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DS dangerously violent at school and getting worse...me, devastated and bewildered(45 Posts)
I wasn't sure where to post this but decided on 'Parenting' as clearly it is me who needs to do something but I have no clue what.
I am a name-changer, part-time poster, long-time member though (several years).
My DS is 6 and an only child. Since nursery he has had behavioural problems in social or classroom situations which unfortunately seem to manifest as aggression towards other kids. He has hit, kicked, bitten, throttled other children, threatened to kill them, and worst of all within a week of the new term starting (we are in Scotland) has attacked another child with a piece of school equipment and left a huge and horrible mark.
You are probably all thinking, 'what the hell have you done to this kid to make him act like this'. I'd likely think the same, but I honestly don't know where I've gone wrong. At home DS is largely a wonderful child with great manners, he is bright and creative, helpful and loving. We spend most of our time just the two of us as his dad lives abroad and I have no family nearby. However we are not 'shut-ins' and we get out and about to theatre, cinema, activity classes, parks and outdoors activities. I rarely need to exercise any more discipline than a stern talking to which at home is usually for reasons of not listening or answering back or being rude. He does seem to have the idea that he runs the show sometimes and when in a bad mood can speak to me rudely and nastily with rather a mystifying degree of arrogance for one so young.
His other identifiable troubles are a speech delay (had 2 yrs of therapy which is 'on a break' at the moment and he is coherent to most people if they concentrate) and possibly some degree of hyperactivity, this has not been professionally diagnosed but learning support at school has noticed noise-making, twitching, constant physical movement, and at home he is literally bouncing from the minute he gets up. He also suffers from massive mood swings from one minute praising himself at being excellent at everything to the next calling himself 'fat' and 'stupid' and wanting to kill himself and hitting himself on the face.
I am at an utter loss what to do with him in terms of his behaviour at school. I spent the whole of last year standing alone in the playground at drop off and pick up times because DS is known as 'the bad kid' and is the subject of parental gossip. I've been dropped by my one friend at the school who (prior to the dropping) kept me informed about just how much other mums were talking about both me and DS (= a lot). DS has no friends at all, he got one party invite the whole of last year, only for me to have to remove him from the games after he punched 2 other kids. I've had several parents come up to me to complain in person. What do I say to them? DS is punished in school (last term was kept in at all break times for several weeks, as he posed such a danger to others) and at home with restrictions on his privileges eg after this latest episode he is having no TV, PSP or sweets (and before you ask - no, he doesn't live on sugar, he has something like a kinder egg after dinner or a mini packet of haribo to take to the park. He doesn't even have concentrated juice). What else can I do? Clearly since it keeps happening the other mums must think I don't give a toss, or don't react, or maybe that I take him home and laugh about it afterwards. But I honestly don't know HOW else I can react, or what else I can do. I sit and talk with DS over and over about the importance of being kind, listening, thinking about other people's feelings. I ask him to empathise with how the other kids are feeling when he hurts them, and repeatedly, repeatedly tell him to go straight to an adult if he is finding a situation troublesome, instead of just thumping the other party. He seems to be able to relate well to what I'm saying in his moments of calm but when he is back at school and in a challenging situation all the theory disappears. And what DS perceives as a 'challenging situation' is often nothing at all. I've seen him burst into tears or lash out because someone has quite innocently brushed past him or bumped into him gently in a queue. He has no compunction about hitting smaller kids either and even has a problem with babies looking at him (sends him into growly sulks).
The school has worked closely with DS and myself, he has 2 learning support teachers plus what is virtually a 1-on-1 classroom assistant who also organises structured play for him at breaktimes. I have had regular meetings with all relevant staff members and have been consulted regularly on a number of different strategies which have no really worked. So it's not as if I/ we have been passively observing for the last 2 yrs. The school has now referred DS to an educational psychologist and an occupational therapist but I wonder if I should be heading to my own GP about this? I feel extremely vulnerable as a single parent as everyone's first thought will inevitably be, 'How is this child being raised?' I'm terrified he's going to be thrown out of school or after school club (I wouldn't be able to work even without after school club) and even more terrified that they are going to find something so wrong in how I'm parenting that SS will be involved and he'll be taken away from me.
Thanks for reading if you've got this far.
