Aa
A
A
A
Close
Child Behavior Community
14.2k Members
Avatar universal

3 year old circle time problems / not listening at preschool

My daughter will be three in two weeks.  She had gone to preschool two days a week for two hours since this past Sept.  She refuses to sit for circle time and is disruptive.  The teacher's aide has resorted to holding my (struggling to break free) child during circle time.  She only follows directions when she chooses to listen.  I don't know what to do.  

The teacher have asked if an early interventionist could come see my child at school.  So I sat in class out of site and observed.  My child behaved until circle time came.  The teacher's aide held her to keep her in the circle and prevent her from disrupting others.  After circle time she played well with other, but after hand washing for snack she sprung from the bathroom and pushed three kids.  Then at some point before leaving she began running around the classroom, not listening to the teachers when they told her to stop.  Finally, there was a second circle which was cut short.  My child wouldn't sit, but neither would other children at this point.  My child spotted me watching her and ran to me, I quickly told her to sit in circle because I didn't like her behavior and she sat in circle in her spot and listened until class was over!!!!  I don't know what to do.  

I don't want the interventionist to work with my daughter in class because I'm aware of tracking and labels put on children.  I made an appointment with a clinical social worker to help us with her behavior.  My husband and I are trying to improve discipline at home, but part of me just says she's 3.  Three year old do this as they are learning to deal with the world.  But if her behavior is so different from most kids in class, is there a problem.

I can homeschool if necessary,  but I want her to be part of a school environment.  Would love any advice.    
63 Responses
Avatar universal
It may be that your dtr. is having difficulites with transitions, transitions from one activity to another.  This is not at all uncommon with young children.  Please, keep in mind your dtr. is very young and has alot of growing and developing to do.

All children need to experience consequences for behavior.  Negative consequences for negative and inappropriate behavior and positive consequences and rewards for socially appropriate behavior.  Time outs are a good choice when a child displays negative, inappropriate behavior.   Verbal praise, compliments and hugs are among the best rewards for postive pro-social behavior.  You have acted wisely by chosing to meet with a clinical social worker to gain perspective and guidance.

If you dtr. is developing in a normal fashion otherwise.  Please do not be overly concerned.  The behavior you have described is not uncommon for a three year old.  A simple common sense behavior plan will eliminate the issues that you have identified as problems.  
Best wishes...  I am a clinical social worker as well.
Avatar universal
3 years old?  Do you work?

Daycares are horrible for the early development of children.  If you can just find a one on one responsible babysitter or older healthy relative that would be a better environment for the child until kindergarten starts.
Avatar universal
It sounds like something about circle time makes your daughter feel uncomfortable. What do you think about the daycare program? If you want her to stay, maybe you should ask for an early interventionist to observe your child for a period of several days (prior to making any decision about whether or not to have someone there regularly). Labeling is less likely to be a problem in preschool ages. That may be more of an issues in elementary school. Although not every child is a good match for daycare, socialization in a congregate care setting can't be matched in homeschooling.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your replies.  I  have since taken my daughter to see the clinical social worker and we are working on some strategies to help my daughter cooperate and transition well.  We do have to rule out ADHD or ADD.  The social worker feels she probably doesn't have these.  I do have some concerns about the preschool she attends, because of their rush to state my daughter has a problem.  Instead of implementing different stategies to help change her behavior.  I really question her teachers training.  We will stay with this preschool a few more months until I can get her into another program.  

