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4 y/o not listening at school
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4 y/o not listening at school

I have 2 children in the same pre-school. My step-daughter is 4 1/2 and my son will be 4 in about a month. For the last 3 weeks (since school started) his pre-school teachers have reported regularly that my son is refusing to listen to the teachers. There are several occasion they have reported the same thing about my step-daughter. At one point they said that he is screaming at the teachers about not doing things, throwing toys, screming when he is sent to time out, threating to spit on them, and even one time hit a teacher who asked him to sit down. My daughters behavior has improved slightly, although has been better in the past (as well as my son's). The kids have been going to the same school regularly since April and had issues when they first got there, but improved greatly since, until recently. There teachers are concerned about how we handle not listening at home. The clincher is, we don't have this issue at home. They listen very attentively to me and there father. They rarely fight, and never hit or threaten us. We were at one point, taking toys away for bad behavior in school, grounding, time out, and extensive talks about there behavior. We are at wits ends about what to do now. We feel like we are punishing our children for nothing, because they are good kids seemingly every where BUT school. There reports are still the same at school, and I am feeling like the teachers are frustrated with us because, to them, were not doing our part as parents to stop the behavior. Is there anything we can do to try and curve the school behavior? I am fearful that when they go to kindergarden things will just get worse. But how do I fix something I can't see? Is this just a phase for testing the school waters? Please help
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242606_tn?1243786248
Whether or not ADHD is a factor, the sine qua non of addressing behavior is a systematic behavior management program in the school. That is, it should crystal clear what will occur when a school rule is violated. It sounds like the school employs time out, and that is sensible. But equally important is the manner in which the time out is implemented. Toward that end, I suggest you bring a copy of Lynn Clark's book SOS Help for Parents to school and ask the staff to follow the routine. Be sure to follow it at home as well. It might be worth your while to arrange for a pediatric behavioral health clinician to observe your children at the program and develop a plan for intervention (contingent, of course, on what the person witnesses).
12 Comments
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281956_tn?1191862764
Also, I forgot to mention that as recent as yesterday, their teachers suggested my son be tested for ADD. No one in our families have had ADD, and I am weary to put my 3 year old on meds. Should this be something i should worry about? Is this unusual 3-4 year old behavior? Or am I in denial that my son could have ADD?
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13167_tn?1327197724
Dusty - I can't believe a doctor would put a 3 year old on medication,  with the goal being that he become easier to manage in preschool.  If you find a doc willing to do that,  get a different one!

Are they in the same classroom,  or are they both independently coming up with this behavior in different places?  Can one be feeding off the other's misbehavior?

When you say "preschool" do you mean full-time daycare,  or is this just a couple hours in the morning a couple times a week?

What do your kids say about why they are doing this?  



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281956_tn?1191862764
Oh no, I haven't even asked a Dr. about ADD or Meds. i don't like the idea at all and I am fearful to put him on any meds with addiction issues being an issue with my side of the family.

They are in the same class room, and i strongly think they feed off of one another, as siblings genreally do, but to get the teachers to see that is like asking them to shake hands with god. I honestly feel that they think we are horrible parents. We thought about seperating them but the cost of two different schools is out of control. Right now we pay $200 per week for both, if we seperated it would be twice as much. So our hands are tied to see whether or not thats the issue.

It's full time day care, however for 3 hours in the AM it's a school structure where there required to sit still, listen, learn, and participate. This is where 90% of the issues happen. and it's for 5 days a week.

When we talk to the kids, they are associating the not listening with school. They say they don't know why they don't listen. They consistantly know they need to listen to the teachers, I think there honestly sick of hearing us say it. They know the importance, They know what will happen if they don't listen, They understand the kindergarden part... i just don't know. They know it's wrong, but they do it anyways. Do you think the school is setting them up for failure? We did notice that if the kids have one bad, say 1/2 hour, then  to the teachers it was a bad day.  

**Food for thought***A while ago, we were punishing the children because the teachers reported they wouldn't lay still on there cots at nap-time. I made a surprise visit to the daycare at nap time to see in fact what was going on. I walked in to find only maybe 2 out of the 10 kids in the class were in fact laying still on there cots. After that I refused to punish them for something all the kids do.

Could this be the same thing!?! Are we over-reacting? or is the school? I mean is it entirely possible for us to have the only bad 4 year olds in this school?! Are there expectations too high or are ours too low?? I would like to chalk it up to 4 year olds being 4 year olds... but i don't want to over look early signs of an issue either.....
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154929_tn?1196191338
If I were you I would make another surprise visit to school to see what is actually going on in the calss room setting.  And if the calssroom settign is for three hours how long do they have the kids sitting there without out letting them move around or change they items they are learning.  My two sons go to Pre-school during the week for my three years old it is 2 hours two days a week my 4 1/2 year old is three days a week for 3 hours.  With the small kids they change activites about every 15 to 20 minutes they older kids it is about every 20 -30 minutes a different activity to keep them interested and give them time to move and play and be kids.  Not every child is going to be good every day--but for your kids to have such problems only at school says there may be something else going on.

I also know that my oldest sons bf is in a different classroom  for if they are together during school time they totally act up and do not pay attention to the teacher--so they seperate them and things run much smoother for all concerned.

I say go surprise them and see what is actually going on.
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281956_tn?1191862764
Yeah I think thats a good idea and I might just do that soon. I think you might have misunderstood something I said. They are in the school setting for 3 hours but durring that time they do many different things including outside time and snack time and an activity time. So i don't think it's the "ants in the pants" theory, but I just don't understand why they are good everywhere but there?!

