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10-Year-Old Trouble at School

Question:

My 10-year-old son refuses to follow any rules whether they’re given by me or someone else. He is constantly in trouble at school. As of right now, he’s been put on a modified school schedule due to his behavior. He has an “I don't care” attitude,” and I don’t know how to handle him anymore.

Answer:

Having school involvement is a step we usually encourage; a school can be a parent's best ally. When it comes to rules in the home and changing current behaviors, it's important to use consequences. Consequences can be both positive and negative. Positive consequences increase the chances of a behavior happening, while negative consequences decrease the chance of a behavior happening.

When it comes to using consequences, keep five things in mind. The consequence should be:  

  1. Important to the child
  2. Immediate 
  3. Appropriately-sized
  4. Relative to the behavior 
  5. Appropriate to your child's level of development

If a child doesn't mind that TV is taken away, it won't be an effective way to change a behavior. It needs to be something he values. When administering consequences, it's important to understand that it's more than just giving out a punishment. It's also a time for you to teach your child. Let me give you an example: A parent walks in on a child coloring on the walls with crayons. As a punishment, the child must wash the wall, but the parent also steps in and shows the child where it is appropriate to color. He then brings the child paper.

It might also help to have him go for a psychological evaluation to rule out anything else that might be causing some of his behaviors. Most school systems have a psychologist within the district who can help with this. We can also help you find other referrals for this type of service if you don't want to go through the school.

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