New and introduction...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mama2carter, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. mama2carter

    mama2carter New Member

    Hi everyone! So glad to have found you all!
    I was just hoping to get some thoughts/advice. My son has his 4 year old well check coming up soon and I will be discussing this all in further detail with his pediatrician.
    My son, Carter, just turned 4 years old last Sunday. He is an incredibly bright child--I've been told by his preschool last year and this year that he is by far the smartest child in the class.
    Last year in the 2s class was his first year in school. The only issue he ever had was some separation at dropoff, and then he was fine 5 minutes later...
    This year in the 3s class, at his conference around Halloween time, we were told everything was great.
    Shortly after, we started getting reports that he was being aggressive, hitting, etc. He is in a class with 11 other boys and 2 girls (and two teachers). Of course we were concerned. Our son was always a very happy and quite comical little guy, and now suddenly he was apparently experiencing this "frustration" and having trouble dealing with his impulse control. I was getting told in the pickup carpool line about the things he was doing to other kids and it was quite disturbing and unpleasantly surprising.
    It all came to a head right before Winter Break. One of his teachers (who I don’t particularly care for as she is not as warm and fuzzy as I feel a preschool teacher should be) approached me as she brought my son to the car and in almost a joking and smirking manner said to me, “Wow. Really rough day.” (Mind you my son is in the car at this time hearing everything.) I asked what had happened and she explained how he had been really hands on. I asked her if the other kids were acting the same way since break was approaching and her response was, “Well, he is by far the worst” and “I knew he was going to have a bad day when he walked in the door.” I was speechless. I went home and cried and made a phone call first to my pediatrician and then to the preschool director. I was a teacher and would NEVER say that to a parent. It scarred me as I will never forget her saying those words to me--it was that upsetting. The director gasped on the phone when I told her what was said. The next day the teacher apologized (I’m sure she had a little talk with the director), she had a bad day, etc. which really didn't changed anything in my eyes. We had a conference about his behavior a week later, and she tried to backtrack and say she didn’t mean it, etc. My husband and I started reading the Kazdin Method and began a reward system where points were offered at school based on his ability to keep his hands to himself, and he was able to “purchase” items/privileges at home based on his points earned.
    His teacher has also made a point of telling me in his daily reports that some instances were “unprovoked”. I know my son, and I have a hard time believing that. He has a 6 year old sister who often knows how to rile him up and push his buttons, and rarely does he do anything for no apparent reason. It doesn't justify his behavior, but I feel having a reason for his actions that make sense to him is different than an unprovoked attack. After an instance recently, the director had to speak to him and talked to him about a better choice he could have made based on what happened, etc.—which is another reason it upset me when his teacher claimed that same day that his actions were unprovoked when they clearly were not! I'm wondering just how in tune she is with what is going on with him and the other students. When he is calm, he knows exactly what he SHOULD be doing. We have even role played. However, when he is “in the situation”, he has trouble controlling his anger. At home, he has resorted to saying “I hate you” or spitting or hitting when he is enraged---NONE of which we do at home. It seems as though our reaction to these may have negatively reinforced them because the first time he did them, we got very upset--it was so shocking! We have learned from this mistake.
    Recently, he said to me out of the blue that he wasn’t “lucky” because people tell him that he does bad things. I asked him who and he said sometimes his teacher and specifically named that teacher who had said those things about him. This made me really worried that his esteem is being damaged. I was in the class this week for his birthday and witnessed two kids fighting and one pounding the other in the back. I was shocked! I called the teacher’s attention to it, and she glanced over and said, “Oh, they are just playing.” Then she witnessed another hit, and just separated them with no consequences. It made me feel as though she was biased against my son getting in trouble. My son behaved much better than those kids, yet I was the one getting all the negative reports and prejudgments and he was "by far the worst." You should never judge the way a kids’ day is going to be by their first minute in the door. I feel as a teacher it is up to you to turn the day around.
    One time at school, he was so angry (I don’t remember why) that he knocked over a whole box of stickers. His other teacher told me that he did apologize to the teacher and helped clean them up after.
    Tonight for example, he was very tired, and got very angry when he had to do anything toward working toward going to bed--he didn't want to stop playing. He started spitting at me and my mom and yelling and getting to that point of anger where he couldn’t hear anything anyone was saying. I ended up putting him in his room to cool down. Some days he will want hugs to feel better, and others nothing but time will calm him down. I knew at this point, sleep was what he needed.
    He is also NOT easily distracted. If he is upset and someone comes along and tries to distract him—for example, “I love your shoes.” while he is having a meltdown—all this does is infuriate him more—as though his feeling are being ignored and invalidated. We are really trying hard to validate his feelings when is to the point where he can hear what we are saying—“I know how upset that made you…etc.”
    I am just unsure as to what is accepted as “normal” at this age. And if there is anything he could be diagnosed with like ODD, would these symptoms just suddenly appear at this age? I am concerned that his preschool is having a Pygmalion Effect on him, molding him into this behavior problem that he is now becoming?
    I spoke with the director this week and expressed my ongoing concerns with the teacher and how he is feeling and whether or not he is being treated fairly… I am just not sure what is best for him at this point. She knows I am concerned about his fit with his teachers and assured me next year he would be placed in a class that would be a good fit for him. Meanwhile, it is only February and there are a few months left to this year...
    I guess I am looking for some advice/hope—whatever! He generally gets around 11 hours of sleep a night and eats very healthy--lots of fruits, vegetables, organic food. When he and I are alone, he is generally fine. (I know being hungry and tired definitely don't help the situation.) The first thing he asks me every morning when he wakes up is “Do I have school today?” He would rather stay home with me than go to school, and some days he gets upset when I tell him he does. To work with transitions—going potty, putting on shoes, etc.—which have until recently been another battle, setting a timer and having him want to beat the timer has helped A LOT!
    I just want my sweet funny guy back. I hate that he is feeling so much frustration and anger. He can be the smartest, sweetest, most loving and funny kid ever!
    Thanks for reading! Sorry this was so long!! I am just feeling frustrated and some days hopeless. This week was great, and today just felt like another step backwards...
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Welcome to our "family". My son's behavior began around that age. That is when I took him to a psychologist. You might want to give this a shot. You could also check into having him seen by a neuropsychologist. He is at a good age to figure out what might be going on before it gets any worse. With most of our kids, reward programs and the like generally either don't work or work for a short time. I would look deeper into the WHYs of his behavior. When you are told things like the teacher tells you, ask for SPECIFIC details and see if there is a pattern. When they say for no reason, ask what he was doing at the time, with who, and what everyone else was doing. Also tell them you want to know everything they did and said in response. When you get home, get as many details as you can from him also. You might find there is a pattern.

