Where are we going wrong? (Guest Post)

The lovely Sabina at DeepInMummyMatters contacted me to ask if I would like to host a post for her. Not only was I incredibly honoured, but the content is quite relevant for me as a teacher. I hope that you'll be able to come up with some suggestions to help her.

Where are we going wrong?

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re failing as a parent?  On the whole I’ve always thought that me and Hubby make pretty good parents, we give our children lots of love and attention, we play with them, we make sure that at weekends we always do something which is specifically for the children (e.g. swimming, play centre or a walk in the park).  We try to always be there to listen if they need to talk and we try our hardest to spread our time fairly amongst the children but over recent months/years with Curly and weeks with Little Bean I’m starting to question whether we really are doing a good job or not.  This post is in relation to Curly . . .

Curly is 9 years old and my husband’s son from his first marriage.  Hubby and Curly’s Mum split up shortly before Curly’s 2nd birthday.  When Curly was about 30 months I began a relationship with his dad and his mum began a relationship with her now husband.  Initially we all thought that Curly had coped very well with the breakup, in each of the relationships his mum and dad introduced their respective partner’s to him gradually over time and he has always been very accepting of both of us.  Everything seemed to be progressing with Curly nicely until his second year at primary school and since then it has got progressively worse.

I know every parent likes to think that their child is bright, but seriously Curly is a very bright little boy, he always comes out top of his class with results and has been moved into the higher capabilities group for maths but every year we get the same response from his teachers; he’s disruptive in class and hard to motivate.  Oh we know that well enough ourselves.  Trying to get him to do something for you is like trying to get blood out of a stone.  We have tried all manner of reward charts, naughty steps etc but nothing works with him.

Last year at School, Hubby and Curly’s mum were asked to go into school to see the Headmaster because his teacher was saying that she could no longer cope with having him in her class, he was too disruptive.  At the same time we were constantly being told by Curly that he was being bullied at school by a group of boys.  This is where it gets difficult: when we spoke to the school about the bullying they said that it was just good old horseplay and Curly was being oversensitive, basically he needed to ‘man up’ a bit.  We started taking him to kick-boxing classes to try to give him confidence and discipline but soon the teacher there was also saying that he was ‘away with the fairies’ and too disruptive in class, he was also starting to get very lippy.  Then Curly decided he didn’t want to do kick-boxing anymore.

Yesterday, we had a new issue with him.  When my MiL picked him up from school, he was stopped by his form teacher to say that he needed to have a meeting with Curly’s mum and dad because he wasn’t prepared to have him in his class anymore.  He simply couldn’t handle his behaviour anymore and basically wasn’t prepared to either.  After a little coaxing, Curly opened up to his nan and said that he wasn’t happy at school.  He then proceeded to roll up his shirt sleeve and show his nan a bruise on his arm and said that was where his teacher had grabbed his arm in class and reprimanded him in front of his class mates!!!  Now, he has been known to tell fibs before so it was drummed into him what a serious accusation this was to make and that he could ruin his teacher’s life if he was telling fibs again.  He swore that we could ask his classmates as they all saw it happen.

This morning my husband and Curly’s mum attended the school for a meeting and it has been agreed that Curly should see an Educational Psychologist for assessment.  They will also speak with Curly’s form teacher to ascertain his side of the story on what happened yesterday.

We were also told by his mum that she has been having an horrendous time with him over the last few weeks and his behaviour has been unmanageable, yet we have had no problems at all?  His mum unfortunately has to work long hours and so he spends a lot of time at his nan and grandad’s house or upstairs in his bedroom whilst his stepdad cooks tea.

His maths teacher said that he has worked closely with Curly for the last few years and describes him as an ‘over-sensitive, very sad and lonely individual . . .’ which as a parent is heartbreaking to hear.

Photo credit: dascot.org

Hubby and I sat down with him last night and tried talking with him, within seconds he broke down into sobs and hid his face in his hands.  He said that he didn’t want to talk but after a little bit of TLC he opened up and said that it was all school.  He was fed up of being picked on and hated it in his class.  Sadly for Curly he has suffered with warts on his hand for years and we have tried many treatments but to no avail.  He said that the other children call him “Germy” and touch him then wipe their hands on others saying they have got his germs now.  Other than that they shorten his surname into a nickname (which isn’t bad at all – for example, if he was Curly Brown they would call him Brownie) but he gets upset by this.  We’ve explained that this is nothing to worry about but he doesn’t like it.  If we go to a park and other children are playing he will get very upset if the other children don’t include him in their games and say that no-one likes him.

How do we help him with his self-esteem issues and can anyone recommend a good cure for warts????

