I’m struggling to find ways to influence my 5-year-old son's behavior. What we’ve done at home seems to result in only short-term effects. He is the middle child between a 10- and a 2-year-old sister.
My husband and I have tried everything we can possibly think of: explaining consequences, positive reinforcement, replacement behavior, behavior charts, quality time with parents, short-term goals and long-term goals, time out, and grounding. Each morning we discuss what is expected of him. We outline three specific ways to achieve his behavior goals. He can repeat each of them back to me more than once.
We’ve tried to find a reason for this behavior. There has been nothing at home that’s changed. He receives plenty of attention. He has social interaction as often as possible. He has a morning/bed-time routine. He goes to bed early and wakes up easily. He eats a regular balanced diet. He takes no medications whatsoever.
At home, we see behavior issues that we can typically correct with one warning, and/or time out. Most often, his issues at home are related to not listening the first time he's told, or irritating his older sister. I've noticed that he doesn't know when playfulness goes too far and becomes hurtful, annoying, or disrespectful.
At school, the behavior problems are becoming more frequent and severe. He’s been sent to the principal's office twice in the last three weeks and is receiving yellows (warnings) on a near-daily basis. At his worst, he steps on, trips, and hurts his classmates. Most often, he needs frequent reminders and the teacher tells me, "he thinks he's being silly even though his friends are sad." Teacher says he's pushing boundaries with classmates to see their reactions (repeatedly poking a classmate to see what they'll do or what the teacher will do).
He goes to the after school program at his elementary school until my husband or I pick him and his sister up after work. I don't believe anything at school has changed. When I ask him questions, I get very vague answers. Previously, they were both going on the bus to the YMCA after school, but after problems with repeating some of the foul language and topics that the older kids on the bus were discussing, we transitioned to the after school program - excluding the bus ride all together.
The teacher recommends observation by the school behavior counselor, which I've agreed to. What additional actions can I take at home/school to prevent more misbehavior?