I observed breifly her next day at school and she transitioned well to circle time and sat on her own for a little while, then rolled on the floor, played with toys, but wasn't disrupted and stayed pretty much in the circle.  So cudos for her.   I'll keep working with her at home and hopefully transitions and sitting in circle won't be such a nightmare.
Avatar universal
ADHD is very rare in girls. Be very careful before allowing her to be put on medication.
Avatar universal
I think the process of making children as young as 2 or 3 have enforced mat or circle time is in fact detrimental to their development and wellbeing. Children that age often can't sit still, it is nothing to worry about yet! I have seen mat time last for up to 45 minutes in some preschools and this is not in line with any current brain research. Talk to your daughter about sitting still, practise this at home, but also know that she may need to move to learn (as many kids do). Definately reconsdier the preschool. I think 3 is far too young for 2 days a week. Best of luck!
Avatar universal
If you don't want your child tagged and labeled, I wish you hadn't gone to a social worker. They're trained labelers. I agree with Louise: "I think the process of making children as young as 2 or 3 have enforced mat or circle time is in fact detrimental to their development and wellbeing." It sounds like you need need to find a new preschool, as Louise also said. My daughter is three and a half and acting up in preschool, but she's never been "observed"; we've just been told that it's happening and that we can help in a few ways (positive reinforcement for good behaviors, for example). Also, a teacher should never physically restrain a child. Yeah, you definitely need a new preschool. These people sound undertrained at best. But it's been a year since you posted, so maybe I'm just responding for other people searching out this problem and everything's worked out so far. I hope it has!
Avatar universal
Thanks so much for these blogs.  I was just told today that because my 3.5 year will not sit at circle time and is hyper and runs from activity to activity - that he needs to be assessed and observed.  I questioned what they are trying to seek or gather from their observations and what they even do to slow my kid down.  I do not want a file started, and after hearing that this is not abnormal then why the intervention?  I know that my child is busy!  I need them to put up with this.  Change their strategies etc..... but for someone to track his behaviour.... I have asked them not to.  Instead I will attend his preschool and offer strategies to them.  I know my son well, and I am a professional teacher.  Of course my son is needing to develop more and get used to  the circle time,  but some interventions are a preamble to an inevitable LABEL.  In the 2 months that he has been observed he has slowly progressed with the sitting at the circle.  I figure that give him a couple more months and lets see.    What do you all think?
973741 tn?1342346373
Hi, your story rings very familiar in my ears.  I have a son who had all of these issues in preschool where he attended one half day a week at 3 and two half days a week at 4.  They also suggested that a counselor observe my son which I agreed to.  I am so thankful that I did.  At 4 he was evaluated by an occupational therapist and was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder.  Thank goodness is all I can say.  Here is why I say that. . .

Let me start by saying that a developmental delay has NOTHING to do with intelligence as my son is super smart and always does better than his peers academically.  But with the issues you mention your child having, my son struggled too.  By 4, kids weren't playing with my child as much and not being comfortable in school was taking a toll on his self esteem.  I could have taken him out but that would have solved nothing.  His nervous system delay would never have been addressed.  

As far as labels----  I've never gotten that.  By naming why my child has trouble in certain areas I have allowed teachers to understand my child better.  If I hadn't labeled my child with sensory integration then he would have been labeled anyway----  trouble maker, misfit, hard to teach kid, etc.  Make no mistake about it-----  your child will be judged harsher by not addressing it than trying to help them.  And these labels don't "follow" you everywhere.  Your kid wouldn't have a banner over their head for the rest of their life.  What goes on in a child's file throughout their school experience is confidential by law.  My son's preschool teachers weren't standing around talking about my son's diagnosis.  If by chance there is an issue----  a "label" as you call it gives your child the right by law to have certain things in place that help them feel more comfortable in school.  My son needs to move around some to focas-----  for example.  An IEP would allow for that.  This law goes all the way through college to help students who need it to be successful both in big obvious ways and small subtle ways.  If there is an aide in a classroom in public school ----  they do not identify who they are there to help and help all in the class.  They are there for a specific student but it is confidential who it is.  You only know if it is a physical problem or blatently obvious.

Anyway, with the couselor's help in preschool, they came up with strategies to help my son feel good in school.  He did much better after that.  We've done occupational therapy for about a year now and lots of things at home to address his nervous system.  He is now 5 and in kindergarten.  He has NO issues there and is doing great.  No IEP has been discussed or needed.  I met with his kinder teacher over the summer and discussed his sensory issues.  She talked to his OT and preschool teacher from last year to get the low down.  I held nothing back.  And while other kids are adjusting to kindergarten negatively----  my son is thriving.  This would not be the case had I not acted to address the issues early on.  Early intervention can change the course of a kids life.  My son is SO much happier now-----  this was for him not anyone else---- not me, not teachers JUST FOR HIM.

