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Advice regarding behaviour


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Hi All

I am asking for advice for my sister really. She has 3 children. 2 boys aged 7 & 3 and a little girl aged 4.

Youngest little boy also attends my pre-school setting for 18hrs per week.

My sister is having real problems with both the boys behaviour. They have tantrums frequently and will throw anything in their way, kick, scream, spit and swear.

Usually the trigger for this is being told "no" or asking them to do something they don't want to like eat dinner, get dressed etc.

We are also having problems with the youngest at pre-school. He will randomly start screaming hysterically, sometimes holding his breath saying ".... hurt me" and saying any child's name, even when he is in the room on his own or in an area on his own. He also repeatedly threw himself of the bikes and scooters when outside and screamed saying someone had hurt him.

Today, out of 6 hours at the setting, he spent an hour happy and not screaming, spitting, kicking, throwing etc.

It's having a huge effect on our setting and his mum is dreading getting up in the morning.

The older one's tantrums are less frequent but he does the same things. He has threw laptops across the floor and televisions down the stairs. At school, he is well behaved and will do anything asked of him.

I have spoken with our area senco and she suggested a calming bag and picture clues, but none of this is working. The youngest starts part-time school in September!

I have suggested we take them to the doctors next week during the easter holidays.

Sorry for the long post, has anyone got any advice :(

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I wonder if this behaviour is what he does at home to get mums attention? On first read it sounds like maybe the children are vying for mums time, I know she is your sister but is the daughter the favourite? prehaps the youngest is missing having mum all to himself now he is at preschool, do they get 'mum time' with her all to themselves? This behaviour will not change overnight but will need lots of positive role modelling, can you ignore the inappropriate behaviour and focus on the small positive things as they happen. I would suggest that she picks her battles and gives the boys 'choices' rather than saying 'no' so that they, particularily the eldest, have some level of say in what happens and that she also makes clear what the consequences are if boundaries ar over stepped. Not sure if this is any help, maybe some professional intervention is required, do you have access to PERSCEY, portage or any other personal and social professional support?

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What a sad tale - no wonder mum is feeling the strain. I imagine at this stage she has tried all the usual positive behaviour management tips and tricks, and is at her wits' end.

If it were me, I would definitely be going to speak to my doctor and explain just how bad it is and ask for a referral either to CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service - or to a child psychologist, depending on my level of desperation. I've had experience of CAMHS in the past - in our case they talked to us all as a family, but also to my son on his own, who needed support with anger management. My son too was well behaved in school - it was just at home he had the problem.

I'm wondering if this is learned behaviour on the part of the younger boy, but it sounds like quite a complicated issue to me.

How is your niece's behaviour?

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Thanks both. All the children get individual time with mum each week as we all help out looking after them so dont think its an attention thing.

My niece can also have bad tantrums but nothing as extreem as the boys, more just screaming and shouting. Since starting school we have seen a big improvement in her.

We are definatley takibg them doctors next week. The youngest has always been hard work since newborn, crying in his sleep and when playing. He is being treated for kidney reflux at the hospital, has been referred for a turn in his eye and his development levels are lower than expected so I am thinking there may be other issues with him.

The eldest has only been liie this for the last 18 months since our nanna passed away.

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Sorry i didn't mean to imply that your sister was at fault at all and with your additional information it certainly sounds like there could be more to the youngest boys behaviour and should certainly be referred to the medical profession. Was the eldest close to his nanna? Have you tried the winstons wish charity which works with young people who have suffered bereavement?

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It's a good idea to see the GP to rule out any health issues that may have been missed before think about anything else..

if you think either or both of the boys may have a neurodevelopmental disorder, you need to ask the GP to refer them to a community paediatrician or CAMHS, whichever takes the lead on neurodevelopmental assessments in your area. If your sister feels that CAMHS is the way to go she might have to be quite insistent.

In the meantime you and your sister both need to keep diaries detailing all incidences of the behaviour that concerns you, what triggered it, how you managed it and how the child responded to this management. This will help build a more comprehensive picture of the behaviour than a few examples off the top of your heads. You can also video a meltdown if this emphasises the severity of them. Without a detailed picture you're always at risk of being told it's normal behaviour caused by poor parenting and behaviour management.

Think about the tantrums. What is the function for the child? Are they targeted at getting something they want or are they an outburst, a total loss of control which is a result of some sort of overload?

I would also try introducing visual timetables and lots of 'now and next' conversations to help them feel secure in their routine and environment and try to keep breaks in routine to a minimum. Limit busy, noisy demanding activities, e.g. don't go to a soft play place just after preschool and see if that helps. Use calming activities like deep pressure and sensory breaks routinely, not just when you think they are going to kick off, and make notes of whether those strategies are useful because that is relevant to an assessment.

There is likely to be a long waiting list before any referral comes through so make the most of this time to build the best picture you can of their behaviour and what triggers it. Don't allow anyone to fob your sister off if she feels they need an assessment. Her instincts are an important indicator.

Good luck.

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Good advice from Upsy Daisy.

Going through the GP is good, but you can probably refer direct to OT. I think you mentioned that the youngest is not meeting age appropriate expectations you may find some sensory issues that can be supported. But again there is likely to be a waiting time but not so long as CAMHS.

The OT in our area has produced a pack of activities to support children with sensory issues, focus and attention (following an adult's lead), fine motor skills, spatial awareness etc. From what you have said there could be some of these involved, but think it may only be part of the picture.

Please tell your sister that she is doing a good job and that the boys behaviour is not down to her. She probably needs the reassuarance.

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As ever, some great advice there from Upsy.....

Hope you don't think this a 'flippant' remark - it really isn't intended that way - but the comment re videoing a 'meltdown' really struck a chord with me........

My youngest granddaughter (aged 7) was, at one time, prone to a few 'meltdowns' and these were ending in her shouting "I'm going to be sick now, rushing to the loo and retching over the bowl, this accompanied by crying....... one day her mum (my daughter in law) calmly and quietly stood at the bathroom door recording this on her phone.........when my granddaughter finally realised what she was doing she stopped retching and crying and said "no don't film me and don't send that to daddy" - my daughter in law replied, very calmly "but I need to let daddy see how ill you are"........this was the last such episode of this nature :1b

Wishing you and your sister and the children well klc x

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