Anger/emotional/behaviour problems in an out of control 3 (almost 4) year old! HELP!

(17 Posts)
Tash21 Thu 22-Nov-12 14:42:05

This is going to be a long and very complicated thread, but i am desperate for any advice or help as i'm struggling at the moment,

To start from the beginning, my son has been in full time nursery from 20 months, he has always loved it no issues leaving me, he's very clever (too clever sometimes) could count, recognise numbers, talk, knew his shapes etc all before he started nursery.
He has always been hot headed and had a bit of a temper but is a very loving and sociable little boy, since his move to pre-school his tempers escalated, the nursery put things in place 1 on 1 time, time out etc, reward charts and seemed to be getting under control. Then there was lots of changes, his favourite key worker went on maternity leave, staff were changed around and his behaviour got worse, hitting out, throwing things, big tantrums.
One time the management were called as back up as he was throwing things around, after a period of stalemate and him continueing to throw things and lash out the manager then smacked him, i was told the following day that her staff had reported this.
There was a period of 6 weeks where she was suspended while a case was put against her, the laddo decided no further action and left it to the nursery to deal with, we then pursued it further through the police, they eventually said they could not charge her (not enough evidence no camera where it happened, no mark as it wasn't reported until 3 hours later) and we were told she would be re-instated as there were no charges.
So we had no choice but to remove him from this nursery but in the weeks that followed the incident before we removed him his behaviour became much worse, completely trashing rooms throwin toys, bricks, baskets, shelves etc, saying nasty things, calling people names.
He has been at his new nursery 3 weeks now and they have already had a lady from SENCO into assess him, the health visitor will be out to see us and sent off a CAF form, his behaviour has spiralled out of control, he is swearing, throwing things, punching, headbutting, biting, spitting, throwing food, screaming. You name it he is doing it, his anger is so venemous its scary, he understands right from wrong he tells the staff when he is going to do something, there is no anger build up just outbursts its calculated and planned, he is weeing on staff and threatening to poo on them, they are by all admissions quite scared to be left alone with him. He has also told them he will tell mummy that they have stood on his foot or smacked him!
I am at a complete loss how to tackle this, i have been going to the nursery on my lunch, they have tried reward charts, quiet room, puppets, talking to him about what makes him angry, giving him choices of activities, putting him in smaller groups getting him to help out, some have worked but only for a short period of time and the tiniest of things can set him off again.
He is alot better behaved for me at home and the worst of his behaviour is seen at nursery however we have had many incidents at home now where he is lashing out and hitting us, he seems to find most of what he's doing amusing, but will sit and listen when we explain why it is wrong, he gets upset and promises not to do it again but then the next day goes into nursery and continues hitting, smacking etc. He is not mixing with other children anymore he says he wants to be alone most of the time, and doesn't want to join in group activities which is completely out of character. You can have a full conversation with him his speech and understanding of things is very advanced for his age, so i know he can express his emotions he's just choosing not to.
The swearing aswell is a big shock for us as we have only ever heard him swear once or twice and immediately told him what he's saying doesn't make sense, he only has to hear something once and he knows how to use it in context. Some of the things he has said would be shocking heard from an adult and i know they have not come from home.
Although there have been tiny areas of improvement since the change of nursery, he was still occasionally having accidents at his old one but now has not had any (except the ones he has been doing on purpose) mostly his behaviour has got much worse, scarily worse, he is not the same happy bright little boy with a bit of a hot temper he was 12 months ago, hes now becoming a danger to himself, other children and the staff ( most of his voilent outbursts are aimed at the staff)
Any advice on any of the issues would be much appreciated! i'm fighting a losing battle at the moment and i have tried just about everything i can think possible, from reward charts to bribing him! nothing seems to be working at the moment and its making for a very unhappy house and most of all a very unhappy child sad I understand the big changes, the assault, the stress at home due to recent events could all be having an effect on him, i would love some advice on how to counter act this.
My huge concern is that he starts school in 9 months and if his behaviour is to get any worse, or not see any improvement is that he will not be able to attend a main stream school, even though he is very intelligent. I'm also having to consider my job and if i can go part time or even give it up to give him the attention he seems to be craving although financially this may not be possible, and he does need to attend some form of nursery to prepare him for school.

Ineedalife Thu 22-Nov-12 18:03:47

Gosh tash, sorry you are having to go through all this.

Your Ds sounds like he is really struggling and very unhappy.

you say he wants to be alone. Does he ever play with other children?

Do you go to soft play or play areas? If so what is he like?

Does he have any siblings or cousin/friends that he plays with at home?

Sorry to ask so many questions but am trying to build a picture of him away from nursery.

