Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm At The End Of My Rope

Mister Man is a good kid. I know all parents say that, but he really is. Or was.

He's a sweetie who loves to be a helper and really tries to please people. Most of the time. But his social skills and cues are low, and his impulse control sometimes causes issues, especially if he's overtired.

I fully acknowledge this. But he's a good kid. He has never gotten into trouble at school, and for that I'm grateful. Or at least, I was.

This year has been hard. The kindergarten teacher told all of us parents that the first month would be a hard transition because they were all getting used to a new environment and being in school all day. She told us not to worry.

Mister Man got in trouble for silly things like putting his hands down the back of another kid's shirt one day or pushing a kid who told him he wasn't going fast enough in the line to head to lunch. It wasn't anything major, but it was consistent enough that we set up a reward and punishment scheme at home.

If he was good all week, he earned a special prize like getting to see a movie with me. If he had a bad day, he lost that week's prize and also lost something he enjoyed like a library book or a stuffed animal. It seemed to make a big difference, and after a spate where he didn't think he could do it, we were sailing smoothly.

But... not so much anymore.

I don't know what's changed, and I can't get a good handle on it from him. He's getting in trouble again. He's having "no" days (each day is a different goal such as listening or keeping your hands to yourself, and you get a "yes" if you achieve the goal and a "no" if you don't) a couple times a week. Bigger than that, he's having yellow days, which is when you have multiple warnings for major infractions.

I know he isn't the only kid who acts out in school, as I hear from Mister Man some of the things other kids do, but they don't do it every day. And even when the first grader we carpool with was getting in trouble most days, it was for talking during class which is less of a concern (although still obviously an issue).

So far this week, he kicked a boy on Monday. He went into a corner and wouldn't come out later that day. Tuesday was a green day and no issues. Yesterday, he had a yellow day again for not keeping his hands to himself and not listening to the teacher in separate instances. Today, he had another yellow day where he hit two different boys on two different occasions.

The teacher wrote a note this time explaining that they've talked to him several times this week to no avail and that he's had to miss recess a few times as a consequence. It isn't helping.

At home, he long ago lost all his library books, and he'd already lost the privilege of going to the library to get new books. He has now lost his special sleeping buddies, and he knows that if he doesn't have a green day tomorrow, he isn't going to a birthday party on Saturday.

Today, he wrote apology notes to the three kids he physically bothered this week in addition to both his teachers. He's written apology notes before.

He's ashamed of the incidents, and he hates having yellow days. He doesn't want to misbehave and can't tell me why he is. And I'm trying to figure out how I can help him. I reinforce the rules before he heads off to school, and we go over what he should have done in provoking situations rather than react physically when he comes home.

But right now, I'm at the end of my rope. I don't want to have him kicked out of school, and I don't want him to feel badly about himself for his actions. He knows that he's disappointed us and that his behavior isn't acceptable. But I have got to find a solution.

PLEASE don't tell me to have him tested for ADHD. That isn't the problem or the solution, and I won't be medicating him.

I do wonder if it has something to do with the probiotic I started him on about three weeks ago... a few days before we really started having these issues. I had experimented with a homeopathic spray to help with focus and learning, and I stopped it a week and a half ago to see if that was it, but it's getting worse without the spray rather than better. I think I'm going to try stopping the probiotic as of tomorrow -- another friend of mine recently switched her probiotic and her younger son (who is an angel) has been acting out enough that the school psychologist called to talk to her.

I'm wondering if we don't need to get him to bed even earlier, as he's now waking up at 6am but telling me at 7:10 that he's super tired and wants to sleep. We know from experience that the more tired he is, the earlier he wakes up. Tonight, he went to bed at 6pm, and I haven't heard a peep from him.

Have any of you gone through behavior issues like this? Please give me some sort of hope... some suggestions (other than medicating him). What do you do in these situations? I'm debating asking the teacher if he should be held out of the kindergarten Christmas Program (he has a major part since he can read fluently and likes to perform), but I don't know that they can replace parts so close to the program.

I don't need any more grey hair. I just want my sweet little boy who does what he's asked. What can I do to help Mister Man find that little boy again?

17 comments:

Melisa with one S December 3, 2009 at 9:14 PM  

Oh boy, I'm so sorry you're so frustrated. I think that stopping the probiotic is a good idea; it doesn't seem to me that a probiotic would make a difference in his behavior BUT since he has acted up since he went on it, I'd remove it from the equation.

As far as the sleep goes, heck, get him to bed earlier than his normal bedtime if he wants to go! His body might be going through some changes or something, and his sleep patterns might be affected.

I'd also keep an eye on his diet in general. What if you kept track of his intake for a week or two? You might notice that he acts up with certain foods too.

