HI our son is five and has just started school.
We have yet to have him assessed, but he is clearly very clever if not gifted. I hope to have him assessed very soon as I've just called a psychologist.
Meanwhile, since he started school his behaviour has got out of control. He is hitting, and picking on other kids, bossing everyone around and shouting and using a frightening angry grunting voice at people in an effort to intimidate, or at least thats what it looks like to me.
He beats up his brother and is extremely rude to us, his parents, ordering us about and even hitting us as well.
Home life is very difficult but I'm more concerned with him alienating himself at school. He seems to be in awe of a school bully, talking about him constantly.
His father thinks he's bored. Becuse he demands a huge amount of stimulation at home, and does seem better when he's involved in something that interests hikm.
When he was at home with me and at creche and kindy he pretty much played all day with the same acitivity - he would get extremely involved in making a complicated construction or map, or writing a multi page story.
Now he is constrained by the various lessons on offer at school.
he is in a reading and writing group on his own because he's ahead of his classmates and this doesn't really seem like much of an answer,
I"m sure that there will be discussions about the educational programme that's right for him once we get the assessment done, but I'm really wondering if anyone else has any experience of other very bright kids going "mental" when they get to school? And perhaps, what you did about it?
I"m really worried about my boy. He's gone from being an absolute delight to an absolute horror.
Would love to hear your experiences.
What was 'going well' before he started school? Did he have a particularly awesome kindy/daycare, or other reason for not being an absolute horror then?
We had a smooth transition due to kindy communication with school and school prepared to start him in a more appropriate class (mixed Y1 &Y2) so even though he had his own 'group' sometimes he received more suitable lessons.
Is he involved in extracurricular activities?
Barrie Rich advised me that when they are functioning intellectually a few years ahead of their age then that is how you should treat them i.e. behaviour modification techniques for the higher age. We have found that to help a lot.
thanks for that
his kindy and creche just let him do what he wanted to actually. which was to do one project all day long.
and he usually managed to convince a teacher to hang around with him while he did it.
i don't know at all whether this has any bearing on his behaviour or whether he just feels lost and small in a big school environment.
i suspect its a combination of both boredom and fear. i think he feels powerless somehow, so he's trying to gain power by being cruel to people.
i just don't know what to do about it. that's my problem. you can only send a kid to their room so many times, you know?
and i don't know to what extent the school should or can lead the solution, when it comes to his behaviour there.
i just made an app with susan hunt for a couple of weeks time so we can get him assessed and also talk about his behaviour. i hope to read some good books, or seek some advice from parents whove been here before then.
We had a behavior change upon starting school as well. However, it wasn't aggression but complete withdrawal and depression. Aggression would be harder for all to deal with in some ways but for all children and parents, any change like that is difficult. Good luck.
How long do you have to wait for the assessment?
Your first step in the meantime to speak with the teacher of course. From there, it's hard to know what to suggest without knowing whether or not you have an understanding teacher. I will suggest that you are careful with how you discuss your son at school. The moment that a school learns there are 'issues' at home, you are opening yourself up to being 'blamed' and having the school absolve themselves of any responsibility. Communicate with the school by all means of course but be sure that they see this as a change that is linked to what is going on at school. Sure, you have to take responsibility for how he acts at home, but they must take some responsibility for the complete hell that is school for some of these kids. Be careful.
If he is finding school so unpleasant, reassure your son that you are taking steps to help him. For our child, the disappointment in school was profound after he was so excited to go to school and learn things. He had ideas in his head about school and the learning. Oh the books he would read! Oh the sums he would do! Oh the friends he would make! What a shock to turn up and have to identify letters of the alphabet, count to ten, and have his classmates look at him blankly when they couldn't understand his advanced vocab ...
If you haven't already, discuss with him how school 'works', and how you are going to help him. It may make him feel a little more in control if he can see a way out of this. He needs to know that there are steps you can take to help improve school for him, and that he could take himself. If you haven't already, try to get him interacting with 'like minds'. Our child felt so very different and isolated when starting school. An extra-curricular activity perhaps , maybe the teacher can suggest another child your son is 'clicking' with, or could click with.
I was horrified by the change that came over our completely delightful, happy, bubbly, full-of-life child when school started. We ended up moving schools when it became apparent that the principal wouldn't support what was needed. Not practical I know, but, with the right teacher and right support things *can* improve. Our child has now learned to accept less than ideal at school but in the early years he needed to know that we (parents and school) were working to help him. Best of luck.
