A month ago, my son started a four-year-old kindergarten program at a public elementary school. He says he likes school, he's always eager to go, and he says he loves his teacher. But he's showing signs of extreme distress - having nightmares, talking in his sleep, chewing on his clothes constantly (he has never chewed anything, even when he was teething), spinning frantically, laughing maniacally, sucking his fingers (something he's also never done before), deliberately misbehaving and then calling my attention to it and asking for a reprimand, hitting, grinding his teeth.
What I'd like to know is if anyone else has trouble with their attachment-raised children experiencing culture shock upon entering the public school system and, if so, how do you help your child cope? We don't have money for a private school and I have physical and financial limitations that prevent me from home-schooling, so public school seems to be our only option.
My daughter stayed home with me till kindergarten. She did great - really great - when she started school, even though it was all day and she was in a pretty big class. What she did NOT handle well was the fatigue, and the fatigue made her stressed. She was grinding her teeth, having bad dreams, and melting down a lot...just very teary and emotional. She also developed some nervous habits. At the same time, she loved LOVED school, her teacher, and her new friends. She woke up eager to go every morning and was disappointed when she was sick or had doctor's appointments and had to miss a day. The fatigue of her new schedule was just getting to her.
We had to alter our home time. We found she did best if we skipped any big activities - like going out to dinner or shopping or playdates - on weekdays and Sunday nights. By Friday, she was exhausted so generally we did as much as possible on Saturday. Sunday was a slow day. We took walks on the weekdays and had early bedtimes. Like - 7.30 early, and she slept till 7 am. She started to relax at school and nap during their rest hour in the afternoon.
Once the all day excitement of NEW SCHOOL wore down a bit and she adapted to the long day AND she started getting more sleep, she was right back to herself.
Fatigue can do a number on anyone. Do you think he's maybe just super tired and wired from the new, exciting school environment?
Fatigue is some of the problem. Tristan has to be at school by 7:30, so he gets up at 6:30. He goes to bed at 6:30 at night because he still sleeps 11+ hours a night and he takes a long time to settle. He's also supposed to eat every 2 hours and his teacher has finally started working with me on this because hunger was a big issue for him.
The problem is that his stressed behavior is getting him in trouble at school. The more stressed he is, the louder he sings, the more frantically he spins, the more likely he is to seek physical contact with others. He gets punished for doing these things and that makes him even more stressed, even more likely to sing, spin, hang onto others' arms or hands. Before he started school, he was anxious because he didn't know the rules and he was afraid he'd get in trouble. And now, he gets in trouble every day. He's definitely been designated the class problem child, which is a hard cycle to break.