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Please help! I don't know what to about 6 year old DD

(96 Posts)
CatWantsPeopleFood Tue 18-Sep-12 18:26:47

At home time today DD's teacher tells me that DD has been in trouble again at school. According to the teacher she scratched another girl's face at lunchtime, threw her own lunch on the floor, then kicked the head when taken to her office. No adult saw the scratching incident though and the girl had no marks on her face afterwards.

DD's version of events is slightly different. She says she was thirsty at lunch time but had finished her drink. So she decided to open her yoghurt to have a drink of that! The girl next to her then apparently started calling the dinner lady over because "she was going to tell" as she said DD wasn't allowed to do that. DD said she was worried about getting in trouble so put her hand up to the girls face (she does do this, it is her sign for stop) but she says she didn't scratch her.

DD says that she was then carried to the head's office. She said she didn't know that her dinner got thrown on the floor, or how it happened but she is definite she didn't do it. She did agree with me that it might have been knock by accident though. Anyway once at the head's office she said the head told her she was going to phone me. She said that she kicked the head to stop her from phoning. I didn't get any phone call from the head.

These kind of incidents have been happening at least once a week since DD was in reception. I don't know what to do about it anymore. DD knows that hurting people or throwing things is not appropriate behaviour. She doesn't do it at home, at anyone else's house, or at out of school clubs. She says she feels angry at school because the teachers don't listen to her/believe her. She also says she is sad because "everyone thinks I am a naughty girl"

I just don't understand what is going on. Teacher say they don't know either. I just want to help her, but don't know how.

CatWantsPeopleFood Wed 19-Sep-12 00:13:07

I forgot to say- yes to repeating phrases from the TV, they both do that all the time. Their current favourite though is 'Have you swiped your Nectar card?' from the Sainsbury's self service tills. I find it quite amusing but it also gets annoying after a while, though I can't complain because I used to do the same as a child and liked to 'learn' the words to adverts off TV and radio and also radio jingles. I can still remember most of them too!

Dont apologise!

Im not a professional and I havent heaps of experience, but you should maybe go look at the SN board.

A starting point might be Aspergers. I have a cousin with it and some of the things you say do sound similar.

That said, it could be other things Im not aware of.

I think my DD could well grow up with these issues. So I can see how worrying it can be. I hope you are ok!

LadySybildeChocolate Wed 19-Sep-12 00:24:17

A lot of what you've mentioned sounds like aspergers/ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder, there's lots of things which come under this, it doesn't always mean autism). The problems with space, need to touch, inability to recognise danger, need for routine, I think there's more. I'm not saying this is what the problem is, I do think that your daughter needs some help though and her school has placed a label on her rather then asked the right questions. Everyone's brain processes information differently, it's what makes us so unique. A child with aspergers/ASD processes information in a very different way, and can often struggle with the world as a whole as it's just so weird. I think it would help if you had a chat with your GP. Some schools are rubbish at detecting this. Have a think about it first, look up some information and see what they say. I'd pop and see your GP regardless, the quicker you do, the quicker you can access some help and support for whatever the problem may be.

As I said earlier, the SN board on here is full of parents who have more knowledge then the experts, so they will be able to help. I'll ask MNHQ to move this for you. smile

LadySybildeChocolate Wed 19-Sep-12 00:25:12

x post with domesticgoddess. smile

CatWantsPeopleFood Wed 19-Sep-12 00:52:56

Aspergers/ASD? I don't really know much about those but I will look them up and see if it fits DD at all. I suppose if it is then that would help towards finding a solution to these problems. I'm not sure though. I know a little boy at DS's nursery who has autism and he is nothing like DD. He doesn't talk much whereas she talks non stop sometimes, but like I said i don't know much about it. The only other thing I know about that little boy is my DS is very jealous of him because he gets to hold the calculator all day!

Thanks for asking for this thread to be moved btw, if you think it would be better somewhere else. I have no idea how to do that myself.

