Has anyone else had a problem with their first grader not "getting it" as far as proper school behavior?

User - posted on 05/14/2012 ( 15 moms have responded )




I need help, My son just turned 7 this month, so he's a young first grader (now that everyone else seems to wait till boys are 6 to start Kindergarten). His grades are really good, A's mostly, except for some skills we need to work on (alphab order, some spelling rules). I was called in to conference a couple months ago about him coming home in trouble for talking out in class or in the halls, or what have you. He is a very sweet boy, but he constantly chooses not to listen if it's something he doesn't want to do. I have consistent consequences, but I am wondering if he will just grow out of this? I'm really concerned. Here's the email from his teacher today:

"It is NOT getting better [after the conference in March]. I will try to answer your questions regarding how he acts. He is very eager to tattle on someone else quite frequently. I don't know if it is because he gets in trouble all the time, that he welcomes the opportunity to get someone else in trouble. He doesn't really try to act funny. He just makes these noises and faces when he gets in trouble. It's kind of like a moaning sound. I tell him he is not acting like a 7 year old, but like a pre-school student. He doesn't get along well with the other boys, probably because he is always tattling on one of them. So, yes, he does have difficulty getting along socially with the other children. He also does not know when to stop talking. I will put up my hand to give him the hand signal to stop talking, and he has to continue to get in more words. He won't raise his hand to talk, but will just blurt things out when he feels like it. He lacks self-control. That has been a problem all year. Like I told you at conference time, I wondered if there was some kind of medical issue that causes him to act like this. But I did see a couple of days where he did behave. I don't know why he chooses to not make good decisions. I don't know if this has been helpful or not, but this is some of what I am seeing at school."

Any thoughts from moms who may have been through this with their kids? Some people tell me he's just a boy and will grow out of it, but his teacher has me very worried. She is retiring this year, so I don't know if she's just burnt out or what. I see these behaviors at home and it stresses me out, but I only have the one and she has 19 other kids, she can't be expected to cater to my one child who won't follow (for example) the simple rule of not blurting out whenever he wants. Help.


Kyle - posted on 05/20/2012




I find it very hard to read responses like Crystal's. Everybody thinks that kids just need enough discipline and they'll behave, that a failure to behave is because of the parents' lack of proper involvement. I have a 7 year old boy very much like yours. I have been in more conferences than I care to count. I am at the school constantly, volunteering, helping keep my son in line. What I and the school finally had to realize is that my son wasn't misbehaving ON PURPOSE. No 7 year old child wakes up and decides he wants to disappoint his teacher and parents that day. When my son blurted out the answers it turned out that he was afraid he would forget his ideas and he had to get them out quickly. When he made inappropriate noises it was because he had been sitting so long in one place he had to do something, anything, to keep his focus from wandering. He also rocks in his chair, taps his pencils, etc. I've had him tested thoroughly by several doctors and he definitely has SPD, possibly Aspberger's, although those results came out borderline negative. He also excels academically. I think our sons are quite alike. He may outgrow these behaviors, or they may be his coping mechanisms to prevent far worse behaviors. Take him to your pediatrician and talk about testing possibilities. In the meantime, you're a great parent, don't let anyone make you feel otherwise. Some children just don't fit that "perfect" mold, and no amount of discipline will change that. All you do is create a depressed child who is being punished for something that he/she cannot help doing. Believe me, I've been there.

Pamela - posted on 05/26/2012




As a past teacher I do understand the problem it can cause in class.

To solve the tattling problem you may want to consult your library for books that address tattling. There are some I am sure. Help him to understand that this behavior is annoying to others and will cause him to not be liked by the teacher and other students.

Is he an only child? Perhaps he gets far more attention at home than he does at chool and so to receive more attention at school he models this behavior.

Contact a child sociologist or psychologist for some tips. A quick chat over the phone may be helpful with such a professional. The best to you and your son.

Becky - posted on 06/10/2012




I am reading this and totally feeling for you Jennifer. Our son (now starting 4th grade) was very similar to yours in kindy and 1st grade. We were blessed with great teachers who did not push the panic button and act like there was something wrong medically. I find myself VERY annoyed by the attitiude of your son's teacher. To say things like that without offering up a solution is flat out WHINING. Schools will have special coaches and programs in place to help kids like ours get past the few fews years and "get in the groove"

"I'd have a talk with the school counselor to see about implementing a positive reinforcement plan for your son. Our school counselor was the one that recommended my daughter's chart. From the mouth of our school counselor: "Some kids just require a little more positive reinforcement than others. There's nothing wrong with them; they just develop a little differently." -TOTALLY agree with this. Like I say, our son got some help in the way of a little extra coaching and was doing awesome by the 2nd grade. Stand firm, mommy.

