Anyone got a bright but challenging son?!(9 Posts)
Not sure if this is the right topic, but here goes…
DS1 is 5yrs (born June 08) and is in Yr1 at the village school (class of 29). He seems very able (although not compared to some children described on this board) in that he has completed the 'Read Write Inc' reading scheme books, enjoys writing long and involved stories (often the big bad wolf comes to a bad end!), and is especially interested in numbers i.e. adding, subtracting and some multiplication/times tables work. This is obviously a snapshot and by a (subjective!) mum, but he is also very chatty and interested in the world, history, maps and why everything is the way it is. However, he has always had a difficult time with impulse control and behaviour. He gets frustrated easily if things aren't perfect and can shout, or even lash out. He has a younger brother (21 month age gap) and they are very close and play together a lot, but he often hurts his brother in some way during play i.e. a sly kick or punch that seems to come out of nowhere. He can be rude and defiant. Most things from getting dressed to getting in the car involve a few requests from me and often flat refusals from him. Carrot and stick works reasonably well, a small treat for doing what I ask or removal of toy or favourite activity if he continues to argue. I also use the '123 Magic' approach for rudeness or aggression which means he spends 4 minutes in his room (I use an oven timer for this and up to now he complies and stays in his room). School have similar issues, including shouting out at carpet time to make his friends laugh. I have friends who are having similar behaviour from their sons but the behaviour isn't carried over into school. When I'm feeling a bit pessimistic I would describe him as really cocky and arrogant and his attitude seems much older than his years. His sunny side is great, he gets on well with the children at school, and spends most of his time with the high energy boys. He is a great conversationalist and has really interesting ideas. He can be very kind and helpful to his brother and his friends. He craves independence and loves it when I see him across the road so he can post a letter in the letter box on his own (I can see him the whole time!). I noticed in the summer that he really enjoyed the company of older children of 7 or 8 years old. He can concentrate for extended periods on craft work, reading, writing, or numbers work.
He is in a reading extension group at school with 4 other year 1 pupils, I'm not sure what other challenges he's given. At parents evening the teacher felt that he needed more challenging work but didn't specify what this might be. I feel reluctant to ask because I know his behaviour isn't spot on in school and I don't want them to think I'm being pushy. I know that most bright children don't behave badly so it's hard to use the excuse that he isn't being challenged enough. But I wonder if he was more stimulated in school he might behave better?
Sorry for the essay, but I was hoping for some ideas from a parent who had a similar experience? Thanks!
Hi - retired TA with twenty years primary school experience here:
Gosh! I wish I could have met him! (and I like essays, but a few paragraphs makes it easier to read.)
He has to learn that things can't always be perfect (in fact, probably not much is really perfect), and this calling out to amuse other kids is OFTEN what the stupid children do because they can't feel successful any other way, so it is a pity he has to resort to that.
You mention these 'advanced' things he's doing in reading, writing and numeracy, but is he really UNDERSTANDING the content of books, or the relationships in numbers? Maybe you need to test out things like that, and help fill in any gaps or misunderstandings there might be, and then think of ways to move him on to the next level.
Our DS was bright, good concentration etc, and aged 6 he was writing programs for our very primitive computer (this was 25 years ago). He went on to get a degree in Computer Science, and has had several good, and well paid jobs in IT. Now aged 30 he decided he needed a new challenge, and has gone to another university to do a year's Master's degree in Meteorology.
I'm not sure I would agree that bright children don't behave badly, as some can I think because they aren't stretched or stimulated enough, so they get bored and 'play up'.
The more he can do in the way of arts & crafts, construction (Lego, especially Technic, or Meccano, though of course they are expensive) should keep him occupied. Keeping various diaries, say for Nature, recording the weather, doing research and data collection on things like traffic (cars, trucks, buses, bikes etc) doing bar graphs; in the park or a country walk, counting plants, trees, birds, breeds of dog; in town, types of shop, colours of front doors in a residential road. Maybe drawing plans or maps, of your house or garden; his bedroom; the route to school.
Music is good, and you can get keyboards from £100 or so; get full-sized keys, and as many as possible, at least 61; don't bother with gimmicky 'teaching lights' etc. It shouldn't be beyond him to teach himself from a good tutor book, with your help, if you don't want to pay for lessons.
Bright children ARE very challenging, and your ds' behavior seems perfectly in norm to me (for a bright child). Yes, he can be bored, but it can also be that he cannot control himself yet. As a bright child he takes more on board than an average child, and can be just overstimulated and not able to cope with emotions, etc. And regarding * I know that most bright children don't behave badly* you cannot really know that, can you? Not all parents share this, and you do not get that sort of information from school
I think you are right to look into this now. Reading your description of your DS, he sounds exactly like my DS was at the same age.
My DS is now in year 4 and in the last year, his behaviour at school has got worse, to the point where he really plays the clown & has to sit apart from the other children at carpet time. He has lost interest in how school work, and is scored as "average" for everything (when I know he can do so much better than that!). He has also become quite anxious at home and his self-esteem is affected because he is always being told he needs to try harder at school.
To cut a long story short, we've recently had a private education psychologist carry out a full assessment with DS. I wanted to rule out ADHD and there are times when I've wondered if DS might be on the autistic spectrum.
When the report came back, he'd assessed DS as being above the top 3% for his age generally & on the 99th centile in some areas. His opinion is that DS is frustrated because he isn't being stimulated at school and he had reccomended that the school provide extension activities that are appropriate for "gifted" children in mainstream schools (his other reccomendation is that DS sits entrance exams for independent schools).
Anyway, sorry for waffling on about myself, but my point is that I feel I've let my DS down by not fighting his corner a bit more. He has been sent home with reading books that are far too easy for him for the past few years & his teacher told me he couldn't move to the higher level books (he reads independently at home) because he doesn't understand what he is reading (he certainly goes!). I've never wanted to be seen as a 'pushy' precious kind of parent so I've just taken the school' word for things even when I suspected he was underachieving.
I've now got a meeting coming up after the school senco has looked at the report. I've got no idea how they will respond but I wish so much that I'd tackled some issues back in year 1 before my DS started playing up so much. I didn't want to go into school and cause a fuss but I should have done. I don't blame the school entirely & I don't condone his silly behaviour but I'm starting to understand what has been going on a bit more.
Also, my DS, like yours is very high energy and is drawn to other high energy children. His teacher last year described him as a "typical boy" and I think part of the problem is that he has been kind of lumped in with all the "silly boys" who aren't seen as having a lot of academic potential.
certainly *does understand what he is reading.
I know that most bright children don't behave badly so it's hard to use the excuse that he isn't being challenged enough.
Not true. Plenty of bright children behave badly out of frustration. If his intellectual activities are not rewarding enough then he will seek out other stimulation and reactions.
Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to ask his teacher for examples of how they plan to challenge him. I feel that in a nutshell he is academically mature for his age but emotionally immature. There has been a steady improvement in his behaviour over the last year, but with setbacks along the way. This week has been a difficult one (he's learned a swear word ) and I get anxious at pick up time that he will have had a bad day. I think a combination of interesting challenges for him, and trying not to give him attention for difficult behaviour may help. It's interesting to hear about older children who had similar experiences. How much was the educational psychologist Misguided? Was the school open to reading the report even though they hadn't commissioned it? It sounds like you'll be on the right track with your son now, good luck.
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