Play group with a spirited child -- advice needed! - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-16-2010, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS (almost 2.5 yrs.) and I recently started going to a Kindermusik class together. He is extremely high-energy, extroverted, and spirited, and the other kids in the class are pretty reserved (at least as far as I've been able to tell from the two classes we've attended). It's a smallish class (only 3 other kids, about DS's age, and a 6 mo. old baby), which is one of the reasons I signed up for it, because I thought it would be a good opportunity to start introducing DS to kids his age.

After these two classes we've been to so far, I'm seriously debating whether or not to go back. DS had a great time, but the music and dancing and other kids really wound him up, so by the end, he was running around the room and shrieking at the top of his lungs, and spinning wildly in circles, and slinging stuffed animals across the room (well, he only managed one really good throw before I got to him...and it was a fantastic shot. ).

Nothing truly horrible happened. It was all more along the lines of him being totally unable to sit still during storytime and quiet time, continually invading the space of the other children, being loud/disruptive, and constant warnings from me to "be gentle" around the baby and "we don't throw books/stuffed animals/instruments." We had to leave the group a couple times and have a short calm-down period. Some of the problem is that I'm very much an introvert, so it's hard for me to cope well being the center of attention (especially not in a good way), and my nerves were completely frazzled by the time class was over, not to mention the other moms were giving me dirty looks.

On one hand, this is obviously a musical, singing, dancing class...not the library...so of course, it's great for the children to run around, be a little noisy, etc. But when DS starts weaving wildly in and out of the group, knocking into the other kids in the process, and grabbing toys off of the teacher's table, throwing them and then running...what do I do?

I've read "Raising Your Spirited Child," but I still feel like I have no idea how to handle this type of situation. I hate feeling like I'm constantly correcting him or chasing after him...just always on him about something, and embarrassed about everything, even though I shouldn't be because if you don't have this type of child, then you really can't understand what it's like. And DS is such an exuberant, charming, bright little soul. He (and I) just need to learn how to channel that energy in a positive way.

I know we probably need to do some role playing, but I'm not entirely sure how to do that in an age-appropriate way. Maybe use some of his stuffed animals to demonstrate? We don't know any other children/mamas well enough to "practice" with them, either.

Mama to DS (5)

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Old 09-16-2010, 07:48 PM
 
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km was one of dd1's first group experiences. she was a very spirited dc. the teacher expected all the dc to sit in their mother's lap and clap.

needless to say out of 14 or so dc that started the class only 4 were left at the end. one extremely shy dc that wouldn't leave his mom's side, a child that just had open heart surgery and was very calm, one other and us.

never did that again.

i went to a more active play group at a children's museum. i also had the best luck with groups with lots of boys.

mom to 14yr dd and 4yr dd
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:03 PM
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We stopped doing indoor group activities until DD was older. She was just too intense and high energy for the rest of the kids. By 3.3 almost 4 it worked much better. We took a break from restaurants too. I don't feel it's ok to make a child feel they are doing something inappropriate when they aren't. Needing to run around, climb, jump and play exuberantly is appropriate for 2 and 3 year olds.
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:48 PM
 
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I was thinking the same thing as the other posters. I would look for something that was a better fit for your LO. Is there an indoor playground near you that does a more active playgroup? Sometimes rec centres or gymnastics clubs have playgroups too with a really physical focus.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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Old 09-17-2010, 12:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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One of the main reasons we ended up with this class is because there are limited choices in our area to begin with re playgroups, and the ones that are available meet mostly during the day. And I work full-time. This is the *only* thing offered at a time more convenient for working parents, at least that I'm aware of and trust me, I've looked!

No indoor gyms or other active play facilities, and practically no outdoor playgrounds. We live in a very rural area, small town, etc. DS isn't currently in daycare, but he will be starting within the next few months, so again, I originally thought this might be a good opportunity to introduce him to somewhat similar situations. And honestly, I'm a newly single mama, and I'd really like to meet other mamas and start building a support network, so that was also a consideration.

Anyway, I don't want to dread this class every week, or make DS or myself miserable when it's supposed to be fun, so if we need to drop it, we will, and hope for at least a partial refund.

Mama to DS (5)

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Old 09-17-2010, 09:36 AM
 
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I would ask the teacher what the expected behavior is & if it's not a good match, I'd drop the class. We went to a Music Together class once (not sure how that compares to Kindermusik?) and the first thing the teacher said was to resist the urge to reign in your children. They ENCOURAGED letting the kids express themselves however the music moves them. Just because the other kids in the class are more mellow, doesn't mean that your DS's behavior is out of control or inappropriate. But I know some teachers are sooo uptight & don't have a good grasp on normal child development, so if this is the case I would drop the class.

I was at a LLL meeting last week & getting stressed out because DS was all over the place, destroying posters & grabbing toys etc. I said something apologetic to the group & a couple of people approached me after class to tell me that he WASN'T as crazy & destructive as I thought he was. Yeah he was active but no one else was bothered by his behavior, it was just my perception! Talk about eye-opening...

So anyway, if he's having fun & the teacher feels he's acting as she expects, then I'd keep going. It's hard to find good classes & playgroups when your work schedule interferes!

