’t expect it to totally resolve for a few years. She just has a lot if energy and doesn’t handle unstructured time well AT ALL. maybe it’ll always be that way. But I don’t see her necessarily joining in on other peer bandwagons (liking what they like, following the leader in other ways). Do you?

      2. I think you’re right Nicki, both that he doesn’t plan this stuff, and that he has incredible luck at always being the kid who gets busted. Not so savvy, my kid. But I am perpetually astounded at the choices he makes. Last weekend after the incident with Leah I just kept repeating, “Leah said to drag her so I dragged her”… I just couldn’t believe that made sense, to either of them! In general my kids don’t get that into popular trends, but I do worry that Luke is suseptible to all kinds of peer pressure. I seriously think if some kid handed him a joint and said “try this” he would. Let’s just hope he grows out of this impulsivity before that happens!

      3. I think Nicki’s suggestion to have him sit down and talk with you about how he can slow down and think through his choices/actions BEFORE he does them is a good one. Run through different scenarios with him and ask him what he would or should do/say and help him reason through the possible consequences of those choices. Then maybe help him think of a few answers he could fall back on to extricate himself from situations involving other kids’ bad ideas??

  3. Michelle and Nicki, I agree with both of you about talking and practicing before. I have tried to share with him the idea of *stopping* and * thinking* when something seems like it might be a bad idea… but I think role playing could be a good way to make that idea more concrete.
    Also, I’ve decided to do devotions with him before school – with a special devotional book for boys his age. I’m hoping that reading the little story/scenerios and then praying about doing the right thing will reinforce what we’re trying to teach him.

    1. Yeah, I think role playing some different situations sounds good. Like Nicki already said, if you can get HIM to brainstorm some ideas/solutions himself, it will have a better shot of working when the moment of truth comes. And there is NOTHING, IMHO, as good as starting the morning with devotions, time in the Word, and praying together before sending them off into the world. Great idea! Keep us posted on how he’s doing. WIll pray for you guys. Everything will be okay. ; )

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