Behaviour Problems at school 6 year old Boy

(18 Posts)
cathpalmer Thu 21-Mar-13 17:40:58

Please help!

My nearly 6 year old son is behaving really badly at school.
In this last week alone we have had reports that he has spat at another pupil on 3 separate occasions, he has hit someone and he has wet himself once as well.
The teachers are always commenting that he is often over excited and loud in class and whines loudly when he struggles to do a task. He often needs some one to one support to stay on task.

The wetting himself bit is awful, but it tends to be because he's having too much fun to bother stopping to go to the toilet as it's often when he's excited. However, he shows good bladder control at home but maybe that's because we see the warning signs.

This last week on the first spitting incident we sat down and discussed it with him, we didn't tell him off, just told him how sad it made us to hear what he'd done and asked him not to do it again. He then did it again two days later so we told him off (gently) and then made him write out lines "spitting is bad". We thought he'd got the point and then today we learned that he'd done it again.

We've been up until now praising good behaviour and rewarding him with things he wants by earning them, and trying not to react to poor behaviour.
however, we've also tried in the past punishing bad behaviour.

We're at the end of our tether. He behaves well when he's at home, only really poor behaviour shown when he's at school.

What can we do?

We have two other children too - 2 girls aged 3 and 1.

I'm starting to feel that we're bad parents. The other parents at school have already started to disassociate themselves with us, we're so upset with it all.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Thu 21-Mar-13 19:09:41

How is he getting on academically? Is the work a struggle or ok?

cathpalmer Thu 21-Mar-13 19:23:06

With Maths he seems to be doing reasonably well, but with literacy he's not finding it as easy.
The teachers are saying that he is behind with reading and writing. He is able to spell words out and work out what they are and can recognise letters but he struggles to write words down on paper.
He's in year one currently and he's working at level 1c for reading but the teacher says he's not on 1c for writing. The aim of course is to be level 1 by the end of the year - the teacher doesn't think he'll achieve this.
He has additional help at school too though.

adoptmama Thu 21-Mar-13 20:06:42

Your lad is struggling both academically and socially by the sounds of it. Is he young for his year group by any chance? Some children are really just not ready for the huge changes between Nursery and Reception and Reception and Nursery. How was he in Reception in terms of behaviour and did they have any strategies which can be replicated by Y1?

There are things the school can do to try to help him make and maintain friendships. Some children are very poor at this and do need to really explicit help and direction to play appropriately and accept and deal with the small victories and defeats playing with friends creates.

I'd arrange to go in for a chat with the school. Explain to them you are concerned by his behaviour in school and would like their opinion on what is triggering it; is it conflict with classmates etc. Ask too what help and support they can give at school and ask how you can support it at home. Your son is old enough to understand that other children are able to do things in school that he is struggling with and this can have a very bad effect on self esteem, even at such a young age. You need your son to start feeling that he can achieve success in school as this will help motivate him to work hard.

adoptmama Thu 21-Mar-13 20:07:45

change between Reception and Year 1, i meant. sorry.

cathpalmer Thu 21-Mar-13 20:13:24

Thank you for your response.
He had some similar behaviour problems in Reception class too.
We have spoken to the school about it before and they have told us that any aggression that he shows seems to be in response to another childs' actions whether justified or not!
He's an april birthday but he does seem emotionally less mature than other students. Although again, at home he can be very mature when he wants to be!

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Thu 21-Mar-13 20:19:21

Spitting in my book is a complete no no. He won't be doing himself any favours whatsoever and other children will stay away from him. I think you need to come down on him very hard and put an end to this immediately.

I would warn him in no uncertain terms that if he does it again, he will come home and go straight to bed without any supper. Horrible for both of you, but you must stick to it.

Very harsh, but it will put a stop to it immediately.

cathpalmer Thu 21-Mar-13 20:22:21

I totally agree. Spitting is disgusting - we have no idea where he learnt it! Certainly not from home that's for sure.
Today after the spitting incident he went straight upstairs to bed. He didn't get to join in with meal time with the rest of us and my husband went upstairs with a sandwich for him - told him off properly then left him to it. He's not been downstairs at all since. We feel awful though.

adoptmama Thu 21-Mar-13 20:26:05

Do you feel then that he over reacts in social situations or doesn't really understand how to act appropriately? Can he be very impulsive? If so, perhaps introducing some puppets and play therapy techniques at home will help. There are some really good resources available and it can be very revealing watching a child play in this way. It can also give you the chance to role play activities/appropriate responses with other children. Children can certainly be massively different at home (where they feel confidenct and 'know their place') and at home where they can feel much more insecure and stressed.

