My 5 year old son had his first day of kindergarten and it was my worst fear. When I went to pick him up his teacher pulled me aside and told me about his day: he pulled the other kids hair, used his hands as guns to shoot other people, he pulled his pants down and peed at recess, after he was done eating lunch he started wandering around the other classrooms and was very interruptive during class.

My husband and I knew he was going to have some adjustment problems because he has been having a bit of trouble recently at home because of some home changes. In the past year and a half he went from an only child to now having a 1 year old sister and a 3 month old brother; during the last pregnancy my husband and I separated for 6 months and me and the kids lived with my mom. We are working on things and are now all together again but I don't know what to do now.

We were very up front with his teacher about what was going on at home before school started, but I'm worried he will not want to go back if he keeps acting the way he did. He is wonderful with both the babies and loves to play with them and help feed and change them, but when I am not around he goes crazy. Please help!

  • Does both parent have good quality time with him everyday? What do you consider quality time with him? Do you often have to tell him what do to or not to do at home?
    – the_lotus
    Aug 24, 2015 at 11:49
  • About the wandering around: Between the 2 younger siblings and all the4 changes: is there ever a situation at home where he just has to sit and wait?
    – Layna
    Aug 24, 2015 at 13:02
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    We both try to have 1 on 1 time with him each day. We work opposite schedules so one of us can be with the kids and don't need daycare, and if we don't have them my mom has them. He has to sit and do some kind of learning activity when it's nap time, and has to sit during meals. We love to do puzzles, read, play with Legos. Occasionally I'll have to ask him to do or not to do something, but for the most part at home he is good. His school has a block schedule so he has class M,W,F one week and T,Th the next which I think is going to be tough enough getting a daily routine down.
    – user17714
    Aug 24, 2015 at 14:16
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    I have no wisdom to offer, but I empathize tremendously.
    – dgo
    Aug 24, 2015 at 14:35
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    His "bad" behavior at school sounds pretty deliberately aimed at protesting having to go to school. Could he be having separation anxieties? Maybe he thinks if he is bad enough at school you won't make him go. He "lost" his dad for a while; maybe that has made him afraid that he will lose you and/or his dad while he's at school. You might look into separation anxiety as a cause. Aug 24, 2015 at 16:14

2 Answers 2


Give it some time. It's very natural for a child to test boundaries in a new environment, and his teachers are still in the "honeymoon period," when they tend to cut kids a little too much slack because the kids are new. Some kids can't handle slack very well. I would wait a month or two before worrying about him being a permanent delinquent :-) These are the kinds of things kids are supposed to learn in Kindergarten. It's okay if it takes a little while.

The best you can do is continue to provide as much stability as you can manage, continue to expect good behavior at home, talk to him about your specific expectations for behavior at school, and make an extra effort to give him plenty of time for unstructured physical play at home. Modern kindergartens are not ideally structured for active boys, and that can be extremely stressful on them.

After you've done all you can at home, you just have to leave it in the school's hands. You only have so much influence over how your child behaves away from you, especially a young child who lives in the moment, so don't beat yourself up about it.


I suggest either professional advice or at least professional information on the topic. People here may or may not be professionals, but there is no guarantee of it.

A good first step is having a conference with the school guidance counselor. They are trained and can recommend books or other resources you can use.

I don't fully disagree with Karl, but "waiting it out" should definitely be paired with getting prepared and learning while you wait. I do disagree that it is natural for 5 year old children to pee in public and pull the hair of other children specifically when in the care of an adult.

My Wife taught kindergarten for 8 years and is certified in early childhood education. I heard her tell a story similar to this only once. I mention this not to scare you, but to motivate you. Learn about your child's needs. I know having 3 young children makes it almost impossible to find time for all this, but if your husband is back in the picture and being helpful and if your family is nearby then I believe you can do it.

Remember, 1 year of this stress and fear can turn into something productive and bring a lifetime of results to your son.

  1. Learn what the problem really is
  2. Learn how to handle it
  3. Apply what you have learned consistently with love.
  • "People here may or may not be professionals, but there is no guarantee of it." Very few people here claim to be professionals. While I agree wholeheartedly that one shouldn't assume a random stranger on the internet has more valid advice than a professional, I'm puzzled at your use of this statement here. More puzzling is your claim, then, that your wife is a professional, which seems inimical to your previous stance. Your advice is certainly no more trustworthy - by virtue of your own claim not to trust random advice given on the internet - than anyone else's. Please consider this. Aug 24, 2015 at 19:08
  • @agn, I interpreted Adam's answer to mean that a professional such as a school guidance counselor would be a better source of advice than anyone on the Internet, including himself. Think you might be jumping in a bit heavy here, FWIW.
    – A E
    Aug 24, 2015 at 19:51
  • I'm not trying to say my wife is a professional, nor have I offered any advice except to get professional advice. I mentioned my wife because she has spent a lot of time around kindergartners and based on my time living with her I think this is potentially a very critical issue and time to 1) find out the issue 2) learn about the issue 3) deal with the issue, in that order.
    – Adam Heeg
    Aug 24, 2015 at 19:58
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    My point about professionals and advice here is that asking for advice on wetting the bed at night (for example) is MUCH different than serious emotional, psychological and developmental issues which require professional input. I don't know if this situation is as serious as I am saying - nor would I ever pretend to know. Based on my exposure to my wife's experience this has potential to be a serious issue and should be caught as earlier as possible. Not a single person on this site will know enough about the child or family to give adequate advice, even if they have the required training.
    – Adam Heeg
    Aug 24, 2015 at 20:02

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