Hi, since this February my son started pinching other kids or touching and squeezing teachers' arms. He especially likes to touch a big girl who is taller and much bigger in shape. Via observations, the teacher and I found out that there was not any hostility involved, instead, she is one of the two best friends of my son in the classroom, and pinching seems not damage their friendship at all. My son loves to chase her on the playground, and once he reaches her, he will catch her and squeeze her arms or shoulder. If he pinches her, she will complain to teachers, after that, they play together happily again. And, he also has some attention issues at daycare. At quiet reading times, he likes to read out every page of the book he chooses and perfectly retelling the story. He even changes his voice to fit the characters. If another child asks if he could have the book when my son is finished, he would proudly say "yes" and gives the book to the child soon. In circle times, if the teacher chooses a book that my son doesn't like, he would say it out loudly that "I don't like that story" and when the story is read aloud, my son would be request to sit down up to 8 times. He would stand up, kneel with his feet on the wall or crawl around. Other than these two behavior problems, he is a sunny, happy, busy, and popular boy and especially good at physical activities such as swimming, playing soccer, etc.
At home his behaviors seem to be the same. He is our only kid and sometimes I feel like I paid too much attention on him. He seems to be fond of me very much. He also likes to touch, squeeze my arms and legs if I wear short sleeves or shorts. He used to pinch me too, after I strictly warned him, now he has stopped doing it to me. He seems to be trying to control himself at daycare too. He stopped for two days but on the third day, he resumed. Could you please tell me what's going on here and if I need to take him to see a behavior and development pediatrician?
No, he does not require specialized treatment. He does require some straightforward, systematic behavior management. This will include clear and consistent limit setting and discipline (if required). If you want a tried-and-true method of such behavior management, follow the guidelines in Lynn Clark's SOS Help for Parents (see www.sosprograms.com).
Thank you very much. But could you please explain to me a little further what the problems are here? I read some comments on other forums about this. They say it's because he is a loving affectionate boy that he likes to touch mommy and it's totally normal. Maybe it is so for the part of arm touching or squeezing, but definitely not for pinching part. Is this behavior due to an inability to cope with frustration, and to a desire to communicate and have an effect on the people around him? Or is it possible that he gets overstimulated by affection or by interpersonal interaction and that is why he responds by intensifying his response? Are the arm touching and squeezing allowable? I am thinking mild touching might help relieve his desire of pinching.
I will try to get to read the book you recommended.
Your description indicates that the behavior is not malicious in nature and is intended as a form of conveying positive regard. In any case, it is not appropriate, regardless of the motivation. That is why limits should be established. It's not suitable to behave that way, whether the behavior carries negative or positive motivation. He is four years old, and children so young need clear, precise limits, not hazy ones. They don't have the cognitive capacity nor the impulse control to handle the sort of grey areas you are considering.
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