Kristin - posted on 05/28/2012




I have a 6 year old with ADHD and he has listening and behavior problems as well. His teachers and I are in constant communication and we try to find ways to promote positive listening and behavior skills. We use CHADS for behavior and with my son listening to him and being firm work well. We did find out that some of his acting out stemmed from a group of boys being mean to him, which has since been resolved. My son also had some speech problems and speech therapy worked well. He had a hard time umnderstanding some words and has come leaps and bounds since starting speech 2 yeats ago. My sons teachers are awesome and we focus on the positive things he does and not always the negatives. Children need to hear they are doing good too. When my son misbehaves he does not get recess and sicne he loves to go outside he has leanrned to listen and behave. It is hard for him to sit still sometimes and his teacher tries to promote more creative and fun ways to learn, such as dancing to the alphabet. Also I think there is a wiggly chair you can use for a child who cant sit still. As for the tattling on other children maybe the school needs to adress what the other children are doing and all children have a tendency to tattle on one another at times. Best thing to do is to get all the kids together and see what is really going on. There is usually more to the story of why the child is tattling on the other children.

[deleted account]

First of all, as a Sunday School teacher, I know it can be extremely frustrating when a child talks out of turn or demands attention. It distracts everyone and makes it extremely difficult to teach a lesson. That said, I was not impressed with the email your son's teacher sent you. I didn't see much about the strategies she is using to help him or modify his behavior, just a lot of complaining, and some inappropriate things like telling him he's acting like a preschooler.

It is not unusual for boys to have problems focussing. That doesn't make it acceptable. I would continue to try to teach him appropriate behavior at home, and try to explain to him why it's so important to raise his hand and speak when he is called on. I like the suggestion another poster made about getting some books about tattling (you might be able to find some about speaking out of turn as well). I would also recommend that you ask about testing for your son. His lack of focus could be due to autism spectrum, adhd, or other developmental issues, and if they are then doctors would be able to help you and the school with coping strategies.

Finally, I wouldn't blame this on your son's age. Every child is different. In my area of the country, a May birthday does not make him young at all. My son didn't turn 7 until fall of second grade. And yes, he IS young. But my experience is that problems like the ones you describe are about personality, not age. He's not doing things that all 7 yos do, but if only he was 8 it would be much better. His behaviors need to be addressed for what they are, regardless of age. Good luck. I hope you get everything figured out, and I hope your son has a more understanding teacher next year.


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Jamey - posted on 10/23/2012




Just curious since most of the responses here involve boys. I too have a first grade daughter who is currently on a reinforcement chart for completing her work in a timely manner. I think we are going to need to add behavior as well as the last few days she has acted out multiple times at school. In your post you indicated you figured out the problem. I am wondering if you would share - was it a social problem, academic problem, etc?

Jessica - posted on 06/05/2012




My daughter had A LOT of issues in first grade. Her behavior was completely out of control (i.e., slamming her head off her desk, throwing her chair, throwing pencils across the room, trying to run out of the classroom, etc.). She had a first year teacher but through mine and the teacher's, as well as the schools, determination we finally figured out what was causing all of her crazy outbursts. And to reinforce the good behavior we set up a "positive reward" chart for her where she would earn 1 ticket for having a good day and once she got so many tickets she could trade them in for a small toy (stuffed animal, small notebook, colorful pencils, etc.). I should note that at the beginning of the chart she would earn 1 ticket for having a good morning and 1 for having a good afternoon then we gradually increased it to having a good entire day. For someone who thought this chart would never work right from the beginning, I am still amazed to this day that it worked as well as it did. When she moved on to second grade we had a few minor issues the first couple weeks of school and then her behavior was picture perfect.

I'd have a talk with the school counselor to see about implementing a positive reinforcement plan for your son. Our school counselor was the one that recommended my daughter's chart. From the mouth of our school counselor: "Some kids just require a little more positive reinforcement than others. There's nothing wrong with them; they just develop a little differently." Wishing you luck!

