Something is terribly wrong: your child is suddenly having lots of problems at school and daycare.
It's the third time this week and your boss is giving you a look that does not bode well. You rush out the door and climb into your hot car and take a big breath. Mama Bear is about to take over, but you are still unsure if that is the right tact. Maybe the daycare is right, maybe you haven't been consistent enough, firm enough, there enough. But you know something isn't right, and you are ready for it to be fixed. Swallowing tears of frustration, shame, sorrow, guilt, you wonder if he will be going back tomorrow. Your job won't last too much longer if you keep taking off because of your child, but you won't last longer if your child isn’t doing well. Wondering what you are going to do, you square your shoulders, prepare yourself and walk into the building.
I meet many parents the day after this experience. My heart goes out to them and telling you what I've told them may help.
Knowing there is a problem is half the battle. It may feel really bad right now, but your child is asking for help very loudly. The children who have the worst problems never ask for help until it is too late.
What could be happening?
1. HALT — Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
This is an acronym that helps to remind me that we all get cranky when our bodies aren't working right. Talk to those around your child and find out if there is a pattern. Do they have difficulty right before nap? Mid-morning? Right before pick up? Look at their eating habits. It is important to not jump to the next idea until you have really looked at your child's pattern. Knowing when and how predictably your child misbehaves will let you explore how changes to the environment could help them behave better.
2. Physical Issues
There is good evidence that some behavior issues can be related to how a child experiences the world. Vision and hearing problems, certain allergies, illness, and sensory processing issues can all cause misbehavior. To learn more about sensory processing issues, check out the checklist on sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.com. This is a great site to help you understand these issues. If you prefer a book, find the Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz.
3. Conflict Or Change At Home
Your child's emotional, physical, and psychological world is based on the foundation of your home. If there is a lot of conflict, chaos, and inconsistency, your child will react to that. Can they count on spending connecting time with a parent? Has there been a big change recently? Involved grandparents become ill, parents separate, siblings are born, dogs die. Even good things can disrupt a child's world such as a new home, new bedroom, and even a new pet.
Unfortunately, this is a concern. Not all daycares/schools are equal and there is clear evidence that predators target young children. Sometimes the difficulties with your daycare or school do not rise to the level of abuse or neglect, but hurt feelings on the part of a child are difficult to handle. Think about workplaces that were not comfortable but didn't actually break any rules. Be sensitive to your child’s make-up and carefully evaluate how you feel your daycare or school is handling daily activities. A place that may have been perfect last year, may not handle this year’s issues as well.
Now that you know something is wrong, where do you go? If you are concerned, don't wait. Talk to a professional. I am available by email or phone. Email me at Christy@christygrahamlpc.com or call me at 940-597-9635. Next week, I’ll write in more detail your next steps in my article Choose Your Child's New Provider.