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    #246100 - 09/20/19 11:24 AM Kindergarten and naughty behavior
    millersb02 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/16/19
    Posts: 6
    Hi!

    My son is 5 and has started kindergarten at our public school. He's been there about a month. He has many traits of being gifted… but, I haven't had him tested.

    He's doing an excellent job with skills and completing work. Holding his pencil, using scissors, completing math and reading assignments, following teacher's directions on academics. He will literally get all of the answers correct on an assignment. Because I've worked with him at home, I know that his abilities are far greater than what's being asked of him at school. Math seems especially below his ability.

    Behavior-wise, he comes home with a note about 2x per week that he's hit someone or pokes someone. Or generally physically touches or intends to hurt another child. He also "tests" the teacher and the rules. Sometimes chooses to ignore directions. Most of this is happening in between instruction time (moving in line from one thing to the next, recess, etc).

    This doesn't surprise me. We had similar experience on a short stint in preschool. And this is a lot like how he is at home also.

    My question for all of you who know gifted kids: Is this a gifted thing? Or is this my kid's thing?

    Also... I've been talking to my child's teacher. I've explained his abilities to her and she knows that he can do more. I think she's starting to see it too.

    But, she wants him to work on following behavior and procedure expectations before we work on increasing challenge. I understand those things are important. My big hang-up is… would he be doing better with behavior if he was more challenged? Also, I don't know that he will ever have perfect behavior. He has always tested rules. Always and with persistence. I don't see that going away.

    If anyone can point me to an article or data that suggests that more challenge can help with behavior, it would be helpful as I try my hand at advocacy.

    Thank you parents who have had very smart 5 year olds before me - Solidarity!

    -Sarah

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    #246113 - 09/23/19 07:06 PM Re: Kindergarten and naughty behavior [Re: millersb02]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3448
    Nice to hear from you again!

    It is difficult to tell from the available information if his behavior is an expression of underchallenge (in which case it would be more like "a gifted thing"--although not a phenomenon restricted to GT learners; most students get a bit antsy when instructed below their zone of proximal development), or reflective of his general pattern of interaction with his environment.

    You describe the same behavior at home, where presumably you can tune his level of challenge, which suggests that the behavior is not principally originating from lack of challenge, in which case the teacher's approach has some validity to it. Yet it's also true that underchallenge tends to amplify behavioral difficulties. My concern, though, would be first with your reports of intent to hurt another child. From this distance, one doesn't know whether that is truly his intent, but if it is, it can't be written off as "a gifted thing", and certainly not as just part of who he is. (Although to begin with, I wouldn't immediately assume that it truly is intentional, especially in a five-year-old. It could be helpful to have some clarity on what observations led to this conclusion.)

    I would prefer to see both instructional level and behavioral expectations worked on at the same time (but not linked as a reward/consequence). In both cases, the idea is that he is capable of more, and can reasonably be offered the opportunity and support to excel.


    Edited by aeh (09/23/19 07:14 PM)

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    #246115 - 09/24/19 07:04 AM Re: Kindergarten and naughty behavior [Re: millersb02]
    onemom13 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 09/26/17
    Posts: 6
    The thing is, if someone doesn't like how you are touching them, you have to stop. It doesn't matter if you're bored, if you're having a hard day, or if you've always tested rules. The other kids have a right to feel safe in their classroom.

    At 5, this type of behavior is something a lot of kids are working on, and strategies that work for one child may be more or less effective for another. You describe a situation where the behaviors are showing up during transitions and other less structure times (recess), not during instruction time. Even if the teacher is able to meet his learning needs, transitions will still happen during the day. Developing strategies to help him have safe, expected behavior during those times sounds reasonable. This doesn't have to be done *instead* of meeting his other learning needs.

    Kids don't feel good about themselves when they are hurting their peers, so working with the teacher to meet his social, emotional, and behavioral needs, along with his academic ones, could be really important in working toward a positive school experience.


    Edited by onemom13 (09/24/19 07:05 AM)

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    #246116 - 09/24/19 11:41 AM Re: Kindergarten and naughty behavior [Re: millersb02]
    millersb02 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/16/19
    Posts: 6
    Thanks… I think your observations are making me think about this a little deeper.

    He does need more challenging work. But there's more to it:

    He also has a very strong desire/need for constant mental stimulation. With hitting/poking, I suspect he wants the stimulation of a reaction from the other child or the reaction of the teacher. He also loves to test, tinker and debate about the rules that are in place. That gives him mental stimulation.

    At home, he listens to a lot of audio books. He he is generally always building something with knex or legos. Drawing, mazes, games, etc. We discuss whatever he's interested in - right now it's greek mythology. If I'm having troubles with him testing the rules that are in place, I make sure he knows that it's a rule. I shut down the argument as best as I can. And then I redirect him to some of this self-serve mental stimulation.

