This patient support community is for discussions relating to the challenges of parenting children (age 6-12), including physical development, handling school & classes, emotional development, cognitive development, and games and activities.
6 year old 'impulse control' behavioral issue in first grade
Im a single mom (no dad involvement) and my 6 year old (just turned six) is having issues in first grade with "keeping his hands to himself" in mostly playful ways not in agression (unless another child hits or kicks him ... then he does hit back). I have two separate but related issues:
1) I can agree that his teacher sees he may have some sort of a behavioral impulse control issue in regard to the appropriatness of his reactions to outside stimuli esp. in a school/structured setting - i.e. someone talking to him/asking him questions, other kids suggesting he do something that he's not supposed to do.
In my observations of his behavior these issues are primarily reactionary. He's not an agressive child, he's not physically overbearing, he's kind and empathetic and includes everyone when playing, he likes to make everyone laugh - even if its thru saying something inappropriate ("poopie" or making funny faces), he does like to wrestle or play tag or other physical games, he's active in sports and energetic, I keep any video playing to age appropriate Wii only and that's to a minimum. He's intelligent and doing very well academically and asks intuitive questions about the why's and how's of things. He can be silly or 'goofy' but nothing that I find really out of the ordinary spectrum of 6 year old boys. I do find that when he's nervous or shy (usually in a group of either kids or adults he doesn't know talking to him) he tends to act out in a goofy manner - like walking or running a few feet away while making a silly face or mock screaming... I've recognized this as a stress relieving mechanism for him -he then comes back and talks, answers the question or joins in. When he's in a playdate setting with more than one friend (particularly with his best friend) - he tends to be the 'odd man out' and is either picked on or he ends up isolating himself. When he's one on one that never happens. He has no trouble making friends (actually seems to be popular among his classmates).
My question is - What is "normal" and appropriate impulse control in a boy child who just turned 6? Is it possible his just socially immature?
2) The other part of my concern is that his little best friend (6 months older) is controlling and can be a bully at times and there are definitely situations that I've percieved as inappropriate or 'unfair' behavior that is allowed to occur without correction. They go to the same school, ride the bus together and see eachother throughout the day at recess, lunch, etc. The friend is aware of my son being corrected for "not keeping his hands to himself" and is not only telling all the other children about it but he also runs to tell me the first chance he can - embarassing my son over and over again and seemingly "making sure" he gets punished. Both he and other kids -aware of what's going on-are actively instigating my son (grabbing his bag or slighly pushing, hitting him or betting/daring him to do something he shouldn't do) so that when he does react he will get in trouble again and they find it funny. I honestly feel like the situation is setting him up to be bullied/picked on and fear that the teachers/monitors will be looking solely at my son b/c he's "presenting an issue" and not seeing the other kids' involvement as well.
Im unsure as to the best way to approach my friend about how to curb her son's actions without being percieved as blaming her son for my son's poor behavioral choices...but I also wont ignore that her son's actions are 'adding gasoline to the fire'.
Given the feedback Im getting from the teacher I am concerned about what is "normal" and appropriate social and impulse behavior for a 'young' 6 year old boy and/or do I need to take him to his doctor? And what's the best way to curb the friend's ancillary behavior as its impacting/aggravating the situation.
Hmmm. His impulse control doesn't seem far afield of pretty average. Some kids have remarkable ability to behave well and maturely, some kids get goofy and are easily persuaded to break the rules if it seems fun, and most kids are in the middle somewhere between the two extremes.
I don't think he needs a doctor but he could use some help with social skills.
Role play is great. When he feels shy or overwhelmed around adults/kids he doesn't know what's something he could think of to do that's appropriate and doesn't look too goofy? Maybe he could bend down and retie a shoe. He could take something out of his pocket that he keeps for this, some little moving widget thing and play with it for a moment.
I think you should address the friend very pointedly when he tattle tales, I've done that before with tattle tales. "How about you take care of you, and ______ will take care of himself, and if I need any help being his mom I'll be sure to ask you!" And say it with a smile.
I would also address your concerns with the teacher, that you're working with him on impulse control and he's trying but you're seeing cases where the other kids have figured out he's needing to work on this and are taunting him into making mistakes. Name names and give specifics.
I think he'll be fine. He sounds like a fun little guy.
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