I hope you all had a pleasant holiday (despite the typical challenges that inevitably come along with a lack of school structure for 1-2 weeks!)
In an earlier blog several weeks ago, we discussed a child who is angelic at home but a serious behavior problem at school.
Why might that be?
Here is another possibility.
Some children have a spunky, fun personality, and they like to do a little trouble or break some rules sometimes. However, when parents are really good at running a tight ship at home (perhaps because they use praise, rewards, and/or punishments) or because their child internalized a strong message that they should never misbehave, these kids don’t have an outlet to express their spunky personality. So it comes out at school.
Should a parent give up running a tight ship or stop imparting the value of following rules? Of course not! Balance is key.
Give kids their wish in fantasy. I might say the following with a little twinkle: “It seems that you like to do a little trouble sometimes (wink wink). Let’s make a list of all the trouble you wish you could do.”
Then proceed to write down all the ideas the child shares with you. I might even add some of my own ideas to make it okay to fantasize about doing red behavior.
When the list is done, I’d review it with the child and say, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do these things without getting punished? It’s a pity they are red behavior and that’s why we can’t do them. But if it weren’t red, it would definitely be a ton of fun!” Over the next few days or weeks, keep reviewing the list and ask the child to add some more red ideas as they come up.
Why does this strategy work? When a child has a strong feeling or need, it can be expressed in words or in action. Thus, if a child has a strong need to do red behavior at home or at school, it can come out as talking about the red behavior or doing the red behavior. Obviously, we want the child to talk about it and not do it. Therefore, by having the child fantasize and make a list, the child is getting the opportunity to talk about it.
Have an enjoyable week!