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View Full Version : Kid's Behavior: Reasons vs. Excuses


Luv Bunnies
03-08-2007, 12:55 AM
I work in a special needs preschool and encounter kids with a large range of behaviors and disabilities. My own son has Asperger's and has his own unique set of behaviors. Between my professional and personal life, I'm encountering this issue more and more regarding the reason for a child's behavior vs. an excuse for a child's behavior.

My son (11 years old) has been seeing a psychologist and we've been discussing his uneven classroom behavior. The dr. really got me thinking about why my son acts up in class or blurts things out at inappropriate times. The reason is that he has Asperger's. But, Asperger's cannot be an excuse for his behavior. He will have to work twice as hard as other kids to control his behavior. What might come more naturally to other kids will have to be a learned behavior for my son. The key is that he CAN learn how to behave. We can't simply accept inappropriate behavior and make excuses for it or he will never learn new skills.

That said, I'm encountering resistance from some of my preschool parents. They don't want to see their child get a time out or be scolded for their behavior because they think their child has an excuse for the way they act. I had a grandparent say, "Well, you know why she acts that way, don't you?" I told them yes, I've read her history and I know her diagnosis. I tried to explain that this student can be taught to behave properly in a classroom and she will just have to work extra hard. She is improving in our program so we know she has the ability to learn and follow directions. The grandparent then said they're going to get a note from the child's doctor explaining that she has a disability and shouldn't be expected to comply with all of our rules.

The grandparent also said that she behaves well at home so we must be doing something wrong at school. I explained that home is always different. Kids can go from activity to activity when they want to. They're not always required to sit at certain times. And if they don't have siblings, they don't have to share their toys. They don't have to wait in line to wash their hands or go outside. The classroom has a lot more structure than a home environment and each child has to learn to exist as part of a community. As I was explaining this, Grandma just waved her hand and walked away. I feel so sorry for this child. She's only 4 and if they keep making excuses for her, she's never going to meet her potential. The other day when Grandma picked her up, the girl decided to sit down in the walkway instead of walking to the parking lot. Grandma just said, "OK, I'll wait until you're ready." I continued to watch and the kid sat there for at least 4 minutes and played around. Grandma just stood there and waited. That kid has way too much power! What happened to parenting kids? What happened to the adults making the rules? I expected Grandma to take the child's hand and say, "We're walking to the car right now. You need to stand up and come." And then Grandma needs to follow-through and lead her to the car.

I'm feel like I'm seeing a real problem lately with this issue: reasons for behavior vs. excuses for behavior. Sure, special needs kids have valid reasons for the way they act. But if those reasons become excuses, the child will never be able to meet their potential. Has anyone else faced this issue either as a professional or as a parent? It's really been bugging me lately! Thanks for letting me vent!:)

LindsayDunn228
03-08-2007, 05:52 AM
I just have to say good for you!!! I am so glad someone is thinking along these lines. I wish you all the best both with your son and school. :)

Goofyluver
03-08-2007, 12:39 PM
I agree with you. My son is also a special needs child. He has been having some behaviors lately that are very difficult to deal with. I have a hard time walking both lines...is this because of his disability...and how do I teach him that his behavior is not okay? It is very difficult. My DS still receives consequences for his behavior, regardless of the cause of the behavior. I think that if I never teach him right from wrong, then he won't be able to function properly in society. And, that would be my fault. We can't let our children's diagnosis plan their life path. We have to help them succeed in spite of everything they have going against them.

KPeveler
03-08-2007, 01:07 PM
whether or not kids have special needs, they need to function in the real world, especially kids with aspergers. aspergers rarely keeps a person from being able to work (in some capacity) and live independently. what is "cute" in a 4 yr old girl is less cute when she is 16. if a 4 yr old boy hits you, even "play-hits" you to get his point across, you can say, "oh, its cause he has aspergers, he cant help it." then when he is 16 and hits someone because he never learned how to communicate his feeling adequately, he gets arrested. it is no longer cute.

yes, kids have special needs and we must understand that, but those kids will be adults someday, and we need to prepare them for that.