The autistic spectrum is very wide. It goes from one extreme to the other. Every child on it is affected to a different degree.

My cousin is in mainstream secondary school now. He has some difficulties with social situations and interactions but is generally doing well at school. He was diagnosed at 5.

Another girl I know of is Autistic and cannot talk at all for long periods of time. Her needs are high.

From the sound of your DD it sounds mild. But it is causing issues.

No matter what it is, knowledge is power. The sooner you work out whats going on the sooner you can help her smile

CatWantsPeopleFood Wed 19-Sep-12 09:53:36

I read through some stuff on aspergers last night. I'm not really sure tbh. Some of it does sound like DD but other parts do not.

This morning I have mad a huge mistake I think. After reading the comments on here about carrying, I asked DD how she felt about it. she said she didn't like it and also describe a particular way that they held her head that she hated. DD asked me to 'ask them to stop it' so I promised I would talk to her teacher about it as I had already agreed to talk about yesterday with her teacher this morning anyway. I did say to her that I couldn't promise that they would stop, but I could only talk to the teacher about it. But I think this was a mistake because basically, I have just left the school where DD is screaming in the corridor, while 3 adults stop her from running after me. I wish I knew what I could do to make this right sad

Oh no. You did what you could though (none of us really have a clue do we, we just muddle through) so try not to feel bad.

I think you need to make an appointment with the GP.

And, honestly, the school sounds dreadful. I think they are making the situation worse. The head hold thing sounds awful.

I would be finding another school. You should be able to make them stop. She is your child. If you say they shouldnt carry her or hold her then they shouldnt.

Your poor girl sad

Oh and when I was in primary school a boy in the year below started mid term. He didnt want to go. They used to lift him, an adult at each arm and leg into the classroom.

Even at my young age I used to wonder was there not a better way. Just because they are kids doesnt make it right. They are people, with their own thoughts and feelings.

sarahsal Wed 19-Sep-12 10:06:13

It seems that your DD`s outbursts are caused by anxiety. I doubt you`ll be able to make them disappear but there are things you and school can do to help relieve it and to support her in reacting more appropriately.
First I`d want to change her self-image of being `naughty`. I`d tell her she`s good/kind/thoughtful/helpful as many times as you can. Bombard her with compliments, always giving a reason why she`s so good. Ask school to support you by telling you/giving a list of 5 (3?4?) good things she`s done each day.
If you feel she needs something visual I`ve had success in school with `Catch-me stars` -stick stars on a long strip of paper every time you catch her being `good` and watch the strip grow....
Don`t go for specific targets yet it`s too much pressure if she fails.

Let her know that we all make mistakes (point out yours on and off throughout the day) but it`s not the end of the world. We can put it right and start again -might help with the panicking.

Ask for a `formal` meeting with school. If she`s not on the SEN register she should be with targets, strategies, support and review dates on a written IEP.
The key word there is support - she is clearly not coping at the moment and some TA support helps.
Try to get some timetabled for her -the school should know when it`s most helpful. (When a TA is free isn`t good enough !)

Other possibilities might include a visual timetable of the day`s events, pre-warning of changes, a quiet cosy space of her own to go to if she can feel things going wrong/to talk things through /bash a few cushions (not a naughty place - a little bit of sanctuary) , a trusted adult to help her at these times, small group circle-type sessions to help with the social skills .

It wouldn`t do any harm to chase up the ed psych referral either. Apart from highlighting any possible underlying condition for further investigation it would make her School Action Plus which should bring TA support!

Above all remember she`s only 6 and this behaviour is a way of telling you that it`s all too much for her! Give her a hug from me!

sarahsal Wed 19-Sep-12 10:11:15

Just read your last posted -posted while I was writing the above.
Make that 2 hugs from me!

