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Very worried about DS's behaviour since starting full time at school

(22 Posts)
starry Thu 20-Jan-05 13:31:33

Ds1 (4 and a half)started reception year at school in Sept. Loves school everything seemed fine. HAd a minor incident with a tantrum or 2 in first term which I put down to tiredness and nothing abnormal. Started going full time in January and I was called in to see his teacher yesterday as she is very concerned about his behaviour since he has returned to school this term. She firstly asked how he had been at home and I honestly answer 'Fine, A bit more tired, especially by end of week but he loves coming and is very excited about learning to read and write.' She then dropped what was a bombshell to me. His behaviour has been so bad that there has been at least 1 incident a day where he gets so cross or frustrated that she is afraid he will hurt himself (or another child) He is doing very well with writing and reading but if he encouters a word he does not immedialty recognise then he gets very angry with himself and will refuse to read anymore of the book. Similarly if he is writing and does a letter wrong then he will get very frustrated with himself and want to rip his work book up. He will pull at is hair and hold his fists to his head in anger/frustration. If other children are not dong something 'his way' or the pay ds1 perceives is the correct way then he will get frustrated and cross at them for not listening to him telling them how to do it the 'right way'. THis has resulte in im pushing another child and pushing another boys water bottle to his face while he was drinking and hence hurting the childs mouth At circle time when his teachers counts to 10 to getthe children to sit down he has been refusing to sit if he is doing something else he considers more important. There has been building work at the school and DS1 has come home and spent a long time drawing his own 'plans' for some sort of building he believes he is allowed to actually build at the school! It has been explained to him that this is wonderful thathe has this imagination and skill at drawing his ideas but it will not be possible for other children to bring in materials from home for them to really build this! He doesn't understand this and it frustrates him even more.
He is a very sensitive child who is very aware of things around him and especially others emotions. I have to stop him seeing the news because he will be in tears at hearing a child has dies or someone hurt a child etc After the tsumnami disaster he sobbed saying he wanted to be a dr so as he could go and help the injured people, emtied his moneybox and wanted to donate all his Xmas money and old toys to the children. He seems to totally empathise with others emotions IYSWIM. We recently discovered he seems to have colour-emotion synesthesia after he was trying to explain to us about the colours he saw in his head when he was angry/happy/sad/etc (his father rememebers having the same thing as a child)Ds1 thought everyone saw the colours and was very surprised to learn they did not. Sometimes when he is very cross he tels me he wanted the red (anger) to move outthe way and let the blue (happy) square into his head. He also had a couple of bald patches on his head before Xmas and after a referral was diagnosed with Alopecia although (touch wood) those patches have started to regrow. Initially we thought he had been pulling his hair out in frustration then thought the alpoecia may be related to having started school (although he really enjoys it it may have been quite stressful for him?) Consultant thought this may be te case also.
ANyway, so now I have been left feeling utterly shocked at hearing about his behaviour at school this term and although have discussed action with his teacher I am worrying about it all and even thinking about Autism and Aspergers simply becasue, well probably due to the fact that he has been displaying 'odd' behaviour ie making sure towells in bathroom hang 'properly' chairs under table are straight. Behaviour I previously put down to stress. When I took him to school this morning he was acting slihtly odd (hiding in trees when time to go in) and when he got to his table I watched as he pulled out the 'plans'he has drawn and started talking to himself and gesticulating in quite a exagerrated and comical way ie putting finger on chin to emphsise thinking about something and raising finger in air in 'eureka' manner as he talked to himslef about the 'plans'. He was really acting out his thoughts but it looked realy very odd and I just stood at the other end of the classroom thinking 'OMG what is he doing?!'

He is not normally an aggressive or badly behaved child - yes he can have his moments as they all can and he has always had his little ways but I would have classed him as a child who knows wrong and right (is very quick to point out another childs 'bad' behaviour)or a child whose little ways were at all worrying before.
I would appreciate any thoughts or similiar experiences to this as I am really panicking that things are goiong very pear shaped.
Sorry its so long - wanted to give as much info as I could.

Lucycat Thu 20-Jan-05 13:37:32

OMG I really sympathise with you starry, what have his teachers suggested? How do they deal with him at school? 41/2 is so young to be at school and it's only understandable that the children get frustrated at not being able to do things, after all in their mind they will have been at school for AGES now! Hugs{{{{{{}}}}}}}

coppertop Thu 20-Jan-05 13:38:52

What was his beaviour like when he attended part-time? It seems strange that the teacher has waited this long to let you know what is happening. If a child in ds1's Reception class has had a bad day the teacher lets the parents know.

