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Discipline advice for 7 year old boy(25 Posts)
I actually can't quite believe I'm writing this...I am a teacher with a husband in child development and up until 28 hours ago we were feeling very smug about DS1. To give some context (not goady, honest!) he has been described as a "pleasure to teach", "so kind and caring" and "so considerate of others". He is bright, articulate, does his chores, dotes on his baby brother and loves sharing books and hobbies with us.
Misdemeanours are few and far between and dealt with through either restorative actions (eg making an apology card and choosing something of his to give as an apology instead of fun activity planned), stern word and time for reflection, talking through how to do things differently or withdrawal of privileges (screen time) for a set period. So far so good...
Until yesterday. DS1 has a friend who is bullied at school. He had this friend and another friend over and they were all playing together with k'nex. Suddenly friend who is bullied comes upstairs and says that DS1 said that he will "kick my arse!" I was shocked (he has never to my knowledge used language like this) so went down, called him out of his room and told him off. He staryed crying and apologised before going to apologise (unprompted) to friend. I warned there would be a consequence. I then come upstairs and am minutes later followed by friend who says that now DS1 has said he will "kick my arse". I go downstairs and DS1 is already crying and apologising. I bring him out again, tell him how disappointed I am and upset by his words - screen time is removed and he has to explain to friends XBox is out of bounds (originally allowed to play after lunch). (Can't call parents to collect as Christmas shopping while I have their children; plus don't want to punish others for my son's poor behaviour). Reassure friend they are doing the right thing informing me.
Today...pick DS1 up at lunchtime to get ready for Christmas party on home lunch. Friend comes to tell me DS1 has been hiding people's things...
DS1 lies for a bit then admits to hiding a few people's belongings in the cloakroom, making one child cry. I am disgusted. This is not the child I thought I was bringing him up to be. He's currently on a 3 day tech/screen ban, has to take on more chores to help me (not baby-related though to prevent that association) and knows how disappointed DH and I are in him. I honestly don't know what to do, this feels pretty pivotal for him though. So please MNetters, what would you do? He's cried and said sorry and has gone back to school now to own up to the teacher that it was him (I'll check after school that he's done this), but what now? And more importantly, what have I done wrong?! I honestly never thought I'd be in this position.
TLDR: usually well behaved boy behaving extremely out of character and is already being punished. I am now wondering where to go from here...
I think you need to sit down and have a calm chat with him.
If this is truly out of character for him, then it suggests that there has been an incident that has triggered this sudden change in behaviour. He is deliberately doing things that he knows will get him into trouble.
I'd start by asking him if he is ok and whether there's anything he would like to talk about.
If he is adamant that there's nothing wrong then all you can do is stand firm on the punishments you have already told him about and continue being firm about bad behaviour.
(Disclaimer: I am not a parent, teacher etc. so I may be way off the mark, but to me a change in behaviour like this should be explored).
Honestly I don't think you need to do anything else except for perhaps speak to him about why he did these things and then leave the subject alone
If it becomes regular behaviour then that's a different story
Children misbehave and test boundaries. There would be something wrong if they didn't. You're taking appropriate action to deal with his misdemeanours.
It sounds as though you've got extremely high expectations in terms of behaviour from a 7 yr old. Could he be feeling overwhelmed by an expectation of perfect behaviour?
Every time he does something wrong we ask him why. Yesterday the "kick your arse" thing was something he'd heard in the playground and he thought it'd be funny to try it out. However, again, he knew it wasn't when I came down the first time, so couldn't explain why he did it a second time...
Today it was apparently to make friend 2 laugh (friend 2 was there yesterday; not the one being bullied). Friend 2 is far more confident to DS1 and is in completely different groups in class. It seems DS1 is trying to impress him but to be perfectly honest at aged 7 this doesn't wash with me as HE knows what to do, and as I say to him (and in my classroom!) you are only responsible for your own actions, not other people's.
I have tried to determine if anything is going on in the playground/at school to have caused this but he is adamant that nothing is different. I will follow this up with his teacher after school too, but I also don't want to go looking for outward causes unnecessarily IYSWIM. On the other hand this is so out of character I'm honestly embarrassed to share this with people IRL as this is so different to anything anyone would expect from him.
Newblue I think that's an interesting viewpoint. I teach children 4 years older than him so I perhaps need to reflect on that.
I think a lot of seven year old boys (and girls) will use expressions like kick your arse etc
I have a 7 year old and an 8 year old. They won't say arse but will (jokingly) say kick your butt. TBH I've also heard 3 year old dd say this
Was your ds saying it being nasty or just messing around? If it's just messing you may be over reacting?
I worry that it was to be nasty, or perhaps I am projecting due to Friend 1's problems with being bullied? I just think it's too much of a coincidence he said it to friend 1 rather than friend 2 as he knew friend 1 wouldn't do/say anything back, if that makes sense? Also friend 1's stuff was part of the stuff hidden in the cloakroom. I think that this is verging on him bullying his friend, and I told him as much. I asked how he would feel if friend 2 did that to him (and he has before) and he said sad...so I asked why did he think it was ok to do it to someone else.
