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Hitting at school

(8 Posts)
RudolphLovesoftplay Fri 11-Oct-13 09:27:49

Hi all, my DS is in year 1, but this has been an issue since reception. About once a week he will hit another child, not the same child but different every time.

He came home to us 2.5 years ago, and was aggressive for a while (biting, punching etc) however, he now doesn't behave like this anywhere except school.

School have asked for another meeting with us, but I am at a loss about what to say that I haven't already said. It's always during unstructured time, generally when all the other pupils are 'jostling' eg, coming in after break, getting changed for PE.

Has anyone got any bright ideas? I absolutely want him to stop hitting other children, but as it's only ever happening at school, I'm getting a little frustrated with being constantly asked by teachers how to stop him. I am almost at the point of saying, when he's at school you need to get control of him. I desperately don't want to be like this with the school, as they are brilliant with everything else.

Help!! grin

tethersend Fri 11-Oct-13 15:44:14

I would express your concern, and reinforce that it is not behaviour you see at home. Be quizzical, rather than blaming IYSWIM.

I would then suggest that school record the incidents of hitting on an ABC chart- which records the Antecedent, Behaviour, Consequence. PM me if you'd like me to email you one, they are very straightforward, but can help to build up a picture of the behaviour and identify patterns, triggers etc.

I would then ask to meet again in perhaps three weeks' time to review the ABC data. Remember to keep a record of anything which may affect his behaviour- dates, visitors at home etc. This can then be a springboard into a discussion about the issues your DS may face, and possible reasons for hitting. I would introduce to them the idea that it may not be a case of him 'relearning' how to interact with peers appropriately (ie he is not choosing this behaviour), but that due to his early development, he missed out on this and needs to learn it from scratch. Of course, I don't know anything about your son's early life, so this may not be relevant.

Show that you are on board with helping the school to find the reasons for the behaviour, but do not accept responsibility for it; you are right, they need to sort it out- but you can help them to do so.

tethersend Fri 11-Oct-13 15:46:10

RE the jostling, unstructured times- could these times make him anxious? Has he had early experiences which may make him display a 'fight or flight' type of response?

Italiangreyhound Fri 11-Oct-13 19:30:47

Rudolph sorry to hear about this problem, it must be distressing for all concerned.

I totally agree with tethersend 'Show that you are on board with helping the school to find the reasons for the behaviour...'

At times it is frustrating dealing with school but if you co-operate with sensible, helpful suggestions and provide alternatives to any unhelpful suggestions you will (I feel) get the best from the teachers. It must be a very hard job being a teacher and dealing with all manner of things in school and so to meet a parent who is helpful and wants to co-operate must be so much better and easier to work with than someone who is in any way 'hostile' even if you have good reason to feel anything other than co-operative! These are generalistaion Rudolph and not about you.

Please ignore me if this is really obvious but do you praise your son when he has a day without hitting, not by saying well done for not hitting (of course) but maybe something like 'It's so good you had a fun day and got on with all the classmates, you must be very proud of yourself" etc.

Also, again, ignore me if you have tried this but have you asked your little one why he hits?

Have you asked him if he wants to stop hitting?

If he does want to stop (even a little bit) have you asked him what he suggests might help him to get along better/not hit etc at school?

There is an excellent book called 'How to listen so children will talk and talk so children will listen.'

One of the things it suggests is talking in a really simple and listening way with lots of pauses and gaps in the conversation so the child can supply their own thoughts. Not bombarding them with questions but talking about the situation in a way that they feel they can contribute something.

It also allows for things like fantascising (can't remember if the book used other words for this) so they might say "I hate it when everyone crowds in."

You might say "Oh I just wish you could fly up right out of the scrabble of children. (pause) It's a shame you can't. (pause) What could you do to make it feel better when everyone is crowding in."

Now as an adult we might say 'hang back to the end' or 'get to the thing first' or 'ask teacher to get the game I want for me' etc etc.

But the child might have an alternative idea which would work for them.

If this does prove to be the problem then you could realistically ask the teacher if the children could come up table by table to get toys of coats or whatever. Not necesarily all the time but some of the time, especially if discover (using tethersend idea of monitoring to see when it happens - e.g. if it is always at the end of class when he is tired etc then that would be a prime time for the teacher not to encourage a rugby scrum for toys or games!). If you or the school have kept any record of these situations that occur you may already know when it is happening.

EG if they only do PE once a week and it happens every time they may need to allow a bit longer for getting changed so less stress. If they have PE every few days but it only happens on a Friday then maybe he is extra tired by Friday. My friend's son was very stressed by changing for PE because there was an element of competition in it. Whoever could get changed fastest! Where are some kids would love this and it would get them moving faster others found it a real pressure which was just too much to cope with in addition to all the other things!

Here are some of the ideas when having the conversation....

Accept their feelings.
Listen with full attention.
Acknowledge their feelings with a word – “Oh,” “Mmm” or “I see.”
Non-judgmental listening
Give their feelings a name.
“I can see you’re frustrated.”
Give them their wishes in fantasy.
“I can tell that you didn’t like the movie. I’ll bet you wish you had seen ‘Wall-E’ instead.”

When you give a feeling a name, also be specific.
To show empathy – that you understand.
Don’t say, “I understand…” because you probably don’t.
Respond with “The movie was a little scary in the part where the transformer was blown up.”

Don’t repeat exact words back, rephrase.
Don’t repeat the names they call themselves.
No: “You’re not so dumb because it took you three hours to do your homework.”
Yes: “It must be discouraging when work takes longer than you expect.”

Some highlights from this brilliant book are available


Stay calm, you will get through this, do tell us how you get on. I may be in your boat soon so I would welcome advice if I am!

RudolphLovesoftplay Fri 11-Oct-13 19:56:21

Thanks for replying, I hadn't thought if ABC charts, so that's an excellent idea thanks smile

Italian, thanks for the book recommendation, I will have a look. I also have never asked him if he wants to stop hitting, so will gauge his responses.

I know I have to engage with school, and have and will every time. It just feels that they look to us for the answers instead of trying to think of anything themselves.

Italiangreyhound Fri 11-Oct-13 20:08:52

There is a good reason to look to you, you know him best, but they know the situation of what is happening when things 'happen' so it does I feel have to be teamwork. If I were you I would use phrases like, 'I am sure we can sort this out together' to the staff at the school. To your son I would also want to say things like together but gentler so 'Together we can figure out some ways to make school fun time better." Etc but please remember I am not yet an adoptive parent so feel free to ignore my witterings!

My problem is the opposite! DD is very well behaved at school and can be a problem at home!

tethersend Fri 11-Oct-13 20:16:09

Good advice from Italiangreyhound.

I think it's a case of planting seeds with suggestions, but letting the school come up with strategies- tempting as it is to just tell them what to do, they are on a learning curve and letting them devise strategies will increase their confidence in dealing with your son.

Is great that they want to involve you, but they should not be foisting the responsibity of managing his behaviour on to you. It may be worth signposting them to some training... PAC often run good training; something like this would be very useful for his class teacher to attend.

RudolphLovesoftplay Fri 11-Oct-13 21:08:31

Thanks for the link tether, it would be great if all teachers had proper training in LAC and adopted children wouldn't it?

I think I'm gonna be quite direct with the school and explicitly outline why things like behaviour charts etc won't work for my DS. His issues aren't behavioural, they are psychological, but I'm still not 100% that they understand that.

I think I also need to ascertain what they believe his issues to be, and why they think he's different to other children. Hopefully I can get a better perspective on it then. I am also going to involve my post-adoption SW, as she is brilliant and much better at explaining stuff than I am smile

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