(I should probably point out that he's never been called fat (he isn't) or stupid (isn't that either) and I have no clue where he's picked up ideas about killing himself or others. He's a great sleeper and a good eater and has a pretty good diet. I'm not a perfect mum and I yell at him sometimes when no doubt I should be speaking in a calm and resolute manner, but in all honestly have not had to yell all summer, he's been that lovely while off school. I'd so hoped this would be a fresh start but it's already worse than ever.)
oh my love, it sounds awful... you poor thing. <squeeze>
i just don't have anything helpful to say, you do sound like you're doing everything you can. i hope someone can come along with the beginning of an answer for you, but i just wanted to offer my support.
Poor you and poor DS. have you spoken with your HV about how to handle this, You may wait a while on an educational phycolgist (spelling?) but your HV will be able to discuss the issues with you fairly quickly.
I am that your friend has dumped you because of this, IMO she was not a true friend.
Do you have people to speak to in RL about this, maybe they can see something that you are missing. Feel free to look for me and have a moan anytime you like.
I am really sorry you are going through this and I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about but ...
... is it just at school that he is having problems? What abot playgroups and activities that you take him to? Or just on a 1-on-1 basis with a friend? Maybe he finds the whole school envirnment overwhelming and can not cope.
Maybe if you try and find him one friend .... from a new activity or whatever, where he can start with a clean slate ... maybe it could help?
Mummery, where about in the country are you?? There are a lot of people on here from Scotland (incl me) who may be able to offer practicle help i.e meeting with you etc?
No-one really to speak to (small family, not close, hundreds of miles away anyway).
I haven't contacted HV because I thought they aren't involved any more once your child is of school age?
I feel totally nauseous as hometime approaches. The other mum was practically shaking with rage when she said 'come and see what he's done to (her DC)' and I was just so horrified when she showed me the injury...so clearly done with deliberate force...can't begin to tell you
I told my mum on the phone that I was beginning to worry I was raising a psychopath and she laughed, but I wasn't really joking. DS is obviously quite seriously troubled but I don't know why, or how to reverse this pattern of development, or how to help him just be happy and enjoy life and be able to function normally.
This sounds really hard and I don't have any sensible advice (apart from GP and HV as well as psychologist).
I did wonder though whether you've dared to try any sport/martial arts classes. It might sound dumb, but my friend who was dangerously hyperactive and rather violent as a child was taken along to judo by his parents at 6y and it changed his life. (If you met him as an adult, you'd barely know he'd been adhd, except for the fact that he bounces around, and is very highly trained in several martial arts...) If it doesn't work (or your DS hates it) then you've not lost much.
I hope you get some better ideas soon.
It does sound as if he needs outside support so I'd welcome the offer of an ed. psych. although I don't kow how long you'd have to wait.
It also does sound as if the school environment just isn't suitable for him - does he have any sensory overload type issues? He also sounds very insecure and unconfident - maybe try some strategies for boosting his self-esteem?
DS attends regular sporting classes and says he enjoys them although after only a couple of sessions the teachers wanted a word privately and asked if he had 'learning difficulties', they are v.experienced though and coping with his behaviours in that context.
He has a couple of younger members of his dad's family near me who I invite over regularly at weekends and take out for trips or have at home for playtime. These are his only regular young social contacts though and usually problematic, he is very physical, controlling (ie, 'you will play with this toy exactly how I tell you, or I will thump you').
I am almost too scared to try making new contacts, how can you invite parents to introduce their kids to your kid when you know your kid is likely to attack them at some point. I have made contacts online before and never followed through to a meeting because of this concern.
I completely know how you feel. I have a similar problem with my DS who's 6.
He's not terribly violent but his school have a lot of problems basically with not beign able to get him to do anything he doesn't wnt to do.
He is a jekyl and Hyde boy, really good at home and really not at school.
I don't know what to do either. He has been refered to an educational psyxcologist and the community paediatrician too. Perhaps you could suggest this to your school?
I found it easier to cope with once the SENOC explained to me that they don't think my DS has much chice in how he behaves, they don't label it as 'naughty', but as his coping mechanism, for whatever reason. They wouldn't label a child with Autism as naughty, so thy shouldn't with this either.
What was he like before he started school? Has he always been like this? Do you think it might help if you brought him out of school for a while?
Perhaps contact a home-ed group and see if that is an option for you?
Have the school ruled out all possible special needs like Aspergers?
Have they put coping mechanisms in place and policies for identifying triggers for your DS etc.? Do they monitor what makes him worse or better?
I feel very, very sorry for you from your post. You are clearly trying your very best for your son.
Can I suggest that to me the information that you give suggests the possibility of Autistic Spectrum Disorder?
