Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Expected Reaction, Wrong Kid

This is Silas. Known also as Si-Guy. He's a happy-go-lucky kid. He started school last Friday. So did the other two. And he's having trouble. He cries a lot. He says he just misses his family. Or his brothers. Or his Mommy. Or his Daddy. He cries for a long time. This is just today and yesterday. On Friday, he did okay.

His teacher (bless her heart) is a first year gal. She's twenty-two and I can tell she feels a little insecure about the whole thing (I think she just doesn't me want to dislike or disapprove of her. I work at her school). Please help me. It's killing me. And I've cried at school, just thinking about the little man. I know he needs some adjustment time. What can I say to him? Are there suggestions I can give his teacher? I'm dreading tomorrow. He starts crying now just thinking about school in the morning.

Looking for encouragement...


Anonymous said...

O, Kim, I'm so sorry. Unfortunately I dont have an answer but I will lift you all up in prayer. Poor Silas. Poor Mommy! Love you guys. Is there a counselor at the school he could talk to?

Virginia said...

I think your reactions mirror his- you two are peas in a pod. Si-guy has always been a mini-Kim to me.

How would you had wanted your parents to handle this when you were little?

Do you think he is overwhelmed by having to make all new friends? He doesn't have his brothers around and he's the only person he knows?

What exactly does he seem most upset about- the people, the schoolwork, the environment? If it is the people, what about inviting one of the other kids from his class over to play, get them to know each other better? If it's the schoolwork, give him lots of encouragement and sit down with him in the evenings maybe to help him out (although, this early on, I doubt that this is the case)... if it's the environment, maybe he can take something special from hom (dog dog?) that helps give him a little bravery.

This is going to sound mucho cheesy, but maybe you could do this? There is a book called the kissing hand, and the basic gist is that the mom gives the kid a kiss for his hand each day at school. I've seen crafts where you trace your hand and cut it out, and kiss it with lipstick and give it to your kid to put in their pocket. Any time they are feeling lonely or sad at school, they can pull it out to see it and be comforted.

Those are my dorky ideas. I will be praying for you guys... I know that is very hard as a mommy and as a kiddo.

Virginia said...

Btw, apparently I have reading comprehension issues. I just re-read your post and saw that he misses everyone.

What if you make him something to keep in his pocket? At Walmart you can get those little ID badge holders (in the office supply section) and you could slide in a wallet sized pic of the family in that. Maybe put a note or something on the other side. The plastic will protect it from getting all messed up and he can look at it whenever he needs to see your faces. If you remind me, I can make you one while you're here this weekend.

Cheryl said...

How about making a special school calendar for Silas. I remember the concept of time was so abstract at that age. Two minutes (the amount of detention I received in the first grade, probably for talking) could have been two hours as far as I was concerned :( - perhaps he has no idea how long school will go on...maybe he just thought it was like another field trip or event that would end after one day. By making a calendar showing him which days are school days he will be able to cross the days off until the weekends. Perhaps you could make Wednesday a SonicDay for a mid-week treat. I'll email a calendar for August especially for him. Might be worth a shot...I'll be praying for all of you!

Texas Aggie in Florida said...

I'm probably not going to tell you what you want to hear. But the teacher in me can't NOT comment on this one.

I think it's normal for him to feel this way. He's been at home with you. It will take time for him to accept this new kind of normal.

However, PLEASE be careful that you don't fall into the manipulation trap. Young, inexperienced teachers certainly don't help in this area. In fact, they tend to encourage this behavior because they haven't yet become "seasoned" in the firmness department. A seasoned teacher would give a hug, a word of encouragement, a special trip to the restroom to wash the face, blow the nose, and take some time to pull it together, and then she would demand that he pull it together and have a good attitude and she would do it in such a way that the child never felt unfairly treated and would in fact pull it together and would be happy. (I learned this trick quickly!) I remember when I student taught, there was a boy that had a complete melt down during the valentine's party. No one knew why. I took him to the hall and was so sympathetic I almost started boohooing right along with him. He cried for TWO SOLID HOURS and I just kept being so sweet and compassionate towards him and was giving him all this special attention. Well, after a few hours, the teacher came back and saw what was going on. She took over. She pulled him aside, said a few sweet words to him, a smile spread across his face, and that was the end of that! I felt like such a chump! From then on, I learned!

I fully expect to be in the same boat next week when Lexi starts kindergarten if it makes you feel any better. And please remind me...this too shall pass!

Lurnus Gude said...

Great advice from the posters!! As a teacher I can tell you that kiddos take their cues from those around them. The more positive the teacher and family can be, the better. A big smile and comforting words go along way. What he is feeling is normal but if it continues he may want to talk with the counselor. Check to see if he/she has a group that she meets with that is made up of new kids to the school. Our counselor has that and they get goodies at the beginning of the year, their picture made, etc. I hope his helps. I will be praying for all of you.

care-in said...

