Going on a Bear Hunt

Listing to a talk radio show, apparently there was some issue in the local news last week with some local schoolkids beating up two adults after school one day. For about an hour, I listed to the radio host and his callers essentially saying the same thing over and over “it comes down to parental responsibility.” Yes, it does.

Then one caller said something along the lines of “when a kid gets into trouble at school, the parents need to be getting the kid into trouble at home, not calling the teacher to ask what the school did to make them upset.”

Well…

It’s easy to just punish a child who is showing poor behavior. But is the poor behavior really ever the problem? No. Usually poor behavior is a symptom, and then it becomes the parents’ job to, essentially, go on a bear hunt to figure out what is CAUSING the bad behavior. So if the poor behavior takes place at school, it is perfectly reasonable for a parent, using tact and politeness, to try to find out what is going on at school that might be triggering the behavior. Hopefully, a parent and teacher could work together as a team in this effort.

Lately, Wally’s been having some trouble on Wednesdays and Thursdays with behavior. Wednesday, after we finish our school day, we head out to the Glanns to help out on the farm, and then our two families have dinner together. We don’t have any good spots for a vegetable garden (shady and walnut trees), and Abby’s place is just bursting with good garden spots, so she grows our food and we go help. By the time evening rolls around, he has a lot of trouble with that old out of control feeling that he used to struggle with a lot. We’ve made it clear to him that his choices regarding behavior are not acceptable ones, but at the same time, I can recognize that there’s something else going on there. I’ve been pondering over this for a while, and after reading (and writing) about introversion, I started talking to him about whether it’s hard for him to be around other people for that long of a time. After a little bit of discussion, he said that having to get along with other people that intenesely (not his word) for so many hours just kind of stressed him out. I think he said it made him really tired, but not in his body. Fair enough.

We’ve figured out a solution that he thinks might help. We’ll give it a try for a few weeks and see how it goes.

But, clearly, just punishing him for exhibiting some poor behavior choices is not really going to solve the problem long term. It’s not going to help him develop coping strategies. It’s not going to help him learn to do some problem-solving. All it is going to do is make him feel bad without actually solving the problem.

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