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#1 of 13 Old 04-09-2008, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My previously mild preschooler is becoming rather violent and I'm not sure why, or what best to do and would really appreciate any insights from other mums.

I don't think ds is gifted, though his aunt (primary school teacher with training for gifted children) thinks he may be and I was identified as one as a child. He's bright and verbal, with good attention span of two-three hours, but certainly not PG. However he is ahead of his peers.

He started nursery earlier this year, and initial indications were very positive. He was happy and excited, loved school, began writing in two languages by watching his teachers though they did not actually teach him. School feedback was positive - polite, bright, plays well with others, given extra responsibilities.

For the past month however he became very rude, aggressive, screaming, and even trying to poke other children's eyes. I was shocked. He was the mildest kid in the block. He was the kid whom if I said,"Stand in a corner now!", he would ask,"Which corner?" Now he's a little terror, and there are days when I would even say that he seemed filled with suppressed rage, passive aggressive.

His teacher thinks it could be a way to get attention now that ds2 is becoming quite mobile, and more recently, she suggested that perhaps ds1 had been put in a "good child" mode for too long and is just discovering himself - ?! (I can't recognise my son at all!!) She also suggested teaching him how t manage anger, and said it's a normal stage that children go through. She did confirm what ds1 told me - that there are a few children who would hit and poke - but said they are toning down, while ds1 is becoming more aggressive. She also added that ds1(May baby) is the oldest in his class and the other children are more like toddlers.

I have also come to realise recently that the other children in ds1 are very much behind him verbally, and there are only 2 children whom he can actually talk to. Ds1 insists that he loves school - the singing, the playground, the "good children", his teachers - but says that he's frustrated by the "bad children", doesn't have time to finish anything the way he wants to, and that he's very angry with the children who takes his things wihtout asking.

At the same time, my mum has been coming over to help out since ds1 started nursery, and despite all good intentions, it has created more friction because our parenting styles are very different, living philosopies are very different, etc.

So there are really lots of things going on. It could be one thing, or everything. I pulled him out of school for the past two days, which effectively removes peer pressure, frustrations over interruptions, the rushing about, and grandma factor. I realised then that his nerves had been as frazzled as mine. He was happy, relaxed, and much more like the boy he used to be. I started doing phonics with him at home yesterday, and he is now able to spell simple words by breaking down the phonetic sounds. So at least on the education front, I think I can give him more grist for the mill than the school.

However he is still looking forward to going back to school tomorrow and my sister thinks that pulling him out of school will just handicap him socially. The extended family thinks that ds1 has to learn to deal with rough behaviour in school, and to learn to control his temper in other social settings, and that I cannot expect perfection. (because ds1 has always been such an unbelieveably mild sweet boy who loves to help and learn.) I don't think it's as simple as that, but as a relatively inexperienced mother, I'm not very sure what to make of it, and hence, how best to deal with this.

Any thoughts will be much appreciated!
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#2 of 13 Old 04-09-2008, 07:11 PM
 
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This is just my opinion, but I would pull him out of school and wait until kindergarten. Preschool is not required, and is not always necessary. It will not stunt him socially if he is provided social outlets otherwise. In fact, and this is my opinion again, I think that children who are exposed to the "real world" as opposed to a classroom social setting are far more "socialized" than children who are exposed to only the classroom setting with kids their own ages. I get so sick of hearing that kids need to be socialized, when people do not realize that school is not the only way to become so.
If he is doing better at home when he is not in school, I would take that as an indicator that at this time, the preschool setting is not for him, and just wait until it's time for kindergarten. Maybe get him involved in a recreational program or something like that. My son is in martial arts now and absolutely loves it. Not only does he enjoy it, but it has helped greatly with his attention span, following directions, and also teaches positive values (respect, confidence, dealing with emotions, "stranger danger", and more).
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#3 of 13 Old 04-09-2008, 07:16 PM
 
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I agree with Kat03. No child should have to be stressed out at 4 or five years old!
Is it possible to just keep him home and do play dates/classes? Do you need him to be in childcare for work? Is there any way you can establish play days with another mom/child and switch off?

My boys were really challenging at 4 through 5... perhaps this is the beginning of this? Like you I though, where did my sweet boy go?!

