Is my 4 year old son CRAZY and destroying our family
I am desperate and we overwhelmed. We need help. We have a four year old son whose uncontrollable rages, inpredictability, rigidity and hostility is killing my marriage and my other two, normal, well adjusted, sweet kids. My son is a miserable, miserable child. He wakes up crying, he pushes away all food at meal time. He is an insufferable human being. He seems to hate life and ends and begins the day this way. We are a happy, well liked family - we don't not know where or how he became this way.
He may fly into a rage over the way his toast is cut, a certain juice, a shirt. i.e.. If it is time to read a book and shut the tv off. My other two may say, "Oh mom, a few more minutes please." And when they realize no is no, they will do as I say. The other one has no fear, there is no amount of normal discipline in the world to break him; timeouts, spanks, no spanks, speaking, etc., that he cares about or comprehends. I read books about putting them in timeouts. He will not stay in a timeout. He bites, hisses, spits, growls - and we had to get a skeleton key to lock the door. I am broken inside. I feel horrific doing this and would pass poor judgement on any other mother I had heard would do so, prior to having our son. When he gets upset, his legs involuntary shake and bounce and it is so sad to watch. He gets himself so upset, his nervous system goes haywire.
His rages last for 50 minutes. He screams so loud and with such craziness, it sounds like his toenails are being pulled out one by one.
We are so worried for him, his future, his happiness - He feels bad inside. I know he does. We don't know what we can do to help. Child psyche said possibly ODD/ADD (hyperfocus cannot transition) Another thought Tourette's and we also spent a fortune sending him for an OT evaluation. They did find Sensory Disorder issues were prevelant.
At this point, we're involving the town and the two reports, but what really are my options. Will we be tortured our entire lives by this behavior. Will we feel awful that we all chose to leave our son home to go on vacation because we don't know if he'll throw an insane fit of rage on the plane for no apparent reason....
There is some history of mental illness in my family - but nothing as extraordinary as this.
I am so afraid he has bipolar. So deely afraid the way he triggers us to respond as parents, which is enraged, overwhelmed and so disgusted, will further hurt his self esteem.
The trick to this, and you'll be shocked, is he is very well-behaved at school. So, I have a Jeckyll and Hyde situation.
So - everyone thinks we're crazy. My family didn't see it so much either, until we spent the summer together and they caught a glimpse of what we go thru and felt horribly for us.
What medicines are out there? What is this, a mood disorder, a sensory intergration. Please help me. What can we do? Medication, therapy anything new? Any information you can give?
I think that the first step in helping this poor child is to stop feeling sorry for yourself. This is the lot in life you've been given. I also have a child with delays so I am not saying this as someone who doesn't know how hard it can be. But once I realized how my dear baby was feeling on the inside to create such havok on the outside----- it put my own feelings into perspective. It wasn't about me---- it was about him. I have another child as well and a husband. We all love our sensory kid just as he is and try to help his world be a better place. He doesn't have it as easy as we do and just to make it through the day is 20 times harder for him than it is for most everyone else. Can you imagine if the simple act of wearing a particular shirt made you feel like your skin had a million ants crawling all over it? And you get in trouble for complaining about it? By your own words, can you imagine what it feels like to have your nervous system go haywire? Can you imagine what it feels like to know on the inside that you aren't fitting in but you can't help it? To see that your siblings are pleasing your parents and you can't?
By the way, it does not go unnoticed that you say that he does well in school and has this behavior at home. ADD and ODD usually aren't so selective. Is there a home dynamic causing such distress when with you? It makes me wonder.
My son tells me all the time, I feel so upset inside or I feel on fire inside or I feel mad inside . . .and I DON'T WANT TO FEEL THIS WAY!. My son has learned to verbalize what it feels like when your nervous system isn't functioning right. It gives me a picture of what he deals with.
Counseling for you and a psychiatrist specializing in children may help your son.
Lastly, I recently read a book that left a big impression on me. It talked about an extremely difficult child (kids with ADD/ADHD, ODD, Sensory, BiPolar, etc.) and how it makes them feel. And it talked about how the rest of the world sees them and deals with them (mostly, they don't). It talked about the special job of parenting such a child. You are the only chance for your son to FEEL love. The rest of the world will judge him as harshly as you do now. Unless you change that, he'll have no one.
