Great news today from the family of a 9 year old boy with behavior problems in school since the beginning of the year. I've seen them short term, again via webcam. His behavior wasn't off the wall, but bad enough to warrant fairly constant attention. Both parents and teachers had tried to use lots of interventions to put a stop to it without success and actually sometimes saw an increase in behavior. The main consequence was losing recess which seemed like a normal type of consequence, but no change, no matter how many times he lost it.
I talked to the child first. He loved the webcam. Said it felt like we were communicating from 2 different spaceships like the movies! I laughed and agreed! Sometimes I do feel like Captain Kirk which is fun! I sat down with the child first and asked him all about school. What he liked, what he didn't, What was his favorite thing to do there and what was his least favorite. Everything seemed normal to mundane. It was when I started asking about recess that I found the loose string that everyone else had seemed to overlook!
I asked him how he liked recess and he told me, he hated it. I found that odd for a 9 year old boy so I asked more and found that he reported that on the recess playground, he was being picked on by several boys and the playground monitors were not seeing it. I asked him if he had asked anyone for help. Turns out the boys had told him if he asked for help, they would hurt him physically. Definitely a situation we were going to have to address and stop post haste-completely unacceptable, but what was immediately more interesting to me, was the fact that he told me that he knew that if he got in trouble during the school day, he didn't need to worry about the playground problem, as he could be punished and miss recess.
So, you see, getting limited from recess was actually a reward for this child since recess felt dangerous for him. Thus the increase in behavior Without knowing this small piece of information, none of the interventions done by the parents or teachers would ever have worked since he had a far stronger reason to not go to recess.
So, we had the school handle the bully situation and put a stop to it. His behavior was resolved. He had no reason anymore to lose recess so he stopped working so hard to lose it. Happy ending!
Dr. Sherri Singer is a Processing and Motivation Skills Excellence Coach who works with you in person, 1 on 1, live via webcam. Contact Dr. Sherri
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