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Worried about 9 year old now in public school


Meadowlark
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I have a 9 year old son who is doing fine academically in public school this year. However, all of my fears have come true. When I thought of putting them in school, I worried most about him. That he would succumb to peer pressure, make bad choices, pick up basically everything "bad" about school. He's always been an Eeyore and I feared he would do anything to fit in.

 

And he has.

 

He chooses horrible trash for library books. He has latched onto the naughty kids. And last night he dropped something and said "F%$#"

 

That's right, you guessed it. I was mortified. He said "I didn't mean to-it was an accident". At which time I knew it was already a part of his vocabulary if it naturally slipped out. That put me over the edge. He also has developed a really bad attitude.

 

I know pulling him out is an option, but let's face it-I really don't want to do that unless I'm faced with no choice. I also don't want to overreact or react too soon. It's only October after all.

 

When I asked him why he was making these bad choices, his response solidified my thoughts. He said "because I want to fit in". Yep-exactly what I worried about. 

 

I find myself just getting angry because I'm just so upset about how all of my hard work is paying off. I have so many thoughts-but let's start here. What would you do? Feeling like a failure :-(

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I have two answers, because I see two options.

 

 

1. Pull him now. He needs to learn, with a swiftness, that he has no power to go out into the world and throw off home training.

 

Get him into martial arts, scouts, basketball, whatever makes sense, and work on social skills very deliberately in those arenas. And help him gain a personal identity that is stronger than chameleon response.

 

I'm sure this sounds glib, but it's not meant to. I've raised four sons, so I know how hard it is and how long it takes. It's VERY hard, but for goodness sakes, don't lose one at nine if bringing him home will prevent that.

 

 

 

Alternatively, if you need him to be in school, it's time to haul in all the resources. Teacher, counselor, therapist, helping him find better friends - maybe thru school clubs or sports, networking with other parents who have the same goals for their children. You can still teach him that he can't live like this; he comes from a home and there are rules.

 

I haven't done that, so I'm not sure how, but I would be sure you aren't the only parent in the school who wants an honest, confident, safe, moral and wise child. Get involved and find those other good parents.

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How do you know they are naughty kids?  What about them is naughty?

 

Book thing....eh.  I think many of us would choose whatever it is we find fun.  I allowed my kids to choose whatever they wanted, and I don't feel like it ruined them at all.  School and school work is where they get forced to read specific things.  So if he is allowed to choose, I think he should be able to choose. 

 

And the swear words..well they all learn those sooner rather than later no matter what. 

 

It doesn't sound terrible to me.  It's not like you are saying he is being bullied terribly or cries every day when he comes home from school. 

Edited by SparklyUnicorn
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(Hugs)

 

My DS was in public school last year for a bit. He also can do things just to fit in, but in a naive way. The kids in school were waaay more mature than we are. There were nude pictures placed on their iPads! The behavior wasn't mean, but also wasn't nice.

 

You may consider extracurriculars that are morally strong (like stated above). We read a lot of stories about topic du jour (lying, stealing, whatever). He had to write essays when his behavior was over the top. To help him better understand these things are important.

 

The reality is that a teacher with 20-30 students isn't going to hear most of the conversations, a lot of kids have older siblings who talk about things, and they have freedom to the internet and YouTube and everything that's "bad". Idk a good answer. We didn't pull because of that exposure (and we get it more at the YMCA than anywhere). I think some kids can "act" like that to fit in, but it's not who they are. I think some kids are changed by that exposure.

Edited by displace
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Remind me why you don't want to pull him out? Do you have a physical illness that makes it so that you can't teach him at home? Do you need to work? This is only my opinion as someone on the other side of a screen, but I see this as a parenting issue. If you are able to parent him and teach him at home then my personal opinion is that you should "just do it". But I recognize that there are circumstances that make that impossible. Public schools can be fine places for kids to learn but they aren't the best for all children.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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How do you know they are naughty kids? What about them is naughty?