Does your son have the vocabularly and self awareness to try to explain to you why he is acting like this. If so then try to get him to open up on how he was feelng just before the spitting occured. If he struggles with identifying his emotions a fun thing to make is a emotions chart: just take lots of close up facial photos of him ('do your happy face'; 'angry face'; scared face; tired face; sad face; lonely face etc.) and stick them all on an A4 document and label each picure (I feel happy etc.) and stick it on the wall; and ask him to point to the photo of how he feels when he is getting upset/angry etc. This can work well in school too if he gets too worked up to stop long enough to identify his feelings verbally (some children just can get the words out about how they feel when their emotions are strong). From here you can start thinking of practical responses/reactions he can make: "when you are angry in school you can....." and get him to suggest workable solutions. Liek "when I am angry at school I can go to the quiet corner and punch the bean bag." In this way you can hopefully get him to start thinking about and understanding how he is feeling so that he can learn to tune down his reactions. A chart like this can also help him when he is struggling with work; instead of whining he can try to point to how he feels; frustrated, unhappy, worried etc.

cathpalmer Thu 21-Mar-13 20:37:02

Yes that does sound good. He never really is able to tell us why he does it, he just says .... was doing this and I didn't like it so I hit him etc.
We talk to him and say - do you understand that it's wrong, how would you feel if someone did it to you. He'll say - sad, upset etc.
We don't want to be cross with him. We wondered if he felt he was not getting enough attention from us, but it's hard because we do have 3 children so would not be fair to concentrate on just one!
He can be a little impulsive - can be very loud and over the top.

adoptmama Thu 21-Mar-13 20:59:05

It's ok to be cross with him. It will help him learn. If you don't actually show him you are cross you are sending him mixed messages in a way because you are verbally telling him something is not ok, but otherwise it may appear to him you are not that bothered. You are also communicating the message that anger must be hidden or avoided, which could make him feel even more confused as to why he gets angry and you don't. Anger is as normal an emotion as happiness, sadness etc and it is very important children hear this message. Being angry is not something that makes him naughty. He is allowed to feel angry with someone. It is not ok however to spit or hit. You need to separate the feelings from the actions. Give him permission to be angry.

'How would you feel if someone did that to you' coversations are generally not the most productive approaches to take as they are pretty much dead ends for discusson: 'I'd feel pretty upset if someone spat on me, thanks for asking' smile Discussing or giving him suggestions for alternative ways to behave as well as helping him understand emotions and identify how he is feeling will help.

cathpalmer Thu 21-Mar-13 21:14:45

I can see what you're saying, I'm really hoping that these things will work.
School implemented a contact book to tell us how he'd done that day in school and let us know if there had been any incidents.
They then said last week that they felt that it had become a source of anxiety to him and they felt that as they had punished him in school for his actions (missing play time etc) then we shouldn't been acting on it when he gets home too otherwise it would be punishing him twice. They suggested that we use the contact book as a source of information only.
But I can't not react if he has done something so naughty, surely.
The school said that we can talk about the contents of the book with him but not react.
We're so confused.

TreadOnTheCracks Thu 21-Mar-13 21:20:30

I'm with keepcool I think. My DS is yr 1 and we've had some troubles of our own.

What seems to be working now is him being a good boy at school, to earn his 1 hr screen time. If he's not a good boy - no screen time, no discussion. If the teacher has to speak to me about a specific incident then it's quick tea then early to bed. If he spat, then yes, straight to bed it would be.

I have an agreement with the teacher that she gives me a thumbs up as he comes out to confirm he's behaved himself. I count the thumbs up he gets in a row and make a big fuss of him every good day. We are up to 8 in a row now. I text DH and my mum and they make a big fuss too about good days, so lots of praise and encouragement to go along with it.

