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377493 tn?1356505749

2 1/2 year old suddenly dislikes music teacher

My son's preschool has music every Wednesday.  Mr. Joe comes in and plays a few different instruments, the kids get to "play" them as well, there is singing, dancing, etc.  For a very long time while getting ready in the morning I would say to my little guy "Yay, it's music with Mr. Joe today" and he would get super excited.  He just loved it.  A few weeks ago, out of the blue, he tells me he doesn't like Mr. Joe.  I asked him why, but no response.  In fact, thumb went straight into mouth, something he usually only does when he is tired or anxious (ie: he has been scolded or something).  And it's getting worse...he seems to just hate the man.  Freaks out when he sees him and wants nothing to do with him.  Now, this child is typically a social butterfly.  He loves people, and is always talking to everyone and anyone everywhere we go.  He is affectionate and a chatterbox.  This is the first time he has told me he doesn't like someone.  I have tried gently probing to try to find out why, but nothing.

I've spoken to his teachers and the Director.  I really don't think anything inappropriate is going on.  This guy has been through all the background checks required by the school, and never ever has access to any child one on one.  The teachers are always in the room, and he is never alone with them. He does this with several preschools, and has for years and years with no issue. There has been no behavioral changes otherwise, at school or at home. He is just a normal, full of energy happy toddler (who definately has the normal "toddler moments").  The only thing that has happened is that several weeks ago, some creep walked up to the edge of the playground (it is gated with 10 foot gates/bars around it) and exposed himself.  The kids were immediately hustled inside and the school went into lockdown.  They aren't even sure that my son saw it, and honestly, we watched and observed carefully and there was no change at all.  It didn't seem to upset him in the least (the man was caught and charged).  I spoke to a child physcologist I work with, and she told me what to watch for - nothing.  If he did see, it didn't seem to disturb him at all.

THis whole thing is bothering me.  This sudden dislike for someone is so not normal for my son.  For now, I have asked the school to allow him to go into another classroom while Mr. Joe is there.  They have done this with no issue.  But why on earth would he suddenly dislike someone he loved.  There doesn't seem to be any reason and it's so worrisome. Any ideas for me?  Could he somehow be associating the music teacher with the indecent exposure that took place?  Should I be taking him to see a professional?  Just not sure what to do here.  Thanks so much.
10 Responses
189897 tn?1441130118
COMMUNITY LEADER
   Well, the good news is that it certainly none of the bad things that you might be worried about.   And the trouble is that unless you have gone into the classroom or talked with someone who was in the classroom - you really don't know what went on.   Was there a teacher in the classroom when this problem occurred?
    My guess - and this is only a guess - is that perhaps your son had to do something that he did not like - perhaps singing, or playing an instrument.  But, since you said that your son is " typically a social butterfly.  He loves people, and is always talking to everyone and anyone everywhere we go.  He is affectionate and a chatterbox".  I am guessing that he might have gotten into trouble for being the social butterfly.    I don't know how Mr. Joe deals with chatterboxes - do you?   But I am guessing that your son was disciplined and it scared him.   Normally, if a child gets disciplined its not that big of a deal, but if its done by somebody who you only see once a week for a short period of time - its tougher to deal with.  Here again, its only a guess.  But if this did happen, the good news is that 2 year old memories are not real good.   But I would talk to Mr. Joe.  Explain that perhaps somehow your son was scared, or whatever.   And ask if you brought your son by perhaps he could talk with him.   A one on one with Mr. Joe showing a bit of attention to him should make a huge difference!
      Anyway, this is my guess of what may have happened based on what I have seen happen with my kindergartners.  
      I really don't think that taking a 2 year old to a professional will make a difference and I don't think that avoiding the situation all year is gonna help either.  Hope this helps.
134578 tn?1546634665
I agree with Sandman.  Especially given that Mr. Joe was never alone with your son, i.e., if a teacher was always there, it doesn't sound like abuse.  (It's also not logical -- say someone who was working in a preschool did want to abuse a child... what could they expect to do?  Any moment, someone could walk in.  If someone were an abuser waiting for an opportunity, this is not how he would do it.)  But since your son is only 2, I would tend to go low-key on bringing the son to talk to Mr. Joe.  I'd try to find a way to make that seem more natural and relaxed, like "accidentally" running into Mr. Joe sometime at the school and (you, Mommy) talking with Mr. Joe in a friendly manner, with your son able to see that you are.  