Do you think things would be any better if he cut back on his hours at school? Ds1 built his hours up gradually. He started doing a full week of mornings only. The next week he would do 1 whole day and 4 half-days, the next week 2 full days and 3 half-days and so on.

starry Thu 20-Jan-05 13:52:03

When he attended p/t he was fine and desperate to go f/t as a lot of his freinds did after the Autumn half term and he hated leaving at lunch time. In his first term I spoke to the teacher about a bald patch on his head as he told me another child pulled his hair but it transpired that he had a tantrum after being asked to stop an activity and start somethng else the previous day and he had been seen pulling at his hair when they took him into the computer room to calm down as he got so angry and upset. HIs teacher said at the end of his first term there had been a couple of moments but nothing unususal as 4 year old have tantrums and strops sometimes. He is very competitive and like to be first at everything and there had been a couple of incidence where he was asked to let other children have a go at being 1st i the line or something and he had got stroppy and his behind the pe shed refusing to come in. But she emphasised these were minor and I had been called in yesterday as incidents were happening everyay now and his anger and frustration were worrying her that he may pull his hair out.

starry Thu 20-Jan-05 13:53:26

Also he really doesn't want to go part time again. It would really upset him to go home early as he had a drs appt this week and hated coming out of school an hour early.

Kittypickle Thu 20-Jan-05 14:19:21

I'm really sorry Starry, I haven't got any advice but am bumping this for you.

roisin Thu 20-Jan-05 14:26:43

Starry - would you say your ds is particularly bright? It's just that much of what you describe is very common in gifted children. Your ds has clearly learned to think independently - creatively and critically, and this is part of the reason why he is struggling with some aspects of school. Your post reminds me a lot of my ds1 at this age.

I have no time to chat now - we're going away tomorrow morning and I'm supposed to be packing - but I will come back to this later this evening ... if I get the packing finished!

starry Thu 20-Jan-05 14:35:28

He is very bright - we see it and has been said by many other Roisin so not a case of 'over proud parent syndrome' IYSWIM

roisin Thu 20-Jan-05 14:53:46

I have done most of the packing now - phew!

According to research (Ciha 1974; Jacobs 1971; Louis and Lewis 1992) parents are by far the best judges of their children's abilities. Their accuracy in assessing their children's abilities far exeeds that of - for example - early childhood teachers. 'Over proud parent syndrome' does exist, but it's not as common as some people think. So please do have confidence in your opinions of him.

This book is worth every penny. (Don't be put off by the title, much of the content is useful and applicable to all children/parents/teachers!) It is focused on Under-8s, including pre-schoolers. It's not a light read by any means, but it has some fabulous material in, and strategies for helping with many of the difficulties you describe. There are great sections on self-esteem resilience, emotional and social needs, teaching considerate behaviour, etc. (If you do get it I would recommend starting with the second half, as the first half is quite heavy going!)

Anyway, you sound as though your teachers are concerned and sympathetic, so that's a good start. I will write more later.

FineFigureFio Thu 20-Jan-05 16:12:53

starry, i must admit when I read your post i thought it sounded like he was a gifted child. It didnt seem as though it was autism/aspergers to me, although i am not really an expert. The fact he has drawn up plans for the school is a little eccentric (I hope you dont mind me saying this) but I find it quite endearing too and he does sound very clever.

What have the school suggested in way of improving or helping the situation? Have they suggested any professional input? or what they may think is causing the problem?

kernowcat Thu 20-Jan-05 16:26:25

Your DS sounds like mine whose now 11yrs old. I posted messages about him elswhere. We have managed to get a referal from the Doctor re: anger management. My DS still likes to have complete comtrol over his enviroment both physically and mentally. On his first day of nursery school the teacher told me he had advanced spatial awareness for his age! (He kept rearranging the home corner furniture and later moved onto the rest of the class!)
The situation with my DS has not been helped by the fact that his Dad and I split when he was three and his DS was 3mnths! then I was in an abusive realtion for a while, so hes not had to many positive role models. Although my partner of the last four years is very good(he has two sons of his own)and is very involved. Sorry to ramble on but you touched a cord with your son as I thought my problems were unique!