Just ideas, I'm afraid. I hope you find a solution! I'm here if you need a listener. xoxo

Laura December 3, 2009 at 10:39 PM  

I'm saying growth spurt whenever I have trouble with my kids and I fell like I'm ready to cry it suddenly ends. Just a thought. Also I heard of a non medicated 'treatment' for adhd (which I don't think he has btw or most kids who are more um full bore?) they completely cut any screen time out of their lives and switched breakfast for dinner so more protein in the AM and more carbs at night. This was done twice in clinical trials because all the kids who were in the trials did so well they re-tried it double check the results. 68% of kids were more in control of themselves w/in 3 weeks. Just a thought. I'll try to find the study, we used it as a example for the Waldorf charter school being exempted from computer testing (which passed)

Kate December 4, 2009 at 3:09 AM  

This could sound wacky, but have you considered a food intolerance? My daughter had behavioural and energy issues until she had an upperendoscopy performed where they discovered she had scar tissue from food. Turns out to be dairy!!!!!! She was six at the time and had a low energy level and was uncooperative.
Now she is super athletic at 14 and a really easy teenager!
Just a thought - allergies/intolerances don't always show in the stomach, I guess!

Gina December 4, 2009 at 6:59 AM  

I recently read that November and December can actually be more of a transition for new kindergartners than September and October - basically because all the new and exciting have worn off. Hopefully this is the case and he will improve soon.

Shelly Overlook December 4, 2009 at 7:21 AM  

I have nothing for you, sadly, other than my total support and sympathy.

septembermom December 4, 2009 at 10:36 AM  

As you know, I've been having a lot of trouble with my 6 year old acting out at home. I do wonder if he is overtired. He fights going to sleep at night. He also has a huge appetite. I once heard that there was a study about some young boys and eating meat. They said that those boys craved meat (sounds like cavemen :) and would be more rambunctious or troublesome if they didn't have that protein hit. I wonder about it with my son. He LOVES meat. We don't have it all the time. I think I should start watching the days that he acts up. Maybe an extra meatball would help. I know this may sound crazy. Like you, I feel like I'm at the end of my rope. I'll be interested in reading everyone's comments to this post. Hang in there. Your sweet boys is in there. This whole mothering thing is exhausting, isn't it? Hugs, my friend.

WeaselMomma December 4, 2009 at 2:20 PM  

I got nuttin'. Sad to say, but ride it out doing the best that you know how.

H F W December 5, 2009 at 10:10 PM  

During different developmental peaks, kids have a rougher time. Gabe just went through a loooong three week developmental peak with a physcial skill, and he had MAJOR social issues. Now he's fine again. During those times, I have learned I need to take more time with him. More special mommy and Gabe time, and more time at home doing things like reading and interacting in positive ways. My guy responds better to the reward system rather than punishments; but hitting or physical violence is a major red around here, so punishment is expected.
I also think kids like to test the waters every so often just to make sure the expectations are still the same; when they find they are, sometimes it helps get them out of the funk.
One more food for thought before I end my novel (sorry!); do you think it might have something to do with you going back to work after the time off or the excitement of the holiday season? Whatever it is, I'm praying it gets better and soon!

H F W December 5, 2009 at 10:10 PM  

During different developmental peaks, kids have a rougher time. Gabe just went through a loooong three week developmental peak with a physcial skill, and he had MAJOR social issues. Now he's fine again. During those times, I have learned I need to take more time with him. More special mommy and Gabe time, and more time at home doing things like reading and interacting in positive ways. My guy responds better to the reward system rather than punishments; but hitting or physical violence is a major red around here, so punishment is expected.
I also think kids like to test the waters every so often just to make sure the expectations are still the same; when they find they are, sometimes it helps get them out of the funk.
One more food for thought before I end my novel (sorry!); do you think it might have something to do with you going back to work after the time off or the excitement of the holiday season? Whatever it is, I'm praying it gets better and soon!

t.t. millers December 6, 2009 at 4:26 AM  

It's hard to say without knowing your son. It could be a transition thing, over stimulation, food allergies, etc. The ladies who posted before me all had great ideas.
One mom I know has a three year old who was having major temper tantrums (which was unlike this sweet little girl). She took her off dairy and the girl stopped the tantrums. When my son was that age he was allergic to preservatives (BHT, BHA). It would make him extremely hyper and uncontrollable. I would ask the teachers if they are providing snacks. If it's not something you are giving him, perhaps it's something the school is.

erisgrrrl December 6, 2009 at 7:45 PM  

Sounds very frustrating! My boy goes through similar bouts. I've found that the reward system has to be changed up to stay effective. With mine he needs things to be more immediate. So he gets little blue chips in a bag for his good behaviors. Then when he gets a certain number of chips he gets a reward. The immediate satisfaction of getting the chips helps "hold him over" until the "big" reward comes along. It might be worth a try to do something similar and see how it works.

