It all could have been avoided

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TeDo, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Very frustrating afternoon. Received a call from difficult child's math teacher saying he was sent to the office and "owed" her the time he missed in class. She said he came into class and sat in a desk in the back of the room (his desk is in the front). He told her he was going to sit here today. She said no, you're going to sit in your own desk. He said no, I'm going to sit here today. She told him he either had to sit in his own desk or go to the office. She gave him a minute while she wrote something on the board for the other kids to work on. Before she had a chance to return to him, he used a rubber band to shoot a tiny paper wad across the room. She immediately told him to go to the office. After school, he came out to the van and I reminded him that he owed her time but he argued with me about going back in. After 5 minutes he SLOWLY made his way back in and I followed him to make sure he went where he was supposed to go. He did. The problem then became that he had his work done for that class so she gave him extra work. That started a meltdown including calling her a liar, yelling that he hates me, screaming that he's not going to do extra work, etc. He finally agreed to do "a couple" problems but wanted to do them in his notebook with the other work. She wouldn't let him go get his notebook from his locker so he went anyway, got his notebook, and went back and did a couple problems. She then told him he could work on other homework if he had any. He didn't have it with him because I was holding onto it for him to bring home.He used her phone without permission to call me and ask me to bring it to him. I did and he did some homework until his time was up. I don't know about any of you but does this seem like a "power struggle" between BOTH of them. He has never had a problem in this class before. He loves math and he is good at it. Personally, I would have let him sit there but set conditions like you have to work and not bother the other kids. Maybe he didn't want to sit in front of the class today. On the other hand, maybe he wanted to sit there so he could cause trouble but to me it was a battle that didn't need to start. I grounded him for the namecalling and yelling but kind of feel bad because I don't think any of this should have happened in the first place. Do I let him have some freedom or do I not? Sometimes it is such a fine line that I don't know what to do.

    Suggestions anyone???
  2. rainyseason

    rainyseason Guest

    I've often had the same question. I feel like if a battle can be avoided, why not avoid it. I don't know. Maybe its caving to his will , but on the other hand, maybe it teaches him to avoid conflict when he sees someone else avoiding it. My mom always says that if you say "no" too often, your kid will become literally immune to the word, but if you occassionaly say yes, then they'll be more responsive to no later on. I'm not sure how well it works, mines a work in progress. And most of the time I'm just so fed up....but like you, I just don't know where to draw the line sometimes. Sometimes its not always black and white. Wish I could help you with this one, but quite frankly, I've got the same question...ahhhh, the joys of parenthood! I feel like quoting Forest Gump....lifes like a bunch of chocolates...never know what your gonna get!
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Yes, power struggle. He seems very hooked into expecting to have to fight for his own choices. It's like he's constantly holding the end of the rope and whenever someone else merely picks up the other end, he tugs in the opposite direction. So a tug on the other end of his rope will have him automatically pulling the other way. The best way to stop this, is to let go the rope, or walk in his direction still holding your end of the rope.

    Let's re-examine the situation in the maths class. Bear in mind, teacher was probably busy, had a lot to get through and didn't have the time to bother with what she felt was a power struggle. But in the end, she wasted a lot more time.

    He walks in, sits up the back and says, "I'm going to sit here today."

    I think at this point it would have been enlightening to say, "Why?"

    If he has come in feeling irritated about something, he may have felt the need to be out of people's line of sight. Or he may have been feeling unsettled for some other reason. or it could be even simpler - he may hate feeling singled out, sitting up the front. Or there could be a kid sitting behind him who has been causing problems (as we had with difficult child 3, a kid behind him used to keep poking him in the back with sharp objects). Or the light might be in his eyes (the sun is in a different position in the sky, and it could be reflecting off something outside and in the window into his eyes). Who knows? Asking is one way to find out. And maybe it indicated a problem that needed to be sorted out. And maybe allowing him to talk about it could have sorted it. Or maybe letting him sit there would not have been a problem.

    If she had taken a few minutes to sort this, there would undoubtedly have been less disruption. If she hasn't the time, it is one more job an assigned aide could have helped with.

    The later problems - if he's angry and upset because the work is repetitive, this needs to be heard and sorted. In Maths, there is always more work. There is always another topic. A bright, capable student needs to be challenged by more complex problems, if he cannot move forward to the next topic. Maybe she needs to give him the toughest problem she can, and if he can do it unassisted and get it right, then let him move ahead. We did similar things with difficult child 3 (with cooperation of his Maths teacher). It helped enormously.

    As for using her phone without permission - he shouldn't have done that, be he was doing what he could to resolve a problem in the simplest way he could. His behaviour was eminently logical, if unwise and inappropriate. She needs to be very careful to not merely seem obstructive in her dealings with him. Her aim needs to be kept in mind always - to ensure he gets a good Maths education. Ultimate aim. She has to hold that thought and forget about discipline. That is not what he needs or wants from her, and it won't help her teaching of him, to "control" him.

