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School Issues With 4 Year Old

Discussion in 'Schoolgoers & Teens' started by umaakumar, Jul 1, 2022.

  1. umaakumar

    umaakumar Gold IL'ite

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    Long post alert

    My granddaughter is 4.5 years old. I would like to give in detail the turn of events in order:

    She was born in salt lake city, Utah. She started going to day care when she was 1.5 years old. This is because both my daughter and son in law work. Though like all kids she would fuss in the morning, she was happy to be there. She did not like the idea of coming home and would keep playing till we force her.

    When she was nearing 3 my son in law changed jobs and opted to move to Tampa in Florida. When they moved to Tampa it was the beginning of Covid and schools and day care were shut down. I went to Tampa during this time and was with her for 10 months. When day care was opened, I left in January 2021 and she started going to day care.

    She would cry every day to go. She did not like nap time in school. We would pick her up before nap time. She went only half day. Though we had instructed the school to give her other activities during nap time, they would force her to lie in the bed, if there was a slight delay in her getting picked up. Every morning was a task to send her to school. Then we realized that one of the teacher was extremely strict and she was very scared of this teacher. Many times, we informed the school to ask this teacher to be a little lenient as she is so scared. One day she wanted to pee urgently and when she told this teacher, she said to lie down quietly and then she peed in the bed. She was to embarrassed and cried. Then my daughter realized there really was a problem and put her in another school. Here the activities were better and she enjoyed it, but mornings she would cry and cling to her mother and refuse to go.

    In the meantime, in July 2021, my son in laws father passed away. My granddaughter had very little interaction with him. He was with her for 4 months when she was 6 months old. After that he had dementia and she would talk/ see him on video calls. We kept this info of his death from her for about 2 months and then we had to tell her. She cried so much and every day from then on she would look at his photo and say “I am feeling sad”. Then her questions about death started. “Why do we die, will everybody die, Will my grandmother die, etc etc” We try to evade these questions as much as possible.

    Now my daughter had a second child, though my granddaughter was very happy to have a brother, after some time we could feel she was feeling left out, she will wear the babies dress and act like him at times to get attention. She will say “you love him more than me”. She hates to leave my daughter’s side. Wants her Mamma for everything. Se wants to her to play with her 24/7. This is in spite of her parents giving her all their time. They have a full time Nanny to take care of the boy.

    Presently my daughter has moved to New York. Again, there was a school gap of 2 months. Presently she is going for summer camp at a nearby school. Mornings are hell to send her.

    The first week, when asked why she does not want to go to school, she said her teachers are getting a green slimy tail and red eyes and turning into monsters after we leave.

    Then she said “there are some things she does not want her Momma and dada to know, when asked why she said they will go crazy if they hear it. Any amount coaxing, she did not tell us what it is.

    She says she does not like to leave home and go anywhere. She wants to be with her momma always.

    A few days back as she was playing she said, (there is a male teacher in her class), he put a stick into the top of her dress and took it out from below. When she said she does not like it, he said “this is to break your mind”. She said she does not like to go to school because she is scared of this teacher.

    We did not know whether she is just imagining this and it really happened. We kept her at home for a day and spoke to the director of the school. They said this incident never happened and it is only her imagination. The male teacher has very less interaction with the students. She advised us to send her to school and see if she comes out with any other thing like this. So we have sent her to school today.

    But she cries so much to go and clings to her momma and it breaks her heart. Once she is left in school, she participates in all activities and is happy.

    ON an ending note, I would like to add that she does not make friends easily. She likes to have just one friend and plays only with that one friend. She is very far advanced for her class and can read fluently and write very well. She excels in drawing. She is very sensitive to things.

    I would like to get advice from some child psychologists or therapist, if there is anything abnormal in her behavior. Has anyone else experienced this kind of separation anxiety in children. Please advise.
     
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  2. MalStrom

    MalStrom IL Hall of Fame

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    Your granddaughter has been through a lot of changes in her 4.5 years of life. She may be struggling to cope with all this, and it sounds like she has an active imagination.
    Regarding her school, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right then look into it further. It might be unlikely that anything untoward happened but you also want her to be able to talk openly about what is going on.
    If you daughter is able to take her to a counselor that might give them some insights into how to help her.
     
