My son's behaviour at school disappoints and embarasses me, and makes me feel guilty

(89 Posts)
MerryMarigold Tue 08-Nov-11 16:37:10

I feel completely in at the deep end here. He is my first child, so I'm learning about school, as well as kids in general and him specifically. He's in Yr 1 and we had a hard year last year. He found it very hard socially, academically and behaviourally. He got quite stressed and so did I. I thought it may be the teacher, but this year the teacher is great and we have the same issues, is him. And it is me. What can I do to help him? I want it to change this year.

Let me give you some facts.
- He can't sit still at carpet time
- He's often missing playtime as a punishment (for fighting or not finishing work)
- He finds it hard to focus/ concentrate unless it is playing lego/ drawing
- He messes about a lot - silly behaviour
- His behaviour at school is worse than at home and it is also worse at home during term time than in the holidays

It was the school assembly today and I was mortified to see him just messing about in the back row with his friend and not really joining in the song properly. The children looked so sweet singing their hearts out, but he wasn't one of them. He and his 'friend' were the ONLY 2 messing about.

Anyone have thoughts as to why his behaviour is bad? And how to correct it. At home and ant strategies school could use. We are not afraid of discipline, but it doesn't seem to work that well on him (he gets unhappy and behaves worse if gets it a lot).

It's parents' evening tomorrow. I'd like to go in with some ideas! And I will also update you on what the teacher thinks when she tells me.

OP’s posts: |
ChildofIsis Tue 08-Nov-11 16:41:35

I couldn't read this and not respond.

I don't know what to suggest apart from going to parents evening with an open-mind and to ask the teacher if they have any recommendations.
They see thousands of children in their career so I assume they will have experienced similar from other children.

It's clear you want to help your DS to settle in, that's the biggest hurdle dealt with.
Is it worth seeing the GP about this?
I do hope you get some help with this.
Good Luck.

MerryMarigold Tue 08-Nov-11 16:46:14

Thanks childofisis. I'm definitely going to the parents' evening open minded. She's given us 20min instead of the usual 10, so I assume she has something to say <<quake in my boots>>. I'm one of those people who hopes that 'this too shall pass' always happens so I spent last year hoping it would all get better 'somehow' but as it hasn't I know I need to deal with it and not hope someone else is going to!

OP’s posts: |
Organa Tue 08-Nov-11 16:48:44

Couldn't the teacher have separated him and his friend before the assembly started?

I don't really know what you can do, except to say that DS2 doesn't respond very well to criticism either, but I found reward charts (with a line for good behaviour happy faces and a line for bad behaviour marked as X's) worked wonderfully. I used it in a passive aggressive way. I just marked up good behaviour generously and put X's up after a warning. He hated the Xs because they stayed there until he had five of them and then he had to go bed early that night. As soon as I started using the reward chart, I found it could take a month to generate 5 Xs, so they stayed there a long time as a constant source of shame.

IndigoBell Tue 08-Nov-11 16:54:19

You need to not bury your head in the sand, and not hope 'this too shall pass'

Most importantly if the teacher tries to tell you something you need to let her and not deny it.

It is very possible she knows what his problem is. But she may have problems 'telling you straight'

Could easily be something like ADHD, or something else which she has seen before (lots of times).......

mycarscallednev Tue 08-Nov-11 16:57:55

I think this sounds like anxiety, with your child getting worse as the pressure increases. I feel that this could be something your child has little control over, and is just as scared at his reactions and their interpretations as you are. It may be worthwhile you asking if he can have an assessment, as the way he is treated and 'punished' will be radically different if it is seen that he has difficulties that he has little control over. Labels can be a blessing or a curse, but they can help when a child is struggling and being labeled as naughty, when this isn't actually the case.

OriginalPoster Tue 08-Nov-11 16:58:27

Sorry you're having a hard time with your ds. Im sure you will get good advice here. Tell us how he is at home, with an example of him doing something and how you tackled it and what happened next. School stuff is hard, you're not there, and you can't do anything in that assembly situation. The school will be pleased to know that you realise there's a problem and want to do something about it. You can work on his behaviour at home, and hopefully that will EP at school.


joanofarchitrave Tue 08-Nov-11 16:59:55

Only one person's opinion... but I should think last year did have an impact. He learned that school could be difficult, and perhaps had quite a few negative experiences.

I would take these positives from what you've posted - 1. he has a friend!! Is that a social step forward from last year? Pat yourselves on the back for that. Is it someone he sees out of school? If so, ask them round soon and brace yourselves to do a very hands on playdate, promoting lots of positive behaviours - get active in the park, take them swimming, easy/dramatic games like Kerplunk or Jenga, anything so that you can give them lots of honest praise for attention (even for a few seconds!), good turntaking, good sharing, being fun to be around, and model good behaviour for them. I think the more of that you can do, the better. The brutal fact is that with 30 kids to keep an eye on, the teacher is going to end up noticing negative behaviour and cracking down on it because he/she has to (though I'm sure s/he will do lots of positive behaviour stuff too). Therefore I think it's important to do good time with him and his friend where they both get to do lots of positive things and get praise for it. If they do kick off, say that you can't stay with people who behave like that, separate them and ignore them as much as possible.