This does not come from someone who who hasn't been in your shoes. Your attitude will make a difference in the situation.
Sorry this is such a long post... I cut it and pasted it here (I originally posted it for another user regarding a question she had about her daughter) Maybe it applies to your son as well, maybe not, but something to think about. Our child too had no problems at school but would then tell us things at home about how he was feeling that would just break your heart. As far as worrying about the future, don't feel guilty. This is as much about you and your family as it is about him. He feels the pain and needs help,and you feel his pain and want to help. He is screaming for it on the ouside while you are dying on the inside. It breaks your heart and you just want to help him/fix him. Here is the post I have left for other users who have asked about some child behavior issues:
Maybe something to consider (actually two things) regarding your daughter: PANDAs and allergies. If your child has been exposed to STREP recently, there may be a chance that your child's own strep-antibodies are attacking the ganglia in the brain, which results in these actions (it also can result in OCD and really, really bad thoughts.) The antibodies somehow mistake the ganglia for the strep infection. If you think your child has strep or has been exposed.... get a Titer count test. This is how the Drs. tell if your child has strep and it shows the level of strep-antibodies in your child's system. Your child may show absolutely zero signs of STREP or illness but still have it. Also, peanut butter, dairy, wheat, asthma medications may set off behavior issues or OCD or exacerbate the effect of the strep reaction. Good luck finding a Dr. who believes in PANDAs, most don't. But any Dr. worth their salt will have at least heard/read about it. Ours said he didn't think it was a valid diagnosis but could not explain away the documented correlation and had no comment on the accepted diagnosis' of CHOREA (St. Vitus’ Dance) or strep related heart problems that can arise after contracting a strep infection. As far as the peanut butter thing goes... I have no actual proof, only what I consider amazing results after we stopped eating it in our house. Allergies to peanuts do not have to be lethal. They can be mild and any physical side effects can go unnoticed, but who knows what turmoil it is wreaking within the body. One indication of an allergic reaction is called the "allergic shiner". They are light to heavy dark rings around the eyes. Many times it's attributed to lack of sleep, but it is actually the result of an allergic reaction. Also your child might get any itchy throat or itchy roof of the mouth after eating peanut butter.... but it may be very mild so they might not tell you. I have read on-line about reactions to some asthma medications that are unofficially linked to morbid (bad thought) OCD. Night terrors, bad dreams, sleep walking, bed wetting, and/or obsession with frequently going to the bathroom is also associated with PANDAs. I am not a doctor and can only relay to you what I have read. I read that PANDAs is usually noticed in children about the age of 7 but that it can occur earlier. Children don't (or can't) always articulate what is going on with themselves so earlier occurrences of this tragic condition may not be brought to the parents' attention until around that age. What I've read did say though that it is associated with children who have not yet hit puberty but does not mean it can't occur later in life (teens.) There is a book out, written by a mother who's son was almost institutionalized due to OCD. He developed it out of the blue around the age of 11 and after a year (or two, I don't remember) he became so obsessed with performing certain rituals that he was essentially non-functinal. His mother had been video taping his actions to show doctors in an attempt to get help. She was at her wits end and ready to have him put in an institution when someone asked if he'd been tested for STREP. He hadn't but sure enough came back positive and was put on antibiotics. The antibiotics worked almost miracuously and he returned to normal (though at 18 says that if he feels any urges coming on he goes back on the anti-biotics and is completely "cured"/feels normal. I think the name of the book is "Saving Sammy, Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD." I also read an article in the Chicago Tribune last week about a Loyola University student who out of the blue had an auto-immune disease that left her unable to walk and see properly. One theory is that it may have been triggered by a virus which caused her antibodies (to the virus) to attack the brain. She is still recovering after extensive treatments but making improvement. I know this is a ridiculously long post and it may not have anything to do with your daughter's condition but I just wanted to let you (and anyone else who might be going through similar child issues) know that some child mental health issues may actually be caused by the body's reaction to some stimulus or virus. Anyone reading this in hope of finding information (or just plain "I'm in the same boat as you" support) should consider allergic reactions or auto-immune response to blood issues/antibodies before placing a child on medication. I hope this information is of help to you or another reader and that your child's "episodes" are few and far between. I know this can be a nightmare. You feel helpless and afraid... you want to do the right thing but don't want Drs. to label your child as "menatlly ill." I wonder how many children suffer from behavior problems (mild or severe) or Morbid (bad-thought) OCD due to food/drug allergies or STREP. More than we know I'm sure, because I believe most parents keep it to themselves (to keep their child from being labeled) and they hope it will go away on it's own. Little research on this issue and even less discussion within the medical/pyschiatric communities. I have a family member who recently (2 years ago) obtained a masters in child psychology and hadn't even heard of PANDAs and had no idea what might have been going on with my child - ruled out food allergies too... immediately suggested psych meds (we refused!) Except for one reoccurrence last March, my child has been symptom free for two years now. The change? It all went away (over-night) when we completely removed peanut butter from our child's diet. The one occurence in March you might ask? We had our child tested for STREP which was a positive, went on antibiotics and was back to normal. Coinicdence? Maybe, but the timing and positive results we've had seem to indicate there might be something to this.
