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DD, nearly 3 is uncontrollable & disruptive in school - help please!

(9 Posts)
happywith3 Tue 09-Oct-12 22:11:23

DD2 is 2yr 10m old and has a very fiery little personality. She is energetic, physical, hardly ever sits still, is loud, screams when she does or doesn't want to do something, has major tantrums and is basically uncontrollable. On the bright side she is very intelligent, very verbal for her age, outgoing, very sociable, can be very funny and is fearless. The main problem is she being disruptive at nursery school. The teacher has taken me aside several times in the past few weeks as she has been so bad. She even had such a monumental tantrum one day, I was called to take her home early. They have even requested for me to collect her at 1pm (instead of 3) for a while, as after lunch when the kids either nap of have quiet time and she was being very disruptive and causing mayhem. They are going to try to keep her for a couple more weeks until 3 and teach her the rules about quiet time but today they tried to get her to read a book but she apparently just tried to eat it and tore off a page! This morning she also went crazy because her team didn't win a game. The teacher was trying to teach her about teamwork and when she said that her team didn't win but it was a good effort she went nuts and just hit the kid next to her. She also kicked another teacher when she was trying to deal with her. I just don't know what to do and the teacher has admitted she doesn't know what to do either. When I asked her about all of this in front of the teacher it was obvious she knew she had done wrong and apologized to the teachers but she keeps repeating this behavior. She likes nursery school and always likes to go (she goes 2 days a week) and settles in straight away. At home she is a handful. she will scream the house down for whatever she wants or doesn't want. She spends probably too much time in the corner now. She has no respect for authority and 'No' seems to make matters worse. Bedtime is a nightmare as she shares a bedroom with DD1 who is 4 and prevents her from falling asleep. She gets in and out of bed and I have to threaten her with the 'dark corner' so she stays in. The only time she stays remotely still is when watching TV/ipad but I limit that (tempting as it is to put it on a lot more). Potty training has been a nightmare as there is no persuading her of she doesn't want to sit on the potty and then she ends up wetting herself, almost too preoccupied to be bothered but potty training is the least of our problems right now.

What can I do? She has such a great kid in so many ways. Often people think she is hilarious. I know another Mum who literally wants to adopt her because she has only seen the fun side but when you see the other behavior it is shocking and sometimes it feels like it is getting the best of her. For info I have a DD3 who is 13m so DD2 is the middle child. Please help. Any ideas welcome! (sorry it is so long)

madwomanintheattic Tue 09-Oct-12 22:23:36

Trapped in cycle of negativity.

Start slathering on the praise for good stuff, even minor. Ignore as much of the bad as you can deal with, and distract rather than time out.

She's very wee. Nursery should have bags of experience dealing with stroppy two yos. Maybe a different setting is required if they are a bit pants?

happywith3 Wed 10-Oct-12 07:38:07

My husband also thinks a change of setting might be the answer but perhaps its too easy to blame it on the school. You would expect them to able to deal with her but to be honest I don't know what to do myself half the time. She has a very strong personality. I think you're right about the praise and I know they try that at school. I've heard the teacher saying to her 'she can do it' etc. sigh...

AmberLeaf Wed 10-Oct-12 07:45:48

I would expect the nursery to have experience of 2 year olds who are.........being 2 year olds!


She gets in and out of bed and I have to threaten her with the 'dark corner' so she stays in

Don't do that.

Focus on the positive behavior, ignore the bad behavior. she is still young enough for that approach to work.

Meglet Wed 10-Oct-12 07:54:02

I would expect a pre-school to be able to cope with typical pre-school behaviour. TBH they don't sound very good. Can she go anywhere else?

And scrap the potty training for a few months. I didn't bother until mine were well over 3.

exoticfruits Wed 10-Oct-12 08:01:39

Does she get much individual attention at home? How much time does she get alone with you? Does she get time alone with DH? Does she go out alone with either of you? Has she got grandparents she can stay with on her own?
It sounds as if you have your hands full and she is never completely on her own with the undivided attention of an adult.

RikersBeard Wed 10-Oct-12 08:02:24

All that stuff sounds like the range of normal (but v annoying) toddler behaviour to me. She's obviously a bit of a live wire and has a strong sense of what she does and doesn't want. The way you describe your expectations of her, and the way you and nursery are dealing with it, I think sounds more appropriate for an older child though. It's really easy to do this if you have a younger baby, I find myself doing the same.

If a nursery can't cope with tantrums and disruption from a 2yo then sorry, but they don't sound very good to me. They should have a clear set of techniques they use and discuss with you, and then you can use the same consistently at home. Yy to positive praise, less rationalising, and I liked a book called Toddler Taming

adoptmama Wed 10-Oct-12 10:24:53

I think the first thing you need to do is have a chat with nursery. They generally are very experienced in dealing with tantrums etc. but as the behaviour you describe potentially goes beyond the normal foot paddling tantrum of a 2 year old I think you need to meet with them to get a full picture of what is going on. You need to know frequency and scale of bad behaviours, triggers, times of day, types of behaviours etc. You need to hear whether her issues are within the normal range or not and, if not, what support (if any) the nursery can provide. If her issues go well beyond normal you may also want to speak to your GP about it too.

