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DS in year 2 says he hates school, has no real friends and can't wait to be grown up (or dead) so he doesn't have to go. I am in bits trying to work this out. Please help (long, sorry)

(29 Posts)
misselizabethbennet Mon 06-Oct-08 13:33:48

Not sure where to begin with this, but it is all I can think about and have no idea what to do.

DS is 6, one of the younger ones in the class but also one of the biggest. We have had periods on-and-off since reception where he would cry going into school - has been ok so far in year 2, but this past week has been crying pretty much every day. Teachers have always said he gets on fine with the other kids, and isn't alone during playtime, but he's not particularly sporty so doesn't join in football, but plays games like 'tig', etc. It's fair to say that he has never really bonded with any of the other children, although we have had friends to tea. Last week he went to a friend's house and cried hysterically and had to be collected early.

He told me this week that it's too long to wait to be grown up so he might kill himself with a gun or find something poisonous so he doesn't have to go to school. Obviously this sent me into a spin of anxiety.

And now I'm worrying about the after-school club, and am starting to wonder whether he's getting bullied. He says the other kids call him weird, and there was an incident on Friday that really upset him, where he was accused of doing something 'weird' no-one believed him. I have no way of knowing whether he did the weird thing or not, but am now worried that other kids don't like him and this is why he's particularly unhappy at the moment.

I usually try to not give too much credence to his moans about school as the teachers say he's perfectly happy once he's there and at the end of each day he usually says it's fine. I have asked him if he wants to look for another school, and of course he says no.

He is quite a shy child, and a bit sensitive, but his shyness is slowly improving all the time and anyway he now knows all the children/parents and isn't shy around them any more - although he still would be with new people.

It's a lovely school with nice teachers. He is clever and learns easily, but I don't think he's bored. In fact, this might the first time he's feeling really stretched at school.

I don't know how to help him. He seems to want to spend all his time with me, and has always been a bit of a mummy's boy. He loves his daddy but at times he kind of shuts him out, not answering his questions, etc. He's doing this a lot lately.

So he seems to be craving more attention from me. I currently work 3 days so I pick him up from school 2 days per week and spend pretty much the whole weeekend with him. On a work-day I'm home by 6, so I do see him and have quality time before bed. I could rearrange my work so that I pick him up every day - this would be quite a bit harder for me but of course I'd do it if I thought it would solve the problem. The question is, would it solve the problem? He is craving more time with me - if I give it to him, might I be making the problem worse as he'll become even more attached.

Sorry to ramble on. I usually trust my instincts but I am really lost here - I genuinely don't know what I should do.

misselizabethbennet Mon 06-Oct-08 13:39:02

bump

scarletlilybug Mon 06-Oct-08 13:41:29

Sorry to hear of this. It's such a worry, isn't it?

How big is the school/your son's class?

Does he seem happy when he's not thinking about school (e.g. at the weekends, during the holidays?) Does he have friends outside school?

WideWebWitch Mon 06-Oct-08 13:43:47

I think if you can rearrange (or your dh can) so he doesn't go to after school club you could give it a go and see if it helps. What does he say he wants if you ask him? Or can't he tell you what he wants?

I think in your situation I'd speak to his teacher to see if they have any advice and if they can tell you what he;s like during the day.

Do you have news on at home? Do you think he might have heard something that's scared him? That sounds quite extreme the stuff wanting to die/grow up, I wonder if he heard it somewhere.

brokenrecord Mon 06-Oct-08 13:51:55

Not undermining what he is saying, but my dd used to get very upset, especially before going to sleep and say things about wanting to die when she was this age. I think part of it may be a normal dvelopmental stage. It would be ineteresting to see if others have had similar experiences.

There may be a link if I can find it to a letter on a problem page about a child saying this...

misselizabethbennet Mon 06-Oct-08 13:54:34

School is one class per year group, class of 27. Teacher is a lovely, softly spoken man although he says he is a bit of a slave driver and likes to tell the children he's bossy. shouldn't have been a problem for DS as he's very well behaved anyway.

