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My son's school is not strict enough!

(28 Posts)
MrsWuh Tue 08-Feb-11 12:45:07

Please help me, someone! My 6-year-old son is in Year 2. He has had a lot of problems settling into school and is on School Action for concentration and perseverance issues. He finds it really hard to concentrate on things he isn't interested in, and the headteacher and SENCO told me she thinks there are elements of mild autism in his behaviour. He apparently gets distressed about really stupid things (can you tell my sympathy is waning?!) I know all this, but I thought his behaviour generally was OK. He's pretty good at home - in fact, most of the time he's downright lovely. Very occasionally the teachers have taken me aside to say there's been a little incident - a couple of times a year, maybe.
Never anything major though.

Well now the penny has dropped big time. I enrolled him in karate classes last year, and I was utterly appalled by his behaviour - he was yelling out, screaming and crying when he lost at a game, talking when he shouldn't be, never listening. I was absolutely mortified. I didn't chicken out - I forced him to keep going twice a week, endured the humiliation, and gave him hell after every lesson if he didn't behave. After three months, he's still not much good at concentrating (I accept he may well have a genuine problem there) but at least he now behaves like a vaguely civilised human being at karate.

Yesterday he got into trouble at school again. The teacher was waffling on in that modern, caring way about how she'd been talking to him about his feelings, and how he didn't seem to understand emotions, and how she was trying to help him. And I suddenly had a blinding realisation - later confirmed by my son himself - that the way he used to behave at karate is the way he has been behaving at school for the last three years. And instead of coming down on him like a tonne of bricks - as I did - they have been playing it down, making excuses for him, and letting him get away with it.

I am furious with my son and feel let-down by the school, but I don't know what to do. I have asked them before to let me know if he plays up so that I can do something about it, but it seems they only tell me if he does something really out of the ordinary -constant low-level disruption doesn't seem to count. How can I back them up if I don't know what he's doing? How can I go to his class teacher or the Headmistress and say, "You're making too many excuses for my son - he knows perfectly well how to behave, and you need to stop pussyfooting around and damned well punish him!!!"

Oh, he may well have genuine problems, but I've proved at karate that he can control himself if needs be. I'm sorry this is such a long post, but I had to get all that off my chest. Please, please, please could someone - everyone! - advise me on what I should do next!

carocaro Tue 08-Feb-11 13:39:24

Has the school asked for an educational psychologists report to be done? This should help pinpoint issues and where he needs help.

You might have in your area a local Parent Partnership that could help explain the process of how school can provide help.

Does he have an Individual Education Plan? He should at School Action, does it need to be updated and be moved on to the next level School Action Plus.

You should also take him to your GP and explain it all to them, he can then be refered to for assesments.

I would sat the karate is also a physical thing that help children to learn control and discinple, the school setting is completely differnt, requiring them to sit done etc. Schools are not there to dole out punishment and this is not what your son needs.

cornsilk Tue 08-Feb-11 13:41:22

Karate is not the same as school. The school think there is a problem - listen to them.

dikkertjedap Tue 08-Feb-11 13:43:28

You could raise your issues at parents evening or set up a meeting with his teacher. However, you cannot change how the school deals with children and the fact that they may not be heavy handed if that is what you want. So alternatively you can see if you find another school which fits better with your approach to raising your child. Personally, the school sounds fine to me, but clearly everybody have their own approach to how they want things to be dealt with.

Lulumaam Tue 08-Feb-11 13:44:21

you sound so angry with your son, he is only 6

why would you force him to endure humiliation and give him hell twice a week after karate??

seems an odd way to try to encourage him to behave

you sound so dismissive of the school.

if you've been coming down hard on him and it's made negligible difference , why do you want the school to do it?

he soudns like he has genuine issues he needs support and empathy with, whereas you want to punish the bad behaviour out of him

MrsWuh Tue 08-Feb-11 13:55:48

I went to the GP this morning to arrange for a referral to an educational psychologist. I'm prepared to accept that he has concentration problems beyond his control. I'm not prepared to accept that he doesn't know how to behave himself, or is unable to control his behaviour. From where I'm standing, it seems that he is being a brat and they are pandering to him, giving him excuses and making the problem worse.

