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Ds struggling in reception is this normal behaviour?

(38 Posts)
scumbagcollege Sun 25-Sep-16 10:32:02

Sorry this will be long.

I don't know if anyone on here has any ideas about this, I'm kind of tearing my hair out atm and I am hoping it's just because it's settling into school teething problems. Or I am just a totally crap parent because that's how I feel right now.

My ds is four, he started reception two weeks ago and I've noticed his behaviour is worse than usual (totally expected), however I noticed last week particularly by Friday he was absolutely exhausted. I've put it all down to starting school, a new routine, and learning so much in a short space of time. Plus my car had to into the garage half of last week so we had to walk there and back three days running (dad works away half of the week). The teacher spoke to me briefly on Thursday and praised him over something he had learnt but then ended it with a comment like "I did say to ds that look what you can learn if you just listen", I agreed with her said "I know he's been so tired" which she said "yes a few others not listening too" but all fine and amicable.

So come to Friday, he's awake at six o'clock (he's been doing this for a about a month) he WILL NOT go back to bed wants to get up immediately, says he's hungry (I do have another post about this particular issue). I notice in the morning he's rubbing his eyes before we leave and not listening at all to anything I was saying, took ages to get him dressed at this point I'm getting stressed out and a bit snappy. I immediately thought OMG how on earth is he going to get through the day he can't concentrate. Just a quick note, he went to bed the night before at 7pm, he's always had this routine.
We then have to walk to school (about a fifteen min walk) he was distracted all the way, I did say to him I can see you're very tired and you're going to have to listen at school do you think you can do it? He just nodded but I thought he's gonna struggle today but thank god it's Friday. I then had a similar conversation with another mum at the school gate about her son being really tired too and the melt downs they had at home etc all completely normal I would have thought for first two weeks of school.

Anyway fast forward to end of day pick up and the dept head asks to have a word, I just knew immediately it would be about tiredness and not listening. She said we've had a few problems today with ds not listening and that he threw some mud in another little boys eye, and that when we spoke to him and asked him how do you think the little boy would feel he just said "nice", she said it was like he didn't understand how it could hurt him. I immediately replied that was not good he did that, poor little boy he knows not to do such things and its behaviour I would not tolerate at home, she seemed surprised by this! She then said he hadn't been listening to the teacher and seemed very tired. I said he has been very tired this week and was up at 6am but in bed at 7pm the night before. She just said so he's up too early then. She then said he spat on the floor, I never ever tolerate spitting so I was very surprised, the only thing I thought that could be was is he has started mimicking the cats hissing noise at home when he doesn't like being told what to do. What made it worse was my ds kept trying to talk to me over the dept head, I had to keep saying please do not interrupt I'm talking to the teacher (was very embarrassing but I knew he was far far gone on the tiredness scale and very excited to see me, just wanted him home). Then when I was leaving he didn't notice another little boy waiting to go through the door, both me and teacher said "what do you say? Excuse me" I told him immediately look out for the little boy say excuse me, said sorry to little boy. I just looked back at the teacher to say goodbye and she just kind of sighed because he didn't listen.

I feel terrible that he threw mud in this child's eye and didn't seem to care, I've told him he will be apologising to the little boy on Monday, hopefully I'll find out who his mother is so I can apologise to her too, I just hope his eye is ok. I've no excuse other than he's over tired and behaves very naughty at home when he gets like this. He won't rest if he gets tired, he just gets more and more hyperactive, jumps all over me and dp, won't listen, he will only sleep in the car.
I also understand that's he's four years old and is dealing with a huge amount of change and it might take him a while to settle in.
His behaviour has been different since starting school and beforehand. I think we might have overdone the build up to him starting and may have made him anxious, I had to take him to the doctors to have his hearing checked before he started as he kept putting his hands over his ears and sometimes shouts when he talks. But his hearing his fine. He also talks over you quite a lot which I have to constantly correct.

I'm dreading tomorrow, he was up early yesterday and was so badly behaved had a melt down that I had to put him in his room and leave him until he slept (which he did after about 45 or wriggling and banging the wall), he seemed a bit better afterwards. Today again, up early and still tired, if we try and get him back to sleep he just wriggles non stop in our bed he just can't keep still or he screams the house down if we put him in his own room which is unfair on next doors children. I'm going to put him to bed at 6 6.30 pm tonight and hope and pray he doesn't get up earlier.