    Hope this helps. Others will be along I'm sure to give you even more suggestions. Again, welcome.
  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Welcome. :) It sounds to me like there are one of two scenarios happening: 1. Your son has had a negative shift in behavior for unknown reasons, or
    2. His teacher has it out for him. I would ask that the director physically monitor your son and his relationship with the teacher for a few days so the situation can be assessed by independent eyes.

    My other thought is that you should consider switching pre-schools. Four years old is awfully young to be dreading school. As a matter of fact, my biggest parental regret is not removing my daughter from her pre-school and switching her to another. The head teacher pegged my Duckie as a troublemaker and could never do anything right... we still deal with the after effects of that environment until this day plus it clouded the picture of what was going on with my Duckie.
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Is there another class in the prek that he can attend for a week or two to see if it could be the teacher? It might be worth a shot.

    If your "mom radar" has you questioning, try having a neuropsychologist take a look and do some testing. It's not invasive and my kids actually enjoyed it. One on one can be a powerful thing!

    Welcome to the crowd - it's a wonderful group of people here!

  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    As the mother of 4 grown kids and grandmother to 7.......and ran a daycare for years....some of this is actually "normal" behaviors most likely caused by environment, competition with other students, and even picking up on other students bad behavior. I'm not necessarily saying he doesn't have an issue behaviorally. I'm saying be careful not to over analyze the situation and see something in it that isn't really going on, blowing it up out of proportion so to speak.

    I know it's disturbing when a well behaved child's behavior suddenly seems to change, especially when you don't have experience in which to judge what is still within the normal range.

