Opinion 4 year old being labeled the "bad kid"

by Aimee
(New York)

Oh man, where do I start. I came across this Web site after multiple "complaints" about my son who will be 4 very soon. He started preschool this year, and for the first two months I got complaints from his teacher "that he is is always touching other kids in circle time" "He doesn't know how to stand in a line" "he constantly is pushing or grabbing other kids hands." I was even told that he was "unsocilized" and "so disruptive it is effecting the way other children learn.


Then the complaints stopped.

Well, starting in January, the teacher told me that he is doing the same things again. Telling me I need to work on these things at home. In despair I took out every parenting, child physc book known to man. It lead me to "when to worry and when not to Worry." There was a chapter on SPD, which I almost skipped, but came across a check list that made me gasp.

From 18 months on, my son was the hitter. He would hit happy, sad, angry, excited. He was the one who would melt down over everything and anything. And of course, I was told in all directions that I have NO control of my child. Through MEGA behavior mod charts, I was able to curve most of this behavior. He is now the most loving, helpful almost 4 year old I could ever hope for. However, he now does other things that puzzle me and my husband.

For instance, when he is excited, he will run and "crash" or bear hug and do a dance. I don't know how many times I tell him to stop, or explain to him that it is inappropriate to do this, he does this anyway. He also is constantly touching others faces. I try to explain to him personal space, but it is as if he "forgets" or doesn't get it. How can my child read and not comprehend this?

My heart bleeds when he comes home and tell me his teacher says "he has a problem." What can I do for him- is this really SPD or immaturity. Will he always be labeled the annoying bad kid? I am at a loss, because he is very well behaved, just out of context or when excited, I can't explain why he does what he does. How many times, behavior mod charts, discipline, it just doesn't seem to sink in. Please advice, anyone been there?

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Mar 18, 2010
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Your boy is misunderstood!
by: Anonymous

Sensory Processing Disorder is very much about the environment. When the child is in his/her comfort zone, all is well. However, change the environment (classroom, restaurant, ball field, whatever), and you will then see some dramatic differences in behaviors. The thing is, you & his teachers have to know what they are seeing, otherwise the behaviors simply look like "bad behaviors" (thus, the "bad kid"). I have found it necessary to educate myself each & every day, with any & all materials I can get my hands on. Then I pass it all on to my son's teacher(s) and coaches. They need to know what they are seeing, and how they can help. If they do not offer help (in the form of "input"), then they will continue to see these behaviors.

My understanding of SPD is that if the child's needs art met through input, then the child will be soothed, and the behaviors will be greatly minimized. Also, as the child ages, he/she will gradually learn coping skills & again, the behaviors will be minimized. But, the whole thing sucks all the way around----teachers make the kid feel bad, other children see that the teachers think the kid is bad, so they then don't want to befriend the bad kid, grandparents yell at the kid for what they see as bad behavior, aunts & uncles offer no support because they too see nothing but bad behavior, on & on. We as parents just have to day-by-day fight for our children, and do what we can to soothe them.
My son is always "Sensory Seeking"----looks to the eye like ADHD. But, he is soothed by a swing, or any other form of movement. He has other minor issues with clothing, but nothing life altering. School, however, is not good at all!!! The right teacher is key, as well as educating the teacher with SPD materials, before the school year even begins!

In the big picture, this is relatively small.
Your boy is your baby, so fight for him everyday!

Mar 15, 2010
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Believe
by: Anonymous

That was my son. He got kicked out of his preschool. I searched & searched for answers. I had to find them out on my own. Find an OT that specializes in children, especially "sensory issues" Your son is NOT bad. He's a great child with amazing capabilities, he's just not learned how to express them yet.

The school environment is over stimulating for the sensory child, the home is quite, and predictable. My son would act out at school, never at home. I know the teachers thought I was lying, the typical, "My son never does that at home." He really didn't, he only did act out at school, he was so over stimulated, his response was to "act out."

When they're little they don't have to words to tell you, "It's too much for me to handle." The way little ones tell you is to "be bad." They aren't bad, they need to have their sensory needs met. My son just completed 5 years of OT, he still has his moments, but now he has tools that he has learned from Ot to help him deal with it. You just keep loving him, and believing in him, and advocating for him.

Mar 10, 2010
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yes!
by: Khat

I think one of the hallmarks of SPD is how bizarre some behavior is- but really, it makes sense to the child.

Your son's teacher doesn't know about SPD so get her a book. Does he have an IEP?

It's so frustrating when a child may need a different environment to learn and for many reasons, may not be able to get it.

