Maintaining a Positive Attitude

Make sure to focus on the positive, even when your child is acting up.
My five-year-old son is having behavior problems in kindergarten. He's noisy and doesn't do what the teacher asks when it comes to settling down, but he does his school work and is helpful with the other kids. He's very sociable, but his attention-seeking behavior could start bugging other kids. He's been sent to the office several times, to no avail.

The principal, teacher, and school psychologist all say he is very bright and they can't decide why he isn't compliant. We're awaiting an appointment with a child psychologist to have him assessed. Our son can be very charming and helpful and he has lots of great qualities, but since he turned three he's been quite the handful. What can I do?

You're doing all the right things for your son. You're listening to the school staff and involving other professionals outside the school to get assistance. You don't mention talking with your pediatrician about your son's behaviors, but you may want to involve him or her in the discussions as well. Medical doctors can add a different perspective when behavior issues are being investigated.

While you're waiting for your appointment with the psychologist, set up a system (if you don't already have one) to focus on your son's positive behaviors at school with follow-up at home. Select one behavior (using his "inside" voice, perhaps) on which to work and ask the teacher to send you a daily note to let you know how he did. A good day can earn an extra bedtime story or a walk around the block just with you; two or three good days in a week can earn having a friend over to play on the weekend.

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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