He acts out everywhere but at home

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by taalix, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. taalix

    taalix New Member

    I have a 4 year old soon to be stepson. Both he and my fiance have lived with me for about a year.

    What's odd about his behavior is the fact that he doesn't act out when he's with me or his father. It's only when he's at daycare, or, most recently, at his mother's house.

    The fiance and I have been getting calls almost daily concerning kicking, hitting, throwing fits (and objects), lying, not listening, refusing to take naps (which he does still need, because he always acts better when he wakes up) or even lay quietly. The teachers will try to talk to him, put him in time out, etc., but he responds with, "I don't want/have to listen to you." "I want it now." and so on. He kicked his previous teacher (who was 8 months pregnant) in the stomach, and then lied to us about it, even when the teacher told us in front of him what happened that day.

    They seem to think it's our fault. What confuses me is that he does not act like this at home at all, with either me or the fiance. We ask him to do something, and he usually does it with almost no argument. Anytime he does act out, it's because he gets overstimulated and it's usually mild, and a time out or taking away of rewards (toys, cartoons, etc) usually does the trick to calm him down. But he never hits, throws tantrums, or says anything like that to either of us.

    His mother normally says that he acts great around her. But this weekend, my fiance got a call from her where she described the same kind of behavior he has been showing at daycare. Hitting, kicking, tantrums, etc. I suspect that this may be due to a change in his mother's life (she's got a new boyfriend) and that my stepson is not getting her undivided attention that he usually does. So she has no idea how to "handle" him, which is almost the same thing I get from the daycare.

    So here's what I'm asking, I guess. Why would he act one way with us (he knows there are rules, and he can and does follow them)and another with everyone else? Is it our fault he acts like this everywhere else? At home, we try to balance spending time together, choosing battles, etc. I wouldn't say we either a) spoil or b) are too strict. The daycare seems to want to put the blame on us even though fiance and I just see a normal little boy for the most part.

    We've discussed having him evaluated in the next few years, because due to family history, he might have some anger issues, ADD, bipolar, etc. in the mix. However, money is really tight right now and while fiance knows that he has some problems, we don't understand why, if it's a disorder, he wouldn't act that way no matter where he is at.

    We've tried working with the mother, daycare, etc., to get them to help us figure out how to be consistent everywhere regarding discipline, positive reinforcement, etc., but they all have their different way of doing things, and it's not like we can keep him out of all those environments.

    Any suggestions here? Is there anything else we can do?
     
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    This is VERY common with children who have ODD due to some kind of neurological reason. Often if they're acting up at school but not at home it's due to the setting--either they aren't ready to handle school, it's not the right setting and/or teacher for them, they can't cope with the stimulation, structure, etc. If you are seeing behaviors due to stimulation at home multiply that by input from 18 other kids and imagine what it could be like for him.

    Many children do just the opposite and hold it together in the outside world and then fly their true colors at home. This is equally hard because they'll be little angels at school and then come totally unglued the moment they hit the van or house.

    If this were my child I'd go in and observe. If things didn't get better I'd probably try another preschool with maybe a different approach before moving forward for evaluations.
     
  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Welcome! :smile: Does he go to kindergarten next year? If so, you are definitely going to want him evaluated by the school district (even if his pre-k is private). He may be overstimulated or have difficulty transitioning between activities. He can be evaluated for services from the school district after age three.
    Is he covered under some one's insurance? If not he might be able to be covered through your state/province. Your county mental health department may help as well.
    You mentioned his behavior is better upon waking. He may even have a sleep disorder that play into this.
     
  4. taalix

    taalix New Member

    Thank you for your responses.
    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: tiredmommy</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Welcome! :smile: Does he go to kindergarten next year? If so, you are definitely going to want him evaluated by the school district (even if his pre-k is private). He may be overstimulated or have difficulty transitioning between activities. He can be evaluated for services from the school district after age three.
    Is he covered under some one's insurance? If not he might be able to be covered through your state/province. Your county mental health department may help as well.</div></div>
    He will be in kindergarten in fall of 2008.

    He's currently on TennCare, but that will change to private insurance in May. Not sure if TennCare will cover this.

    I'll talk to my fiance about trying to contact the school district to see what's available.

