possible G&T, severe behavioural issues and poss exclusion - help(23 Posts)
My wonderful and lovely ds is 7 and in yr2. I don't know if he's G&T but I know he's very bright. I know he reasons very deeply and loves learning, he was doing numbers when he was under 18 months, talked early, huge vocab and seems quite mature due to his language, his reading age is 4.5yrs higher than his age and he can do maths easily for 2-3 yrs ahead without us even teaching him anything. He can do some year 6 stuff if you point him in the right direction. When he's engaged he extends his learning and reads / writes pages on a topic, asks questions and wants to learn so much. He's also deeply critical and a perfectionist, hates to get something wrong and feels very deeply and reacts very quickly.
The first 2 years at school were a breeze. Everyone said his learning was amazing and 'isn't he going to do well'. Now he's hit year 2 he's becoming angry, defiant, violent and disruptive at school. He'll rip his work up, pull down displays, hit the teacher or other children. These episodes mostly only occur in the classroom and not all the time. They've put some strategies in place to help him calm down although they aren't used religiously. He's spending more time out in seclusion playing board games than he is learning in the classroom.
There may well be other issues here and he's been referred to ed psych and therapeutic services but I just wonder if he's not being stimulated enough. The work is easy - he tells us every day and I've seen it. He could do the work 2-3 years ago easily and there's no extension work but school teacher won't have it. She says he finds it difficult to learn and the work is difficult enough (most of the time he's not even doing it now anyway).
He's at risk of exclusion and I have no idea what to do.
Well first thing is you need to make sure he realises his behaviour is entirely unacceptable. Supposed under stimulating is absolutely no reason for poor behaviour. Most very bright children behave and are capable of entertaining themselves when bored using nothing but their imagination.
He might well have other issues but none are an excuse for bad behaviour- even if they are the reason. He need you to support him to understand normal expectations and to support the school in managing him.
He may need more challenge in school but in my exoerience children don't go from 'bright lovely and getting on' to 'angry, disruptive and violent' because the teacher hasn't set more difficult work.
The type of behaviour typical of a highly able child who isn't being challenged is usually more low level e.g. daydreaming, talkinh, fussing off task (it's why some parents try to pull the 'but they say the work is easy' when you speak to them about average child's attitude and then you show them the chikd's average test scores).
It could be:
- teacher not providing enough challenging work which leads to low level behaviour (i've never encountered a child who gets violent out of nowhere due ti challenge)
- teacher is providing challenging work but due to a mindset of 'i am smart therefore i must find the work easy' your DC is getting frustrated and acting out (fixed mindset is quite common in high achievers - we find by secondary some bright kids are terrified of making mistakes because mistakes mighy suggest they aren't smart)
- some kind of trigger event is probing traumatic for DC
- That DC may have some SEND needs
Or a range of othet things.
You may feel annoyed that he is spending increasing amounts of time out thr classroom. I get how you feel but the teacher has thr right to come to work without being assaulted and they have a duty of care ti keep the rest of the class safe. If the way to keep thr teacher free from violent outbursts abd the clas safe and able to learn then i entirely get why they've taken him go talk down elsewhere
My ds found it very hard in yr2/3 when they started wanting explanations for why an answer is what it is. He 'just knows' the answer. He is getting the hang of it now and I have explained that later on Maths is largely proofs and his calculator brain will be replaced by a calculator. I mark some maths and I tell him that often there are more marks in the scheme for the method than the correct answer.
In a similar way for English there is a large emphasis on grammar and inference. Ds is actually very good at both but it takes practice demonstrating it and if you don't know what an adverbial clause is then you need to be taught it. He is a perfectionist too but I tell him that it is good when he finds something difficult because then he is learning to persevere.
Why do people often equate poor behaviour with not being challenged/stimulated enough? Do G&T children have no imaginations?
Oh and while clearly able it doesn't sound as if he is way out of the normal range. I recognise the fixed mindset that MaisyPops mentioned - I tell ds that everyone has a limit of where natural ability stops and hard work has to kick in and I would much rather that he experiences that at primary where I and his teachers can help him through it than that he runs into it for the first time at degree level when he is away from home and doesn't know how to manage it.
Oh and agree never let bad behaviour be justified to ds. My ds gets bored sometimes but he doesn't get violent. He only does that when he has made a mistake and thankfully only at home not at school.
I have seen the link between bright students having routinly easy lessons getting a little silly & coasting because thru are involved in low level disruption.
But violence and outbursts aren't typcial.
The fixed mindset is difficult to squash. I'd love more praise in primary about effort or showing working or doing specific skills rather than praising kids for 'being clever' or 'you are the first finished. Well done. Have a reward point'.
