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8 year old boy and Impulse Control
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8 year old boy and Impulse Control

We are having trouble managing our 8 year old son.  He is constantly antagonizing one or more members of the family, refuses to follow house rules and at times exhibits poor impulse control.  He tries to be sneaky and lies to try and cover his behavior.  My husband and I have both tried talking to him, he has been put on restriction,(lost his treats, TV, playtime with other children, allowance) for as long as 2 days.  We have tried rewarding his cooperative behavior.  He has been disruptive in classes.  He thinks everything is a joke.  With every request of him he asks "Why?".  When asked why he misbehaves he has stated. "I don't know", "because it is fun" or "I like to be in trouble sometimes".  He does not seem to connect that his behavior causes consequences...he blames anyone else involved for his being in trouble, and has said that my husband and I are mean to him.  The same rules apply to his 10 year old brother and 8 year old twin sister, but he feels like we are being unfair to him.  We are considering counseling for him...but do not want him labeled with a slew of "disorders" if he is behaving like a normal 8 year old boy on some level.  We are diligent about providing him with releases for his physical energy and try to make sure he is challenged intellectually as he seems to be very bright and is very inquisitive.  He is a very physical and kinesthetic child and we try to provide him with  opportunities to channel that energy.  Our goal is not to break his spirit, but he does need to learn that there are rules for everyone and his behavior and choices will have consequences.  Thoughts?
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What I am about to say to you may seem obvious, but it may help you develop a different perspective. If your son was wheezing, coughing, having diffculty breathing, you wouldn't hesitate for a minute to bring him to the doctor, even if it meant he might be diagnosed with asthma. The same holds true for problems in the behavioral and emotional domain. Your son's behavior is not normal and it does merit attention by way of professional help. Don't stand in the way of getting him the help he deserves. Arrange an evaluation with a mental health professional. At the very least, it will provide you with some help re: management of the beahvior. On that front, by the way, in addition to arranging an evaluation, take a look at Lynn Clark's very useful and practical book titled SOS: Help for Parents. It's terrific.
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Not to worry you too much but I would definitely advise you to seek the help of a professional some of these signs may be of concern.  Be an advocate for your child because they can't do it for themselves. Our child displayed very similar behavior at that age and developed into more rage episodes, often followed by very dark and sad feelings. At fourteen he had an emotional breakdown and was diagnosed with depression. After being put on increasing doses of Zoloft the "depression" seemed a bit better only the rages have become worse and he was hospitalized over the weekend after a rage resulting in a seizure. I am increasingly of the thought that this is a form of childhood bipolar disorder though the doctors feel it is a combination of ADHD and Depression maybe coupled with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I just bought, under the recommendation of a friend with 2 bipolar children, The Bipolar Child and The Explosive Child and was frighteningly enlightened. His childhood history including that of an infancy of poor sleep, night terrors, a very high IQ and early everything including very "adult" and oppositional behavior among many other things are such a fit that I am trying to find a good mental health profession in our area to really evaluate and diagnose his problem, not just take a guess. I wish I was aware of some of these warning signs years ago.

Good Luck
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