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Approaching preschool with explosive 4 y/o

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Pretty new here but very pleased with feedback I've seen so far...I am probably jumping the gun a bit but need some advice on whether or not and how to approach my daughter's preschool teacher about her temperament issues. Dd turned four in July and has been periodically seeing pediatric therapist since the spring for what started out as anxiety/extreme shyness and has over the past few months morphed into explosive tantrums that at their worst involve pinching, biting, flipping chairs, etc. Funny thing is the therapist "predicted" this may happen and said that four can be rougher than three as far as emotional development goes.Husband and I decided preschool would be a good gateway to kindergarten, more so for socialization than academically b/c she's already ahead of the curve there. She is only child and only has a couple of real playmates but we have always made it a priority to go to playgrounds, storytimes, etc.Like I said, up until about six months ago her biggest problem was anxiety, very clingy and hesitant around new people but then she started getting more intense, prolonged tantrums, at least 3 to 4 times a week. She wants to go to the park and play but gets really possessive and will actually guard the swings and has said she hates babies because they tend to stare at her (as babies do). I suspect some sensory issues because she doesn't like crowd noise but also some social deficits because she seems fine approaching kids one day but will other days will sulk after an hour at the park and say she didn't have time to make friends.Her therapist has us reading the Explosive Child and we are noticing some improvement with CPS approach already, but of course, she still has bad days and I have no idea how or if this is going to manifest in a classroom setting. We visited the class in the spring and dd loved it, but explosions were just starting to manifest. So far the worst of the rages have been reserved for me with a couple of exceptions but she doesn't necessarily confine them to home. She has never been physically violent with other kids up to this point (thank goodness) though she did clip a toddler with a swing a couple of weeks ago after I told her to stop hogging it.So... the therapist's stance is that its too soon to diagnose her with anything and I don't disagree but am I obligated to tell her teacher what is going on? Obviously I don't want anyone to be at the mercy of dd's explosions, but worry about her being slapped with a label if we tell the teacher what we're dealing with at present?Did I mention I have GAD myself? As though this post doesn't prove it :P
post #2 of 9
Originally Posted by curebaby View Post

 am I obligated to tell her teacher what is going on? Obviously I don't want anyone to be at the mercy of dd's explosions, but worry about her being slapped with a label if we tell the teacher what we're dealing with at present?


I don't think you are obligated to tell the teacher, but I think it might be a positive thing to mention to her that your DD is currently having some issues so that you open the door for clear communication between school and home.


A lot of 4 year olds have behavior issues -- its part of what preschool is about. If this is an solid, experienced teacher, she has meant kids without a lot of emotional control before.

post #3 of 9

I agree with Linda.  Personally, I would discuss it with them in terms of your daughter has some anxiety (around x, y, z), and while it initially manifested as internalizing (shyness, avoidance), it's now sometimes externalizing and her really big feelings can sometimes overwhelm her.  Experienced teachers will have seen this before.


Have you seen this article about anxiety and behaviour?  An anxiety response can be fight, flight or freeze.