Ineedalife Thu 22-Nov-12 18:05:52

Sorry I meant to say I am a SENCO in a preschool and have 3 children, 2 of them have special needs and challenging behaviour.smile

JuliaScurr Thu 22-Nov-12 18:07:23
Tgger Thu 22-Nov-12 22:53:29

I wonder if you can take a week off to settle him. I know it's not ideal but it's quite an extreme situation. This will give you time to work out what's best to do. If I was you I think I would have a bad bout of flu.

Then I would make sure he got enough rest, lots of one to one and positive activities (sure you try to do all these things just difficult in busy life sometimes).

Remember he is very little. He may seem like he can engage in an adult conversation about his behaviour, but he can't really. And he can't control his emotions in the way an older child/adult can.

mammyof5 Thu 22-Nov-12 23:53:55

how old is he now (sorry if i missed it).
as he isnt in school i would think it is highly unlikely he can identify his emotions

so i know he can express his emotions he's just choosing not to.

i very much doubt this. feeling cards could help with this help you and him understand that he is not always angry but sometimes upset, afraid, confused, frightened and doesn't know how to deal with those emotions.

i just bought a lovely book doe my ds the colour of happy it talks about blue being said green is jealous etc she is poorly at mo so not gone through it with her yet. but is looks like a nice gentle way to introduce identifying feelings.

i would concentrate on the improvement lots and lots of praise till you and all the staff feel like parrots. start tiny and build up.

never say anything or let anyone else say anything negative about him in his hearing this is extremely important. at pick up we just want the good. worker i asked him to do this and he did. you that is fantastic you are such a good/clever/.... boy.

the negative is passed in a book for you to read in private and respond to also it can be used for you to make notes to them.

drop off he was so good this morning he did .... worker well done you are such a clever etc little boy.

this really will work wont be instant but nothing worth doing ever is lol.

adoptmama Fri 23-Nov-12 04:39:56

How frequent are his outbursts? Are they any dietry factors you could consider are affecting his behaviour. If it is as calculated as you suspect, what is the purpose behind his behaviour: is he trying to control others (he has found a super effective method of doing this, that's for sure), or is he trying to get his own way, avoid things he doesn't like (tidy up time), jealous of someone else getting attention (now he is getting lots) etc. Knowing the purpose of the behaviour is very important as he definitely has one; whether conscious or unconscious.

He is clearly very aware of the adult discussions which led to his removal from his previous nursery since he now uses this against staff at the new ones. That is very calculating behaviour on his part (clever too) so I would advise having any discussions about nursery and his behaviour out of his ear shot. Also be very clear to him that you know he is lying and you will not accept or listen to these lies when you say these things about his teachers. Do you have a consistent consequence at home if he behaves badly at school?

What did the SENCO say when he/she assessed him. Do they feel that there could be any special needs - such as autism - affecting his behaviour and leading to these outbursts? Did he/she offer any real behaviour management techniques? Has the SENCO seen the outbursts? Can someone film it to help get him clearly assessed. You need to identify if you have a child with some kind of disorder/difficulty which puts his behaviour out of his control, or if you have a child who is 'simply' monumentally badly behaved, as how you tackle his behaviour will differ for each case.

Whilst you can have very high level conversations with an intelligent child remember their emotional age isn't highly developed. He may even lag in thia area behind his peers. Are you being consistent in his consequences at home and if so, what works, that the school can also use. You clearly have a mountain to climb with his behaviour and need to help him control himself appropriately. I would definitely urge you to pursue things with the senco and with an assessment by an educational psychologist too to help understand why your DC is behaving in this way. His behaviour is not within the 'normal' range for children of his age, so I suspect you will benefit from professional advice on how to help him.

Tash21 Fri 23-Nov-12 09:48:25

Thankyou all for your advice, i'll try my best to reply to all of your questions.

Ineedalife - Lewis has never had problems mixing with children until recently, he has always loved group activities at his previous nursery. But he has always loved 1 on 1 time with adults aswell. He has 2 cousins who are 5 and almost 7 who he adores and has regular contact with. He's never been a big fan of sharing but will share once coaxed and occasionally off his own back but i've been told he is very posessive over toys he is playing with now.

Tgger - I have no holidays left for this year, and the bout of flu is sounding very tempting but i'm not really in a position to be able to leave a weeks worth of work, i know this sounds awful and i feel guilty about it every day. My work are very understanding though and i'm next door to my sons nursery i can literally see his playground from my offfice window. I have been in meeting after meeting at the nursery which have run over, i go to see him on my dinner hour and sometimes ive been there much longer than the hour and my boss has never once had an issue with it so i know if it came down to it i would be able to take a day or 2 off with him, but i'm trying to get to xmas where i then get 8 days off (so almost 2 weeks with weekends) and praying this time at home with me will give me the chance to tackle the issues with his anger and really see what triggers it, although like i said his behaviour at home is angelic compared to at nursery.

