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Reception - first parents' evening. My DS's anger.(long)

(23 Posts)
tanfastic Wed 24-Oct-12 13:00:14

I've posted before about my DS and his temper. He's always had one, since he was a baby with enormous tantrums starting way before the terrible two's lasting an hour or more several times a day. When he was two he would come home from nursery, walk through the door, throw himself on the floor and scream non stop for what seemed like forever. Probably due to tiredness. When he was three the tantrums became fewer but more physical with him lashing out and destroying objects in the house. He regularly had me and DH in tears and feeling absolutely desperate about what to do about it. We tried everything that the HV/books/websites/supernanny (!) recommended we were latterly was referred to CAHMS and offered a parenting course (that we couldn't go on because we both work and it's on a Wednesday afternoon). CAHMS weren't interested as DS too young in their opinion.

Now this is the good bit....

Since starting school this year his behaviour has dramatically improved at home. He is an angel most of the time. He still has outbursts but they are few and very short lived. He is polite, lovable, helpful and plays nicely with other children. He can be stubborn and cheeky but I put that down to normal four year old behaviour. He still tries to hit me sometimes but we do not tolerate it, he goes straight into time out where he will scream and carry on for a bit but it's short lived. He is sleeping a lot better too since starting school. I'm chuffed to bits that he appears to be settling down.

However he has had two major outbursts since starting school that the teacher has spoken to us about. The first was week two when he refused to sit where the teacher told him at lunchtime (possibly because it was next to a boy he didn't know) and then threw himself on the floor in protest but then that escalated with him lashing out and screaming and kicking the water table in the classroom.

The second was a couple of days ago when the teacher asked him to come to her as she wanted a word with him (I assume because he did something he shouldn't have) and he said "no" and then she gave him three chances and when he didn't comply she put him down the behaviour chart on "red" which is the bottom of the chart. Apparently he completely lost it, angry, screaming that he didn't want to "go down the chart" and was quite physical she said doing thrusting punching movements with his arms. They had to take him outside the classroom as it was going on and on and becoming disruptive in the class. He then calmed down, was remorseful, said sorry etc.

At parents evening we only had a five minute consultation which was basically the teacher telling us the above. She said he has massively improved though, plays lovely with other children, is a lovely boy and most of the time she doesn't know he's there, so in other words only draws attention to himself when he's having these massive outbursts. She said the anger she's witnessed isn't normal but the majority of the time he is what she'd consider "normal". She said her concern was that he would hit one of them and then it would "have to be dealt with".

I'm worried now. He won't talk to me about it and i've tried until i'm blue in the face to tell him that hitting isn't acceptable and he just says "okay mummy i'm sorry". The teacher seems to think he can't help it. She says he's like a Jeky'll and Hyde and it's most bizarre but she seems quite concerned about the anger he displays. So the whole five minutes was taken up with what a bugger he's been at school with about ten seconds of ...but he's lovely, plays nicely is very popular etc. He loves school, gets excited about it and has made some nice friends but i'm worried that he will be excluded if one day he does actually hit a teacher. The teacher is very nice, says he has a good bond with the TA (who he tells me he prefers) and that the TA seems to know how best to handle him and talk him round.

At home we do the time out and ignore. They are doing that at school too and it does work to an extent but you do have to catch it at the right moment for it not to escalate and for him to completely flip his lid. Obviously out of a class of 30 children they will not be able to apply this kind of attention to my DS as it would be impossible.

He has speech and language difficulties and is under the SALT for a stammer that comes and goes and he is a very anxious child but other than that no other special needs have been pointed to me as yet. His stammering does seem to affect his behaviour i.e. the worst his stammer is, the worse he behaves.

I'm not unconvinced he isn't somewhere on the autistic spectrum but everybody i've spoken to is telling me it's too early yet and I do agree to an extent that he seems to be slowly growing out of his temper problems and that if I get him labelled then it's just a label.