My advice is to give the school a ring to ask if she`s calmed down and make an appointment!

adoptmama Wed 19-Sep-12 10:41:39

Ok I know that I said yesterday that carrying/holding a child is ok under some circumstances, and i stand by that. However no safe hold or restraint I have ever been taught to use involves holding a child's head (with one exception from when I was working with offenders and totally not on the cards here).

I would have serious concerns about them if they are holding your daughter's head whilst carrying her as it can be dangerous. I think you need an urgent meeting with the school and take someone with you if necessary so that if you are emotional a second person can record the meeting on your behalf.

You need to know what holds they are using, if and when they restrain, if they are trained and what their policy is on when hands can be put on a child (and it should only be for her safety or that of other people).

I would not let 3 adults keep my child from me when she is upset and I understand how devastating this morning must have been for both of you. It is not acceptable that things escalated like this or that your daughter's distress was made so public; an offer to allow you and DD to have a few moments together in a private room to say good bye could have de-escalated the whole thing. If 3 adults were needed to hold your tiny 6 year old back then clearly she was hugely over-wrought. You need help for her to find out why she has such a high level of anxiety and why her emotions are so extreme. Also she sounds as if she has difficulty with impulse control and there is lots that can be done to help in this area.

I still maintain you urgently need a proper meeting with the school on all the long term problems your daughter is having. You need an educational assessment for her to find out why she is having these problems: is she on the Autistic spectrum, does she have a high level of anxiety (my own DD worked long term with a psych doing art therapy due to anxiety). You need CARING intervention and it doesn't sound like the school is doing that.

NO CHILD should be in an environment where they are needing to be regularly held or restrained. School should be a safe place for your child - emotionally and physically - and it sounds as if it is not. I'm tempted to advise you to get the assessments done and find a new school because - regardless of how/whether school and you can work together - your daughter may need a fresh start with a new peer group and teachers. But be careful before doing this incase she thinks she is being moved as a punishment or because she is 'too bad' to stay at her current school.

If you need to talk to the teacher again, please do it without your DD there though as many children find it hugely difficult to be around such conversations.

CatWantsPeopleFood Wed 19-Sep-12 10:45:14

I asked the teacher about the head holding thing. She said it doesn't happen but that they do have a technique for restraining pupils if necessary, which is only carried out by MrsX who has been trained. DD was adamant that it did/does happen. That is the point where the problems started and I think where everything went wrong.

-DD said she wanted me to take her down the corridor to talk to MrsX in her room.
-Her class teacher said I could go down and see if she was free (quite possibly not as you normally need to queue outside) but DD needed to go into class now.
-DD says no to this, is getting visibly angry and trying to pull me down the corridor.
-The whole conversation repeats several times, with DD just getting angrier.
-A TA also comes out to try to lead DD back to class.She lets go of my hand( holds the TAs instead) but when I say I'm going she starts shouting no and repeating that she wants to go to MrsX's room
-MrsX actually comes down the corridor. DD is momentarily happy and goes to her, hugs her, holds her hand.
-Class teacher explains about the head holding/ restraining. MrsX says the same as the techer about it. DD agrees that MrsX is gentle/doesn't hurt her, but also still says it does happen and she wants it to stop
-DD is then asked to go into class but again says no, she wants to go with me to Mrs X's room. It is explained that the issue has been discussed but she continues to get angrier about it.
-I agree with the teachers that I should just leave now and they will phone me about it later. DD is still screaming about going to MrsX's room with me. Also by now she is stamping her feet trying to move her arms that are being held by two people.

Now after typing all that out it looks to me that DD had imagined in her head the scenario of me and her going to MrsX's room to talk. even though I did talk to MrsX and the outcome would have been the same, I wonder if to DD it felt it wasn't the same because the exact scenario in her head did not happen and she wasn't able to let go of it until it did? The anger was her way of trying to explain this or make it happen? I don't know.

LadySybildeChocolate Wed 19-Sep-12 10:47:42

sad I hope her day's improving.