Of course it might be a good idea to invite round some other kids as well, especially for specific things like 'help us build a new lego set' and going swimming.

2. He CAN concentrate when he's motivated (like most of us). How long can he sit and do lego for? How long does he draw for? Make sure you praise him for that ability. Do they have times at school when he can display this ability to the teacher (surely they must do!) Re carpet time, could his teacher give him a piece of blu tak to fiddle with? Then perhaps after 3 minutes he could have 2 pieces of lego to fiddle with (and some praise?)

3. It's only the beginning of year 1. So many children have difficulties focusing at this stage. Talk to the teacher - teachers can cope with a lot if parents stay in contact and stay supportive. It's a bit pants that he and his friend were left to start messing about in assembly - the more they know that you are aware of the problem, the better.

OriginalPoster Tue 08-Nov-11 17:04:29

EP? Help...

Georgimama Tue 08-Nov-11 17:05:36

Off the top of my head and not having read other responses in detail, have his vision and hearing been checked? My nephew found reception very hard going - turns out he needed glasses and this was only diagnosed at the end of reception. His concentration, reading and writing improved virtually overnight.

mummytime Tue 08-Nov-11 17:10:38

Talk to the teacher about the specific incident you observed (I would have never put/allowed him and his friend to be next to each other, and would place a TA or teacher strategically near). He should not be being kept in at break, he may well need break time to let off steam, and his behaviour could be deteriorating from a lack of exercise/fresh air.
You could suggest a home school book where they record each session (before break, after break, after lunch) his behaviour, with a sad face, happy face or neutral face. Find out how long they expect him to concentrate on the carpet for, where he sits/is sat, and if his teacher thinks there is a problem.

Popbiscuit Tue 08-Nov-11 17:14:54

Marigold; I could have written your post. I'm afraid I don't have much advice but just wanted to share that I completely understand your feelings of disappointment and embarrassment. I would actually add baffled as I really have trouble understanding my son sometimes as he's so completely different from my husband and I and from my two other children. He's a bright kid and does really well socially (because he's funny and a real ham) but the silliness is really holding him back right now. I always say that he's about as hyperactive as a child can be within the range of normal.
A couple of things I would say is that making him miss playtime may be the wrong punishment for him and that might be something to discuss with the teacher and that perhaps there needs to be a little "fidget room" in the expectation of having him sit still at carpet time (as long as he's not being disruptive or pestering other children). Some kids just need to move more than others, especially at this age. I'm not sure when the fighting is occurring but perhaps the teacher needs to talk to the kids about sorting out grievances and that sort of thing? One thing I have observed about my son is that he's a real extrovert and he seems to need constant social interaction to the point where he will pester, bother or act like a fool until someone, anyone is paying attention (even in inappropriate situations like school assemblies or the school line-up). We are working on this as obviously he has no right to disrupt others.
One of the teachers at DS's school is particularly understanding and has told me that they do start to calm down by year 3. I do hope so.

joanofarchitrave Tue 08-Nov-11 17:17:53

oh yes sorry i agree with mummytime about break - what a darn stupid punishment for a child who can't sit still. Couldn't they have a pasta jar for him instead, or some other consequence?

MerryMarigold Tue 08-Nov-11 17:32:07

Thanks so much for all responses. Have read and am digesting, but need to cook! Off the top of my head...

Popbisuit, "baffled" is a great expression. I wrote "confused" earlier in my own journal, which is more negative! The social thing is interesting. Ds1 has always got very excited by people, even as a small baby. However, he has no control over this excitement and tends to annoy the very kids whose friendship he craves. He is very immature whilst also craving friendship.

The 'friend' is an interesting thread all in its own right. Ds1 absolutely adores only one boy (not sure why, if this boy is the only one who will put up with him, certainly some hero worship as this boy is very clever and mature). This 'friend' is very on/ off and controlling/ dominating. He loves being horrible to ds1 which doesn't seem to diminish ds1's love for him (ganging up on him, telling him he's ripping up his party invite, saying things he's done are rubbish etc.). He loves telling ds1 what to do, which ds1 mostly does. SO, Joanofarc, I am trying to get some distance between them (though we do see him more than other boys as he is the only one ds1 wants to ask round, the others are my idea!) and will be asking the teacher tomorrow night to separate them a bit more in school as it seems they are often allowed to be in each other's pockets which is probably not doing either of them any favours, certainly not ds1.