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#4 of 13 Old 04-09-2008, 07:49 PM
 
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I was going to suggest seeing if he can be put in with older kids. If he's too close to starting elementary though, then I wouldn't keep sending him back - or I'd drop it down to a couple of days a week. One thing we noticed with our older (he's 5 this year, in preschool) is that we have to give him 30 minutes "down time" in the evening. All the younger acting kids at preschool (loud, won't listen, etc.) really stress him out.
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#5 of 13 Old 04-10-2008, 02:55 AM
 
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This is just my opinion, but I would pull him out of school and wait until kindergarten.
I have a similar situation and that's what we did. His behaviour has been steadily improving since we stopped going to play group with him. He still interacts with other kids but it's not "on a schedule" anymore.
We also found that having him spend so much time with other children was a negative socialization. In other words, his speech problems did not improve but he started hitting, kicking, and throwing things. It got really ugly at one point.
My DS really liked his play group but he's better off at home. It totally stressed him out. We now spend the play group time outside going for nature walks. Suits his temperament much better.
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#6 of 13 Old 04-10-2008, 03:11 AM
 
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sounds like you found your solution to the issue already. you pulled him from the school for a few days and he was back to his 'normal' state. that speaks volumes, your son is trying to 'tell' you something!

he may very well enjoy aspects of his school, but it's pretty clear from your description that the experience is stressful for him in some way, and it's manifesting in his actions.

as for your sister's remark, the only thing that i'll comment on that is that the only thing that it does is highlight her ignorance.

i'm also going to try to say this as gently and diplomatically as possible, and since tone is difficult to ascertain over the internet, please know that this is being said gently but...honestly, your description of your son's behavior both before and after the school experience is a bit troublesome.

Quote:
He was the kid whom if I said,"Stand in a corner now!", he would ask,"Which corner?" Now he's a little terror, and there are days when I would even say that he seemed filled with suppressed rage, passive aggressive.
it really sounds like compliance is greatly valued, both at home and at school, and rebelling against that at his age is pretty normal and to be expected. it does sound like there are a lot of transitions going on in his life, with a younger sibling etc., and i truly hope that you are able to find a solution.
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#7 of 13 Old 04-10-2008, 04:55 AM
 
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I think I'm going to be the only one here who doesn't think that pulling him out is definitly the best way to go.

You keep saying he wants to go back, I think his feeling are important here. I'd be concerned that simply pulling him might feel to him like he is being punished b/c he had trouble getting along with the other kids.

I think you need to talk with him about what he really wants. Are there certain parts of the day that he enjoys most? maybe you could switch to a class specificly for those things like if he mostly enjoys the singing do music together classes. Does he really like learning to read and write? maybe put him in a more academic setting. Is have having a great time in the mornings when they do circle time, but hates the open play in the afternoons? maybe he can do a half day. Would he prefer to be in a playgroup with older children who are better able to engage in cooparative play? If he really loves the whole day and the setting, than maybe he just needs a little help expressing his frustration more gently.

Taking him out of school is an easy solution, and I don't think it will leave him socially crippled, but since he has expressed a clear desirer to return to school I would see if there was a way to make it work first.

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#8 of 13 Old 04-10-2008, 10:06 AM
 
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I agree with pp. If he wants to go back to school, it might feel like punishment to him if you pull him out. On the other hand, maybe this school isn't the best fit for him? We were a bit worried about DD being in a preschool classroom with only same-age peers because she has high verbal skills for her age, so we chose a mixed age classroom. She is one of the youngest children in her class. She was just over 3 when she started, and the students in the classroom were age 3 to 5 at the beginning of the school year. Is something like this possible?
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#9 of 13 Old 04-13-2008, 05:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hi hi, thanks for all the great input! They are all certainly good food for thoughts

I pulled him out for three days, partly due to a cough, and it gave us a good breather. The atmosphere suddenly became so much lighter! I realised then that it's a combination of factors - afternoon session intruding on the daily rhythm and his activities, tense atmosphere due to me/grandma, a particular boy in school that keeps irritating/hitting/taking his things. By the time he's back home he's excited, tired and cranky. My mum, who picks him up, takes offence at any sign of rejection, and they both come home with grim looks on their faces.

My mum also undermines me constantly, with no ill-intentions, but it happens. And ds gets very confused as to who he's supposed to be listening to, and the constant tension angers him.

Upon some self-reflection, I realised that I have been expecting too much from him with regards to his little brother. He's always been so mild, so mature and understanding, I find it hard to admit to myself that he is going through bouts of jealousy and feeling the hurt. He's been so good at taking care of himself while I'm busy with ds2, I forget that he needs some TLC too. I wish there are two of me for both of them.

So I pulled him out of school, told grandma to stay at home, and spent the past few days tanking him up with TLC, and letting him wander through the day doing his own projects. The transformation is astonishing. I just bought a little easel for him and he's been spending entire mornings, evenings happily drawing for hours and hours - even in the dark!

