Managing Disruptive Kindergartner with Health Issues

Updated on April 30, 2014
G.B. asks from Gainesville, FL
14 answers

My son will turn 6 in July. He has hypoglycemia. But he was diagnosed with the exact disorder only last year. Until then we didn't know what was wrong and he was always cranky. Now we know how to maintain his blood sugar though there are a few lows occasionally. The problem now is his behavior. Since he used to be cranky because of his low blood sugars, I used to be lenient with him to keep him quiet and manage his crankiness. Now this has gotten out of hand. He needs someone to be with him always, he doesn't listen to us. He doesn't know how to entertain himself. He has lot of energy and needs to physically exert himself. But he is also very impulsive. I suspected ADD. But his doctor said that because of unmanaged low blood sugars for so many years his brain might have a slight damage and hat could be the reason. He has seen many kids like my son. Also asked me not to give him any ADD medication as it will severely interfere with his disorder. Any tips to handle this situation. I have to be at the school with him and then at home too. This has made me depressed as I don't have any specific time for myself. When I am with my son, he won't let me do anything as he is very disruptive. TIA

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone. My son has a chronic genetic disorder and his situation is life or death if not properly managed. I followed my motherly instincts and managed him on my own and that has been the reason he is alive today. But since I was no expert, the best I did was not enough for him. His doctor is the #1 in the whole world. I am not exaggerating. That is the truth. So no way I will question his ability. He has been evaluated for his struggle at school and soon we will be starting OT. His nurse at school quit and he had a surgery a few weeks back. So I need to be there to take care of him. Even before that I had to drop in to ensure that his medications and snacks were on time as he is not on IEP or 504 to get an aide at school. I wanted a different outlook for the behavior issues from other parents who have kids with disabilities or disorders. A few of you have given me something to start on with. Thanks a lot. I will start right away. Others with normal kids, it is difficult for you to understand what we go through on a daily basis unless you are in our shoes. For the mom who nearly snorted in her tea, you are no doctor and I know my son's doctor has seen thousands of kids. A huge number of parents and adult patients that he treats know that he knows what he is talking about. I need to work on the way I deal with my son. You got that right. That's where I wanted help from you and not ridicule or be judgemental. But thanks anyway.

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answers from Norfolk on

Get him evaluated and follow doctors instructions for managing the hypoglycemia.
It means lot's of complex carbohydrates to help maintain a steady level of blood sugar for meals and snacks.

If there are any other issues the evaluation should help discover them and then you can learn how to deal with them.
If there are not any other issues then it's a matter of teaching him acceptable behavior and not allowing his condition to be an excuse for behaving badly.

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Springfield on

Wow! It sounds like you've really been down a tough road. My son has had some struggles, and it took us a couple of years just to figure out why his brain seemed to tick differently than the majority of kids his age. Now that we have a diagnosis, we are just beginning to look into different things (speech, OT) to help him out. It is simply amazing to feel a sense of hope and to see some of the therapies really helping him.

If I understand you correctly, this was really tough and in order to save your sanity you might have responded quickly to many of your son's wants (not needs) and taught him that if he wants something, all he needs to do is act out and you'll give it to him just to avoid a temper tantrum or really bad behavior. No judgements here, but do you think that sounds acurate?

I ask you that (not to judge you in anyway, because I have been there!) because if you think this is accurate, I think you'll find that letting him go to school without you could be one of the best things you could do for him.

Kids behave differently for other adults than they do for their parents. They tend to save their worst behavior for their parents, because kids know that their parents love them unconditionally and will forgive them. There may be consequences for bad behavior, but there is still love.

I would set up a meeting with your son's teacher and bring paper work from your doctor. Talk to the teacher about what the doctor has said and set up a plan.

For us it was easier. Our son has speech delay in addition to other concerns. Speech therapy requires an IEP, so we already had one in place when we came with an additional diagnosis. All we had to do was request an IEP Meeting, and his teachers were required to set up a date within a certain time period (30 days, I think). We brought the paper work from the doctor, and his classroom teacher and speech teacher came up with a plan to address our doctors concerns.

Both of my sons are a handful! They are stubborn and class clowns!!! My mom encourages me to use the word "determine" rather than "stubborn" and "spirited" and "energetic" rather than "class clowns." Her point being, we (my husband and I) need to keep working with them to help them understand about proper behavior in the classroom, at church, in the library, etc. But we want to be careful not to expect them to just eliminate some of the very positive aspects of their personality that will help them to succeed in the future.

Your son is an amazing kid with great things to offer this world. Talk to your doctor about specialists that you can take him to that will help him learn how to use his gifts and how to understand situations where he needs to follow certain rules.

And I really think letting him go to school without you and letting the teachers and aids at the school work with him, will be a huge help to him in the future. He needs to learn how to go to school and behave at school without you. This would be a gift to him.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It sounds like you have a GREAT doctor, to be honest. Kudos to you for finding him/her.

