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4-year-old with behavior extremes
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4-year-old with behavior extremes

My son, 4 1/2, is in his second year of preschool.  He is still having difficulty separating from us and cries for me from time to time at school, although not as much as he did in the beginning.  He seems to have two modes at school:  1) He sits beside the teachers and won't interact with the other children at all, or 2) he plays and goes, as the teacher says, "from being the shyest child in the class to the most aggressive child" -- pushing, hitting, "growling" at the other kids.  At his babysitter's house, he also sits on the couch and does not play until I arrive to pick him up.  Out in public, he cries and shakes if we walk just a few feet away from him.  

His behavior at home ranges from excellent, when he plays with his little sister nicely and quietly, sharing with her and "taking care of her" without being told, to aggressive, when he throws fits that last as long as forty-five minutes because he does not get his way.  I try to be consistent, putting him in a chair in his room for time-out, never giving in, etc., and still, he screams and, if I get near him while he is in time-out, hits.  

He seems to be at least average in intelligence and meets the kindergarten enrollment expectations in all areas except social/behavioral.  He also seems to have a good attention span -- listens to books for as long as we will read to him, for example.

I should also mention that my son seems to be quite sensitive to sound.  Loud sounds terrify him, and "sad" music upsets him greatly.  He claims he doesn't like his classmates because they are "too loud."  I wonder about sensory integration?  He might have tactile issues as well.  He doesn't seem to realize how much force he is using when he is hugging or kissing, and he seems oblivious to such things as having food on his face, having his shirt or pants (even ones with zippers) on backwards, or having his shoes on the wrong feet.  

We want to do all we can to help him get ready for kindergarten next year so he will be successful.  Any ideas what we might be dealing with and/or any suggestions to help him?

Thank you!
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I think you should take him to a developmental pediatrician and/or a child psychologist/ psychiatrist to find out more about his behavior- he seems to be sensitive/ anxious-- more so than other children, and it would be good to find out more about this, especially as he gets ready for kindergarten.  It could be a sensory integration disorder-- I think that some of the symptoms that you describe fit that bill.
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There is an excellent book titled "the highly sensitive child" by Elaine N. Aron that you might wish to read.  It can be purchased on-line, or bookstores or borrowed from your public library.  Hope this helps ...
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Maybe your son is not emotionally ready to be separated from you yet.  I don't believe in forcing children to go to pre-k classes if they are not ready yet.  My daughter went for 2 months and didn't enjoy going.  She wasn't ready yet emotionally, to be separated from me.  So I took her out and began taking her to story hour once a week to the nearby library and we both loved it.  She is now graduating 6th grade and loves school, is a straight A student and has many friends.  Her social skills are great!  I also had a nephew and a neice who went through this when they were younger.  My nephew is now a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army and when he is finished with his service he is considering studying law.  He has been on the honor roll all his life.  My neice, on the other hand, didn't go to pre-k because of financial reasons.  She finished her 2nd year of college and is on the Dean's List.  They both have a full social life with many friends.  

Maybe your son just needs to be with you a little longer and is not ready yet to let go.
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I agree with LRM 1021 100%. You will find that Occupational therapy can really help him. You did a great job describing your concerns. Be sure to write them down before you go to the doctor. I bet he feels better in a smaller, more contained atmosphere. Can he wait an extra year before starting school?
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