Jimjams Thu 20-Jan-05 16:52:50

My friend has recently been through similar iwth her son. AS was mentioned but after further assessment was decided was unlikely. The school have put in place lots of praise for finishing things, and other strategies (that I can't remember!) to stop him ripping up his work etc and this has helped a lot. Do the school have a behaviour team etc that they could refer to for help in drawing up a suitable strategy. In my friend's ds's case it boils down to lots of positive feedback- but in quite a structrured way

starry Thu 20-Jan-05 20:21:21

Well when I picked him up from school this afternoon I was asked in again by his teacher. Today he took his 'plans' in to show her and she let him show the rest of the class at circle time. However he decided that it was far more importnant for him to continue working on his plans than do anything else he was asked today, so his teacher has has a constant battle to get him away from the drawing table. He also got very upset when practising writing his numbers he kept doing 5 wrong and ended up stomping off and crying about it. His teacher tries to reassure him that it really does not matter when he gets something wrong but he doesn't listen - it really frustrates him to get things wrong.

The reading book he brought home today he read to me with no difficulty whatsoever but it is hard for me to gauge if his reading is of a higher level than other childrens. His teacher has said he does well in reading and writing but has not clamied he is brilliant (although he brings home a new book every night and I write in his work diary his progress but he seems to read with a teacher very seldom so...? And also of course intelligence doesn't rely on how good you are at reading in fact his father is mildly dyslexic as are the males on that saide of the family) I do think he picks things up very quickly and does ask a lot of questions that appear he has thought out the situation and won't take silly answers you may try to fob him off with. For example I told him he would get worms in his tummy if he picked his nose(!)He told me confidently that that was silly mummy as there was no way worms could grow from boogies as they grew from eggs and there were no worm eggs in your boogies. He has a very active imagination also. I will definately buy the book you suggest Roisin - thank you. The males on his fathers side of the family are very highly intelligent particularly his grandfather so maybe there is something there? I worry his odd behaviour in stressful situations will overshadow his abilities as yesterday he apparently refused to read his book to the teaching assistant because of trouble identifying one word. I tell him it took mummy and daddy many years to learn to read and write well but he just can't seem to accept this.

He has an area of the classs he can go to in order to calm down when needed and is being encouraged to do as he is asked by his teacher with sticker rewards but she said to me today that he just seems to consider his own agenda more important that what he is asked to do by her most of the time.
At home I have told him he will get special treats (ie special time at home to draw up plans on a smaller scale so as he can make a model boat with his father in the holidays or something sililar and trips to cinema etc)when his teacher tells me he has been well behaved. She is mentioning my concerns to the Educational Psychologist tomorrow who will be visiting another child.

All in all I am still worried sick as to how all this has happened and at a loss as to what else to do for the best

Also has anyone any experience of colour-emotion synesthesia?

zebra Thu 20-Jan-05 20:33:31

I really don't like the idea of private education, but honestly Starry, if he were mine I'd be seriously tempted. I also have a Reception age boy (6 months older than yours) and he is nowhere as focused, pretty uninterested in reading, for instance (and I think he's about average for the class).

It struck me that a lot of the 'problems' your DS is having come down to competition, perfectionism and his terrific ability to focus. Maybe what you can work on to help him to blend better with the class is to persuade him that he needs "rest" periods from his passions (the school plans, drawing the number 5 correctly, etc.!). As adults we often benefit from taking time out from something we're working really hard on... you could tell your son to think of it as "balance" -- he needs some play/rest time to "balance" out his working time (school plans, etc.)

Also, see if he can accept the idea that it takes time to learn to do some things well, so it's the practising that should be his goal, not whether he can do it (write number 5, etc.) perfectly, yet.

Well, that's what I think I might do if he were mine!

starry Thu 20-Jan-05 20:56:36

Thanks for your ideas Zebra

The thing is although he is very focused on his own 'important' agendas he gets bored very quickly of other things. For example at activity time in his first term his teacher said it is hard for her to get him to stay at one activity for any length of time. He see something, explores it and moves onto the next thing. Others have said he seems to want to take in as much as possible from situations as he is able in a short space of time. AT a zoo for example he is off to the next animal so quickly yet seems to have taken in a lot from a short space of time and will ask very probing questions later in the day at lunch.

He is obsessed with how things work ie the water system/electricity and asks very good questions which show he is taking on board the given answers and finding questions to those. He also has an uncannily good memory and will often refer back to past situations of over 2 years ago in reference to something he interested in/questioning. But these are things his teachers wont see or know about really so I don't even know if they are relevant to his current 'problems'.

