Should we discourage 7 yo son's interest in magic and wizardry?
Need some feedback on 7 yo son's behaviour- I am worried it is not normal. Our son is massively interested in magic, wizardry etc, which, although bordering on obsessive at times, we have not been terribly concerned about. Lately, however, has been expressing some violent, morbid thoughts. Yesterday at Unitarian church, for instance, he pointed to the nursery doors and said (3 or 4 times) "they kill babies in there"- probably upsetting the kids and parents in earshot. Later the same day I found a "Wizard Song" he composed on the computer with the line "This will be fun ... I will kill you, I will eat you, I will crush you". I have no idea how to respond to this/ if I responding correctly, and I am extremely concerned. Has anyone here with boys similarly aged encountered anything like this? I realize an interest in violence/fantasy is to a certain extent normal in children and boys in particular, but is there a point where the interest is concerning? My instinct is that the magic and wizardry stuff is becoming unhealthy and is fostering some intrusive thoughts and that we should try to shut it down and encourage something else in its place, but I know that this is going to be difficult and likely fairly traumatic for him. Any feedback would be most welcomed.
I wouldnt shut it down completely as it would upset him a lot and some of it is okay and fun,magic is wonderful, the thoughts he is having about babies being killedis not fun, has me asking where has it come from...who else is interested in the same thing,He is only 7years old and most times children copy so its either TV or Games or someone else feeding it to him..check this out first .Have a talk with him and ask why he is thinking like this get some input from him, perhaps foster the Magicand lessen the Wizardry. Reading your post gain I still believe he has learnt this from someone,so find out where and stop that.
I agree with margypops. I just wanted to check that you have no other concerns regarding your son. For example Aspergers (an autistic spectrum disorder) has the characteristics of both obsessions (which can be obsessions in good or bad things), as well as taking things literally and picking things up from TV or DVDs or computer games. Children/Adults with this disorder tend to have difficulties with social interaction as well.
You can google Aspergers to see what that is. If it is not relevant, I would still try to find out where he's getting his ideas from.
Thanks to you and margypops for your comments. My husband and I do not think that our son falls on the autistic spectrum, although he certainly has some Asperger-like traits (my husband's brother has Aspergers, although probably quite mild. We have talked to my MIL and compared them, and our son's traits are fewer and less pronounced. He seems to be developing out of some of the traits we had observed, although I do not know what to make out of this most recent behaviour/obsession with wizardry). I have had to take my son to the pediatrician once before at age 6 because he was having trouble with a morbid intrusive thought--being poisoned--that seems to have gone away on its own according to our doctor's prediction-- although he still expresses concerns about poisoning from time to time. I am obviously concerned about our son's mental health as a sort of worst case scenario, but at a minimum, I am worried that he is becoming quite a weird child who is going to have difficulties developmentally as a consequence, and a hard path ahead. To what extent should parents encourage their children to be "normal"?, which I very much appreciate is both a moving target and overrated. I guess for me, it's when my child seems unhappy, or having difficulties as a consequence of his special interests and behaviour, and in this latest case, when these are morbid and disturbing. Have no desire to turn my hyper-imaginative child into something else, but would like the morbid thoughts to go away, and for him to stop insisting that he is a wizard with death spells and the like, because it is impacting him socially and worrying me to no end!
I did not think your child fell into the spctrum of Autism/Asbergers I asked was there anyone in the Family of friends or babysitters,or school where he may have got these ideas and where he got his ideas of Wizardry from.?
I think it would be useful to go back to the paediatrician and discuss your current concerns. If he is on the spectrum it is for life, and there is also the real possibility of other co-morbid conditions such as bi-polar etc.
To what extent do you think his difficulties are impacting on his life now and will impact on his future. What is his social interactions skills with his peer group like. Is he doing okay in school?
When he has obsessions do they last a long time, or do they fizzle out quickly (ie. hopefully the wizard thing will take the same route).
But he must have got those ideas from somewhere. Ask him specifically if he has read or seen those same words somewhere. My son who is high functioning autistic also repeats alot of stuff he sees, and if I ask him where have you seen/heard that - he can usually identify it ie. which TV programme.
I would try to encourage his other interests. Try to get him involved with things he is interested in one a small group or one to one basis. Eg. forget football - team games are usually a no-no. But trampolining, fishing, rock climbing, music lessons, martial arts etc have much more success.
But as you do have some mental health concerns for your child as well - I think you need to get advice from the paediatrician and maybe referals to professionals who have experience of diagnosing this disorder. You need to know what his difficulties are and whether they are all down to Aspergers or something else.
Is your son very self aware. Does he talk negatively about himself or notice that he isn't very good at verbal chit chat or social interaction stuff? How do other children react to him. Is he accepted or do they treat him like he is different or strange? These are all things to consider for your son's future. Will a diagnosis help him (and his self esteem to understand 'why' he struggles with some stuff), or will it hinder him. To be honest I don't see a diagnosis hindering anyone. If someone is that capable they just don't get a diagnosis.
You can also have some talks with him about what is 'real' and what is a 'story' or not real. I started talking about this stuff with my son a long time ago because it is something he has difficulties with. Children on the spectrum find it harder to understand what is real and what isn't - what is acceptable to say or do and what isn't.
I remember having a very difficult conversation with my son trying to explain about 'actors' and what they are and what they do. He just believed everything he saw on TV was true. So we watched some documentary type programmes about how TV programmes are made. At first it really upset him and confused him. But now he understands what it is. He can't always recognise what is real and what is a story - but now he knows the difference and accepts it when I say that 'vampires are not real' it is just actors in a film telling a scary story.
As you say you have aspergers in the family it is worth considering. So are any other disorders you have in the family. Before I started my own family I got some medical advice because my older sister has learning difficulties and I was told that that wouldn't make any difference to the chances of my children having difficulties. So I had my daughter and then my son (who is on the autistic spectrum). Then, because doctors are asking questions I found out that my own father had developmental delay (went on to become a genius post 24 years old, but prior to that he couldn't even write his name!), my mother has severe depression, my brother has mental illness, my other brother has OCD, my niece has an eating disorder and self harms etc. And we are a good family, and nothing has ever happened to us to make us like this - no trauma etc. So then the doctors told me that the more conditions and disorders you have in your immediate family, the more chance there is that one of your children will have a disorder. I suppose it makes sense really because you are just talking about mathematical probability.
You can take a look as the DSM IV diagnostic criteria for Aspergers. No two children on the spectrum are the same - he won't be a carbon copy of his relative. Mothers with more than one child on the spectrum will all say that they are completely different from eachother.
I have also heard that Tony Attwood writes some very good books (and I believe he has a website), about Aspergers. I think the more you know the more you will see your own child's strengths and weaknesses. But I think some medical reassurance would help you - as well as the explaining to him about what is real and what isn't. Also try to distract him with other things that he enjoys and that make him happy. I am a true believer that laughter and being happy is the greatest protection from negative obsessions and depression.
Also make sure he isn't gaining access to stuff (TV or off the computer), that he shouldn't be seeing at his age. It is very commonn for these children to be able to gain access to these types of stuff. There was recently a case of a young man with Aspergers who managed to hack his way into the USA governments security files and that was all down to his obsessions. I know he did it from the UK (I don't know what his nationality is UK or USA), but I know there was a petition to stop him being returned to the US because they knew he would get a jail sentence and that his diagnosis of Aspergers had not been taken into consideration.
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