How Do I Help My Son? - Walnut,CA

Updated on November 03, 2010
E.A. asks from El Monte, CA
20 answers

Morning moms
We all know what type of children we have. I am aware that my son (4yrs 4months) is active, loves outdoors and his attention span is very short however Im not sure if Im being ignorant or just a sensitive mom, but everyday I pick him up form preschool his teacher always stops me to tell me that he had a hard time in circle time and not a good listener. The first time I heard this my husband & I punished him & didnt allow TV or sweets and we talked to him about that behavior but now I feel like the teacher constantly complains about that and I dont know how to help him. I mean I cant have him punished everyday because he has tears in his eyes and apologizes to the teacher & me. He is now saying that he does everything wrong & he is in trouble always :( I dont want to ruin his self esteem. I've asked her what I can do & she said she would refer him to a counselor or something like that.. Im confused. What should I do? The teacher says one on one he is great, smart does well but he has a hart time sitting in circle time and listening. I want to help my son but I don't know how to teach him to sit for as long as she will want him to. He doesn't even sit to watch TV so I now what she means but I thought that by now she would address me for severe things. Like if he is hurting others or indangering himself, but attention span? Help
EDIT: This is his second year in preschool but this is a new teacher. He loved school but now Im thinking I should take him out of program so I dont get so many complaints!

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So What Happened?

Thanks! I was so happy to read the responses. I was just going to take him out of program but it would only effect him and he loves school. He really is learning so much. I cannot change teachers because at this site she is the only preschool class, I would have to change sites but I don't think it's his fault so instead I spoke to the teacher and told her that I did not want to ignore the problem but suggested that she try something different with him. I told her I would go in & observe him & help her solve this issue. I realized I should not punish my son however I do know that soon he will have to learn to sit still for certain activities and listen to his teacher. I also tolde her to set up a meeting with my husband &I to solve the issue rather than telling me everyday what he doing wrong. Then it came to me that maybe if I changed him to the morning shift he would do much better. So instead of him attending school at 11:45am he will be an early bird & they start at 7:40 am. I hope this helps. If not i will hang in there and figure something else out, but I will not give up & let anyone label him or make him feel like he is bad. He is just a kid & I did tell the teacher that he felt like he couldnt do anything right & he didnt want to return to school. She has already rearranged the class room so there are less distractions for him & told me she will reward him with things he likes to motivate him. Thanks for listening

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answers from Chicago on

A counselor for a 4-year-old who has trouble sitting in circle time?? Wow, that's overkill.

Pre-school is where they LEARN how to sit still. Teachers should be TEACHING that and rewarding good behavior. Can you try a different pre-school? How about a positive reward system instead of negative? Like, if he sits in circle time, you'll give him a sticker and if he earns five stickers he can get a special treat. Make a big deal of it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It sounds like you might need to talk to the director of the preschool about the situation. If others can sit and listen just fine maybe she needs to think out of the box on how to keep him focused and the director can probably help with that.
To keep his self esteem up just keep praising him when he does something well. Also see about having him help you with tasks around the house this will help him to thinking and believing that he is an important part of the family and a helper.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Stockton on

he is just being a typicall 4 year old boy - it really pisses me off when especially teachers who are supposed to be knowledgeable about child development want little boys to act like little girls - I wouldn't punish your child what so ever for that type of thing. Little boys are rough and tumble - they do better in active situations. Yes he does need to learn to sit still and stuff, but that will come with time and patience, and learning the routine......

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Spartanburg on

Hmmm...he sounds like a normal 4 yr old boy. Reading your post made think of something the lead teacher of the 4 yr old class said at the beginning of the year meeting at my child's preschool, something to the effect of, "we will let you know any real discipline issues we are having at pickup time, if your child hit someone, or destroyed something, but we won't tell you if we had to remind little Johnny four times to sit still during circle time, that is why you are sending your child to preschool so you won't get those phone calls next year in Kindergarten!" So...maybe you need to conference with the teacher/director and find out exactly what they want to teach your child/what their expectations are and what you want your child to learn/what your expectations are in preschool...make sure you are on the same page so to speak. Make it clear to the school that your son is expressing frustration and feeling like he can't do anything right...that should get their attention and if it doesn't then that should be warning bells to you. Good Luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Your son sounds like mine. He's learns best when he's in motion. My son is now in middle school and to this day certain teachers have a tough time with him - other teachers absolutely adore him. Nearly every day his kindergarten teacher would come out and throw her hands up in the air and complain about something involving my son (he can't sit still, he fidgets & makes holes in his knees, he dosen't listen, etc.). When his first grade teacher began making suggestions it became so clear to me - and I am still shocked to this day that the K teacher couldn't see things about my son that I can now identify in other kids a mile away.