I'm at a complete loss - I have no idea what to do. When I was a kid, if we did something wrong at school or at home, we got punished and we didn't do it again. I can't win. If I punish him, I'm evil and ignoring his underlying problems. If I don't, I'm a bad Mum who tolerates her son acting like a complete brat and spoiling things for everyone else. Aaaaarrrgggghhh!!!!!

wine wine wine wine wine

crazygracieuk Tue 08-Feb-11 13:58:04

My son is 9 and started doing a martial arts class from y2.

When he started I was pretty shocked by his behaviour because the school considers his behaviour to be perfect. He lacked any focus or concentration. His teacher said that it takes a few months for that to appear and he was right. In 6 months, Ds went from looking around the hall and chatting to friends to someone who paid attention and showed the teacher respect.

I think you need to consider whether or not your expectations are realistic. School is 6 hours a day of doing stuff that is not always interesting with children that range from quiet and shy through to boisterous.

Most state schools seem to overlook low level disruption,especially if the child changes their behaviour after a warning and as a parent I'm the same. (Although I'd be biting my tongue while ignoring)

Lulumaam Tue 08-Feb-11 13:58:33

you accept he has problems. but you don't accept he can\t control himself. you wnat him referred to an ed psych for his issues, but think he just needs to control himself

he clearly can't

perhaps there are deeper issues. i think that you need to incorporate some gentleness and some acceptance of the fact he is a small child with problems into how you parent him

Lulumaam Tue 08-Feb-11 13:59:10

why can't you accpet it?

MrsWuh Tue 08-Feb-11 14:02:21

"Why would you force him to endure humiliation and give him hell twice a week after karate??if you've been coming down hard on him and it's made negligible difference , why do you want the school to do it?"

Believe me, it's not him enduring the humiliation - it's ME!!! Sitting there in front of everyone else, watching my child behaving like a lunatic? He couldn't care less what he looks like to everyone else, more's the pity!

And coming down hard on him HAS made a difference at karate. Because I am there watching him like a hawk, and if he misbehaves I can pull him up on it. At school, he has no such worries. That's why I don't believe he can't control his behaviour at school - I KNOW that he could if he wanted to.

coppertop Tue 08-Feb-11 14:06:28

Autism has been suggested to you as a possibility. Have you looked into this more closely and done any research into how it can affect behaviour in different settings?

mummytime Tue 08-Feb-11 14:20:25

Mrs Wuh, do read through what you have written and try to see it from an outsiders point of view. Are you considering the situation from your son's point of view? Have you been raised in the UK? Do you realise how British culture has changed in the last 20 years (and no it wasn't all better in the past, we just hide problems better).

I do cringe that in a year or two you might find this post a bit embarassing.

Good luck though!

Lulumaam Tue 08-Feb-11 14:25:39

I also get teh feeling the OPs post are concerned with how this affects/reflects on her, rather than why her son is doing htis

he is 6

why do you think he is doing this? to embarass you , humiliate you?

you seem to be lacking empathy with him

and you want him to be a biddable little boy when you aer very hard on him and seem to be bent on punishing and strictness

TheSugarPlumFairy Tue 08-Feb-11 17:01:12

MrsWuh, i don't have any advice to offer you but i just wanted give you a little support. I know what you are trying to say here, and i wish you good luck with it.

DSD(7) has friends who are utter ratbags at school but become perfectly lovely well behaved children when in an environment that will not tolerate bad behaviour. I have no idea how you would go about getting the school to toughen up a bit.

Someone mentioned looking for another school that has a more disciplined ethos. I dont know if that is an option for you. If it is, it might be worth considering.

