It’s happening again. That is, we’re having troubles at school. I have lost count, now, how many times we’ve interacted with the principal and his kindergarten teacher over behavior. The behavior started out as not sitting still and not keeping his hands to himself. The behavior progressed to hitting, PUNCHING and HITTING classmates. It sounds like it’s impulse control or acting out instead of using his words when he’s mad or frustrated. It sounds like it’s developmental. Regardless, no one is really happy with the situation, and we’ve called in the professionals.
It’s all matching up with what I’ve read. It’s like I’m living the labeling theory but for school administrators instead of for my son.
Let’s understand one thing first. Hitting and not controlling aggressive behavior is unacceptable.
Let’s get another thing straight. Sequestration or punishment without assessing triggers is equally unacceptable.
Levi has gone from play based learning to rigorous academia, wildly criticized at being a mismatch for boys. And it is especially frustrating for our kinetic learner. When he’s bored and uninterested in a subject, he acts out. The behavior is treated with sequestration or alone time with an adult. It gives him attention and reinforces the bad behavior.
The first time we were called, like last year when we were told our son did these terrible acts, our first thought was, “That’s not our son!” Last year Levi’s offenses included choking two boys and repeatedly locking himself in the bathroom. Our popular boy turned into the new kid, and he wasn’t adjusting well and the teachers didn’t know what to do. It was also unclear what they wanted from us. We are at work when these incidents occur. We can talk about it until we’re blue in the face at home, but this stuff is happening at school. So, what about the environment is enabling this behavior?
Levi turned around at the half-year mark, around his 5th birthday (according to Gesell, going from disequilibrium into equilibrium). The rest of the year was fine.
Now, we are in disequilibrium again. Again, we’re at a new school. And, again, he’s acting out. Our little boy, who used to be the receiver of aggressive acts, is now being witnessed hitting another boy with a plastic bowling pin and punching his classmates when frustrated.
A friend said to me, “Michelle, this screams environment.”
I know. I know it does. But, we can’t afford the $10,000 a year tuition (for NINE months no less) at the nearest Montessori. It’s amazing how limited our educational opportunities are given how abundant they feel in this metro area of more than 2 million people.
(At the same time, my boss has the audacity to state that I don’t know stress. Admittedly, before I told him what was going on. But, seriously.)
So, why is our son, now in his third school NOT using his words when he knows he should? Why is he taking his friend’s arm to hit another friend when he’s bored in music or Spanish? Why is he losing interest in PE at the point when the other kids finally get the game, then going off to make his own rules and disrupting the natural order the teacher (and students?) want?
Recently, I had a conversation with a sustainability specialist. He got into sustainability after spending years in behavioral change. He mentioned this story after I admitted I want gentle pushes, mocking servant leadership, to make a green society because I have found that behavior change is too hard. He said to me that he has found the same. Instead of bending someone’s stubborn behavior, we have to make the environment work for what we are asking. So, if we’re asking people to recycle instead of throw things away, we need to put the recycling next to the trash, not down the hall.
To find out how we put the good behavior choices next to my son, we have hired an behaviorist The behaviorist was referred to me by my chiropractor. (The one who diagnosed my thyroid problems pre-blood tests.) The first thing the behaviorist suggested was taking Red Dye out of our son’s diet. So, we did. Then, he had the best three days of the year. This was followed by Gummy Bear treats and two more aggressive days, which while unfortunate proved to my husband why we are calling in the experts.
The first observation date is scheduled for November 8th. I am concerned that we are going to drop between $400 and $2,000 to teach teachers and administrators about reasonable expectations. Yes, I recognize it’s all for the greater good, but it’s no less frustrating.
Onward, we go.