Couple of things - consider having him tested for early intervention services. My son is very very smart with math, science, spatial skills - but has such a hard time sitting still. He was eventually diagnosed with ADHD and some language based learning disabilities. There's are a few authors / books you should read - A Mind at a Time - by Mel Levine & The Way They Learn by Cynithia Tobias. Both address how different kids have different minds. Some are really good at sitting still and reading& writing while others are high-touch learners and learn best while standing, or in motion, etc. My son learned his sight words while we threw a ball back and forth and in between running laps around our living room / kitchen. My daughter sat still & instantly picked it up.

Schools teach and test language and math skills primarily. Pre-schools prepare kids for regular school. So the kids who are exceptional at music, athletics, spatial skills (think engineers, builders) are not really addressed that well. That's where super-mama comes in!

You know your child best. He's only been on the earth for 4 years! This pre-school teacher is really expecting too much from this particular little person. Try postivie reinforcement instead of scolding him. Set expectations in advance "I know it's really hard to sit still for circle time - you probably just want to get up and touch the calendar. There are times when I don't like to sit still either. But I know you can do it - you have learned how to do alot of things that are hard to do (give examples). then set up a little chart that his teacher can adminsiter in private with him. A chart for one week at a time - (3 boxes if he goes 3 days, etc.) After a good circle time the teacher pulls him aside in private and she tell him how proud she is of how well he did. He gets a sticker to put in the box on the chart. Make sure the teacher does not pull him aside if the circle time didn't deserve a sticker. No comments unless they are positive. Let him bring home the chart each day and you can then reinforce it. Only positive feed back. When he has a week full of stickers he gets a treat - a small toy he's wanted, a special playground visit, McDonalds, etc - you know what he likes.

My son is now 11, he's popular, smart, doing reasonably well in school (really well in some subjects, OK in others). He's a very good athlete - but has a tough time staying focused on the skills he needs to practice, He'll be an engineer or builder one day based on his skills set. He's the class clown and has a very good heart. This year he has one teacher who he insists hates him. And while I'm sure she doesn't hate him, she probably wishes he wasn't in her class. But that's a part of life too - and a life lesson for him.

Check out those authors and see if you don't learn something about your wonderful boy while you read. While my son will never be the best student he's such a blessing to me and makes us all laugh. I know he'll do wonderful things in his life and I know your son will too. These kids are the corporate leaders, the top sales people, and the great artists and musicians. Watch him and learn what he's good at an encourage him in those things - he'll do wonderfully with a mama like you!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

It is difficult to go through things like this. How exactly do you punish someone who could not help himself? My daughter has the same issues but probably magnified (she is autistic). Fortunately for her (and me), the teachers expect it and try to work with her. She is also in social classes that help her focus.

Unfortunately, the traditional class room setting is such a cookie cutter environment. I hate that it is, but it is the truth. My advice is try some focusing exercises at home. Start with small tasks for him to finish and gradually increase the complexity and the time needed to complete the tasks.

I am a little concerned about the whole counselor referral. What for?...because he can't sit still during circle time? It seems to me that there is a lot of complaining about the behavior but what are they doing in school about it? Does she do any redirecting? Maybe she needs to start circle time with jumping jacks. 'Cmon the kid is 4. It is simply hard for some 4 year olds to sit still. I honestly feel like she is making a mountain out of a mole hill but go ahead see the counselor and see what he/she says maybe he/she can give some tips on how to help your child focus.

Best of luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

As the parent of a child with ADHD, I urge you to talk to your son's pediatrician about what has been going on. Attention span issues can definitely be out of his control, even at a young age (our son's got to be notably off-track at three), which may be why he feels he hasn't done anything wrong. If he can't control his body, it's hard to understand what it's like for those who can.

In my experience, when teachers start advising you to seek professional help, it's worth paying attention. They know what is just active boy behavior and what is out of the norm because they work with lots and lots of kids every day and year. Don't discount the comment just because it may be something you don't want to hear.