Oh god I don't know what to think!

Mimsie Thu 20-Jan-05 23:23:06

My son displays the same behavior as yours but just in milder versions.

His nursery teachers told me last year he was v. particular (or something like that, I was confused, english isnt my first language) meaning for example they had to pick up their name and put it in the box, well his name would always be at the front and the same way up. when they had their snack he wanted to sit on a specific chair, with a specific mat etc... He got really upset if things didnt go his way. And like yours was setting up game plans that the other children wouldnt follow and got frustrated. The nursery teacher told me that he could get really frustrated because the kids didnt "get" his game and he would push them as a result. The teachers always told me that his outbursts were just frustration and that if a child got hurt through or not through his actions he was the first one to come over and try and comfort them.

I tried and help him with that as I couldnt help but feel a little responsible he is my only one and if he sets up rules of game at home I simply follow them, well he has to learn that other children may not wish to do so...

So... I started "breaking his rules" and telling him I wanted to play differently. He didnt take that all that well at the start, but he slowly came to terms with it. I started with the walk to school (we always walked on the same "lines" on the street). Now it's not all solved yet, we got to a different school and he has a whole new set of rules he would have me follow on the way there. Sometimes I play them, (when we're running late lol) and sometimes I tell him I am not in the mood.

I don't think my son is gifted as such, he's bright, but not gifted. In his first assesment this year the teacher put "bright little boy, can concentrate well on self chosen activities but needs help with set tasks." I am trying again to help him with that, before school, he never had "set" activities, he always seemed quite happy doing his thing and I left him to it, now I try and sit down with his disliked task. It took us 2 days to colour in a silly picture but hey...

With the reading books, same thing. When the going gets tough and he doesnt instantly know what it says or worse when he thinks he knows but he is wrong... (he doesn't take well to being wrong) he wants to stop. Example "wet" he read as "we" "t" he got annoyed when I said, "nearly, it's w e t wet, but it was a really clever guess" wanted to quit the book, I went OK, do you want to watch telly, mummy can go and tidy up then... this made him change his mind. I try not to make a big deal that he "has" to read the books, he is only 4 after all.

When it comes to writing, I have removed the rubbers lol, telling him it doesnt matter it's trying that matters, and we have discussions on the way to school on why I don't mind if I lose or win in Monopoly caus it's just fun to play it.

now these are just a load of little annecdoctes on how I cope with him.

The teacher at the nursery managed to calm his frustration down by having him come straight to them when he felt frustrated. They did tell me he took a lot of their time. Can they get your son to detect when he starts feeling red and come straight to them when that happens?

Consolidate what the teachers are doing about him getting stressed with the writing. I sometime make a joke when I see him getting stressed out about it to lighten the mood, anything to make him laugh. It has taken some work from me too as I am quite a meticulous/perfectionist person just to allow him to do things wrong and try not to care.

starry Fri 21-Jan-05 11:33:41

That's very interesting mimsie - I have also removed his rubbers from some of his pencils as otherwise he would constantly rub out anything he considered was not pefectly done.

THis morning as he was getting ready for school the subject of dinosaurs came up and he asked questions about how the dinosaurs died, where did the comet that killed them come from, how did the comet get made in space, and from this how was the first dinosaur born, where did it come from if there was not another dinosaur for it to be born from? This progressed into where the first people came from for the same reasons - did they come in space ships and see our planet and decide to live on it? Have people always lived on our planet how did they get here. SO this morning he has gone into school so full of questions, that to his mind are much more importnant and interesting, about these subjects and therefore I am afraid he won't hae a good day again
I have explained what i can to him and stressed that it is important to learn the basics and be good at school and then after school we can talk about all his questions again but.....oh dear!

binkie Fri 21-Jan-05 11:57:34

starry, joining in to add sympathies, and say most definitely he sounds like a gifted child - the pondering on things and the flow of perceptive questions is the giveaway I think. It's clear from your descriptions that he lives life at a tremendously high intellectual temperature, so it's understandable that that means awful (and sort of self-induced - so no-one else can truly help) pressure sometimes.

That being the case, I wonder if one of way of helping might be not to focus directly on the school experience itself but to build in lots of balance for it - lots of anything he likes which lets him switch off his brain a bit. Eg, my ds really benefits from a wild runabout in a soft play clamber place - he can let go of all his "ideas" for a while and just have fun. It seems to relax him.