I work in a school and I see children taking the wrong path and what happens to them. I think it's worth nipping it in the bud, (unless there are sen circumstances of course).

As for the being a bit behind in the levels, April is a lateish birthday and there's plenty of time to catch up. My DS is similar I think (no idea on levels). With regard to this I just explode with joy whenever he writes anything at home or reads anything independently - he loves this!

Good luck, you sound like a great mum, doing her absolute best here and I think you'll be ok. Repeat together - this too shall pass!

mrslaughan Thu 21-Mar-13 21:24:04

I think you should do some research on Sensory Processing Disorder...it is quite a big area, but there might be "funny"things, quirks, that you just accept, but that are part of a bigger picture.
DS has SPD (he is sensory seeking) - but would get overloaded at school and then we would have trouble with terrible behaviour. He is now really well "modulated"(thats what they call it) - and he is like a different child.

cathpalmer Thu 21-Mar-13 21:26:40

Thank you so much for your support it means a lot to us.
I want him to achieve all that he can be, and be the lovely boy we know he is too!
I think you're right a mixture of positive reinforcement for good things and strictness for the not so good.
He does still need to deal with his emotions too so that's something I'll have to work on too.

fegus Thu 21-Mar-13 21:57:48

Hi cath, I could have written your post, almost word for word, a couple of weeks back.

Lots of good advice already on this thread, but just wanted to say I found a book in the library so helpful, "Help Your Child or Teen Get Back on Track" by Kenneth Talan. The title sounds slightly misleading, as it is useful for younger children too. Really practical ideas to identify the cause of your child's problems and how to deal with them.

My DS is 5 also, and I've just got back from a parent's evening I was dreading; but he has improved so much in the last few weeks ,that it was actually a good report.

I try to remember also, in Scandanavia, the only place where boys perform as well as as girls in 'GCSE' type exams,; children don't start school until they are 7 years old. Which is about the age boys start to catch up with girls in their maturity. Have a look at Gary Wilson's website, think it's called 'raising boys' or something similar. smile

TreadOnTheCracks Fri 22-Mar-13 13:40:04

fegus, I have ordered that book, has great reviews too.

bumblingbovine Sun 24-Mar-13 10:35:29

If this is an ongoing issue that has been happening in reception and not just a recent development, there may be something else going on. School is a very challenging environment for some children. Some children need a bit of help to get this and some need much more help

My ds has a diagnosis of ADHD and ASD and has had terrible behavioural problems at school. It has been a nightmare for us as it is generally always seen as the "parent's fault". However ds (8 yrs old) has recently been attending a behavioural unit or two days a week and the change in his behaviour at school is amazing. This was paid for by the school as fundamentally it is a lovely school but they really had reached the end of their ability to manage DS. This improvement is because the unit have implemented the old fashioned triad of high expectations (appropriately adjusted for the child), immediate consequences and lots of positive reinforcement.

This is mostly what we do at home and is based on our intimate knowledge of ds and what works for him. It can be hard work but it works . The unit has worked with the school to ensure they are doing this as well. The school would have argue they were doing this in the past, but they clearly weren't because the new strategies are almost working miracles. In the end whatever we did at home which was a lot, (and we always backed the school), didn't help. What did help was the school changing its attitude and its strategies.

I am not suggesting your son has the issues my son has, just that these strategies work for most children, but they are hard work to maintain and many schools can't actually be bothered.

Having said that, only you as his parents can decide if this is something more than just normal 6 year old boy behaviour that the school is not dealing with well. If you listen to your instincts you will know if you think your child has more than this going on . Think carefully, do you make more allowances at home for him than for your other children? do you modify things for him in a way that you might not for the others?. If so it is you being good parents and responding to his needs but it might also be a sign that there is more going on than normal 6 year old boy behaviour?

If you feel that your ds really is fine at home then you may need to reconsider if this school is the best place for him? If you think there is more going on then maybe you need to see if he needs assessment of some sort and that the school might need to reconsider how they help him.

Also don't blame lack of attention due to siblings, DS is an only child and we thought this might be the problem - smile As parents we always think we are to blame and while that may be partly true, sometimes the school could do better too.

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