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Avatar universal

6 year old son without self control

My son is 6 years old and he seems to have bursts of impulse control issues.
He'll be at a team event and if someone he doesn't even know walks by him, he'll smack them on the arm just because he felt like it.  He'll feel threatened by a 3 year old who says "mine".  
He will lie about something that we just saw happen, and insist, even when challenged by both parents, until confronted with the facts.  He yells when he's frustrated, very loudly.
Then, we'll have other playdates and he'll somehow feel safe with those people and he'll be the most serving, considerate boy I've ever seen - taking care of those younger toddlers and respecting adults.  When he's home, he and his sister play very well together.  He doesn't seem to act on these impulses that are aggressive or testing.
I can't figure out what triggers the episodes, I've asked him if he doesn't feel safe in larger crowds of kids or...  My friend suggested having him diagnosed, but I don't want to put him on some rx when maybe he just is having a hard time expressing himself?  Should I get a counselor?  I'm hesitant to send him to a therapist, because they are so prescription happy and I don't want to short-circuit the maturity process by numbing him out.
6 Responses
5914096 tn?1399918987
Appropriate discipline teaches self-control by default.  Your post mentions nothing about discipline imposed.  Therefore, I would focus on providing your son with firm boundaries, limit setting, and discipline when he acts out of impulse.  Any misbehavior could be described as impulse control issues anyway.  

Regarding counseling, not all counselors endorse medications.  The only ones who could prescribe meds are MD's.  If you select to have your son see a counselor for these behaviors, make it very clear that you would consider meds only as a last option if it is an option at all.
973741 tn?1342342773
Hi there.  You can google sensory integration disorder or sensory processing disorder (as it is also called). My son was diagnosed with this and lack of impulse control is very common as is being 'different' in different settings.  My son has always been his 'best' at home.  But when out and about, at a crowded park, school, party---  things like that, he has a harder time maintaining himself.

Sensory affects the nervous system.  It causes it to send the wrong signals.  Kids who don't like their hair washed or clamp a hand over their ears when it is loud exhibit basic sensory symptoms.   But it can show itself in a variety of ways.  

As your son gets more into his school years, more may come out.  But this has gotten your attention and it sounds like you want to figure out if something 'more' is going on.  

My son did occupational therapy and to be honest, much of his issues have either gone away or he is able to use coping skills and behavior modifications to cope and get through issues.  This even includes impulse control.  he's never taken medication.

sensory can look a lot like add/adhd.  But it is slightly different.  So, you can look into it and see if it applies.

The truth about medication though for those who suffer add/adhd is that it does not 'numb' them out.  it helps them stay calm.  It WILL numb a child out if it is the wrong diagnosis though.  But people actually being treated for add/adhd feel better on medication because it calms them.  I've never taken this but this is  what I've been told.  I would have to consider all things if I were to medicate my child though because like you, I'd hate to do that.  I would though if necessary.  For reasons such as their social life because kids do notice the child that won't keep their hands off them, hits them, talks over them, etc.  Some of these same things happen with a sensory kid though and we've overcome that (son is now 10).

One of the things that is good for either add/adhd---  physical activity. Michael Phelps is a famous guy with ADHD.  He and his mother speak of how much swimming helped him stay calm.  My son is also a swimmer.  My son tells me that it makes him able to sit still in school, stay calm and focus.  (like, I hope he swims forever, right?).  That deep pressure and heavy muscle work affects the nervous system in positive ways.

For my sons---  one with sensory and one without, our pediatrician gave a suggestion one time that I thought was a good one.  before going somewhere, have them run a few laps around the house.  This release of physical energy calms them down.  Some schools will send impulsive kids to the gym to run some laps or do some pull ups for the same reason.  So, add that into your life and especially right before he goes somewhere even a team practice (notoriously difficult in the early years for kids with nervous system issues).  

I'm happy to offer more suggestions that have worked for my son if you are interested.,

Discipline wasn't the answer for my child. He WAS trying and that was insult upon injury.  I, obviously, did correct and for many things there were consequences.  But that will not fix an internal problem.  Instead, we worked on the root cause of behaviors from the inside out.  

And one other thing----  now I didn't understand this for a long time.  But my sister said that when it came to mixing up facts, kids of your son's age do it all the time.  She told me that a teacher told her that she wants parents to know that she'll believe half of what the kids tell her and that she hopes parents do the same when the kids came back home.  Ha.  So, she told me to not argue with that age over silly things.   Kids can be adamant about things like "John was there" when John was NOT there.  But why argue?  Let it go and pick your battles.  They most often do NOT grow up to be pathological liars--  most often.  

good luck
Avatar universal
Special mom,
You are really a special mom, you son is so lucky to have you.
I have been following your post for a while. My son is 6 year old and has issues with impulse control. Do you mind sharing your experience of how to find dignose and find an OT?
Thank you
A concerned Mom
973741 tn?1342342773
Gosh, thank you for the kind words.  You've made me feel VERY good.  :>)  

I'm wondering if you live in the states or elsewhere?  I know that I had two sources for getting started.  First, was my son's preschool.  They referred me to a psychologist that set me up with an occupational therapy institute/office in my city.  Then I met also with our pediatrician who then sent us on to another occupational therapist for evaluation.  I got recommendations from the preschool, our pediatrician and the psychologist for a good occupational therapist that works with sensory kids and called them to begin the process.  The evaluation was over the course of about 3 visits and observation time.  Then we started the actual occupational therapy.  

It's been really fantastic.  

Where are you living and maybe I can help more.  

Again thanks for the kind words.  Kids can really overcome many things, so know that your son can gain impulse control!  peace
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for your response. It's informative and helpful. I never thought about starts from school. I did get couple emails from my son's teacher saying that he can hardly control his temper and hit his teacher in school twice. But they didn't offer any help. I know he is kind of struggle at school since he doesn't know how to interact with other kids. He always stays alone in recess time.
I want help him improving his emotion control and social skills, but don't know where to start.
I do live in states. Actually in Virginia.
I will check with school and see if they can recommend any classes or resources.
Thank you again for your information and encouragement.
973741 tn?1342342773
I did want to clarify, that his preschool set us up with evaluations that included a therapist helping us at the school---  but his occupational therapy was through a private occupational therapy group.  Insurance will sometimes cover this.  We went to an out of network OT office because I thought they were the best in my city so paid out of pocket for therapy but there were several in network OT offices where our services would have been covered.  Do you have insurance?  Look up OT's in your city and begin making phone calls.  You can ask to have your son evaluated.  This is what I did with the OT group we went to---  and my son's pediatrician wrote a prescription for us to do that.  

I'll get back to you for some ideas on temper.  
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