If you’re reading this, you’re most likely the parent of a kid somewhere between the ages 7-12, and they have a history of behavioral problems in school…….. I have one of those too. My son is in the second grade, and he’s had behavioral problems at school since kindergarten. I remember during that time other students in his class would make him frustrated. He didn’t know how to deal with that, so the easiest response for him was to rebel against instruction and authority in that moment; disregarding his teacher and refusing to do work. I would talk with him about it and make sure I understood exactly what frustrated him in class, and in some ways I related to his struggle. But other times it was just him willfully choosing to behave disrespectfully.
Brief Profile Of My Boy
My son is not anti-social, but he isn’t a super out going boy and frankly would prefer sometimes to be alone watching videos about nature or dinosaurs. He struggles with reading and spelling, but he’s good at math. Since he is the only child, he has limited experience dealing with conflict around other kids, he mostly is exposed to that at school. He is not a morning person so he can be moody, and gets discouraged easily when facing things that challenge him. He was also the product of two unmarried teenage parents who had not even graduated high school. He watched me marry another woman when he was in the 1st grade. Therefore, he lives in two different worlds, and I have no idea exactly how that is impacting him.
Parents Shape Their Children
I could go on, but I think this is enough to demonstrate that when he goes to school, he takes all of that with him. In a very real way, parents are responsible for the shaping of their children’s character. So when the teacher calls me or his mother about his behavior, I think about all this, and I wonder how I have contributed to his dispositions, his frame of mind, and his character. It would be easy for me to put his behavior all on him, but I could be overlooking some mistakes that I have made that contributed to his character. I could go back as far as his conception and find my biggest flaw. How dare I bring him into this world at 17 years old! How dare I rob him the blessing of growing up with two biologically committed parents. How dare I assume just because I shared the same experience, that he too can cope with a blended family. O how quickly we forget the circumstances of just how our troubled kids even came into this world.
Helping A Tough Kid Throw Off Bad Character
I visited my son last week after his teacher called me, she told me that he was being disrespectful and non-compliant with her directions. When I arrived to the school, I asked the principal if I could borrow a small room (I was contemplating disciplining him). The principle was more than happy to provide it. I asked my son did he think he could do whatever he wanted to do in school, he replied; “no”. I asked him was it right to choose not to comply with his teacher directions and be disrespectful, and he replied; “no”.
He already knows what is right, but there are times he chooses not to do it. As I sat in front of him that day I saw the shame in his face, he was sorry. We’ve had conversations like that before, and we discover over and over that it is his anger that causes him to step outside his boundaries. I realized in times like this that he needs my help, help to remind him what is right. He needs encouragement. He needs me to remember that he is real person with real struggles, and he doesn’t know how to throw off his dispositions.
I cannot expect him to know how to deal with his attitudes, not at 7yrs old. I can’t presume that he knows how to deal with anger or frustration. I can’t count on him remembering a lesson I taught him about the good of “respecting his teacher in all circumstances”, even if he really seemed to take it in on the day I taught it. Like many adults, he frankly will do the easiest things natural when he becomes angry or frustrated. So what am I prepared to do to help? Is discipline still on the table? Absolutely, but not that alone. He needs help understanding what good character is, and how to grow more in it. He needs help knowing how to manage and redirect frustration. And more than anything else, he will need time to learn how to all that! Ultimately for that, I think in some ways he needs the same grace that I need myself, and I have to be realistic about this process.
I’m hopeful my son will see the good of respecting and obeying authority. I hope that I can teach him more about his inward dispositions as well. All of his days hasn’t been perfect, and I’m not optimistic that they will be. I know what it is like to feel hopeless about a rebellious child. But for tough kids like mine, I am realizing how much they need the grace we as parents need ourselves.