 

Book thing....eh. I think many of us would choose whatever it is we find fun. I allowed my kids to choose whatever they wanted, and I don't feel like it ruined them at all. School and school work is where they get forced to read specific things. So if he is allowed to choose, I think he should be able to choose.

 

And the swear words..well they all learn those sooner rather than later no matter what.

 

It doesn't sound terrible to me. It's not like you are saying he is being bullied terribly or cries every day when he comes home from school.

It doesn't sound horrible to me either. But I swear a lot and don't consider too many books to be trash.

 

That said, I helped chaperone a first grade field trip last year. I could not believe the s*xual topics of conversation among these 6 and 7 year olds. I'm sure most of it was just repeating older siblings or television, but, still...

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My personal opinion is to pull him, and get him heavily involved in activities with more controlled peers.

 

I say that as a person who just decided that an extra-curricular activity isn't worth our time because the peers are too "sterile". My kids have needed time to figure out how to be themselves, and we did that. Now I'm purposefully expanding their circle so the tests of character get harder. I think you have to do both: protect them until they are ready, but also wean them from your protection so they can live on their own someday.

 

Also, a little plug for letting the kids be who they are, and being careful that your rules are reasonable. Ignoring that is a recipe for major rebellion.

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My personal opinion is to pull him, and get him heavily involved in activities with more controlled peers.

 

I say that as a person who just decided that an extra-curricular activity isn't worth our time because the peers are too "sterile". My kids have needed time to figure out how to be themselves, and we did that. Now I'm purposefully expanding their circle so the tests of character get harder. I think you have to do both: protect them until they are ready, but also wean them from your protection so they can live on their own someday.

 

Also, a little plug for letting the kids be who they are, and being careful that your rules are reasonable. Ignoring that is a recipe for major rebellion.

 

Yep-your last few lines really resonate with me. I am very fearful that my natural reaction to his behaviors is just pure anger-and that I am actually causing him to want to hide things from me.That is the opposite of what I know is best. I want to keep the lines of communication open so that I can get to his heart. It's just so hard because I'm one of these people who has focused heavily on character education and religion throughout his homeschooling. So then to now see him making bad choices is just-hard. It really IS who he is though-he was somewhat of a "rebel" even at age 2, so I know it's mostly just his natural personality coming out. So the trick is to work with who God created him to be, and yet be there to guide, nurture, love and protect. I just need to learn HOW to do that.

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How do you know they are naughty kids?  What about them is naughty?

 

Book thing....eh.  I think many of us would choose whatever it is we find fun.  I allowed my kids to choose whatever they wanted, and I don't feel like it ruined them at all.  School and school work is where they get forced to read specific things.  So if he is allowed to choose, I think he should be able to choose. 

 

And the swear words..well they all learn those sooner rather than later no matter what. 

 

It doesn't sound terrible to me.  It's not like you are saying he is being bullied terribly or cries every day when he comes home from school. 

 

To be a bit more clear about the book thing-I'm not talking that he's choosing "fun" books. One was a Batman Dark Knight comic, which sounds innocent enough. But when I looked through it, it was chalk full of violent weapons, language and graphics. Then yesterday he brought back a book called "Nerds". It literally mocked every type of person in the first chapter calling them dweebs, idiots, geeks and freak outs. It then went on to describe why they were this way including that one has buck teeth, one glasses, one too fat, etc. When I read that, I thought "well, no freaking wonder" kids are growing up to be bullies. What trash! So while I acknowledge he most likely won't be choosing Newberry books every time, I can't allow him to read just whatever he wants if that's what he's choosing.

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I would be more worried about the fact that he is doing these things knowing they are bad choices in order to fit in.   