Now your child is only 3 and this is probably the first preschool experience.  He/she may be just adjusting and you can watch and see for sure and they may grow out of it.  But what the school is telling you is that out of all the kids that same age and maturity level that they see----  your child is standing out.  I wouldn't run away from that because they may have the answer to help  your child now and always.  Teachers and school social workers/counselors have the advantage of seeing lots of kids and can compare them without bias (as we parents have).  My son was evaluated at 3 and it was inconclusive because kids are so different at that age.  So if you watch and wait and the problem persists-----  see an occupational therapist.  

These are just my thoughts and opinions only.  NO  more important than anyone elses.  But I do wish for you the same experience of success my son now feels in school and elsewhere.  Good luck.
189897 tn?1441130118
COMMUNITY LEADER
Just a quick note for something to watch out for the rest of the year.  I don't like the line  "The teacher's aide held her to keep her in the circle."  Now I have only worked with K and above as a school principal, but we would never hold a child unless someone was in danger (or they needed a hug).  Maybe things are done differently in preschool.  But when an early intervention is "holding" the child, that worries me about some of their other methods.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the thoughts!  You a re right in many ways, I guess I am sad, very sad that my son is standing out.  I spent all evening observing him and trying different things.  I is who he is.  I guess I am try8ing to be tough and change him at home.  I question what their assessment is and want to see the assessment and do my own analysis.  I don't want them labelling, I don't think they are qualified to tell me what my son has.  I guess I am being much more negative compared to you.  My son has not been around kids and has my parents look after him which is in a dif language and not a lot of interaction.  I have thought of many factors as to why my son may be this way.  He does not sit still and is very active..... is this really the time to jump to conclusions?  I am scared, so scared!
973741 tn?1342346373
I understand how  you feel and felt the exact same way.  It was first born child that they wanted to observe and to me, he was perfect.  I went along with them because I knew in my heart they were trying to help him.  But I too had lots of excuses.  I have two kids 15 months apart and we were by ourselves a lot.  I loved being a mom so much that I did so many things for him that he didn't have a chance to do it himself.  I hadn't worked on social skills with him before school, etc. etc. etc.  And at 3 when he was observed and they suspected a developmental delay of sensory-----  I was speechless.  I said all of the same things you are saying.  I really did and I was devestated.  The formal evaluation at that time was somewhat inconclusive so I chose to believe they had made a mistake.  By the next school year-----  there was no denying that something was going on.  I fought it in my head.  I cried to myself that it couldn't be true and what would this mean for my beautiful, smart boy.  Then I went to school one day and watched him struggle.  He's smart---- smart enough to know he wasn't fitting in.  The look of pain on HIS face is all it took for me to change his attitude.  That was when I realized it isn't about me and how I feel----  I had to help HIM feel better.  He was re-evaluated and this time the results were firm sensory integration disorder.  We've been on the road to work on this ever since.  He might have that label-----  but his teachers believe he is working harder than most of the other kids in his class now to be a part of it.  It's resulted in his teachers being empathetic and helpful and WANTING him to suceed.  We still have his preschool teachers calling to check on him now that he is in public kindergarten.  And I wrote a thank you know to the teacher that first identified sensory in my son when he was 3 and she only had him on half day a week.  She is the greatest teacher in the world to have spotted that and try to help him.  And here is the bottom line-----  your kid is still your kid no matter what.  I love my son AS HE IS.  His extra energy and out of the box behavior and thinking make him a ball to be around at times.  He is very interesting and he has my complete respect for the way he copes and tries to make himself feel better.  My job was to give him the tools to do so.  And now in kindergarten-----  he has friends, he does ALL his work, he sits for circle, he follows the rules and his teacher is enjoying him in her class.  Early intervention I believe in my heart is what made this possible.

