Then it started.
I was called aside by a teacher who told me that Connor was very disruptive. He was constantly on the move and would refuse to obey anything she said. The surprise on my face must have told her his behaviour was out of the ordinary. Connor is generally a good, calm boy at home. He has his moments when he has meltdowns and gets hyper-excited but by and large, he's quite easy.
I had a sit-down talk with Connor about it and he seemed fine again at school for a few days. But then, the bad behaviour started again. It was also spilling over into his behaviour at home. I found him increasingly rude and hysterical at home. It got to a point where I was having chats with his teachers every week about his behaviour.
Finally, I got The Call. It was from the headmistress herself. He had been sent to her as he had been Really Naughty that day. I almost fainted. In all my years at school, I had never even been sent to detention, let alone been sent to the head. My son, who had been at school for barely two month, had been there, done that.
She told me that he had been very disruptive from Day One but today was his worst. He had told teacher that he didn't like school and wanted to go home. When she said he couldn't, he started screaming and hitting other children. That was when she decided he had to go to the head. When the head asked him why he was behaving like that, my son explained that he thought if he behaved badly enough, they might let him go home.
I was gobsmacked. One - that my usually good natured son would behave so. Two - that he was actually clever enough to hatch up a plot.
Something had to be done.
That night, we let Connor know how terribly disappointed and sad we were with his behaviour. After many, many questions, it finally came out that Connor thought school was an option and that he could quit it any time he wanted to come home and play with his toys. I told him firmly that it wasn't and if he'd escaped from school and walked home himself, I would march him back into school.
We also decided to implement the same reward system that school was using. Connor lost all his iPad and tv privileges immediately. Good behaviour was rewarded with stamps and he would have to collect 10 stamps to redeem one hour of iPad/tv time. If he behaved badly, he would be cautioned up to a max of 3 times before being sent to stand in a corner where he had to stay and think about his actions.
When Connor realised that school wasn't an option and that all the adults were on the same side, guess what? His behaviour improved immediately. Teacher reported that he stopped throwing tantrums in class. He started listening more attentively. Work improved.
And one day, my son came home proudly waving this.
Connor's certificate for good behaviour
We were so proud of him! I pinned that up in the kitchen and we all celebrated that night.
I was so relieved. For a moment, I thought I was raising a juvenile delinquent. You can't imagine how stressed out I'd been, wondering if this would impact his chances of an Oxbridge education some 10+ years from now. Sorry... I like planning ahead. Hee...
There were a few things I noticed about this experience. One was that he responded when all the adults were consistent in their behaviour and in setting the rules. Once he knew he couldn't manipulate any adult, he stopped doing so.
Two was I noticed his behaviour improved when I limited his iPad and tv time. In the summer, he had been allowed the iPad. He was on his last holidays before proper school, I was stressed out trying with Anders and other family matters and I have to admit I let him play more than he should have. When he had unlimited iPad access, his behaviour deteriorated.
Thirdly, owing to the peculiarities of the Scottish school system, Connor entered P1 aged 4.5 years. Some of his classmates were 6+ years old. At this age, the gap of almost 2 years is telling. It shows in the thinking and behaviour of the children. Although Connor was behaving badly, I felt that his age and relative immaturity had to be taken into account.
He has since settled in well. I don't get called aside regularly by the teachers anymore. We still continue with the system of rewards and time-outs at home as it's still working for us.
With time, maybe he'll earn another certificate and we can pin that one up too.