  3. hrastro

    hrastro Platinum IL'ite

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    This cannot be an imagination or hallucination of a 4 year old - there might be something that has triggered this thought process - please dont ignore or dismiss as imagination - unless she has seen some horror movie with this kind of theme, they dont know enough to even imagine these kinds of incidences
     
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  4. 1Sandhya

    1Sandhya Platinum IL'ite

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    Some things you could have done differently from your end. - telling her about the grandpa passing away was not really necessary, in my opinion. She barely knew him and he was not present figure in household. Under age 6-8 children don’t really have a concept of death and it stresses and frightens them - like nightmares etc so I personally would have avoided.
    the incident with the male teacher is very detailed and specific. I doubt she made it up. As I understand this is just a summer camp. Not a real school. All kinds of staff get hired for summer camp, even kids, it’s not rigorous like in regular school. No teaching credential or training is required. Max they have to do short safety course. Only real requirement is that they show when they are supposed to and take charge of the kids. So really anybody, even a wacko could be in charge of the kids for the assigned session. Some camp counselors really love their work and are great and some others just want to make some cash. At that age it’s just glorified baby- sitting. Maybe that guy got bored or did it as a joke who knows? Previously also when your granddaughter mentioned about an issue, there was an actual problem but you adults were slow in realizing and taking action. Please don’t repeat as you will lose her trust.

    Trust the child and what she says - is my advice. secondly since this is just summer camp can you/ daughter take her out and make some other arrangements?

    Only one doubt is there - what kind of media exposure does your granddaughter have? Is she limited to children’s cartoons and age appropriate shows? Or is she allowed to sit and watch along with the adults? The other day someone posted that they watch latest action movies (don’t remember exact name? ) with 6 year old. Are you (or daughter) doing similarly too? If so she may have got the idea from there.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2022
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  5. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear @umaakumar,

    your grand daughter certainly has had too much of change between schools/daycares, places and now baby brother. I don't know how that affects a child - may vary from child to child. First of all, don't write off anything your child says about an adult at school and I am glad you are taking it seriously enough. Secondly, seeking help from a therapist or a psychologist is not a bad idea.

    A couple of things stood out to me as I read your post a couple of times. Other than all the things you have mentioned, this stood out to me -

    I would also urge you to get her IQ tested. She seems far too advanced for her age with reading, writing and drawing and add to that she is extremely sensitive (even about grandfather) and prefers one on one play, likes to stick with her mom! These are some classic signs I see in many a student who is gifted. Her ability to express vividly is helping create these images especially the one where she spoke about teachers with green slimy tail and red eyes etc - I will however will not put the incident with the male teacher in this category. Please always watch out. She is sticking with one friend and/or just mom because I think she feels understood and mimicking (her younger brother) to get attention also speaks of this anxiety she may have about having to share her time with mom with her brother. Your daughter spending some half hour a day with her exclusively will go a long way.

    I don't know if she is in a private school or a public school. Either ways, gifted testing and placing her at the right level may help her. Will she be going to KG this year? if not, check to see if she clears the KG ready test. What kind of books is she exposed to? What kind of TV does she watch or video games she plays? Is there a way where you or your daughter can spend some time helping her write little stories with illustrations or even random drawings - asking her to talk about them? Also file away everything she does - date it and save it. It will help you understand in the long run. If you are sending her to public school for KG, it may not be a bad idea to take her writing or reading level books to the gifted teacher and ask her help to assess. They are usually real good about this. You don't have to speak about all other concerns right away.

    This is another angle I could think of to help understand your grand daughter - i see many of these symptoms/behaviours in the gifted children I work with. She seems like a bright child and I am glad you are trying to understand her. Best wishes.
     
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  6. umaakumar

    umaakumar Gold IL'ite

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    Dear MalStrom,

    Thank you for your reply.

