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Pre-scho teacher says 3.5 yr old needs to let other kids lead play too...

(17 Posts)
rainbowontheway Wed 16-Mar-16 09:25:54

Hi do you have any thoughts to offer to help in this situation please? My son is 3.5 and goes to pre-school while I work part-time. He's been at the current pre-school 6 mths. This week and last week there's been an incident in which he and another child have fought, leaving each child involved with a mark or cut. Eg yesterday he and another boy fought and my son was pushed over, grazing his temple. The other boy was scratched by my son. This was apparently because my son has to lead play and gets frustrated when other kids don't want to follow and so gets in their face and then the other child reacts, leading to the fighting. Last week there was a dispute over a toy which led to my son being hit in the mouth with the toy, needing a cold compress, and my son scratching the child who hit him.

Today the pre-school leader seemed quite terse when I discussed yesterday's incident with her, and basically said that my son needs 'somehow' to learn to let other kids lead play too. She says if someone doesn't play along he just shouts louder at them and gets in their space and they react. She said he plays best with quiet kids who do as he says but that they have to separate him a few times a day from others, including those he talks of as being his 'best friends'. She said they struggle to do this effectively sometimes because of the size of the nursery. I was left feeling upset by the conversation as she seemed to be blaming him. Last time this behaviour was raised was at his half yearly review meeting and it was put in a more positive light then ie he likes to organise the other children into games and includes everyone. She did say that the other boys (they're mainly boys at his pre-school at the moment and are all around 3/4 yrs old) are also difficult at times, but seemed to be very down on my son. I got the impresion she'd be happy if we removed him from the pre-school altogether.

He's an outgoing, sociable and confident child. I've never seen the behaviours she describes when he's around other kids eg at birthday parties and play dates and we leave him at Sunday School every week for an hour or so and there are never any issues reported.

He's an only child for now but I'm pregnant and due in May. How I can help him with all this? I feel like he's been described as a domineering bully... Upsetting! And equally, shouldn't the other kids (and my son) be learning how to react without violence if someone wants you to play a certain way and you don't? Would love your advice! Thanks

CoteDAzur Wed 16-Mar-16 09:38:25

What does your DS say about it all?

Can you invite several of his friends home, observe them at play and intervene as necessary to help you

CoteDAzur Wed 16-Mar-16 09:39:09

... to help your DS understand what he can and can't do while playing with others?

AntiquityReRises Wed 16-Mar-16 09:52:47

You say I'm sorry but these behaviours are not present at home so what are you planning on putting into place to help him learn to play cooperatively in a preschool environment.

She said they struggle to do this effectively sometimes because of the size of the nursery.

So effectively they said they do not have enough staff to ensure the safety of children or to enable and lead social learning?

LemonBreeland Wed 16-Mar-16 09:56:17

I think they are passing the buck a bit. Helpful to inform you that it is an issue so that you can work on it at home, but not remotely helpful to seemingly suggest you fix it. You are not there when he is at pre school so you can't help fix it there.

It is most likely just developmental, he is young and needs to learn it is not all about him. They can help him with that.

rainbowontheway Wed 16-Mar-16 10:14:58

Thanks all.

We have limited time for play dates now as he's started school nursery a couple of weeks ago and goes there for 2.5 hrs a day Mon-Fri, in addition to this other setting (3.5 hrs a day, 3 days a week) when I work. We often see friends at drop in things we attend on my days off work though eg gymnastics, soft play, and have a fair few birthday parties we go to and there's never any issues at these. With the last friend who came to play at our house it went really well. He shared his toys more or less without issue and they interacted and played together, copying each other and chasing each other, and it all ended in the other boy not wanting to leave and hugs all round.

DH says we should try to explain to DS that it's good to let other children take turns and lead play sometimes too, but I'm not sure he'll understand. Will try, obviously. I feel bad about potentially 'crushing' his lively personality if we go too heavy on him on this but equally I don't want him hurting others and getting hurt on a regular basis either.

Antiquity I think what she meant was the physical size of the nursery building. It's not the biggest, but is obviously deemed adequate by the regulators. They are an 18 place max setting and in addition to the nursery itself, they have a good sized outdoor play area and access to a large indoor hall for when the weather is too bad to go outside. But yes, agree, they need to manage the children in the setting they have.

Cote when we ask DS about it we just get that 'X hit me' and 'he's a naughty boy and I don't like him' etc...

Lemon yes it does feel like buck passing.

EyeoftheStorm Wed 16-Mar-16 10:27:50

He's 3.5 - of course he doesn't have these skills yet. That's why he's at preschool.

I have had two 'happy followers' and the third is a 'leader'. When he was littler I used to watch him with his friends and worry that sometimes he was too dominant and couldn't handle it when others didn't want to do what he wanted.

This is your chance to guide him - I used to talk through play with DC3. If we played together - I'd say what would you do if I didn't want to play your game? What if we both want a toy at the same time? How do we make us both happy? If you hit me with the toy, what should I do?

DC3 is still a strong personality at 6 but he plays nicely with others and they want to play with him. They enjoy his games. He knows how to negotiate or take a step back when things don't go his way.

Preschool should be helping him with this too.

VagueIdeas Wed 16-Mar-16 10:29:43

I would expect preschool to deal with it as and when it happens. It's perfectly normal behaviour at 3.5 and they must come across it all the time.

