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Behavior & Learning in School/Sharing Behavioral Information with Other Parents


Hi Mrs. Cunningham,

I need your opinion on a concern I have with my son.  First I will give you some background.  He has been a bit of a handful since he was a toddler, behaves like he was shot of a cannon, fidgeting, often doesn't follow through on tasks, impulsive and can be a bit intrusive as well.  Our doctor is expressing the possibility of ADHD and we will be meeting with a child psychiatrist in a week.  

Now here's my problem.  My son has a same age friend in our neighborhood, who is also in his same class as well  They always enjoy playing with each other and I have never seen any mistreatment on either side.  However, a week ago his parents confronted me saying their parent teacher conference was spent entirely talking about my son.  It was said that my son is a bully because he ate the other boys one starburst, that he has touched things in the other boys desk, and the teacher recommended they should beware of the friendship outside of school as well.  The part that boggles my mind is I had my conference as well and was not told this information other than the touching things in kids desks and we put a plan of action into effect.  The parents of the other boy, based on this info, have now forbidden my son to come to their home, their son is no longer allowed at mine, she contacted the bus company saying they are not allowed to sit together...etc.  The bus company is not enforcing it, so now the other boy is kicking and punching my son to make him move to another seat (he simply wants to sit with his friend) and has been announcing in front of all the other children that my son can't sit by him or come over to play anymore.  This is very hurtful to a little 6 yr old.

My question is this....are teachers allowed to speak to other parents about my child and not intentionally try to destroy his friendships outside of school.  The way I feel now, what will stop her from telling other parents to not let their kid play with my son.  I feel its defamation of character.  We plan to go in and speak to the teacher, but we are unsure if we should involve the principal as well.   What are your thoughts on this?

Hi Kathryn,
First off, I donít know what type of school this is, public or private, but in a public school I believe the conversation your sonís teacher had with the other parents is against the law or at least against school policy.
I would go straight to the principal as I donít think that confronting the teacher would do any good, if she did all of that in the first place she hasnít a clue.  I would say that this is the behavior of either a very new teacher, and being ignorant or a very bad one who does not care.  
But getting to your son, though you did not ask, before you go through the rigmarole of the school system and get labels slapped on him that will follow him his whole school life, check his diet.  Is he getting plenty of whole grains, as in brown rice and in his breads?  Does he eat fresh fruits and vegetables.  I have seen childrenís behavior dramatically change after the diet was changed.  Have you cut all junk foods from his life? Have you reduced his TV/video time to one hour per day?  Do you work jigsaw puzzles with him and paint and draw with him at the table?  Does he have plenty of responsibilities around the house and does he know how to keep his room very neat and clean?  All of these things will affect his behavior for better or for worse depending on your answers.
You canít ďmakeĒ the other parent change her mind, and this part is very sad, but you can so improve your sonís behavior that he will be a shining star and all the classroom will want to play with him.  You canít force it, but as you work on the things that I mentioned he will blossom and change and attract the right playmates to him.  
Whatever you do, donít let him hear you talking about this.  It will make him feel like a victim and then he will act like oneódefensive over everything.  You must be ďaboveĒ it and teach him to do the same.  If you must, tell him that heís not allowed to sit by this boy or anyone else who treats him mean.  I taught my students to feel sorry for bullies, that they didnít like themselves and told them that most likely someone is bullying them, maybe even at home and thatís how they learn it.  It made them very aware of the situation and helped them a lot.  No one wanted to be a bully when they heard that.
I offer a lot of advice and some good other information about getting the most out of your children and students at my website,   My beginning reading textbook is also a free download, click on   e-Book  to preview it and just download the pages that you want him to practice reading.  
Iíd like to know what happens if you have time to respond.  Please try my suggestions.  You will see some immediate change after he eats the brown rice; itís good for the nervous system.  But be grateful for every little bit of progress you see as most will be gradual and take some time.  I saw some immediate change after I gave two very active boys yellow bell pepper spread with cream cheese.  They told me that it was the best day of their lives.
Marsha Cunningham

Behavior & Learning in School

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Marsha Cunningham


I counseled my students everyday about what to do if they got bullied, called names or felt depressed. I explained what these things do to our confidence and ability to learn.


We used drama to play act, on the spot, most adverse situations so that they could understand my explanations and practice correct behavior, and see what it felt like to be assertive toward bullies, or how it felt to be bullied.

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