I have some really bright gcse students and they'll do anything I ask them, but getting them to take risks and plan something independnetly (which they are more than capable of doing) and they clam up and produce garbage. I am having to do some work with them to break this because it's going to limit them unless we can crack kt.
... but none of them have ever been rude of violent.
Oh he knows the behaviour is wrong. There are strict consequences at home and at school. He hates himself after it and is desperate for it to stop but has no idea what about school is making him behave this way. It's destroying to see him so unhappy and self destructive.
And also, we recognise that him being secluded / excluded is a natural progression for his behaviour and to keep others safe. It's just very difficult to see this happen ending this term when previously his love of learning and school was sky high.
I only asked really as I was reading some threads about behavioural challenges in bright children. Sorry - I feel a bit daft for asking now
It could be related to the change in expectations- as he is growing up he is more aware of the mistakes- maybe a letter wasn't sitting on the line the way it should (in his head), maybe it didn't go as he planned. hence he had melt down.
ABC charts can really help unpick things.
A- antecedents- what was happenig before?
B- behaviour- what did he do?
C - consequences- what happened after.
If a- couldn't get work the way he wanted it (not getting answers right, just wasn't 'right')
B- chucked a chair
C- taken out of class to play board game.
If he is anxious, be knows he has an escape plan. (Not necessarily deliberately/ consciously).
Can’tchoose - yes that sounds familiar actually. He’s a perfectionist with a huge sense of failure so a get out option is probably easier for him. He doesn’t really get that exclusion will also happen and what that means to him - he just thinks he can stay at home - another get out.
They’re doing ABC forms but they’re worded quite emotively so it’s hard to pull apart what actually happened and why.
It's a tough one to unlock without being there. Hopefully whoever is helping solve this will do some class obs and maybe shed some light.
I also hate that marking now always has to have a 'what you could do better' element. That just undermines some kids who then feel it wasn't good enough.
I wonder- can he tell you/ do they know- is it a single thing that sets him off (0-100 in seconds), or a build up?
The first is harder- recognising 'red mist' is tough if he just explodes.
If it is the latter can you help him plan some strategies? I.e. If he is destroying work because he doesn't think it's good enough, can he work on paper and stick it in a book when happy?
Any sensory issues?
For an otherwise happy boy to loose it regularly there is something going on.
Hope you get some support and answers.
If you can afford it, try and get a private ed psych referral. This will give you a much broader range of testing and - hopefully - a bit more of a sense of what might be going on for him, whether it's school work or other underlying issues. It will also happen more quickly.
I have no idea which of these it might be, but he is clearly very able, if he can work 4 years ahead without teaching in maths. I have nothing but anecdote to support this, but Yr2 can be very tedious for the most able children; its basically revising reading, writing and arithmetic to make sure that all the class are secure, which is great, but infuriating for those who are ready to go onto KS2. We moved DD in Yr2 because she'd given up trying. What work is he doing at school, is he being extended at all?
But it is also true that very many of the most able children have other issues going on as well, whether thats ASD, ADHD or dyspraxia, or a whole heap of other things, so the more of an evaluation you can get, the more chance you have of understanding what is going on.
Having said that, I'd try giving him a bit of extension work or tutoring after school, just to see if this tones down the behaviour. DD saved her bad behaviour for home, but it went away when we found extension work.
Ok I will ask you this question - how is he getting on socially?
Does he have any friends at school?
Would he like to have more friends at school?
I would honestly start there instead of starting with 'he is not stimulated enough'.
You've said yourself you don't see the link between being able and unchallenged and poor behaviour:
Why do people often equate poor behaviour with not being challenged/stimulated enough? Do G&T children have no imaginations?
I wasn't snidey to you in my reply. So why are you being snidey back?
All I've done is say in my experience I have seen able students coast and be a bit chatty when they aren't challenged (you know like many students). Lack of challenge was picked up in the KS3 Wasted Years report too.
In my experience, there can be a correlation between low level behaviour and lack of challenge.
I'm not saying it always is the case. I'm not excusing the behaviour.
But in MN school thread fashion, there's always someone who comes along dismissing anyone's experience.
Early milestones, advanced language and reasoning, and working ahead 3 - 4.5 years in literacy/numeracy all suggest he is gifted. I'd suspect he is bored rigid and has finally reached the end of his tether. Whether a child reacts to these circumstances by disengaging or by becoming aggressive/disruptive depends on the personality of the child and various factors in the environment.
