So, if your DC was the bright, sociable but naughty one in reception...

(18 Posts)
artifarti Thu 15-Nov-12 12:30:08

DS1 started reception in mid-September. He is a late August baby so probably the youngest in his class. At parent's evening this week I was told he is doing well 'academically' and keeping up with or exceeding older children. He is also sociable and making friends (we have had some playdates, invites to parties etc.) But he is always getting into trouble (pushing and shoving, not listening, breaking other people's things if they won't play with him etc.). We have been talking to his teacher at the schoolgate and between us have a sticker chart reward system, which seems to be helping. He went mornings to a nursery where they also had problems with him, although it settled down after a few months (they described his behaviour as, "worse than average but not the only one and certainly not the worst"). At home he is not too bad, seems like a pretty typical 4 year old boy to me and he usually behaves okay on playdates and parties but something about the school environment seems to send him a bit bonkers.

I think we are doing the right things - communicating with his teacher, lots of praise for good behaviour - but I do worry that this streak will continue as he gets older. He's such a lovely, funny little chap I would hate for him to always be labelled as 'the naughty one'. Sometimes I feel very worried and other times think "arti, don't over-react, he's four." Any tips/sage words from anyone who has been there before? Should I be doing anything else?

Allegrogirl Thu 15-Nov-12 13:47:47

I'm in a similar position with DD1 except she is one of the oldest in year. Strongwilled, stubborn, wicked sense of humour. I was also told at nursery she was naughty but not the naughtiest and well within normal.

Her teacher made me feel awful at the first parents evening despite saying DD has good manners, is helpful in class and is very able when she can be persuaded to join the rest of the class! School really seems to press her buttons as she is having trouble sharing and having tired meltdowns. She was an angel at a recent school trip to the zoo though and is always very good for childminder.

Teacher wasn't helpful about managing the behaviour but we have started a sticker chart and remind her every morning to 'sit on the carpet when teacher asks and tell a grown up if she is upset, not have a foot stamping row about it'. Teacher has confirmed a big improvement in behaviour.

Also hoping for tips/reassurance from people who have been there. A couple of people have suggested ADHD but I don't think it's that bad. If I see another FB status of 'PFB doing fabulously in reception, proud mummy!' I may scream.

artifarti Thu 15-Nov-12 14:00:52

<passes strong beverage to Allegrogirl> I have also wondered about SENs but nothing seems to fit DS1 and his teacher did say, "I don't think he's on any sort of spectrum or anything, if that's what you think I mean" when I got a bit teary. It's hard, isn't it, to know what to think/do?

Pancakeflipper Thu 15-Nov-12 14:04:14

My DS2 starts school next Sept. He is the kid at nursery who had a hitting phase, loves a tantrum. Can be sweet, has a wonderful sense of humour. But is very spirited,loud and is hard work. Dreading school. Cannot imagine him sat a desk. Can imagine him sat on it. Practising at nursery and home.

Watches this thread with great interest.

Salamanger Thu 15-Nov-12 16:07:20

No help to offer, but I've worked with 3-5 year olds for 5 years and have had a child like this in every group I've had.

I do have a theory that there will always be a child filling this niche- as you describe for your DD, bright and sociable but a real handful. Will be interested in any responses about strategies that work for behaviour management.

I've seen good results with emphasizing positives, and 'consequence-based' discipline.

artifarti Fri 16-Nov-12 09:40:28

That's interesting Salamanger - I guess you never get to see whether they continue to fulfil that role as they progress through school? I have horrible visions of parent's evenings in ten year's time...

steppemum Fri 16-Nov-12 10:15:28

I think younger children (even if bright and keeping up well academically) are still a little behind on social skills. The difference really shows at this age. So when they want a toy, they don't have th ecomplex skill, to ask, negotiate, plan that they will have the next turn, and then wait.

When they are in the playground, they don't have the skill yet to observe the other children and avoid and restrict your own activitiy so you don't collide with other kids etc.

I think schools are often not good at dealing with full on very physically active children too, so the combination means they are labelled 'naughty' when they are just normal lively 4 year olds.

It does help to talk through scenarios. 'If x is playing with a toy you want what could you do?' develop a short mantra around his own hardest issue, something like:
remember if you want to play, ask, take turns and play nicely. (try to avoid the negative)

He sounds lovely, and think of all those qualities in an adult, lively, interesting full of character, they are desireable qualities, just need some direction when they are little.

Salamanger Fri 16-Nov-12 12:24:05

steppemum, yes- usually children you think will grow up into really interesting adults!

arti I have with some (when we have their younger siblings). In most cases they do well once they settle in.

I'm in Scotland where schools are now using the Curriculum for Excellence which is very child-centred. Self-esteem and involvement are a big part of it, and the teaching is very hands-on. I think that's crucial to engaging young boys. They need time to mature. Four and five year olds are not meant to be sitting still, they should be running around and learning to get along.

