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Behaviour Problems - Please Help

(27 Posts)
chillikate Mon 22-Apr-13 20:22:14


I have posted on G & T several times since DS was in preschool, but now I really need your help. I didn't know whether to post in G & T for Behaviour but my "mums gut feeling" says its related.

DS has been developmentally advanced against his peers practically since he was born. I remember collecting him from nursery to be told by an astonished Nursery Manager that she had just had a full blown conversation with him - the first time she had ever had a full blown conversation with a 15 month old. He's now 6 and in Year 1. After a few scraps with his preschool because they wouldn't teach him to read - his request, I decided to play Reception cool. He was happy in Reception. Happy and popular - what more could a Mum ask for. So I decided to let him be.

For the past 3 months his behaviour has become dire - sometimes violent, sometimes just backchat. He loves to laugh in our faces when he knows that he has got one over on us. I dread bedtimes and can often end up in utter despair.

I mentioned this at his last parents evening. His teacher reports that he is as polite, kind and friendly as ever. He can be easily led by others, but in general she has no concerns about his behaviour. Academically he is in top set for literacy, numeracy and science. She tells me that he has a particular aptitude for numeracy, and is easily picking up the numbers 20-100 (at home he can recognise up to 9,999). She also comments on his real maturity - in terms of language, understanding of the world and sense of humour. He is a perfectionist but his handwriting is messy and slow - much slower than his mind. He reminds me so much of myself.

Still I have not pushed. I don't want to be a pushy mum and I don't want to negatively affect his future education - but I can't help feeling he is bored. Hes no genius, but I believe that he is advanced next to his peers, even in the top sets. Also, unlike lots of stories in here, he does not tend to just pick up these things - he needs to learn them from others, whether that be us or his teachers or others in his life.

We are an active family - he does Beavers and Taekwondo. We camp and we walk. We visit places that we enjoy - the Science museum, Motor museum, planetarium, the zoo. These trips are getting less frequent because they are not getting earned.

His night terrors have restarted.

I have one very unhappy little boy, and I don't know what to do.

And he has 2 very unhappy parents who fight night after night to get him into bed. We are at the end of our tether.

We have tried talking about our feelings, and playing games to talk about our feelings, but it never really offers much insight into why my little boy who was so happy and well behaved 6 months ago is now an unhappy little demon.

Please help.

inthesark Mon 22-Apr-13 20:35:32

Everyone said with DD that, oh year 1 will be much better because it's so much more academic. This is actually hogwash, at least in reception they can go off and play, in year 1 they are expected to pay attention even if they know it, so for a bright child who isn't being extended it can be torture.

I wouldn't dare to say what's going on with your son, but I know that with DD, she is vile when she is bored - like a proto-teenager just shouting 'no' at me all the time. We tested this out pretty well at the start of the year when her teachers 'forgot' all the extension work for three weeks. She was foul. We went in to remind them, and as soon as the work started, she was back to normal. (But I would also bear in mind that it might be something quite different, like bullying).

The only thing I wonder about is him earning his outings - in DD's case she needs a certain amount of interesting input, and if she's not getting it at school then we need to put in more of it at home. Might be worth seeing if that makes a difference to him.

I think you do have to get over the being a pushy mother thing. It's OK to have a bright child, and it's very definitely OK to ask the school to provide for that. If he had any kind of special needs, you wouldn't have a single qualm. But in your shoes I'd probably go in and ask them what they think, and also tell them that he is clearly unhappy and see what they suggest. Then take it from there.

headlesslambrini Mon 22-Apr-13 20:43:58

sorry, am in a rush so have only read skim read. Firstly take him GP's with regards to night terrors. He might just be frightened to go to sleep because of these. You might have a little boy who can count upto 9999 but at the end of the day, he is only 6. He might be advanced with his learning but you still have to understand that emotionally he is only young. You mentioned that you have played games etc to get him to talk about his feelings but TBH no matter how advanced they are at this age they often do not have the comprehension to use language so I would expect some of this to be frustration.

my advice - re-establish bedtime routine. do not shout and you and your DH take turns at being with him. if he get's out of bed then return immediately and stay with him for a few minutes before leaving. lots of re-assuring - we are just downstairs, call me if you need me but stay in bed etc.