The pediatrician is a good starting point for advice and can refer you to specialists, if necessary, for more helpful input. Ours referred us to a child psychologist, then we moved on to a behavioral therapist and ultimately a child psychiatrist. The help we received transformed our son's life. He can control his body now, has terrific attention span and is doing excellent in school and at home.

Best of luck to you!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

He's four years old! Schools don't take kids until at least 5 for a reason. He's not yet ready to sit still for any length of time and especially not if it's boring to him.

I'd switch preschools.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

Unsure how to help on this 1 I have 3 kids my son he sits still pays close attention doesn't speak till he is spoken to (in preschool & school)however the teachers want more out of him WHAT he is polite raises his hand does his work just because he is shy he does what he needs to do just because he isn't rambucstious as his classmates..So my approach to him was no discipline isn't needed but told him if he want's to raise his hand & knows the answer give it a try,keep being friendly your doing a great job in school the teacher just wants a little more communications from you so just expand a little of your knowledge onto her..My daughter she is in preschool now she does well,my 3rd daughter oh my look out I will have my hands full LOL...
What is being taught at preschool how are they redirecting him in being still & finish circle time?I'm sorry I hope others can help your further but a counselour was advised my goodness WHY??

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answers from New York on

Hello! We are actually going through this EXACT situation right now with my 3 1/2 year old son. Everyday I would get a call after pick up stating that they are having a hard time with him. He doesn't want to sit, wont participate in any group activities, Doesn't interact with his peers...Just basically roams around the class for 2 1/2 hours doing what he wants. When he is redirected he can only stay focused for a couple seconds. Or if they try to redirect him and he doesn't want to..he will have a tantrum.
The school teacher asked the head teacher to sit in on the class to observe the situation for a couple of days and then I received a phone call stating that they wanted to have a meeting with me and my husband. At the meeting they discussed with us what was happening and that they recommended us getting him evaluated. We have since reached out to the child study team in our town and are in the process of getting him evaluated. We did go to a Pediatric Neurologist that evaluated him and she stated that he is showing early signs of ADHD with some possible sensory issues. In the evaluation he did not once sit still and when asked to perform simple tasks he refused and had a melt down. Anyway, I am telling you this because this is all happening right now...I always knew that my son was super active and a little different. I always got comment s like "Boy, you got your hands full" He has a very strong personality and it seems that everything is a fight. I don't want to scare you, just share what we are going through and the path we have decided to take. I am not saying that what you are experiencing is the same thing. Last year he was in the same preschool and he had the same issues but then again he was only 2 1/2. I dismissed it as being only 2 1/2 and also an active boy. This is his second year and nothing has improved and I do see the difference between him and the other students. We decided to go ahead with the evaluations because I know the younger you address something the better. He also isn't that aware of whats going as to not to make him feel bad about being different or thinking of himself as a "bad kid". I wish you the best of luck! and go with your gut instinct. ADHD is seen in different environments. For example school and home. If you are just having trouble at school maybe he just doesn't like the classroom etc...We have a lot of trouble with my son at home as well and many times I remember breaking down and thinking "It cant be this hard"... ( he's my first).
Good luck!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

have you asked when circle time is and maybe tried a surprise could be something else

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi E.,
This must be really frustrating. A few thoughts:
1. I think it's hard for lots of kids (not just boys) to sit, be still & listen for a period of time. Your son cannot be the only O. doing this.
2. A teacher (if experienced and educated) should be addressing this with your son AS is happens I circle time...when not paying attention.
3. Have you asked your teacher for suggestions on what you & Dad can do at home to promote good listening skills to him? Telling you of the problem and not offering a remedy or helpful advice is kind of like a doctor diagnosing an ear infection and not giving you antibiotics, don't you think?
4. Has he had his vision and hearing screened/tested?
5. Does he have & like any toys or activities that help build listening skills (Hullaballoo, talking books, etc.)
6. There is always the possibility (hopefully a small possibility) that this particular teacher has already made up her mind that your son is the King Of Circle Time Criminals and even if his behavior does or has improved, she will not see that.
7. Does this teacher think your son is hyperactive? Is that why she would refer you to a counselor? For evaluation?
IMO, although I know many kids DO have ADD or ADHD, lots of BOYS are wrongly singled out as such. I have a 7 yo boy and some boys are just high energy and it's abnormal for them to concentrate/sit/listen for extended time periods. How long is circle time? I think lots of kids grow into this kind of patience.