I'm not really sure what I'm asking just want to know if any of this is normal? I'm not used to how schools are now, obviously the throwing things and hurting other children is a big no and I'm so glad they told me so I can correct this behaviour asap, he actually had sweets given to him from someone's birthday which I didn't allow him to have because of what he did to this boy.
But the not listening I'm worried about too, it must have been really bad for the dept head to have to speak to me. Part of me is confused, I've no other children to compare this to but I understand he is four years old at school for the first time and will not be perfect, but then I understand the school are not there to parent him but teach, they need him to have some level of control in order to do this. At what point does the not listening become a problem? I just don't know, I feel like such a shit parent and I think they think I'm crap and don't check him when he's not listening, which I do.

Please somebody tell me I'm not the only one and cut him some slack. Or do I just need to get a grip of myself and son.

Needfinsnow Sun 25-Sep-16 10:42:54

Poor you OP! And your poor little boy, he just sounds exhausted, I'm surprised the school aren't giving him a little more leaway, they seem to have already labelled him a problem..his not listening etc. Would you be able to send him just in the mornings for a little while? They don't HAVE to be in school until they are 5 so maybe it would ease him in a little better? Could you and the teacher produce some kind of reward system for when he listens to her? I'm sure he will settle in, it's SUCH a massive change starting school, 2 weeks is such a small time for him to settle in, our reception children starting this year haven't even started full days yet!

domesticslattern Sun 25-Sep-16 10:49:02

I agree, if he is doing full days already then perhaps you could talk to the school about him doing mornings only for a bit. Which would be totally standard in another school btw.

InTheDessert Sun 25-Sep-16 11:04:11

Earlier to bed, with an extra snack before bed if you can - I used to give a bowl of porridge before we went up for a bath - you might not be able to fit this in after dinner tho.

Mine wakes up early whatever time he goes to bed (and were well past reception). Typically they watch Turtles (it's on at 7pm here) in their PJs, then story and lights out. We have been playing turtles on you tube about half an hour earlier than normal AND getting an extra 15 minutes in the mornings.

scumbagcollege Sun 25-Sep-16 11:17:40

I must admit I was surprised he was going in all day from day one, it's a lot. I'm going to see how he gets on this week and if he's worse or no improvement I'm going to ask if he can just do mornings for a while until he settles in better.

Thing is he was going to nursery from 10 months old, not every day all day but he is used to rules. But yes this is probably too much all at once for him and I as his mother know he is knackered (not that's an excuse for all behaviour). He's such a lovely boy, so imaginative and social and talkative, his nursery actually said they didn't think he would have a problem settling in as he is so confident. I don't want him to lose his confidence at school, I don't want him marked as some kind of problem either.

randomer Sun 25-Sep-16 11:18:25

maybe try and separate out some of this stuff..... Has he move to Reception with friends?
pre school was he empathic ie. would know its not good to throw mud at another child?

Was he able to listen for short periods of time,take turns, etc before school?

Could you maybe like " listening ears" or a phrase like that. Can you turn on your listening ears?

We are talking in very abstract ways to children who have no idea of such things e.g time. They live in the moment. Rather than waiting for school to ask you in , how about taking the initiative and saying " Ben seems to be finding this process difficult. Can we have a quick update every week please"

You are not a crap parent.

scumbagcollege Sun 25-Sep-16 11:20:18

Good idea dessert, maybe I could try more food before bed. I wonder also if he needs more food at school to help him concentrate, he is only a little thing but he does eat slot throughout the day

randomer Sun 25-Sep-16 11:20:22

re marking a tired 4 year old as a problem I would very much hope this doesn't happen!!

mummytime Sun 25-Sep-16 11:30:23

In my experience all children have a naughty spell when they start school.
Try to get him to bed earlier if possible, and definitely try to allow him plenty of time to "chill out" and relax after school. (Homework should not be done if he is genuinely too tired, or do it in the morning if he wakes early.)

Do not beat yourself up over his behaviour. To be honest the first reaction to a teacher or Head complaining about behaviour should be "Well what steps are you going to take to deal with this? What do you want me to do?"
What happens in school needs to stay in school (apart from expressing disappointment).

If the school feels there is a real problem then you need to arrange a meeting (and feel free to take your DH or someone else to support you).

School is exhausting, by the end of term there may well be children having "naps" in the library corner. Unlike Nursery it involves a lot of attention and has much less down time.

He could also be very distracted by the classroom - there are lots of other people, lots of distracting sights and sounds (and other sensory overload), and lots of people who can all be distracting.