 

This raises red flags for me because of what we went through with sd.  When she was 10 she met a girl in class and became best friends with her.  Whenever this girl came over the two were well chaperoned and even though I knew she had a rough childhood this girl still did not act "bad", a little rough around the edges but nothing terrible.  The family even started going to church with us.  Fast forward to 8th grade and sd starts getting more and more of an attitude with us and she even gets into a fight at school.  We then find out about some of the things this girl is getting into.  Then mid 9th grade we end up finding sd with a cell phone that a boy (who this girl introduced to sd) gave her.  Previously we had tried to get the school to change her schedule so she would not have lunch with this new crowd, they were less than helpful.  We also end up finding a ton of correspondence where this girl has been encouraging her to have sex with a boy (any boy) and where sd is planning on moving in with this guys family.   Sd was then pulled from school and we started homeschooling.  Over the next couple of years sd started to act more like her original self, even others noticed.  She also talked about how she had been making some of these poor choices so she could fit in with this girl and the crowd she hung out with.

 

Now I am not saying that this is what will happen to your child but I do see warning flags.  Middle school is right around the corner and the peer pressure there gets really bad, so if it is starting now  I would really take charge of the situation asap.

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Just keep the lines of communication open. If a book is truly objectional to you and not just fluff then tell him he cannot read it and why you do not like it. If friends are not making good choices then talk about them not being nice. There is a book out there about seeing bad things on the Internet if that is a concern so he is aware of the risks of that and how you feel about it. I do not think the curse incident sounds too bad. He did say he did not mean to and he was not cursing at people. The context he used it in was not too bad even if you do not allow cursing. Allow him to share without freaking out but then you can have discussions about your families values.

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None of that sounds bad to me, necessarily. It does sound like he's at the age where the push for independence and autonomy is getting stronger, and trying to hold him back from that or shelter him is bound to make it worse--for you.

 

If you have very solid reasons for not liking his friends, you can encourage extracurriculars that involve a different crowd. But you won't be able to do anything about who he chooses to hang out with at school. As for his reading choices and language...eh. He's nine--it's not like he hasn't been exposed to whatever you find objectionable. Those kinds of books have huge appeal that age, but they do become less common as they get older. And you'd have to never leave your basement to not know all the words by that age.

 

I believe strong home environment's influence is earned by being respectful, not authoritarian. Definitely be aware of the new influences in his life, but understand they are going to happen at some point. Hold close but not too close, KWIM?

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To be a bit more clear about the book thing-I'm not talking that he's choosing "fun" books. One was a Batman Dark Knight comic, which sounds innocent enough. But when I looked through it, it was chalk full of violent weapons, language and graphics. Then yesterday he brought back a book called "Nerds". It literally mocked every type of person in the first chapter calling them dweebs, idiots, geeks and freak outs. It then went on to describe why they were this way including that one has buck teeth, one glasses, one too fat, etc. When I read that, I thought "well, no freaking wonder" kids are growing up to be bullies. What trash! So while I acknowledge he most likely won't be choosing Newberry books every time, I can't allow him to read just whatever he wants if that's what he's choosing.

Maybe instead of rebellion, he's trying to seek information. This is a great time to read this stuff with him, painful as it may be, and gently interject your thoughts. He can't hide from this sort of thing, and giving him answers is better than leaving him to sneak and figure it out however he can.

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Other than the Fword, what specific naughtiness are you concerned about?

 

 

Can you discuss the books and your reasons that you do not like them with him?  So that it would be a learning experience about family values?  I don't know those books so don't know how objectionable they are. If they are in the school library, maybe talk with librarian about the choices you'd like him to be making?

 

You could pull him, but fitting in sounds like a part of his personality and it might be better to work with him on healthy choices about this now while he is young, rather than have him latch on to the worst group when he goes to college with much less ability to work through it with him, and where consequences might be far worse than right now.

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I would pull him out and find a different school setting for him. You can have all of the family standards you want, and preach until you're blue in the face, but you'll be fighting a losing battle if you keep him in.

 

When you get him out of that environment, you'll need to focus on helping him develop a positive sense of self. He'll need help finding his people.

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I understand the conflict. DS13 is interested in inappropriate language and behavior. He sometimes imitates it himself, and other times he wants to talk about what the other kids at school have said. He is not a naturally compliant kid and is more interested in being rebellious than "good." In our case, DS's interest in bad language and behavior is a two-pronged problem -- he has an oppositional personality type, which means he is drawn toward rebelliousness, and he has social skills deficits, which means he does not always understand but imitates anyway. It's a real challenge.