BillSears
03-08-2007, 01:25 PM
I admire you for thinking this way. Many people believe that having a reason for a certain behavior excuses that behavior but like you said a reason explains the behavior but does not excuse it. All of us have problems of some sort and we all work to overcome them. Some of us have to work extra hard to overcome our problems and if we have always been told that we should be treated "special" and that we shouldn't have to try to overcome our disabilities then we never will be the best we can be.

SandrainNC
03-08-2007, 01:25 PM
Boy, I wish you would have been at my son's daycare/preschool! They let him get away with everything. He is in kindergarten now and what a difference it has made since he is being made to follow the rules. He is a different child at school now. The daycare he attended was for both typical children and children with special needs. My son has Down syndrome. I would go pick him up and all of the children were sitting at the table eating their snack. My son was over playing with toys away from the table. A child got up from the table to go play, and the teacher made him sit down. While my son sat there playing!! So I completely agree with what you are saying. Sometimes the teachers help make this worse though. I think sometimes teachers (at least where he was) just let him do what he wanted because it was easier and I am sure that happens a lot.

Sandra

Luv Bunnies
03-08-2007, 06:22 PM
I think sometimes teachers (at least where he was) just let him do what he wanted because it was easier and I am sure that happens a lot.

Yes! That does happen a lot - but not in our class! Our classroom philosophy is that every child is expected to follow the same rules. We have some kids with mild speech/language delays and some who are full-blown autistic. Some can speak fairly well and some are totally non-verbal. It's really a mixed class but we can't have a few just wandering around when the rest are supposed to be sitting. Granted, we don't usually get full compliance on the kids' first day at school. We just got a new boy yesterday and another new boy today. We have to keep reminding the other kids that these boys are new at school and they're still learning how to follow the rules. It's a challenge to keep the older kids on track while the new ones are trying to run around and play. We just have to stay on the new kids, be consistant and enforce the rules. At the same time, we hope the older kids will rise to the occasion and remember what's expected of them. It's a balancing act but we know the new kids will eventually come around.

The point is that we have the same expectations for all of the kids, no matter what their disabilities. We know they can overcome a lot and we want them all to meet their potential, whatever it is. All of your messages made me feel better! Thanks for the positive replies!!!!:)

BeckyScott
03-09-2007, 03:04 PM
I totally agree with what you're saying.

One day my son (w/ autism) is going to have to function in the "real world". Even if he doesn't understand the "why", he still needs to understand that things are done a certain way, because, well they just are. Learning acceptable behavior and the rules of interaction are just as important as tying shoes and reading.

At my job I see often, kids who are now young adults, who apparantly were raised with the other thought- that the world should accept them and their behavior, no matter what it is, because they are special needs. It's a very fine line. Accomodation is one thing, accessibility, ADA-stuff. Pretty soon they are going to be "set loose" and will be trying to get jobs in the real world, and they are nowhere near being prepared for that, because they have been allowed to make excuses, and believe in a competitive work-world they will hold down a job doing what and acting how they please. Unfortunately, this is still sometimes true, employers don't want to appear discriminatory. It's a really slippery slope and something that I think needs to be addressed at a high level.

If I can toss this in- what I'm finding now (I work at a community college) is that we are getting a wave of kids who were IEP'ed all 12 years of school (it times out about right w/ IDEA) who expect the same kind of accomodations at a college level that they had in public school. Not ADA/504 stuff, but more like IDEA stuff, which you know is not something a college is required to do. They are also serving as their own advocates, which they aren't used to doing- what they know is what they've always gotten, and that they're not getting it any more, and they're not happy about it. It's really kind of sad. I am doing my best to make sure my kid(s) don't end up in the same boat.

Your grandparent story reminded me of my son. He used to "noodle" on us when he didn't want to go somewhere, he'd just drop. :sad2: I'd tell him once, then I'd pick him up under the armpits and drag his rear where we needed to go. He learned pretty quickly that we were going, one way or the other, do it yourself or do it my way, we're going.

