Wanted: Parenting Advice

Put on your parenting hats 'cause mine is all out of ideas!

Warning---this is a LONG.

Here is my situation/dilemma: The last few weeks, Grace has not been herself. Normally, she is a sweet, happy, playful little girl. She has issues sharing sometimes and once in awhile she is a little bratty but - hey- she is 4 years old and that is expected. Lately, though, something is different. She goes from acting like her normal self to whining, crying hysterically, and being defiant in a matter of moments. And then she snaps out of it as quickly as it came on. It happens with both Hubby and I.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Hubby was handed an Incident Report at preschool. Apparently, one of the kids took a toy out of Grace's hands while she was playing with it. So, Grace bit him. Yep--she BIT him. She was sent to Time Out (the kids have to sit away from the activity for 4 minutes - 1 minute per year of age) and the Incident Report was written up. The rules are 3 reports and you are kicked out!! When Hubby asked the teacher a few more questions, it was revealed that Grace has been sent to time out about once a day, consistently. This is the first we have heard of that. Yet, every day we ask how the day went and we are never told of these things.

Last night, I postponed a meeting I had so I could spend some one on one time with Grace. We made a snack and had some Girl Talk on the deck. After a few hours of this quality time, I learned a few things that broke my heart (and continue to do so every single time I think about it):

1. Grace says M(the lead teacher) is mean to her. When I asked her to tell me why, Grace says that M sends her to time out all the time. Again, I asked her why. Grace admits that she doesnt listen and thats why she has to go to time out. Clearly, if she listened, she would stay out of time out. But regardless, Grace feels that she is being picked on.

2. She is starting to make friends. For awhile she was talking about Gaby and Gabi (yep, there are 2 of them). Yesterday, she told me that Gaby (not sure which one) is mean to her. Apparently, this girl told Grace that she doesnt like her, that Grace cannot play with her, and that Grace should not come to her school. Grace continues to try to be friends with this kid. I asked Grace if she had tried to tell Gaby to be nice and Grace claims she has. At this point, if that isnt working and Gaby continues to be mean, I told Grace that she could talk to the teachers about it.

3. Yesterday, I picked her up and the teachers told me that one of the boys was being rough with everyone during the day and he pushed Grace on the playground. She scraped her knee but is okay. I didnt get an indication that an Incident Report was done for this infraction like Grace's.

4. During pickup, I asked the afternoon teacher (T--who Grace loves) how the day went. She said it went okay, that Grace was pushing and hitting a little bit but they are having a problem in general with all the kids in that respect. I mentioned briefly that the last month has been different (new school right before Hubby's trip to the hospital, etc). T was unaware of all of that (even though I asked M to inform the afternoon teachers) and that it could be contributing to the recent behavior. The fact that she is still the newest kid in class is hard as well. I am at a loss of what to do.

Grace said a few times last night: I dont want to go to my new school. When can I go to the big school (thats what she calls the elementary school next door!)? Lets go to Afghani's cause I like it there and she loves me too.

I managed to not cry in front of Grace last night but it was heartbreaking to hear this. She talks about her new school all the time. She gets excited when she wakes up and its time to go to school. But once we get there in the morning, she clings onto me and asks me to not go to work. This morning, after 10 minutes of trying to get her engaged in an activity, I actually had to leave her there crying. I had to walk away while she had her arms out crying "Mommy, I wanna go with you!".

There are 2 weekdays between my current job and the new job. One of those days we are going to Baltimore. But that Thursday I am free. My plan is to schedule a meeting with the Preschool Director to talk about all of this and try to come up with solutions at school and at home to make this transition easier on Grace.

You got any other ideas?!


TeamWinks said...

Can you sit in on a day to see what happens?

Perhaps role playing with Grace might help with the mean girl. Have Grace say something the mean girl says, and you come up with something to say back that will difuse the situation. If you give her tools she can practice, that might help.

That's something we did both in my elementary ed background and so.cial s.ervices training. Other than that, I've never been in that situation. It's a tough spot. My heart goes out to you.

Anonymous said...

Blog surfing, saw your post! Its so heartbreaking when these things happen. I'm a developmental psychologist. The school may be going through some changes right now, and there is some bad energy there. Why are all the kids acting out? Interesting that the teacher admitted that. Just as with parenting, when teachers are not on the same page, or enjoying their work, you will see kids acting out! It is extrememly disempowering for someone of Grace's age to be dealing with this level of discipline. You might consider option B, as in transfering her. Do you have a Waldorf school there. Best of luck...parenting is so hard. Trust your gut on this one.