mammyof5 - He is 3 almost 4 (feb) i didn't mean he can express his emotions as such like an adult, but he is able to tell me when he's sad or angry or scared and has usually always done this, but when asked at nursery he just says i don't know. At his previous nursery they had emotion eggs, sad egg, happy egg, excited egg worried etc and when we were leaving they gave us laminated mini versions of them and most mornings i ask him how he's feeling, and he always says "excited egg" and i ask him how he wants to make others feel and he says "happy/excited egg" i dont want to make anybody "sad eggs" today. I thought this was helping but then he still goes into nursery with every intention of being good, but once one outburst starts, that is him pretty much set up to have a bad day. We have been trying to be ass positive as possible, and i now speak to the staff before i collect him to see if there have been any incidents, i am finding it hard to stay positive some days when i'm reduced to tears at some of the things he's said and done to the staff but i know that him seeing me upset or disappointed in him isn't going to help. I've just ordered a book called "i feel angry" aswell in the reviews its used by alot of parents with children who have autism and severe behaviour difficulties and has really good reviews, so fingers crossed it will provide some help for us combined with everything else we're trying!

adoptmama - His outbursts can be so frequent where they last pretty much all day on or off, or he can have a brilliant morning and then a terrible afternoon or vice versa. The worst to date is 8 incident forms, almost all of which were voilence towards the staff and his behaviour was challenging all day long. They have taken a low sugar approach to his diet, the cook makes him low sugar cakes, scones etc so he can still eat the same as his friends, he has no issue with this strangeley and will happily sit and eat fruit if there has been no low sugar alternative available, whilst his friends have the "nicer" treat. Which suprised me as i thought this would be something that would cause him to have an outburst, there has been a slight improvement in his behaviour after lunch because of this. But we are still having problems where he says he doesn't want snack so throws it or he doesn't want his dinner and refuses to eat ( he was a huge appetite and this is very unlike him )
I was never aware he had over heard any discussions about what happened at his nursery but i've learnt he is very good at picking things up even if he has heard a snippet of a converstation and i very much regret not knowing this sooner. I have made it clear i know he's telling fibs and after gentle questioning he always says not really i'm telling fibs.
We were struggling to find any trigger points until recently and we've found as soon as he doesn't get his own way is when the trouble starts, at home i'm able to disarm him when this starts, probably without realising i'm doing it, but at nursery anything they try, distraction techniques, other options etc don't seem to have the same effect on him. I think with what happened at his nursery and the extra attention he recieved of both us and the staff has maybe led him to believe he should always have his own way, even though at home we've always been firm about manners, having patience, not always getting to do everything you want (eating chocolate for breakfast and staying up until 100 oclock as he puts it)
I have spoken to his SENCO and she did put a learning plan in place, to calm him down in 5 mins, use distraction techniques, try to get him to talk about his feelings with puppets, books etc, it worked for about 3 days then this week we have been back to square one. She did see one of his outbursts where he picked up a table and threw it in temped because he didn't want another child "into his world" where he'd barracaded himself off from the other children. I'm not aware of any thoughts that he has special needs but it is very early stages and i've still to meet with his health visitor and speak to an educational psychologist about assessing him.
The SENCO did mention that he does seem to be showing signs that he is lacking in his emotional development, and we came to the conclusion that because he is so physically strong, has advanced speech and appears older than he is, that maybe this has been skimmed over. He started nursery one up from the baby room as he was so advanced (even though he was only 20months old) he then progressed through the classes earlier than his peers because of his size and intelligence, he even moved upto pre-school 6 weeks before his 3rd birthday and this to me is the starting point of his behaviour problems although they were very small problems in comparison to now.

Tash21 Fri 23-Nov-12 09:52:00

Also been informed yesterday that the manager at his old nursery is still suspended while a private internal investigation is carried out, which i never knew would happen, and he could have remained at his old nursery although i think his behaviour problems would still have advanced without the move just maybe not as quickly. But thats one tiny bit of good news to come out of these terrible 6 weeks!

3littlefrogs Fri 23-Nov-12 09:53:52

It sounds as if he is struggling with the nursery's expectation that he should be more mature than he is. I think this is a real problem with children who are big for their age, and have good language skills. It doesn't mean that their emotional maturity is the same.

I think the SENCO is spot on. What is the nursery going to do about it?

Tash21 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:26:44

The new nursery that he's at now are being really good to be honest even though they are struggling with his behaviour, he's only been there 3 weeks and they've had the SENCO in, arranged a CAF form and a meeting to take place next week with all the professionals to put another learning plan and behaviour strategies in place. They don't know him well enough to know his trigger points at the moment so its all just trial and error. It was his old nursery where he was treated more mature than he is, but then we never experienced these behaviour issues as extreme as the ones he has now, so its really difficult to try and pin point whats caused it. But we all agree this could be the underlying issue, his emotional development has been brushed over not intentionally i admit i forget how old he is sometimes when i'm chatting away to him like i would someone twice his age, i'm not looking to blame anyone, although his behaviour has got much worse since he was assaulted by a member of management who he adored and hopefully she will get the punishment she deserves! I could spend all day blaming her, the nursery, myself for leaving him in full time child care but i don't think that would get us anywhere, so i'm just trying to gather as much information and techniques as possible to tackle his challenging behaviour and get my happy little boy back.

cashmere Fri 23-Nov-12 10:53:25

I would be tempted to see if you can take a career break to break the cycle and then have a fresh start at school.

