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4yr old Preschooler Behavioral Concerns
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4yr old Preschooler Behavioral Concerns

I had my first parent-teacher conference for my four-year old and it didn't go very well.  Her teacher indicated she has a hard time transitioning at times, and during these times she will get mad and throw things.  She also said that my daughter doesn't play with anyone.  In addition, she indicated that she is nice to the kids and when she talks to them, she uses a whisper voice only.  Also, during music time, my daughter will not sing or do the actions and is sometimes disruptive by figiting with toys that are next to her.  With this being said, the teacher recommended we take her to a child psychologist and a developmental pediatrician.  I am definitely open to helping my child anyway I can, but wanted another opinion.  Our pediatrician didn't think a developmental pediatrician was necessary.  I would love some guidance and am open to everything.  The disipline in our house is the naughty step or she loses privilages and has to earn things back.  My husband and I use Love and Logic as our guide for raising our children.
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Hi.  Oh the preschool blues, I know them well!  I love Love and Logic by the way and have found it very very helpful so that is great that you and your husband have embraced such a positive parenting approach.

I will say that your daughter is only 4 and with 4 goes a wide variance of what is normal developmentally.  I found 4 much harder than 3 with both of my kids.  Both my kids did a half day preschool program at 4 that was either 2 mornings a week or 3 mornings a week.  My older son had a very difficult time in preschool.

He was much different at home than at school and I was floored when his teacher said she suspected something was wrong.  In retrospect, he did have some signs of things at home but it was much more controlled.  I was very resistent to what the teacher was saying.  She wanted him to be evaluated by a therapist that the school contracted with to help figure out if something extra is going on with a child.  The therapist and the teaching staff/director of the school and I met after these observations and told me they thought he had sensory integration disorder.  And I will tell you, he did everything that you mention.  He also wandered the room a bit and didn't participate in all of the stations added to your list.  I wasn't sure and then I went and volunteered for a day.  The look on his face on the playground when he couldn't engaged with all the kids broke my heart and I embraced the idea of helping him.  Best thing I have ever done. Ever.

My son was evaluated by an occupational therapist and began occupational therapy.  This is a combination of play therapy that works on the nervous system, behavioral therapy (ways to help with meltdowns/angry outbursts in a school setting or at home), and exposure therapy (my son didn't like tags in his clothes, socks, or his hands wet).  Every kid should be so lucky to do occupational therapy--------- kids absolutely love it.  

Sensory integration disorder involves the nervous system and processing of things.  It is worse in crowds or school because the nervous system is overwhelmed at that time.  I am guessing your daughter may also have some anxiety.  With sensory it is hard to say if anxiety is secondary to the sensory or if it is on its own.  My son had anxiety (chewed his shirt sleeves, etc.) but as we treated his sensory symptoms, his anxiety got less and less and rarely surfaces now (he's 6.5).  The whisper voice, not participating in the songs, etc. bring anxiety to mind.  But as I said, that can often be secondary to something else.

One thing that really helped with my son and you'll be well versed in this if you use love and logic is the idea of choices.  He was given all kinds of choices at school.  That bit of control helped him comply.  We also used the visual transitional clock at school (where a red pie gets smaller and smaller as time runs out).  My son had a cool down spot that he could go to and an enclosed area is great (a pop up tent, buy one and bring it in or see what they have).  We worked on what he CAN do to express being upset, use his words and talk to the teacher (we checked out lots of books on emotions and I gave him the words to use as well as words he could think about to apply to himself and understand what is going on inside of him-------- slows reaction time), role played what to do if upset.  It would help if his teacher documented triggers and then you could problem solve as a team on it.  

How does your daughter do in some key areas such as speech?  Also, how is her handwriting?  Can she ride a bike (with training wheels)?  

Do not punish her for what happens at school.  With a 4 year old, it has to be immediate.  The teachers have to handle it there and just keep you informed of what has happened.  She may be trying as hard as she can and home has to be safe.  I discplined my son for a bit until I realized it didn't help and he was already struggling so this was insult to injury.  I needed to teach and guide him as well as support him rather than shame him for his school behavior.  We talked about it for sure------- but more in a problem solving kind of way.  All discipline has to be immediate with little ones.  And remember that self esteem is forming right now for a life time for her.  Some damage in self concept was done to my son during the preschool years and we still battle it.  

If you read about sensory and you think it fits, let me know.  I have about . . . oh I don't know . . . a million ideas for you.  We've had tremendous luck with early intervention. My son was diagnosed at 4 and is now 6.5 and in 1st grade.  He is doing fantastic.  Not a bad day at school to date, friends, etc.  I couldn't be more pleased.  Let me know what you think----------  and best of luck to you.
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And because I'm long winded and just can't stop myself . . . LOL . . . I have one other thing to add.  The thing about teachers is that they can stack up a room full of kids all the same age.  They've seen it all.  They are aware of wide variances in kids and yet can still pick out who might have a further issue.  I give teachers a lot of credit for the experience they bring and being able to help parents look at their child with an unbiased eye.  They aren't always right but in my opinion, the usually are.  Ours was.  I thank her every day in my heart as we got on the right path to help our child.  good luck
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Avatar_m_tn
   Very good points by specialmom!!
I was curious what your pediatrician recommended.  At least some pediatricians are not too well versed in the psychological fields (trying to be positive here), and could easily miss things like SI.
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Have you read the book the "out of sync" child.  It might help you see if there is some sensory issues or not. I know personally how distresing it is to go to a conference and be told your child is not performing on target.  It's ahrd and they are compared to other kids too.

My son has sensory processing disorder and groups like circle time were always hard for him too!  He has never liked music class either.   A principal at his last school said many kids have difficulties in music class.  Interesting...

Go to teh developmental ped, see if it helps, but also keep in mind an OT eval might help too.  Good luck!!
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