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5 year old boy having difficulty settling into primary school

5 year old boy having difficulty settling into primary school           reply
15/09/2013 08:39 - Ask Mother Hen (Locality: Cork)
Hi there - my 5 year old son is having difficulty settling into Junior Infants and his teacher has asked me to come in next week for a meeting.
I have heard from another parent that he hit another boy in school and the principal had to speak with him about it. He has also been getting lots of time outs. He tells me every morning that he hates the school and the teacher! He did not know any of the other children starting at school because he went to a different montessori from them. Initially he had paired up with another little boy who is as energetic and hyper as he is! I thought all was going well until I heard from another parent about his bad behaviour.
The school is a small country school and junior infants - second class are in the same room.
My son has always been highly strung but very sociable and never had problems making friends.
I am upset that I had to hear about his problems from another parent whose older boy is in the same class and told her about what was happening.
I have asked him why he hit the other boy and he said that he was making fun of his speech - DS has had some speech therapy over the summer hols and sometimes it is still difficult to understand him and he gets upset and frustrated. He is also used to having his younger sister for back up - there is just 11 mts between them and they are like twins, but she is doing her free preschool year now so it´s their first time being apart.
I did notice that DS became very cheeky and defiant towards the end of the summer but I assumed it was just boredom and thought once he was in school he would be happier. He does not sleep well and is having nightmares - he has dark circles under his eyes. He is a very slow eater so never gets to finish his lunch and told me that he feels lunchtime is a race and he doesn´t like that. Obviously the teacher can only allow a certain amount of time for eating!
I am really worried that the other parents will feel he is disruptive and not want their children playing with him. He is lost without his sister and told me that some of the other boys push him around when the teacher isn´t looking and when he pushes back they tell on him and he has to apologise. He feels this isn´t fair.
Now - my DS is no angel! So I´m trying to figure out the truth from the porkies he is inclined to tell!
He also has this habit of spitting on his hands and rubbing his eyes! Which is disgusting!
He responds well to routine and gets upset if this is changed in any way. He loves to have little jobs in class which make him feel important! He is a bright little boy but I have noticed since he was a baby that he does not always just "get" things straight away like his sister does. I had to show him how to play and I remember he could not figure out how to drink from a beaker - I had to buy 10 different types before he got it! His sister is totally the opposite - she is quick to learn and very often just figures things out herself.
I am at a loss as to why he is being so naughty! Over the summer my husband was in hospital for surgery and then he got a clot and I had to get an ambulance for him - he was roaring with pain and this frightened the children. Also my father who had a stroke a few years ago often comes to stay to give my mother a break but DS does not like it when he is here even though Dad is kind to him. He has heard Dad give out to me sometimes (as parents do no matter what age we are!) DS does not like it when this happens.
I´m trying to figure out how to fix this problem - I loved primary school so much and I wanted DS and DD to have the same experience. I even went outside the village we live in so that they could attend a country school similar to where I went. Now I am worried that I did the wrong thing. The class in the village has 40 children and I just felt DS would be lost in a large class like that.
I did want to have him assessed before as i felt some of his behaviours were a little off but DH did not want to go down that road. He thinks DS is just being a little boy???

I´m so confused and would appreciate advice on how to handle both the teacher and my son.
I have repeatedly told him i love him but he cannot behave the way he is at school. I´ve started a reward and consequence system so I´m hoping that might help - any other ideas???

re : 5 year old boy having difficulty settling into primary school           reply
16/09/2013 11:54 - Ask Mother Hen
Starting school is a time of tremendous change for a child and some find the transition harder than others. If your son´s sleep is affected and he is having nightmares it sounds like he is struggling a little. Whenever we witness a challenging behaviour in a child, we think they are trying to make our life difficult, but this outward behaviour is from a place of inner turmoil and he may be trying to communicate how difficult life is for him right now.

Therefore, the No 1 response to Challenging behaviour is to respond with compassion, to correct behaviour but never correct the child. Instead, to ´get under his behaviour´ and ask ´what is the intention of this behaviour?´ ´what is he trying to draw my attention to?´. Is there an unmet need? Sounds like over the summer the experience with his Dad was frightening and that he becomes anxious around conflict with Grandad? Is he missing his sister and finding the new separation difficult?

To lessen anxiety and build security - begin offering him 1:1 time (8 minutes of undistracted positive attention). Focus on being calm, relaxed around getting him into school. Encourage expression of feeling and acknowledge the feeling ´it´s not easy starting school.. and remind him of times he coped before and it had a positive outcome.

Above all, ask the school to give him little jobs, to ´catch him being good, not bold´, to more reinforce and notice what he does, rather than focus on what he has not done. When we notice our children and make time for them they feel more secure, less anxious and are more resilient in themselves and better able to cope.

See more on Separation Anxiety here

re... : 5 year old boy having difficulty settling into primary school           reply
17/09/2013 08:36 - Ask Mother Hen
Hi Motherhen - thank you so much for your response. You are so right about correcting the behaviour and not the child. This is something I have started to do and it works better. I recently moved DS to a different bedroom so that we had a spare room for when my Dad came to stay - DS only told me the night before last that he doesn´t like his new room and missed the way his old room was decorated. We had repainted that room. So yesterday evening I spent my time stencilling clouds onto his blue walls just like his old room (like Andy´s in Toy Story!) He slept in his own room all night without scary dreams! I should have known the change would upset him and I did say to DH that I wanted to make his new room similar to his old one but he felt DS should move on and get something different! This has taught me to trust my own intuition!
I had a very positive meeting with his teacher yesterday and he is not so much being naughty as very loud and finds it difficult to sit quietly so I am relieved as this was something I had anticipated. My GP suggested having his hearing tested so I´m going to follow up on that. I´ve also popped a notebook in his school bag so that the teacher and I can communicate about any incidents that may arise. That´s all I can do for now so I hope he settles in soon!
Thanks again for your feedback I will definitely take it all on board. :)

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