School nurses are very useful, and they will work with the school to make sure your child's needs are being met, which they are not being at the moment. I think it's a good idea for you to get in contact, you can do this by telling reception that you'd like to speak to her, you don't need to say why. They will get her to call you and arrange an appointment.

No child will have all of the markers of aspergers, and sometimes this can overlap with other conditions such as dyspraxia, which is why it's important to get a diagnosis, it opens up support that will really benefit a child.

unobtanium Wed 19-Sep-12 10:59:31

Hello, quite apart from everything else that has been said (I have not read it all but lots of excellent advice it seems...)

... have you (or has anyone) questioned how the teacher could say that your DD had scratched someone's face when no adult had actually seen her do this??

Chandon Wed 19-Sep-12 11:00:03

I agree with a lot that adoptmama was saying.

The school should really come up with a plan ( a social emotional IEP for example)

And you and the school should tell your DD that it is OK to feel angry, it is OK to feel upset, but acting up is NOT OK.

I had to have quite a few chats like this with my DS, when he was in year 1. I dreaded the schoolgate moment, once a week or so, where the teacher would say: mrs Chandon, can I have a word with you please?!...that Sinking feeling.

With hindsight, my DS was just very immature for his age, the expectations for behaviour were maybe unrealistic, he needed a while to adapt.

His behaviour improved dramatically once he was around 7, he was not really ready for school before then, acerbated by his dyslexia. He is completely fine now, 100%!

Imo, gentle but clear reinforcement of boundaries helps. Her pushing her hand in someones face is not acceptable behaviour, even if t is not scratching anyone. She needs to learn that feeling worried or angry is OK, but physical reactions are not.

LadySybildeChocolate Wed 19-Sep-12 11:01:39

In her head there's a set way that things should be done, it makes her feel safe when it's like this. If things change, she can't cope. She no longer feels safe and in control. This school is really failing your daughter, they need to work out why this behaviour is occuring and how to support her, they are actually causing some of her problems rather then solving them.

adoptmama Wed 19-Sep-12 11:03:53

My DD is also very over sensitive to touch at times - part of her many little 'issues' smile Is it possible that what you, another adult or even a child would consider a reasonable level of touch is not the same for your DD? My DD can react as if she is being crushed and tortured because a zip is pressing on her skin in the car and she will totally flip until she gets undressed. She is not on the Spectrum btw, but it did cross my mind at one point and I asked the psych. You do need answers and I hope you can quickly start of the process of getting them before things deteriorate even further.

Chandon Wed 19-Sep-12 11:05:39

Also, second thought, have there been any changes in your or her home situation? A divorce, death or sickness in the family, new sibling, moving house, unemployment or mental health issues parents?

These things can really affect kids, even though they appear to be coping fine. My DS really was affected by us having moved, and death of his grandfather, for example.

theboneperson Wed 19-Sep-12 11:13:17

I would actually start looking at taking her out of that school.

When I was six, my first school closed down, so I was moved to another local school for one term. For some reason, I got labelled as 'naughty' by the class teacher (who clearly didn't like me) and I remember one incident where a girl said I'd blunted her pencil - I hadn't - and I got sent out to the cloakroom. Where I put the plugs in all the basins and turned the taps on..... To this day, I don't know why I did that, but presumably it was to do with frustration.

Anyway, after that one term, a place came up that school my parents wanted, and nothing like that ever happened again. In fact, I was consistently top of the class and won the overall prize at the end of primary... I really doubt that that's what would have happened had I stayed at that other school.

I would honestly get her on the waiting list for some other schools. Fresh start, no labelling.

adoptmama Wed 19-Sep-12 11:19:42

Also 'holding the head' and 'immobilising the head' in terms of restraint are different things. But for your daughter they may not be - she just calls it all 'holding my head' iyswim.