Matter of fact my husband and I just talked about not sending our daughter tomorrow too see if our son re-acts differently when she's not there. I honestly don't think it's her, I think she's just re-acting to him.
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Avatar_n_tn
When my daughter was 4 and in preschool, the teacher was constently complaining about her behavior.  Saying she was disruptive, did not sit still in chair, called out without raising her hand, etc.  I was getting letters sent home on an almost daily basis.  My daughter, outside of school and the previouse year in nursery, was/is extremely shy.  I found it very hard to believe that she was so disruptive and calling out in class.  She did/does have restless legs and will not sit still in her chair (but is not hyper) which apparently was a big issue with the teacher who expected her to sit proper in class.  I was so concerned about what her future years in school would be like.  Afterall, we were having so many problems in preschool (even though there were no problems the year before [different teacher]).  My daughter is now in 5th grade.  We have never had a problem with her behavior from kindergarden to present.  I truely think the problem was the teacher!!!  They are only 4 years old!!!
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281956_tn?1191862764
Yeah I am beginning to think that. Today when I went to pick up my son from school I asked him how his day was. He said "I had a good day mommy" and his teacher interrupted and said "Now thats not true, we can say we have a good day when you listen the 1st time". That did not seem right to me, because I don't really know any kids at 3 years old that listen the 1st time everytime... am I wrong???
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Avatar_n_tn
DustyL,

Wow!  You've described me and my wife's situation almost perfectly.  I have a son (only child) who will be 4 in January.  Both my wife and I work and he has gone to an institutional daycare full time (8:00AM through 5:00PM) since he was an infant.  He has had some behavioral issues at school occasionally but had settled in to preschool pretty well.  Sure he had an occasional "Bad Day" but that seemed to be fairly infrequent.  Over the past two months his pre-school teachers have started to report that my son refuses to listen to the teachers, spits, hits other kids and has even hit his teachers.  Much like you, our son is also well behaved at home.  He listens fairly well and only occasionally gets aggresive (aggressive) (he would sometimes hit dad during "rough-house play" on the floor or he'll hit Mom in the butt as he runs by her to get onto the couch).  We have adopted a no-tolerance policy for hitting at home and any sort of aggresive (aggressive) physical contact, like hitting, kicking, or pushing is immediately met with a time-out.  About a year ago the preschool director introduced us to the "1-2-3 Magic" time out system and we have used it effectively at home but kicking or hitting does receive an automatic time-out with no counting involved.  

Our communications with his preschool have been very similar to yours.  Our son is mostly (70% of the time or more!) very well behaved at home and I have told the preschool director this.  We just don't see the problem behaviors they report at home so we have a very hard time correcting the issue.  The school has recently attempted to introduce a reinforcement program where he receives smiley face stickers for behaving well during different activities and sad faces when he doesn't behave well.  He's had maybe 5 days in the past 3 weeks when he's had more smiley's than sad faces but he has had two perfect days so I know he can do it!  When he has a "bad day" We try talking with him about his behavior and he appears to know the rules very well ("we keep our hands to ourselves", "we listen to teachers", "we don't throw toys", "we don't spit" etc...).  When these talks didn't yield results we tried grounding him after school (i.e. we don't let him go outside and play with his friends for a night) but it seemed like we were keeping him inside constantly.  We recently tried taking all his DVD movies away (Curious George, Winnie the Pooh etc...) and letting him earn them back one at a time (he earned back two movies this past weekend for good behavior!) but we're getting to the point where we feel like we're always punishing him.  We love him to death and we want to enjoy him when we get home from work as we haven't seen him all day but it seems that we are forced to constantly punish and be angry with him for his school behavior!  I called school today at noon to see how his day was going and they said he had a "great" morning but...  The "but" was when they went outside to play my son was spitting at kids through the slats in the playground bridge.  When told to stop he wouldn't listen and tried to run away.  He had to be moved to a time out area.  When the teacher physically moved him to the time out area apparently he hit the teacher.  He then satyed in time out but promptly began picking up small rocks and throwing them.  Eventually the teacher took him inside and had him stay with the preschool director who reported that he was screaming, kicking and "trashing her office".  I'm ready for any suggestions and/or a pep talk!  Does anyone have any advice?  This is incredibly stressful.  

I'm going to pick up the book that the doctor mentioned above.  And I would even consider asking a pediatric behavioral health clinician to observe him at school so we can develop a plan to get him back on the right track.

Regardless, thanks for listening!  
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Avatar_n_tn
take it from me.   btdt.  do not stay in that place with that teacher.    try another school or daycare.     believe me, don't let them bully you.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dusty, I've seen a couple things on here that you are concerned about your 4 yr old. NO MEDS, NO MEDS NO MEDS!!! As I have said before, he is normal.... You know if you have time, wach nanny 911, lots of good advise, and actually, when you see their problems, yours,
i'm sure will seem minor. Please, these doctors need to stop diagnosing children with issues like this. I see 1000's of cases where children are diagnosed with ADHD, and it is proposterous!!!! i think he sounds normal, and the comment above, I completely agree with!  
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281956_tn?1191862764
Actually, i read the book that was recomended Lynn Clark's book SOS Help for Parents and I implimented some of the things mentioned in this book and I have noticed a complete 180 in my kids. They are even noticing a change at school.. Friday was the 1st day in a year that the kids were sent home with GOOD REPORTS and NO TIMEOUTS for bad behavior.... YAY!!!! Thanks for all your help!
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