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Avatar universal

Kindergartener tantrum

My son just entered K this Fall and I have received call from teacher 3 times within 4 weeks. She stated that my son had inappropreiate language and behavior when he did not get his own way. One time he even ran away from the classroom that got her worried. The last time was yesterday. He was in bad mood when we dropped him off to before care because he forgot his toy at home. I told him that I am not going home to take the toy and he can play it after he gets home. He was still upset and crying when I left. Then teacher called me at noon time stated that he was upset and threw tantrum again when he arrived school. She had to send him to the nurse to calm down and avoid the interuption of the class. She suggested me to speak to pediatrian because she thinks his behavior and anger control is inappropriate at his age, especially he needs to take long time to calm down. I called pediatrician and he does not believe it's medical issue because he was well under control when he is home and after school (same facility as his PreK). Also he is very easy going when he is in normal mood and he remebers what teacher told him at school (he is listening and learning). His pediatrician believes that it's the adjustment issue with new environment and teacher, but we can try to see counselor or pediatric psychologist if teacher thinks he is too distruptive.
My son is also taking karate class since he turns 5 last Dec. He did throw tantrum and did not cooperate at the beginning. However, after 1-2 months sessions (once a week). Now he is mostly under control with strict discipline over there. He takes the class at 6-7pm while he is very tired. If he even can listen and cooperate most of time under tireness, I really don't believe that he has medical issue. In addition, by watching his karate class, I also learn that he will be more cooperate when he is with strict teacher. When teacher is soft, he tends to take advantage and will test the adult's authority.
Anyone has similar experience please help. Is it necessary to schedule appointment with psychologist and get him eveluate?
13 Responses
171768 tn?1324233699
First of all, about language- it is best for the child to continue speaking the native language at home. I am a certified ESL teacher and that is what we are taught and encouraged to tell families. Children need to learn a language fully and it is best that it is the language that the family speaks. The skills acquired in the native language transfer easily to the second language (English). If this child has been in daycare for 4 years, I am confident that his english knowledge is not an issue here. If it were, the school would provide ESL services. We automatically test children who have another language listed as their home language.

The fact that he is fine in structured times but has difficulty during unstructured times points to a possible social or anxiety problem. He is probably overwhelmed by social situations and acts out. This would also explain why he had so much difficulty when he started karate. Children do not recognize that what they are feeling is anxiety, so they cannot explain why they are acting out. The structure and discipline gives them a sense of security. Some of my most aggressive and disruptive students turned out to be anxious children. You wouldn't think so at first glance since they were always acting out and therefore the center of attention.
So, what does one do with this? In the daycare, the teachers were able to provide him extra guidance and reassurance. They were able to model appropriate behaviors, redirect him, and engage him if he was acting out. A kindergarten teacher cannot do this. Even if she wanted to. Most of them are alone, or with a single aide, and 20-25 children. The best you can do is work on social skills and problem solving. Help him learn to recognize when he is overwhelmed and teach him first to label the feelings. Then you can teach him appropriate ways to express those feelings. When he speaks inappropriately or acts out in anger, acknowledge that he was angry. Let him know it's OK to feel angry, but saying he said is not appropriate. Ask him what he thinks he can do next time instead.
It takes a long time, but you can slowly retrain his reactions, and help him learn to recognize his feelings. You can also being to role play introducing him to different social situations, or even take him to places where he may not know the children and guide him through interacting with them. You can also find out who he does click with and try to arrange a play date.
535822 tn?1443980380
Where would he learn inappropiate language from has he any older siblins , what is he like at home ?
Avatar universal
My son is bilingual and we speaks only chinese at home. He learns all his english from daycare and preK. I think he learns those from movie and daycare where they have elementary school age kids doing after school there. The inappropriate language is like "I will punch you down"..not something like dirty words. We took away his TV time when we got comlaint from teacher and completely stop him watching transformer movie after he said "I'll ask transformer to fight you" to the teacher.

He is the only kid so he has no competition at home. He started to go daycare since he was 1 so he did learn sharing and taking turns even though sometimes he is not willing to. At home he is very caring kid and always cares about my feelings. When I said NO to him, he is not happy but he won't throw tantrum like what he does at school now because he knows that I will be angry and upset about him. If he throw tantrum at home, he will be sent to his room for timeout. Same method applied in karate class. He will be sent aside and sit/watch until he is willing to listen/obey again. In school, teacher has a spot in the class if kid is angry or she will send kid to nurse if he is still not able to stay calm in the classroom.
1006035 tn?1485579497
First of all, I would start using English at home. I think it's really cool that he's bilingual, but he may be having a hard time adjusting to using the different languages at different places. (I assume you live in the U.S.) When children feel misunderstood they act out because they don't feel like they can communicate.

