Trouble at School


In his kindergarten class, Connor has been sitting in time out every day because  of his lack of self- control. The teacher said she knows Connor is not trying to hurt his friends on purpose.  He just gets SOOOO EXCITED that he plays with them too rough.  In his excitement, he roughhouses and hurts his friends by hitting them in their tummies. The teacher knows Connor isn't being mean, but she has to put him in time out because he hurts the other kids. This has happened almost every day this week. I don't know how to go about handling this. Please help. Thank you. 


Dr. Landreth:

This is a social learning situation that presents a good opportunity to help Connor learn social skills and how to express himself.  His intent is right-on.  His method needs to be adjusted.  It would be helpful to describe what he is doing: "I know you get really excited and want to play with your friend.  When you hit him in the tummy, what are you trying to tell him?Wait for Connor to tell you.   You can help him sort out an answer if he can't figure out why he is hitting:  "When you hit him in the tummy are you trying to tell him you are angry at him?"  Wait for an answer.  Reflect back whatever he tells you.  "Oh, you don't hit him to tell him you are angry at him.  Hmmmm." "Are you trying to tell him you don't like him?Wait for an answer?  "Are you trying to tell him you want to play with him, and you like him?"  You may not have to ask all these questions.  He may figure out his own behavior and tell you right off:  "I like him, and I want to play with him.Reflect back his responses to any of your questions. If Connor says he likes him, then you can respond:  "Oh, you like him.  Instead of hitting him, what could you tell him so he would know you like him?"  Connor will probably say, “I could tell him I like him.”  Reflect.  “And then he will know you like him.”  If Connor gives an inappropriate response,I could wrestle with him.”  You can reflect the response and add  “He still might think you don’t like him. What else could you tell him so he would know you like him?”  Continue using this approach to responding until he suggests an appropriate response.  When this is cleared up, you can then role play with Connor by taking his friend’s part and let  Connor tell you what he has decided is a good response instead of hitting.

Role play this with Connor each day until he changes his behavior.


Four days later Connor’s teacher said, “His behavior at school now is like the difference between night and day."