I just wondered if anybody had any words of wisdom - has anyone experienced these settling in problems in reception and if so how did it pan out?

Thanks for listening if you have got this far!

tiggytape Wed 24-Oct-12 13:11:39

The teachers and TA in reception are probably very reliable at telling you if they think behaviour is not normal. They see an awful lot of children every year some of whom find settling in very hard. If the teacher says this behaviour goes beyond what is 'normal' for a child of that age, I would tend to think that she must be right and something does perhaps need investigating.

And an assessment for ASD (or any condition) doesn't mean labelling - it means help. If he doesn't have ASD, the expert will tell you and help you start to invetigate other options. You should ask your GP for a referal if the school haven't already done this and start the ball rolling. As you say, he may grow out of it but if the teacher is already concerned that his behaviour could cause serious problems for him, then an expert's view on things should be able to tell you more and how to help.

educatingarti Wed 24-Oct-12 13:13:19

Well- as I was reading your post the ideas of Autistic Spectrum came up for me too (and I've worked with some children on the spectrum). If so the melt-downs often come because whatever they are being asked to do is just too much for them to cope with anxiety-wise so they just explode! Obviously I'm not saying your DS has ASD, just that it came to mind for me. It might be worth seeing your GP and seeing what he/she thinks? I'd not worry about "labelling" him. If he hasn't got ASD it is very unlikely it would be diagnosed as having ASD and in my view a label isn't just a label. It can open doors to additional support ( if needed further down the line - its sounds like he is coping OK for now) and, for example, teachers and TA's might decide to do some additional training on managing ASD in the classroom if needed.

tanfastic Wed 24-Oct-12 13:20:46

Thanks. Yes that is what my head is telling me. Me and DH have been wavering for a long time now about whether to go to the GP but this latest improvement had made us believe that he was growing out of it. The HV didn't seem to think he had any problems but then her job is redundant now.

When the teacher first told me about his first outburst (two weeks in) I did mention that he maybe needed to be assessed but she said it was too early in her opinion and that he may settle down which he seemed to be doing until this latest incident.

I do think that you've hit the nail on the head educatingarti when you say "the meltdowns often come because whatever he is being asked to do is too much for him to cope with". I remember one day at nursery just before he left he wouldn't partake in the school photo and he got more and more anxious about it until I had to take him home. When we got home he had a massive meltdown.

educatingarti Wed 24-Oct-12 13:32:46

He might benefit from someone (maybe the TA) taking him to one side at the beginning of the day and explaining the structure of that day to him so nothing comes as a surprise.

tanfastic Wed 24-Oct-12 13:36:36

Well it's funny you should say that because the SALT said she was going to recommend to the school that they do a visual timetable for him so that he can see what is going to happen next with a view to reducing his anxiety levels.

midseasonsale Wed 24-Oct-12 13:55:51

It's great that he is much better these days. I too would be very concerned about his rages though. He needs some help with anger management as he could do some serious damage at some point - to things or people.

Look up the national autistic society on the internet if you have concerns. They have a check list of things to look out for etc.

educatingarti Wed 24-Oct-12 14:08:23

smile A visual timetable sounds great!

mimbleandlittlemy Wed 24-Oct-12 15:16:13

Sounds incredibly like my own ds who was finally diagnosed with ASD in Y5 after long running ups and downs at nusery/school. In some ways we were lucky as school called in the council's behavioural people very early on - before Christmas in YR - so he was monitored and on School Action Plus from then onwards, but as you can see it still took a long time until CAMHS got their act together and diagnose.

Visual timetables really do help - it lets them understand what's happening each day in a clear way. All the KS1 TAs used to take ds to one side each day and talk through his. My ds also had a TA in Y2 who just took him outside and ran him ragged round the playground for a bit if things were starting to go a tad haywire and that release of energy really helped. He also had a picture book photographed and made by his Y1/Y2 teacher with pictures of things he did during the day - working in class, playing nicely at breaktime etc - that was kept in the classroom for him to refer to so he could remember what was expected. He was also taught little ways to manage his temper, though not altogether sure they always work sad.