Starr W.
03-10-2007, 12:12 PM
That's what we tell our Aspie son, you have to live in the "real" world and you need to control yourself. He does well in school, but had a really great spec. ed preschool teacher(she was so good my younger "typical" son is in her class). She was firm with the kids(nickname Sgt.Lisa by some parents) but my boys both loved her.

It has helped that we have alot of support from our school, his teacher this year has been great in dealing with his OC behavior while he's been going through therapy. Also we both have noticed he'll dilly dally using the "I have issues" excuse. At school he knows he'll do the work either there or at home. At home, we will cut off favorite shows, viedo games, computer time and sometimes send him to bed early.

My younger son knows if he acts up in a resturant, he'll go to the car. Did it once and you just have to mention "car" and the behavior stops.

SandrainNC
03-11-2007, 11:54 AM
The point is that we have the same expectations for all of the kids, no matter what their disabilities. We know they can overcome a lot and we want them all to meet their potential, whatever it is.

That is wonderful!!! My son is a different person since he started kindergarten where there are higher expectations of him.

Sandra

Ali
03-11-2007, 09:51 PM
To the OP - I could pretty much say the same thing is happening with a grandma of one of my 3 year olds - I teach Pre-K selfcontained in a public school.

After a full day of rule following, walking in line, and getting time outs for hitting, Grandma walks in, opens her arms, and picks up "the baby" and says he can go home now so he doesn't have to listen to my rules any more. This child learned how to say "DOWN" within 3 days of being in my class so he could get his mom to let him walk instead of being carried everywhere - he can do so much more than he is asked to do by his family. Grandma won't accept it.

I have talked with Mom over and over and I will again, if asked, but for now I just enforce my class rules, make everyone come to the table and follow directions with no wandering allowed! If you don't want the snack you can sit with us, if you don't want to finger paint I will give you a pop stick, but everyone is treated the same way!

I think parents are so tired of the screams that come from being directive that they give up. I know I am always tempted to do that with my ASD 5 year old when I get home after a long day of screeching, hitting, crying kids.
I usually can enforce the rules, but I always am careful to pick my battles because I know the bad precedent I am setting if I give in during a temper tantrum/meltdown.

I recently had a conference with a parent of a 3 year old who is generally horrible to his mom - he is fine to me because I have expectations of him. She said when she has to take him shopping or out to eat she hates it because he can't sit still, won't stay by her, runs off and creates havoc.

I said "why don't you give him he directions of stay next to me, hold the cart or my hand, or we will leave" - she said to me 'I can do that? He just doesn't listen to me and he decides what he wants to do" SHEESH!!!! I told her to try it and see what happened - and that she had the responsibility to be the parent - a 3 year old can not make good decisions!!!!!

I could go on forever - I Just wanted you to know that this is a hard job we do and we just have to do what's in the best interest of the child. The family will do what it does, but as long as I know I am working on making my students ready for the world I am doing my job. Keep up the good work!

Luv Bunnies
03-12-2007, 12:27 AM
After a full day of rule following, walking in line, and getting time outs for hitting, Grandma walks in, opens her arms, and picks up "the baby" and says he can go home now so he doesn't have to listen to my rules any more. This child learned how to say "DOWN" within 3 days of being in my class so he could get his mom to let him walk instead of being carried everywhere - he can do so much more than he is asked to do by his family. Grandma won't accept it.

Yep! That sounds like our Grandma! Although I will say that we have another Grandma who seems to have caught on. She used to carry her grand daughter into our class and put her things away for her. Or she would let the little girl do it but she would stand there and direct instead of leaving it to us. Now, she send her into the room with her own backpack on her back and immediately leaves. And she now resists the urge to pick her up and carry her to the car. It gives us hope that some parents can be trained!



I recently had a conference with a parent of a 3 year old who is generally horrible to his mom - he is fine to me because I have expectations of him. She said when she has to take him shopping or out to eat she hates it because he can't sit still, won't stay by her, runs off and creates havoc.


