I have a friend whose child is 4 years old. He has been enrolled in preschool for 9 months. While at school he is unhappy, spending much of the day hiding in the corner, hitting children and occasionally biting. He does have bright moments but he can be very physical if things don't go his way. He recently began smearing his feces all over the bathroom and himself at home. This has happened several times. Mom never thought he'd do it at school. Today he did. The school has tried to convince mom to get some help from the pediatrician. Mom is reluctant. How can I help my friend? What does this behavior indicate? And, finally, my child is enrolled in the same school. Although the school is very professional and keeps things confidential, children are very perceptive and I'm worried about her feelings for her friend if she finds out. Please help. Thank you.
Smearing feces in children can be the result of exploration, or can be a passive aggressive behavior as well-- they know its gross and everyone will freak out, so they do it. This is why its unusual behavior- most children don't feel this way. Hitting and biting is definitely a way that young children have to communicate that they don't like what's going on around them-- their "fight or flight" instict is being put to use, and they are fighting. So in short, I think that his behavior indicates that this particular pre-school environment is not working so well for him.
It is possible that this child is simply not ready for preschool and his behavior is indicating this in a way that he cannot quite communicate using words. Its also possible that this child is displaying symptoms of some type of issue that requires professional treatment-- could be anything, really.
In general, if a child acts unhappy, and the school that he attends suggests to his/her parents that the child might need an evaluation, then the child should be evaluated. It can be tough for a parent to even admit that something might be "wrong" with their child.... but you know what? If something is wrong and the parent does nothing-- well -- that's irresponsible. If the child had diabetes and the parents refused insulin, they'd go to jail. So if the child is displaying emotional/ behavior issues, and the parents refuse to do anything-- is there much difference?
The best thing you can do for your friend is to be honest -- and let her know your concerns-- she may take this information better from you than from the school.
Thanks for your advice. You are absolutely right. I've been trying to gently convince mom to seek help since the anger he displays at school is the same as the anger he displays at home - or at least whenever he plays with other children, including his siblings. Not always, but often enough. He just doesn't seem happy. It may be that he is not ready for school but he acts the same angry and defiant way at home. Maybe I can find a good book for her...any suggestions that may steer her towards the physician? Thanks again.
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