September 2012 (aged 4yrs), so here we were, starting school, do I forewarn the school that my daughter has some difficulties in social interaction with other children and adults which can cause her to become aggressive and sometimes lash out? Ummm, no let’s just see how it pans out, after all I didn’t want her prejudged and she is a bright and mature child (possibly from having much older siblings) and maybe, just maybe, school is what she needs, the structure/the routine/the conformity?!
I was really pleased that her Reception year started well and I even dared hope that she could be settling down?
So I decided to increase my hours and started working full time in June 2013 (at the end of Reception year). Working full time meant though that I no longer had the luxury of catching up with the teacher at the end of each school day, so I began a home/school communications book. This proved really helpful, not only at the time but also subsequently as I have been able to refer back to this.
Already by this point though there were clearly issues in school and my daughter’s aggression had spilled out into school (aged just 5yrs). There were already reports of her hitting and pinching other children and having to spend time on the ‘thinking cushion’ as a result. Afterschool club were also informed of this and were asked ‘to keep an eye out’ for aggressive behaviours.
So Year 1 commenced in September 2013 and the afterschool club had already initiated a ‘behaviour chart’, uh oh! By October her class teacher was reporting incidents like pushing other children. By January 2014 (still aged 5yrs), school reported a ‘distinct change in behaviours’ which now included her ‘being cheeky’, ‘reluctant to follow adult instruction’, ‘calling out in class’ and ‘being disruptive’ as well as many incidents of pushing other children and being rough towards them. It was at this time that she began being removed from the classroom and I was called in for a meeting. Eek, the dreaded ‘meeting’ request…the words that ring in your ears and the type that no parent wishes to be beckoned to! What was going on for my child? What was I doing wrong? I’d never had issues like this with my older two girls so what was going on with my youngest?
By the age of 5yrs, there was a marked escalation in aggressive behaviours at home too. The lashing out, the threats to ‘punch’ me ‘in the face’, the swearing ie ‘for f*** sake’ were becoming a regular daily occurrence. This is not to say that there hadn’t been difficulties and/or unusual behaviours earlier on but as things began to escalate in school, I became much better at recording incidents to try and look for patterns of behaviour and potential triggers.
I needed to get a grip on these escalating behaviours and so therefore introduced several more reward charts, for both a short term (daily) and longer term (weekly) benefit for ‘good behaviour’…. Something a ‘normal’ parent would do right? Yes, I bribed her with chocolate! This appeared to have a positive effect on behaviours at home, albeit short lived, however things continued to escalate in school and were now resulting in using ‘rude language’, ‘nipping people’, ‘poking someone in the eye’, ‘drawing on someone’s clothing’ and ‘throwing coats on the floor’. These behaviours resulted in her being moved to other classrooms or being made to sit on her own away from others and chaperoned at vulnerable times ie to the toilet – this was all happening before we had even reached the end of January 2014! Cue, meeting with the Deputy Head!
By the end of Feb, despite reward charts implemented in school the kicking, punching and spitting at others had also commenced. Cue, another request for a meeting (on my birthday) but this time from the Head….happy birthday to me! At this point, and for some considerable time to come, the Head informed me, in no uncertain terms, that she believed my daughter was ‘choosing’ to behaviour in this way! Why on earth the Head had come to the conclusion that she was ‘choosing’ to behaviour in this manner? For me, this didn’t make sense! What child would ‘choose’ to be so upset, frustrated and/or angry?!
I started to question school about whether they had noticed any triggers for the behaviours, (in my mind there had to be a reason) to which they drew a blank. Further concerns were raised by school regarding my daughter being ‘unbothered’ about sanctions of consequences – this was rapidly spiralling out of control!
How could this all be going so wrong so quickly??