Violent preschool children

Discussion in 'Early Childhood Education Archives' started by ksmomy, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. ksmomy

    ksmomy Companion

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    Mar 24, 2005

    I just wanted to get some opinions of my classroom situation. Even though I have accepted another position and will be leaving in four weeks I would like to hear your thoughts.
    I have been at this center for 1 year and 8 months. I went to the center because I was looking for a more professional working environment. I quickly found out that having 4 stars is no indication of professionalism. There have been many problems to work through. The first were staff related but the major issue now is administration and behavior issues. There are 25 children in my class. These children range in age from 4 to 5 years old. Out of that 25, five have major behavior issues. Ex. throwing chairs, using vlugar curse words, touching other classmates on the bottom, refusing to sit down for ANY reason, telling the teacher or other children, "I'll kill you!" etc... One of the children is the owner/director's grandson. One child has even gotten a concussion. The story the afternoon teacher told and the one the children told was completely different. I was not there at the time. And I do not get informed of what is happening. I have been to the director about the behavior of these children. I have tried to inform the parents and get their help. In one parent conference with the director, my assistant, the parents and myself, the parents expressed great frustration because "he doesn't do this anywhere else." These parents were told by the director, "Don't worry about what happens here at the center. We will take care of that. You just worry about being with him when you get home." My assistant even said, "I can handle him because I get in his face." She told them that I am "softer". I felt like that tied my hands and that let me know I was going to receive no support. I understand that these children need care and love like the other children but it prevents me from doing activities with the other children. The misbehaving children demand constant attention. We also found out today that another child who left our center voluntarily because he was having a lot of behavior issues and went to another center and was recently dismissed from that center because the behavior was too disruptive. Our director is accepting him back into our program. That will give us six children that art out of control. There are only two of us. I'm not sure if I will make it through the next four weeks. (My new position doesn't start until then) We just received the report back from our quality enhancement rating and we scored well which is unbelievable. After our assessment the comment was made by the assistant director about watching a non-educational video (we are not supposed to), "Oh, they're gone it doesn't matter now." Is there something else I should have done or should do? Should I make the division of child development aware or just leave quietly? There is so much more but sorry this is so long.
     
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  3. Danyiel

    Danyiel Rookie

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    Mar 25, 2005

    Re: Violent Children

    ksmomy,

    My heart goes out to you for having to deal with the situation that you are currently in right now. You sound as if you have really exhausted yourself trying to resolve the issues that you've been dealing with and from what I've read, it sounds as if you were reluctant in your decision to resign, but feel as if you don't have any other option at this point. I know it must be difficult for you to deal with having to leave in the middle of the school year because I've been there, myself.

    I recently started a new job at a different center after working for 7 years at my last job, and while I can't say that I've "been there" to the extent that you're describing, I can say that I have dealt with some of the same issues that you mentioned. I can remember having students in previous years that have exhibited some of the same aggressive and violent behavior that you described in your post. I can't imagine what it is like to have 5 children in a classroom your size with behavioral problems at once!

    I think that you made the right choice by accepting a position in a different school, because nobody should have to put up with what you have been going through with this class. I also think that you shouldn't beat yourself up by feeling as if you have failed as a teacher or haven't been firm enough in managing your classroom. It definitely sounds as if the root of the problem stems from poor management by the Administrators of the school where you work. You mentioned that the Director is also the owner, and that her grandson is one of the children who are disrupting your classroom. That alone comes across to me as a no-win situation.

    When I read the part about your assistant saying that she has better control over one of the children by "getting in his face," my jaw dropped. If by not using that as a means to control aggressive behavior is classified as being "too soft," then there is definitely a problem with the way your school is being run. Getting in a child's face and screaming at them is flat out abusive behavior, and your Director condones this? She does not sound very "professional" to me by any stretch of the imagination.

    I am deeply disturbed by the fact that the Director of your center is allowing staff members to treat the children this way and seeing your approach as "soft." I'm also concerned that she is ignoring the aggressive and violent behavior of the children you've described. By not addressing it as a safety issue towards the other children in the room, she basically is displaying a complete lack of concern in terms of what could potentially happen if nothing is done to stop the agressive behavior by the children you described. One child getting a concussion wasn't enough for her to take action about how these children are behaving? I shudder to think what it would have to come down to before she finally handles the situation correctly.

    Has she ever discussed or recommended that any of these children be evaluated by an Early Intervention agency that provides treatment for children with behavioral and/or emotional problems? The reason I ask is because in my own experience in working with children who displayed aggressive and violent behaviors, some of them had either been living in unstable environments (abuse, neglect, parents with addiction problems) or had some sort of learning disability or developmental problem that triggered aggressive and violent behaviors when they became frustrated or overstimulated in the classroom.

