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My Son's Behavioral Challenges in the Classroom

Updated on September 1, 2015
Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb is a Community Support Social Service Worker, published author, jewellery designer and single mother extraordinaire.

Big red label!
Big red label! | Source

I wish I knew then what I know now...

In a previous hub, "Living With an ADHD/ODD Child, I introduced you to my son, who has ADHD/ODD, Anxiety Disorder, and some Post Traumatic Stress.

When my son attended preschool, I asked his teachers if he exhibited any signs of Attention Deficit, as I was having a difficult time getting him to stay on task at home with things like keeping his room tidy, getting dressed without supervision, eating, brushing his teeth....all normal things that involved giving a directive and having the child follow through with it.

When he finally made the step from preschool to kindergarten I thought my worst challenges were behind me. I had no idea how wrong I was.

Happy boy!
Happy boy! | Source

The journey begins...

Although my son's preschool teachers were tested daily to find activities to keep him engaged in class, I was repeatedly assured that no, my son did not have any problems.The only issue that continued to persist was his refusal to sit in a circle with the rest of the children for 'listening time'. Then he started kindergarten....

Within a week of attending class, my son's teacher called me aside and suggested that I put him on medication. I was stunned! That was not what I was expecting to hear! My son couldn't be that bad! I knew it was a challenge at home, but these were professionals. I didn't realize I was in denial.

I kept in constant communication with his teacher, checking his progress to see if there were any improvements.

Unfortunately, there weren't. Not only was he having trouble concentrating in class,he was starting to show signs of behavioral issues at recess and lunch. It became a daily routine to speak with his teacher after class to see how he behaved each day.

October came and with it his first field trip. I was rewarded at the end of his day with a decent report...he hadn't been very enthusiastic, but had listened fairly well to instructions, and there had been no problems. I was told however, that it would be appreciated if I could attend the next field trip as they felt he would respond better to me while away from the classroom.That information didn't seem to fit with the report, but I remained hopeful.

Back to school...
Back to school... | Source

More bad news

Shortly after the fieldtrip, my son received his first suspension for hitting his teacher. Of course, the principal was involved, and I was gently berated for my son's behaviour (as only a principal can do,) and I assured him I would deal with the situation at home as well.

However, at home I was noticing that not only was I having to repeat directions several times, my son was refusing to comply. At times it seemed he deliberately ignored whatever I was saying. I had to physically help him complete the task, whether it was getting dressed, cleaning his room, brushing his teeth, or sitting at the table to eat.

At the school, my son's teacher suggested that I contact a pediatrician or community services to help with my son. I reluctantly took her advise and signed up for a parenting class that dealt with 'Difficult /ADD/ADHD Children'. The very first class I attended, we were shown a video showing the difference between an ADHD child without medication, and the same child with medication. I knew at that point my son fit the model of the child without meds.


My son received his second suspension right before his first Christmas concert. This time it was for choking another student in his class. I was appalled! I could not believe that my son was capable of this behavior. Again the principal was involved, and of course, I was again scolded, this time a bit more forcefully, as if his outbursts were the result of poor parenting, and my son was not allowed to participate in the concert.

I was devastated. Instead of settling in and making friends, my son's behavior was escalating. His first milestone that should have been a joy was instead a heartbreak.

I completed the parenting course, and armed with a 4" binder full of notes, handouts and photocopied psychology texts, I was now considered educated and capable of retraining and supporting my son, however, as I was to discover, I was far from educated.

Following that incident, a community child care worker, who counselled children in the school was called in to work with my son. That seemed to help, and although there were still issues, he finished the school year and passed into grade 1. I couldn't help but feel as if his teacher breathed a sigh of relief as we left the classroom for the last time.

I was determined to work with my son to help him be successful at home and in school, without medication. I was still in denial and didn't want to take that final step. To me it was admitting defeat, and it carried the stigma of "horrible parent" that blazed like a flashing neon sign. However, regardless of my new found 'education' my son was not responding to my efforts to help keep him on task.

Grade 1 started off on a fairly positive note as the teacher was more experienced in dealing with children who required more attention, and we discussed my son's progress at the end of each day. This seemed to work fairly well, and my son was progressing, allbeit reluctantly.

Hang on for dear life!
Hang on for dear life! | Source

The roller coaster ride begins...

Unfortunately, just before the end of the school year, my personal life was turned upside down and my son and I relocated. That started a roller coaster ride that plumbed the depths of despair, depression and depression.

Overnight, my son became a delinquent. He went from attending school full time to maybe half an hour on his best day.Field trips, social/class activities and in school activities were all cut from his agenda. There was no support for him in the classroom. The school guidance counselor was called in to speak with my son on a weekly basis, or more, depending on the severity of his outbursts, but as there were only two more months left in the school year, the principal elected to send him home.

Then the testing started...form after form after form. School tests, doctor's tests, pediatrician's tests, psychiatric examinations, psychologist's reports. The end son was diagnosed with Attention/Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Anxiety Disorder, and some Post Traumatic Stress. We were now officially labeled.

I finally conceded the battle of medication and we were on the waiting list for a special Behavioral School, which was a polite way of saying "we can't deal with your son". He was passed into grade 2, having completed no work at all, and shuffled out of the school.

I have since come to realize that resources, help, information and support are fragmented and difficult to find. My son and I were facing a school system that was not equipped or prepared to provide him with the support that he required. We could only hope that the Behavioral School would be up to the challenge.

Copyright Enelle Lamb 2008 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url:


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