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Help with my 4 year old son

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dollfin Tue 10-Nov-15 17:20:39

Hi there

I have a 4 year old little boy who has just started Reception class. He is a bubbly, outgoing, confident child but struggles with behavioural issues. This isn't a new thing, he suffered from the same thing at Nursery. At his childminder he was absolutely fine and at home, we don't have major issues with him. He is strong willed but I am quite firm with him.

He has been doing things at school like:

1. Refusing to go to Phonics or writing lessons
2. Refusing to stop playing when he is asked to
3. Standing up in assembly and won't sit down when asked
4. Getting angry when made to do something
5. Today he hit his teacher when he was asked to come inside
6. Being defiant and refusing to do as told

There are other things but you get the gist.

The school have been great, they are supportive and try lots of different strategies with him. They've done the green for good behaviour thing, then tried ticks for each quarter of the day, special stickers for a great day, you name it they've tried it already.

If he has a bad day it is usually followed by a good day where he does completely as he is told and is a 'delight' according to the teacher. He is very able academically and is reading and writing above average. He has friends and loves socialising out of school but in school the teacher says he plays alone a lot of the time.

At home, he is a very sunny, happy character. He has a very confident and dominant personality and we have to be very firm with him. He needs clear, well defined boundaries and will try to take charge in situations unless we correct him. He can be over familiar with adults and doesn't really ever get shy. He looks older than his age and people who meet him feel he's much older than 4. He's like a mini adult.

At school the problems are obviously worsening. The school want to call in an Educational Psychologist to see him and I can't help but feel that it would be a slippery slope to some kind of condition being diagnosed. I feel all panicked about it and couldn't speak when the teacher mentioned it tonight.

I feel like a complete failure, I have a great job and a lovely home for him, he is such a lovely, gorgeous, intelligent little boy when he is doing as he told. I don't understand, I may be upset and being over dramatic but I feel he is going to ruin his own childhood if he carries on being so destructive. I can't help but compare him to my own childhood, I was always an active member of the class and confident but I wouldn't have dreamed behaving like he does.

I'm ashamed to admit I'm embarrassed when I go to the school, I feel like they're judging me and I feel like I'm a massive failure. It sounds awful to say but I almost feel like I'm just a terrible mum, I try to do everything, I give him routine, structure, I'm there to drop him off, to pick him up. He gets a home cooked meal, we read, he has trips out. I don't know what to do and I'm so worried there is something else wrong.

Can anyone help or just offer some support.

A Mum at the end of her tether x

pepper30 Tue 10-Nov-15 18:29:55

I really feel for you dollfin - you sound like you are really trying very hard to understand what is going on for your son. i guess I haven't got any clear things to say other than is know that psychologists tend to view things from less of a medical model as it were and generally are therefore less willing to hand out diagnoses and they are very unlikely to be able to provide a diagnoses themselves so if you are worried about that it is not likely to happen not until they do some screening which might indicate a condition which only then would be referred on (with your consent and further discussion) for diagnoses. They may however be very helpful in just helping to figure out what is going on for your little boy and helping those around him to give the best support including within the classroom/ with his peers as it sounds this is where he is struggling.

The fact that there are no behavioural concerns at home says to me that you are doing a great job!

dollfin Tue 10-Nov-15 18:35:39

Thanks pepper, I am really trying hard to understand. I always thought I'd be a great Mum and have it all sorted but it's so hard sometimes, as I'm sure you know!

I know they just want to help him, it's just hard admitting he might need some support and I'm so worried that it's the start of a slippery slope. He has so much potential, I wish I could make him understand. His 4 year old brain doesn't want to compute though, he's so sad after a bad day, I wish he'd understand the consequences of his actions more.

Umbrelladilemma Tue 10-Nov-15 18:37:25

Dollfin, I don't know what to suggest but just want to say that I sympathise as my 3.5 yr old sounds very similar. My problem is that his behaviour at home can be awful as well. Every evening I am often almost in tears with him - he is so wilful and can be very defiant. Nursery have asked me to speak to him about his behaviour but to be honest I'm having enough trouble managing him at home. So, apologies as I don't mean to hijack thread, but I just wanted to ask what techniques you use to manage him at home? I've tried lots and am now just very firm but he often just laughs at me - I feel like he's in control (and he knows it) and I don't know how to break the cycle.

Umbrelladilemma Tue 10-Nov-15 18:39:26

Sorry, meant to also say - the fact he is well behaved at home shows you are not a failure at all!!

Lowdoorinthewall Tue 10-Nov-15 18:42:07

Do you have any suspicions that he may be on the spectrum? Some of the behaviours you describe are also present in children with high functioning autism/ Asperger's. Maybe, just as an additional weapon in your arsenal, it would be worth reading up on some strategies for supporting Asperger's and PDA (pathological demand avoidance) to see if any of them felt as though they might be helpful.

Lowdoorinthewall Tue 10-Nov-15 18:46:50

Sorry, I see you are really concerned about the idea of a diagnosis of anything and I had no intention of worrying you- I just wanted to suggest a source of information and strategies.

