KAM - aggressive preschooler
posted at 7/27/2012 11:09 AM EDT
Sounds like you should have a meeting with the teacher(s) in your son's new room and the director, and quickly, about your concerns about the aggressive preschooler. You know this child is aggressive. While you will NOT be told what that child's problems/aggression issues are (or at least, no director should be discussing another child with you) you have every right to find out what their solutions are for handling this child's aggression vis a vis your son and other children in the room.
Now, this child may be just regular old aggressive (as in, kinda large and not realize his own strength, or his language might not be as good as others so he can't solve problems with words quite yet, or he may not be encouraged to use his words at home so it's a hard lesson to learn because he only practices it at school, or he may have older siblings who are aggressive with him so it's a learned behavior, etc.)
Or it might be a real issue, and be signs of problems that should be addressed with that child's parents. But you can't force that, of course, nor should you know what/how/when they talk to that child's parents.
But what your questions are:
1. what is being done to observe this child and determine what the causes are, and find solutions?
2. can you have one teacher identified to SHADOW this child? that is, one teacher is on this child constantly and consistently throughout the day. you can do it with one teacher doing it all day, or you can share it - that is, I'll start by being with him whereever he is. if he's playing blocks, I'm there and interacting with him, but also all the other children in the area. If he starts to get aggressive, I'm there to stop it and to redirect and have him use his words. I'm there to catch his arm mid-swing to he doesn't connect, and to say "no hitting. if you want Mark to give you back the truck, say "Give it back, please." Mark, you may not take X's truck. Listen to his words. Please give it back. (Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseum.)
AND THEN when he stops playing blocks and goes to sand table, and there is sa teacher at sand table, we decide if I go to sand table with the child and the teacher goes to another area, OR if the sand table teacher is now the shadow teacher. It doesn't matter which way, just needs to happen smoothly without lots of discussion. If I am going to step away to get the paint activity started and I'm in blocks with target child (child X) then BEFORE I STEP AWAY, i must get another teacher's attention, say "I'm going to get paint ready, please come here." and I wait until other teacher comes and begins shadowing. OR I ask target child if he wants to help set up painting project, if a child's help is OK. Often these children are viewed as the 'difficult' children and aren't offered these little 'helping' tasks and yet they are the ones who need the most one-on-one attention. It's a good idea to get these type of children out of the room to go get paint in the cabinet, or bring something to the office, etc.
I've done shadowing and at the beginning it seems like more work, but honestly, it takes some brain power but after that it's easier, and here's why: you are getting in there and solving the problem before it happens (catching the arm as it reaches out to hit, bite, push, clonk over head with truck, etc.) AND you are there to tell child another behavior to do, in that moment, vs. 5 minutes later when crying child runs to you and you try to figure it all out. So it heads problems off at the pass, and you have a more harmonious room, more happy parents bec. their children aren't being hit, pushed, blah blah, and you don't have copycats like your son who turns to aggression beccause they are seeing it so much.
(by the way, shadowing is fabulous in an infant or toddler room when there's lots of biting... either shadow your daughter because she's the target of all those bites or shadow the one or two children who always bite). this keeps bites from happening lots of times)
Now, for the child and his parents, I hope they are doing an observation chart for that child so they know the ABC's of his behavior.
Antecedent (what was happening before the aggressive act?. for ex: child X and child Y playing in block corner with trucks. another chlid enters, child Z, and picks up a truck to play)
Behavior (child x hit child Z.)
Consequence (this is what happened as a result of child X's behavior. this isn't what the teachers did, it's the natural consequence of child's behavior. so in this example: Child Z dropped truck, cried, and stopped playing with trucks.
