OT - parenting question - kinda long

OK, I guess I have some parenting issues. My oldest son in almost 6. He is in AM Kindergarten this year and he’s had some issues all year, mostly doing things for attention. His main thing is falling down and pretending he’s hurt. In the last couple weeks, he has been complaining to his teacher every day that he doesn’t feel good. I’ve gotten a couple notes from her, and we talked to Noah over and over and explained that you can’t pretend to be sick when you aren’t, blah blah. He promised last night that he wouldn’t do it again. This morning, I got a voice mail from his teacher right after school started. Apparently he brought a winter glove to school, put it on one of his hands and refused to take it off, saying that I told him he had to wear it all day and couldn’t take it off. She told him that she was going to the office to call and talk to me, thinking that he would stop her, but he just watched her leave. I called her back and talked to her. She said that when she got back to the classroom he had the glove off and when she questioned him, he told her that I really hadn’t said that he needed to keep it on all day, but I made him wear it this morning because it was raining. She found the whole glove thing amusing, but she’s getting frustrated with him, and I don’t know what to do to stop this. DH and I have talked to him, and tried to find out if there is something bothering him, something that’s going on at school and he says there isn’t. I don’t know what to do next. Any ideas?

Is he an only child? (sorry I can’t remember though I am sure I have seen pictures of almost everybody’s kids on here at one time or another…just no short term or long term memory anymore it seems)

That kind of puts you between a rock and a hard place…You want to find out the origin of his attention-seeking behavior, but you don’t want to actually bring attention to the fact you notice he is doing it for attention, which would make him realize you are noticing he is seeking attention and keep doing it because he knows you are watching…round and round! And you don’t want to ignore it completley just in case there actually IS a problem…

Is he on the young side of 6? I think especially with boys, maturity and self-control (or lack thereof) is a factor. Did he go to preschool too, or is this his first structured educational experience? Does he seem to do okay academically? What about moving his seat near where the teacher does most of her activities so it seems like she is paying more attention to him, and also teaching him about nonverbal cues, like she can just acknowledge him when he is doing something by touching him on the shoulder, instead of saying “Noah, I see you’re doing …” so he realizes that she notices him, she just doesn’t have to announce it.

I hope the teacher left the class with another adult while she made the phone call! :shock:

Kids. :rollseyes: I’m no expert, but he’s obviously trying to get attention and it’s working. Generally ignoring such behaviour is a good idea, but since this is disruptive to the teacher it makes it harder. Have you tried reading the Aesop’s Fable “The boy who cried wolf”? Might be a good idea. You could also explain in relation to him what could happen if he lies like that…how you might think he’s lying again when he’s really hurt. If the school has a counselor you might see about talking to him and/or a regular children’s therapist.

No, he’s not an only child. My other son is 4. Noah is a bit on the young side. He will be 6 on the 19th of this month. He is physically smaller than most of the other kids (genetics, I guess), so we had wrestled with the decision of sending him to kindergarten this year, but he had 2 years of preschool and his preschool teacher thought he was ready and he really wanted to go to school. He has a great group of friends - kids he went to preschool with. We decided on 1/2 day instead of the full day, because I felt he really wasn’t ready for that. Academically, he’s doing fine, but when he sits with the teacher he will often tell her he “can’t do the work” or “it’s too hard” even though she knows he’s fully capable. We did actually read “The boy who cried wolf” to him, but it was around the beginning of the school year, when he was pretending to hurt himself all the time. That seemed to help, but now he’s just trying to find other ways of getting attention.

Oh, and yes, when the teacher left the classroom, the Ed Tech was in there with them. This teacher is really wonderful. She’s trying to do the right thing, and I’m not sure she knows what that is either.

Since he’s not an only, I edited out this part. :slight_smile:

Talking, understanding and psychoanalysis will only get you so far. If your son is smart, it doesn’t matter that he is only 6, he is playing you. You might want to consider good old fashioned punishment. Whatever he loves, however he likes to spend his time, take something away. You can deal with the WHY later. He needs to know that the consequences for bad behavior come before the warm and fuzzy conversations.