Does the reception class have the time/staff to support your DS in learning to share? They need to observe and see where he falls in the pecking order. Are others quite dominant and hog resources? Is your DS confident talking to the other children? We try to teach ours to say "how long till my turn?" or "can I have it after you?"

Salamanger Fri 16-Nov-12 12:37:34

My point above being, that this behaviour is exactly what he should be learning to control at this age, rather than something that's getting in the way of his learning.

I don't think a sticker chart is 'teaching' anything. It just sets him up for failure, as he doesn't yet have the skills or understanding to be able to control his behaviour.

He could be learning about emotions, empathy, values, respect as well as how to hold a conversation, express his opinions, etc. Staff should be planning with this in mind.

Sorry for the rant. I get a bit het up as I find myself having to defend children from being labelled 'naughty' from an early age. I love working with children like this, as they respond so well to being treated with respect.

Male role models can also be important. I often ask mum's to get dad to share in encouraging good behaviour, it seems to mean a lot to little boys. If no DH involved, then possibly look elsewhere to male role models in stories/TV?

steppemum Fri 16-Nov-12 14:41:23

agree with you totally salamanger, these are not problem issues. they are normal age level and this is the point you begin with all the things you mentioned (empathy etc)

Allegrogirl Fri 16-Nov-12 17:05:44

'I'm in Scotland where schools are now using the Curriculum for Excellence which is very child-centred. Self-esteem and involvement are a big part of it, and the teaching is very hands-on. I think that's crucial to engaging young boys.'

What about lively girls like my DD?

Dd3 started reception last January and we struggled a bit. Dd3 is a classic 'spirited child' and her self esteem is centred not in other people's views of her but in her sense of what's right. So she could be described as 'stubborn' - or strong willed grin. This led to clashes but as time has gone on she's started to find things much, much easier. I do feel her teacher could be more positive tbh still but generally speaking we're doing ok. Take heart OP, your ds sounds lovely and this too shall pass. Imo children like yours and mine would be much better in Sweden say - not going to school for at least another 2 years. Dd3 has changed a lot in the last few months - in terms of listening and not arguing and over-asserting herself. Just so thankful I deferred her entry till January as I think she would have struggled even more in September.

Allegrogirl Fri 16-Nov-12 17:28:20

Northernlurker I also have a classic 'spirited child'. She is very stubborn and her teacher has decided to go head to head against her which has led to tears but things are gradually improving.

Glad to hear things have got better for you in the last few months.

Yes definate improvement. Hvaing had two able and compliant dcs through the school system it was a real shock to see just how much distance there could be between where dd3 was at and where her teacher expected her to be. She is just as able as the other two and now things have clicked she's doing really well. Her reading in particular is brilliant (imo grin)

Salamanger Fri 16-Nov-12 18:54:48

allegro, sorry- my experience has really only involved boys! Not sure why!

artifarti Fri 16-Nov-12 19:56:34

Thank you everyone smile. And, yes, he is lovely, which is why I would hate to think of anyone just thinking of him as 'the naughty boy'. Mums who know us from playdates are always a bit mystified when I tell them his reputation as he's generally fine when they see him. One good thing is that we live in a tightly catchmented school area and we can't even pop round the corner without some random child from school accosting him to say hello/talk about farting, so whatever 'bad' things he's doing, he obviously also making friends, which reassures me.

I am in two minds about the sticker chart. DS has got really into it and he likes the positive feedback it gives him (he often wants to know if I have spoken to his teacher and what she has said). But, yes, on the other hand I do think that a lot of his behaviour is impulsive so not terribly useful from that point of view. To be fair to the teacher, she is talking about setting up some social skills groups and she was also keen to emphasise lots of positive things about him. She says that when he does something wrong, they have a chat about it and talk through the 'whys' as well as alternative scenarios and ways of dealing with things, which we are also doing at home.

Northern - glad your DD3 is doing well. We have no January deferral here. Although funnily enough I was thinking about what would be happening if he had been born a week later and was just starting nursery and I think he'd be bored out of his mind (he's really enjoying learning to read) and would be twice the size of some of the children! In nursery he was put with the younger children to begin with and his behaviour was even worse! So I guess there's not always a magic bullet birth date (although I have opted for a sensible middle-way approach with DS2 who was born in March grin).

I am trying to calm down a bit now and hope that, as you say, he turns out to be a confident and interesting adult and I don't have to visit him in Borstal. wink

mewkins Fri 16-Nov-12 22:02:44

I also have a 'spirited' child- looking forward to her starting pre-school in Jan, should be interesting! Read something funny about them - that they possess the qualities which we find really challenging in children (strong-willed, confident, energetic, persistent, etc) but really value in adults.

fromparistoberlin Sun 18-Nov-12 00:45:35

i sometimes think that it takes all sorts, ie someone has to be the spirited naughty one! there is no malice so obviously berate him if he is blatantly bad/disobedient. otherwise let him be . he sounds like a nice little boy

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