Your son's behaviour doesn't sound that bad for the first week. The school sounds a bit as though it is over reacting. And I've known plenty of children who were "naughty" in reception go on to do brilliantly at school in the long term.

randomer Sun 25-Sep-16 11:39:11

and plenty of children who are " good" in Reception are pretty awful later on!!!

scumbagcollege Sun 25-Sep-16 14:26:39

Thanks everyone for your replies! I was expecting to be told to suck it up tbh.

He started reception with four others from his nursery, he knew them all some are his friends, he certainly isn't too shy about speaking to people either. He does get very excited tho and likes to talk a lot and tell you everything he thinks. He is empathetic, he's normally a little tell tale about other kids when their being naughty says things like "so and so snatched that toy, that's not right".
But he is a little devil when he is overtired, he just doesn't get sleepy he gets hypo and very grumpy.

I just knew as his mum as soon as I saw him he was wayyyy overtired. He's also had three different reading books every week so we have to fit that in too. He says he really likes school, likes his friends and the food.

I'm just going to have to get him to bed much earlier and get him to eat more. I can only try and hope he gets better, but if not I'll have to seriously think about half days.

Artandco Sun 25-Sep-16 14:34:46

Is bedtime and Dinner maybe too early?

7pm-6am is 11hrs so a good length of time, but 6am is early to wake before school. If 7pm asleep I'm assuming dinner is 5pm or so and so he has 13+ hrs between dinner and waking saying hungry.

My son has just finished reception. Bed at 9pm, wakes 8am. Dinner around 7-8pm. So he's only been awake 1 hrs when school starts.

Could you do bedtime at 8pm at least and encourage no getting up before 7-7.30am? Dinner at 6.30pm so hes not waking hungry. Snack after school.

My son also takes a nap usually one day at the weekend which seems to boost him for the week

randomer Sun 25-Sep-16 14:39:18

maybe check with school what the expectations are with the 3 books?

scumbagcollege Sun 25-Sep-16 15:21:31

I've tried a later bedtime, he still wakes up the same time and is then even more tired. I've tried getting him to go back to bed in the morning but he won't because he's hungry so it might be worth thinking about feeding him later.
He says he's really hungry when he gets home from school so I give him a snack before dinner time. As far as I'm aware he gets a morning snack, then hour dinner.

How naive am I to all this school malarkey? I've certainly got some learning to do

MsPickle Sun 25-Sep-16 15:38:03

My ds, now almost 7, is still an early riser. We tried everything. Sitting watching TV is what he does when he gets up, we started out of desperation when he was a toddler and now it seems to be a good way to keep him at least still and quiet. So also very tired in reception. Re the food thing, he was always starving at pickup and would demolish a sandwich and still eat a proper tea when we got home.

It also seems to help him, and still in Yr 2 to go to the park after school most days to burn off some steam, physically and emotionally. I'm sure he sleeps better on those days as well, his quality of sleep I mean, it's easy to forget how much less charging around they do in reception and that they still need to get that burnt off.

3 reading books sounds like a lot though, you could reduce those?

IAmAPaleontologist Sun 25-Sep-16 15:50:29

My oldest was a goody goody at school and did all his shattered, fed up of behaving all day vile behaviour at home. Youngest has just started reception and according to the teacher is shouting, throwing things and he bit an older child. Happy days hmm. It just takes time for things to settle down, starting school is a tough transition even if they are used to nursery.

scumbagcollege Mon 26-Sep-16 09:56:41

Thanks for everyone's replies, let's hope ds is much better today.

Unfortunately he woke up in the night after wetting his bed. I took him out of bedtime pants about a month ago and he's been fine no accidents until last night so I am really hoping it's not to do with school. He got in bed with me and dp but he took ages to get back to sleep, about an hour. He then woke up at 7am but seemed like he had plenty of sleep. But he has definitely been acting out all morning, not doing as he was told, messing about eating breakfast. I'm worried now me and dp have overdone it in asking him to behave in school, I don't want to make him scared of going.

Anyway I took him in he was a bit quieter than usual but perked up a lot once he was in the class room and saw some of his friends. I had a quick word with the teacher letting her know we had spoke to him and that he was very tired last week and hopefully he should be ok.
Only thing that made me feel a bit better was another parent speaking to her about her dc's behaviour too so looks like I'm not the only one, poor little mites they all must be so tired and trying so hard.