I also don't think that a 2-year old would suffer particular harm from a person exposing himself, or carry that thought and transfer it to Mr. Joe.  The child would have to know the sexual significance of someone exposing himself, and find it frightening, and probably your son is years from understanding that.  Do you think your son would tell you if Mr. Joe had criticized him or scolded him?  Do you have a way to ask him that he would understand?
377493 tn?1356505749
Thanks for your replies.  Although I will admit that initially my mind jumped to the worse, I am very confident that is not the case.  It just isn't possible, and Annie your right, these kids are watched so very closely that it doesn't seem to me the kind of place an abuser would make any sort of attempt.  I have sat in on music prior to this incident and Mr. Joe is great with the kids.  Ryder's teachers said nothing out of the ordinary happened in any of the music sessions, and I did ask about scolding.  They said no, that if anything, it would be one of them to ask a child to settle down or whatever the case may be.

As for the indecent exposure, although the guy is a creep and I'm glad he was caught, I doubt my son would see a penis any different then an arm or something - and that is if he even saw the incident.  It certainly has not seemed to affect him at all.  

I will take your suggestions.  Next wednesday I will go to the music session with him and try to help him "make friends" without making a big deal out of it. I'll stick around the whole class and participate.  Perhaps that will help things.  It's a good idea. Weekly music is part of the curriculum, and I love the fact he is being exposed to music at school, so I hate for him to keep missing it. Not sure why this bothers me so much except that it is so out of character for my little boy.  I have asked him, but the problem is if I suggest something he will say yes, and I'm also worried about reinforcing his dislike if that makes sense.  Thanks - great info and suggestions as usual.

973741 tn?1342346373
Hm.  Well, I see this a bit differently.  I'd ignore it.  Maybe the man had to correct Ryder a couple of times in class.  Music is notoriously a hard thing for some kids.  In our elementary school--------  kids that are keeping it together all day fall apart in music.  

Kids see it as play time when the teacher sees it as instructional time.  

And some kids get revved up by music, the noises, the 'new' things in front of them.

I'd imagine he got in trouble that was no big deal but Ryder didn't like it and now doesn't like music.  

My son at 3 and 4 had a hard time in music.  He would go to a corner and spin to shut it out.  He LOVED (and still does) music but the class was a bit overwhelming for him.  

This is a reputable preschool and you know the man isn't alone with your child.  I would not have much discussion with Ryder about it.  Talk to his teachers to make sure all is alright and I'd perhaps casually show up at music and observe if you can do so without being part of the class to really see how this man teaches and how Ryder responds to it.  

good luck sweetie, it will be okay!!
134578 tn?1546634665
Interestingly, recent research has shown that kids who have a music curriculum in their schools test better on all subjects.  In other words, music, fun and lighthearted though it may seem, is significant for intellectual development.  Thinking of this now, in context of what you are writing, this also suggests to me that it might also be more intellectually challenging than it looks, (as specialmom mentions when she says kids who hold it together all day fall apart in music class).  I mean, it might be more challenging to the brain, and unexpectedly too.  Maybe it's just the need to balance their desire to go wild with it and play, with the need to keep it together and stay disciplined, that's so good for the brain (and so hard to do), maybe it is something else.  But possibly Ryder simply got to a place where something about it seemed very hard, and he wasn't expecting it, and it cascaded for him emotionally, and he transferred it to Mr. Joe because he represents music that used to be Ryder's fave and now is suddenly and inexplicably hard.

If that is the case, (if you don't take specialmom's excellent advice just to igmore it, which might be the best way because it expresses to Ryder that the whole thing was no big deal), if you feel obliged to try something, you might just do some relaxed playing with musical stuff at home.  The wooden spoon banging on the overturned plastic mixing bowl set, the row of glasses full of various amounts of water being ting-ed on the side with a teaspoon to ring them, that kind of thing.  Maybe if Ryder gets back into the fun of making music, he will also want to do it at school.

One last thought -- Augie is wonderful, chatty, outgoing, relaxed and mature at home, and with big groups of friends and relatives.  (Right now as I write, he is outside talking to the house painters.)  But get him in a classroom setting, especially if it is something new, he moves slowly, looks diffident, and is often surprisingly unforthcoming.  Kids really can be very different in a school setting than at home.  So don't let Ryder's home behavior make you think that he is always that way at school, and if he is not, there is an issue.  He might just be processing.
13167 tn?1327197724
I agree with the others,  and suspect that maybe all that music in a small space is just too much.  
377493 tn?1356505749
Thanks again for all the comments.  Some different and interesting persepectives for me, and I appreciate it.

I have actually enrolled him in Kindermusic and our first class is Saturday.  It's called "Family Time", so I am an active participant.  I think that will help me know if it is just that music in a semi structured environment is the issue or not.  And I am going to attend the music group next Wednesday I think, just to see what his reaction is.  I am hoping that with me there, he will feel more confidant in staying in the room.  

