In a muddle with our 4 year old boy.


New Member
My child is 4 years old and he starting to worry me. We live in France. I am English my wife is French. He also has a little sister of 18 months.

Most of the time he is good as gold. Polite, helpful. But when he “turns” he can be a real terror.

We me he is generally good. I’m quite strict when the need arises.

However he doesn’t really pay much attention to his mother’s authority and none at all to the schools / child minders.

Some of his “symptoms”:-

Sulking over nothing

Crying (really screaming) over very little for extended periods of time (45 minutes to an hour at school)

He Panics if we do something in his place.. eg..

His mother may say to him “zip your coat up” a couple of minutes later he still hasn’t done it so she will say it again.. no result so she leans in to zip it up herself and he scream “aaarrrggghh its me who has to do it just me !!!!” etc

p.s his hearing is fine.

Another eg

The school went for a trip to the school yesterday. All week he was excited about it and “seeing the giraffes” he kept talking about how the giraffe would give him a kiss and how he would bring one home and how it would get all the apples off the tree and give them to the children (he really can be adorable)

Sadly the visit to the zoo didn’t start with the giraffes, they were about half way round… a screaming nightmare ensued..

This is his first year at preschool and they just cant handle him. During a meeting with his teachers The head teacher told us “in all my career i have never had a child like him!”

I have started a “behaviour board” but it is just getting out of hand. Nearly everyday there is an incident at school where he kicks a teacher of screams for an hour.

What bugs me the most is that I don’t want to punish him. I don’t want the teacher to single him out as a “bad kid” or “disruptive child” I want to figure out a way to teach him compassion and to realise how his behaviour affects other people and that acting up is going to make his day worse for him where as being the little angel he can be would make his whole day great.

Can anyone point me in the direction of, well, anything?

by the way we had a meeting with the school psyc and she says he’s great just rigid and said (and I agree with) that if he is bad at school the punishment should be there and then and not carried over to when he gets home.

I think its pointless to punish a four year old in the evening for something he did in the morning, I don’t believe they have the same concept of time as us. He would have half forgotten the “incident” and would have bad behaviour reinforced buy my punishing him for something that, for him, happened ages ago.

Like I said I’m looking for tried and tested ways to reinforce good behaviour..


Well-Known Member
Hi, and welcome.

Can you tell us a little more about your son? What was he like as a baby? Is he a fussy eater? Does he complain about his clothes, or only want to wear certain ones? Does he have any special interest or toy that takes up a lot of his time?

I agree that this doesn't sound like a situation requiring punishment.
I do NOT agree with the school psychiatric. By the way - most of us have problems with school-based resources.

I'm thinking your child needs a really thorough evaluation by someone trained in testing young children - a medical professional, not someone from school. The behavior you describe sounds to me like a kid who is "boiling over", which is usually the result of being overwhelmed. School tends to be noisy, and full of all sorts of sensory overload. He is continuously being asked to do things that are really difficult for him, like sitting still, or managing anticipation, or social interaction with the other kids. If he isn't wired the same as "typical" kids, it may be too much for him to handle.


New Member
Hi InsaneCdn
He was ok as a baby but we often noticed something a bit "off" though i put it down to "all Young parents must think the same thing"

he's never been particularly smilely.. and winged alot always needing some sort of interaction/attention. but was capable of playing and laughing quite well.

he crawled quite late but walked quite early with regards to other children (around us) his age but took much longer to be "clean"

he's not really fussed about what clothes he wares just that, when he gets it in his mind, it is him and only him that can put them on. or he gets very stroppy. and when he has something on, he cant take it off.. like at the zoo it was boiling but he wouldent remove his coat when asked.

special interests.. snails. he can spend hours hunting for them in the garden and watching them, telling us about them, drawing picture after picture of them.. to me thats very normal. also he likes playing with his cars and duplo and can also spen hours at the with a puzzel and i really mean a whole afternoon.

what do you disagree with, with regards to the school psyc? i feel if he "kicks" a teacher then a "time out" should be effected there and then as the SP said and not done later at home.. what are your thoughts on this?

Thank you very much for the reply


Well-Known Member
If you lived in the U.S., the teachers would not claim he is the only child like him ever seen. And I doubt it's true. You would also probably be sent to have him evaluated for something like perhaps high functioning autism. I do not think they test children in France so I'm not sure what to tell you to do. I believe he is wired differently, not bad and I believe he needs a different type of learning plus interventions like we have here. But I don't know how they do it in France. From one woman who posts here who lives in France it seems they do not take childhood disorders very seriously and tend to think it is due to parenting. Wish I could help more and do wish you lots of luck!


Well-Known Member
The school psychiatric is not incorrect as far as school goes... that is, any issues at school need to be dealt with at school, and not later at home.

But the school psychiatric isn't going to give you an evaluation or a diagnosis. In France that may be hard to get (we have at least one member who has lived there).

special interests.. snails. he can spend hours hunting for them in the garden and watching them, telling us about them, drawing picture after picture of them.. to me thats very normal
Normal? Four year olds don't have that kind of focus. At least not any I've been around. Except for one. And that one? Is an Aspie (has Asperger's Syndrome). Same goes for spending all afternoon on a puzzle.

The other kids at school don't have that kind of focus. So the class is designed to move fairly frequently from one activity to another. These changes are called "transitions", and it seems like - from the little bit we know about your son - he has trouble with transitions. Which means his natural rhythm and what is expected at school are a heads-on clash. He isn't wrong or bad - but he is different. And school doesn't really allow for these differences.

He isn't just "rigid". He thinks differently. We call it being wired differently. This is not the same as being disabled. Many people on the Autism spectrum are high functioning, independent, productive members of society. Some are in very narrow fields of interest - with a PhD, for example. They have taken what in these early years is a "disability" and turned it into a key strength. But it really helps to understand where he is coming from. He's probably not trying to be rigid - just can't cope with that much change is my guess. (which would be typical of an Aspie)