Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Parental influence on children in the first 12 years of their lives have a permanent effect. Unfortunately, children come with no user manual. Each child is different from the other. Discuss how to handle emotional and educational needs of your child here.

Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby Red_Tiger » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:10 pm

Hi all, am seeking advice on whether they are specific helplines apart from seeking professional psychological/psychiatric help on managing pre-schoolers who may be smarter or rather, catching onto things faster than peers of their actual age, but displaying behavioural issues.

I have a just turned four-year-old son who has been displaying symptoms of an 'over-achiever' child (if I can put it that way) that is hindering his acceptance into pre-school life since he was 2.5 years old.

And by that, I mean that he has switched two pre-schools (just three-hour kindergarten types), both at which the teachers eventually gave up on his inevitable crying everyday at school.

He cries at the thought of school and even in class, he cries whenever he does not get a prize for answering questions correctly. He cannot fit in well with other children of the same age, according to his teacher, as according to the teachers he is too matured for his age and 'talks differently'.

The conclusion why I have associated his behaviour to being an over-achiever did not come easily or naturally. But it was through discussions with many of adult observers and teachers.

My son can read, spell, calculate etc., at an early age and thus, this is not about anxiety over his academic performance. Rather, seeking help as to how I can learn more about easing his school anxiety. I have tried reading him stories about how it is ok not to always win at everything one does, have tried rewards system on him to correct his behaviour and thinking, have tried working with his teachers to soothe him, have tried acting out as 'losers' in games and showing him others are ok to lose, and reversely, have 'won' in games with him to show him that he can't win all the time. All of which did not help. If anything, his crying has gotten worse over time.

Thus, am seeking help or advices on what else I can possibly do for this son of mine.

P.S: I'm not sure if anyone will suggest getting him accessed for IQ. But I am concerned as I read many online threads that even if children in Singapore are accessed with higher IQs, there isn't any specific school for them but rather, we will have to continue to ease them into mainstream schools. Thus, am seeking advices apart from knowing how high his IQ is, etc. Thanks in advance :-)

Red_Tiger
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Re: Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby Red_Tiger » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:29 pm

Thanks very much Beatrice! Truly appreciate the advice. Will check out the book.

I guess I am not considering specific schools as yet partly because of costs, and partly because I don't really see how sending him to certain schools will help ease him eventually into mainstream schools... I have heard of a lot of parents who send their children to enrichment classes only to have their children completely bored when they enter primary one.

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Re: Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby glass » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:13 pm

It is unfortunate that the term 'gifted' is misunderstood by many. Other parents get jealous if we feel our children are gifted. Some will think that every child is gifted in their own ways.

Gifted children's brains are just wired differently. They are able to make connections much faster and they are interested in a lot of things. They have special needs that most teachers are unable to cope with. Even a trained gifted teacher is unable to handle every gifted child as everyone is just different.

There is no real solution in Singapore. What you can do is to read up on how to manage your child's emotions. Check out http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/ on gifted children. They have lots of resources on how to handle gifted children and all their issues.

You might consider changing schools if he is unhappy.

glass
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Re: Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby slmkhoo » Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:41 am

Have you considered taking your child to a child psychologist for assessment? Not for IQ, although that will probably be included, but for other issues? You may want to do that and find out if there are more deep-seated issues.

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Re: Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby Han Seo » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:07 pm

slmkhoo wrote:Have you considered taking your child to a child psychologist for assessment? Not for IQ, although that will probably be included, but for other issues? You may want to do that and find out if there are more deep-seated issues.


I agree that you should send your child for an assessment as his behaviour is affecting his ability to function in school and at home.

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Re: Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby Han Seo » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:09 pm

slmkhoo wrote:Have you considered taking your child to a child psychologist for assessment? Not for IQ, although that will probably be included, but for other issues? You may want to do that and find out if there are more deep-seated issues.


I agree that you should send your child for an assessment as his behaviour is affecting his ability to function in school and at home.

Han Seo
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Re: Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby Red_Tiger » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:08 pm

Thanks both. I will consider psychological help eventually if really pushed. Just that for now, many around me do not support such a measure and still feel that it's more of how I can personally guide and coach my son...