As a mom and an elementary school teacher I can tell you that often times there is no motivation behind bad behavior other than manipulation and experimentation. They want to know how far you will let them go. The punishment is hard for them, but they crave the boundaries and structure of knowing what consequences will come from what kind of behaviors. Consistency is king. Say what will happen, enforce it, and the behavior will change.

We had a lot of trouble with our son for a myriad of reasons at that age. I’d be happy to tell you all about what I learned from the behavior therapist. PM me if you want.

I sent you a PM, Carmen.

I have 2 kids ages 6 and 11. I never had this sort of problem but first of all often times a 6 y/o cannot articulate the problem. So of course he says “no” there is not a problem. It also sounds like anxiety over school. If he his “hurt” he might not have to go. If he says he “can’t” he might get out of it. And there is the 4 y/o at home, he might percieve that the younger one is getting more attention than him. I don’t think any of these behaviors are worthy of punishment. At 6 the “crime” and “punishment” need to be very concrete. I think at times judicious ignoring is fine. The glove should have simply been ignored and he should have been expected to go on with class. He would have taken it off if it got in the way. Did he initiate the glove conversation? Or did the teacher. If the teacher had, she should have simply ignored it in the first place. If he had she should have simply said, something like “well I doubt your mother instruct you to keep it on but if you wish to have it on fine” end of story. As far as not feeling good, if he continues to say he feels unwell and you think he is fine take him to the doctor! That will make kids feel well real quick.

Good luck!

In many ways I agree with your comments. By punishment, I simply meant that if even at 6 if expectations of behavior have been communicated and are not being followed, 6 is not too young for consequences. Sometimes, kids need to know that there isn’t going to be a warm and fuzzy talk about feelings every time they misbehave.

First of all, thank you all for your responses. On the punishment side of things, yesterday when he got home from school I talked to him about the “not feeling well at school” and why you shouldn’t say you’re sick if you’re not, and I told him that if he was too sick to participate in the classroom, he was too sick to play t-ball in the evenings. He said he wouldn’t do it anymore, and lo and behold, he does the glove thing today instead. So I think he knows what he’s doing, I just don’t know if there’s a reason behind it (school related) or just that he’s trying to get attention. He does NONE of this stuff at daycare, and I think that’s because it would not be tolerated and he knows that. I think I need to crack down and be consistent, and hopefully that will take care of part of the problem.

I hate being consistent. It is one of things I find hardest about parenting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “if you do that, I am going to XYZ” and then the minute it comes out of my mouth, I’m thinking, CRAP!

Now that my son is 13, him being grounded means me being grounded too. Once they are that old, they know how to sneak around and do what they aren’t supposed to be doing. But I can assure you that the more consistent you are now, the easier it gets later.

One thought- if he is doing this for attention, maybe the teacher could have just ignored the glove? If he didn’t get the reaction that he was expecting, chances are his hand would have gotten hot, and he would have taken it off himself. Obviously, pretending to be hurt requires attention in some fashion, but if you are able to ignore the things that don’t really make a difference, except to you, he might back off a little on the behavior. I hope you are able to figure things out- I know how draining it can be when you’re trying to figure these little guys out!! :heart:

It sounds like he may be a bit young developmentally–not a big deal, growing up happens in it’s own time. I agree to ignore the negative behaviors as much as possible, but also lavishly praise the good, appropriate behaviors. If he complains about not feeling well in school, tell the teacher to push the trash can near him in case he needs to throw up and leave it at that. If he ‘can’t’ do the work in school, have her send it home. It has to be done, but on his time.

When he takes responsibility for something, or spends a ‘good’ day, you can either praise him or put a star on a chart to aim for a reward. Have the teach fill out a notebook each day to track his progress.

If he gets a sit-down talk about his attention seeking behaviors, he’s still getting what he wants. Maybe his reward for filling the chart is dinner out with just mom, or something where he gets undivided attention.

Like other people have said, ignore the attention-seeking behaviour, but go overboard with the praise when he’s not attention-seeking. I teach 13-15 year olds and still have these problems at their ages! Another thing that often works in the classroom is if the teacher praises the person sitting next to him, quite often the child will fall into line to get a bit of the ‘good attention’ too. If the only attention he gets is for his undesirable behaviour, then he’ll keep doing it because, lets face it, for a child negative attention is often better than no attention at all.

