4yr old pre-school diff., hitting and striking out
Our son started pre-school this fall & turned 4 yrs old this past November. The first 2 wks of school were great and then I started getting reports from his teacher that he was being very disruptive in class. He's always been very, very active & if he's the least bit tired becomes difficult to manage. We've tried rewarding his behavior when he listens at school which has only worked a few times. About a month ago he started hitting again at home (did a lot of this in his two's), usually only me, Mom, but he has hit his dad as well. We've tried timeouts and now put a toy away each time he acts out. He's an only child and my husband & I have a great relationship & we do alot of stuff together. I've also been a stay at home Mom for the last 2 years, and before that very limited part-time, on weekends when my husband was home . This past week he has really acted out at school (attends preschool 3, 3hr days a wk) and today the teacher said he scratched another boy in the face so hard that it bled and they had to call his parents. I was shocked. The teacher has been great keeping us informed of his behavior. We feel at a total loss. Our son is so incredibly sweet and loving, but he gets in these moods where all he wants to do is lash out. We are at a complete loss about what to do at this point.
At this age, a major developmental challenge is to learn to control impulses.It goes without saying that your son must learn to control the impulse to strike out when he feels angry. The single best way to do this is by placing him in time out immediately when he acts in the least bit aggressively. I'd refrain from the practice of taking away a toy each time he misbehaves. It's not a tactic that will be effective with a child so young. You might also consider having him attend the pre-school for additional days. The benefit of attending mor eoften is that the routine can help, and right now he may not be receiving sufficent exposure to the program to make it an integral part of his routine.
Hello, I start out by saying that I working in a preschool with 3 year old children, I am NOT an expert but I do get to play with them 4 days a week. First, you said that your son was new to the preschool experience, and an only child too, this past fall...that says a lot right there. He is so use to getting his own way, period. He has probably never really had to share toys, take turns, stand in line, sit in circle time, sit at a table with a bunch a strangers, follow directions from teachers and a whole bunch of other things to boot, along with the social aspects of preschool. The first two weeks of preschool are usually very calm and quiet, although there is always an exception to the rule. In the third week the kids start to feel comfortable and begin to act out, pushing the teachers limits. It is during this time that your son's teacher said that he started to become disruptive, probably he realized that he was going to be coming to school and having to follow rules.
You mentioned that when he gets tired, he is difficult to manage. An easy solution to this is to have him get more sleep, either more naps or an earlier bed time, or both.
You also mentioned that you are rewarding his good behavior, which is a really wonderful thing to do. On the "off days" have you let him know how sad you are that he has done something not good? Kids this age cannot empahtize, they cannot understand how it would feel, for instance, to be scratched or hit. You could say, "How would you like it if I hit you?" Chances are your son will say he wouldn't like it. Also, just as a precaution, keep his nails short.
One thing that caught my eye, you said that he hit a lot at 2 years of age. In his mind if hitting was o-k at 2 and he did not get in trouble (?) than it is probably o-k at 4 years of age. It seems like you are not stopping the behavior and that is why he is striking out physically at other kids, if he can do it at home and not get in trouble than he is going to at least try to do it at school and see what happens. You and your husband need to tell him that hitting, scratching etc., are not o-k for him to be doing. Start taking away the stuff you do together as a family. Let him know how sad it makes you and how sad it makes your husband. Let him know that when he hurts people it is NOT o-k. Go to your local library and get some books on kids and empathy...for three and four year olds and hopefully that will really help him see that he should be nice to his friends...Good Luck!
Wow! Your problem sounds almost identical to mine! We even tried the taking a toy away trick - didn't really work because the closet started to get pretty cluttered.
There are some differences. My daughter is 3 1/2 and has never hit before. In fact, her behavior changed drastically when she started her pre-school. I'm really at my wits end. To deepen the plot, so to speak, she is a hightly advanced learner - was reading at 20 months, etc and has a highly active imagination with 10 or so imaginary playmates who live in an imaginary country that she's the president of - oh, yes, and she's even invented a language that is spoken in this country. She'd rather skip around telling stories to herself than sit and play with the other kids. She has a very strong opinion about how reality should be and with 17 other 3 year olds in the room, that's pretty frustrating for her.
One thing I wanted to point out. She has been exposed to other children throughout her life, even though she's an only child. She's never had trouble sharing or taking turns before - really, she hasn't. Only since pre-school. But, then again, I've always been there before whispering in her ear about how to behave. You'd think that wouldn've been a done deal. I feel like such a failure.
I was broken hearted today when, after I took her to ballet class, and then to the mall where she met Santa and spent a bit of time in the Disney store and then we had a snack together, she told me she wanted to go live with someone who wasn't mean to her and ran off. All because I tried to put her coat on. Classic little brat, huh? But, it can't be that simple. Maybe I'm just over reacting. But it hurt so bad. I think it was the first time she saw me cry.
Her doctor has been away this week and I will call on Monday. If I don't like or feel satisfied with that I'll try posting a question here about this. I'm also trying to get an eval from G&T people, since some of this is characteristic of advanced learners.
But it is nice to know someone out there is going through just the same thing, well kind of. I wish the original poster could email me so we can support each other through this, but I don't know if that's allowed.
Your daughter sounds amazing! Better start saving for her college education. She's going to be expensive! Just want to say love hurts sometimes. That's where the expression 'Tough Love' comes from. We parents have to set the rules and enforce them for their own good, even though, at the time, the little ones don't understand. And when they say mean things back to you, it does break your heart. I remember when my little one, in the grocery store, had an issue of some sort. I tried to get her to change her behavior, and she screamed in that teary, pathetic little voice, "You hurt my heart." Now, that made my heart hurt! They don't know exactly what they are saying at that age, yet they come up with some amazing ways to say things.
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