LIZS Tue 08-Feb-11 17:08:52

but Karate is what , a half hour, maybe an hour long session. It is physical. A schoolday is at least 6-7 hours . You cannot possibly expect him realistically to sustain his enforced self control for that length of time hmm especially when a large proportion of the time is sedentary. Please get your child assessed and accept he needs coping mechanisms and support. Maybe the school have been working with him informally which is why the more serious incidents are occasional. He needs boundaries yes but not discipline for discipline's sake.

schmee Tue 08-Feb-11 18:30:16

Mummytime - what on earth has it got to do with anything where the OP was raised?

OP - I can understand your frustration if you think that the school is allowing him to get away with behaviours that you don't agree with, but you don't know that he is acting like a lunatic there everyday. If the conversation is starting about autism, that sounds like it may help you to get some answers to some of your questions. I think you need to ask them to be totally frank with you and be really receptive to whatever they say.

If it turns out they are ignoring low level bad behaviour you are going to have a bit of a dilemma. I guess you wouldn't want him to be singled out for particularly strict telling off? At the same time he may need it to be really clearly spelled out to him what is ok and what is not, if he is struggling to understand the nuances of acceptable behaviour.

addictedtofrazzles Tue 08-Feb-11 19:56:00

I used to be a teacher and I taught a boy (aged 7 at the time) who sounded exactly like your son.

His parents were humiliated and embarresed by his behaviour and the only way they could 'control' him or get him to behave 'acceptably' was to instill the fear of god in him. It broke my heart. He cowered when his parents were near him and 'behaved beautifully' around them (especially the father) - he was fearful of his own parents.

His behaviour in school was extremely challenging. I had my moments when he got the better of me and I lost my cool. There was one occasion where I had to get the deputy to take the class because he pushed every button and I was about to flip! However, shouting at him, humiliating him, punishing him and letting him see that it is okay to shout etc is not what a teacher should do on a professional or personal level with a child.

By the end of the year he really made progress and he responded positively to consistency, fairness and a bit of comfort (especially when playtime would get too much and usually end in tears).

Children respect people that show them love, empathy, kindness and consistency. Shouting and punishing has short term effects and certainly is not the way to manage a 6 year old who may have learning difficulties.

I echo what others say - it is 'easy' to behave well for a karate lesson (especially given that it does not require classroom skills of reading, writing, prolonged sitting etc). It is impossible to behave perfectly throughout the school day.

Your post has really saddened me.

Oblomov Tue 08-Feb-11 20:15:52

"headteacher and SENCO told me she thinks there are elements of mild autism in his behaviour".
Then he needs to be assessed. Ask your Gp for him to be referred/assessed. Prsumably school will support you on this.
Go back and talk to the SENCO.

Maybe transfer this thread to SN section ?

I get the not understanding your ds. I didn't understand ds1. Until someone suggested he has mild Aspergers.

MrsWuh Tue 08-Feb-11 21:47:45

OK, thanks for all your comments. I have calmed down a bit now - deep breaths, counted to one million, that kind of thing! A little girl told me my son was "pretty good" in school today, he got a 'Brilliant' sticker from his teacher, and he was very good at karate. So he's had a good day. He's not a horrible monster doing this to embarrass us. He really isn't. He's a complete sweetheart with some problem I can't fathom out. I must keep telling myself that...

That's my problem - I can't work out whether he's a brat and I should be tough on him, or a vulnerable child with genuine special needs and I should treat him with tender kid gloves. I guess I will have to wait until an ed. psych. has seen him and given me their analysis. In the meantime, I'll give his school the benefit of the doubt - he's leaving there in a few months anyway.

P.S. To Mummytime, I was born in the UK and have lived here all my life. I don't set much store by 'culture' - I try to parent on instinct and sometimes it lets me down. If I get stuck and choose to ask for advice in an attempt to become a better parent, why should I find that embarrassing later?

LIZS Tue 08-Feb-11 21:57:33

If he is moving schools this summer it would be even more beneficial to have had him assessed so that he can start afresh but his new teachers would be aware if he has issues.

MadBaggage Tue 08-Feb-11 23:17:10

MrsWuh,

IMHO too many teachers are quick to jump on the 'autistic' bandwagon. They usually have no medical training and are not equipped to diagnose. (Obviously not all teachers are like this!)

