Friday, November 4, 2011

There is no crying in parent/teacher conferences

Earlier this week we met with Ben's teacher for a scheduled 1st quarter conference. Bill and I have both had the chance to meet his teacher, volunteer both in the classroom and on a recent field trip. We both really like her classroom methods and feel she's a good fit with Ben's personality. In particular she seems to have a never ending bag of tricks.

In the past weeks a month long streak of overall better behavior was broken by first hitting someone at recess last Friday and then on Tuesday, hitting in PE. Everyday has felt like a return to the daily pick-up walk of shame. Needless to say we have been in lockdown mode for a large part of this week with early bedtime, no Halloween candy, no tv, and several serious meetings. I felt as small as possible watching him sign his name to an incident report.

I'm needing the longest child-free weekend ever about now. Instead I'm going to settle that I'm not traveling to SC this weekend to deal with on going issues with Estate Probate, I'm caught up with all grading, I'm going to the Raleigh Jr. League Christmas Show, and the weather looks great to be outside.

Overall the majority of the conference covered that Ben is testing and working on average. His teacher gave us some ideas on additional things we can work on at home to help with penmanship, reading, and counting. Most of his homework is completed as part of his Friday take home bag and she wants us to add 10-15 mins if possible nightly.

Her take on Ben is that he is very capable, interested in learning, but also very quick to give up when challenged with new situations or ones that he comes bored with easily. Part of me knows that Ben is a typical, very active 5 year old boy with the attention span of a gnat. Bill and I often see the same attitude of giving up when challenged at home. We also are in the middle of whole new level defiance played out in multiple ways.

At this point due to the hitting and Ben's apathetic attitude afterwards we agreed that we needed to try a behavior contract. I am all too familiar with behavior contracts on the high school level. I have spent a large part of this week making those before the report card arrival calls. I also know that when you can create buy-in that you can change the outcome. We are talking over some new strategies at home and a new reward system that will parallel a daily check in with the behavior contract.

My biggest concern is the growing feeling that Ben identifies himself as a bad kid. His first words most days at pick up is if he had or didn't have time out. I try to meet him with a big hug and immediately tell him I'm really happy to see him and that's let talk in the car about all the good and also better choices we could have made. Just hearing how he talks about himself, it's completely in terms of being bad vs good.

I have no real words of wisdom or even that I feel I need to be doing anything differently that we already are. As much as I wish I could write a rosy,
Ben is doing fabulous and one step away from permanent accolades as a start student to be bumperstickered to my car, I'm also going to be totally honest that too many days than not, we are struggling to give it our parenting best and it has to be enough.


Goddess in Progress said...

It's so exhausting, isn't it? While we aren't dealing with exactly the same things, I also struggle with worrying about Daniel self-identifying as a "bad" kid. It's only a small comfort to know that it's developmentally appropriate for a 5-year-old to see things in such black & white terms - I'm either good or bad, etc. But still, it's a dagger through the parental heart.

I hope the behavioral contract makes for a good buy-in and turnaround.

Beth said...

Ugh--I'm a little late to this party, but I just fininshed reading How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk and there's a section in there on labeling and how quickly labels get bought into by kids. I hadn't really thought much about it before. I'm not saying go out and read the book though. I don't know of anyone who will ever feel good about their parenting after reading a parenting book! Hang in there sista. Our P-T conferences got postponed because William's K teacher resigned. Something about a DUI. But that's a whole 'nuther story!