Daycare Woes

Blake attends daycare every day, Monday to Friday. He’s been attending the same one since he was around 5 months old.  We’ve never had an issue, and have always been quite happy with everything that has gone on there.  We’ve had some concerns recently, and after today we are seriously considering moving him.  But, are we acting too hastily? Is it the right decision? Where would he go?

Being a mom is hard.  These tough decisions are not to be taken lightly. We are big proponents of daycare. We specifically chose this daycare because of the facilities, the location, the curriculum, the student to teacher ratio, and the healthy snacks and lunches. It was perfection the moment we walked through the door.

Every so often the students switch classes once they’ve reached a certain age, like all daycares. So far Blake has switched classes 3 times, and is on his 4th classroom, the early 2 year old room.  Twice he’s been switched a little before his time because he starts acting out when, per his teachers words, when he begins to get a little bored. (They’ve deemed him bored when he starts throwing tantrums at the slightest thing, wandering around the room doing his own thing in his own time, ignoring classroom activities to sit in the corner and read, and telling the teachers no). While this depicts some typical 2 year old behaviors, it always has to do toward the end of when he’s supposed to transition.

Any kind of behavioral issues he has at school are always far worse than the ones he has at home. Which is kind of backward of what I am used to. As a 3rd grade teacher, 99% of the time, students who are behavior problems are better for me than they are at home. May be the age makes a difference?

I’ll be the first one to admit my kid’s faults. He’s stubborn, and likes to do what he wants to do. If he doesn’t have set boundaries then he will test you. He’s mischievous. If he knows you aren’t looking he will sneak something. And sometimes even when he knows you are looking he will give you that cute little side grin and stare right at you as he’s wandering off from you in the middle of Target when he knows he isn’t supposed to be. But, give him boundaries, rules, consistency, and a strict tone (coupled with time out and the occasional booty swat) and he’s awesome! He has such a sweet temperament. He loves to laugh. He loves to be outside, read, and play. He gives hugs and kisses on demand and enjoys being tickled. He likes things neat and tidy. He wants to help and do chores, even when not asked.

When I pick him up every afternoon and his teacher reports that he’s acted out in some way (usually telling them no or not listening–like walking around the room grooving to his own drum while they are at carpet time), my first statement is, “I hope he had a consequence.” Usually it’s sitting out for a few moments at recess. Now the behaviors are getting worse and he’s becoming destructive and throwing tantrums constantly. In my opinion, all of this acting out has been going on for far too long at school, and it’s only getting worse. I’m starting to wonder if he’s missing out on a lot of activities (playing outside, art time) because of his behavior. And that makes me sad.

His entire transition into the 2 year old room has been shaky since he moved at the beginning of October. The first few months he didn’t want to go to school at all in the mornings, where he used to love going!

I’ve tried my best to communicate to his teachers, and to get as many updates as I can. They are good about telling me. But I remain confused at the fact that we don’t see as severe behavior issues at home as they do at school. Michael and I do notice, though, that the longer he’s away from school, the better he will act at home. Not that he’s the same kid at home, but the temperamental side that we see at home slowly diminishes on days and weeks where I’m on break from work. Then, as soon as he returns, it all comes back.

The teachers assure me that are easy on him and let him wander around the room when he wants to. I am grateful for their flexibility, as my kid doesn’t have the best attention span unless he’s really interested in something, but I’m not sure allowing him to do what he wants is the best thing either? Because that is NOT how we operate at home.

Despite their admitted flexibility, I was hit with news today when I picked him up from daycare. I’m not sure of the full story because there were quite a few parents picking their child up at the same time I was, but the short version is that Blake was upset about something and he picked up a toy and threw it in the teacher’s face, and then he got so angry that he went and flipped an entire table over and threw a tantrum. The teacher I spoke to informed me that when he threw the toy at the other teacher, she walked out of the room saying that she couldn’t handle him doing that, and she went to get the assistant director to deal with him. 😦 (Apparently she came in and spoke with him about his actions)

Yes, my kid can be crazy but I have NEVER seen him get that angry. He’s also not malicious and while he’s had the occasional 2 year old “let me test out this hitting thing”, he’s never intentionally picked up a toy and thrown it directly at anyone’s face. He’s also never thrown or flipped any furniture over.

He’s really good with kids outside of school. He shares with them, he plays with them, and he wants to be the one helping to push them along as they ride in his firetruck. He even let the 2 year old little girl down the street ride with him in the passenger seat of his police car as he drove down the street past her house on the VERY first day we met her!