The center can make an excel spreadsheet with 3 columns across the top, and then enter the data across, they should add the time of each incident along the left, and perhaps what is going on (transition to outdoor play, cleanup time, going down for naps, etc)
after a week or so, the teachers can see patterns emerge. Some patterns might be:
child X is aggressive with just a few children in classroom. then the question is why? is this because those children do things that push that child's buttons? is it simply because they are outgoing and willing to play with him? is it that they overwhelm him and he needs to defend himself? do they crowd his personal space and his response is to push them back? does he just seem not to like those children?
if it happens with all children, then that's something to know, too.
does it happen more often when he's playing in certain places or with certain things? (like outside, or in gross motor area, or in blocks, etc.)
child's X's behavior happens at specific times of day, such as during transitions (clean up, or getting coats on, lining up and going out, or coming off playground, or getting lunch stuff out, to table, etc. or after lunch when you need to clean up, wash hands, go potty, get out blankets, go to cots/mats, and fall asleep. Lots going on when there are 16-20 children all milling around doing their thing!)
also could be happening more when in groups, becuase this child has a big personal space "bubble". that is, some children (and adults) can handle being pretty close together, while others like more air around them. So for children with large personal space bubbles, sitting close together at story time or circle time is hard, or having 5 kids in blocks all playing close together is hard, etc.
or does he have a smaller bubble, and he gets right up into other children's space, and they resist and he pushes? doesn't sound like that's it, but...
patterns will emerge, and then they can start to solve it. Always happening at transition times? then you must have a teacher with him as he moves through the transition. right up under him, as my teachers would say.
also, can see from observation whether child X said "no, that's my truck" and other child didn't listen so she/he got pushed. Or did child x not even say anything, just pushed to get truck back? then we need to work on his problem solving via words skills - by modeling, requiring he copy our phrase, and then remding him a zillion times.
never is cihldren's behavior "for no reason" - but it might not make sense to us. but it makes sense to them.
Re: KAM - aggressive preschooler
posted at 7/31/2012 10:51 AM EDT
I did have a meeting with the teacher. According to the aggresive child DS and him were playing "dead" and he was trying to save my son. And that's how the scratches happened around DS' neck. DS says he pushed him off the climber...
We have another meeting set up in a month to see how things are going.
I was honest with her that this child was one of the reason we changed DS' room, I posted about this before, this child is the one who was big into gun play and "I shoot you" comments that just don't jive with me.
The new room does a better job keeping the child engaged in activities, but there is free play time and that's when things go south. They claim that if a child is acting aggressively they have them stay with a teacher and do an activity together. And I do know they have been removing this child completely from the room.
DS and this child are friends-friends at this age are so tricky! DS gravitated toward this child because they are into sports and are good at it. DS is very much into sports and quite good at it too.
I'm not sure if this child's mother was recently deployed with the military, but I've only recently seen her again, after about a year. DS and this child have been classrooms together since DS turned 2. Things started to go down hill behavior wise about 7 months ago when DS turned 3 and moved to preschool (this child is 6 months older than DS). If this is the case, I really do feel for the kid. But protecting mine is still my number one priority.
I've also told the teachers that I want to know if DS is engaging and starting this behavior. there are things I can and will do at home to correct. (no dessert if DS engaged in play fighting.) If DS is engaging in these activities he's not exaclty innocent, we all play a part in this. So far he's never instigated the aggressive behavior.
As for DD, they definitely shadowed her after all the bites. Thankfully after that horrible run, we've had no more bites! As soon as she starts walking they'll move her to the pre-toddler room-that's when the biting really begins!
Re: KAM - aggressive preschooler
posted at 7/31/2012 11:39 AM EDT
So it seems that the teachers do know when this child gets aggressive, which means they must MONITOR his free play time.... let him have free play, of course, but keep a teacher on top of him at all times, (shadowing him) during that time. And then they can redirect him as he's just about to get aggressive and tell him what she should do.. (vs. just reacting to all his aggression by taking him away from the play, because that doesn't teach them anything about what TO DO) For every day that he doesn't engage in aggressive behavior is another day that he thinks of himself in a positive way and in a non-aggressive way, and other people think of him that way as well.
Of course, you can't really tell them what they should be doing with that child, and you're right, taking care of your child is your first priority at all times. Good for you for being so on top of things, and jumping on this quickly.
So hard to see this happening - if this child has been aggressive for so long, I fear it's stuck for a long time, which means he will get labeled as "the difficult one" or "the aggressive one" and then it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, too.
What I always found interesting was that kids would report to their parents that "x scratched me" "x hit me" when X had been out sick that day! So sad, but they were used to x being the one who DID do those things... children at this age aren't really telling lies - they tend to mix things together in terms of which day which thing happened.
And when everyone expected that child was the one who did it (including teachers) sometimes as a teacher when a group of children were together and crying happened - the teachers (including me) would look and assume it was X who did the thing that caused the crying... shadowing solves that problem.