He is generally very happy. We have two classmates living nearby and they sometimes play with each other at home. He has two cousins who he dotes on and says they are his only real friends.

What he wants is either to be taught at home by me or for me to change jobs and become a teacher at his school.

Have spoken to the teacher a couple of times and he is sympathetic - says DS is happy during the day. In fact, when he cried last Thursday, he got the school sec to ring me at 9.45 to say that he was now fine. Am worried that if I make an apppointment for a proper chat I will just cry and appear to be an over-anxious mum (which I probably am).

Regarding news - I would always try and keep it away from him as he is a bit of a worrier, but kids do talk to each other. He recently told me there was going to be a black hole, even though I'd been particularly careful to keep that story away from him. He wasn't scared at that one, incidentally, he just thought we'd end up in a different part of space.

When he said he would kill himself it was because I said he had to go to school and there was no way of getting out of it.

SaintRiven Mon 06-Oct-08 13:56:13

teachers always say they are happy. They said that to me when ds1 was being betane up and hid under the desk every day at school. I found out by accident.

misselizabethbennet Mon 06-Oct-08 13:57:57

brokenrecord - part of my problem is that I don't want to over-react to something that's just a normal development thing.

When he first talked about dying, etc, he used to get quite upset. We lost two elderly relatives within 3 months when he was coming up 5, and he knew them pretty well. But he did grow out of this and doesn't obsess about it now.

Do lots of children say they hate school but are actually quite happy when they're there?

MorocconOil Mon 06-Oct-08 14:04:35

MissElizabeth, Sorry to hear your DS is having a hard time. I have two DS. One is now in Y4, the other in Y2. When DS1 was in Y1 he used to say he wanted to die. It used to really upset me and I spent a lot of time talking to him about it. After a while it seemed he did it whenever he wanted to avoid something or to distract me. I stopped giving him attention for it.

DS2 started to say it those kind of things in Y1 and I gave him zilch attention when he said it apart from to acknowledge it. He never said it again.

I'm not saying it's what your DS is doing, just sharing my experience.
Both DSs complain about school, say they have no friends, are bored etc. I wonder if it's quite common.

Whenever I worry about the DSs being sad,
Dh always says it's hard being a little boy. They have so much to learn about and it must
be difficult. I just want them to be happy all the time , and it's hard to accept you can't be happy all the time.

Sorry. I've rambled a bit.smile

scarletlilybug Mon 06-Oct-08 14:04:36

Sadly, IME I agree with SaintRiven - that teachers always say children are happy. Maybe they just don't notice when they're not happy - especially if they're well-baehaved and generally "no trouble".

My dd was very unhappy at school last year - and I didn't really realise just how unhappy she was until she changed schools and the "old" dd came back. The school, however, always insisted she was fine, maybe just a bit quiet....

Prufrock Mon 06-Oct-08 14:08:08

Oh I've just started a very similar thread about my dd missE - though not quite as bad. I do know how distraught you must be feeling.

AMumInScotland Mon 06-Oct-08 14:10:11

"I usually try to not give too much credence to his moans about school as the teachers say he's perfectly happy once he's there and at the end of each day he usually says it's fine. I have asked him if he wants to look for another school, and of course he says no."

The tricky bit about saying at the end of the day that it's fine, and also not wanting to change to another school, is that it doesn't always actually mean that it is fine, just that he can't see any way out of it so there's no point making a fuss. I know you don't want to make a fuss about nothing, or encourage him to whinge, but at the same time (looking at this as an outsider) he sounds really unhappy but is trying to carry on because he can't see any way to make it better.

FWIW I had some tough times at school, but when my parents asked if I wanted to change to another school I said no, because I "knew" that it was my fault that I wasn't making friends and that I was making it worse by reacting to the bullies, so how could changing schools have improved things?

With hindsight, I might well have been better off at another school, but at the time it certainly didn't feel that way to me.

