4.5 lashes out - underlying cause is anxiety

(12 Posts)
VivaRice Tue 10-Jul-18 16:39:39

Hi, I need so guidance.
Quite distressed by it all so please be kind.

DS regularly lashes out (throws objects or hits) when unhappy.

He's 4.5 now. For the past year, he's been having behavioural problems at nursery. After a few months we saw a child psychologist who identified anxiety as the main issue. They recommended one to one sessions to help/teach him how to deal with his emotions with words.
Long story but this didn't happen. Although it's better now, DS still lashes out.

Nursery haven't said much recently. They just tell me there's been an incident and that's that. Or, there's been an incident but your child was not the only one.

Now the private school is starting at in September are making it clear they won't tolerate that behaviour. This is where I get upset. I'm not suggesting for a second it's OK for my child to hit others. I fully understand and support their view/policy.

But where does that leave me? Although school might be better because they have set routines, I have NO confidence DS won't hit.

I've asked this new school the name of psychologists so I can finally follow the recommendation that was made and get one to one sessions.
Personally I don't think this problem is going to go away. I've dreaded picking up DS from nursery for the past year because I fear he's injured someone or that the other children will finally reject him because he hits them. It's been horrible and I can't see the end of it.
Although I'm agree with the teachers it's unacceptable, I've also been powerless to change DS's behaviour. Also when I talk to staff, what I say seems to be held against me (some nursery staff clearly blamed our parenting).

Will this stop? Will this stop after psychological input? If it carries on, what do I do?

OP’s posts: |
livpotter Tue 10-Jul-18 17:02:30

My ds is about the same age (ASD) he used to headband a lot but has now moved on to throwing things instead (which for us is an improvement!).

Do you know what is causing the anxiety?

We used ABC charts at home and at nursery to work out exactly what it was that was causing the behavioural problem. Most of my ds's issues are around separation anxiety, sensory issues and transitions.

We try to avoid things that will set off his anxiety as much as possible. We use visuals to help him have a better idea what is happening now and next.

Have you tried using social stories with him? There's one like 'hands are not for hitting'.

These methods are more for ASD than anxiety but might work for your ds too.

I understand what the new school is saying but I hope that they will be able to work with you and be supportive.

OiWhoTookTheGoodNames Tue 10-Jul-18 19:15:41

DD1 went through a period of lashing out quite violently toward me and DH (thankfully never to other kids or her sibling) - and usually a lot of her belligerent behaviour (it's now been replaced by tweenage smart arse wisecracks and "oh yeah - make me" attitude) was masking when she was feeling anxious - which actually her very fab (gutted she's leaving her) teacher who really "got" her understood and made the connection about.

She has no formal diagnosis of anything (I suspect she'll get an ASD diagnosis at some point once her good-masking strategies at school start to flounder but we'll get no joy off the GP referring her or anything while school aren't seeing problems) but she started to come out the other side of it, apart from a huge regression during transition time, toward the end of Reception and in Year 1 she just flounces about melodramatically and shouts... although increasingly sending her to just sit with the dog and give the dog a stroke and tell the dog about what's upsetting her (which invariably descends into an epic tale of woe) is proving to be a good way of getting her out of it - the dog's quite pleased with the extra tummy scratches and ear scratches too.

Marshmallow09er Tue 10-Jul-18 20:21:08

I think 4.5 will be very young to take any learnings from one to one sessions and apply them to 'real life' situations.

What needs to happen is nursery / school looking at the triggers for when he does lash out.
Is it noise related? People getting too close? Problems with sharing? Misunderstandings in the playground? What is the root cause of his anxiety.
Then support needs to be put in in real time to help your DS.

My DS (9, ASD) did a lot of lashing out at nursery (infact some parents wrote a letter of complaint against him), and also into Year 1. He knew in theory it was wrong, but he become so overloaded and anxious that without the appropriate support in the moment he went into fight or flight mode, and using words instead of actions was impossible for him.

