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My 4yo flaps and I'm worried for her... does anyone have any knowledge or experience please?

(26 Posts)
Aranea Sat 01-Aug-09 10:38:46

4yo dd1 flaps and stamps when she is excited. I had been hoping she would grow out of it before she started school, but as she goes into reception this september, I guess that's not going to happen.

I am desperately worried for her socially. Will she be teased/bullied? She is not good at handling big groups of children. She loves playing one on one with another child, but I think she is intimidated by groups and doesn't understand group dynamics, so she tends to hang back and play with her invisible friends instead.

She also has problems with her gross motor skills - she's having an occupational therapist assessment next week, as she runs and jumps quite badly and I am worried about how she will cope in the playground / pe lessons.

Yesterday I was talking to someone about it and saying I was anxious about the flapping, and he told me about a child who had been in his class at school who flapped when he got excited and gave me a really upsetting example of how he was victimised. While I would probably credit dd1 with a bit more emotional intelligence than the person who told me this anecdote hmm I am now really worried.

Can anyone tell me whether children grow out of flapping? Or whether it is likely to cause bullying? Or really just anything that might help me here? Thank you!

ScummyMummy Sat 01-Aug-09 10:52:17

I think lots of children do grow out of flapping, yes. And poor gross motor skills can certainly improve with time too. I'm sure she'll settle into school just fine. She sounds like a sweetie- lots of kids prefer playing one to one to being in groups and reception is just the ticket for learning to tolerate groups when necessary. Her imagination will be a key draw with some kids, I'd think. I really hope and think it likely that your worries will be groundless and she'll settle in just fine. Little kids are not generally known for bullying in well-supervised settings, ime. Does she go to nursery at all? How does she find that? Reception shouldn't be massively different in a lot of schools. Ideally it's just a gradual easing into school routines on top of the learning through play they do at pre-school.

TotalChaos Sat 01-Aug-09 10:54:30

IME (my DS has language delay, which can cause social difficulties if he doesn't understand what he's expected) very young children - i.e. reception age are surprisingly accepting. bear in mind that there are highly likely to be children with other issues (such as mild SN) in her class/year too.

Aranea Sat 01-Aug-09 11:00:09

Thank you ScummyMummy. She does go to nursery, two and a half days a week, and I don't think she's really fitted into the group there. Her 'best friend' is a year and a half younger, and I think is pretty much the only person she really plays with. And said 'best friend' has just informed her that she isn't her best friend anyway.

I think she hardly ever plays with the group of girls her own age, which is partly why I'm so anxious.

Aranea Sat 01-Aug-09 11:01:40

Thanks TotalChaos, that's reassuring. I suppose I'm worried a bit longer term as well though.

ScummyMummy Sat 01-Aug-09 13:02:38

It will be different in reception though- not such a wide age range and probably a bigger group of kids to find friends within. I have boys but I think it's not unusual for girls to start pairing up a bit more in reception and beyond and not doing the group thing so much? If there are problems good reception teachers can be invaluable in picking them up and helping kids settle in, honestly. They will have seen it all before and will be able to keep a watchful eye and distinguish between quirkiness and a potential special need that might need some extra help. Are you happy with the school she's going to?

Aranea Sat 01-Aug-09 13:09:24

I am very happy with the school, but a bit nervous as her teacher is newly qualified so I suppose won't have seen it all before.

Aranea Sat 01-Aug-09 13:10:33

When you say lots of children grow out of flapping, do you know on what sort of timescale and how it works? does it diminish over the years, or something? Do you know children who have flapped and grow out of it?

ScummyMummy Sat 01-Aug-09 13:41:00

Quite a few little kids flap when they're excited or angry/worried and it's not something to worry about in itself, as far as I know. It just gradually diminishes, I think. Flapping can sometimes be associated with certain special needs- dyspraxia, autistic spectrum disorder, sensory integration disorder and it sounds like that type of problem is what you're worried about, I think? But even people with these types of special need, which in any case cover a huge spectrum, don't tend to flap forever, ime. (I've worked with children with special needs from 0-19 in the past). I honestly think reception could be a turn around time for your little girl. Sounds like nursery has been a bit difficult but she may really respond to the new environment and NQT or not, the whole point of reception is getting ALL kids settled in and happy at school. Hopefully the O.T. will be able to offer some advice too. Meanwhile, The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz is supposed to be v good. Have you read it?

