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DS5 angel at school, devil at home - think it is linked to anxiety.

(5 Posts)
sofato5miles Thu 18-Feb-16 12:37:15

My lovely little boy has a real problem controlling his anger at home. He doesn't hit but yells, cries and runs around when he doesn't get his own way. He is the middle child between 2 sisters. We are very consistent with punishments and always follow through on threats.

I went to see his teacher for advice and she said he is as good as gold at school. He tries incredibly hard at his schoolwork but is in the bottom twenty percent and has been put on class action. She says he is scared to try things in case he fails, which also holds him back a bit. We both agreed that he is highly anxious (eg finds getting things wrong in public very stressful. He dropped an onion in the supermarket and it kept rolling away from him. I chuckled as it was funny and sweet but he immediately became stressed and begged me not to laugh - which i stopped doing immediately)

Speaking to him, he says he behaves at school because of the traffic light system and he is very scared to be put onto the orange or red disks.

I had made the traffic light system at home but am wondering if it is the right thing to do, as he'll then have no way to let of steam. Does anyone have any advice on how to help him and also encourage better behaviour. Or what else can i do to support him and improve his behaviour?

Kleinzeit Thu 18-Feb-16 13:04:11

You are right that if the traffic lights are stressing him out at school than they are the last thing he needs at home. Let him yell, cry and run around when he doesn’t get his own way. He isn’t hurting anyone or damaging anything. Don’t give in to his tempers but why shouldn’t he vent his feelings? I’d feel sorry for him if he’s not allowed to have a good shout and stomp just because his sisters don’t feel the same need. So I hope you don’t punish him for that but just wait for him to calm down again? Let him be who he is; then he’ll be less anxious and less scared of failing.

And can you really build him up at home? Plenty of praise and encouragement for what he does right. Also a bit of enthusiastic descriptive commenting, which reflects what he does without any judgments at all. And no criticism of mistakes or suggestions about how he could do things better. He is probably very aware of his low position in the class (however hard the teacher tries) and that will make him feel badly about himself.

sofato5miles Thu 18-Feb-16 13:12:24

Thank you. I also have to support his learning needs too so don't want him to feel under the spotlight. I will look up descriptive commenting and get cracking.

I also have to look up games etc to develop his memory. He had an apgar of 3 when he was born and now i am worried about oxygen deprivation. My eldest had a brain injury at birth and has had a tough time and don't want another of mine to face similar ;-(

BarbarianMum Thu 18-Feb-16 14:22:47

He sounds a lot like my ds2 at that age (except that he was doing very well academically, which was a source of stress in itself - you can't win sad). With ds2 it was (is) indeed related to anxiety - he'd hold it together at school, never a foot wrong but it was/is an enormous effort and by 3pm he had nothing left to behave with.

Things that have helped with ds2 (he's 8 now and things are a lot better) include:

-a snack waiting for him in the playground
-finding / teaching better ways for him to vent and decompress after school -playing/tv/whatever works.
-placing as few demands on him as possible for the hour following school (no homework, chores, can you just do this etc)
-me staying calm and not getting into a negative behaviour/punishment cycle at home (easier said then done)
-lots of sleep

At school, what helps is getting his teachers to understand that, despite appearances, he's very anxious, regular praise for effort and extremely sparing criticism (he's already beating himself up mentally for every wrong spelling/missed answer/mistake and telling him "I think this could have been neater/better/longer" just results in him getting so stressed he literally can't put anything on paper at all).


sofato5miles Thu 18-Feb-16 16:24:22

Thank you for your advice. He likes sports and I will also focus on dedicated down time to decompress.

Who knew parenting would require such application smile

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