Why do we send children to preschool, if not to teach them to socialise with other children? You can talk to him about playing nicely until you're blue in the face, but at his age he isn't going to retain that information, so is fully expect preschool staff to be vigilant and intervene before things get violent.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 16-Mar-16 10:39:56

EyeoftheStorm has some good tips

He does need to learn those skills, they are quite right - if he doesn't then the time will come when nobody wants to play with him and he will be lonely and frustrated (I have seen this happen with a little girl whose mum mistakenly decided it was a feminist issue that people didn't like her DD always having to be the one in charge dictating how the other kids were allowed to play, when it was absolutely just a child development issue regardless of sex/ gender and with a little boy whose mum actually intervened in park and "playdate" games to ensure her son was in charge and his rules were followed rather than to gently encourage a bit more give and take!).

However preschool should only be telling you for information and so you can keep your eyes open and be on the ball when he is with you - of course they should be addressing the situation themselves when he is at their setting, and of course it is a developmental stage with some (not all but a large minority of) children so they should have dealt with it numerous times before, unless the preschool is brand new with an entirely inexperienced staff...

rainbowontheway Wed 16-Mar-16 10:58:53

I don't dispute that he needs to learn those skills, which is why I'm asking how to help him. But I do wonder how realistic it is for his age etc. I don't behave like the parents you describe Schwab. I am a bit surprised that he pre-school seem so frustrated and surprised by the incidents as I too assumed they would have dealt with them before. It's an established pre-school and at least one of the staff is a former Early Years teacher.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 16-Mar-16 11:13:14

Do you have any friends or relatives with (nice) slightly older children rainbow? Playing with children with a wider range of ages could help him learn to be one of the group without always having to be in charge.

Also playing games with set rules which you (or even better another child, a slightly older cousin or friend's child would be ideal, but of course not eveyone has handy friends' / family children available to help out) explain to him so he can practice following other people's rules and still having fun (some simple board games - we have this one for example but of course there are loads of options).

Take him to busy playgrounds and helicopter parent his turn taking as a one off (or more if it is an issue) and observe his interactions with other kids for this specific purpose.

You could also talk to school nursery about it - if they haven't noticed it happening either it is probably a bit of a storm in a tea cup caused by the particular dynamic of that nursery (kids' personalities, space restraints, staff personalities etc.)

rainbowontheway Wed 16-Mar-16 11:20:58

Thanks Schwab. I think the school nursery is a whole new world for him and it's still really new as he's only been there a few weeks. It's a much bigger setting (double the size of his nursery) and he's one of the youngest there as most kids will be going up to reception in September so are 4, going on for 5. He's already had to adjust to the fact that a child he's been reunited with there, who he was previously at nursery with and very good friends with, has made new friends as he's been at the school nursery since September due to his earlier birthday. So my son gets told by other boys that they and not he are this boy's 'best friends'.... (sigh!!)

At Sunday School he plays really well with a boy who is 5 and a girl who is 2.5.

Will have a think who we could try to meet up with of different ages to see how that goes. Will try your suggestions on games and rule setting too. Thanks.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 16-Mar-16 11:37:34

Just a thought based on your last update:

Some children try to organise and "lead" and control other children not because they are naturally bossy but as a reaction to actually feeling out of control and a bit scared/ overwhelmed (sounds silly until you think about it).

It could actually be that he has got "worse" at preschool recently and that is why his preschool teacher is feeling frustrated - but that actually he is asserting his "authority" in the familiar preschool where he is not one of the "little ones" precisely because he is a bit overwhelmed and doesn't like feeling he has no control over what happens at school nursery and wants to make sure that doesn't happen at preschool too!

If you think that might actually be the case with your DS it might be worth talking to school nursery about how he is settling and how they can help him feel secure (making sure he knows the routines, a bit of help with play buddies etc) - he might be a "different child" in each setting but for reasons that are intrinsically linked!

RidersOnTheStorm Wed 16-Mar-16 11:43:50

The nursery staff are signalling that they are concerned about his behaviour which they see as outside the norm. It may be worthwhile staying for a session so that you can observe his behaviour for yourself.

rainbowontheway Wed 16-Mar-16 11:56:29

Schwab that makes sense... Pre-school obviously know about the change to school nursery and I did wonder if it had something to do with his behaviour. I will speak to school nursery too, as you suggest.

Riders I will try to schedule that in, though I wonder how realistic a snapshot I'd get?

MadSprocker Wed 16-Mar-16 16:53:54

Having worked in pre school situations, with similar behaviours, it sounds like the preschool were trying to keep your son and the other child separated, so there would be less likely to be 'incidents'. It's a stressful situation for the staff to deal with as you really don't want children hitting, biting, scratching or doing anything else to each other! I wouldn't go into school, as your child would probably act completely different. Being one of the youngest in a nursery stating is really tough, and he will probably be much more settled next school year when it is just his immediate peers.

Witchend Thu 17-Mar-16 14:45:09

I don't think it's a pass the buck comment.

I think they're just asking you to back them up if/when he exhibits that sort of behaviour with you. So practising taking in turns, not always winning, other people getting a choice too. All things that we can quite naturally fall into a habit of not doing with our babies as they seem so little and unable to take it.
Then if they make a fuss about not doing them it's often easier to let them get away with it. They then become used to the fact they always win/go first/their choice and find it very difficult when they come across other similar age children who are not inclined to give way to them.

You may, of course, not do any of these things, but a lot of parents do and they just want your support in not encouraging the behaviours they are trying to discourage at school.

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