Child Behavior Forum
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Does my 3 and a half year old have ADHD?

Since this past September my son has attended a private pre-school.  His class size is about 15 children.  Since about October his teacher and the director of the pre-school said that Elijah is not adjusting.  They say that he does not sit down and stay still for story time and other activities.  Pretty much Elijah wants to do what he wants to.  If he is told to leave the play area, he has starts to cry and whine.  During naptime Elijah gets on and off of his cot.  But, they also say that many times Elijah is the only child that knows the answers to the teacher's questions in class.  My son is not perfect at home either.  I do tend to have to tell him to do things or not do things more than 3 times.  Lately he actually completely ignores me.  He has also started screaming and crying and even stomping his feet, if he is told no or that he can not do something.  Elijah is so smart.  He has a large vocabulary, he is kind and very caring towards others, he can be very mature in certain areas. He rarely ever hits.  My discipline style is shakey.  I try to talk and explain things to him (maybe I am doing to much talking).  When I get frustrated I do yell at him (I do alot of yelling).  I do spank with my hands and just recently I spanked Elijah with the belt.  Overly, I do not feel Elijah is a problem child.  I wouldn't even label him as a bad child.  I ask family and friends about his behavior and no one thinks he is out of control.  His teacher truly upset me when she said he should be assessed for ADD.  She says he is not improving at school and his doing the same things over and over, all day long.  My problem is that I do not feel that she has come up with a plan to help Elijah. Everyone thinks he is so intelligent, can he have a mental disorder?  He is a three year old boy, he has always been very confident and independent.  I have read about ADHD and he does display certain  characteristics (a few).  I just don't believe that is the case for Elijah.  I believe we need to establish a consistent behavior management plan for Elijah.  Could something be wrong with this smart and beautiful child?  What can we do?  Have I done something wrong as a parent that is the cause of his behavior? Help please!
7 Responses
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Children can display problematic behavior even if they are intelligent. While you son's behavior could indicate some level of hyperactivity, it does not sound like it is crucial. What does stand out is his oppositionality, his strong-willed nature. You are correct in thinking that a systematic plan to address the behavior would be helpful. It may, in fact, be the most important way to help him, both at home and in school. If you take a look at Lynn Clark's book titled SOS: Help for Children, you will see the details of the sort of plan I have in mind. It's important to stop your habits of (a) repeating directions over and over, and (b) explaining so much. Remember: Actions speak louder than words!
Avatar universal
Your quick response is truly appreciated.  I have ordered the book you suggested and a behavior management kit. Again your answer is very much respected.  I sincerely thank you!!!
Avatar universal
Without wanting to sound preachy or riddle you with guilt, please think twice about hitting any child - a hand is bad enough - but a belt?  Your baby only recently came out of diapers.  Please don't hit him, period.  I know what the damage can be - I am 38 and still dealing with it.

You are courageous enough to acknowledge that you're not happy with your discipline style - believe me, most of us aren't thinking we're supermom either.  An important thing is to look at the behaviour you are trying to modify - stomping, screaming etc - and look at the example you set - yelling/screaming and (as far as he will be concerned) lashing out physically in anger.  Parenting is very tough, but try to lead by example.  Treat them with kindness, understanding and gentle guidance and you might just turn them into kind, gentle understanding people.  A 3 year old cannot be reasoned with (I have one, so I know - LOL).  They need firm boundaries and consistency - and you need to take a deep breath occasionally and realise that a lot of his behaviour is typical of his age.  I hope you get the book recommended by the doctor - it will help you look for alternative solutions to spanking.  Good luck and remember that nobody is perfect - that includes you as well as your son, so don't beat yourself up about not being a perfect mom.
Avatar universal
Additionally, it woulld be useful to review this forum doctor's comments on an archived item regarding physical punishment:

"Reply by HVMA-Ph.D.-KDK on 04/17/2001

This is a topic that inevitably brings a certain amount of controversy. At one end of the spectrum are the "Spare the rod..." proponents; at the other end are those who hold that physical discipline of any sort is absolutely harmful.

I believe that, in the hands of capable parents who have sound attachments to their children and who exercise good common sense and who themselves are mature, well-functioning people, physical punishment can be employed (as it has been for generations) without undue harm. However, I do not think it is either a necessary or even a recommended form of discipline. There are alternative behavior management methods and practices that make physical punishment unnecessary - there is no reason to turn to it. Consequently, I guide parents to avoid such punishment, with the caution that physical discipline, even in the hands of reasonable people, can bring deleterious, unwanted and unintended side effects, particularly in children who tend to be aggressive in their fundamental temperament."
Avatar universal
I have dealt with the same thing in my child and learned about sensory learning problems and the internet site is sensorylearning.com look it up and see if this is what your child is doing?
Avatar universal
If there are so many people thinking that their 3 year old has learning problems, aggression problems, and all these other labels society has come up with......maybe that IS normal for a 3 year old??  My son who is 3 says no to everything even when he means yes.  Look, they are kids and if they are not hurting themselves or anyone else, learning at a somewata steady pace, shouldn't we be firm, warn them, remove them from the situation by putting them in a chair for 3 minutes and then if all else fails with certain children...a swat on the behind...not hard spanking and make then lay in their bed.  It takes time but not as long and as much energy as the kid doing the same thing over & over and you yelling...trust me...been there done that.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, how do you go about testing for adhd was started.
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