 

We did pull him from a long-term activity (gymnastics), because there was a bad behavioral influence there, and we couldn't work it out. We decided it was more important for him to be a good person than a good gymnast, so it came to an end, even though gymnastics was a great sport for him (though he wasn't great at it).

 

He goes to a small private Christian school now, and there have been a few kids there who have modeled very crude language and some sex talk. You would think that it would be a safer environment than the public school, but the negative influence has still been present. We have not pulled him out of school, because it is a great placement for him for other reasons. Both for him and for our family as a whole. In our case, homeschooling again is not an optimal choice, so we deal with issues from school as they come up.

 

It is a hard place to be in, for sure. I'm sorry you are facing this. I really struggle with the fact that I can teach and model character traits to my son (and my other kids), but that does not make them embody those character traits themselves. It's extremely discouraging. I have to accept that God is the only one who can change and mold their hearts from the inside. As a Christian parent, I learned from books and speakers, etc., when my kids were little that if I taught them good character, that they would learn those traits, and it was very depressing to me when that did not turn out to be true for our family. I'm still learning that I have to do the best I can as a parent, but also that I cannot mold my kids into a different kind of person. They are responsible for their decisions and actions, and, more often than I'd like, some of them are not great. It's really hard not to take it personally, when we have taught them differently.

 

I think that if the environment is toxic, it is worth removing the child. But I also think there are some children who will struggle with these things, no matter what the environment is. If homeschooling was difficult for you before (I seem to remember that you were very burnt out?), finding a way to keep him in school may be a priority. If so, I think you will need to deal with issues as they occur. At the same time, try to find good peer interaction for him, as much as you are able. Continue to model and teach your family values. Pray.

 

I hope that makes sense. It's really late, and I can't sleep, so I'm online, but I'm probably not operating on full brain power.

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Then yesterday he brought back a book called "Nerds". It literally mocked every type of person in the first chapter calling them dweebs, idiots, geeks and freak outs. It then went on to describe why they were this way including that one has buck teeth, one glasses, one too fat, etc. When I read that, I thought "well, no freaking wonder" kids are growing up to be bullies. What trash!

 

I've read that book. I think you didn't finish it - the main character has quite a turnaround in his views before the middle of the book - and it turns out that all those "not fitting in" traits were really superpowers!

 

It's not shining literature, but it was fairly enjoyable to somebody who was bullied an awful lot growing up.

 

When I asked him why he was making these bad choices, his response solidified my thoughts. He said "because I want to fit in". Yep-exactly what I worried about.

 

I don't know you and your kid, but in my own life and in meeting others, I often find that kids parrot adults in the weirdest ways.

 

If you spent a lot of time before he started school worrying and worrying that he'd do anything to fit in, then I'm not surprised that he said he did these things "to fit in". That doesn't mean he did those things for that reason. I'd be surprised if he has the insight to be able to accurately label his motivations after the fact, actually. I suspect it is more likely to mean that he knew that was the answer you were expecting, and so he gave it to you. He might not know why he did those things you don't like, but when cornered, a lot of kids try to give the "right" answer. That's not the honest answer, necessarily - it's the one that the adults will like.

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Many of us on this board homeschool to avoid the situation you are describing, or at least benefit in this way even if it is not the primary reason we homeschool. So, my guess is most of us would advise you to homeschool if you are able.

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It looks like N.E.R.D.S. Stands for National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society. The reviews say that is the perfect book for a fifth grader who is being bullied. It’s a series. I haven’t personally read the book, but it had good reviews from kids so there may be more to it than it might look like. I let my boys read that kind of stuff. They LOVED the Diary of a a wimpy kid series! Good luck with figuring things out!! It’s hard to know the best thing to do sometimes :-)

 

Jodie

Edited by antsam
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Do you think that you, possibly, have let your feelings skew the situation more than it should?  And I ask that as gently as possible, because you started by listing your fears, showing how your fears have come true, but as the thread goes on you are finding out that perhaps you are making a mountain out of a molehill.  So maybe....maybe...this is more you than him?