    Yes I too think all the change was too much for her. She has a very active imagination and loves to imitate the characters in the books she reads.
    We took up the matter with the school and they said it never happened. This is only a summer camp with about 20 to 25 children all in the age group of 3 to 5.
    We are thinking of taking her to a counsellor soon.
    Thanks
    Uma
     
  7. umaakumar

    umaakumar Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Hrastro,
    We are trying to find out where she has heard or seen anything like this. We did not want to ignore what she said.
    We feel one of the child in school has said something like this and she is repeating it
    She only watches kids stuff on tv.
    Thanks
    Uma
     
  8. umaakumar

    umaakumar Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Sandhya,
    Thanks for your reply.
    We could not avoid telling her about her grandfather, as she was persistent that she needed to see him. We kept telling her he has gone on Holiday etc But you are right, this affected her too much.
    We spoke to the school and they said nothing like this happened. They said the children are never left alone with him. Like you said, he will be there only for the summer camp.
    Now after school, my daughter spends undivided time with her to talk to her and see if anything is bothering her. But after that one day she never spoke about this again.
    She watches only kids show on tv. We don't watch anything while she is around.
    Thanks
    Uma
     
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  9. umaakumar

    umaakumar Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Srama,

    Thank you for your repl

    Secondly, seeking help from a therapist or a psychologist is not a bad idea.
    We are considering this.

    A couple of things stood out to me as I read your post a couple of times. Other than all the things you have mentioned, this stood out to me
    I would also urge you to get her IQ tested. She seems far too advanced for her age with reading, writing and drawing and add to that she is extremely sensitive (even about grandfather) and prefers one on one play, likes to stick with her mom! These are some classic signs I see in many a student who is gifted. Her ability to express vividly is helping create these images especially the one where she spoke about teachers with green slimy tail and red eyes etc - I will however will not put the incident with the male teacher in this category. Please always watch out. She is sticking with one friend and/or just mom because I think she feels understood and mimicking (her younger brother) to get attention also speaks of this anxiety she may have about having to share her time with mom with her brother. Your daughter spending some half hour a day with her exclusively will go a long way

    I don't know if she is in a private school or a public school. Either ways, gifted testing and placing her at the right level may help her. Will she be going to KG this year? if not, check to see if she clears the KG ready test. What kind of books is she exposed to? What kind of TV does she watch or video games she plays? Is there a way where you or your daughter can spend some time helping her write little stories with illustrations or even random drawings - asking her to talk about them? Also file away everything she does - date it and save it. It will help you understand in the long run. If you are sending her to public school for KG, it may not be a bad idea to take her writing or reading level books to the gifted teacher and ask her help to assess. They are usually real good about this. You don't have to speak about all other concerns right away.

    This is another angle I could think of to help understand your grand daughter - i see many of these symptoms/behaviours in the gifted children I work with. She seems like a bright child and I am glad you are trying to understand her.

    She is in a private school. She is a November born, so she goes to kindergarten only next year. She will do pre kg from September. That is also very boring for her as they do the same kids drawings and art and teach alphabets and numbers which she already knows. The good thing is that this school has violin and piano classes which she is going to love.
    The school said the gifted program will start only in 3 Rd grade.
    She plays video games, like makeover for girls. She watches only kids programs on YouTube. Presently she is crazy about a show where they make dresses for the dolls and build small houses etc.
    The books she reads are also appropriate for her age.
    She is also going to start dancing lessons in September. She will be going for swimming class from next week. She loves singing too. We are trying to find a carnatic music class. Online classes don't work for her.
    Regards
    Uma
     
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  10. Rihana

    Rihana Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    The little one, her parents (and grandmother too) have been through a lot in the past few years. Ideally:
    - she should go to the swim classes only if she has been asking for it or is happy to go.
    - the instructor should be told briefly about the child's anxieties etc that the parents are trying to figure out. some instructors adopt the tough-love approach if the child is hesitant to put the head under water or just scared of water.
    - the swim place and instructor should allow the parent to be present at all times near the pool where the child can see the parent. some instructors say that the child will do better if parent is not around.
    - insist on only female instructors for now. swim lessons involve body contact as the instructor shows the child how to move arms and legs.

    In fact, with so many variables already present in the family's life, maybe better to postpone the swim lessons to next summer.
     

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