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Change in behaviour

(39 Posts)
acatcalledchinchi Sat 08-Mar-14 19:54:13

I was torn between whether or not to post this in here or in the behaviour forum, but as the issue is mainly at school, I'll try in here!

DS is aged 6.5 and in year 2. He has mild CP and wears an AFO splint on his left leg and a shoe insert for his right foot. He attends a lovely local primary school and up until now, his disability has never been an issue.

The children in his class have known since reception that her wears a splint and have always helped him where necessary, without being overbearing or treating him any differently. He doesn't require any one on one help in class and so he has just always been 'one of the class'. He has had two very close friends in particular since the very start.

However, over the past few months, DS has become increasingly withdrawn, showing a lack in confidence and a general down mood. When we got to the bottom of it, it turns out that his two best friends are now avid footballers and spend every dinner time playing football. They've told DS that he isn't quick enough and can't play football. I informed his teacher who drew up a rota for a different group of children to play with him each lunchtime rather than them playing football that day. It worked well for a couple of weeks, but it seems the children are forgetting, and we are back to the beginning.

Since this has all emerged, DS has become increasingly angry and is having outbursts of frustration and anger at home as though that's the only way he can show his emotions. A once pleasant, respectful and easy going child has now become rude, disrespectful and challenging.

The teacher said that she can't force children to play with certain others if they don't want, and I appreciate that. We have parents evening on Tuesday and I would like to raise the issue again, but I don't want them seeing this as being a nuisance situation if that makes sense?

I really don't know what to do confused

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 08-Mar-14 21:21:45

Can he actually phsically not play football or is it the other boys' perception that he isn't quick enough?

I wonder if the school could use some of the paralympic stuff. I know there were groups had been trying to really get schools to take on board some of the paralympic sports so that all children could take part. I will see what I can dig up, which part of the country are you in?

acatcalledchinchi Sat 08-Mar-14 21:30:26

That sounds fab! We're in Leeds.

He doesn't have the confidence or the ability to run fast and maintain balance. They practise rugby skills in one of the PE sessions each week and I remember the teacher mentioning to me that DS had said he was worried that he would fall over and be laughed at. I think it's become apparent from when they play games like tig that he is slower than the others in his class.

It has really dented his confidence and I'm seeing anger and aggression in him that I'm not used to. He has taken to playing with DD (5, in reception) and her friends at lunch because he said 'he feels safe with her' hmm

Mum1369 Sat 08-Mar-14 21:40:24

We had a similar situation in YR2 with DS1
He went from being extremely confident to quiet, to frustrated, to angry.
Turns out that football was also the key factor. He basically wasn't very interested or very good at it. And another four (very alpha male) boys started in his class. There ensued a six yr old power struggle and my son ended up going from top to bottom of the heap. He's not an aggressive kid and not very good with confrontation, also young for his year.
I'm sorry to say the situation is still going strong in yr 4 although he has got better at dealing with it. I have been to the school and spoken to them at length about it, and whilst they are quite helpful, there is only so much they can do in real terms. I found it all really hard and can sympathise completely with you.
I tried lots of stuff, firstly making sure the school helped him maintain friendships and wasn't getting bullied. Second, lots of support at home and encouragement in other areas instead of football.
The outcome has been that he has managed to find himself a like minded group that he feels secure within. He still has problems with the 'football crowd', but finds it easier to deal with now he feels that he has a couple of people he can relate to and play with.
I would definitely flag it at parents evening, they need to have at least a plan in place and strategies to deal with it. As you are aware of it as it's starting to happen, you and the school can make it much less of an issue, but you need to make sure they are on top of it. If you can get him interested in another club and making a wider circle of friends, that's going to help

acatcalledchinchi Sat 08-Mar-14 21:47:28

Thank you so much for your reply. My heart is breaking for him because my biggest worry when he started school was that he would be treated differently, and all along it was never an issue, he was always just one of the crowd. Obviously as the years have passed, firmer friendships are being made and it just so happens that his two best friends are football fanatics hmm
I mentioned my worries to one of the boys mothers and she said she had noticed they had become distant and arranged for DS to go for tea one night so that they could play without there being anything football related. It seemed to go well, but once back in school grounds, the same issue starts again.

I thought about suggesting to his teacher that maybe he should be allowed use of the ICT suite at lunch so that if he doesn't want to play out, he doesn't have to. He distances himself away from his girl class mates at lunch as they play skipping 'and I'm not a girl' in his words smile but in class, they all form a great group.

My heart breaks for him hmm

acatcalledchinchi Sat 08-Mar-14 21:49:30

I forgot to ask, does your son do any activities out of school? We want to get DS into swimming, which will also help with muscle strength. He loves computers and is a whizz on them. Other than that, he hasn't really shown a specific interest in anything in particular but would love for him to have a hobby to focus on.

