semi crisis with difficult child at school

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by threebabygirls, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. threebabygirls

    threebabygirls New Member

    As noted in my signature, I am a bus driver for the school district. This morning after my run I received a phone call from the principal; there was an issue that needed addressed.
    Apparently, yesterday afternoon difficult child stole my pillbox out of my purse and gave two ibuprofen to the girls sitting with her. She told them it was to "help keep them from getting sick." One girl ate hers; the other put it in a small paper embosser difficult child gave her (it's box-like), and showed her mom. (side note: this particular mother has it in for me as she heard me reprimand her son one day on the bus--he was walking up the aisle while I was still driving to his stop) Rightfully so, the mother called the school and they told her to bring it in, after she looked up what the pill was. They notified the principal late yesterday, and asked them to come in this a.m.
    The mothers of the other two girls were there when I was calledin, and before I arrived the one told the prinicipal I'd been yelling at her son. The principal told me what was going on, I assured them all that all I carried in that pillbox was ibuprofen, I told them how sorry I was and asked if difficult child could be called to the office so I could search her backpack.
    While we were waiting, the principal asked the one mother what she had expected. She said she thought all the parents should have been notified. He pointed out that they had no way of knowing if anything had happened. All they knew was one child gave two ibuprofen to two other kids. SHe was really rude with him, and I could tell he was disgusted with her.
    difficult child came with bag in-tow, and I asked her what she gave the other girls yesterday; she said nothing. WHen I showed her what was given to me, she claimed the girl who ate her pill did it. As I told her there was no way she could have, the mother said they didn't have that kind of medicine at their house. As I searched her bag, she became frantic, protesting that it was her stuff. WHen I reached for her pencil box, I knew I'd found it. She started whimpering and pushing on the box. Sure enough, there was my pillbox. I told her she is not to go into my purse, and certainly not take anything. I told her to apologize to the other adults, she refused until I told her then the principal would discipline her. She apologized and I told her she would be writing letters of apology after school. She went back to class and the other parents left.
    The principal told me the mother had been complaining that I was yelling at her son; I told him what had happened to lead me to it, and he agreed that if the kid was in the aisle, he was at danger of falling and hurting himself.
    I had to take easy child 1 to the orthodontist, and when I took her back the prinicpal was in the office and asked if I was okay. I said no, and asked if I could talk to him. I asked if she was going to be suspended; he said no. She's six years old, most-likely had no idea the ramificiations of her behavior and there was absolutely no criminal intent. I was relieved to say the least. I apologized again and assured him steps were being taken to address this immediately. husband wants all her treasured possessions taken (I concur), and wants to prohibit her from playing soccer for the rest of the season. I don't agree with that; it gets her out of the house and is her main form of exercise. I don't know. husband usually gets his way, so we'll see.
    difficult child will be writing letters of apology this afternoon and will be giving them to the parents tomorrow. I am devastated. She broke my trust and my heart. From this day on I'm going to search her backpack before she goes to school. I called psychiatrist and said we need an appointment. ASAP.
    Am I forgetting anything?
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I know this was so embarrassing for you. I think the school handled it really well. Your child is only six so she really doesnt grasp the deeper concept of what she did.

    I wouldnt take soccer away from her for the reasons you stated. I do like the letters. Im not even sure I would take all her goodies away for a long period of time. Maybe take them away for a week or so. I would have a serious talk with her about what could have happened and how we dont share medicines.

    For you, you need to make sure you dont carry anything in your purse or have anything at home that she can get in to. Make sure everything is childproof. Sad as it is, you can get a safe at walmart to keep medications in that will keep her out. Better safe than sorry. Ohhh..a pun!
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Jane Nelsen of the Positive Discipline series of books writes: "Parents often take extreme measures like spanking, grounding and other punitive solutions so their children don't grow up to be thieves. Judging and punishing kids only makes the situation worse. Any parental intervention that is punitive and only deals with the behavior and not the underlying problem makes the situation worse."

    Do you have any idea why your difficult child stole your pillbox?

    I could be wrong, but I get the sense from your post that it was less an act against you and more an act of trying to make, keep or impress friends. If that is the case, you need to help your daughter find appropriate ways to have friends (for example, invite them over for a playdate, share your toys with them, write funny notes to them, sing or tell jokes with them). She also needs to understand exactly what medicine is and why it is not safe to take it or share it with others. She really may not know this at age 6.

    Although I think apology notes are fine (along with a calm explanation to your daughter about why what she did was wrong), I'd recommend rethinking your harsh punishments. What will taking away her prized possessions and soccer for the rest of the season teach her about her faulty reasoning behind stealing your pillbox?
  4. Lillyth

    Lillyth New Member

    When I first read through this, I thought she must be acting out some aversion to her medications, but then I saw she isn't on any.

    I may be way off base here, but perhaps she sees you taking your medications, and "wants" some medications of her own to help her "from getting sick". Often these kids feel out of control - perhaps she was (very Freudianly) communicating her wish for some magic pill to take to make her "sickness" go away?

    I may be reading too much into it, as I have never (knock on wood) had a child who got into pills.