One more thing, which is very important to remember. The quick/same day result STREP test that they do at the doctor's office came back negative (on two different occasions) for our child. We insisted -and got some static from the doctor I might add- that they send it to a lab for the more extensive TITER test and guess what, it came back positive! As I said before, I am not a doctor and I can only relate in this post what I recall and what I recall reading. Hope it helps and God Bless.
Wish that were the case with my kid but since he has had a few ear infections in the past year and been on antibiotics also used to treat strep (high dose amoxicilen and high dose amoxicilen/ clavulenate acid)----- I guess we can rule that out.
Does PANDAS correlate to ADD/ADHD symptoms or just OCD which you reference?
Allergies are an interesting thing in terms of what they can do. Would a simple stick test for peanut allergy let one know if this is the case?
My own son had ongoing issues that when evaluated were sensory related. I do think being allergic to something could cause sensory like symptoms in that someone would be uncomfortable. However, my son's problems were consistent with some days being worse than others. I am so glad we went to a professional who could give us the route to help him. I'm glad you found the answer for your daughter. Isn't that what it is all about, exploring options to find the answer?
I have had similar problems with my daughter, she recently turned 4. Has your son attended a preschool? If so, did he have these problems at school, learning problems, etc. At first, she was only having the problems at home, then she basically destroyed her entire classroom, hit her teacher and spit at her. At home, she will hit, kick, throw things at us, bite, and when we try to put her in time out, we have to restrain her because she will fight back and get up. She has gotten so out of control that I can't even take her to the store or library anymore because she if she gets mad and doesn't get something she wants, she will start throwing things all over and go on a rampage.
My daughter went to stay with my mother in the summer, and started acting strangely when she came back. We started therapy in September since she was not sleeping, and she told us that my brother (who is 16) and 2 of his friends touched her vagina. According to the child psychiatrist we have been seeing, all of her behavior may be PTSD, and they diagnosed her with anxiety and she has anger from everything that happened. They did put her on prozac for almost 2 mths and since it didn't work for her, they put her on risperdal which she won't be starting until tomorrow. I was not a fan of getting her put on medication for a long time but I realized it was necessary. The only thing you can do is have him see a child psychiatrist; they specialize in diagnosing them and know which medications are ok to give them as well. Good luck.
Oh Sarah, that is terrible. I am so sorry about your little girl. I hope that everything you are doing will help her. This must be a very difficult and painful thing for your family to deal with. Good luck in her treatment.
I'd offer you all kinds of suggestions that would help if your daughter had a developmental delay . . . but that isn't the case here. All I can suggest are two things that help adults (I only counseled adults) through situations. First, get her involved in some things that she will like that will give her purpose. If she loves dance, sign her up. If she loves soccer---- get her kicking. Etc. Second, physical activity affectst he brain chemistry very posatively. Every day make sure she is running around. Otherwise, your psychiatrist is taking good care of her, I trust. Good luck to you and her.