Sorry, not trying to make you feel worse, but I do think you maybe need to find a way to get him to open up about what's happening so you can decide whether it's just grumbling or there's more to it.

misselizabethbennet Mon 06-Oct-08 14:11:58

scarletlilybug - did your DD want to change schools, or did you just decide for her?

DS says he doesn't want to go to a new school as it would be scary.

mimizan - So far, I have tried not to pay too much attention when he says he hates school, as I know that at the end of the day he'll say it was 'great', or 'fine'. He's been saying for months that the kids at after school club call him weird and I've acknowledged this but not discussed it, as I was convinced it was just something one child said once, and he was just latching onto it.

It's just that now we've got a combination of crying before school, crying at a friend's house and crying at club, so I felt that I should talk to him to see if there is actually a really bad problem that I'm missing.

MollieO Mon 06-Oct-08 14:12:48

Have you spoken to the people that run the after school club as well as his teacher. Surely they would have a clue if he was doing whatever weird behaviour that is concerning. Or they could keep an eye out to see if there is anything going on.

You have my sympathy. An unhappy child just adds to the guilt of being a working mum. If the asc is the problem then is it possible to change your childcare arrangements, eg childminder?

stroppyknickers Mon 06-Oct-08 14:13:38

Why don't you see if you could take him to chat to the school nurse? They are v good at getting them to open up and it is confidential. I am so sorry. My ds is not v popular (there seems no right or wrong way to be) and never goes to parties, has one friend etc, so I know it's hard. I am on a charm offensive at the moment, with different boys home to tea every week to get him comfortable with them as they have changed the classes round and he is not with any friends at all from reception angry

misselizabethbennet Mon 06-Oct-08 14:15:13

AMumInScotland - this is exactly why I'm in such a quandry.

But the school is really lovely and a good size - one full class per year group - so it's big enough that there's lots of different potential friends, but not so big as to be really scary.

misselizabethbennet Mon 06-Oct-08 14:35:09

I have asked DH to speak to the after school club today. TBH I really don't like it and have never really warmed to the women who run it - they seem pretty hopeless to me. The club feels very boring and there are no adult-led activities - just supervised free play. Maybe this is what it should be, but it always seems a very staid and boring environment to me. DH always collects as early as possible, so he's usually out by 5pm.

As DS is shy, I have been nervous of switching to a childminder as this might make him more anxious, but my gut instinct is that club is worse than school, so I think I'll change my working days so he doesn't have to go for a while.

I have to log off for a bit now but I really appreciate all advice and experiences. Thank you. I will be back this evening.

scarletlilybug Mon 06-Oct-08 14:48:52

When I was considering changing my dd's school, I phoned around to see where there were places and arranged to look around a couple. Decided which one I preferred (and which I imagined would suit dd best) and arranged for her to have a taster day there. I didn't actually tell her about the taster day until the actual morning it was happening, as I thought she would only have got anxious and worried about it.

Anyway, she was quite happy to go in, enjoyed the day itself and begged to change school. Decision made. It was definitely the right thing for her. She even felt happier completing the last few weeks of term at her old school, knowing that the end was finally in sight.

Asking children whether they'd like to change school, can be a very difficult question, I think, unless you have somehere specific in mind. Otherwise it can be a big, scary unknown.

You could try asking your son what he would miss/what he would be glad to leave behind if he went to a different school. The only thing dd could think of that she'd miss were her teachers.

Litchick Mon 06-Oct-08 14:54:25

If it were me I would definitely take some action here - and if you feel reducing your hours may help then you should.
The poor lamb sounds like he's really suffering sad which can be no fun for either of you.

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Mon 06-Oct-08 17:31:16

The childminder option might be a good start if you can get a good recommendation, as being in a 'home' environment with just a few other children might better for thim than just an extension of the same day. Also ( have a very limited experience of child minders) the one we had really got to know the children a lot better than the teachers can. And as another adult, outside the family, but not a teacher, you may find he will confide anxieties with her that he would be reluctant to worry you with, or share with a teacher?

critterjitter Mon 06-Oct-08 21:10:51

I think I'd delve a little deeper. Don't just accept 'fine' from either the teacher or the after school club. hmm

Change the times you drop off and pick up at the club, you may come across different children in different situations (friend of mine caught another child manhandling her son one morning in the club). shock

I would also delve much deeper with the teacher. Explain that you don't feel that everything is fine. Is it possible to get someone to drive or walk past the playground at playtime to see if they can see him, and what's going on? IME, quite alot of bullying goes on at playtime (if this is what it is.)

