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Behavior Chart during co-op

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I need to give our background in order for this to make sense. My DS1 is 4 yrs old and has extremely severe and dangerous life-threatening allergies. He is allergic to dairy, eggs and peanuts. He has allergic reactions near areas that people have eaten those foods, near people who have eaten them and every place you can imagine where there is food. He has gone into anaphylatic shock from the breath of a 2 yr old who has eaten cream cheese and "blew bubbles" near his face.


Due to this, I have tried and tried to get him to attend group functions (library story time, creative tots gymnastics..etc) BUT he continues to suffer bad allergic reactions so we had to stop those. So socially, from 11 months old until almost 3 yrs old, he had very limited contact with other children. It is/was too risky to have him near kids who regularly eat goldfish crackers, yogurt, pb&j, on and on.


So I started a homeschool co-op and found a great group of families who do not eat dairy, eggs or peanuts the morning before they see us. I am blessed to have found so many wonderful families willing to do this for us. The problem is, my 4 yr old DS1 is so socially behind and is disruptive. He doesn't listen, he acts out, cries loud, on and on. Aside from allergies he is a very strong-willed child which I am glad for because he will have a tough life if he cannot be strong and assertive when it somes to food choices.


At home, we have our moments. We have some power struggles, sharing issues with his little brother, but to me those are normal.


I am thinking of maybe making some sort of behavior chart to bring with me to co-op to show him that if he does XYZ he cannot participate in "hands on time" or "circle time" or "free play" or "art activity".. any ideas or sites that show behavior charts? I am lost. I am not one for punishments, we do not spank, we have tried time-outs, we have and do remove toys from him. Any suggestions are appreciated. I am at a loss and sick and tired of crying after our homeschool group meets because of his behavior. I am embarrassed by his behavior. I think the other moms just don't like him either. I can tell one in particular really dislikes him. And it hurts so bad to see others not like him because of his behavior. He is really a sweet boy one on one. With adults only he is great. Add other kids to the mix and he just turns into a disaster.

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:grouphug: I have a strong-willed one also, so I know what those kind of battles can be like (no food allergies for her though).


One thing that has worked for us is setting expectations. When we go to the store, to someone's house, etc. I discuss in the car on the way there what behavior expectations I have (and why) and what the consequences will be if those expectations are not met. So, if you do x we will have to go sit in the car, go home, etc. The hard part is that once I set a consequence it has to be followed up on. So I have to remember not to make a consequence I won't actually follow through with. :glare:


I don't have a link to a behavior chart, but it might be helpful to make your own pictoral list of things that represent your rules - no yelling, no running, no grabbing, or whatever behaviors you are trying to eliminate. Having a list of rules really helped my dd, because she is a "by the rules" kind of girl and so if it was on the list she respected the rule a bit more. :D And maybe just start with a couple behaviors first rather than everything.


You could also try a reward chart to reward him for the behaviors you are looking for. I always use rewards when the girls are learning a new skill, in your case learning to behave in a group setting is a huge new skill for your son.


:grouphug::grouphug: I hope things get better soon.

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Oh, I'm sorry things are tough now! I heard Dr. Alan Kazdin speak last year on parenting "defiant" children and he had some wonderful advice. He's a researcher and has lots of research backing up the methods his group has come up with. The method is very gentle and really seems to work from many of the anecdotes he told us (aside from the rigorous research supporting it). Anyway, here's a link to his book that I recommend:



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There are some really good social skill books for kids. They help those who may need a little more explicit explanation/teaching about how to do such things as enter a group already playing, initiate play, share, use words to describe feelings, take turns, etc.

Here's one for you and here are some to share with your child.

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Is his disruptive behavior stemming from a lack of self-control? If so, a behavior chart might be helpful.


OR is his disruptive behavior due more to a lack of exposure and social experience? If so, I don't think the behavior chart would be the most appropriate course of action. Social skills need to be taught and learned through social experience; these skills aren't innate. There are a variety of ways we are socially conditioned to behave in social situations, but paramount to all of them are EXPOSURE and EXPERIENCE. A behavior chart doesn't address this, particularly if it is removing opportunity to be taught and to learn, and to experience the very issue in question: social exposure. I think the onus here is more on the parent to teach the skills and create opportunities to hone those skills, more than it is on the kid to modify his behavior within existing contexts.


You definitely have some unique challenges in addressing this situation. Can you take advantage of your great co-op friends to arrange smaller one-on-one playdates? More "learning opportunities" than playdates, really, but social situations in which to learn and hone his social skills. If structure is an issue, these playdates can involve activities that require skills your son struggles with: baking, gardening, crafts. These require one to listen, take turns, be attentive, cope with frustrations or disappointment. I guess you could even do this type of skillbuilding without the playdate aspect, but it could be good for your son to see how other children behave/cope in the same situation on a smaller, more socially manageable (to him) basis.


Write down your social goals/objectives (a list of desired social skills). Focus on one at a time, taking however long it takes to address each skill. It could take a week or a month before he has had enough instruction and exposure and experience to have a true understanding of each skill. Be proactive in finding regular, day to day activities in which to practice these skills. Not just co-op, but even in the grocery store and post office etc. Some people just need that physically repetitive reinforcement to really hone a social skill. Once he has mentally mastered a skill, move to the next one. Know he'll still have "bad days" but that at least he has the knowledge to recognize and the tools with which to address his inappropriate behavior. At this point a behavior chart might be more appropriate.

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What wonderful suggestions! I will use these replies as a stepping stone and way to organize myself in handling our situation. I do think his lack of experience socially is causing it, and I really should be trying to get him to interact more with his peers...


I apprecite everyones suggestions.. it helps to have "outside" perspectives!

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