Hi Erica, problems started in Ella's second week of starting school last year. I was called in to school because she was scratching other children. I asked for home/school book and some behaviour management (reward systems) were put in place. However, these were not consistent and Ella continued her first year as she had started it. Before she started this year I went in to see head teacher and her new teacher with my concerns about Ella's behaviour. They reassured me that they would put management systems in place to stop this negative behaviour. They have done whole class circle times and Ella has a behaviour chart. However, her behaviour has not changed. She can be working or playing quite happily and will suddenly, for no apparent reason, slap, pinch, scratch or push another child. The school says there is no build up to this and the teacher seems, like me, quite at a loss to understand it or know what to do next. Ella loves going to school and is above average academically and very articulate. She is a very demanding child and quite difficult to deal with at home but the level of spitefulness she displays at school is not repeated outside of school. I work 3 days a week and my childminder says that she is completely fine with her and the other children she looks after. She is also fine at clubs she attends outside of school. I am very worried and stressed about the whole situation and just want to help Ella before she gets much older and her behaviour becomes so ingrained in her. Ella does understand how her negative behaviour makes others feel and will say sorry and write sorry letters. However, its like she just cant stop herself. I have tried many things and am now considering moving her to a different school but think this will just move the problem rather than solve it.
The positive issue in your situation with your daughter is that the behavior is only being exhibited at school and not at home as well. So the focus must be at school. The teachers must be willing to make every effort to help Ella. From what I can infer, you are a very supportive and caring parent who wants to be proactive in assisting your daughter in the management of her behavioral difficulties. What I would suggest,like you mentioned, is to wait until after the holiday season is over and then observe your daughter at school and her interactions with other students on several occasions to obtain a clearer understanding of what exactly is occurring. Request a conference with the teacher after your observations.
Here are some suggestions that could assist your daughter at school which you probably will have to discuss with the teachers if they are at a loss as to what to do:
-Teacher should send home a daily behavior report. If Ella has had a good day, you can reinforce her positive behavior and REALLY praise her accomplishments for maintaining self control. If she has had a bad day, reduce your negative reactions but discuss the situation and ask her what she should have done instead. She needs to be taught how to control her impulsive behavior on a consistent basis.
-Teacher needs to reinforce Ella when she DOES demonstrate self control in situations. Give her a tangible reward in which she can use her leadership skills like line leading, passing out materials, being the teacher's special helper, etc.
-Teacher must teach Ella acceptable ways to communicate displeasure, anger, frustration, etc...walk away from the situation, ask for help, change to another activity.
-Teacher must provide Ella with a buddy who would be a good influence.
-Teacher prompt Ella to verbalize her feelings before losing control. The teacher must be mobile and frequently monitor Ella to make sure that she is not being excluded.
Attempting to change Ella's behavior is going to take a great deal of effort from the teacher but that is her/his responsibility and part of the teacher's classroom discipline and management plan. Everyone must be willing to work together. The assistance from the teacher is critical. Additionally, if the school has an in house psychologist, discuss the possibility with the teacher of having Ella visit the psychologist so that she can learn coping techniques when she feels frustrated.
Something triggers Ella's impulsive behavior. She wants to be accepted in the classroom but is not. The teacher must foster a calm, accepting, nurturing, and empathetic environment.
What you can do to help Ella at home is alot of role playing activities. You pretend that you are one of Ella's classmates. You do simulate doing something to Ella that you know she would not like. See how she would react. Discuss appropriate ways to handle such situations.
If Ella is not involved in activities outside of school, try to get her involved with other children around her age. She needs to feel accepted. Her spirit has been broken and so she lashes out. She sounds like a very intelligent child who can learn how to control her behavior.
I am a parent and a teacher as well so I can relate to both sides of this situation. You, as the parent, are going to have to stay on top of the situation with the teacher and maintain constant contact. I went through aggressive and impulsive behavior with my own son in first and second grades. He was on a behavior contract. I always kept in contact with the teacher. The principal even became involved and praised him when he had a good week. I would reward him if he had a good week as well. It took a lot of effort but it was worth it. I did have to suggest some of the above mentioned ideas to the teacher.
From the teacher's perspective, he/she will probably not be easily accepting of your requests of what needs to be done to help Ella. But just keep on pressing the issues. Something must be done differently from what has been happening presently.
As for you, I know it is hard to deal with, but try not to become so upset with Ella when she misbehaves. Try to focus more on her positive qualities. For me, I got to the point of dreading picking my son up from school because it seemed like every day, he was receiving a "red slip" explaining his negative behavior. However, I had to develop a new mind set, and look at the things he was doing correctly. I even enrolled my son in a feelings management class for children his age which helped him alot. That is another point I forgot to mention...You may want to discuss the issues as well with Ella's pediatrician at her next doctor's appointment.
I hope that this has helped. If you need further assistance, please let me know. Please ACCEPT so that I may be compensated for my efforts. Thank you. Ask for Erica.13 in your question for future assistance.