Punishment and consequences are a likely outcome for behaving outside of societal norms for all adults. Children who are not familiar with this concept have a hard time making the adjustment to adulthood. Police, bosses and spouses are not going to “overlook” or “ignore” bad behavior and wait for good behavior.

I understand the concept of not feeding into a child’s desire for attention. That is why punishments and consequences should be completely without emotion. Eventually, children progress from attention seeking behavior to other behaviors that are more, for lack of a better word, sinister. This is the normal progression for children who are seeking limits and structure. Kids are so much more intelligent and cunning than we give them credit for. They will soon figure out that people don’t pay attention to them when they are doing the wrong thing. And as kids get older, they bank on this concept. I see it again and again.

I have many children for whom the entire idea of being punished FOR ANYTHING is completely foreign. Imagine what a shock they will have when they get into the real world and people actually expect something of them!

I think you need to pick your battles with kids. For the teacher to make
so much fuss over his wearing a glove he must be being observed for any
little sign of “bad” behaviour. The danger in this is that he will be labled and other kids will pick up on it and he could become a scapegoat for any
thing that happens in class. He will even come to believe that is his role.
It is easy to get into a downward spiral with kids when they start misbehaving but it is really important to catch them being “good” as well and to describe the behaviour rather than labeling them. I hope too that people aren’t talking about him when he or other kids are present as they pick up alot more than we think.

Maybe he could be given little jobs to do that will give him the reward of
positive attention and distract him from more negative behaviours. Anyway he sounds like he has a great imagination and life won’t be boring with him around.

DH talked to Noah last night and evidently he thought the one green glove made him a “superhero” and he wanted to wear it to school. When his teacher questioned him, he said he thought she would make him take it off, so he told her that I wanted him to wear it. I really think that if he had told her he why he wanted to wear it, it wouldn’t have been an issue, but since he lied, it became a bigger deal than it should have been. Anyway, during the talk, it came out that Noah thinks we yell at him a lot. I can see it. When I ask them to do something, and they just get louder to hear themselves over my talking, then my instinct is to get louder, to be heard over them. So my goal is to be consistent with the punishment, but to also pick my battles because I know half the stuff that I get mad at him for doing, really isn’t a huge deal, AND to cut down on the yelling. We’ll see if any of this works. Thanks for the suggestions and comments. It has really made me think.

When my grandson went through this at 5, my daughter was beside herself. He did not fully understand he was lying. Her husband finally had a talk with him and told him they loved his “stories”, but he could only tell pretend things after he said, “This is pretend.” It worked for him and he soon learned the difference between real and pretend. Their pretend world is so much fun I think they just stay there longer than they should. Now and again, when he starts to tell us about the fireman who slept at his house and ate all his cereal we have to ask him if this story is real or pretend. He now will stop, think and tell us it’s pretend.



Sounds like my 3 year old girl. She gets attention anyway she can. Mostlty by changing clothes all day.

I love Ingrids idea about pushing the trash can near him in class. I agree get practical. Also my little girl has responded to lots of positive attention, not for anything specific just for her existence. She needs to know she is special amongst her siblings and being replaced as the baby, I need to remember to give her more. My “school” this summer is to teach myself and my kids to keep our intentions and have good intentions in our speech. Big job.

Someone, was it Carmen mentioned follow through. Gosh is that hard. I suppose because it is so pivotal. With my son I have learned that I have to “stop everything” and get on his level and look into his eyes and request what I need him to do. Now we are getting to the point where I tell him and just expect he does it.

To show you how little things are different for everyone, my son is autistic. One of the hardest concepts for autistic kids to learn is that their thoughts are completely autonomous. Many kids like this think that everyone knows what is going on in their brain, like an open book. So when autistic kids lie, it is a huge developmental leap that show they are learning more about how their brain and body work.

When my son started lying, we really had to hide our glee! Of course you worry about lying like anything else, but there was a little part of us that was so happy!