Nobody wants their child "labeled". Whether it's the correct diagnosis or misdiagnosis, once it's out there you feel there's always an asterisk next to their name. In my limited knowledge on the subject I have seen ADD/ADHD and OCD mentioned in the same post but it appeared the two were separate issues that the child was going through. PANDAS is primarily associated with OCD. I have also read where parents state they were told ADD/ADHD by one doctor and OCD by another. I feel the ADD/ADHD diagnosis is thrown around way to much, sort of a catch-all (just my opinion.) PANDAS may not be the answer (it might be too easy if it is) but it's something to consider. Especially as kids are exposed to flu, colds, strep at a higher rate once they start school. (Re: Pandas) Cut and paste the 2nd link below.... an interesting read. Even though your son has had antibiotics in the past year, if your son is having increased or more severe episodes, push for the strep test when you see your doctor (and insist on the Titer count test) and see if there's a way to get one yourself. My understanding is that your child doesn't have to have the infection, just exposure to someone who does can trigger the antibodies. Like I said this may very well not be your answer (or not even a piece of a larger puzzle) but something to check out and eliminate. If you or your doctor don't think Pandas/strep is a factor, maybe over a period of time try removing different foods from his diet in different intervals and see if there is a decrease in his negative thoughts/behaviors. I don't know all that much about the stick test but do know that an indication that your child is allergic to a food does not necessarily mean it's causing behavior problems. But if a food allergy is found, it is assumed that the child will no longer be allowed access to/given that food. Once that food has been cut out, that would be the time to watch for positive changes in behavior and decide if there is a correlation. Keep in mind that many people who suffer allergies find out they are allergic to more than one substance. Once again, it would be nice to say that food allergies or PANDAS is the definite answer, only a professional can determine that (and some can't or won't.) Cut and paste the first link for a startling video on food allergies (It is a very interesting piece. The explosive changes you see shown in the children after being exposed to certain allergens is amazing. Then research allergist Dr. Doris Rapp's work - she is the Dr. in the video.) You don't need me to commend you on working with a professional who helps your son cope with his problems. That is definitely the biggest and hardest step to take. But keep in mind that sometimes merely finding successful methods of dealing with the resulting social/behavioral issues is really a bandaid. Finding and diagnosing the actual cause of the problem can be the path to true elimination of the problem. But sadly getting a ""for sure" diagnosis of the root of a psychological problem is very hard. I don't fault the professionals because I understand that there is no magic test that can be given which will have black/white results. Just a lot of processes of elimination and a lot of gray.
WOW,, So after reading your post lois1972, I felt like I was looking in the mirror. My son is 5 and goes to kindergarten but as long as I can remember he has always been an emotional child.. At the age 6 months he started crying at night uncontrollable nothing was wrong just cried.. Thought he was just going to be a "cry baby" By the time he was 1 and a half or 2ish I new something was wrong REALLY wrong, he would wake up crying at night standing on his tip toe eyes wide open but looking straight through us (mom & dad) very scary would last about two hours EVERY NIGHT some night it would last 3 or 4 hours doctors said Night Terror's limit his sugar and don't let him watch tv because all though they are cartoons he sees them as things that wanna hurt him.. and they manifest in his dreams..(and it should go away by the age 8) So no sugar No tv kinda helped NOT much he continued to have night terrors until about 3 months ago, ( So Yeah about 4 or so years of hours of screaming a LOUD horrible screams almost EVERY night) Although they had gotten less only about 4 a week and only lasting about 1 or 2 hours so it was a relief.. But still very draining Trying to function in the day with only a few hours of sleep.. He also started acting out about 3 and a half or 4 years old.. At first thought he was just being a rebellious 3 year old but soon realized it was more.. My son will scream until you think the windows are going to brake or your head explode, over WHAT you ask?? Anything and nothing just because his shoelaces don't both hang the same way or his socks have string... Oh by the way I have OCD's and I know he has them.. He washes his hands all the time, He has to wear his socks inside out everything has to be a certain way or it messes up everything and he goes into a fit of RAGE it is scary and heartbreaking... My husband and I try to help and talk to him, make him comfortable and NOTHING seems to work...BUT yet when he goes to school he is an AWESOME student so smart doesn't cause any problems but the minute he walks in the door he starts freaking out.. It is so