Michelle December 6, 2009 at 8:49 PM  

Melisa - I should keep track. Of course Thanksgiving at the in-laws totally threw everything off... Friday was a green day (yay), but I will start if it comes back again!

Laura - Interesting though as I've been joking with him that he must be going through a growth spurt since he's been so hungry lately. No screen time already, so that isn't it... but I may try the protein. I've seen that same study somewhere I think. Good thought!

Kate - It could well be as Little Miss has a dairy allergy, and I know it runs in families. Her allergy manifested itself in her ears and lungs! How to convince the ped to start looking down that path though is the key.

Gina - Possible, although I don't think others are acting out quite this often (although trust me, I hear ALLL sorts of stories about the other kindergarteners!), with one exception.

Shelly - I appreciate that!

Kelly - Funny -- the protein was mentioned before, too. I think I'll try a couple pieces of turkey bacon with breakfast, too. It's hard to get to bed earlier though, as we already have them go down between 6 and 6:30. With not getting home until after 4, it's hard to get in bed any earlier!

WeaselMomma - Lucky you! Five kids and nary a discipline issue. Go you :)

Hyacynth - Unfortunately with problems at home, it's hard to do more "special" time. And while the behavior definitely escalated this week when I went back, it was starting during the time that I was home and off, although admittedly that was also a transition period. Urg.

t.t. millers - I know. There are so many things it could be, which is part of the frustration. We've also made so many changes trying to fix it, we may not know what really made the difference (assuming something does!). We send in all snacks, so it shouldn't be that. Good suggestions -- and I love that dairy keeps coming up as my parents (and husband) are SOOOO not belivers in that since it's a pain to do. I keep getting pressure to start Little Miss on dairy again....

erisgrrl - It's funny you mention that. I called and spoke with a school psychologist on Friday about this, and her suggestion was to create a more immediate reward system. The kindergarten gives "yeses" or "nos" at the end of each day, but I'm going to talk to the teacher and see if we can get it shortened to each "period" for Mister Man at least for awhile to see if that helps tide him over like it does for your son.

Thank you to all for your suggestions -- and Friday was a GREEN day. Fingers crossed next week is back to normal for us!

Unknown Mami December 7, 2009 at 12:47 AM  

I don't have any experience in this area, but I hope you don't take him out of the Christmas Program (unless the teacher suggests it) because maybe getting some positive attention and having something positive to focus on will be good for him. Again, I do not know what I am talking about.

Raevyn December 9, 2009 at 12:42 PM  

I second, third, or whatever the check for food intolerances and allergies. One of my friends has a son who she did not want to medicate or have labeled as ADHD, but he just couldn't sit still, keep his hands to himself, and generally behave at school. Allergy testing revealed allergies to yeast (I doubt that even as an adult I could keep still in my seat if my behind itched...), sugar, and APPLES. Literally minutes after the apple was introduced in the test he was running wildly around the doctor's office working himself up into a rage. Even with other issues, he soon realized that if he had the things he shouldn't, he misbehaved and felt badly, so he became very good at politely declining those things.

Fishsticks and Fireflies December 9, 2009 at 5:43 PM  

I am a little late in the game, but I too have to second the food issues. We too are dealing with literally the EXACT same problems (though they have gotten loads better after removing dyes and high fructose corn syrup.) It may be worth talking with the school psychologist or even asking if someone from the special education department can simply observe Mister Man for an afternoon to devise some strategies for limiting some of the negative behaviors. (Cooper is not staffed into special education, but the OT works with him and has helped us come up with ways to curb some of his misbehaving.)

(I agree with you on not testing, and we have been encouraged to avoid testing as well - not because we don't want to help Cooper, but because once the 'label' of ADHD is put on him, it can never be removed.)

Megryansmom December 10, 2009 at 7:24 AM  

I have no advice for you but I admire you for saying you won't medicate Mister Man for ADHD. Boys are just...different. Hang in there.

Michelle December 17, 2009 at 9:02 PM  

Unknown Mami - We didn't -- and I would absolutely not have taken him out without her suggestion. In the end, he did great -- I've got some pictures and video to share when I have a few minutes to put it up :)

Raevyn - It's encouraging to hear things like this. I've actually been hearing about PANDAS and wondering if that isn't the issue, as it started right when he got strep. *sigh*

Nichole - Where we are, you can have a "diagnosis" of developmental delay until 9 and get services you need. We're getting what we need now, even in the public school. I am really intrested in seeing what the ped says when we go in on Monday!

Megryansmom - It isn't hyperactivity. That's not the issue at all... it's impulse control but not in the same way. And yes, boys are different, but this was a sudden change in behavior. Something's off.

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