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answers from San Diego on

Hi E., First of all i would not have my 4 year old seen by a counselor. Have you asked her how long circle time is? I don't think the teacher's intention is to complain, if it is a daily issue then she will tell you on a daily basis. Many kids have trouble sitting still, I would ask her, is he talking, is he disruptive? or is it that he just does not sit still. Punishing your 4 year old for this probably will not help him, if he is delibretly disrupting the class then that's different. I would sneak in one morning and sit in the back of the class at observe, I think in order to help your son, you need to see for yourself what he is and is not doing and then go from there. i pick up one of my daycare children who is in kindergarten and I see the teacher talking to the same parents almost everyday about their child's behavior, I think it's hard to discipline a 4 year old for something they did 2 hours before, some kids at this age won't even remember what they did wrong 2 hours ago. What I would do also is when you see your son do something good or positive tell him praise him, reward him, it sounds like he is down on himself, and he's only 4 how sad is that? i know this long sorry, I would also ask the teacher what he did that day that was good/positive. I teach Children's Ministry at my church and i teach 4, 5 and k and yes at times I do have to talk to the parents about certain behaviors, but i always try to give them something positive that their child did or said. Last but not least, I would start sitting him down at home and work on sitting still at the dinner, table, story time, and then move on to a movie so he can learn there's a time to be still and a time to be active. hope this helps. J.

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answers from Boise on

Can you talk to the director? Have her sit in during circle time and see if there is really an issue? I don't think that punishment for circle time is really the right approach, but some conversation might be. Why are you doing this? Are you bored? etc. Getting the opinion of the director might help just incase it is out of frustration that the teacher is reacting this way.

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answers from Fayetteville on

I would practice with him at home create your own circle time and try teaching him one on one yourself how to sti still and listen, it dosent sound like a counsling issue to me! If the teacher keeps telling you this i would speak to the principal about switching teachers.

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answers from Harrisburg on

Refer to a counselor for circle time..that's absurd. He is 4yrs old. It could be that your child is shy and doesn't like the attention and crowd all focusing on him. You say he does well in one and one, which is a big clue he is not a social-ite! I understand the children should have discipline, but not all children are the same, and she should be able to guide her class so that she includes and accomodates each child. Encourage your child to try, but don't punish or push him beyond who he is.

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answers from Tulsa on

my oldest is 21 and sometmes they just get teachers that just dont like them. mine had one in grade school and one in high school and his dorm leader at job corp. there is nothing really you can do to make the teacher like them. its like they push the teachers buttons without trying. even kindergarteners have a problem sitting still and she maybe trying to make the kids sit still to long. and its against a toddlers nature to sit still. once in a while getting in trouble for not sitting still requires discpline but every day I would think your kid just naturally pushes her buttons without trying. you cant punish him everyday for being him. I would just tell her ok I will handle it not discipline him but reward him if he can sit still in circle with ice cream or whatever you use for rewards. sounds to me if he is trying and just not being sucsessful. reward sucsess instead of punishing every single day. your right that is bad for self esteem and he is too young to go that way. good luck. do what you feel right in your gut



answers from San Francisco on

Put him in a different school. And don't punish him again for the teacher's ignorance. There is no way he should be made to get tears in his eyes and apologize. He's only 4. Circle time, schmircle time. Lots of 4 year old boys don't sit still in circle time.

You don't want him to start feeling bad about school. Get him a new teacher who can handle 4 year old boys. Education is the lighting of a fire, not the filling of a vessel. That teacher is going to extinguish your little boy's fire.


answers from Los Angeles on

I went through this with my 4 yr old and his teacher, also. They just don't have the patience, but to tell you to see a counselor is outrageous. If you want to keep him in the class make it clear to her that he can't control him impulses as well as some of the other kids. It is not his fault, it's a maturity issue. Ask her to bear with him and use a rewards system to help his behavior. Otherwise, if there's a more nurturing 4 yr old class teacher consider moving him to that class. Good luck.


answers from San Francisco on

I also went through this recently and having my son moved to another teacher's classroom has helped a lot. It was clear that this particular teacher just did not like him. None of her complaints about him were news to me, but her attitude about it was completely unhelpful. You say he has been there for 2 years, what have other teachers said about him?

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