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7 year old daughter keeps hitting :(

(11 Posts)
Treacle1972 Thu 15-Jan-15 16:30:00

Hello all. Just want some reassurance and a bit of advice really. My almost 8 year old daughter has just switched schools after having a really tough time at her last one. She is very bright but very independent and self-reliant and was often getting into trouble in her last school with defiance, although only very occasionally with hitting.

She's been in her new school for just over a week and has hit someone every day for the last 3 days. The first time it was a boy who was teasing her with a stick and she hit him with the stick - this was dealt with very quickly and her teacher said she could see both sides. Then yesterday she slapped another girl on the arm because she told her she was breaking a rule about dinnertime which she hadn't known. Again, the teacher dealt with this very well but said that DD was quite angry at being told off and refused to apologise. She suggested I talk to her and ask her to write an apology note, which she did with a very ill grace this morning, but on the proviso that if she did it she could still go to softplay after school on Fri.

Today I've been told she's been "whacking" people again and this time refused to take advice even from the teacher. Her teacher is a lovely caring woman (very unlike her last one) but seemed very concerned about how little DD is getting done because she refuses help and advice.

I'm at my whit's end. I've tried getting her to explain why she hits instead of saying why she's angry, but she just rages at me and tells me she "hates me when I tell her off". Her dad doesn't get any better results. I know she feels really uncertain in her new school but I am so concerned she is getting a reputation already and will end up lonely and friendless (which she says is FINE!).

Help!! Any suggestions how to teach her that hitting is serious stuff? She seems to be so angry one minute and then forgets all about it the next sad

MrsTawdry Thu 15-Jan-15 22:57:26

Did she hit at her other school? Is she sensitive to noise or touch generally OP?

Have you noticed for instance that she reacts strongly to certain environments or sounds?

She could have a sensory issue going on...often children who do, have hitting episodes.

Treacle1972 Fri 16-Jan-15 09:46:05

@MrsTawdry - thanks for replying. There had been a few incidents of hitting at her last school, but nearly always involving a particular boy who was a bully and antagonistic towards her, so it didn't seem like a major issue.

She is very sensitive to loud noisy environments and it has been suggested she has SPD by a couple of mums. I even bought her ear defenders at her last school to help her concentrate, but it's hard to believe that noise alone is the problem as she adores the softplay centre - which is deafening!

I've just dropped her in this morning and the she was quite cheerful until the little girl in the desk next to her starting telling me that she was breaking rules by bringing toys in. I explained to her that DD doesn't understand the rules yet and she replied (in quite an outraged tone for a 7 year old I thought!) that yesterday another girl tried to explain the rules and she just elbowed them in the ribs. DD was listening to this and very sullen but not commenting, so I replied on her behalf that sometimes it's a bit embarrassing not knowing the rules and that maybe that makes her a bit angry.

Not sure if that helped to be honest, but DD is so shut down that I worry they are already seeing her as a mean bully, rather than the funny, cheerful, friendly kid she is at home and with people she feels confident with sad

MrsTawdry Fri 16-Jan-15 10:17:02

Apart from the school move, has she had any large changes in her life recently?

If not, perhaps she needs to learn more self control and social skills and for that you can't beat Brownies and also Karate or similar.

I'd look at concentrating as well on something that she excells at to build her self DD had a down phase when she moved school...she happens to be very good at drawing so I entered her into a few competitions online and she won one which did wonders for her self regard. We took her prize in and her certificate so that the teacher could see it and show the class.

As it's early days, try to get a few playdates in so that you can observe her behaviour and she can make some more friends...ask the teacher if you're not sure who she's playing with most regularly. when half term comes along see if some of the other parents would like to meet up in soft play...often they're happy to do this as it's easier than a honest and say "I'm trying to help X settle better so I wondered if a few of us could get together at the play centre over half term?" just mention it the week before we all break up.x

IsItMeOr Fri 16-Jan-15 11:20:04

Hi Treacle - what advice have you had from the previous school/this one?

Have you considered asking GP for a referral for her to be assessed for possible sensory issues? That almost certainly will be a very slow process.

Generally speaking, happy children don't hit like this, so it's a fair bet that something is triggering the behaviour. It doesn't sound like it's entirely explained by the move to a new school, as I read your OP as saying there were issues at her old school.

Could you ask to speak to the SENCO at the school, to see whether they have any ideas?

You might also try reading the Explosive Child by Ross Green for a helpful technique to talk with DD to try to problem-solve together. It has good tips on how to phrase questions so that you're more likely to get some useful information.