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  1. Elaine Livingstone says

    that is so sad.

    the first thing that springs to mind for me is if he is clever and in all the top groups – maybe he is bored with it all and needs more stimulation, and throwing more easy work out him is not the answer it needs to challenge his level of learning.

    as we all know bullying takes many forms and if the teachers are constantly having a go at him then this (imo) makes him a prime target for his peer group beacuse they see the teachers having a go at him they feel it is acceptable for them to do the same.

    is it possible to home school him with the backing of your local education dept?if the school feels he is disruptive and uncontrolable then they may back you on this just to get rid of him. he may come on better in a home environment where he has no competition to play up to,no peer group to hold him back or be intimidated by.

    sorry if this is no help, I obviously dont know the child, or have any emotional attachment to him.but just a few observations from having brought up children of my own. good luck.

    • says

      Thank you for your kind words. You're right, he is a very bright young boy and in particular he prefers adult conversation. Sometimes the stuff he comes out with goes over the other kids heads, which again doesn't help his situation.

      We spoke to him about moving class but the school won't allow it and we also toted with the idea of him changing school but he wouldn't hear of it. Unfortunately I would be the only candidate for home schooling him and I know I wouldn't have the time or patience with a toddler and small baby too.

      We are looking into the possibility of self esteem classes for him as he has a very low opinion of himself 🙁

  2. says

    This has made me cry and I feel your pain as a parent, and as a teacher myself feel that maybe this could have been handled differently from the schools point of view- it is very difficult when faced with only one view point. Please let me think on this. I am also going to ask my husband what he would do in the same situation as he is also a teacher and still currently working and I am a little out of practice.

    My Mum had a wart remedy but I can't remember off hand what it is, so I will also find out. Sorry I am not being very helpful. Just couldn't read and not relpy. It sounds to me like you are incredible parents and putting his needs firsts.

    In the meantime, when he is with you what things make him tick? What does he enjoy, love doing or seem to show talent for? Because your so worried about him, it is very easy to get swept away with all the negatives but what things can he get encouragement and praise from without feeling like he has earned it? Even if it's just, 'Wow you got to level 4 on that comp game..that's amazing!' That type of thing. My brother had lots of issues and I know that when we did positive reinforcement at home, he was more inclined to want to help because he loved the sense of approval.

    • says

      Thank you so much for your concern. He won't be with us now until next weekend but I have a few activities lined up for him which I know he will love.

      He does respond well to positive reinforcement but he is very quick to put himself down again.

      I look forward to hearing any other advice you may be able to provide x

  3. Jodie Smith says

    Children can be so cruel. My dd is a bit of a loner and I'm dreading this all starting with her. We think she has Aspergers but struggling to get her diagnosed. Otherwise I have no idea hun. Just wondering if it maybe something along those lines as he's obviously a high achiever but struggling socially? But then because we're trying to get dd diagnosed I tend to see it everywhere.

    Re the warts – have you tried tea tree oil? I've heard used neat it's quite a good remedy.

    I'm sorry you're having such a hard time xx

    • says

      We have often wondered if he could be somewhere on that spectrum. He is seeing an Educational Psychologist next week so we'll see what they have to say?

      Never heard of tea tree for the warts but definitely worth a go.

      Thank you for your comments, I hope you get a diagnosis for your daughter soon x

  4. says

    I'm sorry but I would take exception with the school telling him he should 'man' up about what he perceives as bullying! If he thinks he is being picked on then it doesn't matter if he isn't really, he will be reacting the same as if he is.
    Does he like to read?
    A couple of books my 9 yo girl dips into now and again are 'Stick Up for Yourself' and 'Bullies, Bigmouths and So-called friends'. I've had a browse through them and they seem good.
    The Ed Psych may be able to help but have you considered some therapy in general for him? Poor kid, he sounds like he's teetering right on the cusp and really needs some help now. Has his mum got kids with her new partner? I bet he feels like he doesn't belong to anyone, anywhere 🙁

    • says

      He LOVES to read so I will look up those books for him thank you for the suggestions.

      His Mum hasn't so far been able to have children with her new partner. He feels very settled at our house as he loves spending time with his little sister and baby brother. He has also made friends with all of our neighbours children so enjoys playing out with them.

      I have been looking to find some Children's 'self esteem' type classes for him because I am worried that he is going very into himself. It's awful to see your child suffer like this.

  5. Him Up North says

    I agree with Mymumdom. The school needs to take the bullying issue seriously, regardless of Curly's own behaviour. It is so important that children feel secure in their environment.

    My view on his own disruptive behaviour is this: being gifted is, in itself, a special educational need. A gifted child can be harmed by not having the right support just as badly as a child who has learning difficulties. Sadly too few schools see it that way.

    I'm guessing there's a lot going on in that little head of his but if he was content in class it would go a long way to improving his self esteem and confidence. This may be an angle you wish to explore with the school. Your first port of call would be the SENCO.

    You're going through every parent's nightmare. I hope you find a solution.

    • says

      Would you believe it if I told you he had been seeing the schools Senco for most of this school year and the Ed Psych next week is the first thing they have come up with.

      Personally I'm not impressed with the school and think he would do better elsewhere but we don't get a say in it.

      He is very bright and yes I would say gifted and I think boredom is a key factor here along with very low self esteem. I'm looking into finding him some self esteem classes if possible.

      Thank you for your comment x

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