Heather - posted on 06/03/2012




I was having the same problem with my 7 year old son.......before he started school I noticed he had alot more behavioral problems than my older son.....he was fine the first semester of pre-k.....the original teacher was out doing chemo treatments....and he got in trouble every once in a while for small things but nothing too bad, but when the original teacher came back who was a much older woman, i was getting notes home everyday about something he did or something he said and he wasnt even allowed to go to his field trip to the zoo! Then in kindergarten he hardly ever got in trouble......he had a much younger teacher, who happened to be a good friend of one of my cousins, and she said that he wasnt too bad of a kid and she could handle him. Well this past year in 1st grade he had an older woman as a teacher again and it seemed almost every day he did something he shouldnt have.......and he was sent to the office quite frequently.....they even started ISS......IN SCHOOL SUSPENSION......i couldnt believe that they felt the need to take it that far.......I thought that was something for middle school or high school....but they had just started it this past year. He is a good kid when hes alone but it seems like when he gets around other children or is asked to do something he is not interested in or doesnt want to, he gets an attitude or just refuses to do it. I thought about the fact that he mostly had problems with the much older teachers.....i thought maybe they were just impatient and this was just a "paycheck" for them, that they didnt have the love for the job anymore......but who knows, needless to say, the school psychologist was called in to observe my child and after about a month of observing his behavior in the classroom, cafeteria, gym and music class, she said from what she observed he just cannot sit still, he is not purposly going out of his way to be defiant, but it seems that there is an inability for him to stay still or focus on doing one thing for too long. She asked me if i have ever had him tested for ADHD because what she observed seemed like some of the symptoms for it. I havent had him tested yet, I want to wait and see and hopefully he'll get a younger teacher or just a teacher who still loves her job and has the patience to handle a slightly more outgoing child, as I prefer to put it. I'm hoping thats the problem. Keeping my fingers crossed!

User - posted on 06/01/2012




Thanks, Kyle. That is helpful. I also volunteer for Book Fairs and Field Days and show up for Muffins with Mom and the picnic days, so I try to be involved. I do work full time. He's a wonderful kid, gets complimented for his politeness all the time. I will talk to his doctor about it. I was able to walk with his class for a couple of games during field day this week, and there are 5 or 6 rowdy boys in this class. And I ran a racing game, so I was able to witness all the 1st grade classes first-hand, and his class was not under control at all. A couple of the boys exhibited bully behavior also, kicking over one of the other boys' water bottles when he specifically asked them not to. I stayed out of it, b/c I am not the teacher, but I also looked over at my son and mouthed for him to stay out of it. I was able to give him pointers on keeping himself out of trouble by witnessing these class bahaviors, also. I told him if he runs over there to see what's going on, by the time she turns around, she sees him in there with everyone else and wouldn't know he wasn't involved... things like that.

Michelle - posted on 05/31/2012




Is the teacher that's retiring a popular teacher, meaning a good teacher? If she is, why are you dismissing 30 years (I'm assuming) + of experience? Not knowing your child, your type 'discipline', whether it's consistent or even works for him, or anything your child could have some sort of behavioral issues or your child is just disrespectful. I don't know about you, but I sure wouldn't like it if I'm talking to child and they started making faces at me or I asked them to follow simple directions and they went off and did their own thing. Whether it's his maturity, behavioral issues, or whatever it is not normal.

It sounds like you need to get together with your child's teacher, principal, and if your school has one the school counselor and try and find out why he is acting like the way he is. For all you know he is scared or something or maybe he has an attention disorder, or a sensory disorder, or maybe it's his home life, or ....

I don't believe a teacher is the student's parent especially when they have 30 plus students. That's how many students are in my twin's classes. Next year it will be 34 or more. That's for one teacher with no helper unless a parent volunteers. Do you think a teacher has the time and energy dealing with a student who is misbehaving? How about the other students who are behaving? Is it fair for them to get a sub-par learning experience?

As a parent you have to be proactive. There is nothing wrong with having a child with a behavioral issue, if that is what it is. The sooner you can identify it the better it is for your child. I have a friend whose child has Sensory Disorder. He is loud, moves constantly, has no sense of personal space, etc. She is getting the appropriate help and has talked to the principal and teacher about his special needs. They understand and help him to the best of their abilities and my friend is in constant communication with the teacher.

Just this year one of my son's classmates was diagnosed with Asperger's and he is in 3rd grade. Now that his mother knows what has been the issue she and the school can help her child out to the best of his abilities.

Another classmate has Selective Mutatism and gets the appropriate help.