Will answer other qu's in a bit. Fish pie calling! Thanks for all your help (already)

OP’s posts: |
VonHerrBurton Tue 08-Nov-11 17:32:45

Hi - This ABSOLUTLEY isn't a criticism, before you think it is. Reading your profile, you sound laid back and chilled, living life very much 'as it comes' without a lot of routine. I also saw pics of your (adorable) twins.

Whilst it may well be something other than a 'lively little boy' who has a bit more steam than others to let off, it may also be because of your seemingly relaxed parenting style, and with having the twins ( I have twins age 9 also, so I know they are a handful, even to the most relaxed person! ) school comes with a lot of routine and expectation, especially as they move up through the years, it may just be harder to handle for your ds than others as he has little routine at home.

Let the teacher have her say at parents evening. Really listen. Try not to be on the defensive, it sounds like she has something to say, with the 20 min appointment. She will have suggestions. Try to work with school to begin with. PLEASE come back and let us know how it went.

mycarscallednev Tue 08-Nov-11 17:49:04

Teachers ARE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT, just a look at this, the Home Ed and SEN pages will tell you this. A parents gut feeling is worth its weight in gold.

Popbiscuit Tue 08-Nov-11 17:50:21

YY. Do come back, Marigold, and let us know how the teacher meeting goes.

MerryMarigold Tue 08-Nov-11 18:08:00

Burton, you are very insightul. Yes, I think my parenting style hasn't helped (well actually my personal style: I am quite chaotic though school plus twins has forced me to a bit more structured!). That combined with having the twins and a lack of energy to pour into him, hasn't helped (hence the guilt). Now the twins have just started school nursery (last week), I feel a bit more able to take control of things and get a grip.

Yes, there is definitely anxiety/ over stimulation with him. He finds it hard to go to sleep and wakes up ridiculously early in term time. He's very, very sensitive despite the silly behaviour which makes it look like he isn't IYSWIM.

Mycars, I have thought about home schooling, but feel like I will be running away from helping to solve these issues for him. If I can't get a grip by say Yr3 I would be up for it I think.

OP’s posts: |
mycarscallednev Tue 08-Nov-11 18:17:42

Hi - I now Home Ed, as my son is disabled and was let down in ways that you would not believe by the state school system. He was left to 'get on with it' despite a SEN of 30 hours - not just my opinion but that of the OT who spent time at school with him. - Hence my lack of belief in some peoples God like status they bestow on all teachers. My gripe is not with every teacher - I have an older child who loves school - it's just some just don't want to know if a child is different in any way. A judgement I am allowed to make as I have first hand experience of it! I haven't looked back since Home Ed-ing by the way - and neither has my son - he's 7. From not being able to cope after 2 years at school he is now reading, writing, telling the time, as well as loving education. It's the best thing I have ever done!

Dirtydishesmakemesad Tue 08-Nov-11 19:05:36

my daughter has similar issues although her behaviour is generally good (so she doesnt get punishments etc) she has no concentration, cant sit still or concentrate on work and she has trouble with things liek writing because she loses interest so quickly. She is now in year two.
At parents evening we were told that something they had had success with her in was using an egg timer so for example saying "ok by the time this egg timer finishes you need to have sat still and written one sentence".

Dirtydishesmakemesad Tue 08-Nov-11 19:06:42

oh reading your other post my dd also has trouble making friends.

Sammiez Tue 08-Nov-11 19:31:01


I haven't read through, but quite understand what you are going through. I don't know if this book could help you? 'Divas and Dictators' by Charlie Taylor.

It has helped me immensely! I was just stuck in a rut and needed a jumpstart with my children. If you feel like everything is totally out of control,it might be a place to start?


Sammiez Tue 08-Nov-11 19:36:10

Sorry, book talks about- boundaries, 6-1 praise to 'criticism' ratio, routines,time out-using egg timersetc.

I am still reading the one I got...

Everexpanding Wed 09-Nov-11 15:27:11

Please come back and let us know how your meeting went, could have written your post, school just asked me to come in for chat tomorrow sad need ideas too

tabulahrasa Wed 09-Nov-11 15:52:20

'- He can't sit still at carpet time
- He's often missing playtime as a punishment (for fighting or not finishing work)
- He finds it hard to focus/ concentrate unless it is playing lego/ drawing
- He messes about a lot - silly behaviour
- His behaviour at school is worse than at home and it is also worse at home during term time than in the holidays'

'He is very immature whilst also craving friendship.'

'He finds it hard to go to sleep and wakes up ridiculously early in term time. He's very, very sensitive despite the silly behaviour which makes it look like he isn't IYSWIM.'

That there ^ is almost exactly a textbook list of ADHD traits, obviously I don't know your DS and I'm not qualified to diagnose ADHD nevermind by internet, lol.

But, it might be worth doing a bit of research and seeing if you think it's a possibility, even if it's just so you can completely rule it out.

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