    My grandkids Darrin and Aubrey both began preschool early. First year went was mostly playing with the other kids ect. At ages 3 and 4......not so great. Both my daughters began to see their non aggressive kids suddenly acting aggressive and doing things they didn't normally do, both came to me very concerned that they must be doing something wrong or there must be something terribly wrong. But the simple fact is that when our children go off to daycare or preschool they're beginning to branch off into independence. They're exposed to behaviors from both teachers and students they may or may not normally see. So you'll have the "testing the waters" syndrome I call it going on for a while where they'll test both their teachers and parents to see if the same behaviors they see other kids use will work the same for them. Usually consistent parenting will cause this mimicking to subside. (it never really disappears I've found but does vastly improve) Also going on is the new set of rules to adjust to.....and this can be harder for some children than others.......and competition for attention, praise, playthings ect. All normal. But teachers need to also be consistent in how they handle such situations and have enough knowledge of child development to handle it appropriately.

    The teacher watching a student pounding another student in the back and calling it "playing" does not belong in a preschool the very least. That alone sends of an alarm bell as to how much aggression is being tolerated by this teacher before she moves in for discipline and to stop the behavior. If your son is being hit by another child, it is reasonable that he hit the child back. A normal response, especially if teachers are not on top of the situation to stop aggression of other students. Usually sitting down and calming talking to your child can tell you if there is a lot of aggressive behavior in the classroom. There will always be some.......they are preschoolers and impulse control is only beginning to be learned.

    My grandchildren did begin to suddenly hit other students at ages 3-4, they also started name calling around the same time. Consistent parenting and good preschool teachers nipped it in the bud rather quickly. Although properly provoked both will still hit in self defense, which I'm sorry I don't see as a bad thing. We all need to learn to stand up for ourselves. Darrin even went through a phase of spitting, which both easy child and I find particularly didn't last long. lol But boys at school were spitting on each other and it took a note from easy child to draw the teacher's attention to it. (they can't catch everything)

    Since you have concerns with the one preschool teacher would it be doable for you to sit in on a classroom session or two? It might make it easier for you to judge the situation if you can get a clearer picture of what his day is like.

    And yes being tired will of course make all behavior worse. And honestly, preschool can be exhausting for many kids that age.

    I'm just saying that of course as parents we want our kids to be good and well behaved, especially in the school setting. And we worry if we're doing our jobs right or missing something big if their normal behavior goes off track. Sometimes there is real reason for worry.........but much of the time it's fairly typical behavior to some extent or something that is going on at school. It's best to step back and investigate the situation as much as possible before assuming one or the other.

    I'll never forget easy child's first day of kindergarden. Up until that day she and Travis were literally inseparable. She got off the bus, he ran to greet her, she stepped back with a haughty look on her face and said, "I'm in kindergarden, I'm too big to play with YOU anymore!" Totally out of character for my empathetic heart of gold kid.........and broke her brother's heart. We laugh about it now.........but was not so funny at the time. Nor did it last. Three days later they were again spending most of their time together. lol