There is nothing wrong in getting a correct diagnose whether that is a behavioral issue, genetic, having personal fears, maturity, or whatever. Basically, what I'm saying is it sounds like something is going on that needs to be addressed. If it is maturity maybe he needs to be held back a year, maybe you (the parents) need to work with him more on what's appropriate and not, or whatever. Heck, with my 8 year-old twins I do situational talks and just talk in general about how to behave in certain situations.

I'm not trying to blame anyone or make anyone defensive. It's hard to make a suggestion or suggestions when you don't really know a situation. If nothing else I hoped I got you thinking. Hopefully it was a good thing.

Good luck and at least it sounds like you are being proactive and are involved in your child's life. Good job!

Nikki - posted on 05/29/2012




Our school is really big on rewarding good behavior rather than only punishing bad behavior. Have you tried offering some sort of positive "reward" if he behaves. At first I thought that the school was over rewarding, giving the kids a reward for things they should be doing anyway. But as my children move through school and through fazes where they try to push the limits I believe that these good behavior rewards make the need for punishment less. Does your school communicate daily, like a planner, to let you know how behavior was each day? For us we give allowance based on whether or not there were marks in their planners. Thats how our children can earn money to buy themselves a certain toy they want... When one son has money and the other doesn't he sees that if he doesn't behave he won't get to get anything. This also keeps me from hearing the dreaded ? constantly "can I have that" while in stores because they know if they want something they need to save their money to get it.

Nusean - posted on 05/28/2012




Hi, I have a seven year old who is hilarious by nature so he likes to be the funny one in class. His father and I have spoken to him several times but I believe at this age he's learning finding his transitioning. There is so much in his mind he trying to figure out that it maybe overwhelming. Also, it could be that he needs to be in a class with a younger teacher who understands that's kids that are socially intelligent have to stay busy in class because they can get bored easily. Especially if they alright understand the work. He has to be challenged. Working in an elementary school I deal with a lot of social emotional challenged kids and I don't think it's medical. He is just a boy. Be encouraged and don't let him think it's ok to no listen and ask him he doesn't listen. He will begin to trust you more and open up. For a teacher to say he gets in trouble a lot tells me her focus is on the negative behavior and not his strengths. This never ends in turn around. Tell him you are proud of the good he does then talk about the other issues. You sound like a loving mother and if he gas a male figure to talk to encourage him to talk to him. As good as we are as being a mom, a man know a man. Thank you for sharing. God bless!

Crystal - posted on 05/18/2012




Well, I don't necessarily agree with Louise...while I do agree that teacher's should be in control of their classes, it can't always be the case at this age. My sons first grade class has at least a handful of kids that disrupt the class constantly. I love his teacher and I think she does a great job...but she does have a few that need extra attention. She keeps them towards the front of the class, close to her, and in the front of the lines when they walk through the halls. Its definitely your responsiblity to make sure that your son is behaving in school because I think it can reflect on you as a parent. I make sure my son knows that how he behaves shows the teacher how we are raising him. At his school they have a color system for behavior each day ... green for good, yellow for a warning, orange for mis-behaving multiple times and red and blue for unacceptable behavior and now its time for a meeting type of thing with the teacher and principal. Anyhow, I think it really works. Also, I am very involved with my son's education and in communication with the teacher ... and I have told my son that I can pop in any time I want, without tell him, so that he knows too he needs to be on his best behavior. Have you tried going to visit his class so you can see first hand how he acts?

User - posted on 05/16/2012




Thanks, Louise. This does happen to be this teacher's final year, she's retiring. I have many moms telling me "it's just boys, he'll grow out of it" but it bothered me that his teacher was so adamant that his behavior wasn't acceptable.

Your comments are very helpful!

Louise - posted on 05/15/2012




I think this is a school issue and it is unfair of them to expect you to sort it out. The teacher should be in full control of her class and if she is not then that is not your problem. I would suggest that your son is moved to the very front of the class and is told off instantly he steps out of line. There is no point in talking to him hours after the fact.

You could talk to him about dobbing other children in to the teacher and stress that he will not have any friends if he does not stop this. If he is naturally chatty the best thing for the teacher to do is isolate him to the front of the class and make sure he is fully concerntrating on the topic by calling his name and focusing him. Again this is nothing that you can do.

To help with him socialising look to after school clubs like Cub Scouts they get up to lots of silly things that the boys love, they play team games and build dens and generally have a lot of fun. this would help him expel some energy and learn to interact with others in a fun environment rather than a class room.

Your son just needs focus and to me the teacher is not controlling the class or simply cant be bothered any more. Maybe next year with a new teacher with a new approach will be able to help him conform.

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