Recently, my 6-year-old has started hurting himself. He has always been a sensitive child who will often cry, but once it is "out of his system," he is fine. He is bright, but he has an I.E.P. in place for speech services. He recently began punching himself in the head and pinching his face when he feels he is in trouble, as well as calling himself stupid or an idiot.
Four days ago he began to cry and painfully pinch his forehead because he got an answer wrong at school. That same day he began to punch himself in the head because he thought he was in trouble for scribbling on another student's paper. When his teacher took him outside the room to talk about it, he cried and said, "I'm just not cut out to be a student!" This alarmed her since she'd never seen this behavior out of him before. In fact, in her 15 + years of teaching, she's seen this type of self-harm only one other time. We first saw this behavior at home eight days ago. He snatched a toy from his little brother and was scolded and made to apologize. He began to punch himself in the head and call himself stupid.
In talking with my son extensively over the past few days, he has told me and his dad that his brain tells him to do things that will get him trouble. He has also stated that when his brain calls him stupid or an idiot, sometimes it is his voice, but sometimes it sounds like a monster. He has asked to go back to his old school because his new school "isn't fun anymore" and "his brain doesn't work 'cuz it's loud sometimes." Sending him back to his old school isn't possible because my job is in the school he is currently attending. Needless to say, I am at a loss.
We are going to make an appointment with his pediatrician this week and get a referral for a child therapist/psychologist. I'm very worried, as there is a strong family history of mental illness from his father's side. My husband has dealt with depression and anxiety since the age of 11 and was diagnosed as manic depressive about eight years ago.
Since this is a recent development, I hope this is simply his way of dealing with stress. Any other insights would be greatly appreciated!
The first thing that pops into my head is a problem with self esteem. This is NOT due to anything you are doing, I would bet there might be a little teasing at school or something, perhaps from crying easily or the speech delay (did I understand that correctly?). If he is already a sensitive kid (which is a wonderful quality), it can be tough. Kids can be so mean. Also, wanting to change schools makes me wonder as well.
I think your doing absolutely the right thing having him see a professional. I might also have a meeting with his teacher to find out more about his classroom dynamic. I honestly wonder if there isn't a bit of bullying going on.
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