The things that make me say this are:
Noise making (esp. if you mean him making odd vocalisations)
Lack of empathy (the arrogance towards you as well as his reactions to his peers)
The apparent sensory difficulties ie he perceives a light brush from another child as something very significant and threatening to him
I would go to your GP and press for a referral to your local Child Psych.
Do not be afraid that someone will take your child away from you.
Does he have any obsessive or compulsive behaviour?
Does he have any mechanisms he uses to self-comfort that he could use at school too? (my DS spins things, it calms him down and keeps him focussed for example)
Yes the class I mentioned is judo and he does love it although as I said his behaviour is noticeably problematic.
He has also done dance and yoga in the past, the only reason we stopped is because he outgrew the classes, I am looking around for replacements. We have also just bought ourselves hiking boots and done a couple of long rambles, I'm hoping that (as well as being fun) it will contribute to his self-esteem and sense of self-reliance.
There is a long wait for the occupational therapist, we were referred in the spring and I calculated we would be seen sometime in October. Ed.Psych. the referral was done in the summer term and no idea of timescale.
Tbh I would lean towards home education if I was in a position but I need to work, I don't want to be on benefits (been there, done that) and even if I did, would not receive enough to fund the place I live in now. We would have to move and also not be able to afford the extra activities we do now.
See your own GP. Do it asap, for the reasons given above. It might be that you need some additional, specialist, help.
You sound like a fantastic mother, btw. I take my hat off to you.
I also recommend sports/exercise. Lots of it. Football, swimming, martial arts. Long cycles. To get rid of some of the energy.
Whatever happens at school, try not to let it affect how you interact with him at home, it is very important that he has the stability of you and his home, as he is obviously really struggling to cope with the school environment.
I am very apprehensive about the start of term for DS myself
Could you push for a TA for your DS so he has someone one to one with him in the classroom? My DS has this and it makes a big difference.
I have thought that he might be somewhere on the autistic spectrum though because his behaviour is (generally) different - ie ok - at home I have my doubts. He doesn't do things particularly obsessively though he does have the occasional unusual interest or foible eg currently it's a fascination with cheeks (sounds funny but it's true), he is always fondling mine and saying he likes the softness, he tries to do this to kids at school and for obvious reasons this leads to altercations. There is really no other repeated habitual behaviour though and the vocalisations are only at school, not at home.
Similarly when he was very little where was nothing noticably compulsive except for one particular toy, an ELC washing machine, he had 2 successively and wore them out making them/watching them spin with different toys inside.
Or maybe I'm just not seeing things right. He'll spend all day transforming one transformer back and forth but I read that as ordinary playing. Am I wrong?
Overmydeadbody - thanks for posting I feel so much like I'm the only one with a child like this. What is SENOC and what is a TA?
This does not sound like you are doing the wrong thing - more that your DS needs some specialist help.
I agree with LaDiDaDi - that's what I thought on reading your posts. It seems that he's fine on his own / with you, but cannot cope with the variables involved when there are other children around.
Can you go to your GP with a very clear, description of the difficulties he is facing and ask for an appropriate referral asap?
Maybe he can cope at home with you, because all your attention is going on him. Everything you do is structed around him and he doesn't need to share anything, either toys or you with anyone else. How is he coping with the school work? His speech delay could be causing frustration.
He might not cope with the social side of school, either he has sensory issues or is unnable to feel comfortable for another reason. So reacts in an aggressive mannner. Definitely go with the Ed. Psych.
Hope he can get some help. Good luck.
it doesn't sound like the school has been very pro-active in helping you and him tbh. it's awful that you've been goiingthrough this alone.
oh wow...what a post!!
have to say,we have a child who sounds similiar to your ds,in my own sons class. i don't know how its handled as not been affected ourselves yet! but i do know how the parents gossip,so really feel for you there,and won't ever involve myself in there nastiness! have heard your side now,and really feel bad for you!
am wondering if he does have a special need like other posters have said. seems to be a social problem,and relationship forming,so if i were you i'd keep up with the school advice. its getting worse as he gets older and develops more of an understanding?
just a thought...does he have a pet? how is he with animals? perhaps the responsibility of caring for another would help?
oh mummery ( huge hug) sorry i don't have much advice but you sound like you are doing your best for your son , please try hold your head up at the school gates , imo its the other mums who are frowning upon you who should be embarrassed , i think a visit to your gp might be a good idea , it might rush the tests along ,
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