There are very strict guidelines (circular 10/98 I think) on what can be used as a hold or restraint and these apply to all schools. These should be readily available to you. Only trained staff should restrain, although any teacher has a duty of care to act if a child is putting himself or others in danger. If a restraint or hold is not properly executed e.g. a basket hold, then the head can be free to headbutt you so it is not without the bounds of possibility that, if your DD is flailing around, someone has pinned her head with their arm to protect themselves - but they shouldn't as the risk of constricting the throat or twisting the neck is too high. However it frankly seems to me to have been a bit of an over-reaction to have 2-3 adults hold her this morning. She was not in danger. They were not in danger. She was disobeying - yes. She was highly emotional - yes. But she was not in danger and the only place she was trying to go was to you - not to run out of the school or onto a busy road for example.

Your DD this morning sounds as if she was trying to exert control over the outcome of things. She was trying to make the scenario she wanted - of going with your to Mrs X's room - the one that happened. Now, on the one hand you may have a hugely manipulative and strong willed child who has unfortunately discovered that acting out and aggression may get her what she wants OR you may have a child with some serious emotional and/or developmental difficulties which need to be identified and supported. Please get her assessed asap by a psychologist. If you cannot get the school to do it - and there should be some kind of appeals process if they will not - then talk with your GP and ask for a referral to the child psychological services in your area.

That scenario this morning very much sounds like Aspergers. As people have already said, your DD has it set in her head how it should happen and then cannot deal with a change from that.

I know it seems awful now. But honestly, an understanding school which has the measures in place to help her will make the world of difference.

My personal experience of Aspergers is that with the right support and a bit of flexibility the child can excel.

There also seems to be an issue that your DD may realise she is a bit "different" and this can add to the anxiety.

But really, can anyone blame her for being anxious? She is routinely humiliated infront of her peers (not necessarily anyones fault but its still humiliating) and not listened to. She is expected to tow a line which for whatever reason she cannot.

Others here have great advice and much more experience than I have on procedures. I just wanted to help it be seen from your DDs point of view. You sound like a great mum! It can be scary, worrying, heartbreaking. But it can be better than it is now!

CatWantsPeopleFood Wed 19-Sep-12 12:24:46

I don't know if it was caused by her not getting to do it the way she wanted, i was just trying to guess and maybe because I looked at the stuff about aspergers last night, I was reading something into it that wasn't there.

DD has definitely noticed she is different from the other children in her class in several ways, because she has spoken to me about it before. One thing I know that botheres her a lot is that she knows she is quite behind her classmates regarding her handwriting. Several times she has done written work in class that she is unhappy with because 'the writing is not all neat like other peoples' she screwed up the worksheet and through it in the bin which then got her in trouble. When the teacher tried to reassure her that her writing was ok and to get it back out, DD once again 'exploded' and was taken out of class.

I've got so many thoughts on all the things people have written on this thread, I feel like I could go on typing all day.But I need to go and do some work now, so I will just say thanks for all the advice and will try to reply to everyone later on.

One thing I would say is that if she was naughty or manipulative you would notice these tantrums everyday everywhere.

I know you dont want to read too much into things but sometimes thats needed.

I consider myself quite a strict parent, but I truely believe there are reasons behind this type of behaviour. Sometimes it cant just be put down to bad behaviour.

adoptmama Wed 19-Sep-12 12:55:35

My DD is a total perfectionist - she too will throw away things that are not 'perfect'. She hates handwriting at school as she is slower than others and cannot get the result she wants. Sometimes they need to learn to accept mistakes. My DD was, according to psych., 'more motivated to avoid failure than achieve success'. Therefore she would exert passive resistance and refuse to do things in Reception she was not confident she would excel at (even if I/teacher knew she could do it anyway). Maybe part of the issue is your DD is also perfectionist and can't cope with 'failure' or her own idea of what failing is. She certainly sounds like a complex girl with some wideranging needs. I hope you can get some help soon.

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