Prufrock Tue 07-Oct-08 08:22:54

MissE - twig recommended a book to me on my thread, and I found this one as well which looks useful.

Frightattendent Tue 07-Oct-08 08:33:31

I would say things like that when I was that age and I really meant it - it was the only way I could think to get across how sad and scared I felt.

It's classic separation anxiety. I'm not sure what you can do about it but my mother basically ignored it (was patient to a degree, but insisted I stayed at school) and it just got worse. I'm still really depressed a lot of the time and it never went away.

You need to find the underlying cause really, has something happened to predispose him to being insecure? If you can work on that, he might get over it better - but he needs sympathy and don't be afraid that the attachment will get stronger. That would be a good thing because then he might behave like a well attached child and start to feel better about leaving you - if that makes sense!

chapeloffearstickchick Tue 07-Oct-08 08:49:40

I have 3 ds and have at some point home educated them all.

Im not scremongering as a nursery nurse i know that a good school can provide a wonderful stimulating environment and that for most children school is the best place to learn,BUT I absolutely urge you to dig deep on this my poor ds1 was in year 2 and very unhappy by the time I discovered what it was he was on the edge of a nervous breakdown (doctors opinion not mine- i thought he was just a bit clingy and moany wed had a new baby see)he ended up signed off school with home tutoring from the hospital school thats how bad it was - the teacher said he was fine in school and happy-it was her bullying him shock she admitted it and took early retirement.

However the fact remains that Id know for 9 weeks he was unhappy and it took a little boy in the co-op to tell me my ds had no friends and cried every day before i realised and when i asked my ds why hed not told me about this he said 'you told me teachers were nice it was their job they liked all boys and girls,i thought i was a bad boy cos she didnt like me'sad.

misselizabethbennet Tue 07-Oct-08 09:56:52

Thanks for all your replies. DS told me that school was great yesterday. I asked him if that was true or was he just saying it to make me happy. He said it was just to make me happy sad

However, I asked him to tell the truth and he said it was middle - not great, not bad. No-one said anything mean, he played with other children at playtimes and club was OK too - no-one called him weird or a geek. DH asked about the incident on Friday and the lady was quite surprised, as she had believed DS when the other kids were saying he'd done something wrong (he mistakenly pushed open a toilet door when another child was in there and they all said he did it on purpose). DS had been briefly upset but got over it very quickly and then played happily with the others, which is why she hadn't mentioned it at pick-up.

We had a chat this morning (instigated by DS) and I asked him what he would be sad/happy to leave behind if he didn't go to school, or went to a different one. His answers all talked about the work, and it being a long day. He'd like to go to an art school where they just do colouring all day. He also went on about not being allowed to choose sandwich at lunch (I encourage him to choose a hot dinner) but I have now said that he can choose whatever he likes. I have to say that of all the problems I anticipated he might have, work would have been the last thing I'd thought of. I'm wondering if reception and class 1 were so easy for him, he's just finding it a bit of a shock that he's actually being stretched for once.

I am on the PTA and am sometimes in school during the day when he doesn't know I'm there and I have seen him - he honestly does look perferctly happy. He doesn't have a 'best friend' but he does have boys he is closer to than others, they do things out of school together and have a great time when we're out or at our house.

I am starting to think that this is some kind of separation anxiety. As in, school isn't that bad, it's just not home with mummy. As I said before he is very attached to me. I now need to work out what do to about this and will take a look at the books you've recommended. I'm not sure anything has made him this way - I think he is just a bit shy and sensitive and feels more secure when he's close to me.

Thanks again for all your opinions.

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