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Focus on the Positive

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My kindergartner is always getting into trouble -- especially on the school bus. She hits, kicks, and bites other students. She loves going to school and she's so excited to see her friends, but other times she's so shy that it's hard for her to interact. We've tried many ways of encouraging her to consider other children's feelings and reminding her to keep her hands to herself, but it only lasts for a few days. What else can we do?

A: Try focusing on the positive with your daughter. Ask the bus driver to let you know each day how your daughter's behavior was, then follow up at home. A good day on the bus can earn an extra bedtime story or a walk around the block just with you; two good days in a week can earn having a friend over to play on the weekend.

Ask yourself why your daughter is exhibiting these behaviors. Are her verbal skills not as well-developed as those of her peers? Does she know appropriate ways to get attention from her friends? Is she younger developmentally than the other children in kindergarten? Talk with the school counselor. He may be able to give your daughter some individual time or include her in a small group on good communication skills.

Keep in mind that any kind of behavioral system that you try must be used over a long period of time, and it must be enforced consistently.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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