Today at school: a saga of shouting, shambolic communication and a sneaky toffee. So there.


7.45 Dropped the girls at school for breakfast club. Joanna’s class teacher wasn’t in yet so I left a message asking her to call me about something that had upset Joanna yesterday. Another teacher (the one they are sent to when their own teacher’s tellings-off are deemed insufficient) had come into her classroom and shouted and it had frightened her. Every child whose name was on the board for bad behaviour SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES AND WOULD SEE HER AT BREAKTIME TOMORROW.

Joanna had come home feeling physically sick, and at 5.00 we finally discovered what had happened. She had been so upset and scared by the shouting that she had wanted to punch the shouty teacher in the face. But she hadn’t punched her. (This is progress. I pointed that out.) So. I waited until registration time for a call from her class teacher, who is usually very good and seems to ‘get it’. Nothing.

9.30 Joanna’s class helper called me. Joanna was struggling, couldn’t calm down and was being disruptive. She was anticipating being shouted at again. Told them I’d anticipated this and that’s why I’d asked to speak to her teacher. The message hadn’t been passed on. And ha ha ha, all the children are scared of Miss X, ha ha ha. Er, no. Not good enough. No child should be frightened at school, but especially not one as emotionally vulnerable as Joanna.

12.15 The SENCO phoned. Joanna is un-calm-downable and I must come and get her. Well, I’m working. I tried to have this conversation at 8am. Joanna is frightened and being punished for showing it. I will come and see her because it sounds like she needs me to but I am very disappointed about the way this has been handled. *assertive voice*

12.30 Got to school. Joanna had calmed down and was back in the class. I said they could either formally exclude her, which might help our case with CAMHS but wouldn’t help her learning, or keep her in school, in which case I’d still like to see her and make sure she was OK.

I saw her. Snuck her a toffee from my bag when the staff left the room in flagrant disregard for their policy on such things, because it helps her. Told her she was doing really well not to have hurt anyone. Promised her no one was going to shout at her or hurt her. Generally listened and reassured her for ten minutes. Then she went back to class. I spoke to the staff and said I’d come and see Miss Shouty with Joanna after school.

1.00 Came home. Photocopied six pages of a book I know the school owns (because I told them to buy it) to remind them what is going on for Joanna when she is being disruptive, and that she doesn’t need punishing, she needs help. And actually, she is doing amazingly well at not being violent, and at articulating her thoughts and feelings to me.

Haven’t got much work done today. Quite fancy a little sleep but have to go back to school in an hour.


Evening update

I went to collect the girls as usual after school. Turned out Miss Shouty wasn’t available to see us after all, so I’m not sure whether that will be rescheduled for tomorrow or not. It hasn’t really been properly resolved, and we have half term next week, so that feels decidedly unsatisfactory. I did speak to the class teacher, who told Joanna she just needed to focus. I didn’t want an argument in front of Joanna, so I handed over the photocopies I’d taken with me, all labelled for various members of staff, and didn’t pursue it. Yet. It will be coming up again at the next meeting though. Oh yes. You don’t trigger her and then punish her for reacting while telling her to ‘just focus’. That’s cruel.

I took the girls to the park so they could run about and let off some steam, then we came home and Charlotte had a strop because she wanted to go on her Kindle and I said it was dinner time. She threw a toy at a light and the lampshade broke. That’ll make a fun story when our new social worker comes round tomorrow. Still, I was in full therapeutic mode and asked if she wanted to come and have a sit down and a cuddle. She calmed down beautifully. If only it was always so easy.

After dinner the girls were both in massive regression mode, both wanting to be treated like babies and be rocked on my lap. So that made for a logistical challenge. We did that, I gave them an age-appropriate explanation of the function of the amygdala – ‘the emergency bit of the brain’. I told Joanna hers was too sensitive because her there was too much danger in her birth parents’ house so she’d learnt to keep the emergency bit switched on but now we needed to help it learn to switch off more because she is safe. (I think she understood it at least as well as some of her teachers. I look forward to reports of her explaining it to them.)

Therapeutic wonderparenting wound down and they went to bed two minutes before Pete walked in the door. Typical! He’s now gone back out for fish and chips (hurrah) and I am skiving my exercise class, which is emotional self-care if not physical. Needs must, eh? This blog has been verified by Rise: R0d53078ddb83f210db0b1272d1febeb7



  1. 16 February 2017 / 6:06 pm

    I feel your pain, this happens at our school. I feel like they don’t really listen when we try to explain how these methods of discipline make our child anxious/disruptive and then not only are they surprised by the fall out but the child gets punished for it!
    We’ve started putting things in writing over email and including the head teacher. Feel we need to have some sort of record of what we tell them! Not sure if it’s working, have a meeting next week but does feel like we are saying the same things again and again. It also makes me feel sad that children should become so anxious and distressed at school and they are unable to support them!
    Sorry rant over!!! Hang in there and goo luck with it.

    • 16 February 2017 / 8:59 pm

      Thank you! Yes, it is basically the same conversation on repeat. The lure of the behaviourist approach with its sticker charts and breaktime detentions and public shaming is so ingrained that we have to keep on reminding them that it is not appropriate for our children.

      I like your email approach. We do that with PAS for the same reason, but haven’t with school as that tends to be face-to-face. Meanwhile I am working on training Joanna to know what is going on in her head, both for her own sake and so she can tell the teachers what she needs. She’s a bright and articulate one and I think them hearing her talking about her oversensitive amygdala might be a wake-up call!

  2. 24 February 2017 / 11:59 am

    I absolutely LOVE the age-appropriate explanation you gave to your girls about the amygdala. Your girls are lucky to have you. Wish I’d had such sensitive adults in my young life … jo #thatfridaylinky

  3. 26 February 2017 / 11:12 am

    Oh my goodness. I feel your pain too. When we send our children to school we want and need them to feel safe. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

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