overwhelming!! I have noticed lately that he is losing facial expression he hardly smiles or when he laughs it seems like a forced laugh.. He repeats stuff all day.. I am scared to take him to the doctor because I don't want them to put him on some medicine that makes him weird or sleep all day.. I love my son beyond words and would lay down my life so he could have a normal one in a hear beat but am drained from the screaming and crying and still trying to be a good mother to my other to children.. I have researched ADD/ADHD , ODD, OCD, Asperger's, bipolar and so many other disorders to try and figure it all out but he seems to have symptoms of ODD, OCD and Asperger's... and I know what you mean about family thinking your crazy..Because my father-in-law when we go visit will say or do something that triggers my son and I try to hurry up and calm him down but my father-in-law just seems to think he is acting out or being bad to get his way and I try to reassure him that is not the case..There is something so wrong.. I often watch him and hold back tears, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HIS ADULT LIFE?? He is amazing child he is so smart and at school he is a pleasure all the teachers love him BUT at home it makes such a long day of screaming and crying and trying to watch the triggers.... He does have some speech problems nothing to to bad or at least We are use to it, it makes it hard for others to understand him and he gets very upset because of it..If you have ever seen the move Rain Man thats who my son reminds me of in a more calm down way.. My son walks around reciting and repeating stuff all day like 4+3=7 3+4=7 y e l l o w spells yellow ALL DAY long.... I wish I could say this has helped or this hasn't but sometimes I will try something and it will work and then the next day I will do the same thing and it won't help.. I hope and pray that your son gets the help he needs.. I have been reading on the diet they use for autism and think it is worth giving a try although I am sure it will make my son upset at first but I have to try.... and I know how you feel about tearing your family apart because for a while my husband and I seemed to be at each others throat everyday but have decided that we will conquer this and not let it conquer use..All though at times we do feel like we can't take NO MORE but then I ask myself if we feel this way HOW is my son who is only 5 feeling trying to process what's going on with him...When life knocks you to your knees you are in the perfect place to pray... I will count to pray and search the web for answers...Good luck to you and your family!!!
Hi, I wanted to respond to your heart felt post. It is so hard to parent a child with struggles. I've done my share of crying, praying and feeling hopeless. You sound very caring about what your child is going through. It is hard on us to live through such distress but so much harder for the child. Please don't give up and try to be hopeful. They can really help kids now.
I've told a million people at this point, but my son has something called sensory integration disorder. He is a sensory seeker and has tactile defensiveness and some motor planning issues. All of these things resulted in some very rocky times. Sensory can look like ADD and ODD but is treated differently (medication will not help it). We do occupational therapy which is like play therapy. My son loves it and it directly affects his nervous system in a posative way. We do lots of activities at home each and every day. Like I said, most of it is play and he loves it as does his little brother that I just have play along with him. (good for all kids, right?) My son was diagnosed by an occupational therapist at 4 that specialized in sensory integration disorder (after being evaluated by a therapist in his preschool) and has done therapy once a week since that time. He is now almost 6 years old and I just can't tell you how much better he is doing. He functions very well in a classroom and is so much easier to handle on at home. I tell you this to offer hope--- we worked at it and found the right formula for him and he responded to it well.
Whether your son has ADD/ADHD, ODD, sensory integration/processing disorder, a mental health/ psychiatric issue or is just a child with a very difficult temperment---- it will be helpful to find out. Then you can work on the plan to start helping him. Just my thoughts here. Worrying about labels doesn't help him (and by the way, all labels are completely confidential in the school system. BY LAW, they can not discuss what a diagnosis is with anyone but the IEP team involved. Even if a child requires a classroom aide to help him, the aide will not identify which child they are there for and will help all the kids as well to keep confidentiallity in tact. Obviously if a child has a physical ailment, that becomes more clear----- but kids like my son and yours would be harder to detect.) and actually gives those who deal with him an answer as to why he acts as he does. We've always had kind teachers that worked with my son and I think it is when a parent denies a problem and resists it that there becomes such big issues with teachers. ADD is over diagnosed FOR SURE----- and there are crumby teachers out there. But your son by your description can use some help.