Perhaps your son is very bright and therefore bored in class. I suggest you go on some websites for gifted children - here's a link to the National Association for Gifted Children http://www.nagcbritain.org.uk/index.php
Go to the links about characteristics of gifted children - they often overlap with 'syptoms' of autism etc. For instance his occasional 'distress' you mentioned could be due to him having heightened sensitivity. I definitely think it is worth exploring - at the very least to rule it out.

For what it's worth my DS was 'misdiagnosed' by teachers as 'autistic'. We went through hell as a family for a few years. DS was finally tested by a reputable educational psychologist who could clearly show he was gifted in many areas. She explained why he had difficulty concentrating (his brain was racing with dozens of thoughts) and therefore not fitting into the 'square peg' in school to suit the teacher. Light at the end of the tunnel is that DS has progressed to higher level in school and is being educationally challenged. Is now thriving and loving it.

Finally - trust yourself. You know your child better than anyone. For what it's worth I am on the side of strict discipline and think it pays dividends. You know you have not cowed your DS. You know he is loving and lovely. Don't let yourself be pushed around. You are the best advocate for your DS and you and DH(??) love him more than anyone else in the world so don't be afraid to fight for him.

Good luck !

polarfox Wed 09-Feb-11 12:39:48

This is just a general comment re reaction of teachers to children who repeatedly misbehave, not the OPs child specifically.

The modern, caring way as the OP described it is way off the disciplinary way that used to happen, and I think a nice happy medium has never been reached. We've gone from one extreme to the other, and both have pitfalls.

I remember not too long ago when my then mischievious DS (he has matured now, nothing to do with the school s way), being told on numerous occassions how "disappointed" the teacher had been at his actions- one day he said "what does disappointed mean?" It sums it up to me.. the caring, PC voice, the words they don't yet comprehend etc! That clearly won't work. Reprimand has to have a tone and a meaning appropriate so that children understand us.

addictedtofrazzles Wed 09-Feb-11 13:19:26

Polarfox - I see where you are coming from and in general I agree (funnily enough, I think that a lot of parenting has become too relaxed which is why a lot of children also misbehave!). In the case of an able child, I agree that teachers and parents can be more disciplined because, in most cases, the poor behaviour is infrequent.

However, a classroom setting is extremely over-stimulating and challenging for a child who struggles. There are endless requests to be processed and tasks to be completed that genuinely become too much for SN kids. The only way they can handle the situation is to behave poorly as it distracts from what they have been asked to do, because they either can't do it/haven't understood/can't remember etc. It becomes a vicious circle because if you miss instruction 1 and 2, you probably can't complete 8 or 9! Poor behaviour means the focus of not completing the task is shifted. The situation is worsened when the child is quite bright as they can't access the curriculum, become bored and after a year in the classroom, have learnt nothing and made no progress. They begin the next academic year behind and so the poor behaviour continues...

Instead the SN child needs a teacher who understands their specific needs, makes learning accessible and can have open communication with the parents so that the behaviour strategies (rewards and sanctions) are consistent between home and school.

Reprimanding does not have to be shouting - it is setting clear boundaries that if crossed, involve consequences. Missing 5 mins of play or free time etc is a lot more precious to a child than hearing yet another adult shout - they zone out!

Finally (sorry to write so much!) - as a teacher, the classroom has 20+ other children in it. They do not want to hear a barking teacher all day. The other children want to learn too and have the right to a peaceful, calm classroom!

MrsMagnolia Wed 09-Feb-11 14:30:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

coff33pot Wed 09-Feb-11 15:14:42

You said your son has been referred to the Ed Psych. That is good.

Should your son need help then it will be spotted. You accept that he might need help in some areas. The bad behaviour could quite easily be the result of him not fully having the help at the mo. Think on it is it fair to be so strict and punish him for something that MAYBE beyond his own control?

I would wait and see what the EP assessment brings........................THEN review on how things should be.

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