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3.5 year old - Behavior Problems at Preschool
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3.5 year old - Behavior Problems at Preschool

My 3.5 year old son's teachers say his behavior is disrupting both his learning as well as the class.  His behavior is:

- Defiant.  Disregards requests from the teacher.  Will pretend he hasn't heard the request or will turn away.  He'll tell you he's not listening to you.
- Difficult time with transitions.  If he doesn't want to do what the teacher is asking & is forced to comply, he will often throw a tantrum or throw the toys across the room.
- Doesn't participate in Large Group Activities.  During circle time, doesn't participate.  He'll walk away or lie on the floor or bug the children seated next to him.  The teachers have given him the option of sitting in a chair behind the circle.  Even when sitting in the chair he won't interact with the group or pay attention.  If he does, he will whine or use baby talk.  He also doesn't participate in Gym time, group stretching (during Gymnastics lessons), and some of the other activities.
- He's the only child in the class who isn't potty trained.  He will kick and scream if someone tries to force him to use the potty.  He doesn't like anyone to change his diaper (incl me).  He screams and kicks during diaper changes and won't tell the teacher when he has poop.
- He's behind the class on letter\number recognition and fine motor skills.  Although, I think he's still within the normal range for a 3.5 year old.
- He has trouble playing with peers.  He is sometimes rough and often the other kids don't want to play with him.

We have some similar difficulties with him at home.  Especially with the potty training and
tantrums.  Whenever possible, we try to give him acceptable choices and warn him before transitions.  However, we feel his behavior is peculiar.  I'm not sure how to advise the teachers on his behavior.  They have recommended that we seek assistance from an Occupational Therapist.  I feel he's too young to diagnose.  Also, I wonder how 1-on-1 therapy with an OT will help with his problems.
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While the OT evaluation is sensible, it isn't at the heart of the matter. Your son is displaying wide-ranging developmental lags. A developmental evaluation would be prudent. This type of evaluation takes a look at the child's status in all the spheres of development: motor (gross motor and fine motor), cognitive, social, emotional. In the meantime, employ systematic behavior management: your son needs limits, not choices. You can find an excellent guide to such management in Lynn Clark's book SOS Help for Parents.
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