    I think smallworld in right - you need to find out why difficult child stole your pillbox. It could be something as simple as one of the girls had complained that she was motion sick on the bus, and difficult child thought she was helping. It could be something way more complicated like I suggested above or like Danmit Janet mentioned below.

    And I agree with everyone else about the soccor. She needs her exercise, and it's not like she head-butted a soccor ball into these girls...
  5. Pookybear66

    Pookybear66 New Member

    Ditto what everyone else said, I'm more of a why person myself. I would question her as to "why" she thought this was a good idea and then tell her why it wasn't. I wouldn't take away anything this time but make sure she knows that IF there is ever another time then there will be serious consequences.
  6. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    You handled this very well. Like the others said she is very young to really understand the danger she may have put the other kids (and herself) in. I would have a stern talk to her and explain that people get very very sick when they take other people's medicine. She can not do this again.

    I hope husband doesn't take away soceer. Our kids need these activities for so many reasons, exercise, socializing, ect.

    I think our difficult children struggle so much and every time they receive negative feedback, it just shoots them down that much further. They soon start feeling hopeless, that they will never do anything right. If we can reach them on their level and show them that we are trying to teach them to be safe, it would go much further than punishing through the loss of possessions and activities.

    "difficult child, I know you do not want to hurt anyone. You are a very kind person. Did you know that whenever you give anyone medicine that the doctor has not told them to take that they can get sick? We are so lucky those girls didn't get sick from my medicine. Next time they might though. So, it is very important that you don't give medicine to anyone. It is also important that you don't take medicine from anyone but me or a teacher that I have given your medicine to."

    I am so happy to hear that the school was realistic about this. You hear of so many little kids getting suspended for such acts instead of teaching them in a stern yet kind way why they were wrong. Our kids are kids - they have so much to learn and some will learn every step the hard way. Each angry response they get lowers their self esteem. They need to know that while they did wrong, they are human and can make better choices for a happier future.

    You also have to trust in your decision on how to further handle this. You know your child better than anyone else. Don't let anyone judge that you are either too hard or too soft (the other parents of the other girls may think you are too soft). Do what you believe in your heart is correct. I for one will let you do your job as mom.
  7. threebabygirls

    threebabygirls New Member

    Thanks, all. I stood firm in my refusal to take away soccer, and husband relented. He said if I thought it was too much, then he was fine with it.

    When I picked the kids up this afternoon, difficult child's teacher walked her out to the bus and pulled me aside. After difficult child returned to class this morning, her teacher tried discussing it with her, and difficult child lied repeatedly about it. She had several version as to what went on and at one point even claimed I gave the girls the pills. So, she got a pink slip for lying to the teacher. Her teacher gave her the benefit of the doubt, gave her numerous chances to come clean and difficult child wouldn't (or couldn't. I can only imagine the stress she was feeling; kind of like a rat in a trap).
    When we got home I calmly talked with her about why she did everything she did. Not surprisingly, she's still denying most of it, especially the lying to the teacher. She admitted giving the girls the pills and adamantly stated she gave them to no one else. I explained how her friends could have gotten very ill, and why she should never give away or take pills from anyone else but me, the doctor or the nurse at school.
    As to why she took my pillbox in the first place, that's simple. It's pretty, girly, and sparkly, and she wanted it. Yes, it's that simple. She frequently covets other's possessions, especially my "fancy" stuff. As far as medications are concerned, I truly believe she is an unconscious self-medicating person. She's always asking for some sort of remedy. I've told her COUNTLESS times that if a person takes medicine when it is not needed, it can harm them rather than help. I obviously use more kid-friendly terms, but I've told her numerous times. Over and over again, whenever she asks for medications I KNOW she doesn't need. And, with her obsession with pills, she's always asking me why I take mine. I've told her it's to help me from getting really sick (how do you describe a major depressive disorder to a 6 year old?). I don't know. Maybe that is a wrong choice of words.
    I agree with smallworld that it was also an effort to impress the other girls. She struggles with making and keeping friends (another of several things that break my heart for her).
    As far as her punishment goes, I didn't suggest anything to her. I asked her what she thought was appropriate, given the severity of it all, and she said she needs her MP3 player and her CD player taken away. So, that's what it will be. It won't be for as long as husband thinks is necessary, but just to get her attention. I'm hoping the embarassment of being called to the prinicipal's office and being scolded in front of the other parents, as well as the apology notes will be deterrent enough. I remember being mortified when forced to apologize for an infraction I committed years and years ago. Never did it again, either. Hopefully it works for difficult child as well.
  8. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    You are doing GREAT! Scary that your daughter is so fascinated with medicine. She might be afraid that if you need medicine to keep you from getting sick than maybe she will also need medicine some day and what if she doesn't get it soon enough?

    She is so young to understand nutrition but maybe with her interest in medications, she will be open to some very basic nutritional needs? Have you ever talked to her about healthy foods that help many people to not need medicine? Dairy, Fruit, Veggies The food you give her is to keep her healthy. Sometimes people get sick because they don't eat good foods.