The things I think might be helpful for your son would be the following:

* A paraprofessional in the classroom, to be his "buddy" and help keep him on track. To get this, you likely will need to get a note from the doctor, and to request a 504 plan.

* Occupational therapy, to help your son learn to self-manage and develop impulse control. Schools sometimes (if you're lucky) offer this in small doses (15 min / week), but you may get more and better services if you go through your insurance company. Even if you have to pay out of pocket (which is what I have to do), it's worth it.

Please know, too, that this is NOT a case of "ask and ye shall receive." You have to write up the request for the 504 very carefully and get solid documentation from your pediatrician. If you have any social workers in your life, reach out and get some guidance.

In my own efforts around these things, a wonderful friend advised me to "be 10 times tactful and 100 times persistent," so I'll pass that along to you.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Please add to your post and let us know why you "have to be at school with him" and precisely what that involves. Are you at school all day, every day, in every classroom he's in? Many schools simply could not permit that -- I mean they truly could not PERMIT it unless the child had a specific, written individual education plan (IEP, it's a school document that requires meetings with administration/teacher/counselors/doctors etc.) and that plan required a parent to be present. Does he have such a plan? Has the school system arranged that you are formally the one who is expected to be present all day or is this all an arrangement where you and the teacher together just decided this is a good idea?

I am asking all these questions seriously -- not to get at you. I question why any school would let a parent be with a child the entire day unless there were a written order from a doctor asking for that, or unless there were a formal IEP in place. Is there a reason the teachers cannot handle him? If he's not ready to be in school at all because he is so extremely disruptive -- you need to take him out of school to focus totally on altering his behavior, and school can wait another year, period. Why does the school let him stay if he's so disruptive he needs a parent in the classroom every day? The focus needs to shift to him, not to keeping him in school no matter what.

Is he seeing a specialist to find out for SURE if the other doctor's idea about "slight damage" to his brain is accurate? Your son should be tested to see if that's true -- has anyone ordered such tests or are you just told, "Oh, well, we'll see what happens"? Don't let doctors fob you off like that!

Is he seeing a counselor or therapist outside school? It sounds as if he needs behavioral counseling both to undo years of being treated leniently and to teach him the basic skills of how to entertain himself and how to control his emotions, since he's grown up so far being very used to having his emotions catered to. Again -- NOT dinging you and dad here; you were baffled and tried your best. But there is a lot to undo because the first five years are critical ones for teaching any child how to interact with others and with the world.

Please get much more assertive with doctors, now. Your son is five so you have a good shot at reversing his behaviors over time, but it has to start now.

You don't need "tips," you need a firm plan. Make a list and work it hard -- it will require you to be very aggressive about getting him a therapist/counselor to work on behaviors; you and dad also should be seeing a family counselor who can help you figure out the best ways to handle and discipline your son. You need to get back to the doctor who casually mentioned "brain damage" (!) and force a referral to a specialist. You need to meet with the teacher, school counselor and principal and talk about an IEP or whatever tool your school system uses - if your son needs a full-time aide with him in the classroom, and it's public school, you will need to document medically or psychologically why he needs an aide and then demand one. You also need to be open to the idea that maybe he needs not to be in school yet and needs to be spending that time in medical and psychological therapies instead.

You and dad must get tough and start saying to doctors, teachers, etc.: "This cannot continue so by the end of this day you will get us a referral to a specialist; by the end of this week you will get us an IEP (or whatever is needed)" and so on.

And most of all, YOU must stop going to school with your son and stop being present for him every second of every day. Where is dad? Why can't he handle your son at home, if you are having to be at school? Your husband must understand that his wife is going to have a breakdown if this continues. And you both must reach out immediately for help and demand it -- if you don't, others will just assume that your son is badly behaved and poorly disciplined and they won't offer to help you because they can't see he has medical issues. You will have to pursue this.

I feel terrible for you. Your son has legitimate issues but you're letting him rule your every waking second. You cannot be a good mom to him if you are burned out and if you resent him deeply because you have no time for yourself. Go in today (without your son present, any way you can manage it) and talk to the teacher and do not leave until a meeting is scheduled for you, teacher, principal and counselor, preferably tomorrow.

Why can't the school handle him without you present? What kind of issues or meltdowns does he exhibit if you are not there? Is he in any activities to help him burn off energy? Does he

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

If your son is capable of understanding that there are consequences for his actions then you need to start giving him a consequence for disruptive behavior.

I have no idea about the possible nurological issues related to hypoglycemia but if you suspect that this is pretty much a behavioral problem with then the solution is consistency. Pick a consequence and stick with it.

My sister insisted her 5 year old had ADHD. After an evaluation, she was told that it is a discipline problem which isn't any wonder since she and her husband were extremely lenient because it was easier to let her do what she wanted than to say no. Now they are trying to reverse things and it is difficult for all of them.

