Meshing At-Home and At-School Discipline


"My 6-year-old is frequently kept after school for infractions like not sitting still during 'circle time.' At home, he gets time-outs as punishment, and we don't have significant behavior problems. How can we help?"


Meet with the teacher and brainstorm ways to provide an outlet for your son's energy. Perhaps he could run an errand for the teacher right before circle time. Or, if he sits still and doesn't interrupt during the first half of circle time, perhaps he could have a special job during the second half.

Role-play circle time at home to make sure your son understands "appropriate" behavior and the benefits of participating in the activity. First, have him talk loudly and get out of his seat. Explain that this disturbs the group. Then, when he's quiet and sits still, read him a favorite story.

Be sure to tell the teacher what works for you at home. A time-out is a clear, immediate consequence, but it's harder for an ADD child to link being kept after school with misbehavior that occurred much earlier in the day.

Ask the teacher to develop a list of expectations and related consequences. For example, if your son cannot sit on the carpet during circle time, he's required to sit on a chair set back from the group. This way, he can still see and hear the lesson, but he is removed from the group. Be sure that your son does not see the consequences as rewards. If he likes to sit on the chair, he might act out on purpose.

Karen Sunderhaft is a teacher who has focused on ADHD and learning disabilities since 1999. She coaches individual students and speaks frequently at ADHD and LD events. She can be reached at
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