post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Okay, so I managed to schedule appt. with dd therapist prior to teacher meet-and-greet, but it is still a week away and after the last couple of days that seems like a lifetime!
Since I originally posted this thread, dd has had a few more public outbursts; nothing serious but a couple in offense to something other adults were doing, which is new. Fortunately they were minor, but loud enough to make me pray for the floor to open up and swallow me. Like today I let her stay at the park an extra 20 minutes, she screamed briefly and then seemed over it. On the way out a woman with her 2 kids + one in a stroller started to chat me up and even before she got within earshot, dd started to say some clippy thing expressing her dislike about the baby. When I ignored her, she got louder. I thjnk it was vague enough that the lady didn't understand what she meant, but dd kept pushjng it all the way to the car. I was so mad I forgot all about Plan B and told her we wouldn't be having a popsicle at home after all. So then she started to rage and I tried to pojnt out her behavior and she said she was sorry but I told her that she needed to show me better behavior. She cried and said I was being rude and mean!
I feel like the Plan B approach is actually helping to improve things at home, but it definitely feels like she's just pushing my buttons with this stuff! I'm still hoping I can get her into Pre-K without feeling like I have to warn her teacher.
The other thing is we talked about why she "hates" babies so much, and she said its because when they are around she is scared of hurting them (not intentionally). So on the way to the library yesterday, we talked about things she could do safely with a baby, like peek-a-boo, etc. Then the minute we are in the kid's area, a toddler climbs up on the platform next to her and she turns to me and says loudly, "I'M THE ONLY ONE ALLOWED UP HERE RIGHT NOW!" I calmly collected our things and moved her to a quiet place. She immediately began saying sorry, and when I tried to explain my disapproval, she looked genuinely stricken and said, "I'm worried you don't like me." ***sigh*** I can't tell if I'm coming or going. :-[
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
P.S. Thanks for the input!
post #6 of 9

I am a former Pre-K teacher and I am a mom of special needs kids. I think you do need to let your daughters teacher know. I know I would appreciate knowing, if only so I could keep an eye on her social interactions and help her better solve problems and relate to her peers as well as give you feedback. The main point of Pre-K is really to get the kids emotionally and socially ready for Kindergarten and the pp is right, we deal with "difficult" kids all the time. It would be a lot easier on everyone to give the teacher a heads up and then have things go well, or have some minor predictable incidents, than to keep it on the down low and then have the teacher be calling you and saying there are big problems. When my oldest, who was diagnosed with anxiety and OCD at four, started Kindergarten, I didn't want him to be labeled or to give the teacher preconceived notions about him. Well he responded to the stress of school by bolting from the classroom several times a day! So we had to discuss that DS had some issues with anxiety and come up with a plan to address it at school in a healthier way. Now if I had told her right off, we still wouldn't have known how he'd respond till he started, but she wouldn't have been flying blind with him either, which wasn't fair in hindsight. I didn't make that mistake again. And the Pre-K staff can really be your allies in helping your daughter get the help she needs. I know I had access to behavioral therapists that could come in and observe and work with kids, even offer testing and screening to rule out other issues. Its really best for her to get all this hammered out in Pre-K so you can go into K and elementary armed with the info and tools she needs to be successful. 

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
So preschool open house went okay... dd was still very reserved and wouldn't talk to anyone but me, but wasn't clingy either. She wasn't excited about the other kids, but I'm hopeful that will change. At one point during circle time she came over and said, "There's too much small, medium, and large right now." When I asked her later what she meant she said too many grown ups, too many babies, too many kids." Still, I saw that as a positive because she had been belting out cringe-inducing insults about infants, but we've been talking about using "codewords" for things she is uncomfortable with so as not to hurt anyones feelings. She held it together until literally the minute it was time to go -- she wanted to play on the playground but parents aren't allowed during school hours (not helped by the other parents doing just that)-- and she had a crying jag. Her teacher saw it, and I had e-mailed her teacher in advance, so she got the visual! BTW, her teacher seems wonderful; she was very receptive to my e-mail and is very warm, though I think dd could live without the "kid tone" of her voice. smile.gif
So next Tuesday is the real deal... will I make it out the door without a child attached to my leg or a phone call?
post #8 of 9

That sounds so positive!  My daughter has similar issues, and (this is a bit late for you, I know), I always e-mail to warn/discuss her behavior or potential behavior.  All the teachers, group leaders, etc are always very happy to hear from me, I think because it gives them some insight into a situation that would otherwise be understandably confusing.


Good job and good luck!

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Week two of preschool done, and dd is doing really well. There have been no tears or rages that I have seen or heard about, and this morning she didn't even let me hug or kiss her greensad.gif I don't think she's interacting with anyone much yet but loves going! Keeping fingers crossed...
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