Aranea Sat 01-Aug-09 13:51:02

No, I haven't read it. I'll get hold of a copy, thanks. Yes, I am worried about that type of problem. I don't really know what specifically but I have always worried about her and am beginning to think that perhaps it wasn't just me being pfb-ish but that she might need a bit more worrying about than other kids iyswim. I let the gross motor skills thing go on for ages just saying 'oh, she's just a bit crap physically, she's fine,' and letting myself get fobbed off by the nursery or hv or gp when I did actually let my concerns bubble to the surface. But finally nursery mentioned that they thought there was a problem. So she's been seeing a physiotherapist which has helped but not solved everything, and has been referred to the OT. And now I have a rising bubble of panicky anxiety in case what I have been blithely dismissing as her being 'a bit crap socially' is actually something more significant. I feel like I can't tell what's normal any more. I know for sure that she stands out from her peers with the flapping and dancing thing though, and sometimes I have heard other children asking why she is doing it sad.

And dh won't talk to me about it, he says he doesn't know what to say. Which I'm sure is true but isn't very helpful when I'm so worried. Sorry, not directly relevant, but while I'm venting....

ScummyMummy Sat 01-Aug-09 16:36:19

Oh Aranea. The panicky anxiety sounds horrible. I had similarish worries about one of my boys at around 3/4 ish. He too was not the most coordinated child and not the most socially confident either. His nursery expressed concern at one point and I myself wondered about dyspraxia or aspergers syndrome. I took an ostrich like approach interspersed with flurries of worry and things somehow moved on without us ever going through any process of getting him properly assessed and our worries gradually eased. 6/7 years later I think, bizarrely, that was the right approach for us/him. He's a really sweet kid [biased]- still not the most coordinated child on the block, tending to have fairly intense interests, not the most confident child in a big group but he manages fine and has some very solid friendships- in some ways far more so than his twin brother who tends to be a popular social butterfly. He's doing absolutely fine socially, emotionally and academically at the moment and pretty much has done since starting school, despite my initial worries. There are a few kids on mumsnet who I've always thought sounded quite similar to him (tragically I've been on mumsnet for years!blush)- kind of on the cusp between quirky and worrying. And interestingly, even though their parents and/or schools/nurseries sometimes took a very different approach- far more proactively chasing assessments, diagnoses and extra help, often- their children are similarly thriving a few years on, even though some did indeed meet the criteria for various diagnoses.

What I'm trying to say is that things really will settle down and your lovely daughter will develop her potential with your support and love, I promise you. This is a difficult age because much of the behaviour that's worrying you is within the bounds of normal development but can also sometimes be a red flag for a problem. But whether or not your daughter has some level of need for extra help, she will grow and develop and thrive and be your gorgeous fab kid same as she always has been. And Reception can be a real turn around, enjoyable time, often. I do hope you feel better about things soon. It is so horrid when you are very worried about your babies. Good luck.

Aranea Sat 01-Aug-09 17:42:13

Oh thank you ScummyMummy what a lovely thoughtful post. That really does make me feel better.

You are absolutely spot-on about this being a difficult age.

I am very anxiously awaiting the start of school in the hope that you are right and it's a turn-around time for her. She is looking forward to it as she says she wants to leave nursery so she can make new friends.

Thank you so much for taking the time to be so kind and helpful. I really appreciate it. I was feeling really lousy about it all and I do feel much more positive now.

TotalChaos Sat 01-Aug-09 18:37:11

great post from scummy there. I know people who have found OT input has made a huge difference to their kids quite quickly, so hopefully things will really noticeably improve once your DD has seen the OT. Have a chat with the teacher within a few weeks of her starting about any concerns you have, and if you have further worries you can ask to meet with the school senco.

Aranea Sat 01-Aug-09 21:07:41

That's encouraging to hear about OT helping. I have a very vague and foggy notion of exactly what OT is at the moment, so don't really know what to hope for there!

ScummyMummy Sat 01-Aug-09 21:42:51

Oh good. Really glad you're feeling a bit better, Aranea.

pranma Sat 01-Aug-09 21:52:44

My dgd is 8 now and used to flap and cross her eyes when excited,she wasnt really teased but the teacher was a bit concerned and told her to clasp her hands tightly together instead,this was awful and upset her so she was left alone about it.By the time she was 6 it had completely gone though she still crosses her eyes sometimes.She has lots of friends and is academically very able.

