How to handle discipline at school

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    • #49707

      Good Morning! I need advice. We are new to the “official” diagnosis of ADHD and ODD for my 8 year old son, although we knew from the time he was small. We have started 2 mg of Guanfacine ER, which had great effects at the beginning, I’m not sure that we’re on the correct dosage right now, but my husband is adamant we will not increase it (sorry for the run-on sentence). So, we haven’t had any issues at school since starting meds (6+ weeks ago). But, last week my son had a fieldtrip, in which he received a major write up for being disrespectful, moving a chair he had to sit in, moving a table he was told to sit by and other smaller issues. This wasn’t a huge issue for him, however when they returned to school there was an “incident” in the hallway on the way to lunch. The teacher states he swung at her. This has happened before where he is swinging his arm down or pretending to punch her. He has never hit his teacher. But, this triggered a long standoff in the hallway with the Principal, an in school suspension for the remainder of the day, and taking away the last fieldtrip of the year.

      I agree his behavior was wrong, but my struggle is that I feel like once he is “set off” he cannot control himself. Almost like an out of body experience. When the next fieldtrip comes, he will refuse to get on the bus and probably get in a ton of trouble at school to “punish” the school. He’s a good, sweet kid when he is in control. But, I don’t’ think he ate breakfast, which can cause these triggers. We are usually really good at making sure he gets enough breakfast. He has an IEP for speech, but the ADHD and ODD are not mentioned in it.

      I need advice on how to approach all of this with the school. I think I need a specific behavior plan in his IEP for these instances, because the school is not recognizing that this is not in his control. (I will note there is another student with ADHD/Mood disorder that they do recognize.) I also feel that the teacher is poking at him and watching his every move, which irritates him (and me). How do I handle the upcoming fieldtrip? I am unsure how to address everything… I really appreciate your help!!

    • #49713
      Penny Williams

      You said, “I agree his behavior was wrong, but my struggle is that I feel like once he is “set off” he cannot control himself…” You are right, his behavior was probably not in his control after a certain point. But, the discussion can’t stop there. He still has to learn to interact with peers and adults appropriately.

      My son hit everyone for every little infraction his 2nd grade year, even if he felt that student wronged another student, having nothing to do with him. It was the only reaction he knew to anger and frustration. We applied a behavior modification system to the problem and, after 6-8 months and a lot of consistency, the behavior never happened again (that was 7 years ago). Here’s a detailed account of how we did this:

      “How I Helped My Son Stop Hitting Classmates”

      Here are more strategies for stopping hitting:

      When “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” Doesn’t Work

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #49985

      You are right. Breakfast can make a huge difference as well as a good nights sleep. And, the excitement or anxiety of a field trip may have wiped out the sleep option.
      So obviously, you do things a bit differently next time.
      I agree with the above. Another thing to try is a set of books aimed at the 4 to 7 age group that will still work with him. They are meant to be read aloud, many times. They will give you a vocabulary set and a set of actions that can be practiced and/or talked about. Two good examples are:
      Cool down and work through anger –
      Hands are not for hitting –

    • #50005

      If all the above does not work, Google ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. It often occurs together. And bipolar is a spectrum disorder. Not much talked about but you can find it under DrJames Phelps a psychiatrist who has some online information. He publishes the bipolarsection for Psychiatric Times and recently published a book, Bipolar Not So Much. Also information through Pubmed. It is generally said that bipolar starts around age 26 , but some stsrt showing symptoms at 50 years. Why not younger? Look at the symptoms – from a good medical source- and decide.

    • #50056

      We went through a very similar situation in second grade. We started counseling with a psychologist who specializes in behavior modification. She recommended a book called The Whole Brain Child and its companion book No Drama Discipline. Things got better almost immediately. I highly recommend a good counselor coupled with the wisdom found in Dr. Seigel’s books. Hang in there, mama, you got this! I also would respectfully disagree with the suggestion that you consider Bipolar disorder. I think 8 years old is far too young to consider a diagnosis such as that. But a good psychologist will do wonders to help you navigate this difficult time.

      • #50264
        Penny Williams

        I’m reading The Whole Brain Child right now, and loving it. Really great information for parents raising kids with ADHD. Next up is Seigel’s No Drama Discipline.

    • #52573

      I know the school year is over, and hope that next year is different for you and your son, but I wanted to comment on a couple of things. My son also felt like his teacher was always on him – and I felt the same way. His behavior chart that came home every day often had notes that I considered very negative and overly picky — like if his goal was to not make noises in class (a big struggle for him), if he made one noise there would be a comment about it, but on the days that he didn’t make noises at all, she didn’t acknowledge what a big deal that was for him. I noticed that when I began directly checking in with her and communicating often (almost daily via email), this shifted — she began to acknowledge the successes as well as the difficulties.

      I would also definitely suggest getting his ADHD/ODD acknowledged in his IEP, with specific goals around it.

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