Questions in the Parenting Forum are being answered by doctors from MindWorks. Topics include: Behavioral Issues - Discipline, Emotional Development, Family Issues, Recreation, School Issues, Social Development
6 year old says he thinks of killing his brother and sister
I recently posted a question about my 6 (almost 7) year old's drawing scenes with scary trees that kill his entire family, including himself. Then his drawings were of him stabbing his sister with a sword and her falling off a cliff. I told him and his siblings that we would no longer be drawing those types of pictures as they were not respectful to our siblings/family. The pictures stopped. Although I don't see sibling rivlary with his sister (5) I realize there is some rivalry with his brother (3 almost 4). A few months a go we he mentioned the concept of realizing he could hear himself speak in his head and the concept of an "angel and devil" on his shoulders. Likely from cartoons. Anyhow, today, he told me (mom) that the devil sometimes tells him to kill people. I questioned him and he said his brother and sister with a gun or his bow and arrow. He doesn't have access to these items and he is a really good kid. When he said htese things, he was not angry or anything like that. I realize that, as our oldest, he knows a lot about many things (we had a tornado close to our home 1 1/2 years ago, a foster child who stole from us and had to be moved) but we don't drink, we don't use physical discipline, I can't think of any huge events that may have traumatized him. I'm not sure if he is just verbalizing his frustrations or it is something more serious. Also, I'm afraid if I take him to a therapist they might see this as a threat to kill someone and hospitalize him. Can that be done without my consent?
these are very serious symptoms indeed, and I would most strongy recommend you have your son seen by a psychologist and psychiatrist for an evaluation. I understand your concern that someone would make a rash decsion and hospitalize him, however, please keep in mind that these professionals will have his (and your other children's) safety as the highest priority. Psychiatrists and psychologists are specially trained to discriminate between a situation that can be managed on an outpatient basis and one that requires a higher level of care. You owe it to both your son and your other children to have an evaluation done to determine if your son is in danger of acting on these ideas.
Aside from the need to keep everyone safe, these symptoms may be very upsetting to your son. Though you have asked him to stop making the pictures, that does not banish the thoughts from a person's mind. Your son appears to be experienceing very frightening ideas. I can just imagine how overwhelming it would be for a child to have these thoughts and not be able to 'turn them off.' Children with these types of intrusive thoughts be greatly helped by medication and psychotherapy. I hope you will be able to obtain the help he needs. And of course, as always, call 911 or take him to an emergency room if you ever suspect he is a danger to himself or others.
I am sure my response seems to be a strong one to you, and not pleasant to read. In my work with children and families, I have seen too many people make the mistake of underreacting to their child's distress and regretting it later.
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