Don't think of anything as labelling if people do end up suggesting getting him assessed for ASD. I got into this about Y3 when every one seemed to be dragging their heels - and I decided labelling was going to be the worst possible thing, but then as secondary school loomed much closer on the horizon I actually realised that we needed labelling before he got there. DS isn't statemented - statements in our borough are now as rare as hen's teeth - but when he moves on next year at least they have copies of his reports from CAMHS so the SEN departments wherever he ends up know what's coming.

Good luck - sounds like you manage him brilliantly at home, and that actually the school are doing well - but I do know how difficult it can all be. biscuit wine brew (why isn't there a chocolate one...??)

RiversideMum Wed 24-Oct-12 18:10:05

He is not too young to be diagnosed with ASD. I've had children come into my class (reception) with a diagnosis already in place, and with a statement in some cases.

tanfastic Wed 24-Oct-12 18:26:55

Riverside, have you seen reception children behaving as mine has been? If so have they got ASD?

LindyHemming Wed 24-Oct-12 19:09:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tanfastic Wed 24-Oct-12 19:15:34

No not in my son's class.

LindyHemming Wed 24-Oct-12 19:20:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FedUpOfSlugs Wed 24-Oct-12 22:16:15

your DS sounds similar to mine (now yr5). He had and still has explosive temper tantrums which have been very violent at times (thankfully not at the moment). He rarely had problems at school, but would have meltdowns in the evening or before school. my Ds is also anxious and has had speech and language problems - speech delay at around 4 -6 years old.

As has become older other problems like socialising have become more apparent , and he was recently diagnosed as High Functioning Autistic.

It doesn't mean your son is on the spectrum of course, but I feel it would be worth looking into. Having a diagnosis isn't about getting a label but getting understanding. We are learning new ways of helping our DS so that he doesn't have meltdowns, school are putting things in place to make school life less stressful for him. It also helps him to understand that there is a reason he finds some things harder than other people do, and that there are people around him who want to help and understand so that he can be as happy as possible.

tanfastic Wed 24-Oct-12 22:36:21

Thanks for all your replies. It helps a lot smile

Had a chat with DH tonight and he agreed that we maybe ought to go and have a chat with the GP and see what he says about it all. In the past i've felt that people haven't taken my concerns seriously. Even my mum thinks i'm being ridiculous even though she has witnessed his outbursts. When I take him out socially and to parties he's an angel. My friends can't believe there is this other side to him.

Tonight he had a bit of a meltdown over something and nothing. He kicked me and I put him straight upstairs. Much wailing could be heard and then he came down really upset, gave me a cuddle, said sorry and all was good with the world again. It lasted at most ten minutes.

Jenny70 Wed 24-Oct-12 22:50:48

It may be that some "else" is going on with your child, but mine had similar issues with self control and is slowly growing out of it.

For us, hunger is a MAJOR component. If he skips any meal/snack, he turns into a completely irrational beast... nothing you can say will break his meltdown. If he starts to act out, feeding him will often mean he will listen to reason when things don't go his way.

Of course, at school this is proving difficult - he sometimes doesn't like the fruit they provide and school lunches will be interesting when he starts them.... I have mentioned this to his teacher (about the hunger) and have a snack in his bag, but not sure she would actually feed him before the meltdown.

Just another factor to think about in the mix. I often give my son an additional snack as he stands in line for school and come to the gate (at 12) with food in hand. The 10min walk home without a snack means the whole afternoon is derailed.

nomorelostweekends Wed 24-Oct-12 23:17:00

It certainly sounds like a visit to your GP might be helpful. It might help to write some of your concerns down so you don't forget some of the detail. I diagnose ASD as part of my job. Some of the things you have said do fit with a problem with social communication, but obviously the assessment is very in depth and its impossible to really know just by reading some posts on the internet! I hope your GP listens and takes your concerns seriously. It certainly is not too soon for an assessment.

