J's alter ego

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    J very occasionally pretends to be an alter ego, called Charlie. Charlie is also my son and he is very amenable, quiet and well-behaved and he generally complains about J ("Mummy, J hit me! Mummy, J said a naughty word!") Anyway, he was playing at being Charlie this lunchtime at home - we have a new routine and he now comes home at lunchtime, as he was complaining about the food in the canteen and asking to come back - and pretending that J kept hitting him. I asked him what he could do about it and he offered all the sensible suggestions - tell him to stop, that he wouldn't play with him any more, etc. Then, when J would not stop (in Charlie's imagination), he suggested I send him to his room!! The thing he never accepts himself. Charlie sat on my lap and cuddled me as he told me, with satisfaction, that naughty J had gone upstairs and was leaving us alone.
    Anyway, I find this alter ego interesting - the fact that J as Charlie recognises the undesirable behaviour as undesirable and himself wants to sanction it. What, if anything, does it mean?? Have anyone else's children had this kind of "other personality"?
  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Funny, even with no imaginative play Q will say that "naughty" or "bad" Q is gone and nice Q is here now. He used to often (still sometimes ) make a motion to his head like he was pulling thoughts out and throwing them out the window. Kids use imagination to work through problems. He is processing and problem solving in my opinion. That is exactly why therapists use play to work on things with little kids.

    I think J is very wise.
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, I find it interesting that he has such clear recognition of this "other self" and the social undesirability of some of his behaviour with the need to put limits down around it - the very things that he seemingly has such trouble accepting most of the time... maybe we are all just this complex, contradictory personality? I am just wondering whether I can use Charlie in some way - to get the explosive J to flip to Charlie's perspective?? Might be worth a try.
  4. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I think you are on to something. Since Charlie is such a model kid, why not play "what would Charlie do?". Before an undesirable situation occurs (but one you can predict), why not rehearse with that little game. This way you might avoid a meltdown and if there has to be a meltdown, maybe, ask again "what would Charlie do?".
  5. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Oh that is rich! There is a 'base ball card" kind of method where you pick a high interest superhero and do that.... You can even put pictures of what Charlie would do on a deck of cards you make.

    It sounds very much like when you listen to kids play and they tell their dolls that they need a time out and it is never never ok to play with scissors etc.... They KNOW the rules if they have been taught... that is usually not the problem. Any child has trouble with impulsivity and J and our kids have way more trouble with that end of it. not to mention not being able to predict the consequences IN THAT MOMENT... though when quiet or later, many can tell you what may happen at least in part.
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, you're right... You see, I'm still not really "getting" it, still not really comprehending what lack of impulse control is like. It does make sense. He knows... and when he is calm he can see and implement it. But in the moment... all goes out the window. Intense emotion does that to reason and logic. I know that from my own life, as we probably all do...
    Easier if he had a twisted foot or something. Then I could see it and remember.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I am not an expert on this. I did have an imaginary friend "Doodle Dandy" when I was three or four and since I didn't have any young friends to play with my family accepted daughter. on the other hand he was just my friend and companion not an "alter ego". I think there may be a difference. Somewhere over my many years of parenting I believe that some psychologists suggest not fostering the concept of two selves. Surely there are varying ideas about this but I do clearly recall reading that going along with the good vs. the bad personality can have negative consequences. I think I would do some research to make sure that the reactions you display are actually in J's best interests. Likely you'll find conflicting opinions. DDD
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your view, DDD. I have (of course!) wondered about this myself. The appearance of Charlie is so infrequent that the question doesn't really arise at the moment... Not quite sure what you meant by "the reactions you display" but I don't really have any other reaction than playing along with it.
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    As I said before I really don't "know" what, if any, reaction is appropriate. Part of me wonders if playing along with it is best. It certainly could be just an imaginary friend stage but it also seems possible that by acknowledging the good/bad sides of one child could lead to identity issues. GFGmom, for example, would deny doing something naughty and say "I didn't do it...the naughty part of me did." At the time I found it rather amusing. Subsequently her psychiatrist suggested that I only respond with some simple response like "all children and adults make poor choices sometime but growing up means trying to make the right choices". That's the closest I got to the circumstances you are describing during my parenting of young children. Frankly I never thought of it as possibly sending a wrong signal but, sigh, I did as was suggested and she soon stopped using that methodology. Just something to think about. DDD
  10. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hmmm, I think this is probably right. I think it is probably unwise to make a habit of "splitting off" the negative side of a person into another little boy altogether - so that it is not J's responsibility. When he was talking at lunchtime, as Charlie, about some of the naughty things that J did, at one point I started talking to him as J, saying that he had done those things. And he got quite upset, insisting that he was Charlie and the naughty things were nothing to do with him. As in general he has a problem with accepting blame and responsibility, I think... it's perhaps something best left alone, as you say.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Also worth bringing up to therapist/psychiatrist... just as an "interesting" item. They might have some thoughts on it, too.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Interesting and potentially useful, for you to observe, and or his own use, as a tool. If only we could all see ourselves so clearly ...

    My dad had a "friend" up until his teens. My daughter had an invisible friend, which she shared with-difficult child. But they weren't part of their own personalities. They were separate entities. Once I sat on the friend and both kids screamed so loudly, I actually looked to see of there was anything there!
    I know I've told them a million times that I have eyes in the back of my head, but eyes in my butt? Could have been useful ...