After reading Specialmom's comments, I had another thought as to what might be going on.  Ryder went into the pre school group in September, and it wasn't long after that that this started.  The pre school is part of the daycare he has attended for quite some time, but is a bit more structured given that it has an actual curriculam, where when he had music in the younger group, it really was just a play/dance time and the kids could get quite wild.  He is a pretty energetic kid, so I am wondering in the increased structure might be part of the problem?  He can't be quite as "wild" as he was.  I might be wrong, but I would like to see how they handle this group in music vs. the younger kids.  

I will say though that he seems to have adjusted to the new environment and structure quite well.  I haven't had a single report of negative behavior or anything, so if something did happen it wasn't serious enough for them to discuss it with me.  That makes me feel better.  We shall see I guess.  

Thanks again everyone, your advice and input is so helpful to me.  
973741 tn?1342346373
Oh, memories!!!  We did 'Family Time' at our local Kindermusic branch too!  Both my boys absolutely loved it.  I'm a huge fan of kindermusic and both my boys attended classes with me and then without me when they got older.  They did camp in the summer too.  Really a wonderful experience that I found valuable for my boys.

With that said, it sadly isn't a good judge of things in my opinion.  My son did just fine with me there, well rested on a Saturday morning as it was not like a music class slipped into his day at preschool.  

Honestly, what I'd do is go meet this music teacher and ask about Ryder's behavior in class.  Ask him if he's gotten into trouble or has to be redirected.  Do the preschool teachers sit inside the room during music or outside?  You can ask them what they think is going on.

Don't ask Ryder as with him, you want to minimize it.  

I have noticed that something music makes kids think it is like 'play ground' time.  And some music teachers take their tast very seriously.  This teacher may not be warm and fuzzy.  He may not of allowed Ryder to play with the egg shaker instrument.  Who knows but it really can be something that simple.  

Now I say that assuming you are at a loss and your mama instincts aren't in over drive.  I believe you never ignore those.  If your gut says something BAD is going on, then that is different.  But if you are more perplexed, it could be some of the things I've mentioned.

good luck sweetie!  Oh, and enjoy your kindermusic class!!!
377493 tn?1356505749
I am so excited about Kindermusic..lol.  It's going to be so much fun I think.

I have met the music teacher on many occasions.  It's the same guy that does music in the rooms for the younger kids, so Ryder has known him about a year and a half.  He is pretty good - he lets kids choose the songs, play the instruments, etc. Ryder loved him!  He also attends and does sing alongs, etc. at the Christmas Party, Halloween Parties, etc.  I am the queen of "dropping in" , plus attend all parent invited events, so I have met him on several occasions.  I think that is why this is bothering me so much.  I am however, completely convinced nothing awful has or is happening.  The teachers stay right in the room always.  And at this age, he doesn't even go to the bathroom alone (not that he is potty trained yet, but he does try sometimes).  

I can't say any major red flags here for me, so I guess perplexed is more the word to use.  He has just never done this with anyone before, so it is so out of character.  I am sure that if I ever find out what it is, it will be something small though.

THanks honey, and I'll let you know how Kindermusic goes.  
973741 tn?1342346373
When my niece was two/three ish ... she went through a weird phase.  First, she was/is my angel.  I love her with my whole heart and did so the moment, the very second she was born.  She's just my niece but she was like my first baby.  Well, briefly, she did this funny thing at that age where she'd see me and get a mean face and mumble mean things to me.  I thought it was funny (she could never hurt my feelings, I KNEW she loved me as much as i love her) but my sister would wig out and she'd get in all kinds of trouble.  It lasted a couple of months.  Never did we figure out what she was doing or why.  It really was just a phase.

And then she, not at the same time as that but around that time, decided that she was terrified of MY uncle who would be her great uncle.  He is a tall man with a deep voice.  But he is a big teddy bear and loves kids and they love him.  We spend Christmas day together every year, Thanksgiving, etc.  And days in between.  Well, all of a sudden he would walk in her direction and she'd begin crying "no Uncle Joe.  no Uncle Joe."  ???  We had no idea.  There was no worry about any 'thing' having happened as he was never with her alone (nor would we worry about that anyway----  but she was of an age in which her mom, dad or frankly, me . . .  her doting auntie was ALWAYS by her side).  It was just so weird.

Phases, both of them.  both went away.  My boys didn't go through that.  My oldest once cried when a babysitter came to the door which was unusual for him.  I stood by and listened after she thought I'd left and she was using a mean voice.  I came back in and sent her home never to return.  

My mama gut told me that he was reacting to her because of a reason and he was.  

Anyway, those are my further thoughts for what they are worth.  

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