What I like about occupational therapists and if my son had ADD with some sensory (which is not uncommon)--- I would still see one. They help problem solve with me on issues that my son has. We had problems with sleep for a while. Our OT worked to overcome this (IE: got a weighted blanket, did relaxing exercises before bed, etc.). My son can be very volatile---- we've worked on this and came up with strategies my son and I can use to help it. Insurance can cover this. I have lots of ideas from our ot that have helped us with behavior to if you'd be interested.
I've gotten used to judgemental people making comments. But I just try to take myself out of it and try to be protective of my child. It helps him to know if he has a bad moment/meltdown that we have to step outside. Then either he calms down on his own or I go with him and help him calm down. Then less people are involved. He's almost 6 and that works for us.
Anyway, sorry for the long post but you seem like you'd really like to help your son. I've been there and just wanted to offer some words of encouragement. Things can and will get better!! Good luck.
Im sorry that you have struggles. However- a childs behavior is a direct response to parent behavior and/or home behavior. Everyone is talking about being developmentally delayed- you actually have no true diagnosis to that so throw it out the window. A couple questions- Are you married to his father? Im not judging you- I have a 3 year old, however if a child is perfect at school and horrible at home- then there obviously is a problem. I wouldnt go straight to meds, please look at the mind.
Hi Specialmom, Thanks so much for the info and it is defiantly something I will be looking into.. I just want to get him the help he needs now so when he grows into a young man he can coupe a little better with himself and the emotions going on.. Life is hard enough don't want him to have an extra burden or obstacle and if he does I want to give him the tools to go around it, over it, or under it.. Any info you can give would be most helpful to me an my family..
I am glad your son is doing well and hope my son will get the help he needs..
To RachelVaughn,, What you said is so not true.. We have a very loving home and have been married for 5 years with 2 other children that do NOT have any problems.. and this is not a "HOME" problem but is linked to something else WHY he can go to school and function normal is beyond us BUT I can assure you just because a kid acts out it is NOT always related to the parent's or the home behavior... So please be a little thoughtful before pointing the finger.. We are NOT to blame we love our son beyond measure and we have an amazing home life... God has blessed me with a boy who has some needs and I know he will provide the tools...
Something to consider might be allergies. By the sound of it, food allergies could be ruled out if he is fine at school but has melt downs at home. There are many things people can be allergic to that are common household items. Allergies maybe? Maybe not... but if you can rule them out, it might be another step towards finding the answer. Think hard about the last five years. Have you taken vactions? If so, is he more relaxed on the vacations but returns to throwing tantrums when back home? Is he more mellow when he's outside or at the park? Does he have meltdowns while at the store or out at restaurants or is it primarily at home? Do you have pets? I know you said it has happened at your father-in-law's home. Does he have pets? Does it happen at other realtives' houses or friends' houses? It would be nice find that his outbursts are just emotional responses to allergic reactions but that would be too easy. But if you can find a pattern of locations that seem to be frequent places of the outbursts and think of other common places he goes (school) where he seems completely normal and at ease.... maybe it is that simple. Have you lived in the same house since he was born? Do you have an air purifier in your house? It sounds like it's a year round nightmare for you but do you recall different seasons where it happens less... or more? Keep a journal of what happens, when/what time it happens, where it happens and what you think triggered it. Patterns are usually a big piece of the puzzle. This does not mean you will find an answer but it might at least help you find the best ways to help your son deal with it. It sounds like you have a pretty good idea as to certain things that you know will trigger outbursts, so that is one pattern to start with as far as avoidance in an attempt to lessen the number of meltdowns. And definitely follow SpecialMom's excellent advice. Look into occupational therapy. Cut and paste the below link to see some interesting allergic reactions in children. I am not an allergist or doctor of any kind. I just know what I've seen with my own eyes and the results that can happen for some children with allergies. My prayers are with your family and son.
Lois, my son is now 15 and was diagnosed with Turettes/OCD/ADHD.
