I was recently visiting with a 4th grade classroom teacher about several of her students who she was concerned about. She shared how she had caught one of them cheating on a test – not just once, but twice! There is another student who has the habit of taking things that don’t belong to him and taking them home. While the things he has taken aren’t valuable, she’s worried about the behavior leading to more serious stealing in the future. And then there’s a girl who one day is liked by a group of other girls in her class only to be ousted and isolated from the friendship group the next.
She’s concerned about each of these students, but she is most concerned their behaviors will influence other students in her classroom.
I listened to her talk about her students. This isn’t the first time she has seen behaviors like this. She’s been teaching 4th grade for six years. But, this is the first time she began to see the behaviors in a different light.
She recalled several students she had in her early years of teaching. They are now 9th and 10th graders in high school. They, too, exhibited similar behaviors as her current students – cheating, bullying, stealing and lying. Even though she hasn’t had the students in her classroom for 5 or 6 years she’s been able to hear what’s been happening in their lives since then. One of the students has been suspended several times for vaping on the school property. Three other students have all been caught using alcohol underage. There have been other behavioral problems with these students since she had them in her 4th grade classroom.
She began to wonder…“Is there a connection between the problem behaviors she saw with these students in 4th grade and their early use of alcohol and other substances?” Knowing my years of experience in substance use prevention, she asked me for my opinion.
I told her she was definitely on to something.
Research shows that kids who begin to exhibit problem behaviors, such as lying, stealing, cheating and bullying, in the late elementary years are at a higher risk for earlier alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. In other words, if you want to delay the onset of substance use with late elementary students one of the best things you can do is prevent them from engaging in these problem behaviors.
Of course, my teacher friend wanted to know what she could do with the students who are already engaged in the behaviors and how she can keep the other students from doing the same.
The research is once again helpful in answering this “how” question. There are four strategies research has shown can prevent problem behaviors with late elementary students. While each strategy is influential, together, they are even more effective. Best of all, the strategies can be easily implemented with students in school classroom and community-based settings.
If you work with late elementary students or are a parent of one and are concerned about these problem behaviors or early substance use, then I would like to invite you to join me in a free webinar I will be teaching next week. The “Four Proven Strategies to Prevent Lying, Stealing, Cheating & Bullying With Your Students” webinar will reveal each of these strategies and show you how you can integrate them into your work with students.
This webinar is for YOU if you want to avoid these problem behaviors AND early substance use AND:
Lock in your seat now and join me and my teacher friend in the webinar. She’s more than ready to turn her worry into action and do her best to make her students’ futures the best. Register now to save your seat and you will be on your way to doing the same.
I’ll see you there!