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Q: My nine-year-old son keeps acting out at school. He grabs at the girls and tries to kiss them or he gets mad and talks gross to them. What can I do to stop this behavior? He's in therapy, but it doesn't seem to help.
A: Don't give up on the therapy. You've taken a tremendous step in getting help for your son, and sometimes it takes a long time to see the effects. Talk with the therapist and find out what progress your son is making. If you both decide that working with that therapist is not helping him, ask for a referral to another therapist. The school counselor or your pediatrician can help with another referral as well.
The therapist should be working with you as well as with your son. It is difficult to change behaviors and situations for a child without involving the parents at the same time, and if you have not been involved you should ask for that to happen. The therapist should be able to help you know how to follow up at home with the behavioral changes that are being made.
Since the sexual behaviors seem to happen at school, ask the therapist to go to the school with you for a conference with your son's teacher, counselor, and principal. The therapist can help the school staff members know how to respond in the best ways to your son's behaviors in order to help him.
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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.