At one point we had him on 4 different medications, including risperdol. I have been through the crazy frustrating times, to hyper focus, the awful times of trying to get him to look at me so I can see if he can understand what I am saying, the screaming and mean words.... as frustrating as all of this was, the docs said he was considered having the trifecta of problems. I found later after medicating him for years, that the meds for the adhd aggravated the OCD, which the meds for OCD aggravated the Turrettes, and the meds for that, aggravated the ADHD.
Later on, I found the answer.
I took him off of everything, and simply got very strict. I scheduled everything, only said things once, (turn of the TV at 8 sharp, if it wasn’t off I turned it off and he didn’t watch TV the next day....) and I gave him very specific boundaries. This has helped immensely, it was hardest on me, because I had to be the guide for the lines all the time. Now he is doing well in school, has friends, no need of medication, simply management of his own personal weaknesses and glorification of his own personal strengths. No kid comes out of a cookie cutter, and the never should. Meds tend to make them more manageable, but from personal experience, manageable doesn’t mean easier or better. Try managing it with boundaries.... and rewards and clearly defined (On a wall or poster) responsibilities, schedules and punishments. Get strict, and don’t put up with the freak-outs or the bad attitudes. If you have to listen to him scream for days and days and weeks and months, because he is sitting in a corner having to write his abcs 100 times, then deal with it, (my son has excellent penmanship and is also well adjusted and understands boundaries very clearly). Your boy understands boundaries at school, so he certainly has the capacity/ability to adhere to boundaries. He has simply figured out how to get around them at home with a well placed scream or whine or mean word…. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but meds/syndromes and disorders are handed out so freely these days that the fundamentals tend to be forgotten. Meds make it easier on the parent, not the kid, the meds don’t teach the kid how to deal with their own personal struggles, and I don’t know a single adult or kid that doesn’t have their own individual personal struggles.
Well I was not pointing the finger, I was suggesting that you look at all your options. Lois1972 recommends very structured home life- thats all I was saying. Also I come from a family that was remarried and blended and it affected all of us in a negative way. I cant imagine ever using the phrase
"Is my 4 year old son CRAZY and destroying our family" about my child, and keep in mind that when you speak like that, maybe someone who merely reading it would question other aspects of your life.
I too have a spirited 4 yr old. She's the youngest of 2. She's had a mind of her own since I was pg with her - I won't get into that right now. I wouldn't say she's bad, but I have to keep my thumb on her all the time. It's a constant struggle to redirect her behavior. I have a Master's degree in Play Therapy and honestly it has taken 100% of everything I've got to keep her on track and there are still days that I feel I'm losing ground. Now at school she's a dream. She's VERY smart - and tests about 5.5 yrs old at 4. But, at home she's got a temper. If you tell her no, chances are you'll get alot of back talk and a temper tantrum. She will cut up and destroy things of her sisters. She is intensely jealous of her older sister who is 7. She tries to boss her around and if she doesn't do as she commands she'll start to scream at her, destroy her things, you name it.
Before this child if I'd read your story I too would have thought or suspected something was going on at home. But, you are right that is not always the case. Some children just have a skewed perception of what's going on around them. They just see things differently and react to it. That's my belief anyway based on my daughter.
I'll share what I suspect is going on with her. I don't have it all figured out, but perhaps my insights will give you some things to explore. I think smart kids who are younger in the family sometimes get VERY frustrated by not being able to do what the older children do. One many levels they may be smarter, but due to their age they can't do all the things the other does and they don't understand it and can't verbalize it. They don't understand when the others play sports and they don't that its because they aren't at that age yet, so they interpret that to mean that the other sibling is better or loved more. They can't express that feeling so they get angry. As other things happen they use that info to support this misguided notion and the cycle continues.
So here's what I'm doing. I deal with each child differently. I do not try to make things equal - in fact I avoid it cause you can never win in these endeavors. I started a "Success Chart" where she earns stickers for the things she does good during the day. For things like - dresses self (we were having daily struggles with this) - using nice words - putting things away. Put things on there she can do easily and some that are challenging. Don't get caught up with perfection - your goal is to find ways to reward good things. She LOVES having something that is her own. We are also going to start Dance and activities she is old enough for so she has other things that are just hers.