  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    in my opinion a LOT of it depends on WHY his desk is at the front. Is it there because he goofs off if he isn't in the front? Does he have an IEP or 504 plan that says he must sit in the front of the class - in which case the teacher MUST make him sit in the front or she will be violating his plan. Is it his assigned seat or are the kids allowed to all sit wherever they want each day? Does he do things to distract the other kids if he sits in the back of the room, or sits behind any student? Is he specifically supposed to NOT sit by one of the kids that he would be next to if he sat in the back? Are there more seats than students, so that his moving around did not upset another student's seating assignment? Is he interested in a girl who sits next to where he moved?

    on the other hand, is he getting picked on by other students for being good in math, volunteering answers, always having the right answers or the wrong answers? Does the teacher spray when she speaks so that the people who sit in front get showered with spit as she speaks (I had a teacher who did this and it made sitting in front VERY unpleasant, not to mention germy. Sitting up front was esp yucky right after lunch. No one said anything until someone complained to a school counsellor and then the guy somehow learned how to NOT spray his lectures.) Does the person who sits right behind him bother him in some way, accidently or on purpose?

    There are a LOT of reasons to think this might be no big deal and the teacher should have just let it go, but sometimes the classroom dynamic makes this a truly terribly idea - one that can cause problems for extended periods of time.

    I don't know think that the teacher should be held accountable for unwisely choosing this battle until you know more about WHY he wanted to sit there and WHY she did not want him to. Often teachers will put students in the front row if they have problems getting along with those sitting around them, with getting distracted if they can see other students, or if they generally cause problems. They also might assign those seats to children with eye problems, discipline problems, etc... and almost every IEP/504 says that the student should sit at the front of the class. In one year I can remember my dad and the other teachers saying that they routinely had half of the class that was supposed to sit in the front row per their IEP, 504, parents' request or the principal's request.

    Issues like these are incredibly frustrating from a parent's perspective because there is absolutely NOTHING that we can do about them. It is one reason why many of us let school problems be handled by the school. We don't expect school to punish our child if he calls us a profane name and spits on our toes, so if he refuses to do what the school wants then the school can deal with his punishment and we can leave it at that.

    Just my thoughts.
  5. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    TeDo, even teachers can use Collaborative Problem Solving (a la Ross Greene) if they know about it or are willing to. In this case, rather than telling your son he had to sit at his own desk or go to the office, the teacher would say kindly, "Can you tell me what's going on that makes you want to sit in the back of class today?" And then if she could tap into making him feel understood rather than punished, he would most likely work with her rather than against her. In addition to his book The Explosive Child, Ross Green wrote a book called Lost at School about the educational system that you might want to look into.

    Does your son have an IEP? Is it possible that the school needs some education about how to handle your son in more effective ways (in a collaborative way, of course)? It's not off the mark to ask for a meeting in which you and your son's school team can explore ways to work with him, not against him, at school.

    Hang in there.
  6. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    She has him at the front of the class so "there are less distractions" for him which is fine. His IEP simply states "preferential seating". I have been trying to get the school, for the past 5 years, to ask WHY he's doing something BEFORE they do anything else. So far, none of them have done that. Even the SpEd teacher reminded all the reg. ed. teachers just last week to do that. They just simply don't think he should have ANY control over anything. She has let him only do "the odd problems" on homework but that is because that was the decision the SpEd teacher made and she knows better than to go against him. Yes, they need training on how to EFFECTIVELY deal with these kids but so far are unwilling (and they can't afford to?!?!) and don't see the need when it is just my difficult child (or so they say). I have offered to sit down with them but their responses imply that I'm just an overprotective mother that refuses to believe my difficult child is a "bad seed". I still just don't understand WHY this battle was even started. I did give him one hour of play time with friends last night. I told him that the one hour of freedom was for turning the behavior around so quickly (10 min) and maintaining control after that.
  7. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    One other thing, I wouldn't punish him at home for things that happen at school. Let the consequences at school stay at school. Don't make home a battleground, too. It should be his safe haven. Work on building a good relationship with him. It will pay off. Take it from the mom of a 17-year-old who struggled for years in school. His dad and I never let the problems of school get in the way and have a great relationship with him to this day.

    by the way, your holiday gift to all the teachers could be a copy of The Explosive Child.;)
  8. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    That Christmas idea is a good one. I will especially give one to his SpEd teacher since he is the only one that is at least TRYING. I wish I could convince the SD to get someone in to do a training for ALL their staff in dealing with these types of behaviors. It would save everyone so many headaches, including me and difficult child. Any ideas on how to try to convince them?!?
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    "He's the only one we have to deal with" is NOT an excuse for not trying to help him.

    His need for control sounds like it is being directly and deliberately opposed by the teachers, to "teach him a lesson". It is what is setting him up for failure. His need for control cannot be fixed by taking control away - it only makes him more desperate and determined, and frankly, in a battle of wills, a teacher who has a classroom of students to worry about and distract him/her can never win against a bright kid with strong, single-minded purpose and a strong sense of entitlement.

    The best way to 'sell' this to the school, is to show them how THEIR lives will be made easier, by accommodating his needs. ANd in doing so, they will also maximise the teaching outcome for this student - win-win-win.

    So you tell them that by letting him have some control (where it's no skin off their nose) he is more likely to let them take back control where they absolutely must have it. He is also likely to be less disruptive. Also, if he is so bright, why not involve him in instructing other students? It would be valuable social instruction for difficult child and would also work to consolidate his skills and also stop him kicking against imposed restrictions.