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5 Year old boy
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5 Year old boy

My son is 5 and about to enter kindegarten.  At day care he is kicking and even sometimes biting-both teacher and children. He seems more and more angry.(Occasional tantrum like behavior) He is adopted (since he was 1) and has always been incredibly happy. Last year we adopted another child and changed day care providers- then this year we moved and recently his teacher left the day care. I've tried exploring his feelings about all of this. At home he doesn't listen well.  He does not express his feelings - I dont even think he understands them. He often gets in to things he shouldn't--everything must be out of reach or locked. When he does manage to do something he shouldn't he grins. Although I believe he does feel remorse when he hurts someone or does somethign wrong, his response when you talk to him is to smile-nervously? I've tried telling him what I want him to believe-"your kind and gentle and dont want to hurt your friends" as an example. "you ARE a good listener, I'm surprised you didn't do what I asked"...I've also tried expressing my disappointment, or even anger. He is definately behaving worse at school than at home--is it safer to do it there because he doesn't disappoint me? Or are they dealing with him wrong?
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242606_tn?1243786248
This likely does not have much to do with any perceptions about you - five-year-olds are not really capable of that sort of thinking re: their motivations. Essentially, young children are quite egocentric and pleasure seeking. When something gets in the way of the pleasures they seek, they react. Often the frustration of their wishes results in anger that may look to be out of proportion to the precipitating circumstances. The key to intervening is to employ a systematic behavior management plan. Take a look at Lynn Clark's SOS: Help for Parents if you want a practical example of what I mean. If you and the school put into practice the methods outlined in Clark's book you have every reason to expect improvement.
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Dear Doc,

My 5 1/2 yr old is displaying the same type of bad behavior mentioned above.  He just finished the 2nd week of kinder and was in the principle's office or with the counselor nearly everyday.  His teacher has eluded that he may be ADHD/ODD/OCD or some combination of such.  I've already set up an appointment with a pedi neuro.  My son is very bright and learns quickly and easily, so my mom thinks that his lack of focus, fidgeting, defiance, and pestering of his peers is simply a sign of boredom and lack of being challenged.  To give you a little more background, he has been in daycare since he was 3 mo. old until March when I lost my job.  Since then, he has been basically home schooled and has been allowed to go to work with his dad (construction contractor).  Now, he is very upset about the work he has been asked to do at school and says he hates it.  On the first day of school he was asked to color a gingerbreadman.  He refused saying it was a stupid story and for girls.  He was finally convinced to color the image. When he finished coloring, he asked his teacher if she thought he was finished.  When she said yes, he said "Good" and tore the picture in little pieces and threw it on the floor.  He's also been very impatient in any lineup and pushes and shoves.  During circle time on the floor, he rolls around and puts his feet on other kids to push them away.  At home, he acts much the same way to his little sister (3) and constantly tries to annoy her for his own pleasure.  I can't keep him from jumping on the furniture and beds, no matter how long he's in time out or what priviledge I take away.  I never give in to him and I'm very consistent with following through (I have to be with him).  But still, a consequence is of no real consequence to him, at least not coming from me.  Now, he respects my husband much more, but still doesn't always follow his directions either.

My first question is, should I be concerned at this point ?  How will anybody, (doctor or teacher)be able to tell if there is a serious mental disorder going on, or something else, like underchallenged, or maybe even overchallenged ?  I've had his hearing and vision checked and they are both just fine.

My next question is, have you heard of any vitamin or mineral defiencies, like iron, that cause behavioral problems that mimick ADHD/ADD etc. ?  The reason I ask is that I read some interesting information at http://www.ritalin-freekids.com about treating kids dx'd with ADHD with Vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium, and copper supplements, and also by testing for lead poisoning.

Thank you,
Catrina
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242606_tn?1243786248
One thing is clear: your son's behavior requires management, both at school and at home, even if there is no accompanying mental health diagnosis. You noticed in the reply above that I advised reading Lynn Clark's book; you will find it helpful as well.

Now, re: the matter of professional evaluation. Such assessment is performed via several concuurent processes: office interview, observation, discussion with parents and teachers, collection of standardized data (e.g., behavior checklist), review of family history, perhaps some lab work. It is very unlikely that your son's behavior is a reaction to being bored, on the one hand, or overly challenged on the other hand.

