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hi

I have an almost 5 yr old that I am seeking a summer program for BEFORE she starts kindergarten this fall. she has horrible tantrums, anger, and hits a lot. ADHD and bipolar run on her dads side.She has been raised with other siblings and her neices and nephews who are 4 and 2 and 1. So my concern is her socializing.
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Hi there!  I was wondering how your daughter did in preschool?  Did she attend a program of any sort?  My son has sensory integration disorder and we found preschool to be VERY challenging.  How any experience she's had prior to kindergarten is a good indicator of where her trouble areas will be once there.  (often you see kids do perfect in school and then be a handful at home . . . which is a good sign that they don't have a special need of some sort but when the opposite is true, they sometimes need extra help.  My son had a very hard time at school or at a birthday party or any group activity).  So that is an important piece of your question----   what her past behavior was like in a similar structured environment.  

For your general question, my son, since he has sensory integration disorder which can look just like add/adhd, goes to occupational therapy.  We go to a big practice and they offer many summer programs for kids to work on various things.  They are super fun and set up for age groups.  My son has been to 'social skills camp' (pirate themed for kids his own age).  Kids with a diagnosis such as sensory, add/adhd, aspergers go but also any kids from the general public who just want to brush up on skills go as well.  You have 2 OT's for 6 kids and they make it a VERY fun experience.  I've seen where other places do it in our area as well.  They also run things for handwriting, 'game playing' where kids work on sportsmanship and play skills, etc.  So, google in your area to see what comes up when you put in 'summer social skills camp'.  You can also use a great resource which is the counselor at the school your daughter will go to next year.  Your counselor will know of things in your area and be able to give you the info to find them.  

Then I would just work on some things at home such as voice volume.  Learning a number system is helpful.  Here is a scale to use-----  1 silent, 2 whisper, 3 normal speaking voice, 4 loud playground voice, and 5, emergency voice "FIRE!".  Practice these with her and start using them.  At church we use a level 1 or 2 voice.  When we go to the park, we use a level 3 or 4 voice.  When we have dinner, we use a level 3 voice when we talk or a level 1 voice if someone else is talking.  This will really help her understand things better in school because you can say, when the teacher is talking, you use a level 1 (silent voice), when you are sitting with our friends at your work table, you use a level 2 voice (whisper) unless the teacher says you can use a level 3 voice (regular talking).  

For tantrums, work on emotional control.  Tantrums usually build even if it seems like it takes 5 seconds to escalate.  So look for her triggers.  See if there is any root issue going on.  Then you can problem solve that issue.  But you can help her come up with OTHER things to do when she gets upset.  I'd get books on emotions from the library written for kids.  They have a great way of explaining what is going on inside of a child and gives them language to use to explain it to others.  Talk about emotions-----  mad, sad, frustrated.  Then talk about appropriate ways she can express them.  She can use her words and tell a teacher.  She can give herself a tight hug (this is calming to the nervous system).  She can go to a 'cool down' spot (which her teacher will probably have somewhere in the room  to make this (bean bag in the corner or something like that).  She can take deep breaths.  She can open and close her fists tightly.  All of this will help slow down the process.  You can role play/act out appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior (what she is doing) and make it funny.  Seeing it in action by you doing it helps illustrate it for a child.  That bit of time it takes to 'think' when a child has an emotion can be the difference between having the meltdown and not sometimes.  

There is a good book also called "hands are not for hitting" which I highly recommend if she hits when mad.   There is another in the series called "words are not for hurting".  Check these out at the library or pick them up at the bookstore/online as they'll be beneficial for her.

Physical activity is also known to regulate a child's nervous system and help with behavior.  Do as much as you can with her now and when she starts school.  It can make a big difference.

Well, good luck.  Diagnosing my son's sensory integration disorder was the most valuable thing we did to change his behavior.  Time will tell if your daughter really does have a diagnosis and she may or may not.  But preparing her for school is a REALLY smart thing to do either way.  peace
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