On a separate note, rather than being a ball and chain a diagnosis can be life-changing for children who need one because of the understanding it brings with it and extra support can be a wonderful thing.

dollfin Tue 10-Nov-15 18:50:22

Hi Umbrella,
I am just super firm with him, if he starts being defiant I hold him by the shoulders and repeat whatever I've asked. If he ignores me I take him straight to his bedroom and make him stay there until he's calm down and I can go and ask him again. I don't discuss things with him at all, I just repeat the instruction until its followed basically. My DS is a master arguer so if you engage in conversation with him he will start a debate. I learned quickly to nip it in the bud. At school they coax, encourage, reason etc and he doesn't seem to do well with that at all. x

dollfin Tue 10-Nov-15 18:51:25

Thanks lowdoorinthewall, I know you're trying to help. I will take a look at those conditions and strategies

Tarrarra Tue 10-Nov-15 18:51:48

Having an Ed Psych would probably be really helpful. If he does need different strategies, then a report will highlight these, and also suggest if he needs more support. Please don't think of it as a negative thing, because I think it sounds wonderful that the school are taking this seriously, and intervening early. There are lots of reasons why children behave in this way at school, so please don't worry about a getting a "label" at this stage. It sounds like you and the school are working in partnership and that's just what he needs. Good luck x

FishenNuggets Tue 10-Nov-15 18:58:35

My 4 yr old DS is similar too. He can great for ages and then just stops paying any attention and it's hard to get him focused again.

He's the same at home, childminders and at preschool. They see the better and think he's ok/fixed. I see the good days and know the bad ones are coming again.

We're firm with him, consistent etc. He's not stupid and he knows the rules but that doesn't mean he'll follow them.

I have been beginning to wonder if there's something (diagnosable?) there.

FishenNuggets Tue 10-Nov-15 18:59:55

I sounded quite defeatist there. Of course we reward him etc when his behaviour is good.

Umbrelladilemma Tue 10-Nov-15 19:40:14

Thanks Dolfin. I think I just need to be consistent. It's hard as he's very physical and I basically end up having to restrain him.
Hope things go ok with your son. Good luck.

YetAnotherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 10-Nov-15 21:49:22

Hi Dollfin, hope you don't mind but we edited your DS's name out of your OP, just to be on the safe side.

Ferguson Thu 12-Nov-15 19:43:41

As a primary TA for over twenty years - YES, I have seen this scenario a few times!

It CAN be an indication of a child being really bright, wanting things HIS way, and not being prepared to compromise on his expectations. If that IS the case, it is unfortunate that the educational world invariably sees only disobedience and naughtiness!

I once worked with a Yr2 child who NEVER wanted to do the task set for the rest of the class. I suggested to the teacher, that as an experiment for one occasion, we set the task for the class, but tell this one child she does not have to join in, but can choose to do whatever she wanted to do. GUESS WHAT?! She chose to join in, and do the same as everyone else!

If it was my choice, before the EdPsych route, I would try a one-to-one pairing with an experienced TA, but obviously that may not be possible.

On the occasions when he can be persuaded to conform and do the required activity, what is his concentration and standard of 'work' like? Does that shed any light on what may be going on in his head?

holeinmyheart Thu 12-Nov-15 21:58:40

My friend had this scenario when her son started school. She was called to the Primary school to take him home endlessly and in the end he was diagnosed with depression at the age of five by his GP and refused to go to school.
My friend was unbelievably upset as you can imagine.
They brought their own Psychologist in to test him and it turned out he was incredibly gifted.
They changed schools and presented the report to the school and he got support.
He is now 14 at a ordinary Comp doing well, and boy is he bright. He is a bit obnoxious as he also can argue for Britain, especially if he thinks you are wrong about something.
He sounds similar to your DS.
Gifted children are also supposed to get help as it is not always easy for them to fit in to ' the one size fits all' system.
Hugs, as anything being up with your DCs can cause us to feel beyond awful.

dollfin Fri 13-Nov-15 14:56:57

Thank you both.

He is a very bright little boy, the teachers have all said that he is very talented and doing things well beyond his academic ability. The TA mentioned how much of a delight he is to work with one to one and he has been described as 'bright as a button'.

I've always tried to have the ethos that however bright he may be, he still needs to behave properly, that is what I am finding hard. It's been 3 days now since the incident and there hasn't been another one, he was voted special person by his class and got a sparkly card. He is most definitely capable of controlling his behaviour which leads me to believe he is making the poor choices on purpose.

I was a bright child at school and had my IQ tested which was found to be very high (not that it is anymore after all this stress, haha!) but I was always a really good girl and knew how to behave so that the teachers would like me. I remember understanding what was expected from an early age, I don't understand why he keeps doing what he is doing. You're right holeinmyheart, it does make you feel beyond awful.

Thanks for your support

outputgap Fri 13-Nov-15 15:11:54

You have my sympathies, OP. I have a clever but sometimes very difficult 4 yr old girl, and she is being assessed to see if she is on the spectrum.

But no one does any assessing without your permission.

I also go to see a psychologist to discuss strategies for modifying her behaviour, and have taken every offer of assessment and help going.

I think it can only be helpful for everyone to know why she struggles with certain things. I think school will and do treat her as a child on the spectrum rather than a naughty child, and for her, that works so much better.

I have taken a pragmatic view of assessment and diagnosis - what will make her happier and more productive at school, because that's all I care about in the end. But it is hard. Every time I get another report or she does something 'autistic', it is really hard processing that this might really be the case, so I totally understand your reluctance.

In our case, the label and the help have been important in making reception a real success so far.

Good luck!

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