You know how sometimes you're pretty sure you're talking just to throw it out there and see if any of it sticks on another person? Well, apparently all of what I said stuck.
Punkin has a long history of "targeting" certain classmates and pulling on them, tackling them, hitting them, and otherwise making them crazy. In the past it's always been a communication problem (he wants to play but doesn't know how to ask) or a jealousy issue (you looked at my mom/teacher/friend and now I must exact my revenge).
Well, he has been struggling with all of the new students coming into his room and taking his attention away. However, for a while he found a new way to get some glory; he became a mini teacher's assistant. (This is a nice way of saying he was bossy.)
He constantly reminded the other students of the routine, handed them their equipment that they needed, and told them "no" when appropriate. I think it's funny; however, unlike his teachers, I did not have to spend 6.25 hours a day with an uninvited assistant.
And then another new student came and he lost it. I saw him with this student, and it was not a confused invitation to play. My son was MAD! The reason why remains a mystery, but it is clear from the stiffening of his body and the clenching of his jaw that this child just set him off. And I think it got to the point where even Punkin didn't know why he was being aggressive, but the pattern of behavior held him captive.
That is until SUPERMOM! stepped in. Okay, I am totally kidding. It's like this; I had a completely nonchalant talk with him in the car (while we were driving) about this student and "no pushing, no pulling, no hitting." I think I even suggested, "No play with him. If you play with him, then gentle hands. We are gentle with friends."
Umm, it worked. He had a better day. I've repeated the conversation a few times -- in the car again -- and I think it's sticking. The car is a good place because there's no demand for eye contact and it's a happy place for his sensory system. If I tried to sit down with him at home and look him in the eye, he would either kick me or laugh. Or both.
So how does my son know what gentle means? Well, once a child hits, you say, "No hit; gentle hands" and hand-over-hand (if needed) help them gently touch the other child. It works best with toddlers, but the concept has stuck with Punkin. Now I can tell him, "Gentle to toys" and he knows that I mean, "STOP THAT INSUFFERABLE BANGING!"