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 to thank us. Then she opened up and mentioned that my son, who was a little bully since Day 1, significantly improved his overall attitude and socialization with his classmates and teachers.

This is the first time I'm going to talk about this publicly. My four-year-old son was labeled as a "troublemaker in the making" since the start of the school year. He wasn't listening to his teachers, refusing to join the class activities, and worst - hitting his classmates for no reason.

At first, I was in denial. My heart broke when I first heard the news. A lot of thoughts came to my head:

"This was his first time to go to school. He had no experience with proper socialization, following other people's orders, etc.".

"Or maybe, it was because he couldn't express his feelings adequately because his vocabulary was still limited back then."

But then it hit me - something must be wrong with him or us.

We talked to him every single day. The daily 7-minute drive to school was always me reminding him how to be a "good boy." He even memorized and told his teacher my everyday speech - "No fighting. No hitting. Always listen and follow your teachers."

Then, one day, 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 might 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 concluding that one reason 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 two 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 massive 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 pretty 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, one of them is a 1-year-old walking bomb, then even the most perfect parent you know would have a tough time. But we tried our best. That was when I asked my mother to stay with us every Monday to Friday to help us take care of our youngest.

No handheld devices! We had already made him stop using gadgets even before school started. We became very attentive to the shows he was watching on television. 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 private part, getting his clothes from the cabinet, putting them on, cleaning up his toys, and cleaning his toy car on his own.

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

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

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