Also: a very experienced teacher once said of my ds "what that boy needs is JOKES". It was completely true ... odd thing to ask, but is he getting enough of that at school?

amynnixmum Fri 21-Jan-05 12:53:50

Your Ds seems to be having similar problems to mine as far as the agressive behaviour at school goes. He was fine at pre-school but has become increasingly unpredictable and aggressive at school, although he is ok at home. The educational psychologist is involved now and one of the things she recommended to me was to amke a feelings thermometer. You draw a thermometer on some card and split it into several stages and number those from 1-10 ( or 1-5 etc). The bottom of the thermometer is 1 and that is for happy and relaxed. The top of the themometer is for angry. The child chooses his/her own happy and sad colours (my ds chose blue and red too). You then colour the steps in a gradient from the happy colour at the bottom to the angry colour at the top. The idea is that the child can use the thermomter to let you know when they are getting angry - eg they have to tell you when they are getting to be above 1/2 way. TBH we haven't really been able to make this work with our DS but since yours sees things in colours anyway it might work well for him.

Mimsie Fri 21-Jan-05 13:22:06

Ahhh the dinosaur subject... my DS came to school utterly unimpressed because the teachers set up dinosaurs tables... and put a pteredactyl (sp?) and he argued that it isnt a dinosaur but a flying reptile... I refer my DS to DH when he starts on the stream of questioning :P

The level of inquisition your child is demonstrated does indicate he is gifted. I'll ask hubby some imput for you if you want. He was like I said in another thread tested when he was in his teens by Mensa and has an IQ of 179 (so not quite gifted but pretty close lol) I know he had a tough time at school from time to time, he might be able to shed some light. I think with children like that the best you can do is ensure they have good social skills to make them happy people.

I like that quote from Binkie, thought it is no doubt daunting to have such a clever little one, and of course you want to help them make the best of what they have... Life should be fun!! they have all their adult life to take it seriously!

starry Fri 21-Jan-05 13:55:31

Thank you all so much for your input. It is reassuring to know other parents notice similarities with their children. I am seeing his teacher again this afternoon and am worried that going on previous discussions with her, she is focusing more on his 'oddites'and 'tantrums' (which do seem to be down to his frustration at not getting the right mental stimulation and a reaction to stress he is feeling) rather then the real issues IYSWIM. I have looked at Aspergers sites and although of course I am not an expert, when I compare signs of AS to the 'checklists' of highly interlligent children then ds most certainly does not appear to show any significant symptoms of AS. Reading the gifted child tables and info is like ticking off almost exactly as DS is. ALthough I am loathe to use the term 'gifted' so much seems to fit.
As he was my first child many of his early achievemnts were seen by us as normal or a bit unique/clever as we had nothing to compare really. (although all parents think their child is so clever anyway don't they?)However, upon reading the info on the net I can see doing the things he did at a certain age showed above average intelligance. DS2 who is 2 1/2 I have alwasy referred to as 'slower' than ds1 although others have said he is perfectly average/normal so maybe I have been comparing a very clever child with an average one IYSWIM?

I am also concrned that if 'tested' he will not show his true potential as I have noticed that when 'asked to perform' for other people as so to speak he will refuse to co-operate many times and does become difficult. Feeling the pressure again maybe?

berolina Sat 22-Jan-05 19:13:38

Hi starry. Sorry to hear about the problems you're having. My first thought was your ds does sound very gifted indeed. His sensitivity is also, IMO, something lovely and something I think should be encouraged. It can be hard at school for children who display this combination of characteristics. I think with so many so very interesting things in his head, and possibly a sense of being 'different' from the others in this aspect IYKWIM, he finds it hard to accept he too has to join in all the 'less important' or 'boring' activities the others do. It might also be that he emphasises his difference a bit as a way of dealing with it. Maybe you can find a way to explain why he has to behave well and do all these things which 'matches' his level of thinking? Could you explain the school setup in a 'how things work' kind of way, i.e. him, the teacher and the other children as part of a 'system' which needs certain activities/contributions from everyone in order to work properly? Or maybe pick up on when he expresses ambitious future plans and tell him what he'll need to do to get there... Sorry if these are crazy ideas, but hope they might help! I have some vague idea of how he might be feeling because, even though I didn't have the same problems as he seems to be having, I was (verbally) gifted and also very sensitive at school. In my case the problem was got round by letting me steam ahead independently with all the workbooks, writing stories and poems etc., which I liked at the time, but of course that's not ideal! Anyway, HTH.

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