It is not a maturity issue. Many fathers have difficulty with SPD and they want to force the child out of the behaviors...but when other things are modified, the child feels more confident and grows out of the behaviors with help from therapists.

You are not a bad mom who can't manage their child. YOu are a loving mother who wants what is best...so keep on!

Many professionals, including doctors, have no idea about SPD and when you talk to other parents, you realize how confusing the difficult the disorder is. I hope you have support and I hope your wonderful son is able to get through school easier.

Mar 03, 2010
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Sensory seeking behaviors do not make"bad kid"
by: Anonymous

This sounds much like my son who is now 12 as well as my daughter who is 10. When my daughter wasnt in k & 1st grade- her teachers sent home more work for her to do at home than she ever did at school. Her K teacher would write the kids names on the papers to save time. She was very sensitive to being touched and even the clothes she put on. My son still gets into others spaces even when he is told over and over again about giving room= He is a toucher and if he could he would hug just about everyone.

I dont think your son is a bad kid just a kid who is seeking out the sensory input that he needs. I would suggest finding an OT who is qualified to test him in sensory processing AKA Sensory Integrations (based on the Dr. Ayres theory)

Mar 03, 2010
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Hang in there
by: Miracle Babies Mom

Hi, My son is 5 and he does ALL of these items. I call it his "Happy Dance" and he will literally knock you over with the running charge that he does. I have had several people in my life tell me that his is definite, out of control, a behavior nightmare and my own family tells me they can't handle him. BUT, all the experts tell me he 100% can't help it or control it. So I fight for him, I have had to pull him out of a daycare setting because it is too much noise and stress on him and he was in jeopardy of being kicked out.

Somethings that I found that work and help my little guys is music (Ipods were made for him!) warm bath, gently yet strong squeezing of his arms (start at the top and work you way down, he will melt immediately) heavy blankets, a "safe zone" for him to know that there is a place for him to let it out. He needs to get it out and if you let him know that there is a place for him to do that then he doesn't feel so "bad". It is a lonely road, for me I am a single mom and this is really draining, but he is my miracle and I will fight for him.

You may need to get the social worker at the school involved as well. I am not sure where you live but here the school MUST provide for these kids. Good luck

Mar 02, 2010
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Thanks thus far
by: Aimee

Hello all and thanks for the comments. It's just so weird, because considering what I have been through with him, he honestly is the most loving kid you could ever meet. I am on my third child now and he has no problem helping out with his sister or doing chores around the house to help mommy. The behavior reports at school puzzle me because I naturally assumed that he had better impulse control there. WRONG! :-)

I do agree that he is VERY impulsive. I have been working with him on that at home through Behavior Mod Charts and praising him to death when he uses his words. His teacher's solution at school is to have him walk around with his hands in his pockets :-( I don't like that approach at all, as I gave her tips and tricks as to what works at home. She isn't receptive at all- so it's lonely me, working on this.

We have three rules for school that we go over and practice every night. I called his ped and he gave me a few number for child physc. That's when my husband lost it and insists he's a boy being a boy and that it is just a maturity issue. Perhaps he is right, however, I am the one who has to handle the talks from his teachers, the one who has to then go over what he did wrong with my son.

He is so smart- he can read and do simple math problems- why can't he get to keep his hands to himself? It's not out of anger or aggression...........I am so overwhelmed right now-

Mar 02, 2010
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"bad Kid" ?
by: Anonymous

Hello Aimee,

I would say he isn't a bad kid at all. He's actually happy if I understood right. I know how hurtful it is when daycare personnel told me he's "different" and my son has Autism and SPD. He was 2 at the time. He's come a very long way!
I too think you need to see a developmental ped or behavioral specialist. He may have a hard time with impulse control. Thats what I sense from his hitting anytime and everytime.

Do you have an Intermediate Unit in your county? They can test in the mean time and he can get behavioral services perhaps. Definitely get him tested though...it will help everyone and then you'll finally know what is making him react the way he does.

Instead of saying stop don't run into to me,teach him to give you high fives when he's happy...redirection ...you may already know this though...
and I say impulse control because he's constantly touching people's faces.

Behavior modification is key.

Good luck!

J.R.

Mar 01, 2010
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I know
by: Anonymous

Yup, it stinks! And it is hard for a long time. You must make sure he is seen and tested by a pediatrician and or a behavior specialist. If he is diagnosed you will know exactly where to put your energy and the teachers will have to back off and not blame everything on being "bad". He is already labeled and his self esteem will be affected it's your job to be the buffer. If he has SPD he can't help it! It's no ones fault and a little love and compassion will go along way.
Best To You

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