It's horrible when your child is going through these problems at school - she is still very young, and it is certainly that she needs something different to happen, somewhere - the challenge is finding out what that is.

From my experience, there is very little you can do at home to influence how your child behaves at school if it is something that is happening at school that is triggering the behaviour (e.g. interactions with peers, frustration at having to follow the rules). You will need the school to be developing strategies to support your DD at school.

Treacle1972 Fri 16-Jan-15 11:56:05

Thanks for that rec' @IsItMeOr, bought the book on Kindle instantly as it seems like a very useful volume full of lots of common sense advice, plus it's the second time it's been recommended to me so I take that as a sign smile

DD was involved with the SENCO at her previous school, as well as the FSW, as she has had problems for the last 2 years with socialisation at school. I saw a child psychologist (without her) recently who told me that "all signs" point to her being high-functioning Aspergic, but I'm still reluctant to accept that diagnosis until she's been properly assessed. I will speak to the SENCO I think (ironically it's the same one as she's moved schools too) and see if she has any suggestions, but I also like @Mrs Tawdry's of trying to build her self-esteem with things she is good at. Her main feeling at the moment seems to be that she is "stupid" because all the other kids seem to know more than her. This week they were doing knitting and sewing and DD was very frustrated and angry because they all knew what to do and she didn't and wouldn't be shown.

Thank you for your final comment too. I feel as if we do everything to help at home and that the problems only happen when I leave her at the school gate. She is a loving, warm, brilliant little girl with us and with her lovely cousins and family. It makes me so sad that her peers at school don't know that person sad

Cedar03 Fri 16-Jan-15 11:58:50

She probably won't know enough about herself to be able to tell you why she hits. And then she'll become defensive because she's in trouble and won't be listening to you anyway.

I have a 7 nearly 8 year old daughter as well. I think it is difficult because there is a limit to what you can do at home if she is not displaying that behaviour at home with you. Does the school have a play therapist or similar? There is one at my daughter's school who works with those children who have difficulties or this kind.

It sounds as if the other children were trying to be helpful in explaining the rules to her but she became defensive. Maybe if in her previous school this failure to follow the rules got her into a lot of trouble she saw the whole thing starting over again?

BarbarianMum Fri 16-Jan-15 13:06:39

<<I saw a child psychologist (without her) recently who told me that "all signs" point to her being high-functioning Aspergic, but I'm still reluctant to accept that diagnosis until she's been properly assessed.>>

Does that mean you are on the waiting list for assessment? If not, I think you should make that your priority. In the meantime would you/the school consider trying strategies suitable for a child with ASD to try and lower her anxiety? She sounds very anxious.

IsItMeOr Fri 16-Jan-15 15:27:39

BarbarianMum has suggested what I was thinking, having seen your update.

DS was diagnosed in September with autism (asperger's type) - really quickly, because he was only referred in January, and it can usually take more than a year. He was really struggling and two wise specialists collaborated to get him a diagnosis a bit quicker so at least we all knew why he was doing the things he was, and how we might better be able to help him.

I would say that checking out whether there is an underlying health condition is a priority, otherwise your DD will be exposed to every well-meaning idea from every random professional out there.

I absolutely agree with you that nurturing your DD's self-worth is also a priority - that is exactly how I feel about DS. I hate any suggestion that he is talking about himself as a bad person. You will never go wrong by helping her to love herself.

The good thing about the Explosive Child is that it does not need your child to have any diagnosis before you start trying the techniques. And they would probably work with any child anyway.

Good luck. This is a lot to take in and deal with. The SEN boards are very supportive, if you haven't already found them.

Treacle1972 Fri 16-Jan-15 15:44:43

Hi, yes she was GADs assessed at the start of Yr1 which was "inconclusive", then last year when thing's started getting bad again I went back to the SENCO and filled the forms out for a second assessment which will be with a different body apparently. Now she's switched schools though I need to make sure that's still in the works, as I'm guessing it will be with another assessing body for her new school? I don't know how it works really.

This is probably going to sound like "head burying in sand" but I was reluctant to tell her new teacher about the ASD suspicions, as in her last school they immediately pigeon-holed her and relegated her to the "quiet area" during every lesson where she learned zero and became even more isolated than before. I was desperately hoping that a caring teacher and a more relaxed learning environment would make for a more relaxed and happier DD, but so far not so good :-/

IsItMeOr Fri 16-Jan-15 15:56:29

I do understand the dilemma. For us, DS was having such a hard time, we had no option but to pursue the assessment - he got a very clear cut diagnosis by the time we got there.

For our area, the referrals depend on which local authority and NHS area you are in. Have either of those changed when you moved?

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