Dec 29, 2010
Before I write anything, I want to emphasize that I am NOT looking for yes or no answers. I am not trying to diagnose my child online. The intent of this journal is for me to simply put my thoughts and concerns about my six year old son out there in hopes that anyone with similar situations can maybe tell me that my thoughts and concerns could be valid, or maybe I'm just too stressed and exhausted and I'm simply crazy for wondering about this, and he's a perfectly normal, happy, healthy and extremely energetic boy.
I guess I have spent the last four years basically hoping and convincing myself that my son's activity level and impulsiveness is normal for a boy his age, and for most children his age. But as he gets older, bigger, stronger, and develops more independence, I am finding that as each day goes by, I'm having a more difficult time managing energy level and lack of attention beyond a few minutes.
He is a really good kid; he's very intuitive and sensitive, emphathetic, good-natured and charismatic. He has a very giving heart for people. He's very outgoing, sociable, and can easily get along with a person of literally any age. He definitely does not lack anything in the social development part of his life.
He is also very intelligent...when he's able to focus. And by that, I don't mean that he can't pay attention or not follow instructions. He does quite well in those areas. What I mean is that he can't seem to apply himself enough to focus on keeping much self control, so it oftentimes seems like he doesn't want to do the things he's learned or follow through, when really he can, but his attention has to CONSTANTLY be redirected until he's completed the task. For example, it's difficult for me to help keep his attention on finishing most things ranging from his homework (handwriting skills and reading) to reciting bedtime prayers to getting dressed and even finishing his meals, because he wants to get up and come and go and do as he pleases. He's not a brat or defiant about it most of the time, he's just not focused and seems to have a million and one things to do, including just running back and forth across the house hollering like Tarzan for no apparent reason. And no, I'm not exaggerating about that--and it's not like it's even really imaginative play most times. It's more like he just has nothing better to do with himself so he just runs, climbs, jumps, spins, crawls, etc. He comes running into the kitchen on the lenolium floor in his socks just to fall and slide across the floor; he will do this over and over again. It wouldn't be so bad, and seem normal even, if he didn't do this all. the. time...for no reason other than he can't think of anything else to do with himself, even though he has tons of time-engaging, thought-consuming toys, play equipment, electronic games, movies, coloring books, you name it. And it's not like he doesn't get enough outside play time or exercise--that's what we try to do with him each day to help! But it's like NOTHING wears this boy out! You could make him run a mile and he would STILL be running through the house, sliding across the lenolium, crashing into the walls, jumping off the couch, and swinging from the rafters on his bunk bed.
I found this list on quite a few websites about the symptoms of ADHD. I've put asterisks by the symptoms he has regularly.
The Inattentive List:
- Has difficulty following instructions
- Has difficulty keeping attention on work or play activities at school and at home
- Loses things needed for activities at school and at home
- Appears not to listen
- Doesn't pay close attention to details**
- Seems disorganized
- Has trouble with tasks that require planning ahead
- Forgets things
- Is easily distracted**
The Hyperactive/Impulsive List:
- Runs or climbs inappropriately**
- Can't play quietly
- Blurts out answers** (and constantly makes loud obnoxious, noises)
- Interrupts people**
- Can't stay in seat**
- Talks too much**
- Is always on the go**
- Has trouble waiting his or her turn
As you can see, my main concern is his hyperactivity. He does not seem to have a problem learning or paying attention to anything, or following instructions and staying fairly organized with his stuff so it's not lost. But his energy level...!!!
His last two report cards from school have stated that he has trouble working without disrupting other students and his teacher commented something about him having a "very exubrant personality" that needs a lot of structure.
She also says he tries to hurry through his work so he can be up playing or interacting with the other kids, and if he has any difficulty with his work or isn't one of the first to finish, he gets *extremely* frustrated (he does this with homework, too) and starts to "shut down," and it becomes challenging to help him regain and retain his focus to finish. Other than that, his teacher hasn't expressed any concern to me about his behavior. I think if it were "bad" enough, I'd have heard from her by now about it, so he must not be too out of the norm compared to his classmates.
Ever since he’s been two years old (although his energy level was higher than his daycare peers as early as 15 months), a lot of people, both random people and people I know as friends and family, have made comments or asked me if he has ADHD because he’s so active. When he was three, I remember his pedi telling me that he showed symptoms of ADHD and if they were not more manageable or worsened by kindergarten, then we may need to consider testing him for it (I was offended at the time, but now I’m really wondering).
Plus, in church, all the other kids his age…and I mean ALL the other kids his age…are able to sit through the praise/worship part of the service (about 20-30 minutes before all the kids are dismissed for children's church) quietly and oftentimes with nothing more to do than color a picture or just sit and listen. I’ve NEVER been able to do that with my son, even to this day. Every few minutes, my husband or I has to get onto him and remind him to be quiet and (mostly) still because he wants to crawl all over and under the pew, between us, around us, back and forth to the library room to get a book, flip through it, and take it back for another, go get a drink downstairs, go to the bathroom, ask for the millionth time if it’s time for children’s church yet (when he KNOWS the routine), play with the other kids, or find someway to be disruptive to the people around us, especially if they’re other kids, by making faces or sounds at them.
He can never seem to keep his hands to himself and usually acts impulsively when it comes to physical contact with other people: he has to touch someone, he is always hanging on me or trying to touch me inappropriately (for his age now, but a lot of that is due to him having a baby brother who's nursing), he can’t just give a normal kiss without sliming someone’s face with his spit, we are always getting on to him to either be more careful and calmer around his baby brother or not touch him at all (last night when in the bed with me for prayers, he was poking his brother in the head while he was nursing, after I’d already told him to not bounce on the bed, be still, be quiet, say prayers, and keep his hands and feet to himself specifically to get the baby calmed down for sleeping). It’s like no matter how many warnings you give him, or threats of consequences, or carrying out the consequences over and over and over every single day…he STILL does the things he knows he’s not supposed to do, and it’s like he does them with no impulse control.
He knows the consequences he will face—giving up a dollar he's earned or getting a yellow apple at school (color coded card system: green, yellow, red as per behavior good, warning, bad with note sent home) and losing recess time or even getting a toy thrown away right in front of him for not using it properly or not putting it away after we've told him to more than three times.
It’s like he cannot seem to master his impulsive self control issues for more than a few hours or a few days at a time. He responds better to my husband than to me, but at the same time, my son doesn’t seem to be grasping or overcoming anything long term. His activity level, loudness, and impulsiveness are a consistent problem we have with him every single day, throughout the day.
I’ve felt jealous of other parents whose children are easily manageable in places like church, and with my son it’s always been so challenging to keep his activity level under control—I’ve felt this way since he was about 15 months old. Now that he’s getting bigger and developing more independence, he’s much harder for me to manage physically and mentally. I don’t know—I may just be exhausted and burnt out and feeling desperate to get him to just settle down a little bit.
Does his activity level and self control seem perfectly normal for a 6 year old boy?