Relative to vitamin or mineral deficiencies, be sure to discuss this with the pediatrician. It is not wise to supplement children's diets (assuming the daily diet is nutritionally sound) without medical guidance. Some medical conditions (e.g., thyroid disease, excessive lead levels, side effects of certain medications) can result in symptoms that look like ADHD. It sound like the most pressing need right now is to collaborate with the school around a plan to address the behavior. Generally a cooperative plan between home and school results in some improvement. If, after several more weeks of adjustment to the school setting, your son does not display improvement, additional evaluation would be prudent. It is too early for sure to assume his problems are due to ADHD.
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I also have a five year old son, started kindergarten two days ago and I was told the first day he was having some behavioral problems and on the second day was called in because he was sent to the office.  He to gives me difficulty at home and wants all the attention which is a little difficult considering I also have a 3 1/2 and 1 year old.  He was excited about going to school and now I have been told he doesn't follow directions, he does only what he wants to do, he was crawling around and running around the classroom when he was supposed to be sitting.  Mainly you have to bargain with him to do things.  I to have tried taking away privledges and the television and toys and such and am very upset about this whole situation.  The teacher has told me if he doesn't improve they will have to have a meeting with my husband and myself and a committee which will set him up in special classes.  My son is very bright and I know he can do the work he is just rebelling and I don't know how to handle this.  Until I read what everyone else had written, I felt alone and felt like I had failed as a parent.  I see I am not alone when it comes to situations like this.
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242606_tn?1243786248
This type of situation can generally be remedied while the child remains in the regular educational setting. See my reply (9/4) to the question about Daughter's Behavior. If you and the school employ a similar behavior management plan you'll likely see an improvement. Try to change your perception about having to bargain with your son. You are the adult - bargaining should be out of the question. It's important for him to learn that when you and his teachers tell him to do something, he needs to do it. But he won't learn this from simply saying it: Actions speak more loudly than words. You'll have to show him via your behavior management actions.
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I DESPERATELY need help to understand and deal effectively with my 6 year old son.  He started first grade at a new public school four weeks ago.  He has attended the four previous years at private Montessori full time.  I worried he'd have an adjustment, but never expected it to be this bad.  Everyday he is warned and spoken to 15 or more times by the teacher.  Everyone else walks in line quietly to and from lunch or gym, while my son throws his body into the left wall, and then the right, and back again.  The teacher grows tired of repeating his name every day.  The teacher uses colored circles to notify you of the child's behavior that day.  Not only do the parents know, but the children are made aware by moving their clothespin into the next color if they have done broken a rule.  Green is good, a "GO", while blue means warnings and spoken to by teacher.  Yellow comes next with repeated offenses and they receive a time out and their free play is taken away.  Within a four week period, he has come home 40% of days with blue circles, and he has received 3 yellows, and I've been called at home by the teacher.  The teacher says that he doesn't pay attention, won't give eye contact, doesn't listen, talks to much, gets out of his seat, scribbles and says what he's doing is stupid. He has even told her to hurry up on what they were doing and asked to have a puppet show instead!!! At home he says he hates it, and wants to stay home. The teacher said he even threw a hissy fit on a Friday when the class was rewarded with ice cream sandwiches because he didn't like them.  Imagine! We have implemented a reward system for getting his favorite candy prize (we limit candy so this is what he picks) on FRiday for a full week of green circles, and a day trip he wants if he can go an entire month.  He hasn't made it so far.  Starting a new week, I reminded him about his reward system, and he came home with a yellow circle, and the teacher noted FOUR DIFFERENT BEHAVIORS that earned him yellow circle.  I took away his Playstation for the week and no friends could come over today.  After a quiet afternoon and dinner,he returned home from his very first tiger scout meeting and went to bed.  He got out of bed in ten minutes and asked us to bring in his cat.  I entered his room with the cat to find a huge wet spot on the futon below his bunk bed.  I asked him what it was and he said he urinated on it.  I asked him why he would do this, and he said he wanted his cat.  He stood on the top and peed over the edge below.  INCONCEIVABLE!!!! I was in shock.  I lost my temper and spanked him, which is his second time.  We have always tried time outs, or other methods.  I AM SHOCKED.  I can't believe this behavior in him.  I feel so frustrated, like I'm raising an animal.  I have been reading a book "Raising your Spirited Child" and only half finished.  I don't know how to motivate this child to succeed, and to want to achieve.  I've been telling my husband this for 3 years, when I thought he was "different" and mostly because nothing worked, trying to be positive, trying to hear out his feelings, trying consistent reward punishment.  He always seems so defiant, and doesn't care if you're disappointed.  He's disrespectful and talkative in church on Sundays, even though he knows it's the most important thing to me that day.  He doesn't hurt when you hurt, and never tries to please us or his friends or his teacher.  He did do well at Montessori, and didn't stand out in disciplinary actions.  In fact he was the youngest child at Kindergarden level, but brought into the 1st grade class a year ahead.  The teacher said he was a hyper child, and got distracted very easily, but when given a task, especially one utilizing his memory, he was unstoppable. The end of the kindergarden year, the psycholgist evaluation tested him at 1.8 and 1.9 grade level for math and reading respectively. But more importantly, nobody can stand being around him and I can't get the results I want from my efforts.
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242606_tn?1243786248
It's very likely that your son displays some emotional problems, and that his behavioral difficulties are symptomatic of such. In other words, it's not likely that these behavior problems are within the normal spectrum. So, it would be prudent to arrange an evaluation with a pediatric mental health professional. Now, alongside that, you have to address the behavior. You have tried a number of sensible things, but your implementation is a bit inappropriate for such a young child. The reward system should focus on a day at a time. A child so young will never succeed with a plan that rewards him for behavior over a week's period, much less so over a month's period. It's simply out of his reach and is doomed to failure. Read the recent postings about behavior problems with five and six-year-olds, and follow the guidance I offered in response. In addition, though, be sure to arrange an evaluation. I won't presume here about possible diagnoses, but you are dealing with more than a simple behavior problem.
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