Re: KAM - aggressive preschooler
posted at 8/1/2012 12:14 PM EDT
Well yesterday the boy struck again. Biting DS in the ear...apparently out of fear that DS was going to punch him. DS showed no aggressive behavior at all.
My first thought is "why is a 4 year old affraid someone is going to punch him?" A thought that would never cross DS' mind! Nor should it cross any child's mind!
I'm waiting for the teacher to call me back when she's in her training session for the day.
At this point I will insist that they shadow DS when he is playing with this child. If I cannot insist on them shadowing this other child, I can insist on them shadowing MY son during these times since I'm concerned for his safety. That way we don't have to rely on what 3/4 year olds are saying. Though we do quiz DS about 85 different ways about what happened. It got to the point when DS said "I. told. you. all. rea-dy." Kinda funny to see a 3 year old insist in his consistent story.
Re: KAM - aggressive preschooler
posted at 8/2/2012 2:23 PM EDT
Poor KAM's son!
I'm sure your center does this already, but they do write incident (or accident) reports each time a chlid is injured, right? And you sign it and get a copy? I would keep these, because at some point you may want to have a discussion about this child's removal from the center, and you need to know how often/when/etc. the incidents occurred. And as the incidents decrease, you want to be able to see that, too, because sometimes when it's happening often it's hard to tell how often "didn't he just get hit last week? or was it 2 days ago?" Of course you have no idea how much he's kicking/hitting/biting OTHER children, just your child.
And, frankly, an incident report should also be done for the other child's parents, as in "your child bit another chlid today in the ear." so that everyone has a record of when, how many, etc. times it's happened. Because without that documentation you can't go to a parent and say "we're concerned about your son's behavior" and have anything to back that up.
I write the first paragraph unwillingly, because as a center director I NEVER WANT to even discuss removing a child for behavior. Why? Because they are such young children and it's our job to help them develop all of their skills, not just cognitive and school-readiness skills, and removing a child for behavior gets that child labeled (if only in the parents' minds), etc. So as a director I resist the instinct of the victim's parents when they (sometimes) bring up the question "How many times does a child need to bite (hit, kick, punch) before you'd kick them out?" Because there is no one right answer.
But this 4 yr old isn't actually doing one thing, and frankly biting at 4 yrs old isn't within typical development. Hitting, kicking and pinching are, but biting is a bit out of the norm. For your daughter's baby and toddler age biting is very typical, since they can't speak well enough to solve problems AND they are so very oral at this age (still putting everything in their mouths). But 4 yr olds aren't as oral, although they can't always think of the perfect thing to say when they are under stress - which is why they kick, hit, knock over towers, even sometimes throw a toy, etc. to solve problems.
And, you're RIGHT, it's a GREAT idea to have your son be shadowed when he is playing with the aggressive child! What a perfect solution...
Gosh, I wonder if this other child is a 2nd or 3rd child with much older children? Or whether there is lots of aggressive play from father, uncle, neighbor kid? Or (of course I'm an ECE educator, I'll go there)... lots of tv watching of the non-Sesame Street type? It is so sad that a 4yr old thinks he's going to get punched so he better defend himself...
Re: KAM - aggressive preschooler
posted at 8/3/2012 9:42 AM EDT
I don't have any advice, but I just wanted to tell you (KAM and CT-DC) that I think this thread is so thoughtful and helpful. KAM, I think it's wonderful how even though you want/need to protect and help your son, you are able to think and act so peacefully and respectfully (both for the daycare personnel and for the other kid's circumstances). CT-DC, I always love when you weigh in! And I enjoyed that you gave both a philosophical perspective and some very concrete suggestions.
That's all. Just a little love! ;)
Re: KAM - aggressive preschooler
posted at 8/8/2012 2:49 PM EDT
Well, we just had our parent teacher conference with DS's preschool teacher. And as the teacher put it "without getting into other student's business, we don't expect him to be with us much longer." Besides sounding like they were going to off the kid, sounds like he will be moving on. Until then they have agreed to shadow DS when he is playing with this child.
So, it's the best I could have hoped for. DH and I agreed that the center needs to do a better job of teaching all the kids how to deal with their emotions and communicate in healthy ways in the preschool setting.