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Bill
Bill, LCSW, Consultant, Expert Witness
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3707
Experience:  35 years treating individuals, couples, families with mental health and substance abuse prob's
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My 6 yr old child (end August) is the youngest in a class

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Hello, my 6 yr old child (end August) is the youngest in a class where most children are born before March. At home, he behaves well - occasionally fighting with his older sister (shouting not hitting) but generally a very happy boy. Also at his after school classes (gym, swimming and football) and at his friends' houses (as well as at my friends and family's houses) he behaves very well. He has a best friend at school who adores him and whom he adores. Problem is things are not good at school. During most of Reception and half of yr 1 he refused to do much work and would often shout at the teachers if they asked him to do anything (shut up, go away, I hate you, you're stupid). I found this out for the first time last NOvember, at which point I started working with him at home. The result is that by January he was the only child in his class who could write in cursive script and he seems to be a very bright boy (apparently with reading and numeracy skills well above age level) and picks things up extremely quickly. Things have got better in this respect and he is now on top tables in maths and literacy and generally engages in the work, even though the work he produces at school is still not up to the standard he produces at home on his own. MOre of a problem, however, is that he still has anger outbursts at school which consist of shouting loudly (shut up, I hate you etc) at other pupils and occasionally at the teachers too, and sometimes tips over chairs when he is very cross. There is a child with behavioural issues in his class and I was concerned my child was copying him. I told the teachers this and they have acknowledged this is a problem, but it seemed to get better. In fact, during the first 7 weeks of this term he behaved extremely well and his teacher said he was like a different child. HOwever, he has started getting cross again over the last few weeks and his teachers say they don't know why and he doesn't explain why, but it's all over quickly. My concern is that when I ask him what happened, he tells me other children have been horrible to him, saying he's stupid, laughing at him, calling him names (idiot, baby, you're my worst nightmare etc) and not letting him join their games. I actually saw one boy physically push him away so decided to check out the situation. Without telling other parents the details, I asked a couple of them to ask their children what they saw in class and I was horrified to hear that in fact what my child tells me is true and worse. THe teachers now suggest my child needs anger management, which I am happy to do, but I am concerned that this does not address the nascent bulleying behaviour which triggers his outburst. I have also asked him why he does not tell the teacher and he just says he forgets to, but my suspicion is that he doesn't want to tell the teacher the horrible thinge being said to him because it hurts him. Also, this last week a classroom assistant and a supply teacher approached me separately to say that the other boy's behaviour I mentioned above is very bad for my son .

I should add my son is quite young for his age (immature perhaps) and slight in stature.  He can also be very silly, likes putting on shows and doing silly jokes, while many of the other kids in his class like playing football, have xboxes and seem generally older. I fear that, apart from his best friend (who can also be very silly but is otherwise very well behaved in class) , he may not feel part of the Group and his class mates feel the same abut him

I suspect my child needs help to express the distress he feels -please advise me as to what to do

Bill :

Hello- Thank you for asking the question. I have over 30 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families & am happy to reply.

Bill :

I am sorry to hear about the problems your son is having with anger as related to interaction with peers at school.

Bill :

I have worked with children for 35 years and when they are acting out in anger- this is often a reflection of what they are experiencing in their peer or home environment. Anger in in a child is unhappiness acted out.

Bill :

I think you touch on the sources of the problem- that which could be related to the way he is being treated or bullied. Children at this age cannot define and express feeling like adults - thus - the act them out- often as you describe with your son.

Bill :

Bullying is a big issue in the UK and across the world and there are many resources to help with this. You have to educate yourself and seek further consultation and assistance through the school and other advocacy organizations that I will identify in the links below:

Bill :

I concur that you child need help expressing his feeling. This can be accomplish by working with a therapist trained in play therapy or working with children.

Bill :

IF I were you, I would also request a meeting with the school officials to include not just teachers- but also school psychologists, guidance counselors and someone from the administration so that you can conference how best to intervene with this issue -particularly in light of the fact that other children at school seem to be contributing to this.

Bill :

Insist on this as schools typically try to put it back on the parents and blame the child...............which is damaging for the child as at this age they do not have the capacity to understand and without awareness that all of the Adults ( including School officials) are understanding and willing to help- they will often continue to act out.

Bill :

This can be "nipped in the bud" with comprehensive intervention from all of those involved.

Bill :

If you have additional questions, feel free to ask- I am happy to help.

Bill :

Kindest regards, Bill

Bill :

I Appreciate your Positive Rating So that I receive credit for my time.

Bill :

Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Bill, this reflects what I think. I see you have touched on one point which concerns me - that is that it all gets put back on the child and us, when in fact there is stuff going on in the class which I cannot control. In fact, 3 wks ago I was told that my son had hit his teacher and another child without reason. When I asked him why, he told me the child had been continuously "accidentally on purpose" knocking into his chair, snatching his pencils when he was trying to work etc etc until he got annoyed and kicked him at which point the teacher grabbed my child and dragged him out the class, which is when he hit her arm. I asked why and he said becuase he didn't want to go outside and it wasn't fair as the other boy hadn't been told off. I then went back to the teacher and asked her whether she'd asked my son what had happened with the other boy and she said no she just saw my son kick the other boy. I despair that the final act is castigated (rightly) but that the causation is ignored.

One question, you mention requesting a meeting with the school officials to include guidance counselors and someone from the administration - could you please advise what this means/who these people are?

Many thanks

Deborah-

I think you are exactly right- this is a problem that needs to be resolved in concert with the school.

What I mean by counselors and administrators (albeit not familiar with the organizational structure of your child's school) I mean to request a meeting that includes not just the teachers but other school officials - Headmaster or School Psychologist so that "all ears are in the room " to address this issue and seek a solution.

This is a problem that is occurring at school and whatever school officials in addition to teachers that can be involved- request a conference. OR, request a meeting with the Headmaster and discuss your concerns and let him/her arrange the meeting.

I hope this clarifies. If not, let me know. It is unfortunate that you have to practically demand attention in matters like this but I have found that the loudest voice gets the attention and you have to advocate for your child.

Kindest regards, Bill
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