Try getting him to talk through a favourite teddy, and use his toys to role play. It's important that you remain in 'character', bring in other toys to represent other people ie teacher, friends, grandparents etc. re-enact a school day. This is something which you need to build up over a period of time so that he feels comfortable. You will need a lot of patience. Stick to one method which you think might work and don't chop and change otherwise he will just get more confused. Get him to also draw pictures at the end of the day or colour in with you.

talk again to the teachers, they at the very least need to know that he might be tired and what to do if he is. Talk to them in terms of increasing anxiety levels if they don't let up when he is tired. If he is bright then once he is over this, he will catch up with anything very quickly.

chillikate Mon 22-Apr-13 20:44:00

Thank you sad

I've got to do something. I think maybe we're just in such a vicious cycle. We have to punish the behaviour somehow - or rather reward the good which we just aren't getting.

The day trips are the one thing that he says he loves, but despite his mature outlook on things just can't seem to grasp that his behaviour means he misses out.

Why would he still be so good at school, though??

PacificDogwood Mon 22-Apr-13 20:52:41

He can be academically gifted, but not more mature emotionally than his years IYSWIM. Behaviourwise I'd deal with him like with any other 6 year old, so, yes, reliable bedtime routine, maybe 5 minute warning before it is time to go upstairs, return to bedroom swiftly but without fuss etc etc.

Do speak to his school. As he is no trouble at school they may not perceive a need to stretch him, but he might just bob along, unchallenged and then go a bit berserk at home (which is a place of safetly where he feels safe enough to misbehave).
My DS1 has an ILP like any other child with additional educational needs as he is as far removed from his peer academically as some children with learning difficulties. I have to say, our bogstandard village school has been excellent with looking out for his needs, not just the easiest option. Like you I was v reluctant to be seen as a 'pushy mum' (an I still don't see the point of 16 yo Oxbridge graduates hmm), but speaking to his teacher initially and then to the higher echelons of power and getting the ed psychologist involved were all Very Good Things.

Like you say, he is unhappy, you are unhappy - something has to change.
Re outings: I'd still do them tbh, without him having to earn them.

sittinginthesun Mon 22-Apr-13 22:13:18

I think speaking to the school is a good thing. It's not pushing, it's supporting. If the teacher is good, you should be able to build up a relationship that will support your DS.

As for the rest, I would take a step back and go right back to basics. He is 6 years (same age as my ds2), and they are still very young at this age. I would go for routine, lots of cuddles and love, and take the pressure right off.

Keep your expectations of behaviour, but I would keep the fun stuff, like outings, shared reading time, games etc as part of the routine.

Hope the school are supportive.

simpson Mon 22-Apr-13 22:19:32

DD is very bright (her school have said she is gifted) and as soon as she is not being stretched at school (reception) for a decent period of time, not the odd day etc her behaviour at home is almost uncontrollable.

I have spoken to the school about it and to be fair they are fab. They have never seen her naughty until a few weeks ago and were totally shock as she is normally so biddable etc...

They upped her extension work (literacy - she is fairly bog standard in numeracy) and her behaviour settled right down.

One thing I have recently started doing (as DD is very ££ orientated) is 10 pennies a day for good behaviour and she loses a penny every time she kicks off (she gets a warning first). The pennies are handed to her after breakfast (to include bedtime the night before as she is shocking over bedtime).

I would not stop the trips out etc as they might happen later/after his bad behaviour and he may not truly understand why it is not happening (the day out) iyswim.

mummytime Mon 22-Apr-13 22:29:19

Okay. Do reward the good behaviour, any good behaviour -reward it.

Do look honestly at yourself and see if you are expecting too much from him. Just because a child is articulate and quick at picking things up, they may still be very young emotionally. Also they may be exposed/expose themselves to things beyond their years; eg. Read books which are too advanced, or understand more of the news than you would expect. They can also put themselves under huge pressure.

Finally, there are SNs that are highly linked to being G and T, and a psychologist said to me once that being G and T could be regarded as an SEN.

chillikate Mon 22-Apr-13 22:32:04

Thank You all again.