BlankTimes Wed 11-Jul-18 09:32:47

Although I'm agree with the teachers it's unacceptable, I've also been powerless to change DS's behaviour.

You are not powerless, you need to establish what the triggers are for his behaviour, it's not happening "out of the blue" you need to be more observant and see exactly what circumstances cause him to react that way.

Depending on what's triggering for him, you also need to see an Ed Psych and likely Paed and a Sensory OT and a Speech and Language Therapist to ask for a full assessment. The new school should have contacts for private assessments, then the new school can decide whether they can accommodate him with the interventions suggested by the assessments.

Onceuponatimethen Wed 11-Jul-18 10:23:35

Try not to panic op and I’ve been there so I know exactly what it’s like!!

1) many children go through phases of hitting either mild (more common or severe (less common)

2) most of these kids learn to stop. I know personally a child who had a very significant hitting issue, has now stopped and happy at school aged 8 with no dx, but still struggles somewhT with emotional regulation. One of my dc temporarily hit at school and she is now older, never hits at school, has probable asd traits but no dx and manages with a bit of extra support.

3) even many children who do get an eventual dx can learn to stop this behaviour - we have a close friend with a dx dd who never now hits at all.

4) you need to concentrate on a) why is it happening - what are the triggers, b) agreing with his new school a combination of managing the behaviour with prevention (social stories), avoiding (cutting down the triggers if possible eg of loud noise/crowds) and an agreed set of consequences and be briefing - discussing what better choices would have been.

It’s very likely you can resolve this.

Are private school fully aware and are you confident they will keep him at the school if he can’t stop? As I’m sure you know private schools can be poor with behavioural needs

Onceuponatimethen Wed 11-Jul-18 10:24:30

De briefing not be briefing!!

Oleflamenco Wed 11-Jul-18 21:17:07

Thank you for your responses.
Nursery's been bad at giving me clear explanations of incidents (who, what, where, how, why) despite regular requests. Most incidents happen at nursery.

Doesn't mean he's always an angel with us but he seems better. We more have to deal with him being contrary or uncooperative. It's draining.

It's reassuring to see children can get out of this (with or without an official dx). It really doesn't feel like a phase but a permanent state of being.

The school is fully aware but can't offer support. So we're going to start, knowing the likelihood of being excluded is high. Not what I'd want but there you go.

Doing my best to find triggers + find another therapist.

Onceuponatimethen Wed 11-Jul-18 22:01:23

I think you may want to report your post to mn as I think possible name change fail op?

I think you need to really really push current nursery now as if he’s leaving anyway in September you don’t have much to lose. I would suggest demanding meeting with senco and agreeing an action plan for the last few months - you need every incident notified, triggers must be noted, preferably in a home school behaviour diary if they will agree to do that? Then you have a record to show the ed psych. Ideally ed psych should observe in nursery ASAP and be part of formulating the plan. If improvements in behaviour can be made before September that would be so positive for all flowers

Onceuponatimethen Wed 11-Jul-18 22:02:08

Ed psych should come to nursery meetings with you ideally too

Onceuponatimethen Wed 11-Jul-18 22:17:29

I do also wonder about the new school.

Is it worth investigating other options at this stage if this placement will fail?

Are there any places in good local state schools?

Are you in touch with the senco at the new school and can s/he come into nursery to observe? Really in an ideal world it would make sense for them to be part of setting the behaviour plan for the next few months before he starts

Ilovechocolatetoomuch Thu 19-Jul-18 14:08:20

I could have written this myself. My son also starts school in September. He was a lovely toddler and baby very easy going. For the past year I also live in fear of picking him up from nursery, he knows the consequences of his actions but this seems to make no difference. As soon as he has done something he immediately regrets it but it’s too late. I would say he has had about ten incidents this year where somebody has wronged him and rather than telling the teacher he just lashes out. He is a dream at home when it is just us but as soon as we are out he is quite difficult to manage.

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