  6. mama2carter

    mama2carter New Member

    Thank you so so so much for the wonderful advice! :hugs: I love what you had to say, Hound Dog, and think it makes such good sense. Thank you for taking the time to write a lengthy response!
    This week has been especially difficult (at school). Again with miscommunication as to the whys, my son who is not a biter, got into trouble twice for biting this week, and actually had to be sent home today...this was the last straw. I just felt like today I had to finally listen to that little voice in my head that has been talking since December and telling me that this is not a beneficial situation for him to be in.
    On Wednesday, the teacher who did not witness what happened, brought him to the carpool line and told me she was told that he bit someone when she was not in the room. The other teacher claimed it was not out of play--I guess meaning it was either done maliciously or "unprovoked"--the 12 boys often get rowdy playing superheroes. However, my son told me (and the director) a different story. Apparently he was Wolverine--a character he learned at school--and was getting the "bad guy". He again was sent to the director's office where according to him, he told her what happened. No communication with the director over this.
    Today, I got a call from the Director saying he had bit again, and a second offense in one week called for him to be removed. She told me that a boy had taken a truck away from him, and he retaliated with a bite. This is the same boy who my son had repeatedly told me months ago had called him stupid, and it really upset him. Of course, I was very upset, and I told the director that the dynamics in this classroom just aren't working for him and I don't feel the situation is beneficial for the other kids or for my son. She told me how articulate he was, and how it was almost like talking to an adult and how he knew exactly what he should have done… I don't want to set Carter up for failure, and by sending him there, I feel as though this is what I am doing... When I came to pick him up, the teacher I don't care for was there. The kids were all playing on the playground except for my son, who was standing in the corner of the playground and had to watch everyone play--which honestly broke my heart because in a preschooler's mind that has to be extremely frustrating after the fact and almost seems a tad cruel. When I walked up to get him, that teacher said, "I'm so sorry. I couldn't get there fast enough. I'm so sorry." I really couldn't even look at her--I didn't know what I could say…I was so sickened by the situation. What she said also made me wonder what exactly she witnessed? Did she see what was happening and failed to respond? Was my son trying to tell the teacher and do the right thing, but impulsivity took over? When I asked him, he said he told the teacher that Zachary “snatched the truck” out of his hands—but I couldn’t get out from him whether that was before or after he bit him? Anyway, I took my son to the classroom and got his stuff. We had a little talk about what had happened, what he should have done, why he did it, etc. We walked by the class, and the teacher I don’t care for, patted him on the head, and said goodbye to him (which kind of irritated me as again, I can’t help question her sincerity) and he said goodbye to his friends, and we were on our way.
    My husband and I talked about what to do, and we both agreed that we would like to, if possible, switch him from the M/with-F class to the T/Th/F class to see how he would react to the different dynamics of different teachers, students, etc. There are a few kids from his class last year in there as well. My husband called the director who tried to talk him out of pulling Carter out of school (with the exception of switching classes), stating that he does participate in all activities, etc., and does get something positive out of being there. My husband used the analogy that if your son is drowning, you can’t help but throw him in a lifesaver—basically, you can’t just stand by and allow him to stay in a situation that is detrimental for him. This class is obviously lacking the structure that my son needs, as I witnessed when I was in there for his birthday. Well, the other class is now full, so she said she would see if anyone wanted to switch preschool days. As much as I hate to pull him out, I just can’t see sending him back there. Every morning I drop him off, he is miserable, as am I. When I pick him up, my stomach is turning as well. This isn’t the way it is supposed to be…
    There are two months of school left, so I guess I feel if we have to start his summer vacation early, so be it. I am not going to make a big deal about him not going back if this is what ends up happening. I don’t want him to blame himself in any way. He doesn’t go every day so I don’t think it will matter much to him that he is not going, although he occasionally (rarely) says he misses his friends.

    This is where we are now. His well check is next Tuesday.
    I began reading The Explosive Child this week and am finding it all very interesting, although I am not sure how this all plays in with children his age. I am only partway through so I am not sure if this is addressed later. I think I remember seeing a post about it on here, so I will check that out as well.

    What are your thoughts about our preschool decision and what would you do? It is so hard because I want to do the right thing, but honestly can’t send him back there in a situation where not only do I feel like he won’t thrive, but is possibly damaging him.
    Thank you so much!
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. You sound like this is your first child and I know this (or THINK this) because I overthought every single decision I made with my first. Honestly, I drove myself insane.

    My opinion: Preschool is just preschool. If the fit isn't good, pull him out. It will not affect him long term. Why keep sending somewhere he is not happy? He has years to be in school. The bigger question is, have you evaluated him to see if something is going on? If this were me, I'd take him to a neuropsychologist for an evaluation. If you have a clear idea of what is going on with your son, you can help him more and choose a more appropriate school. My oldest son (now 33) was a biter and also used to hit and push. It hurt me so much to see him ostracized by other kids or singled out by teachers...but it did finally settle in that I had to find out whey HE did the things he did. I blamed everyone me...been there done that. In the end, he had issues. He was also a VERY bright child. j

    Good luck and I would use your mom gut :)
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Mama2Carter, I'm a moderator on the Early Childhood Board. I tried contacting you via private messaging, but you have that feature disabled. If your avatar is a picture of your son or another child you know in real life, we ask that you remove it. We are ectremely concerned about child privacy at this site because of the personal nature of the discussion. We've had ex-spouses, in-laws, school districts, doctors, etc. find the site and trust me, it's in your son's best interest that you and he remain anonymous here.

    If one of the site administrators sees this message before you do, they may remove it. Thanks for your understanding.

    Welcome to the site. I trust you'll find good help and understanding here.

    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  9. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Tell him Wolvie is not a biter. ;)
  10. mama2carter

    mama2carter New Member

    I'm so sorry about the avatar! Totally makes sense!
    Actually I do have another child--a 6.5 year old daughter! I am definitely an overanalyzer by nature!
    I love all of your advice. I have decided to withdraw him from preschool for the remainder of this year--there are only two months left. I took him to a TaeKwonDo class today, and he did awesome!
    Our 4 year well check is tomorrow, so I will see what the doctor. says. I am feeling very confident in the decision that we made!