First stop, and honest & frank conversation with his teacher.

simpson Mon 22-Apr-13 22:45:02

I forgot to say that although DD is very good at reading, she is only 5 and I do vet what she reads because some concepts might be too much for her (scary or whatever) so it might be worth doing that (if you don't already).

But yes definately speak to the school, good luck smile

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 23-Apr-13 09:06:32

My DD was similar in year 2 yes she wasn't being stimulated by the teacher - a whole other story. Suffice to say yes there was an academic issue as she has now been described by the school as 'really very bright'. However, the root of the poor behaviour turned out to be that she was witnessing her friends being verbally bullied and felt she needed to help she would then be physically bullied. She was internalising all of this as she felt she had to deal with it.
I can't give you a solution as unfortunately the teacher that year just didn't like/get DD either emotionally or academically so improvements only occurred once she was in year 3.

mercibucket Tue 23-Apr-13 09:29:57

you only have the one child, i think? tbh it sound like a lot of over thinking and over worrying. if he really is similar to you, then it is quite possible you will clash more. i find this with ds1. he is great at the backchat and it drives me mad, but that is part if the problem - i can easily over react.

i also am unsure about the days out as rewards thing, perhaps because it just isn't my thing, but it sounds a bit of an all or nothing big reward. take the stress out by doing a star chart or something with regular small rewards if you must go down this route. why deny you all a family day out?

and why all the stress after bedtime? also sounds a big over reaction unless his behaviour is really awful, but you say at school he is fine? so it is probably not as bad as you seem to think.

i dont see a link to g and t tbh, but i wonder why you do? perhaps as he is bright and articulate you forget his age? he is still a baby really at 6

chillikate Tue 23-Apr-13 10:17:53

The issue with behaviour is it taking anywhere between an hour and two to get him upstairs, undressed, teeth cleaned, and into bed setlled (whether that be to sleep or to read so to look at his Wheres Wally books).

This is from a child with inpeccable behaviour, always polite etc... to a child you screams, shouts, refuses to clean his teeth, clamps his mouth shut when I try to, kicks, headbutts.

My concern is the severe CHANGE in behaviour and it is very justified.

sittinginthesun Tue 23-Apr-13 12:28:09

What time is bedtime? I have just moved DS2's to a bit later, as he was not tired, so was playing up.

I had all this with my eldest, so it didn't stress me, but I did have to think it through. I bought him a new snuggly feather duvet, told him he could have "quiet time" after his bath etc, to read his Beano, but only if he was in bed by 7.30pm. His light now goes off at 8pm.

Maybe treat the bedtime as a completely separate issue?

simpson Tue 23-Apr-13 12:47:10

Do you think he is overtired in the evenings by going to bed too late the night before?

The only way you are going to know if his behaviour is linked to school is if they start to challenge him more.

Last year when DD was in nursery she was an angel for her teacher but truly shocking when she got home and I put it down to tiredness at the time. But the minute she started school full time her behaviour at home changed drastically (for the better) so I now think that she was just ready for more iyswim.

chillikate Tue 23-Apr-13 13:06:22

I might have thought that iot was lack of sleep if I was waking him up, but hes up before me every morning, around 6-6.30am (with black out curtains). We've gone back to waking him for a wee before we go to bed in the hope that he'll go a bit longer (but it hasn't made much difference). He sleeps soundly once he ALLOWS himself to go to sleep, and bar the night terrors which are 2-3 per week.

I now have an appointment to see his teacher tomorrow, and have had a chat with his childminder too who reports that he is the same kind, polite and well behaved child he has always been. confused

mercibucket Tue 23-Apr-13 13:28:54

is it just the bedtime routine and could he be frightened if he is having nightmares?
maybe back off a lot? at that age i expect mine to brush their own teeth (electric toothbrush, dentist happy with teeth), get themselves in pyjamas and ready for story, if not ready, no story. my 6 year old goes to bed at 9, sigh, often bright children need less sleep, she actually falls asleep nearer 10, double sigh, altho she wakes up around 8 so if yours wakes up at 6.30, an earlier bedtime of 8 sounds about right,
could be worth another post just for bedtime advice as you will get more traffic off the g and t board

chillikate Tue 23-Apr-13 13:36:27

3 months ago he was cleaning his own teeth, getting himself in his PJs etc... Now he just point blank refuses. Its not just bedtime, but bedtime is by far the biggest pinchpoint. Getting dressed in the morning can be a challenge too, but usually the threat of having to explain to the head why he is late and has had to go through the main entrance is enough grin