The hardest part is controlling my own frustration. I know this sounds simple, but when I was in school we would often video tape ourselves while we were counseling to watch how we reacted to the other person. You'd be surprised what you communicate in your voice, tone, and body language. If you are mad or annoyed, and you aren't working diligently to mask it, your child will see that. Now my girl is a master manipulator - when she wants attention and to be engaged she will seek it the fastest way, and lets face it - you get noticed much faster when you are naughty. She will try to pull you into a fight or power struggle so that she can win it. DO NOT TAKE THIS BAIT. Alot of her bad behavior is nothing more than wanting attention - undivided attention. And lets face it when someone is acting bad you pay attention to that person and the children disappear. So what I started do is saying - if you're going to act like that - you need to do it in your room. She can scream and pitch a fit all she wants, but its in her room and I continue what I'm doing. I do not raise my voice, I go monotone in a robot type mode. If she doesn't go to her room ( and the first several times she didn't) I would calmly pick her up and carry her in there. We've talked about healthy ways to show anger - I've given her options on things she can beat up with angry - like her pillow or stuffed animals. If she makes a good choice when angry she gets a sticker. When I stopped letting her see I was annoyed it would diffuse her tantrum. Next time one starts you might want to video tape what you do and how you sound just so you can look at what you do or your spouse does. You have to become and model what you want her do. If you get angry, it's like throwing gas on a fire. If you are too mad, put them in their room and take a break for yourself.
It's not easy parenting a child that is out of the norm. I am still finding my way. There are days that I wonder what will happen. Just don't give up. I don't know if you're christian, but a book that really helped me is the "Power of the Praying Parent" by Stormie O'Martian. We can win and we can raise these children to be happy.. it won't be easy, but I will succeed.
I am curious to hear if you have learned anything over the time since you have posted this blog and now. I have a 10 year old who fits the description you gave of your son. While my son had ear infections and has never had strep, he has always had strep in his system. We tested the fluid that came out from a blown ear drum and it was positive with strep, we did stool samples for digestive issues a couple of years ago and it was positive with strep. Strep was going through the classroom and Michael had no symptoms, I had him tested, he was positive. Keep in mind, he has never actually had an active strep infection like you or I would have with sore throat and all that. We are looking into P.A.N.D.A.S. You are right, at school, he is just great-he holds it all in and completely falls apart at every turn when he gets home. Others cannot see or believe what we go through at home, it is so very hard. It is very common for kids to hold it together in public only to fall apart at home, my doctor said. It has nothing to do with my parenting, so sorry for the hurtful posts that made comment to that with you. I understand. I hope you see this and post back even though it has been a few years.
You clearly have never been in this situation. I feel incredibly sorry for 1. This desperate mother trying to find answers and 2. for your clear inability to show empathy for a mother that has tired out beyond her ability to keep functioning to keep it together and help her child (and other children, yes, they actually go through hell when a sibling acts that way). So, I am REALLY sorry for your shortsight. This mother is anything beyond feeling "sorry for herself".
Actually I'm a mom that has been there myself. My own son has a developmental delay and we've been through some challenging times. you missed the point of my advice that is from 2009, I might add. I had great anxiety and mourning over how I thought things would be with my son. It seems strange now to say it but it was a dark period for me and I had come out of it by the time I read that post. I regret the time I spent in that state. My post was about that. And in terms of short sighted, I'm not so sure. My son is now 11 years old and we've navigated through the storm and he is doing terrific--- straight A student, well behaved, active in various activities from a year round competitive swim team, to playing basketball, baseball, scouts, is in the band playing trumpet and is in chorus. He has friends and a full life. My strategies worked and I can only wish the same success for other parents that have a challenging situation. I probably have more empathy than most because I know what it is like. my heart has been broken open and in pieces over what my son has had to go through. What we've had to do to get him to where he is at. But that is life. And in the end, it has all been worth it.
My son with challenges has a younger brother. They are the best of friends.
So, to reiterate, if you read through the posts and didn't get caught up on one thing I said, you'd see that I indeed have lived through this situation and have come out on the other side. Years later, things are going well. I hope that ends up being the case for you as well.
Thank you for posting. It's good to know I'm not alone. I can relate to almost everything you said. My son is 5. My life and my family are being torn apart. Please let me know if something worked for you, or if you got a diagnosis.
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