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How should I have handled this? Left DS at school in hysterical tears again. Long sorry.

(17 Posts)
iwouldgoouttonight Fri 22-Nov-13 12:27:59

DS (7) has had a few days in recent weeks where he gets upset about something relatively small, eg, he can't find a particular Lego figure, just before we need to leave to go to school, and then he can't calm himself down. If it happened at any other time of day he'd get a bit upset, and then calm down, but when its in the morning as we're about to leave for school, as soon as he gets slightly upset he says 'I don't want anyone at school to see me crying' and then manages to gradually work himself up into more of a state.

The first time it happened I tried to calm him down, waited for a bit before we left the house until he had stopped crying, and he was fine when we started walking, but then he got upset again when we got closer to school and just kept saying that he didn't want anyone to see him crying.

The next time I did similar but he didn't calm down before we left and I just tried to distract him on the walk to school, talking about silly things that would normally make him laugh, but it was though he'd decided he was going to be upset and nothing could get him out of it.

Its only happened 4 or 5 times and other days he will run in absolutely fine. I've spoken to his teacher to see how he is at school and she says he seems happy and he's got close friends. Normally when I leave him he finds one of his friends and they're thick as thieves and giggling together straight away.

He does have ongoing toileting issues which affects his confidence, but most days he is absolutely fine going to school.

Anyway, to get to the point! Today we were getting ready for school - he's been off for the last two days with a bad cold/cough so today was his first day back. I said he needed to put on his winter coat because it was icy our and really cold. He said he didn't want to because its embarrassing wearing it. I tried to reason saying that everyone else will be wearing winter coats because its really cold, and especially because he's been ill and feeling the cold more the last couple of days. He started to cry and said the only thing that would stop him crying would be to not wear his coat, and that he didn't want to go to school when he was crying.

I thought I can't back down and say ok don't wear your coat, so I stuck to my guns and said he must wear it because its cold and I asked him to. So he continued to cry, and from past experience I realised he was going to be upset, even if we waited and tried to calm down. So I said right we're going to school and we walked all the way there with him in tears. I tried to chat about normal things to distract him but he just kept repeating that he didn't want to wear his coat and sobbing.

When it was time to go in, he wouldn't go in and his teacher couldn't get him to let go of me. So I took him in, which is what I've done each time this has happened. He then got more and more upset and lashed out at his friend when he asked if he was ok. I took him into his classroom and he was obviously really embarrassed about crying in front of everyone. The last time this happened the teaching assistant took him outside until he calmed down - last time it took nearly an hour. This time there wasn't a teaching assistant there, and I had to take DD (4) to her classroom and didn't want her to be late, so I gave him a cuddle, said bye and asked him to sit down on the carpet with the other children. He tried to run out after me - he was quite hysterical by this point. His teacher had to physically hold him to stop him getting out of the classroom, while he was thrashing around trying to escape!

She told me to go, and she shut the door to keep him in. I could hear him screaming while I walked down the corridor with DD.

Sorry this is so long, I just wondered if anyone had any advice on how I should have handled it - leaving him at school in hysterical tears isn't good for him, me, DD (she then had a bit of a minor wobble when she had to go into her classroom) his teacher or any of the other children in his class! sad

Misfitless Fri 22-Nov-13 13:24:44

I appreciate how upsetting this must be - it sounds like you're handling it really well for what it's worth.

Are you sure, and is the teacher sure, that everything is ok in school? Could it be that someone or something is making him unhappy, but that no one in school has picked up on this, and he is reluctant to 'tell tales'?

Can you have a chat with the teacher? They're often happy to take a call at playtime/lunchtime if that's the only time you can speak to the teacher when DS isn't in ear shot.

I think dinner time, and all other staff need to be actively keeping an eye on him, as opposed to just assuming that he's happy because he hasn't directly said otherwise.

When my DS was in Y2, there would be days when he would be panicking and getting overly stressed about which underpants he wanted/didn't want to wear. I thought he was just being fussy and awkward, turned out he was getting laughed at by the other boys because they said he was wearing baby underpants sad every time they did PE (they were the briefs and apparently all the other boys wore boxers confused).

I only got to the bottom of it because I caught him praying in the corner of his room that I would be able to find a specific pair that morning, when I asked him why it was so important, the flood gates opened and he was so upset he couldn't speak. It had been going on for weeks without me realising.

It was only twice a week, though, so after one morning of him stressing about underpants, he'd not care for three days, so I'd think everything was ok, which of course it was, until the next PE lesson.
, and with me saying (along the lines of..) 'just put those ones on and stop fussing!)

It could be a minor thing that could be easily sorted out. I think the stress of my DS anticipating that it was going to happen, and knowing how upset he would feel at school, and knowing that at school he would feel like crying, but feeling like he couldn't made the whole morning unbearable for him and it got to the point that he couldn't handle it anymore. He basically had a meltdown and was late to school that day because he was in no fit state for me to take him until he had calmed down.