Artandco Mon 26-Sep-16 11:31:46

I usually pander to mine a bit before school. Now I wake them at 7.45am with a warm cup of milk in bed, and they drink that whilst looking at books 10 mins which seems to allow them to wake up relaxed and not have to leap out of bed. In those 10 mins Dh or I open the curtains, window so some fresh air in etc. We then make breakfast. Both children have to then get up and dressed for school before breakfast, it means they quickly get dressed with no fuss as know we are putting food on the table.

Dh panders even more and does shit like cook their eggs in a star shape with dinosaur toast...

Stops the grumpiness before school though

mouldycheesefan Mon 26-Sep-16 11:37:50

I would give him dinner straight after school.
Sounds like just overtired and we forget as adults how exhausting it is being in a new environment. Praise the efforts to listen such as a reward chart, focus in the positives. So days when he listens, hurrah, happy face n the chart. Threw mud in face, no happy face on chart today.
Mollycoddle him a bit.
They say expect your toddler back, when they start reception, that's sounds accurate for you! It s normal.

NattyTile Mon 26-Sep-16 13:59:24

Could you put a drink and a biscuit or a brioche or something on his bedside table when you go to bed, so he's got something right there when he wakes up? He could then eat at 6 but stay in his room until 7, and then have a second breakfast with you before he goes to school.

And would school agree to you taking him home at lunchtime a couple of days each week (if you aren't working), or to him skipping Wednesday's altogether for a bit, whilst he adjusts to the harder days?

Blowninonabreeze Mon 26-Sep-16 14:30:42

Is he having school dinners? I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't eating much at all. Especially if he's hungry coming out of school.

What does he have for breakfast?
I'm a huge believer in breakfasts. Ours are only allowed porridge. (Occasionally weetabix for a change) cereal etc full of hidden sugars and doesn't sustain them. My middle one isn't a big fan of porridge but even she concedes that if she doesn't have porridge for breakfast, she's far hungrier coming out of school. Thankfully she's now 8, and able to be more rational about it. Even though she's not a fan, she eats it because she knows the benefits.

scumbagcollege Mon 26-Sep-16 20:07:36

I've defiantly taken some of your advice, thank you all.

I started today with a hearty breakfast, porridge, crumpet and fruit he ate most of it which was a relief. He does get school dinners but I've no idea if he eats it all but the menu does sound like all the usual stuff he loves to eat and he tells me he likes the food.

I picked him up today and he seemed fine, not too tired, but he was very hungry so I followed the suggestion of giving him a big snack and his evening dinner a little later. He ate quite well, but he was certainly hungrier than when he was at nursery so I do think the key is stepping up the food.

I'm not too sure about giving him some food in his room of a morning, he literally will not go back in his room he wants me or dp to go downstairs with him (I did have another thread on this). He was up until the end of summer sleeping from 7pm to 7am so I'm not sure if he has had a kind of growth spurt on at the same time which is why he's probably getting up an hour earlier because he's hungry? Who knows?

But I've not had any reports of bad behaviour from the teacher today and he seems a lot better (still tired but nothing like last week). I think more food and chill out time might be the key here. Thank you for all your replies, some of your ideas have been great.

Katastrophe13 Wed 28-Sep-16 17:59:43

Hi, I don't have any suggestions, but just wanted to say my lovely DS started reception a few weeks ago and has become a toddler/teenager, hitting, screaming, throwing things etc.so, you are not the only one suffering. flowers and cake and wine for us.

Artandco Wed 28-Sep-16 18:14:38

Maybe he's just growing in general.

Sometimes 4/5 years is the time we forget they are now children and not toddlers anymore. So the toddler size portions need to increase slightly.

Ellieboolou27 Wed 28-Sep-16 20:24:42

As I was reading your post I thought it could have been about my dd!

My mum has worked as a TA in a primary school and she calls reception children "the babies", reason for this is they are still so small and it's a HUGE transition, teachers and us parents can sometimes expect too much too soon.

I totally understand the not listening as my dd does it a lot! I even called a health visitor out about it as I was so concerned. I think it's a coping mechanism for them as they have so much to deal with, especially when they are one of the youngest.

I agree with the poster who said dinner straight after school, then maybe something like toast/crumpets/yogurt/milk half hour before bed. My dd will eat loads after school but was never usually a big eater.
How is he getting on now?
The school sounds totally over the top, head of year for a four year old! No wonder you feel crap.
You know your son and it sounds like he is just overwhelmed and exhausted by starting school and you are doing the best you can by supporting him.
I hope the school will be more supportive of you and your son as I'd be more concerned about their reaction than I would be about ds behaviour.

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