Is there any way to get him an aide in school so you don't have to be there? What is it that you do with him at school?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New Orleans on

I don't think your son has brain damage from Hypoglycemia - in fact this statement made me snort my tea. You need a 2nd and 3rd medical opinion, fast. As for ADD - it is way too easy to label children who are simply misbehaving as ADD - that way it is not the parent's lax discipline at fault.

I believe that, as you stated, you overcompensated for his "condition" and now have a child who thinks no rules apply to him. It is time to re-teach yourself and your child.

"When I am with my son, he won't let me do anything" - this sentence tells everything - you are controlled by your son and he knows this. You are the adult - take control back.

I think you need to begin a planned, and concise, course of discipline for your son. Meet with the school and get on the same page with consequences for behavior. Explain the new rules to your son. Consistently punish when he break those rules. Rinse and Repeat. Over and over again.

Good Luck

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Tell this school that you will expect them to provide him with a 504 plan. This plan is for making sure ALL kids are able to succeed. Google it and read about the law.

Having a medical diagnosis of any kind that inhibits his education should make him totally eligible, this is NOT a behavior plan specifically but a plan to make sure he has anything he needs to do well.

With a 504 plan they will be required to put an aid in his classroom to help him, they may simply be an extra staff and not assigned to your child but just there in case he needs more one on one care.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ask for a case study to be done on your son. Ask for it now in writing. You do not have to be with your son at school. An iep will be put into place. If he needs someone to be with him the school will have an aid. Unless he has these problems and you are trying to keep him in a private school which will not work with you. A public school is required to provide an education to your son in the least restrictive environment possible. It's not doing your son any favors to continue to give his way so that he doesn't act cranky. He will learn propper behavior at school. It's good that you have a medical diagnosis for the hypoglycemia. But if he has brain damage he will need an actual diagnosis of that as well. As far as the add meds you might want another opinion on that. If it took your Dr 6 years to make the first diagnosis it might be time for a new Dr. Good luck

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would go back to basics and use something like 123 Magic or Love and Logic to try to figure out what is behavior that can be changed and what is his health problems. My aunt had children with a wide range of issues, but the difference between her kids and other people's kids with the same issues was structure and discipline. If you didn't make him do things on his own, it sounds like this is a good time to start. He's 6, so he can help you around the house, pick up his toys, play independently for a little while. You might also look for an outlet for his energy, like going to a park or enrolling him in a class.

I would look for solutions other than you being in class with him. You already went to kindergarten. You should talk to the school about an IEP and providing him an aid at school if that is what he needs right now. I think you definitely need an overall evaluation and I would start with the school.

I also agree with the poster who suggested another doctor if this one isn't giving you anything TO do or any guidance about how to manage his education. Does the doctor know you attend school with him?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't think you should be so quick to jump on the ADHD/medication train. You said yourself that this condition was just diagnosed last year and that you had been very lenient with him in order to keep him quiet and manageable. In short, you spoiled your son and now you think just because his medical issue is managed, that he should somehow become a child who has been subjected to discipline and expectations since birth. He can't/won't change unless you change how you deal with him. You are starting from square one in terms of behavior. I agree that you should look into one of the parenting styles (1,2,3 Magic or Love and Logic) and take a parenting class or two. Your son has ingrained habits of misbehavior; that is not going to change overnight or even in a month. It is going to be a long, hard struggle for you, but you owe it to your son to tow that line.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I'm hypoglycemic, but I have no signs of ADHD and never have, even when it was at its worst. Mine was unmanaged until my 20s, when I first heard of hypoglycemia. I feel cranky and sick when my blood sugar is low, but I'm not impulsive, disruptive or full of excessive energy.

Sounds like it's a pediatrician who's saying "no" to potential ADHD? He's not qualified to evaluate and diagnose, if it is, in fact, ADHD; you need your son to see a child psychiatrist or neuropsychologist for an evaluation. A psychiatrist can also confirm what he's saying about medication. That honestly doesn't make sense to me. If your son's hypoglycemia is managed, he's just like everyone else, so I don't see what difference it makes with medication. However, I am just a parent of a child with ADHD and not a psychiatrist.

I would highly recommend not only seeing a specialist, but also meeting with a behavioral therapist for tips on managing his behavior. A therapist may offer tips customized to the hypoglycemia and any other conditions he may have.

I agree with the suggestion, too, of following a parenting system. It's worth trying something like 1-2-3 Magic or Love & Logic to see if it makes a difference.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I would get an evaluation by the school and/or consider therapy (behavioral).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Have you ever thought of a therapy dog?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

if this little fellow were mine i would a) feed him correctly (sounds like you're addressing this), b) discipline him correctly (got a lifetime of catch-up to do here) and c) homeschool him since you're with him all the time anyway (but if you can't discipline him effectively this could backfire.)
get counseling for yourself. i'd be depressed too! and maybe some parenting training. no shame in needing some help learning effective tools.

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