I'm still a little undecided about school. For now, we will step down the frequency to thrice a week to give him time to rest and decompress in between (ds1 agrees it's a good idea). We've also been talking about what he can do when other children hit or annoy him (ds1: ..but R...I tell him not to do it, but he STILL does it...he really...he REALLY TEST ME!!!) In the meantime, we will scout around for other schools that will shorten the commute. Ds1 actually told me that he doesn't mind changing schools so that I don't have to be rushing around all day and haranging him - that made me feel so guilty!! A real wuss of a mother! Age-banding will be great, the best really, but the only schools that allow that are selected Montessori schools and they are really pricey. Ah well, nothing is perfect!
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#10 of 13 Old 04-13-2008, 09:17 PM
 
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I just read your post. I'm going through the same thing with my 4 1/2 year old in preschool. Same, same aggression. Same thing with the corners too: he says "which one do I go to?" LOL He's our only though, so no new baby jealousy, luckily.

I just had a conference with his teachers about it, and they suggested anger management type stuff. Apparently he tends to act out if some one else is breaking the rules: taking toys, interupting, cutting in line. Fairness is a big deal to him, and apparently he is using brute force to get everyone else in line. I think he's bored.

He's in school 3 days a week (2 day until 3 and 1 until noon) and I suggested cutting back to 3 1/2 days, but DS was in tears. He really likes the afternoon teacher.

So this week is vacation...next week we'll see. We're going to try the 'anger management' type stuff, but I'm more apt to try to manage the frustration first and my suggestions for the teachers weren't really taken that seriously...

Good luck!! Thanks for letting me commiserate. I was kind of shocked/happy/relieved to see your post, to say the least. (: This has been a hard few weeks at our house.
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#11 of 13 Old 04-13-2008, 11:48 PM
 
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A couple thoughts as my son has similar issues in group settings:

He may have a very strong sense of space and the other kids are invading it too much. He probably tried using his words but the other kids aren't at a level where they really respond to verbal cues from other kids. Young preschoolers generally react physically and need a teacher to help them work through how to express themselves and most importantly how to respect what another kid is asking. Even kids who have been taught this at home often have trouble in a group setting where there is just a lot more grabbing of toys or wrecking of someone else's work.

At this age, kids start to become more true emotional beings, start really feeling their emotions and start experiencing more emotions that they don't have words to express. He may be going through some of that.

He may have some sensory processing issues that make a school setting more stressful for him. Many gifted kids have one or more sensory processing difficulties (they tend to hear, see, feel, and experience more sensations than the average kid and don't have the filters in place yet to address the increased input).

Whether he stays in preschool or not depends on whether you think he will gain valuable skills which really depends on the quality of teacher (my son's teachers this year have taught him soooo many group coping skills I can't thank them enough. But his teachers really "get" him and see where he is coming from and have been able to artfully channel that.

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#12 of 13 Old 04-14-2008, 01:47 AM
 
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my oldest boy is very sensitive to stress. When it is big paper or finals time, he has picked up on our stress and it affected his every day, poor guy.

New sibling, stress between you and mom (or even just, you know, misunderstanding) and they can worry.

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#13 of 13 Old 04-17-2008, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by clipfish View Post
I was kind of shocked/happy/relieved to see your post, to say the least. (: This has been a hard few weeks at our house.
You can't imagine how consoled I am to hear that I'm not the only one...though i really won't wish it on anyone ... same thing - seeing himself as THE rule-enforcer and ds' teacher mentioned anger management too!! It's so out of the blue to see and hear of this rage that's coming out from the once-upon-a-time peace corp member, kwim?

perhaps as carmel23 and straighthaircurly said, it's part of the growing up transition, sob sob.

He's still home this week, and he's much much calmer. No tantrums, much kinder to his little brother, what a blessing! I'm so reluctant to send him back to school now and keep making excuses - oh he's got a cough, oh, he's tired today...

I've been trying to wheedle informatoin out of him to pinpoint issues that need to be worked on, and so far, we've talked quite a bit about bullying versus self-defence, authority (and who owns it), and also getting him to understand that not everyone thinks the same way, or grows up with the same rules. I can see he's sleeping on them.

I'm also reminding myself that how I deal with all these will be an example of anger-management (esp when he's screaming on the floor or doing a death-roll with the baby). I love what his kindergarten principal wrote on the public board a few weeks ago - A quiet voice is the greatest display of power. So, deep breath!

straighthaircurly,
yes, I think he is having some of those difficulties. I'd love to hve your son's teachers! Just today, we visited a cousin (his age) E. E saw ds drawing and asked for a couple. But after ds did a drawing for him, E took it and tore it into two!! Ouch! (ds draws copiously everyday and we have to keep almost every single one because he knows if anything is missing) The look on ds' face...and he told me that the boy who picks on him in school is like this cousin of his.

He has no problem sharing physical spaces, but he(like me) is very sensitive to sound and he does much better with regular quiet hours. A pastor who once visited us commented if our neighbourhood isn't too quiet/lonely!

interestingly, i asked him earlier today if he misses school. His answer: yes, but he has too much work (ie his building projects and drawing) to do, he's too busy to go to school...!?
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