What does the teacher think about his behaviour? She needs to know if she doesn't already, that he isn't like this normally. Let her know how concerned you are, and ask whether there could be a referral to the RTLB (Resource Teacher: Learning & Behaviour). They may want to give him a bit more time to settle in before they do that though. And it would be great if you had the assessment report to feed into that.
Getting an assessment is a great idea and you'll likely get lots of ideas out of that but be very clear that you want clear practical advice that the school can use too. (Assessment reports are sometimes so jargony that teachers can't see what practical use the info is).
One thing to be aware of: Even if you get an ed pscyh report saying that your child is highly gifted, the teacher will still want to be able to see what he knows already. i.e. she won't want to just give him advanced material without seeing that he's got a grip on the more basic info (ability and achievement are not the same thing e.g. our highly gifted daughter grasps sophisticated maths concepts quickly but still needs to work on basic arithmetic functions - ideally they get to do both if they still need basics). You'll need to talk to your son about the importance of showing his teacher what he knows already so she'll give him more interesting things to do. Ask the teacher to make sure that if she's assessing him, that he knows she is - so that he can do his best (it's in his interests to do so).
Re. at home. There's a book called "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene (http://specialchildren.about.com/od/behaviorbooks/gr/explosive.htm)
We found this book really helpful. The change in our mindset really helped our responses to our daughter when she going through a particularly bad patch. It has a collaborative, problem-solving approach and is very humane.
Oh, also check out the Hoagies website if you don't already know it. It's a vast resource on all things gifted: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/
thanks a lot for that.
yes the teacher and i talked today and i explained that its not normal.
she said like you suggested that they'd wait for him to settle a bit more before referring to an rtlb.
great advice about showing your abilities rather than just going on the word of a psych. thanks
and i'll look up that book. the title alone has me hooked!
I just read the book that Joanne mentions and found it really useful. The case studies in the book are all children that are way more explosive than our son, however there are plenty of strategies in the book that we can apply to him. We have had some problems similar to yours although not so severe, since our son started school at the beginning of the year. I recommend having a really good relationship/dialog with the teacher. I also think it is really important to pounce on the good behaviours and use copious amounts of praise, both at home and school. And I also recommend Omega 3 (Fish Oil) supplements, particularly those high in EPA (versus DHA), for improved mood.
Is your son becoming overstimulated at school (and I don't mean academically)?
Is it possible that at creche he had the ability to self manage his interactions with others since he got to spend the day working on what he wanted to work on, but in a classroom with more noise in a smaller space, and changes from one activity to another dictated by the teacher, there is far more activity going on around him than before that he has to be a part of?
I only metion it because I know with both of my children, when they started school, they would often come home tired, short-tempered, and grumpy, and it seemed to be more to do with the busyness of the classroom than anything else. It took about a term before they really settled to school, although we still have the occasional grump-day.
Is your son's behaviour now, similar to that when he is really tired?
How long has your son been at school? I'd guess at least one full term. We had the same problem (my son is nearing the end of Year 2).
Really recommend going to Ed Psych to pinpoint what's going on for him inside his head.
My boy has thrown balls at teacher's head, spit, kicked, hit, etc. etc. It's awful. (my 9 year old is a perfect angel in contrast). Ed Psych identified his behaviour as frustration and anxiety. He kept saying he wanted to die, hated himself, didn't want to live (at age 6! It was devastating)
Turned out he has dysgraphia (as well as being gifted mathematically and cognitively) and Visual Spatial leaner.
He was working so hard and getting no where with his handwriting or story writing. Coupled with a brand spanking new teacher (right out of college) who only thought he was "lazy", "dumb", "not trying hard enough".
We are undoing the damage slowly. He hates school now. Still has anxiety issues. Goes to One Day School and LOVES it to bits. We are working very hard to get him back on track mentally at normal school.
Leah, we also realised that he has the cognitive level of someone twice his age - how well could he possibly get on with his peers? That's so frustrating and lonely for a little boy.
Really recommend the Ed Psych visit just so you can get in his head and start unravelling the mystery that he is too young to articulate.
Good luck! Its a long road but your boy is worth it! A day is long time for a kid.
hi and thanks again for your valuable comments.
we are having an assessment on september 9 and i've told the psych that we also need help with his aggression.
yes gillian he is a lot like this when he's tired. but also when he's bored.
robyn that sounds really tough. it does sound like a long road as you say. great that you are looking out for your son so well.