This has got to be so hard, I hope it is just an adjustment period. It's only been 3 days so don't loose heart yet.

I totally agree with Texas Aggie...he will take his cues from you and the teacher. I have seen parents make a situation like this much worse...they linger at the classroom door, teacher moms drop by the classroom during the day, peek in the classroom. All of these things are good intentions but it can make a situation like this worse. Not saying you do these things...just my thoughts.

Be as upbeat and positive as you can (don't let him see you upset) and give him small goals to look forward to. I would also send encouraging notes to the teacher that are totally unrelated to this. Stuff like this can't be taught in college, she'll get it. If it continues on I'd suggest a very casual conference with her.

I've had parents come to me (at various times in the year) saying their child cries and doesn't want to come to school. Majority of the time we can't figure out the cause of the problem. It can be due to a lot of things...change in schedule, tired, etc. You guys have had a lot of change and new stuff recently.

I like Virge's idea of inviting some friends over. Maybe he has 1 or 2 he is comfortable with, you could also ask the teacher if there is anyone she has noticed him hanging out with.

I'd ask the teacher before sending some kind of lovie to school but the idea of carrying something in his pocket is great.

Are you able to have lunch with him or would that make it worse? Sometimes that can help but for other kids it starts the weepiness all over again.

Hope this gets better soon and you find something that works for you. I'll be praying.

Missy said...

Uh, yes...what all the teachers just said!

I say bribe him with Chocolate. Or, OK...I will bribe YOU with chocolate. If you don't cry at school tomorrow I will send you chocolate. Wrapped in dry ice of course so it won't melt. And I will wrap it in a paper with Colin Firths face on it. Do you love him too? If not, who do you love? I will wrap it in a big picture of Quinn, and then you can melt it, and then...well I don't want to know.

OK, I am sorry I'm no help. My job as your friend is to make you laugh. This is my advice, laugh and be bribed by chocolate.
And the children and I will pray for the little Si-man :)

Marsha said...

Great advice already given. The biggest thing is just like Texas Aggie said, keep the sympathy short and sweet on your part and on the teacher's part. No coddling, this will only prolong it.

Putting the issue into prospective, help him memorize a Bible verse like "I am with you always", there are many that would fit this situation. Then handling his fears and emotions becomes a spiritual issue for him. It's teaching him he can always rely on the Lord being with him.

I'll be praying for you all.

KT said...

OK, here is my advice:
This too shall pass.
(My first tap tap tap on the keys reaction- Give it 18 years and he'll be gone and then you will forget the pain as you push him out the door! But then I realized that is the reaction of someone with a 15 year old daughter and not a sweet little boy who still loves his family!)
Hang in there!

heather said...

I love the calender idea because they really have no idea of how long things are. I will be praying for you.

michelle said...

awwwww, I'm so sorry Kim. I will pray for you guys this morning. That makes me so sad. I HATE that feeling as a mom. I love you girl.

Anonymous said...

LOVE all the advice -

Virginia - I love The Kissing Hand - as a PRE-K teacher I would read that on the first day just for me!!! (Still have it in my collection of favorite children's books - that is where you will find me in bookstores...the children's department - forget Pride & Prejudice!! just give me Strawberry Girl or Goodnight Moon.)

Love the calendar idea; Texas Aggie's advice on a hug, kind words, then washing the face and pull it together kido; keeping something in the pocket (although that probably would have ended up on my desk before the morning was over because of the distration it was); Sonic - yes!; chocolate for the mom (oh you meant for Silas?); friends over and hugs (but not too many - coddling) but most of all - the prayers.

Silas - do you see how many people love you????

love you! Grandma & Papaw in Florida We miss you and your family soooooooo much!

Amy said...

My next door neighbor had this same dilemma as you and her son was in first grade. He wanted to just go home and be homeschooled. I think they prayed and prayed with him and for him, but refused to be manipulated (what I mean is stood firm. Like you, this really pulled at the Mom's heart strings, but it has been a growing and painful experience. I think just as the others have said, reassurance will help Silas so much. Give him goals to look forward to, encourage him and maybe if Corin encourages as well, as his big brother that would be a big push for him.
so tough to be a Momma!

Paige said...

Excellent advice! Trial and error...you will find what works, it just may take a while! Please keep us updated. We are praying for you all.

MattD said...

You may not like my advice, but here it comes. Be tough on him. He's a boy. He doesn't need any "coddling" like marsha said. If he knows you're getting upset by it he'll keep it up trying to manipulate the situation. Ignore it and try and let him have some friends over like on of the ladies said. I wouldn't try any of the calenders, kissing hands stuff, or whatever. just this is the way it is. He'll get over it. Of course I'm a hard a** so that's how I approach things with Jake and Adam. Don't be a sissy is what my Dad or older brother would say and it always worked. Jake sees Adam doing something or vice versa and says that..bam works like a charm. Like I said you may not like it, but that's a Dad's point of view.