    I'm not trying to suggest that all children who display aggressive and violent behaviors fall into this category, but having these children evaluated could provide some answers as to why they behave the way that they do. Now, having said that, getting their parents to cooperate with you in this matter is a completely different story. Unless they agree with the school's recommendation for an evaluation, then there's really not much that you can do after that. Unless your Director is willing to provide the parents with some sort of ultimatum, (agree to have the child evaluated or they will be expelled) then you really aren't going to come to any sort of resolution to the problems that you or the children are experiencing. It sounds to me as if your Director is not willing to work with you to help you in this situation, so you made the right decision by taking a position somewhere else.

    I'm not sure what your state mandates are according to child/staff ratio guidelines, but having 25 children in a classroom with only 2 staff members seems like an impossible situation in regard to safety, let alone being able to manage your classroom and trying to get them all to learn your curriculum. It's hard enough to get all of their attention at once, and having 5 of them constantly demanding your attention is not only unfair to you, it's unfair to the other children. If your school is out of compliance for child/staff ratio, then they should not have passed a state inspection.

    In my state, the child/staff ratio for your age group is 10 children per staff member, so the maximum amount of children that I've had in a classroom is 20, and even with 1 or 2 children who display aggressive behavior it's hard to keep the room under control when your attention is constantly focused on the ones who are acting out. In my opinion, I don't think that you have done anything wrong. You tried as hard as you could in an impossible situation, since your Director and Assistant clearly don't support your efforts. I would seriously think about alerting your state's licensing or inspection department about what is happening after you leave.

    Good luck in your new position and just try to hang in there for the last four weeks at the school that you're at now without stressing about it too much, I think you've done enough of that already, don't you?
     
  4. Maddi

    Maddi Rookie

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    Mar 25, 2005

    After reading this post I thought about Early Intervention myself. I teach preschool special education and I have children with behavior and emothional disorders, with other disorders as well. Often these children do not know how to behave, either because of home life or because they can't pick up on social cues. Other triggers to aggressive behaviors are frustrations, and the frustrations can be anything! The color of the room, a child looking at them, or not understanding receptive language. These children NEED to be in a specialized room. It is so important to get these children help early in their life. Some times these children can be turned around before they go to kindergarten. As for you being "too soft", there is no such thing when working with young children. As I siad before, I deal with this type of behavior all day from several children and I don't need to raise my voice, be mean, or get in any childs face. Intimadation is not the way to gain control. I feel for you. I am sure you have made strong bonds with some of the children in your room. It also sounds like you are not sure that saving only yourself is enough, you want to help the center and the children you are leaving behind. I think you should stand up for what you believe in.Chances are word about the center will get out sooner or later, why not sooner if you can get children out of a dangerous situation.
     
  5. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Mar 28, 2005

    This situaiton reminds me of one I was in about 3 years ago. Before I got promoted to Director at my last job, I worked with a gal who was very inexperienced and felt that everyone needs second chances (and thirds, and fourths, ...). She let unresolved behavior issues really get in the way of good teachers. She has a social work backgroud so she always thought that keeping the kids and whatever the cost was the best way to go. My opinion is, if the child is that bad, it's not the centers job to have to put up with it. I would be extremely concerned if my child was acting that way especially if he didn't act that way otherwise, AND I would always want my child's teachers and director to be honest with me, not sugar coat it!!! I think the video comment kind of said it all. If they are doing things like that behind the parents back, then what else is going on? It sounds like the director also has to get her act together. It doesn't matter if it's her grandson or not, she has to be willing to treat every child equally. If she can't do that, then it's not the place for her grandchild to be.
     
  6. ksmomy

    ksmomy Companion

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    Apr 3, 2005


    Danyiel,
    Thank you for your reply. Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. There have been a lot of things going on at my center. More teachers have resigned since I last wrote. Things were so bad in my classroom on Friday that my assistant quit while I was gone to lunch. I couldn't very much blame her. We have not been given much help. After this, the director called the parents of one of the children and had his parents pick him up and told them he could not return. He had just been dismissed from another center also because of behavior problems. The director knew this and took him anyway. Some of these children have been evaluated but I never get any real feed back. Just a lot of recommendations for one on one activities that are impossible with the number of children I have. They may also agree that these children would be better served by a smaller program where they could get more attention but no one will suggest this to the parents. The director seems to not want the parents to be aware of a problem unless it reaches the boiling point and that is not fair to them because that does not give them an opportunity to handle the problem. Our ratio is 1 teacher to 13 children or 2 teachers to 25 children. Even though assessors that have been in to observe our program for the star rating have "suggested" that there should only be 20 children in that room, she almost always keeps it at 25.
     
  7. ksmomy

    ksmomy Companion

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    Apr 3, 2005

    Maddi,
    Thank you. I agree. These children need to be in a smaller group setting at least so they can get the attention they need. I have tried so hard to let the parents know that these things need to be corrected now before they enter school but they don't seem to get it. They have the director telling them not to worry about it, she says they shouldn't have to worry about that when they get home. She of all people should know what they are going to encounter. She is frequently called to pick her grandsons up from public school because they are out of control.
     

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