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My son is becoming disregulated in his kindergarten class.

Customer Question
He almost lost his father...
My son is becoming disregulated in his kindergarten class. He almost lost his father this year and other mom passed away this week.
JA: OK. The Psychologist will need to help you with this. Please give me a bit more information, so the Psychologist can help you best.
Customer: He is the youngest in his class.... gone to school for the past three years. Started kindergarten just fine - around December starting getting frustrated with himself and hitting other kid when not getting his way. We started a reward chart which worked and he has been doing great... after the mom in our class passed away last week he has been acting up again.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Psychologist should know?
Customer: He is 5 and a very bright little boy but competitive
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Psychologist about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.Category: Mental Health
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Answered in 14 minutes by:
5/4/2016
Mental Health Professional: Dr-A-Greene, Psychologist replied 1 year ago
Dr-A-Greene
Dr-A-Greene, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 309
Experience: Clinical and Forensic Psychologist
Verified

Hi - my name is***** and I'd like to assist, if possible.

First off, I'd like to say that I'm sorry your little guy has suffered so many losses (or near misses) this past year. That's a lot for a kid to handle - especially if he's already on the young side (the youngest in his class). Even if he's the brightest child ever, he's going to manifest some difficulty coping with this. So, a lot of this is perfectly normal. If it isn't overly disruptive, I actually wouldn't intervene too much because part of it may be how he's expressing his grief.

That said, if his behavior is harmful to others, or too disruptive, something needs to change. My guess is that he's probably internalizing some of these experiences to the point where he feels he is somehow at fault (which could generalize to the frustration he's experiencing). So he's acting out because he's angry, sad, and self-accusatory all at the same time. My first question is: how much have you tried talking to him about the losses and what he's feeling? Also, have you done anything to help him express this emotion (i.e. draw pictures of how he feels, etc)?

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
I try to tell him that it is ok to have alot of feelings and that it is scary but nothing with happen to mommy. When he feels like he hasn't had a good day he internalizes it and it can be difficult for him to express it.
Mental Health Professional: Dr-A-Greene, Psychologist replied 1 year ago

That helps, thank you. I'm thinking that this might be where some creativity can come in. Since he's having difficulty finding the words to express himself, it might be beneficial to give him another forum in which to get his feelings out. If you can find a way in which he can 'show' you - like through making a drawing, or a physical activity (e.g. throwing a ball as hard as he can if the emotion is more angry) - some parents even create their own story books with their children as a remembrance of the person who is now gone - or just one to explore the theme of death and dying.

Another idea is to give him something tangible to hang onto throughout the day - potentially something of yours, if he's worried about losing you. This will give him something to literally hold onto when he begins to worry.

It's also possible that he's just going through a period of back-sliding to stereotypically younger behavior, which isn't uncommon in grief reactions. He might want to be held/cuddled more often to help him soothe (much like when he was a baby). He could also be resorting to more nonverbal behaviors for this reason as well. In fact, it's pretty common to see 'needy' kids either inappropriately touching or even hitting their peers in school just to get those basic touch needs met. Giving extra hugs and reassurance is always a good thing - especially if he's going through a bit of a crisis right now.

I guess all of that is just to say that I wouldn't start any behavior-modification programs right now with him because I believe that this reaction will be time-limited (especially if the mom passed away last week). My guess is that he's going through some pretty big feelings right now - just as he thought that everything was going to be okay (with his dad, etc), a parental figure passes away! That has to challenge his previously secure mindset and put him back into a feeling of fear and anxiety. But as long as he knows that he can talk about it with you, and you offer him a lot of support and understanding, he should slowly get on the right track again. He might just need to work through the more acute feelings to get to the other side of this first.

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Dr-A-Greene
Dr-A-Greene, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 309
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