 

9yo boys are incredibly complex creatures.  Have you read Tom Sawyer?  Anything by Roald Dahl?  Diary of A Wimpy Kid?  While they aren't exactly the most virtuous books, they do show the struggle between trying to find independence and fitting in, stretching their wings to see how far they go before they're clipped. They mull ideas over and sometimes get stupid with them (like swearing- I'd bet the word had been on his mind and how it fits, exactly, if it's not one ever heard in his daily life). My rule of thumb is to not ask a 9yo to explain his actions unless they are truly perplexing because I will get the answer they think pleases me.  Honesty comes when they know themselves, not when they're in an awkward phase. 

 

No matter if you pull him or leave him in, your best course is to consistently set the limits without looking for motive or reasons.  They don't count.  I'd be willing to bet the attitude and all will get better as he adjusts more to the school routine and discovers how to handle these friendships - and you can aid that by offering to hold playdates at your house (where they're supervised well) and being that steady rock-like force that keeps him grounded.

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Yep-your last few lines really resonate with me. I am very fearful that my natural reaction to his behaviors is just pure anger-and that I am actually causing him to want to hide things from me.That is the opposite of what I know is best. I want to keep the lines of communication open so that I can get to his heart. It's just so hard because I'm one of these people who has focused heavily on character education and religion throughout his homeschooling. So then to now see him making bad choices is just-hard. It really IS who he is though-he was somewhat of a "rebel" even at age 2, so I know it's mostly just his natural personality coming out. So the trick is to work with who God created him to be, and yet be there to guide, nurture, love and protect. I just need to learn HOW to do that.

You should not be responding to him in pure anger when he's doing what makes sense to him to make it in his new environment. You are right that doing so will slam the door shut, and he will soon stop confiding in you. At nine, or even at nineteen, fury at kids for their not being moral enough, teaches them nothing but that they aren't good enough for you. Which becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, as they turn even more toward decisions you'll hate, probably with some self loathing...you can stop this grim scenario right now. Your ideals of religion and character are too much to lay on him, if he lacks the tools and maturity to internalize those *and* apply them on his own, in a setting where they are not the default.

 

You've got to lighten up. Even if you pull him so that you can reinforce your ideals a little longer, without distraction (and I would), you be got to let him be a normal little boy who is curious about fart jokes, bad words, and experimenting with borderline behavior. (Testing boundaries.) A sense of humor, not being so shocked all the time, reminding him of rules and reasons in a matter of fact way, instead of with heavy, preaching lectures. Win him over to your idea of a decent life by being a little more understanding and fun.

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I have this kid.

 

And really, had I dropped her in public school at age 9, she definitely would have done what your son does.

 

While she seems to be independent, and analytical, she would at 9 sacrifice her ideals on the altar of acceptance. And that's where we would have gone awry.

 

This is why I homeschooled her. At 16 she began being a "I'll stand up for what's right no matter what." person and I'm proud that she'll do that.

 

What will help you:

 

Reailze that no matter what you do, he will never be a compliant, easy kid. That's not his nature and it would be wrong to force it. It's not your failure to not raise a compliant child who never questions you. In fact, if he can channel that independence, he's going to be an incredible adult.

 

He's not a rebel. He's more of an independent thinker. Reframe how you see him.

 

Don't see his problems as a moral failing. Kids do things thoughtlessly, and they need lots of do overs. ADULTS struggle with doing the wrong thing to fit in, so yes, a kid is going to have a hard time too. He needs to gently hear "Oh, son...you are not that kind of a person. I know you don't mean to come off as x, but when you do y, that's what it seems!" He needs to know that you know he's a good kid who made a mistake.

 

He needs lots of talking and discussion as to WHY x, y, and z do not fit with our ideals. Whether it's books, language, or behavior, when kids understand the underlying reasons and ethics behind parental rules, they're much more likely to internalize and follow it when they are not around you.

 

There's probably more that I can give you, but I have work to do. I'll think about it and come back later.

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