Monday, March 25, 2019

How We Dealt With Our Little Troublemaker

How We Dealt With Our Little Troublemaker

Yesterday was my son's last day in Kindergarten. As soon as the ceremony was over, his teacher sent me a text message to thank us. Then she opened up and mentioned that my son, who was a little bully since Day 1, made a huge improvement with his overall attitude and with his socialization with his classmates and teachers.

This is the first time I'm going to talk about this publicly. My son, who was just a 4-year-old kid on the start of the school year 2018-2019, was described as “a troublemaker in the making”. He wasn’t listening to his teachers, he was refusing to join the class activities, and worst - he was hitting his classmates for no reason at all.

At first, I was in denial. My heart broke when I first heard the news. The first explanation that came out of me was “this was his first time to go to school... he had no experience yet when it comes to proper socialization, following other people’s orders, etc.”. Or maybe, it was the fact that he couldn’t express his feelings properly because his vocabulary was still limited back then. But then it hit me - there must be something wrong with him.... or us.

We talked to him every single day. The daily 7-minute drive to school was all about reminding him how to be a “good boy”. He even managed to memorize and tell his teacher my daily speech - “No fighting. No hitting. Always listen and follow your teachers.”

Then, there was this one day when I was picking him up from school and his teachers approached and invited me to their classroom to “talk”. While walking to the room, multiple scenarios played in my head. But in the back of my mind, I was sure what it was all about - my son’s bad behavior.

They told me that some of the parents were already complaining about my child’s hitting. Then they finally dug deeper and asked me some personal questions I had never imagined that may relate to his behavior at school.

“What is his behavior at home?”
“Does he have a younger sibling?”
“Do you spend more time with his sister than him?”
“Are you or his dad hurting him?”
“Is he addicted to gadgets or tv?”
“What’s his favorite TV show?”
“Do you give him adult responsibilities?”

After finally concluding that one of the reasons could be the “latest addition to the family”, I asked them for a one-week vacation for my son. They agreed since we’re just a couple of weeks away from sem break.

What We Did

I made a mental note of the questions the teachers asked. From those pointers, we made a huge change at home.

First, we told him the truth. We made him understand that some of his classmates’ parents were angry at him, and he was taking a break because he had to improve his attitude.

We started to make ways for the two siblings to bond. We also paid extra attention to his sharing ability. Honestly, this was one of the hardest things to correct. Whenever he tried to steal toys from his sister’s hands or refused to share, we would warn him immediately.

We also made sure that everything, including time, was fairly divided to both of them. This might sound like a piece of cake to some people; but the truth is, it’s not. If you have two kids, and one of them is a 1-year-old walking bomb, then even the most perfect parent you know would have an extremely hard time. But we tried our best. That was the time when I asked my mother to stay with us every Mondays to Fridays to help us take care of our youngest.

Absolutely no handheld devices! We had already made him stop using any gadgets even before the school started. For the television, we became very attentive to the shows he’s watching. We made him stop watching Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon. Disney Junior, Baby TV, Your Baby Can Read, Baby Einstein / Little Einstein, and Mother Goose Club were the only ones allowed to play on our TV.

As for the responsibilities, yes. A lot has changed. He’s now washing his hands and his private part, getting his clothes from the cabinet, putting them on, cleaning up his toys, and cleaning his toy car on his own.

We’re gradually seeing his improvement. He’s now being a big brother to her sister. Sometimes, I’m pretending to be busy so I can ask him to watch over her sister. He definitely has matured a lot.

Baby-ing and spoiling can indeed be harmful to small kids. Giving them responsibilities, proper attention, and exposing them to real-life situations would help them prepare to the real world.

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