10-Year-Old Not Getting the Message


My ten-year-old son has recently been misbehaving at school with a friend. First, the teacher informed us that after the class was told not to play hide and seek inside the school building during lunch, he and his friend did so. The most recent offense was that he and a friend were throwing other children's lunchboxes from the trolley, one of which hit a child.

It's disappointing that he did this after promising not to misbehave at school. We've also been teaching him about the power of choices and how choices have consequences, but it appears that he hasn't grasped this concept well enough.

Could you give us some pointers on how to handle this, so that such don't happen again?

Thank you!


Thank you for reaching out to Parent Guru. The misbehavior you describe should not be occurring and needs to stop. First, your son openly defied the teacher's instructions. Second, he participated in throwing lunchboxes, one of which hit a child (his most "recent" offence). Third, you state that your son broke a promise that he made to you - "not to misbehave at school."

You are quite right that your son has not grasped what you have been trying to teach him. Clearly, he does not view you (or his teacher) as an authoritative leader who is to be listened to and respected. The situation will only change when your son's view of authority changes. For this to happen, the consequences for his disobedience must be highly meaningful and impactful to HIM. Time to up the ante!

Given his repeated defiance, I suggest that consequences be put in place for no less than 14-21 days. Inform your son that for the allotted time period, he is to come directly home from school and go straight to his room. There will be no visitations with friends and no access to TV, phone or other electronic devices. In addition, he is to retire to bed (lights out) an hour earlier than his usual bedtime (or whatever time you set). The same rules should apply on weekends. Basically, he will only be allowed to go where you require him to go (ex: church, family functions, appointments...). If, at any point, he does not abide by the guidelines, the time period starts all over again.

Your son has not been effectively held accountable for his poor choices. As John says, the punishment should never fit the crime. If the crime rates a '3' on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most severe, the punishment should be about a '7'. In other words, in order for consequences to produce the desired results, they must get a child's attention in a BIG way. No pain, no gain.

Well behaved children are happier children. Here's to happier days ahead!

Sharon Lamberth
Certified Leadership Parent Coach

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