    I'm not sure how to translate self-serve mental stimulation to transitions/waiting at school… I was hoping that he would come up with some sort of coping mechanism. Day dreaming. Writing stories in his head. Thinking about a book he's into. Something. (Anyone have ideas??)

    He is also impulsive. But, I wonder if it's really strategic. If he wants to squeeze the whole tube of toothpaste out into the sink, he will. He knows he will get into trouble, but he still makes the choice. Basically, he thinks it's worth the penalty. But, he's not one to make an impulsive choice that would put himself in harms way (run out in the street, jump off of something very high, etc). And he's great at the sort of stuff that's supposed to help kids improve self control - like simon says, red light/green light. He will decide on his own to save a treat until the end of a meal. So at least in some aspects, he has control.

    Impulsivity can be a developmental (he is 5 after all). But he is thinking about his actions and making decisions, so is it really impulsivity? Or just defiant decisions?

    I'm sort of rambling and thinking as I go… any additional feedback would be helpful. Thanks!

    -Sarah

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    #246117 - 09/24/19 12:04 PM Re: Kindergarten and naughty behavior [Re: aeh]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4139
    You've received GREAT advice above.

    I just want to emphasize two points:
    1.
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    You describe the same behavior at home, where presumably you can tune his level of challenge, which suggests that the behavior is not principally originating from lack of challenge...

    2.
    Originally Posted By: onemom13
    The thing is, if someone doesn't like how you are touching them, you have to stop. It doesn't matter if you're bored, if you're having a hard day, or if you've always tested rules. The other kids have a right to feel safe in their classroom.


    Are you working with him at home to reinforce that it does NOT matter whether he "feels like" touching someone or "wants to" poke someone... he must repeat to himself the rules about not violating personal boundaries and he must make his hands (and feet and other body parts) to obey those rules.

    Having clear consequences which are known proactively and which have consistent enforcement and follow-through often help.

    Unwanted bodily contact can quickly be interpreted as assault, sexual assault, or as carrying perceived overtones of racial/ethnic/cultural inequality.

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    #246120 - 09/24/19 05:38 PM Re: Kindergarten and naughty behavior [Re: millersb02]
    SiaSL Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/11/10
    Posts: 313
    So... I have no clue if this is relevant or not. Considering the comment about the short stint in preschool it might be...

    At that age a child who is feeling overwhelmed in his/her environment, and especially with (harder to predict) peers, especially during unstructured time, might react by making sure said peers back off. A surefire way to make other kids back off and leave you alone is to hurt them (possibly preemptively). It is a maladaptive behavior. But it works, and all the lecturing about rules and most of the usual consequences (starting with time outs!) will not work as long as they get what they were looking for (more space and less anxiety).

    Working on identifying triggers and teaching the child how to 1) figure out they are getting overwhelmed and 2) extract themselves from the situation before they blow up is the only way to fix the problem. This needs to be explicitly taught (and scaffolded).

    Also +1 on both "see both instructional level and behavioral expectations worked on at the same time (but not linked as a reward/consequence)" and "This doesn't have to be done *instead* of meeting his other learning needs."

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    #246121 - 09/24/19 06:37 PM Re: Kindergarten and naughty behavior [Re: SiaSL]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4139
    Great insight, SiaSL!

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    #246126 - 09/28/19 04:06 AM Re: Kindergarten and naughty behavior [Re: SiaSL]
    madeinuk Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/18/13
    Posts: 1439
    Loc: NJ
    Originally Posted By: SiaSL

    Working on identifying triggers and teaching the child how to 1) figure out they are getting overwhelmed and 2) extract themselves from the situation before they blow up is the only way to fix the problem. This needs to be explicitly taught (and scaffolded).


    The above ^^^^ is an absolute gem.

    Mastering the above is an Important life skill particularly for some GT people due to the intensity with which the experience the world.
    _________________________
    Become what you are

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    #246127 - 09/28/19 04:06 AM Re: Kindergarten and naughty behavior [Re: madeinuk]
    madeinuk Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/18/13
    Posts: 1439
    Loc: NJ
    Originally Posted By: madeinuk
    Originally Posted By: SiaSL

    Working on identifying triggers and teaching the child how to 1) figure out they are getting overwhelmed and 2) extract themselves from the situation before they blow up is the only way to fix the problem. This needs to be explicitly taught (and scaffolded).


    The above ^^^^ is an absolute gem.

    Mastering the above is an Important life skill particularly for some GT people due to the intensity with which they experience the world.
    _________________________
    Become what you are

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    #246180 - 10/07/19 12:03 PM Re: Kindergarten and naughty behavior [Re: SiaSL]
    millersb02 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/16/19
    Posts: 6
    Yes. This seems the most close to what I'm trying to get at. I think this is it. And I'm going to write down how you expressed this and take it with me the next time I need to meet with the teacher!

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