He apparently regretted it when one child started crying as they couldn't find their hat (and he apparently returned it - how noble(!)) I just find it such a far cry from the child who has stuck up for friend 1 in the past and the child who last year gave a friend his balloon at the Christmas party as he had accidentally popped his. It's just so out of character.
Honestly? You sound a little more upset at the loss of the "character" status than the actions of your son. So I'm wondering why it has become such a big deal he is the perfect child? We are all flawed and it's never easy living up to such big expectations.
Separate actions from the child. He does kind things... he does unkind things. Neither of these define his actions.
You also mentioned a baby... is this new?
He is not perfect. He has not been deliberately unkind before on such a scale, that is what my concern is, what an unkind thing to say, that all I care about is his 'status'. I have discipline methods listed as he does things wrong, but not on this scale.
Baby is 8 months old - DS1 dotes on him. He really does. I'm going back to work on Wednesday, so wonder if it's that? He has enjoyed me being around for him before and after school.
I only ever label his behaviour, not him. I do not, like my own parents did, withdraw love and affection for minor misdemeanours. I do not expect perfection; I do expect him to avoid behaviour that hurts others. I have not shunned him, I have talked about why he did it, how it made him feel, impact on others and how to redeem himself to others (offer to do something for them). I am just trying to explain how upset I am at this behaviour.
I wouldn't worry about the "kick my arse" comments, sounds like your ds was saying them jokingly to his friends and his friends have been having a bit too much fun telling on him and seeing him get into trouble. I think your punishment for these comments have been excessive, no wonder he was crying as you were embarrassing him in front of his friends making him apologise when it wasn't said or meant in the violent sense.
I have no doubts my ds(12) says the occasional (maybe more often) slightly bad word like arse, but as long as he doesn't say it in earshot of adults I don't mind. Strong swear words are never allowed.
Hiding things sounds like a joke that went too far, again as its a one off a chat would have sufficed.
Children would be boring if they were all peter perfect, they need a bit of spirt and pushing of boundaries to become individuals not robots. Sometimes they will get it wrong and need a chat about what's right, sometimes (not all times) they need consequences, but as they push boundaries they learn lessons better than if they only every do as they are told.
I think I might have asked the friend why he told tales about the "kick your arse" thing. Was the friend really upset about it?
I didn't embarrass him in front of his friends - I called him out of the room to speak to him precisely to avoid that. He apologised to friend of his own account.
I accept I may have over reacted. Especially about today. We are just back from a long walk (playing Pokemon Go!) and he brought it up on the way back and said he thought it'd be funny until he saw a friend crying over the 'lost' hat. I said that I was pleased he was honest with me and that we should put it behind him. He's mostly excited now as we caught a festive Pikachu!
Thanks all for the reality check.
When his friends cameto shop him, were they upset?
Yes, friend who has history of bullying was upset.
I don't think his misdemeanours are that awful.
The bad words - I would just explain why they're not ok and that he's not to do it again. In fact I always said to my son that if he wanted to giggle in the corner with his chums about bad words, that's ok too, but he must never say anything rude to teachers, family, adults etc., keep it to the playground. I remember testing out 'bad' words myself. Have the chat, forget about it.
The other behaviour is a little worse but again, I don't think much more of a chat/reprimand is required.
Try not to bring the bad behaviours up again on other occasions. Revert to complimentary him and encouraging him on the behaviours you do want to see.
Really glad you've had a good afternoon with him.
I think that when kids behave in a way that upsets others, sometimes their conscience provides enough of a consequence. Experience can be the best teacher, we all hurt others from time to time, and your ds is just learning to navigate friendships.
Sounds like he's really comfortable talking openly about all this stuff with you, which is nothing to be sniffed at.
He's been getting lots of praise tonight for helping me with dinner/playing with his brother. We're moving on and will only look again if it becomes a pattern.
Thanks all. I accept I was over-reacting (thankfully only in my own head, not aloud to DS).
Thanks newblue, he knows that I prefer him to be honest (and to be fair he is a terrible list!) I don't want him to be scared of me or feel like love is conditional (like I felt growing up).
Oh it's tough this parenting malarkey!
8 months old. He honestly dotes on him though - DH and I take him out 1-1 with each of us at weekends and he always says 'I can't wait to see DS2', likes carrying him around, getting him to chase him around (DS2 is a speedy crawler). DS1 even told DH and I off when we said we'd bought DS2 second hand presents as he will grow out of them so quickly and offered to buy DS2 toys out of his own pocket money!
I really don't think it's his brother. If anything since I've been on mat leave he gets more time with me than ever. I do go back on Wednesday though (although only 3 days a week rather than full time).
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