Now, your son may not have any disorder at all.  He really may just be immature and adjusting.  Time will tell.  Just don't wait too long.  I would arm yourself with information-----  read about sensory, ADD and books on difficult children.  ( I know we hate to admit our child is falling in this category-----  so let's say in our minds "spirited" kids).   Greenspan has a book . . .I am trying to remember the name of it but it is excellent.  It was one of the first books I read that comforted me about my son's challenges.  Maybe it is "the difficult child" something like that.  Look up the author Greenspan at the library and you should see it.  You don't have to believe the teacher other than she is seeing something that concerns her.  But a counselor is trained to be able to tell what is going on better.  She will observe and possibly set up an evaluation which will be FREE through government grant, most likely.  Do it.  Then if they come up with a diagnosis-----  you can get second third and fourth opinions.  It is more information to add to your data base.  I will say that ADD is thrown around freely these days----  look at the other causes too like sensory.  And again, it may be just a blip in the radar too.  It will be okay either way.

I do agree with Sandman---- I wouldn't let someone hold my child down either.  Giving a choice to join the group or not is a better tactic than force of a young child.  That would cause hysteria.  Some kids like to be squeezed when they are upset------  but this needs to be worked out ahead of time and should be soothing and not causing further distress.  

I wish you lots of luck-----  try not to be sad.  My son is proof that it will be okay.  Hang in there.
Avatar universal
I was reading all of your posts and wondered if anyone had any suggestions to help a little one with sensory issues to sit and focus during circle time!  My little one has an ot and we are working on different method just thought maybe someone could offer some advise any advise please!!!! My son is going to be 4 soon.
Avatar universal
Tracking the behavior doesn't necessarily mean diagnosing, classifying or labeling your dtr.  It can be a great tool used to determine what might be setting her off during circle or transitions.  There is nothing wrong with a child having a diagnosis.  My son is on the spectrum and as a result has received a lot of great support that has helped put him a class ahead cognitively from his peers.  I say all the help you can get until your child is 5 the better.  This is the time the brain develops the most!
Avatar universal
Hello Sahsamom,

You original post sounds exactly like what I am currently experiencing with my daughter (i.e., will not sit for circle time, is disruptive in class, etc.). She is 3.5 years old and her teachers have also recommended that she get evaluated. At the moment, this is so heartbreaking for us...  Can you share the result of your analysis / evaluation? It would be very insightful to know how things are panning out for you.
973741 tn?1342346373
I posted above to someone else but wanted to contact you as well.  My son was just like the child in the post.  His preschool suggested an evaluation and I felt exactly as you do.  Heartbroken.  I adore my boy like no other (except maybe his brother) and this felt so terrible at the time.  He was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder by an occupational therapist.  But you know what guru, it is okay.  He is the same kid to me he always was.  I love him to pieces and this is just part of who he is.  We started occupational therapy when he was 4 and can I tell you that he is doing beautifully?  He really is.  He is 6 and in kindergarden now.  He has only had one bad day all year and is blending in with the rest of the class.  So hold onto the fact that if there is something wrong, they can do so much with our kids these days.  Feel free to contact me here any time if you need support.  good luck
1006035 tn?1485579497
My daughter has a very similar problem. The first Preschool I put her in didn't work out. Now I have her in a school that separates the children by age and doesn't force them to sit. Children are adventurous and don't want to be pinned down. I let them bring in a developmental counselor because they told me it would help them learn how to deal with her. And it already has. They talked to the counselor and she mostly told them not to worry about her. Be persistent and patient. The school is listening to me too. They are very careful not to throw out labels. And believe me, if they did i would get angry. I'm pretty sure they know that.
973741 tn?1342346373
Diva, a label allowed my child to eventually thrive and be much more happy.  Labels are not bad as they are a designation towards what things will help my child be better able to handle his enviroment.  Reluctance to accept an issue is common among parents but I am so happy that I helped my child.  Not so he could be perfect in school but so that he could be happy.  A preschool asking to evaluate my child was the best thing that could have happened.  And all children are not the same----------  but should be able to attend to a circle time enviroment for a short spell by 3.  That is developmentally appropriate.  Some children are simply immature and grow out of it.  Many don't.  A wise parent is on top of it.  Just my opinion.  
1006035 tn?1485579497
They should be able to sit still by the time they are 3 if they have been taught that they should. Children develop at very different paces and I never said my daughter doesn't sit still at all, because she does. If a child never went to daycare the transition to Preschool is just going to be more difficult, but not impossible.