The fact they have spoken to you about their concerns suggests that normal behaviour management strategies are not working. That doesn't mean, as some people are suggesting, that the nursery is necessarily poor (and you should have a general idea about that anyway). It may mean that your DDs behaviour is beyond what is normally expected and observed in nursery at this age. Whilst all the behaviours you describe are 'normal' to an extent, what may be abnormal is the scale and frequency of your child's behaviour: this is what you need to try to establish. Does she have social difficulties? Would she be better having the routine of full time in nursery rather than part time. Having found that a monumental tantrum gets her home earlier to mum, is she now more likely to repeat this behaviour?

You need to discuss with them the patterns and triggers for behaviour. If she is forgoing her nap time (as mine did at that age) then this could help explain her afternoon behaviour: she is over tired and over stimulated. Was quiet time with a book appropriate - for her age, yes; but with her behaviour problems did they set her up to fail on that one? Are there any particular foods at lunch time - or E number juices on the table - which seem to exacerbate her behaviours? What behaviour strategies are they using: what has already failed and what are they trying instead?

You need to try to do the same at home: what triggers the worst behaviours: and prioritise what you want to tackle now. If bed time is the main issue now, change your bed time routines. Have DD go at a different time from the 4 year old. Have a story time and cuddle together. Make sure she has all her needs before she goes to bed: toilet, supper etc and a bottle by the bed to minimise excuses for getting up. At this age my eldest still loved a bottle of milk at bedtime: and that certainly helped her drop off too. Don't use the 'dark corner' as a threat - you will make bed time associated with fear and punishment when you want it to be something nice - her time with your attention. Have a reward chart for staying in bed to earn iPad time. Don't let her play stimulating games - or really any ipad activity - before bed - it is not restful and hypes them up. As for the screaming etc. I have found telling my barrack room lawyer she can scream all she wants over there rather than next to me soon decreases the behaviour! Consistently sticking her in timeout away from you too - and consistently putting her back if she moves - will eventually see results. Give her one warning, then put her there.

Potty training - if you are using them, do away with pull ups as they slow the process down by removing the unpleasant sensation of being wet. And also remember it is normal for a child this age to still get so absorbed in what they are doing that they wet themselves. Like you say, it is not a biggy at the moment.

I would say your most immediate action is to arrange a meeting with the school so you can develop a plan to support your child that works for you and for them. Whilst many 2-3 year olds will tantrum at school obviously you want her to learn to be calm and not react physically to others when she can't get her own way. I do wonder if she is getting frustrated because she feels she is not getting listened to/getting enough attention at school. Being disappointed over not winning needs to be acknowledged - it's ok to be mad and sad your team lost. If she feels they were simply ignoring this feeling by telling her to be a good loser she may simply have lashed out in frustration. Likewise destroying the book - got her some attention I expect and got you to come to school. If nap time is when teachers take their lunch then she may have felt very sidelined. These are not excuses for her behaviour - but you do need to think about the purpose of her behaviour, because she certainly has one. If you can figure this out, then you and the school can work together to crack the problem.

Sorry for writing an essay smile

happywith3 Mon 15-Oct-12 20:48:46

Thanks for all your comments. It's really helpful.

Adoptmama: Brilliant, brilliant advice, thanks! I've literally taken notes for the nursery & bedtime!

Exotic: She actually does get a fair bit of time alone with me as DD1 is in school now and DD3 still naps quite a bit. I also have a bit of help (DH works a lot) so can take her out on her own etc. She could probably do with a bit more one on one with DH though. All the grandparents live abroad but my Mum comes quite regularly.

Amberleaf: I feel guilty about the dark corner now (which is just the bathroom with no light on but door open but still must be a bit scary to her), as I should, and I'll stop, but the things you do a the end of the day when you're knackered and you just want a few mins peace before you have to go to bed yourself! smile

Riksresbeard: I think you are right about these being expectations for an older child. It's hard not to as she is big for her age, confident and has better diction than some four year olds. We have to be careful of that. I'll also checkout Toddler Taming.

Re the nursery: The funny thing is since I started this thread her behavior has been a whole lot better. Her last day at nursery went very well and the teacher was delighted with her (it was such a relief to hear that!). DD1 went there an got on very well but there have been recent changes which I think are putting pressure on the teachers making them less patient. I talked to the head about them (won't bore you with the details) and there are some more changes in the school coming up so I'm hopeful for that will help. I talked to them about DD2 specifically also and the head is going to spend some time in the class with her at quiet time (when the trouble is mostly) and gently explain the idea of quiet time and encourage her to read etc. I am not sold on this quiet time though… It is a French nursery school which is hard to find so I'm keen to keep her there as she is picking up French so well. It's amazing how they are little sponges. But it could be also that she is bored there. Without sounding like a show off, DD1 is in reception and learning how to read and DD2 can recognize most of the letters DD1 can and she really enjoys it. Maybe instead of worrying about her doing quiet time they should be encouraging her more with this stuff. She may also be bored there… I should probably look at other nurseries just in case though. Perhaps montessori….

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