    When she asks for medications when you don't think she needs them, direct her to healthy foods - Oh, it sounds like you need an apple or banana or whatever you have available in the house. Healthy foods help us feel better.

    I have learned that when my difficult child starts getting a headache, he needs water or gaterade and a healthy snack. We have also figured out that easy child gets stomach aches when she gets dehydrated - she feels better when she has enough water and has eaten more healthy foods - less chips and soda!

    I don't know if this will help or not but focusing more on being healthy never hurts.
  9. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    baby girl is only 6, it's a horrible predictament, but take it in context, although the school has to make a bigger deal.

    I have that old Pill commercial running through my head "but we're not candy"
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am sorry this is happening. I think you are totally on the right track for dealing with it though. KEEP SOCCER!!!! Glad husband relented.

    I am glad you school used common sense, not Zero Tolerance. There really ARE schools that use Zero Tolerance on 6yos.

    This is NOT uncommon among kids. They LIKE to play doctor or nurse or mommy.

    with the way you indicate your difficult child takes things further, I recommend reading "the explosive child" by Ross Greene AND Love adn Logic parenting by Jim Fay and Foster Cline. You can check out L&L at - this is truly an amazing way to parent. It was the first/only parenting book my husband "bought in to" and used. We still use it, after 6 years, and it is still working for us. The library should have these books if you can't buy them right away. The explosive child is an amazing book. Really helps you understand WHY kids do things, esp if the kid is a difficult child. Once you get the why, you can figure out how to change the behavior.

    Hang in there!
  11. threebabygirls

    threebabygirls New Member

    I was REALLY glad he didn't implement the Zero Tolerance policy. I'm thinking it helped the one mother was being really rude to him, and the fact that I work with the school district.
    I'll try pushing the more healthy foods. I rarely buy chips, cookies, soda, etc. as it is so that's really not an issue. I'll try a bigger variety for her.
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You've handled this really well. I especially like that you involved her in her own punishment. Frankly, I believe in natural consequences and making the punishment fit the crime. To punish by taking away her possessions has SOME fitting here because SHE took YOUR possessions; but in general, that sort of punishment can seem too much like revenge and not enough like consequences.

    Writing letters of apology - VERY good. VERY appropriate, very effective and rarely done. It's often far easier for the child to be grounded, than to write the apologies. Apology letters would have been a BIG punishment, for her.

  13. Mac&Cheese

    Mac&Cheese New Member

    You Certainly handled this very well! As a parent who has raised two different sets of kids, I don't think you difficult child had even thought thru the outcome, most 6 year olds don't. She has learned an important lesson, I would drop the subject & move on. One of my easy child took two paring knives to school, pulled them out of his backpack so the teacher could remove sand from a mold easier. Was threatened suspension until I convinced the principle he had no malicious intent. Your 6 y old had no malicious intent. A pretty box and a chance to impress...We can't lose site of the fact these are little "children" not little "adults", they have a lot to learn! I never thought of telling him about not taking knives to school for any reason! I learned to check backpacks everymorning after this one! You never dreamed she would take that pill box from your purse! We as parents can't seem to think of everything these little folks can do! So glad you didn't take away soccer...I think she needs it!
  14. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    I think the teacher made a faux pas by questioning her AGAIN which resulted in difficult child getting in trouble AGAIN. The principal handled it and that should have been the end of it.

    I'm also suprised that the other parents were allowed (unless you gave consent by not protesting) to be present during questioning. You don't have to allow that, FYI. Even though there were other students involved, it is a privacy matter where your difficult child is concern. Maybe in this case it was good, but keep that in mind just in case (and I hope there isn't one).

    I'm also glad she keeps soccer. I've also been guilty in the heat of anger to start threatening to take everything, even if it really hurts me more than difficult child.
  15. threebabygirls

    threebabygirls New Member

    Thanks again for all the support. You don't know how much it means to me.
    Dazedandconfused, it never even crossed my mind to ask the other mothers to leave the room. I was shell-shocked, to say the least. I never in my wildest dreams thought she'd do something like this. I'll have to keep it in mind in case (God forbid) there is a next time.

    difficult child wrote the letters that night, and will be delivering them this week. I meant for her to do it Friday but that morning was a hectic one and we left the house without them.
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    As far as the privacy, the principal cannot even let the other mothers know what punishment was given, just that it was handled. This is all part of the privacy stuff. I can understand how shell shocked you were feeling.

    Just so you know you are not alone, when jess was 4 I found her with quite a few cough drops, the ricola ones. We don't buy those, so I KNOW seh didn't get them at home. Her best friend, S (a boy), was playing doctor with her (the innocent kind with clothes on, NOT the kind older kids play!). S's dad was in medical school and the 2 kids were pretending to be doctor and Wiz. Wiz has a really bad asthma cough sometimes. They were "fixing" him - and taking turns being doctor and Wiz. Once I figured out the cough drops wouldn't hurt her, and talked to S's mom (A real sweetie, and very upset and embarrassed) all was fine. In fact, from seeing how I handled that, D, S's mom, would come to me to ask parenting questions. Both her family and her husband's family were far away (her husband is from Europe), so apparently it helped her because she was quite young.