My daughter is an only child too and she acts like that a lot. She's just not used to sharing and is used to doing things her way. Children who have no siblings act differently than kids that have them.

I would also consider having a therapist come and help him at the school. Do they have one on staff or can you find one who can help him? Even once a week would be good for him. Sometimes school is harder for some children and it's not a bad thing. Also, sometimes teachers need to learn how to be more patient. I would consult your pediatrician. It never hurts to get some advice.
Avatar universal
Thanks for all comments.

I did speak to his pediatrician and he does not concern at all. He said that some kids will take longer time to adjust the new environment and new stuffs. He just started new school for less than a month. Teachers need to be more patient. I schedule a meeting with his PreK teahcer and current after school teacher tomorrow. I will see what they said about him in the center. I will also see if I can contact school psychologist.
535822 tn?1443980380
I also think he should speak English at home I am assuming you live here and it is the main language it seems like a good idea children pick up languages easily .the doctor gave good advice it is early it does take time to settle in..good luck sounds like you have a handle on what to do ..
Avatar universal
We had a quick talk with preK teacher and after school teacher. They told us that he is ok during contruction time. He is able to sit down and follow what is told to do. During unconstruction time/free play, he does not interact a lot with other kids who he is not familar with or have no common interests. He only plays with those he knew from preK. Otherwise, he will running around and do role play game by himself. The preK teacher and after school teacher think it's not the big issue. They will help to engage him with others more. In addition, they do not think it takes long time for him to recover from a bad mood. The PreK teacher said that she usually gave him options to play with the kids or sit beside her for 5 minutes when he was not listen or follow. We use the same method at home. That seems working out with him.
It sounds like my son does not have big issue here. I don't know why kindergarten teacher make big deal out of a simple bad day. Anyway, we will continue our discipline and will also pick up some children books related to angry and emotion control to read with him. Hoepfully we can help him improve the current situation.
Avatar universal
Just a thought, but it be helpful to bring in an interpreter?  The other big issue that I see here is that the teacher made a big deal out of it and may have scared him.
Avatar universal
I don't think he needs interpreter. He has been exposed to all English environment when he started daycare at age 1. He may not have lots of vocabulary like typical american kids, but he does not have issue to communicate in english at all. He is able to read level 1 book and we almost finished kindergarten level math (singapore math) in summer. He is able to tell me what story teacher read in both languages so that I think he is ok to switch between languages.
Avatar universal
Love your comments. My son goes to weekend school for native language as well. I want to maintain his bilingual situation as long as possible. I have to admit. We both stress out a little bit.
I will try to focus on how to express the feeling and how to deal with the feelings. My son can chat with kids that he just met in playground or library easily and naturally without knowing their names so he does not have problem to be in social situation. Like you said, maybe he is more overwhelmed by kindergarten and weekend chinese school starting at the same time. I think he does need to improve his social skills to be more comfortable in the bigger group environment like public school. Thanks a lot
171768 tn?1324233699
Another thing to consider as a possibility would be mild sensory issues. A child who is sensory sensitive would easily get overwhelmed in situations where there is a bit more noise, chaos, etc.. like in a karate class or during unstructured school times. It doesn't sound like it would be as extreme as sensory processing disorder, but I have also found that many children who exhibit these behaviors are more sensitive (which in turn increases anxiety). Just a thought you may want to read up on.
I myself am sensory sensitive, or as my child's pediatrician put it, neurologically sensitive. Nothing officially diagnosed- I am just much more sensitive to lights, noises, etc. So I can understand first hand how it can overwhelm a child.
Avatar universal
I never thought about sensory issues. He is doing fine now in karate class. Actually their startup class is more one to one. They want to make sure he is able to follow and listen, then they promot him to regular children class. He had hard time is due to he just want to did his own way. To my surprise, even he had hard time in class, but he never refused to go. After 1 month trial class+3 month startup class, his attention span has been extened from 10 mins to 30-40 min. Now he is in children intermed class and he is able to handle 1 hour class and 2-3 times a week with mixed levels.
I am not sure if he has sensory issues. He is able to fall asleep in the noisy environment when he is tired. When my husband took him to work by train that full of people, he seems acting normal. But I will research it. Thanks.
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