I'll hold out for tomorrows meeting, and see if the teacher can offer any ideas what might be upsetting him. If not I'll need to look elsewhere for guidance.

neolara Tue 23-Apr-13 13:41:17

I would buy 123 Magic and use the strategies to deal with the behaviour at home.

I think, as others have said, sometimes if you have a child who shows great intellectual maturity, it's easy to assume they have the same level of emotional maturity. But a 6 year old is still learning what is and what isn't appropriate behaviour. It may be that he is lashing out at home because he is frustrated at school, but you still need to develop a successful system for dealing with the bad behaviour. It would be a disaster to "excuse" it by looking only for what the school could do differently. You also need to explicitly teach your child more appropriate ways of dealing with his feelings. So, for example, label the feelings, (e.g. "you're looking really cross today", model talking about feelings (e.g."I'm worried I'm going to do mess this up") and problem solve (e.g. "I'm so cross with daddy today. I told him to pick up his clothes and not leave them on the floor. What should I do?")

I would also recommend reading this book Mindset which might help your ds to deal with the need for perfection. If he wants to be perfect, but is struggling with this, he could be feeling very anxious at the moment.

Pythonesque Thu 25-Apr-13 15:48:09

Some children who wake early in the morning will do so no matter when they go to bed; hence bedtime has to be right or they don't get enough sleep. My 7 1/2 yr old is usually awake and reading by 6 or 6:30; if he is still asleep at 7 I wonder what's up. He still needs to be in bed by 7:30 or so, and if that overruns his behaviour deteriorates rapidly. I'm hoping his need for sleep will reduce significantly in the next 6 months because then he'll start being required at evensong that doesn't finish till 7 ...

His teacher and I had a laugh when I commented that he seems to be either 3 or 13 at the moment. But at least everyone at his school seems to understand his need to be kept busy, and also his need for short structure as his problems with inattention are beginning to raise separate concerns. Year 1 was a nightmare year as he had a teacher who was focussed on behaviour and didn't extend him (or several other bright boys in his class). Brilliant year 2 teacher however has sorted it all out and is still keeping an eye on them in year 3!

chillikate Mon 29-Apr-13 21:34:16

Thanks to all those who have replied.

I have now had a few meetings with my sons teacher, who now agrees that he needs further challenging in school, and she is arranging this. Its early days but we now have the support of the school and PPUK. smile

lljkk Tue 30-Apr-13 14:29:45

His teacher reports that he is as polite, kind and friendly as ever.

Doesn't sound like he has any problems at school; not sure why you think school work is relevant or that teacher needs to do anything. confused

chillikate Tue 30-Apr-13 16:36:55

Why are there so many people on Mumsnet who really think that they know it all??

mummytime Tue 30-Apr-13 17:01:09

Is he still having the night terrors?
It is so hard at this age, as they often don't have the emotional language to express what is bothering them. For example my DS was in year 1 when 9/11 happened, at the time his Dad was in New York, he didn't express any worry until 6 months later, when during playing with Lego he built a World Trade Centre with a hole in the middle "for the planes to go through". Similarly as a child I made up a story of an old witch living in the spare room in our house, no one understood why I was scared to go upstairs and had to run when I did.

With my children, I trained them to have a few drops of lavender on their pillow to help them go to sleep. It helped when bedtime became too stressy.
I would also probably limit using stimulating trips and activities only as rewards, as if he is bored at school it maybe counterproductive.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Tue 30-Apr-13 17:44:52

My first, second and third thought would be that it is sleep connected.
My kids are nearly grown up now and I always found tiredness was the biggest factor in their behaviour.

I know that it is hard to get them to sleep longer. sad

Also, is he eating enough?

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