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Old 09-17-2010, 09:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post
I would ask the teacher what the expected behavior is & if it's not a good match, I'd drop the class. We went to a Music Together class once (not sure how that compares to Kindermusik?) and the first thing the teacher said was to resist the urge to reign in your children. They ENCOURAGED letting the kids express themselves however the music moves them. Just because the other kids in the class are more mellow, doesn't mean that your DS's behavior is out of control or inappropriate. But I know some teachers are sooo uptight & don't have a good grasp on normal child development, so if this is the case I would drop the class.
I think this is good advice EXCEPT that OP has already said her ds is infringing on the other kids space and throwing things. Being happy and dancing around even when the other kids aren't is ok, imo, but once a child starts infringing on others, that is where the line is. I would not blame it on an' uptight' teacher.


I had a ds who was similar at that age, and my dd who is 2.5 is the same way. I am ok with them being a little off the wall compared to quiet kids, but try to keep them in check as far as bothering other people. Also, we quit story time when ds was in this phase because he wasn't getting anything out of it and I felt like he was doing more to disturb things than anyhting else. It didn't feel fair to me, and it stressed me out.
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Old 09-17-2010, 10:13 AM
 
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I think this is good advice EXCEPT that OP has already said her ds is infringing on the other kids space and throwing things. Being happy and dancing around even when the other kids aren't is ok, imo, but once a child starts infringing on others, that is where the line is. I would not blame it on an' uptight' teacher.


I had a ds who was similar at that age, and my dd who is 2.5 is the same way. I am ok with them being a little off the wall compared to quiet kids, but try to keep them in check as far as bothering other people. Also, we quit story time when ds was in this phase because he wasn't getting anything out of it and I felt like he was doing more to disturb things than anyhting else. It didn't feel fair to me, and it stressed me out.
Yes - of course -- I didn't mean to allow your kid to really infringe on other kid's boundaries or anything. I guess I was just saying that sometimes our perceptions of our child's behavior are worse than reality. You might THINK everyone is giving you dirty looks & wondering why you can't control your kid, but IME that's not always the case (though often IS I'm sure!) So rather than just assume your kid is a disruption, talk to the teacher, even talk to the other moms, and you may find they aren't bothered, or even wish their kids were enjoying the whole thing as much as your kid! To me throwing things, pushing boundaries, etc. are very subjective. I've seen parents freak out when their kid threw a soft ball 1/2 a foot in front of them, and other parents not even blink as their kid attacks another with a big heavy toy. Some let their kids push and hit etc. and others intervene if their kid so much as brushes against another. Just the other day I was getting upset with DS for doing something and the other mom thought it was no big deal, not bothering her or her kid, not even on her radar! (Maybe it's just me that's clueless about my kid's true impact on others ) I think, especially as an introvert, that we tend to over-analyze what others are thinking & instinctively avoid anything that could draw extra attention to ourselves...

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Old 09-17-2010, 04:33 PM
 
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As long as the teacher is supportive, I wouldn't give up quite yet. It has only been two classes.

Last year I did a Kindermusik class with my daycare kids. The teacher ran a special class for siblings and home daycares so it was mixed ages but all under 4. I had four kids with me. There was another provider that had about four kids, a lady with two of her own kids, and then one lady with just one kid (not sure why they took that class).

I remember the second class very clearly. The kids were just WILD. A lot of running around, the boys were rolling on the floor, nobody did what they were asked. And when you are trying to manage four kids it is especially difficult.

At the end of the class the teacher told us not to get discouraged, and that as the weeks progressed the kids would all get into the groove and understand what was expected when we are in class. I was truly ready to go home and never come back, but she encouraged us to stick it out.

And you know what? The next week was totally different. The teacher was right, and all of the kids just did so much better. They knew that if they listened they would get to do fun things. Of course we still had to do the occasional redirection but for the most part everyone listened and had fun. It turned out to be an awesome experience.

So I would keep trying. You will probably have to do a lot of close shadowing and redirection, but as long as your son still wants to go, I would keep going. You may be really surprised at what happens.

And one last thought - we used to walk about 15 minutes to get to the class. I think this really helped to burn off some of the excess energy for my kids and helped them be more calm in class. Could you take a trip to the park or walk to your class so that your DS shows up a little bit tired?

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Old 09-17-2010, 04:44 PM
 
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I've taken several Kindermusik classes with my Sweetie B, who is more the quiet reserved type. Like a PP mentioned, it does take awhile for the children to settle in, figure out what this is all about. Sweetie B stuck to me like glue for the first several weeks, but by the end of our 14 week semester was excited to be there and actually left my side several times. So, yes, your sweet one will figure out what's going on and settle in in his own way.

Also, I would say definitely talk to the teacher. Kindermusik teachers go through a lot of training in both the musical aspect of the class and child development. And of course each teacher is different--I know our teacher would be thrilled to have your child in her class. She is very high energy and knows how to keep the class moving for all the children. So check there first. And maybe talk a little to the other parents to let them know how you're feeling and see if he's truly infringing on others' enjoyment of the class.

Have fun!
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Old 09-17-2010, 07:41 PM
 
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I would honestly give it a few more tries. This may not be his thing. If he's the wildly running and throwing toys type, maybe a more physical class would be better for him. (and the other kids) But don't write it off just yet.

As a kid, I would have loved a kindermusic class, but hated a sports class. My brother was the complete opposite. My brother was the kid who other moms would say "We LOVE Mark... we just don't love him in our house". But, me??? They'd almost forget I was there. Mark had a LOT more friends though, so it's not a social problem.. it's a "never let that wonderful boy in my living room again" problem.

It sounds like your son would have a BLAST in gymboree, or some sort of gym class with lots of balls, trampolines, and climbers.

But, in a year and a half, he will probably be able to totally handle and enjoy a quieter environment.
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