DD1 is anxious and has 'meltdowns' - they have never happened at school but often at home. It took DP and I a while to work out that threatening a consequence or applying one (taking something away, time out etc) makes it worse. The meltdowns seem to occur when she is overwhelmed by a feeling or when she really feels she needs to do something but someone else has asked her to do something else. She is torn by doing the right thing, because she really wants to be 'good' and doing what she feels she need to do. Any kind of consequence just makes it more stressful for her and she gets upset that she has made us cross or upset. So we just try to be really chilled, gently tell her what we think the dilemma is and wait to discuss it when she is calm. The incidents have got much less frequent (although i think it is also her age). I am very clear that its not okay to hurt anyone etc but do it by talking about it after the event.

Not sure if that helps. Some times i think its good to try something completely different,especially if with children who are overwhelmed or anxious rather than being 'naughty'.

Good luck :-)

steppemum Wed 24-Oct-12 23:42:19

my ds has a massive temper, and we have struggled with it. I recently did a parenting course and one week was about anger and tantrums. One of the things mentioned was that when someone gets very angry a chemical floods their brain. This chemical floods the front of the brain which is the area responsible for decision making. We have noticed this with ds, that sometimes he is cross and sometimes he is beyond reason in his anger/temper. We have found that as soon as he gets like this we need to stop all discussion and reason, and put him in a place where he can calm down. ds is older so he goes to his room. It can take up to an hour for the chemical to clear (and we have seen that too) once cleared, then you can talk about what happened.

I don't know if that helps, but it helped me to change what I did and to understand why he is so unreasonable, and to modify my expectations.

It might help if at school he has a palce he can go which is safe and he can express his anger, and he knows he will be given enough time to work through it.

If he does have some kind of ASD, then this would also give him time out from whatever is overstimulating him. It can be as simple as a bean bag in the book corner that he can bury his face in.

Mutteroo Thu 25-Oct-12 02:18:12

Not too young to be diagnosed. We had a class for children with ASC at DC's primary school plus many children in mainstream with a diagnosis right from nursery age. Hopefully your son can get some help promptly whether he is on the spectrum or whether there is another reason for his behaviour. I'm also going to add my opinion on the label scenario. My DC both have dyslexia. Both bright children who were missed because they were meeting expectations all through primary school. When my son received his diagnosis, his first comment was "thank goodness for that!" It has now meant additional help has been offered which has enabled DC to access education throughout their senior years & neither child considers they have a label.

I wish you all the best with this dilemma & hope you find some resolution. Sunday like you have a wonderful little boy there.

endoftherainbow Thu 25-Oct-12 10:23:12

Sounds very similar to our ds although we've not had any speech/language problems. In reception our ds was non compliant on random occasions but also had meltdowns when he couldn't cope. Because he was not thought to fit the 'box' he was treated as naughty and only now in yr2 he's being assessed properly. But still without a dx, the new school has their way of doing things - not always right. The advice is good but I would also meet with school to discuss some support for him and maybe IEPs. This didn't happen for us, so it all went pearshaped as things got out control. It also meant we didn't get ed psych involvement until later. Keep a diary of what is discussed at school etc. It will all help get support put in place should your ds need it.

raindroprhyme Thu 25-Oct-12 10:31:46

This could be my DS1 he hd a terrible temper and had similar outbursts.
He is now 11 at Secondary school and although stil an anxious boy he is so much better at coping with his feelings.

You have a teacher who is willing to work with you and recognises your son's good qualities. grab it with both hands and work with them cos next year you may have ateacher who isn't interested in making to effort to give your son the tools he needs to cope with his feeelings.

tanfastic Thu 25-Oct-12 20:03:40

Thanks all, really appreciate the advice, he's had a great day today, no problems but I'm going to have a word with my gp to see what he says about things. I'll report back smile

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