I spoke with the director immediately after hearing this, because I am kind of at my wits end about all of it. Every day when I pick him up I am hearing a negative report.  I love the fact that his teachers are communicating with me, and I do not want them to hold any thing back, but I am trying to understand why my kid is acting this way specifically at school, why it is carrying over to home, and why there is such a stark difference between work and home. And how this difference is visibly noticeable when he’s away from school for a few days.

The director explained to me that 2 year olds are 2 year olds. That kids are always going to act worse in school than at home. And that things are usually worse in classrooms because there are a large number of kids and they are all in each other’s personal space. She was trying to help me understand, and while a percentage of it could be the reasons, I don’t think that’s it. I can’t buy into all of it.

My heart is breaking that my kid is acting this way. The director mentioned possibly trying to move him up into the next age classroom, to see if that works, as she noted that moving him up has helped with his behavior before (which was NEVER this bad, by the way).

I hope this simple change will help, but I am truly concerned. And honestly, I am less concerned at the fact that he’s doing what he wants to, walking around the room, just generally being who he is. I am concerned that he’s unhappy and that he’s in trouble all the time, because I don’t understand it. I want to take off the rest of the week from work and just stay home with him and try to figure out what our next steps are.  I wish there was a magical answer and someone could just tell me what to do, and how to help him.

My husband has been unhappy with the school since his last move and has asked that we explore other daycares in the area. I was hesitant thinking everything would get better, but that is clearly not the case.

I don’t want to put him through a large change of moving schools if it isn’t going to solve the problem. Nor do I want to keep him in a place where I’m already starting to feel like he’s become “that kid” to his teachers. (I’m a teacher myself, I know “those kids”).

This mommy stuff is hard.




One thought on “Daycare Woes

  1. “Oh… She’s that kid.” I have had that same thought with every single one of my kids at one time or another. Teacher hazard. Don’t fret. One of the most memorable was when Avery, first grade, locked all the stall doors in the girls bathroom, just to see what would happen when the next kid came in to go potty.
    Thoughts for you. Take what might work and leave the rest. Having four kids, I know they are all different and some of these suggestions would work with one of my kids and not the other three. Mom really does know best. Trust yourself and your instincts.
    **Does the daycare have a way for you to observe Blake without his knowing? Either through one-way glass or security cameras. I’ve done this before when there was a issue with behavior and I was trying to figure out what could possibly be the trigger. Find out whether mornings or afternoons seems to be a bigger issue and take a 1/2 day from work just to watch him.
    **You mentioned the school is being flexible and letting him wander occasionally during circle time. Was he allowed to do that in the previous rooms? Perhaps from Blake’s POV, the teacher’s really aren’t giving him a line because he isn’t having to do what the other kids are. Maybe there needs to be a compromise. He has to sit in the circle with the rest of the class, but he can have one book with him. If he leaves the circle, he loses the book. If it seems like the line is “flexible” he may be having trouble.
    **Are the teachers giving consequences that are easy but don’t fit the action? I have a kid with ADD and it used to drive me crazy when teachers would take away recess when she had trouble following directions. That just made the problem worse because she needed that gross motor time. Be sure that the consequence fits the problem.
    **Find what motivates him. He’s young but you know what he loves; use it. Ask the teacher to identify perhaps four times during the day when he has the most trouble. Make him a sticker chart and buy him a couple books. Show him the books and have him pick which one he wants to earn. If he sits in circle time with the class, the teacher will have him put on a sticker. If he follows directions at lunch time, he gets a sticker. At the end of the day, if he has his stickers, he gets his book. If you find at the end of the week, it’s worked 2-3 times, keep going until he’s being successful almost every day. Then change the chart to make him have to earn more stickers before he gets his reward.
    *** Be specific! My best friend’s son had a lot of struggles with behavior in daycare. Take what you are hearing with Blake and multiply by 4. They visited with a counselor and her best piece of advice was to work on just one behavior at a time, if when you talk to the teacher there seems to be a whole list of “Things that need to change”. Is the focus getting him to sit in circle time or getting him to not say no. Trying to change too many things at one time is confusing and overwhelming for little people.
    **Sometimes a change in school is actually for the best. But look for a school that differs from where he is in curriculum. My best friend switched her son from a traditional day care to a Montessori based one. And while Parker wasn’t instantly a perfect child at school, a lot of his triggers disappeared with the change. He just needed a different environment. A lot of places will let you come visit and “play” for a day. Try it and see what happens.
    Trust yourself….. He really is only two…. And no matter what, this too shall pass….


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