5 Year Old Concerning Behavior at Home and School

Hi Dr. Rene,

Please help, I have a 5 year old boy whose behavior is pretty bad at school.  He is spitting and trying to bite other kids! I dont know why he is doing this because he gets a lot of our attention and loving all the time. He is finding it hard to take instructions and discipline at school.  We do find it hard to discipline him at home too.  I’m at my wits end and don’t know what to do to help him with it? Please can you help?  I have tried time outs in the naughty chair and taking toys or his laptop away from him.  Nothing seems to be working.

Sincerely,

Agnes

Dear Agnes,

There are two main issues to address here.  The first is finding a consistent discipline plan at home.  The second is to enlist help to best address the behaviors in the classroom.  I am going to point you to good resources for both.

You can learn a positive discipline approach by reading, taking live workshops or online classes.  Good books include

  • Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson
  • The Parent’s Handbook: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting by Dinkmeyer and McKay
  • How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish
  • Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Bailey
  • Setting Limits with Your Strong Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm and Respectful Boundaries by MacKenzie

Depending on where you live you may be able to find a parenting workshop on positive discipline.  In the DC area there are classes through our Parenting Playgroups office (www.parentingplaygroups.com), the Parenting Encouragement Program (PEP at www.pepparent.org) or SCAN (www.scanva.org).

There are also many online services which offer positive discipline workshops.  This includes ours at Ask Dr. Rene (www.askdrrene.com), Positive Parenting (http://soullightcreative.com/positiveparenting/) and Positive Parenting Solutions (http://www.positiveparentingsolutions.com/) among others.

Quite a bit more information is needed to provide a helpful answer about his behavior at school.  The first thing I would do is take a parent-teacher conference and ask for as much description of the behaviors as you can and request that the school develops a specific plan to address him.  This likely will include an objective observation.  I often provide observation services to schools and families in our local area.  Request that an objective professional provide classroom observation time and teacher interview.  This could be done by your school’s guidance counselor or school psychologist or a hired, private school psychologist.  This person should be able to provide a list of recommendations for what is needed in the classroom.  It could be there is a learning concern or social skills difficulties that is impacting classroom behavior.  It could be that a fresh pair of eyes can contribute more than the teacher’s current view. Be open to listening to any and all recommendations.

I would be happy to provide more specific answers to the school and home situations if you’d like to send more detailed questions.

Sincerely,

Dr. Rene

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