My DS was cared for by ILs whilst I worked and though much younger (2 1/2) they seemed to become increasingly negative about relatively normal behaviour and nagged/ gave negative attention +++
DS has excellent language skills and is on 90th centiles and I think there expectations were bizarre- eg commenting that he runs too much and should walk around (the garden!!)

Anyway, I digress- I've now been on mat leave for 2 weeks and have been praising him almost constantly, not nagged about anything unimportant (food etc) and ignored/ given choices eg wellies on and go out or no wellies stay in.

He is so much happier, calmer totally polite- our house sounds sickingly nice!! I think I've been lucky that a potential problem has been nipped in the bud. I think constant praise/cuddles as been the key as I think DS was becomming increasingly insecure/worried.

ILs came over for a day this week. FIL said he'd never seen
him so calm/ concentrating on things/ doing as asked which has made me wonder what's been going on there. (MIL said they change quickly at this age......she's right in a way!!)

adoptmama Fri 23-Nov-12 11:26:20

I think the possibility of him not being emotionally 'mature' yet, in terms of being on the same level as peers, could be a very telling piece of information for you. As a secondary teacher I see boys over and over again who start school at 4 and fail throughout their school career because they were not emotionally ready for it. The fact he is 'advanced' a year due to his age and verbal skills is not really good at all if emotionally he is a 2 year old (for example). My DD1 frequently has expectations put on her she emotionally can't meet - people tell me they 'forget' she is 5. DD2 gets the opposite - v. small and delayed in speech she gets babied, which is not good for her either. He sounds like a little boy desperately trying to exert some control on his life (like trying to control who comes into 'his world', regressing in his sharing skills). Have you thought about putting him 'back' to a younger age group where he could be one of the oldest instead of the youngest?

adoptmama Fri 23-Nov-12 11:29:33

Meant to say too that the reason you are seeing such an escalation in his behaviour may well be linked to his fear and confusion over being moved. Despite what happened with the member of staff he seems to have been happy there and he has been wrenched away. He may blame himself for the move for 'telling'. He may be avoiding making friends as he had to leave his previous ones (and to be honest 3 weeks is not long for a child to settle and make friends, so I wouldn't worry too much about that yet) or just be finding it hard to break into established friendship groups (especially if his emotional/social skills are lagging).

Tash21 Fri 23-Nov-12 12:21:15

He's in the right age group now it was just he was moved in to pre-school a little too early, just before he was 3 when his peers didn't go up until 3.5 years. I know he loved his old nursery and even though we had some small issues which i think we would have anywhere i was always happy with the staff and their relationship with him, infact i cried like a baby when he left because i knew how close he was to certain practitioners. I knew it would be difficult moving him but i didn't realise it would cause this many problems and i'm starting to regret it now, but i wasn't willing to let him stay in a nursery with the possibility of the nursery worker who'd smacked him returning to work i know after 6 weeks of meetings and phonecalls and being calm i wouldn't be help responsible for my actions if i had to lay eyes on her again. He didn't tell on her either, her staff reported her but i understand what you mean about he may feel like he's being punished being in a new nursery and overwhelmed. He has formed a close bond with 2 of the practitioners at his current nursery but he still continues to be voilent towards them sometimes just minutes after giving them kisses and cuddles i think he's very confused about what he's feeling.

cashmere - i'm giving it until xmas and then if there's no improvement i'm going to see if i can get part time hours or even leave my job until September when he starts school. Financially this isn't really viable and is a last resort but if its the only thing that will work then i will have to do it for his sake.
He does spend every morning before nursery with me and evenings with me and dad, up at 6am going to nursery for 8/8.30 and i try to make every hour we have during the week fun and fit as much in as we can, he goes to dance class which he loves, and we always try and have family meals together and days under the duvet watching dvds, adventure walks, baking etc i know its hard to cram in as much as we can so we don't feel as bad about him being in full time nursery, but i do try my hardest not to come home and be too tired to do anything.

Ineedalife Fri 23-Nov-12 13:55:27

Hi Tash, glad you managed to get back on to your threadsmile

I have read most of the posts and sorry if I have missed this but What is your LO's behaviour like at home?

Does he have aggressive outbursts towards you or his Dad?

cashmere Fri 23-Nov-12 19:07:31

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now