Aranea Sat 01-Aug-09 22:50:41

Thank you pranma! That's very nice to hear. Though the idea of the teacher telling her to clasp her hands together instead sounds a bit like people trying to prevent left-handedness in the 1950s. How depressing, poor her.

slowreadingprogress Sat 01-Aug-09 23:48:53

Scummy your posts hit the nail on the head! I have a similar situation with my ds as compared to his cousin the same age; SIL has totally medicalised it and chased diagnoses and has him tutored and therapied to within an inch of his life. Our approach with ds is SO similar to what you very descriptively say "ostrich like with flurries of worry" - that's just IT!!! And similarly DS is thriving and doing so well and making progress.

Also I wanted to say Aranea that you mustn't feel bad for one second that you may have 'missed' something in your dd. She is only FOUR and hasn't started school yet - you have NOT left things late by any stretch of the imagination!

What I've realised as ds has gone through school is that 99% of the children have their own little quirks, challenges, difficulties; some may be reading when they start but be unable to leave their parent without trauma - others may be the typical golden child but they experience a tragedy like a parent dying - there is going to be NO child in your dd's class who will be without issues; they don't all show themselves at once but no-one's path is clear of challenges and it's helped me to remember that when I do the inevitable 'comparing' of DS to his peers (I do try not to!)

Good luck

slowreadingprogress Sat 01-Aug-09 23:51:25

oh, and also meant to add try not to worry about your dd socially; I found DS reception year brilliant in terms of their social skills. It was THE main thing they concentrated on. Listening skills, trust, friendship. Reception was the first time in DS life that he ever thought of another child as a friend. He simply wasn't interested in them at nursery age but ALOT of work is done with the children around social skills and friendship and I am sure this will help your dd lots.

Aranea Sun 02-Aug-09 10:44:52

thanks, slowreading. Can I just ask whether you think your SIL has actually done harm by seeking help? Is it something I need to be wary of? Or is it more that it doesn't make much difference?

I hope you're right about the social skills. She does desperately want to be friends with other children, it's just that she isn't much good at it. She's so in her own head. It was a bit poignant on holiday watching her insist on going on the bouncy castle because there were other children on it. Firstly she is too scared of bouncy castles to stand up on them when other children are on them, so she just sat at the edge the whole time. And secondly she didn't know how to make friends with the other children, so she sat on her own at the side singing songs to them about how she was on the bouncy castle with all her friends. I think if they noticed her at all they thought she was a bit strange.

slowreadingprogress Sun 02-Aug-09 18:43:27

Hi Aranea I think it's very difficult for me to say objectively about whether my SIL has done harm with her approach. So much could depend on the character of the children and they're very different. But basically I think by NOT concentrating on DS shortcomings that we've given him confidence and that's something his cousin does not have at all. He's a little introverted whereas DS is confident to talk to anybody and has very good self esteem which I think it's a better thing to have than a 'tutored' ability to write on the lines or something! My feeling is that will come later anyway - better that he isn't reminded daily about his difficulties; when his cousin is having a tutor session my ds is probably bouncing on the trampoline or haring around the house in fancy dress and that pleases me - for now.

kettlechip Sun 02-Aug-09 20:39:46

Scummy, that was a really lovely post.

Aranea, I think I used to flap my hands when I was excited as a really small child, but I can promise I've totally grown out of it now and always had plenty of friends at school!

I also have a child who is on the cusp of being quirky/worrying and we've gone the route of seeking help, and come out none the wiser. He's improving all the time, but still has significant language issues, and seems liked by other children but hasn't formed any meaningful friendships yet. DH was exactly the same, and you can still see a bit of it in him as an adult. I think everyone has their quirks, but some learn to adapt them, and some can't or don't want to. Hopefully reception will be great for your dd, and this time next year you'll be wondering why you worried!

Aranea Sun 02-Aug-09 23:06:35

It's good to hear that you outgrew the flapping and that it didn't stop you making friends, kettlechip! Thank you for that.

Jojof Tue 04-Aug-09 21:21:27

Aranea,I have just joined mumsnet (how could I leave it so long?!) to look for advice and help with precisely what you have described. We are going through a very similar situation with our 4yo. And I have been really anxious about him starting school. I am also worried because he wont know anyone in his class as we've just moved. His school is small and parents I have met are really friendly which has taken away some of my angst!

It doesn't help that certain family members compare him to his cousin of the same age who is writing sentences and has sleep overs. My boy is social when in very small groups of 1 or 2, but will barely say a word or join in larger groups.He becomes akward and will often say he's tired/hungry/has a tummy upset.

It has been really reasuring reading all the posts. Good luck for September!

Aranea Tue 04-Aug-09 22:00:51

Oh, what a coincidence Jojof! I would love to hear how it goes for your ds in September.

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