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Both kids are having vastly different issues right now.

(Got long)

Casper is scheduled to see the school psychologist today. I think an email exchange between me and my neighbor (who is a school psychologist but not at our school, and who knows Casper) sums up the concerns and what I hope the psychologist can do:

me:
On a completely different topic - can I ask you a professional question? At what point is it a good idea to have a child talk to someone? [Casper] has been on a kick lately of "I hate being me" and "I'm stupid." She says it at home sometimes, she said it to her teacher at school yesterday, and he at least considered it unusual enough that he wrote me a note about it. It this within the normal range of 7 year olds, or something we should pursue beyond the standard parenting responses we do? She's always been on the high strung and perfectionist side, and when overtired can get herself really worked up (we call it "awfulizing" and try to make her realize that she's making things worse than they are.)

neighbor:
I think it's fairly typical for 6-8-yr-old girls to be perfectionistic and hard on themselves. However, the "I hate being me" comments may be a red flag. To some degree she is seeking attention and affirmation, which they all do, in different ways. Most likely it's not a "serious" issue and will resolve over time, because she's in a supportive, loving, and affirming environment that will help build her confidence. But ... she does need to know that comments like must be taken seriously (which is why her teacher let you know). I think the best thing to do is refer her to the guidance counselor at [Your School]. I've heard fabulous things about her, and I bet she's dealt with this issue many times before. It may be as simple as she and [Casper] making a connection, and in just a couple of sessions she can help [Casper} reframe her negative thoughts and give her some strategies to use when she's feeling particularly down. School guidance counselors are underutilized, and they have a fabulous "bag of tricks" to help out with things just like this!

I pitched this to Casper last night (during a this-sort-of-thing-related meltdown), telling Casper that the psychologist could help her find some ways to make the negative feelings less strong and remind her of the positive feelings when negativity was taking over. I hope it goes well.

Dillo has gotten increasingly rambunctious and wild since he started PreK. Yes, Dillo, our mild-mannered, sensitive new age guy little dude. His behavior at school has gotten to the point that his teacher spoke to us on Friday morning about how wild he had been the day before. This coincides with increased wildness at home, and ongoing bathroom problems - he had poop accidents Thursday (at after school and home) and Sunday, which is unusual. Saturday night be hit and BIT our neighbor S., who admittedly was teasing him, but really! Dillo had NEVER been an habitual hitter up to now and I don't think he'd ever bitten another child.

I think the cause of this is pretty directly attributable to the change of schools, the mix of boys in his class, and the behaviors that are tolerated there. While Mrs. R is in some ways an old-school disciplinarian, she is also old-school enough to take some "boys will be boys" attitudes, which I think do foster wild behavior in boys. Dillo's class is 13 boys and 7 girls (both of the PreKs are - that's just the way the lottery worked out), and there are a bunch of boys in his class who have existing socialization to be loud and physical and wild (several boys with older brothers, for example.) This is in contrast to Dillo's old school where there was only one boy like that, Adam, who was in many ways Dillo's classic frenemy!

I think Dillo LIKES being loud and wild and is in some way proud of himself that he's not a shy victim boy (any more). The problem is how to address the real behavioral issues that result from this at home. He is IMPOSSIBLE to get to bed. He laughs at threats of or the actual enforcement of most punishments. Right now the only motivator we have found is to threaten to not give him a planned food treat (ice cream has worked twice). But we don't actually plan to eat ice cream all that often! I am only *just* getting to the point where me counting to three gets him to act (Casper know the "count to three Mommy is serious" thing well by Dillo's age, but we also had to use it a lot earlier on her - her most outrageous period was really early 3, not early 4.) With Casper, she had a much stronger ingrown sense of shame, or having done wrong. Dillo seems to not have that, or to be repressing it very successfully right now. I don't know what to do with him. I do know that his current chronic lack of sleep is not helping.
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