Jinty64 Sat 08-Mar-14 21:54:23

What about learning a musical instrument. Ds1 has ADHD and dyspraxia and was never going to be sporty. He just couldn't get the hang of football. He kept picking up the ball which led to the other boys getting really cross. He started violin lessons and took to it like a duck to water. Suddenly he had something he was good at and it gave him a lot of confidence. It won't directly solve the playtime issue but may help his self esteem. Ds now plays in several orchestras and has made many friends and been given so many different opportunities through his music.

Hopefully the teacher can helps a bit more with playtimes.

Smo2 Sat 08-Mar-14 21:54:59

Hi, my daughter has CP, and I would say that this was the age she was starting to discover that she was a bit different, or some things were harder for her etc. we have had to work through lots of behaviour stuff, which we are coming out the other side of now, she's ten and more accepting of her condition. She walks, and rarely uses a wheelchair. In PE, she does what she feels is to the limit of her abilities.

I think that rather than a rota of children to play with him, I would be expecting the school to spend some time at circle time in class talking about how everyone should be included in their games no matter what their ability. I would also be looking to playground supervisors to support the boys playing together and enabling your son to participate with who he wants to play with, by ensureing he feels safeand interacting and supporting their play with them..,not a rota that dictates who has to play with him....that would piss me off, so I'm not surprised he's feeling cross.

It's really important that school ensure that your sons self esteem remains high, that has been a key issue for us. They can do this by constantly highlighting what he is good at, and ensuring that even in sport he still has opportunities to succeed at a level he feels comfortable at.

It sounds like school are listening to you which is good. My daughters school wreaked her self esteem, so badly I moved her. I don't think for a moment you need to do that, but it has highlighted to me how important it is to keep reminding our kids what they are good at, and using lots of praise.

Hope you get somewhere by going in, please ask if you have any further questions x

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 08-Mar-14 21:59:09

have just PMd you

WilsonFrickett Sat 08-Mar-14 22:01:26

Footballs th work of th devil IMO, my boy has social communication issues and really struggles with the team dynamic in football (wants to just run with the ball himself, for example) and often feels very left out.

Last year school ran a social group for him once a week at lunchtime, where a teaching assistant ran a 'special' activity and people earned house points for participating. Obvs they didn't know the point was to help him make friends, it was positioned as a fun thing to do.

He is also very into Minecraft and a few of them play/discuss Minecraft often. I let him play it more than I like, because I want him to have 'currency'.

Really though, school need to be managing the playground better, creating opportunities and situations where he can fit in. And that's what you need to say to them 'how can we work together to help DS build positive relationships and activities in the playground, because at the moment his social isolation due to a focus on physical activity is impacting his ability to reach his potential in school.'

Definitely try swimming though, anything to build his confidence really. good luck.

acatcalledchinchi Sat 08-Mar-14 22:02:07

Smo2- fab reply, thank you. I will definitely mention about maintaining self esteem. He has come from being below average in all lessons to now being where he should be, so I feel that school should be seeing he is a child who is capable, determined and focused and to make the most of these qualities.

I must admit, when his teacher told me about the rota, I did think WTF? However she is a lovely teacher and I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She said she asked everyday for a around a fortnight about how the rota was going, but then just stopped because she presumed all was well, and that was when I saw her on the second occasion DS acted entirely out of character at home and we learnt it was to do with the football again.

The worst thing is, he is having serial casting this week for 3 weeks, so will be in a pot until the beginning of April. He had it done when he was in year 1, but back then there wasn't any issues with play time etc. I'm dreading the next few weeks for him.


Mum1369 Sat 08-Mar-14 22:02:24

Crikey it all sounds so familiar. I think it's also an age thing, they all start to get so much more competitive and can't seem to just play, without having the whole 'posturing for position' battle. I think my son found it hard not to be top dog anymore, and just wasn't as mature as some of the others and found a lot of the other kids aggression very scary. He also took to playing with the younger kids to feel safe. It's horrible to see your child going through that and not being able to be with them to help, I really feel for you.
Honestly, he will get through it, and I feel that he has to learn in life to deal with these situations and find a way through it ( I just wish it could have been put off for another 10 years!!!)
Your DS obviously has additional problems to deal with - and the change in behaviour is certainly a reflection of the anger and frustration he is feeling at not being able to be where he wants to be with his friends. What really helped my DS was just finding his niche, and finding people who were like him personality wise, instead of trying to be with the kids who he thought he should be like.
Football is a real divider, or it certainly was at DS's school. It split the kids into very distinct groups, although two years down the line that is starting to change again
It's a difficult period for him, and not one that should be under estimated in terms of making sure he keeps his self esteem and confidence. You need to be on it and taking action. Find other clubs he will like and subsequently he will make new friends with the same interests. It's such a hard time for them, but make sure he keeps talking and being open with you, so he can vent, and you know what's going on.

WilsonFrickett Sat 08-Mar-14 22:02:57

Oh, and due to his social issues DS has always preferred to hang out with slightly younger children, I'm not bothered about that tbh. School is the only place in the world where we're segregated by age after all - although I do understand you want him to be accepted by his peer group.

acatcalledchinchi Sat 08-Mar-14 22:05:49

Jinty64- that's amazing that your son now plays in many different orchestras. That must be a fantastic confidence booster.