I disagree completely with the poster above who wrote. "Supposed under stimulating is absolutely no reason for poor behaviour". If you took an average ability 10 year old, functioning at the same level in literacy and numeracy, and put them back in the Y2 class, would you expect them to remain engaged and satisfied with the education they were receiving? In any case the research shows otherwise, as follows:
Gross's book has a case study of an exceptionally gifted child (Ian) who became aggressive when the school failed to recognize his ability or meet his needs in any way. see p2-4. Gross notes: "the psychologist emphasized strongly to the staff of Ian's school that he was not behaviourally disturbed. His hostility and aggression arose out of his desperate loneliness, bewilderment and intellectual frustration ".
Betts and Neiharts' article summarises 6 profiles of gifted students: two of which (type II - challenging, and type IV dropout) both exhibit relevant features. They note Type II or "challenging" gifted students "often question authority and may challenge the teacher in front of the class. They do not conform to the system, and they have not learned to use it to their advantage. They receive little recognition and few rewards or honors. Their interactions at school and at home often involve conflict. These children feel frustrated because the school system has not affirmed their talents and abilities. They are struggling with their self-esteem. They may or may not feel included in the social group."
The PEGY website comments that failure to meet the educational needs of the highly able results in : "Disaffection, Rebellion and Anger: Those who rebel against their education may drop out, either completely or by checking out mentally and refusing to participate. They may become the class clown, a trouble maker, or aggressive and antisocial. Teachers may look too shallowly for the causes of this behaviour, blaming the child, rather than the lack of appropriate stimulation."
Neihart et al note in their book that "research indicates that many of the emotional or social difficulties gifted students experience disappear when their educational climates are adapted to their level and pace of learning".
I would suggest:
1) you need an ed psych assessment. The assessment should ideally be arranged to occur outside school as the school environment is already a trigger which may confound the assessment.
2) If he is already 7, he is among the oldest in the class. Gifted and old for the year group is a bad combination as both factors combine to decrease the fit with the standard curriculum and with (generally younger) class peers. So, how he is getting on socially is relevant but not independent of the educational provision. He may simply be too far ahead.
3) What the school is doing is very clearly not working. You and the school should consider acceleration into the year above and further subject acceleration/an IEP. Familiarise yourself with the research on acceleration.
Thank goodness for gfrnn. I was going to say the same in a less pleasant way. Bewilders me why people come on the G&T board who know nothing about G&T children.
Put simply, being brilliant is isolating. That leads to anxiety which leads to aggression. Of course these kids have "imagination" but they also have the basic human need to do more than stare out the window and "imagine" for 6 hours daily.
OP, please don't feel silly! You are totally right in your approach. Get him assessed but if you try treating him like a G&T kid now, plying him with the endless information those kids need to function, you might see a positive change very soon.
The social aspect is usually a problem for these kids and he may feel things much more deeply than non-G&T kids. Is there maybe a kid in his class he's not getting along with? His teacher sounds pretty unhelpful...
I have a friend who has a soon who was assessed as gifted and talented at the age of 3. At primary and junior school he was consistently bored - he found the work too easy, he was never being challenged academically and whenever his mum asked him how his day went at school he would always say terrible which made her feel so sad for him. His mum battled with the school and they finally agreed to assess his capability and low and behold it was assessed as 3-4 years ahead! They tried putting him up into the relevant year group but he struggled on an emotional level so in the end he stayed in his group but was given work that was 3 years ahead of his "expected age" and he was so much happier. Many areas have a gifted and talented support group - see if your area has one. The school need to accommodate his talents - ask the Headteacher to do an assessment of his ability and action plan to accommodate his academic level. If they don't go to the LEA and ask for their intervention. The school are responsible for ALL children progressing -even the ones who are gifted and talented. Ignore derogatory comments - it can be difficult for parents - Best of luck.
It may alsp be worth chatting to thr scbool' More Able leader as well. They will usually have a wealth of knowledge in the area too.
Unfortunately our experience is that the Most able lead - where there is one - are very good with the bright and moderately gifted, but not so good with the outliers. Which isn't surprising because they very rarely meet them. A two-form primary school would get a child like this once every 12-15 years; a teacher might get only one or two in a career - if they don't end up in HE or selective schools.
Sadly, the problem is also that however understanding they might be, there is no budget to do any kind of enrichment. We've seen it fall away in DD's own school career.
I’d take him to the docs tbh and see if they can pass you onto a paediatrician. Looks like he may be 2e- gifted with SN.
Ds6 is 2e (several years ahead academically in all but writing as part of his 2e is dcd, among other issues) and he is opposite and retreats into himself at school.
NC is a bit of a grim prospect for outliers as even extension work may be too easy and the rate at which a gifted child learns means it just gets worse as they get older as they need less repetitions.
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