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: tiredmommy</div><div class="ubbcode-body">You mentioned his behavior is better upon waking. He may even have a sleep disorder that play into this. </div></div>

    He sleeps fine at night. He usually falls asleep easily and rarely wakes up throughout the night. He averages between 10-11 hours a night, going to bed around 7:30 - 8:00 PM and waking up around 6:00 - 6:30 AM (usually waking up on his own). He used to watch cartoons when going to sleep, but we cut that out about 3-4 weeks ago to try to teach him to calm himself to sleep.

    I do know that at his mother's house, she tends to want him to stay up all night to play with her, and she doesn't adhere to naps, so I know he's exhausted when he comes home on Sundays from her house. Monday's are usually his worst day, and it could be due to this. We've tried talking to her and explaining how this causes problems for him, but she views it as our problem, not hers.

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: SRL</div><div class="ubbcode-body">If this were my child I'd go in and observe. If things didn't get better I'd probably try another preschool with maybe a different approach before moving forward for evaluations. </div></div>

    He hit and bit a teacher on Monday. Apparently he hit another kid, and she was trying to take his hand and walk him over to timeout. Tuesday, he didn't hit (as far as we know, they're not being great about sending notes home), but he kept making excuses for not laying down at naptime, then threw a tantrum in the bathroom when his teacher caught him playing in the sink and told him to go lay down. Wednesday, I think he hit a few kids (once again, we're not getting the reasons for this.), but other than that, he was better. His teacher put him in a "boring" corner of the classroom with his mat, and this helped put him to sleep.

    The daycare seems reluctant to try things like timeout/cooldowns (which I think he needs when he gets overstimulated, but they say this is now illegal to do in daycares in TN?). When he gets into a full blown tantrum, they try to talk to him (which I know doesn't work cause he's already at a 10). The director and assistant director seem to be excellent, but there's a revolving door for teachers, and I really don't like his current teacher. My fiance thinks all daycares will be like this, and is reluctant to hear me suggest other schools. Of course, I tell him he won't have much of a choice if/when they kick his son out, but this falls on deaf ears. He plans to put him in a different program for Pre-K (there's not a lot of public school Pre-K programs in my area), but that will not be until the fall.

    I'm quitting my current job at the end of March, and will hopefully have some open time at the beginning of April to go and observe. I just know that if he sees me, though, he will act differently, and the way his classroom is set up, it's hard for me to not be noticed by him or the other kids.
     
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I would definitely have him evaluated both privately & through the school district. One nice thing about the school district is that they can go into his school to observe his social skills in the classroom. Most school districts also have some form of universal pre-k that a special needs child will automatically qualify for. You'll want to contact the school this week or next, though, as they are already starting to prepare for next year.
    I suspect your difficult child is having trouble transitioning and using age appropriate social skills. Is there any reason to suspect he may be overwhelmed by too much activity, too bright lights, a loud room, or just too much going on?
    As for the sleep issue, my Duckie doesn't have an actual sleep disorder but allergies make her sleep very restless, so she be fairly unrested even after she puts in her hours. Here's some tips if he suffers from allergies, frequent colds or has had frequent ear/sinus infections:
    *Keep the humidity in the room comfortable. Not too dry!
    *Limit the number of stuffed animals in the room & on the bed to one or two.
    *Change bedding no less than weekly.
    *Keep pets out of the bedroom.
    *Use a saline nasal spray to clean the nasal passages nightly.
    *Make sure he's drinking enough water.
    *Try to keep his bedroom window closed to limit allergens.
    *Use a room sized air cleaner if you live in a heavily pollinated area.
    *Do your best to have him bath or shower daily.
    *Wash outerwear frequently.
    *Don't wear shoes in the house.
    FYI, it always seemed to me like most kids would bounce back from an occasional late night much quicker than Duckie, usually within a day or two. It would take Duckie a week or more to bounce back. I know it's difficult, but is there anyway his visitation could be adjusted? I'm assuming he's there Saturday & Sunday while you and your fiance have him during the work week. My thought is that having a day before going back to school may help greatly, so shifting to a Friday/Saturday schedule would give him Sunday to bounce back some. Unfortunately, you can't make his Mom see the value of good sleep if she doesn't want to hear it.
     
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