Have you asked him about it? I find a good time to try and get things out of mine is at bedtime, when they have my undivided attention and I can hug them and quietly listen.

I think you've mentioned that it's not everyday that you're son gets there a it on PE days, or days when they have another teacher, or a day when his favorite teacher isn't there, is a day when he goes to after school club, or goes to a childminder?

Hope you get to the bottom of it. Sorry it's so long, but I thought it was relevant!

iwouldgoouttonight Fri 22-Nov-13 14:28:15

Thanks misfitless, that's really helpful, and i'm glad you managed to find out what was making your DS so upset. I have tried talking to him about it, he seems to take after DP in that its really hard to get him to speak about his feelings! But he always says there isn't anything worrying him at school. I've also tried to see if its because of his wee/poo issues (he still wets/soils himself most days which we're seeing a consultant at the hospital about). But he says its not that. Although the other day a couple of boys said something about him smelling of wee on the way home from school. He hasn't mentioned that since but I don't know if its something that is playing on his mind.

I think I will give his teacher a call to see if she can keep a closer eye on him, especially if it keeps happening. There doesn't seem to be a link about which days it happens though. The other day, when he was feeling ill in the evening he got upset because he couldn't stop coughing so hr couldn'tget to sleep and the first thing he said was that he didn't want to still be crying when he went to school, even though this was the night before!

Misfitless Fri 22-Nov-13 17:33:21

Ah, I feel your pain, OP. It sounds like maybe something has upset him and he's been laughed at for crying? Or maybe he's seen another boy cry and has heard other boys being mean about boys who cry being babies, or something along those lines. I feel for him and you - it's hard enough being at school all day without any additional stress, isn't it?

Once when my DD was upset because someone had been mean they had a class talk which did help. Maybe the teacher could do a circle time on crying, and how it's just a release of emotions..not only babies cry too...what can we do if we know someone is upset? Do we laugh at them or do we try to help them and make them feel better.....etc.

I really hope you get to the bottom of it...keep us posted if it's not too private & good luck with the consultant, too.

Smartiepants79 Fri 22-Nov-13 17:52:46

Have you discussed with school how you would deal with handovers when this happens?
The start of this sounds like he was trying to manipulate you into getting what he wants but has then got himself to m&s point where he is no longer in control. He is clearly stuges to control/deal with his emotions. An hour to calm down is a long time for a child of his age. I would also ask school if they have any intervention groups they run that help children learn to express their emotions better.
Do you engage with/ talk to him a lot when he is starting to get upset?
It is very distressing to leave them upset what did his teacher say happened after you left?

iwouldgoouttonight Fri 22-Nov-13 18:17:34

He does go to a group once a week at school where they talk about emotions, etc. They chose children who they thought were unconfident or had social issues. He really loves going and I've spoken to tit lady who runs it and she said she thinks DS is very shy but fine once he's comfortable in a situation and she doesn't feel he needs any extra sessions.

I need to talk to the teacher to work out ways of dealing with it. When he came out today he was fine. But his teacher wasn't there so I couldn't ask her how he was or how long it'd taken him to calm down.

I've asked him if he was ok when I left him and what he did but he keeps saying he doesn't want to talk about it. He's happily playing and chatting away now so I don't want to push it.

iwouldgoouttonight Fri 22-Nov-13 18:18:46

*the lady not tit lady! blush

somedayillbesaturdaynite Fri 22-Nov-13 18:35:11

DS is 8 in feb and y3, and i had a VERY similar issue to Misfitless..fussing about his school tops being too small when they were fine..turned out to be about boxers with any pink on them (he likes the bright neon colours that are the rage atm so some in the pack had some pink) and wanting to cover them up when changing for PE or risk being mocked by his peers.

Sometime a conversation about our favourite things can prompt dc to come out with things, like we talk about ds' favourite superhero and i'll ask what is the favourite of the boys in his class etc. In the past it has revealed for example some minor mickey-taking like the pants thing and once that he hadn't seen some tv programme that they had.

DS has had play therapy in the past connected to cafcass for anger issues and I remember learning that the age they are now is the next highest surge of testosterone in boys after puberty. I find my bloody hormones still make me haywire as a grown adult (ok, debatable ;) ) and I wonder about how much it affects him being still tiny really.

I hope you get to the bottom of what is bothering him soon and wish you both well.

If it helps, DS now laughs when DD (6) offers her knickers to him to wear on PE days and it was only just before half term he was hysterical about the thought of wearing the wrong pants

ancientbuchanan Fri 22-Nov-13 18:43:43

Poor you, poor him.

Sounds as though there is a lit going on in his mind.

Is he playing ok? Don't just take their word for it, I was told Ds was fine and runnimg around. He was running around, he would run a group, ask to play, be told no and run to the next.

Does he have play dates and get asked to parties?