Also, there are many cases of misdiagnosis cited by people around me, when they bring their children for psychological advice...

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Re: Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby Han Seo » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:47 pm

From your post, it seems that your main concern is that your son cries when he can't win. However, you also mentioned that he cried "at the thought of school". I am not too sure what this means. To get a more accurate picture, you may want to do some informal, objective observations of him in diverse situations, such as when he is playing with his friends, listening to stories and other social interactions in school (enlist the teacher's help; preschool teachers are trained to do observations of children as part of their training). In these observations, you may want to observe:
i. his verbal and non-verbal interactions with peers. Is there any trigger? Is it something that his friends said or do that triggers the crying behaviour?
ii. when he cries, what are the reactions of those around him, including his peers and teachers? Did their response aggravate the behaviour?
iii What does he do when he cries? Does he talk about why he is crying? Does he respond when an adult talks reasonably to him?
iv. When does he cry? Only when there is competition and he loses? Or other situations as well?

His behaviour at home. Is it consistent with what was observed in school?

There are many reasons when a child cries incessantly. It can be getting attention, feeling insecure, a competitive nature etc. If you know the root cause, then you can plan strategies to target the root cause accordingly. Knowing the root cause comes from observing the child in diverse situations over a period of time and then analysing what you have observed. You have to give time for the strategies to work. If they don't work after a reasonable period of time, then perhaps your initial guess is wrong and you have to start all over again. And if it is really hampering your child's ability to function in school and at home, it is time to seek professional help. Yes, there can be misdiagnosis in some cases so I guess you have to weigh what the professional said with your own observations of your child.

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Re: Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby Red_Tiger » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:43 pm

Hi Han Seo,

Yes, I am more concerned about his desire to win as I feel this is a main contributing factor to his tendency to cry. But I am not at all sure that is the only reason why he is not settled well in school. When I say he cries at the thought of school, I mean he cries every morning when we tell him it's time to go to school, or when we mention anything related to school (friends, teachers, play time etc) - only in the mornings though. Every night, when we try to talk to him about school, he will not cry and in fact positively assures us he will attend school the next morning.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to get a good parent-teacher partnership going. Despite sharing my son's situation before enrolling him in this school, the teachers did not wish to go the extra mile to settle him in as in they refuse me access to the classroom - this I understand. But whenever I ask about why he keeps crying, the teachers will just tell me that they feel I should be looking to whether teachings at home isn't quite on the right path. This, I have also tried my best to monitor when I am home. We do try to bring up happy experiences in school with my son but he just refuses to discuss. We constantly adopt ways to teach him about winning/losing as part of life but it doesn't work so well, or rather, we feel it is a long-drawn process to get him to see our point.

One thing though, he responds to our teachings at home, especially when we ask him not to cry after losing. However, this has to be done with patience and explanations. I am unsure whether the teachers have the same patience with him as I can understand it is indeed frustrating to deal with a constantly crying toddler when one has as least 10 to 14 others to see to.

In any case, I have decided to pull him out of school for now. He now refuses to even enter the classroom and I am not sure why this is happening after eight long months of trying to settle him. Nonetheless, I can't deny the crying isn't doing any good to him nor the teachers.

As shared, I will try the psychological help but perhaps not after giving one more school another try... You are right that I must first find out the root cause of the problem. But I can't seem to get the answer despite all my attempts.

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Re: Managing an overachieving pre-schooler

Postby Han Seo » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:22 pm

Is he able to tell you why he cries in school? I assume the crying is not just the initial separation anxiety but it happens throughout the time he is in school? 8 months is a long time to settle in.

Perhaps a change in school where the teachers are more sensitive to his needs can improve the situation but finding such a school is going to be tough, knowing the challenges that plague the preschool industry.

I have heard good review of Creative O preschoolers' bay. The operator of the school has children's interest at heart and she is also very well versed in child development. But I think the waiting list is pretty long.

All the best and let us know how your son is progressing.

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