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Retention for Bad Behavior
Q: Hi. I have a seven-year-old son who has just started second grade. Last year his teacher wanted to hold him back in first grade because of behavorial problems. I told her I did not agree that he should be held back just because he has a behavorial problem. We had a meeting with his teacher, the principal, and the school counselor. Of course the counselor agreed with his teacher. Anyway, I was wondering if I did the right thing. Should I have sent him on to second grade? He has no problems with his class work or learning. Thank you!
A: It's truly impossible for me to offer an educated opinion on your case since I know nothing about its particulars. A child's education involves intellectual, emotional, and social development. I assume the teacher and counselor who recommended retention felt that your son had not developed appropriately in the latter two areas to warrant placement in second grade. My inclination, when the "behavior problem child" is succeeding academically, is to promote him based on his need to be stimulated and taught at his current intellectual level. With such a promotion, I would recommend that you join hands with the school counselor and his current teacher to address any continuing behavioral problems. Let's work on prevention rather than label him a troublemaker who the teacher is expecting to cause problems. Kids move through their different areas of development in individualized ways. Let's hope that his first grade behavioral problems will become less problematic with his maturity and assistance from caring adults.
Have a great school year.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.