Is there a subject he hates?

I'd have a think, and then when you are both on the sofa cuddling and watching something, say what's up doc? You too might find the flood gates opening.

iwouldgoouttonight Fri 22-Nov-13 19:04:24

I'm going to talk to him when he's relaxed and we're on our own without DD clambering for my attention (if I cuddle DS when she's in the room she invariably appears next to me for a cuddle of her own!)

Ancientbuchanan, thinking about it I can't remember the last party he was invited to, I'd put it down to now he's older children tend to just invite one or two friends to go for a pizza or whatever. I know he only has two very close friends and others he will play with but he's not that close to. One of his close friends was the last party hr went to. He doesn't tend to go to other people's houses to play but he has his friends round here. Because of his toilet problems I tend to stay with him if he goes to someone's house hr doesn't know very well otherwise he's highly likely to wee on their sofa or poo himself and I can't expect someone else to clean him up. So its easier to invite his friends here.

I'm sure this has a lot to do with his confidence but I don't know if its linked to these upsetting mornings where he doesn't want anyone to see him cry.

We have nothing much planned this weekend so going to have a relaxing cuddly one and hopefully try to get him talking about stuff a bit.

JohnnyUtah Fri 22-Nov-13 19:12:28

Do you t hink he might have cried at school and taken a silly comment about it from one of the other kids to heart?

ktef Fri 22-Nov-13 19:20:56

Could it be the upset itself that is worrying him? I mean, now it has happened a few times perhaps he is just getting super anxious it's going to happen again and then the whole thing snowballs.
My ds is not very good at identifying or understanding feelings, is very literal, and so always struggles in conversations when I try and get to the bottom of what is bothering him. One thing that does work with him, is to talk in terms of "how are we going to fix this" rather than why are you feeling x or y. So my son has this exact same thing of not being able to calm himself down. So he seemed to like it when I said at bed time one night, ds, I know you find it really hard to stop feeling sad once it's started. So I was thinking we should try and think of some things to try to help. And then we had a really good chat trying to think up ideas to help. The one we ended up with was scribbling very hard on a bit of paper (his upset wasn't on walk to school). The good thing was that he coped better with thinking up practical ideas then when I tried to ask about why he felt what he felt. Also the next time he was upset I reminded him of the chat and he immediately went off to try our ideas (still crying, but the ideas we had come up with did seem to work a bit and it gave me something to distract him with). The bad thing is though, if there is some problem at school you may not find out what it is. But my ds tends to open up more once things aren't stressing him so much.

sugarandspite Fri 22-Nov-13 19:34:08

I'm so sorry OP, this must be really tough and upsetting for you both.

I just had one thought which was that maybe a bit of modelling behaviour might be useful to your DS? Could you and his dad (or another man that he is very close to - I do think it needs to be a man) set up a situation in which DS happens to find his dad having a bit of a (fake) cry at something - perhaps something 'safe' like a film or a book.

Then dad can explain to him that it's ok to cry, everyone does it etc and could open up a conversation with him in which DS might raise the issue if being laughed at by other kids. Dad could even talk about what he does when he feels sad and wants to cheer up / not cry and they could come up with some strategies that DS could try.

I know it sounds a bit weird but might help DS see that crying is ok and managable and the message would be more powerful coming from a man.

ancientbuchanan Fri 22-Nov-13 21:56:55

We did a number of things, like scribbling, like scrunching up the paper he Ds scribbled o. And then throwing it in the bin, if he didn't get it in, he did it again until he did iyswim.

Anger and upset are really hard at this age. There could also be an unsympathetic teacher. And his toilet issues will doubtless be worrying him, he is obv an intelligent person.

The other thing I did was to give Ds one of my cotton hankies with the scent I most often wear on it, just a little. It was in his pocket where noone could see. When life got on top of him, he could feel it and then his fingers had a faint trace of my scent.

Quite a lot if this is about fear, reassurance and distraction.

catty1234 Fri 22-Nov-13 22:17:26

Ok I had the same problem with DD this is wha worked for us
Wake them up a bit earlier and let them have a few mins just waking up and getting used to where they are again. Breakfast but no tv. Then get dressed seriousness it better if we got her clothes ready night before with her help e;g what underwear do you want to wear etc
Ask them if they want to put their shoes or coat on first if you give your DS a choice he all feel he is I controller his feelings but not you. Ha on pack and straight out door. Here is the important part we invested in a cheap scooter and if shrews good in the mornings on Friday morning she could ride scooter to school. It wired a charm. I don't now if this will help but it's worth a go

catty1234 Fri 22-Nov-13 22:18:55

Sorry about spelling, supposed to be bag on back on ha on pack

catty1234 Sat 23-Nov-13 16:55:15

Try keeping him at home for a few days just to moniter how often he goes to the toilet. Do you think you could find some alarm that would tell him if he was wet
Good luck

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