As the parent you know what is best for your child, you know if there is a problem or they just being a little slow. I let my daughter develop at her own pace. We let her learn how to use the potty in her own time and I let her wean out of breastfeeding when she was ready. In fact, I still let her use a pacifier at night because she is more comfortable with that. And, if she wakes up in the middle of the night we let her sleep next to us. I think co-sleeping is important. I know it's contrary to what a lot of people say, but it's MY child and I'm going to raise her MY way. She had a couple hiccups along the way but it's nothing she can't overcome. Sashamom, don't be afraid to let a counselor come in. If he/she says something you don't agree with, stand your ground and say "no!" It is against my religion to use medications that alter your brain like antidepressants, etc. so even if they labeled my daughter I would never let them give her medication. People worry way too much about children. I know it's hard not to, but children are smarter and tougher than they look.
973741 tn?1342346373
Truthfully, child development usually happens with no teaching whatsoever.  Focus and attention span is something that kids usually develop on their own and aren't taught.  And there is a normal range for kids at 2, at 3, at 4 and so on.  Most preschool programs do not have long sitting in circle time periods for that reason but have shorter ones that most kids can manage.  A few will not . . . not most or they wouldn't even try.  Most kids by 3 can sit for a short span.  It is age appropriate.  This doesn't mean sitting at a desk and doing arithmetic, but listening to a story or singing a song usually goes alright and kids don't have to be taught typically to do this.  

Anyway, I am not arguing with anyone.  I told myself all of that stuff too with my son.  I'm not saying every child has an issue that can't sit or falls out of the norm in a class but some do.  That is all.  A parent should be on top of it and help if the child needs it in terms of intervention.  I'm not with any child on this forum to know any true details but that is a good rule of thumb.  If a child does not progress in an age appropriate way, I'd follow up.  This is not personal to any child but meant to help the woman who posted.  She is concerned about her child and looking for some ideas.  I am thankful for my child's label because he is doing nearly perfect now.  He wouldn't be had I not intervened.  No meds involved whatsoever!  A diagnosis of a speech delay or a sensory issue does not mean medication.  Luck to all families!!
Avatar universal
three is young for an adhd diagnosis, at this point, I would not focus on that label.  Also, a lot of kids have difficulty with circle time.  It's hard for my son who is now 6.  How long are the circle times.  My son has trouble w/transitions and I have a feeling that this is waht makes it hard for a lot of kids, esp to go from an active activity to sitting in a circle.

I don't think having someone come in and observe is a BAD idea at all, it might be more helpful than the social worker who only hears what you tell her, for someone to see the real deal is MUCH better.  I don't think they would diagnose her at this point with ADHD and if they did I would go againts that diagnosis, too young.

I have been reading a book about sensory processing disorder and a lot of kids push other kids to get sensory input, I don't think they mean harm.  You might pick up a book or check out your library if you are like me trying to save $$.  ONe good one is the "Out of Sync Child".  Try it.  It can't hurt.

Also, at age three they go through stages.  
973741 tn?1342346373
Benjimon, your son is like mine and has a sensory integration diagnosis, correct?
Avatar universal
Yes, specialmom, we just had the eval done.  We will go for OT as soon as the eval comes out and we can schedule OT appts.
973741 tn?1342346373
Benjimom, I think you will be very pleased at what occupational therapy has to offer.  good luck
Have an Answer?
Top Children's Health Answerers
189897 tn?1441130118
San Pedro, CA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Fearing autism, many parents aren't vaccinating their kids. Can doctors reverse this dangerous trend?
Is a gluten-free diet right for you?
We answer your top questions about the flu vaccine.
Learn which over-the-counter medicines are safe for you and your baby
Yummy eats that will keep your child healthy and happy
Healing home remedies for common ailments