School only offer violin, and because his CP slightly affects his left hand too, he would have struggled to hold the violin properly, but I think it's worth asking if they can recommend anything else.

I wondered whether or not I should ask to see occupational therapy? Not entirely sure how they could help, but I remember they were very practical when he used them in reception.

Mum1369 Sat 08-Mar-14 22:09:37

Chess? Get a clubs list from the school if they have one, and have a chat about what he wants to try. And as with the other posters comments, make sure the school is good at praising and recognising the children who are good at other activities and making sure it's not all about sport. The other kids need to recognise achievement in all areas, and if it's championed in assemblies, the other kids will value it's worth a bit more

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 08-Mar-14 22:11:03

in addition to my PM, have a look through this with him and perhaps contact some of the clubs. Now I am not in any way suggesting he should only do sports with disabled people, what I am thinking is that if you can build his confidence in his abilities then that will really help. I remember when my mum was a teacher she said one of the best children in her class in the gymnastics/PE sessions was one who had one leg shorter than the other, he worked harder, he learned what he was supposed to do, he tried, he practiced and he was a lot fitter than the other kids, he wouldn't give up and he was actually very good. If your son could do some level of sport out of school then he would gain confidence, I assume sport would be good muscle exercise for him and his general fitness would increase and perhaps some of his friends could try some of the less regular sports that are available? I do believe the school could do something, what about they invest in some outdoor games like giant chess or something that doesn't involve running around? I think they can definitely make an effort to try and get some disabled sports into school to try like they did before the 2012 Paras so all children get to try out things like sitting volleyball or wheelchair basketball.

I find it so sad to think a little boy the same age as my daughter can feel left out like this at lunchtimes.

acatcalledchinchi Sat 08-Mar-14 22:11:15

Thank you all for your supportive replies, I really do appreciate it. There are some fantastic points to raise at parents evening wink

I sometimes don't know how to handle him at home because I'm not used to this behaviour from him and it's so upsetting because I know the whole reason behind it. He still needs to ride a bike with stabilisers because he physically cannot push the left pedal hmm I try as much as I can but with two other children, I cannot often give him as much attention as I want to. I feel guilt and upset from every angle confused

Hogwash Sat 08-Mar-14 22:13:13

Are there non-sporty boys or girls he could befriend? We seem to produce not particularly sporty children, but there are usually others that they can find common ground with. It seems that boys seem to split themselves into the footballers and non footballers at about this age.

Like Wilson said, it's sometimes about them finding common ground with others, even if it's not stuff you would necessarily want them to be concentrating on.

acatcalledchinchi Sat 08-Mar-14 22:17:20

He has become quite close to one girl in his class (who apparently also likes football confused) and I've heard he can become quite protective if anybody else tries to play with them as he is worried that she will leave him to go off and play with the others hmm completely heartbreaking.

I need to be thankful that he doesn't wake up on a morning and be filled with dread about going to school. Work wise, he has progressed immensely so far this year. I guess I just always knew that at some point, that this whole situation would rear it's ugly head hmm

WilsonFrickett Sat 08-Mar-14 22:20:00

Pants, just lost a huge post. Is there a club he'd like to start? Two p6 girls in our school set up a skipping club last year, wrote to the PTA for funds and everything. Could he set up a music club, nature club, chess club himself (supported by a TA if necessary?).

Also re the bike, how would he do on a micro scooter? All the cool kids at DS school have them which was a god send when DS couldn't manage his bike.

WilsonFrickett Sat 08-Mar-14 22:20:49

Also yy to the OT. They tend to be practical and helpful so definitely bring one in if you can.

acatcalledchinchi Sat 08-Mar-14 22:27:40

What a fab idea about setting up his own club smile will get onto him for ideas! I have a friend on PTA which might help me make a step in the right direction!

Will go on the hunt for scooters too grin

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 08-Mar-14 22:32:43

don't be down on yourself about the bike riding. Can he scoot?

TheGruffalo2 Sat 08-Mar-14 23:17:00

As a teacher, football is the bane of my life! Problems from playtime, and even weekend football club, spilling into the classroom take up so much time to unpick and it impacts on the dynamics of the classroom so much. Sorry I have no more suggestions, but you have my sympathies.

One aside; asking for your DS to use the ICT suite at lunchtimes or playtimes may not be possible unless it is regularly used as a breaktime club. He can't use it without a member of staff in there as well. At my school we don't have enough midday supervisors to supervise the dining hall, playground and ICT suite or library that children would like, and staff have enough to do over lunchtimes (plus technically they are legally entitled to a lunchbreak even if they don't actually take one!). If there is already an ICT club running it may be possible, but if that is not the case it may not be a viable solution.

Mum1369 Sat 08-Mar-14 23:20:46

To be honest, at the moment he probably just wants to fit in, and doing that within the normal realms of school activity is probably the best way forward

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