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Avatar universal

Five yr old stepson behaviour problems

My five yr old stepson, I'll call "Mathew" is very clingy with his dad. It's so bad that my husband can't even go to the bathroom without being followed. "Mathew" is looked after 2 days a week by his grandma, 2 days in JK and the oher in day care. His grandma says it's "separation anxiety" from when his parents separated - which was when he was about 2 yrs old. I do not agree with that as he was too young to remember both parents together and my 4 yr old girl was the same age when her dad and I separated and she is just fine (and to mention my eight yr old was 6 at the time and she has no problems with "separation anxiety" either). "Mathew" has not learned to play on his own, when you tell him to go play for a bit, he goes to his room and goes to sleep. He has no interest in learning how to do things. For example at 4 yrs old he still didn't know how to do up his jacket zipper - I had to teach him that. His mom and grandma do everything for him, his dad did to until I came into the picture. He is not independant at all, and has no confidence that he can do things if he tries.

We work with him almost every night to practice his printing and numbers. If it's just me and him, he tries and is fine. If it's his dad, he tries once, then has a major melt down and literally hyperventilates. His dad took him out to play catch the other day, and after the first throw he started bawling! He didn't catch the ball the first time. We positively reinforce him that he can do it he just has to practice. My 8 yr old is very good with reinforcing him also as that is what her father and I have constantly "drilled" into her and her sister. As long as they have tried and keep practicing it will come. But I am working against his grandma and mom who like I said treat him as if the world revolves around him and do everything for him. He can do no wrong in their eyes.

The other day "Mathew" and I went shopping. He ran ahead of me to get into the store, then just stopped. I told him to go ahead and open the door, he looked at me like I was speaking Greek! He looked at the door, then at me, and shrugged his shoulders, like he didn't know how to pull the handle to open the door. Believe me, it wasn't a hard door to open! We got in and started walking down one of the aisles, and a family of 4 was coming towards us. They had young children and moved to the side to let us by, as did I, "Mathew" just kept walking and bumped into the two children, never said excuse me, or sorry. He was totally oblivious to what he had done! Of course I apologized and scolded him for being rude. But that wasn't the first time either. He constantly steps on toys and breaks them. It's as if they aren't there on the floor. There could be two toys in a room and he will somehow make a bee-line to them and step on and break them, and be oblivious to it.

In three years, he has broken more toys than I can count on two hands. I just don't get it. (Is that a boy thing?) Then when he gets disciplined for it, he just shrugs his shoulders like it's no big deal. I feel that something is lacking in his abilities to understand consequences. He is very unemotional. We have tried to explain to him what will happen when hebreaks things, or bumps into people. We spend good quality time with all the kids and they get along fine. We take them fishing and camping and on special outings, try not to over indulge or under indulge them. So the two issues are the no emotion/oblivious and the frustration/hyperventilating.

Any ideas if he has ADD/OCD/FAS or slight Autism?


This discussion is related to 5 Year old boy.
8 Responses
981077 tn?1279979106
Sounds like he is acting out - against you.  I have been there.  I would suggest getting very professional help before it ruins your life, your marriage and the child.  Good luck!
Avatar universal
His grandmother may be correct in that this child does suffer from anxiety; although anxiety is an inherited trait and usually not caused by trauma (trauma can trigger anxiety but it rarely causes it).  Whether or not the anxiety is "separation" is irrelevant but it does appear from your posting examples that he might suffer from some kind of anxiety.  

Nonetheless, I feel the crux of your posting is the following sentence "the two issues are the no emotion/oblivious and the frustration/hyperventilating".  Even though anxiety may be one of the issues, I feel you are on the correct track with the statement  "ADD/OCD/FAS or slight Autism" - I'm leaning towards high-functioning autism.  But, only a specialized doctor as a developmental pediatrician would be able to accurately diagnose.  One suggestion - you might try posting on the "ask a doctor" forum for professional advice as to the next step this child's parents should consider.  If there is an issue other than behaviour, then this little boy needs help.  I  wish you the best ....
13167 tn?1327197724
This is why blended families usually don't work out.  

Step parents don't like,  and don't accept the step children.

Your story about going shopping is VERY typical of 4 year old boys.  If he were yours,  you'd be understand  and helpful.  

If you can't pretend to love him your marriage will never work.  
973741 tn?1342346373
I do think seperation anxiety is part of this poor little boys problem.  You don't think he feels left behind?  All kids that age blame themselves for their parents split and boys really identify and need their dad.  He very well may have some issues and I'm sure you care about him.  But I would suggest letting his father, mother, and grandmother be the primary disciplinarians and caretakers.  Boys are very different from girls and show their emotions in different ways.  He IS emotional if he cries over certain things and not others----  just because he doesn't cry or get upset over what you feel he should doesn't make him unemotional.  He is most likely not autistic as he is attached to his father.  But add/ anxiety/ depression/ sensory are possiblities.  You sound like an involved, good mother.  But this boy in particular sounds so vulnerable.  I'm sure your heart is in the right place to help him and I hope you are able.
509215 tn?1363539423
I believe that "blended families" can work as long as everyone involved is trying to make this family work and is on the "same page" You are doing the right thing. When he is out with you, you are his caregiver and he needs to know that he has to respect you as a mother figure. You are his step mom. If you can connect with him in any small way, this will be your starting point to be a great role model for him. You and his father need to be on the same page with each other. Maybe get him checked for some of the issues you are concerned about.  Good luck.
Avatar universal
Hmmm..alot to think about. Thanks for all the input. I can't say that I love him like he is my own, but I do care for him and want him to learn how to do things for himself. My ex and I have put a lot of time and effort into making our girls strong, independant people. Unfortunately "Mathews" grandma plays a big role in his life and since she is from the "old school" plays into him about "poor "Mathew" from a broken home. She makes a lot of comments like this in front of him, which I have asked her to not do.

As I am typing this, "Mathew's" dad is in the shower and "Mathew" is having a melt down because the door is locked and he can't get in (he doesn't need to pee). They have just spent an hour playing a board game together. Right now there is no calming him down, so as I have read about behaviour modification, I have just finished telling him that this is not acceptable behaviour and have put him in a time out until he calms down. I have learned to be quite patient with him.

Now dad is out and has told him again for the millionth time - he does not need to be his shadow 24/7. Sigh...we will keep working on this.
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