We have a 5 year old in our class who has made so much academic progress that we're exiting him out to attend a regular preschool 3 days a week (we'll still have him for 2). His behavior is still poor at times but he's shown us that he can sit still, focus and behave more often than not at school. Home is another story. As soon as he goes out the door with his mom, he runs away from her toward the car. He crosses the parking lot by himself while she yells after him to stop. The other day, I was walking two other kids out to the bus and watched the whole interchange with his mom. She half-heartedly told him to stop (she's never very emphatic). He refused to stop and almost ran out in front of a car pulling into the parking lot. The driver was going very slowly and stopped. The driver glared at the mom and honked his horn at her as if to say, "Wake up, lady and hold on to your kid!" His 2 year old sister has also gotten into the act. She runs and tries to keep up with her brother while mom trails behind. When they get to the car, they wait for mom to come and then run away from her when she catches up. I've seen it take her several minutes to round up both kids and get them in the car.

I just don't get it. What happened to holding your kids' wrist so he can't run into the path of a car? This kid is obviously not mature enough to make his own decisions and shouldn't be given all this freedom. I just pray that his reckless behavior doesn't harm him.

Merriwind
03-14-2007, 12:14 PM
Wow! Great post. :thumbsup2 This is a great message for ALL parents. We live in a world of far too many reasons and excuses. Thanks!

I work in a special needs preschool and encounter kids with a large range of behaviors and disabilities. My own son has Asperger's and has his own unique set of behaviors. Between my professional and personal life, I'm encountering this issue more and more regarding the reason for a child's behavior vs. an excuse for a child's behavior.

My son (11 years old) has been seeing a psychologist and we've been discussing his uneven classroom behavior. The dr. really got me thinking about why my son acts up in class or blurts things out at inappropriate times. The reason is that he has Asperger's. But, Asperger's cannot be an excuse for his behavior. He will have to work twice as hard as other kids to control his behavior. What might come more naturally to other kids will have to be a learned behavior for my son. The key is that he CAN learn how to behave. We can't simply accept inappropriate behavior and make excuses for it or he will never learn new skills.

That said, I'm encountering resistance from some of my preschool parents. They don't want to see their child get a time out or be scolded for their behavior because they think their child has an excuse for the way they act. I had a grandparent say, "Well, you know why she acts that way, don't you?" I told them yes, I've read her history and I know her diagnosis. I tried to explain that this student can be taught to behave properly in a classroom and she will just have to work extra hard. She is improving in our program so we know she has the ability to learn and follow directions. The grandparent then said they're going to get a note from the child's doctor explaining that she has a disability and shouldn't be expected to comply with all of our rules.

The grandparent also said that she behaves well at home so we must be doing something wrong at school. I explained that home is always different. Kids can go from activity to activity when they want to. They're not always required to sit at certain times. And if they don't have siblings, they don't have to share their toys. They don't have to wait in line to wash their hands or go outside. The classroom has a lot more structure than a home environment and each child has to learn to exist as part of a community. As I was explaining this, Grandma just waved her hand and walked away. I feel so sorry for this child. She's only 4 and if they keep making excuses for her, she's never going to meet her potential. The other day when Grandma picked her up, the girl decided to sit down in the walkway instead of walking to the parking lot. Grandma just said, "OK, I'll wait until you're ready." I continued to watch and the kid sat there for at least 4 minutes and played around. Grandma just stood there and waited. That kid has way too much power! What happened to parenting kids? What happened to the adults making the rules? I expected Grandma to take the child's hand and say, "We're walking to the car right now. You need to stand up and come." And then Grandma needs to follow-through and lead her to the car.

I'm feel like I'm seeing a real problem lately with this issue: reasons for behavior vs. excuses for behavior. Sure, special needs kids have valid reasons for the way they act. But if those reasons become excuses, the child will never be able to meet their potential. Has anyone else faced this issue either as a professional or as a parent? It's really been bugging me lately! Thanks for letting me vent!:)