Not sure what to do next...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by 24/7/365, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. 24/7/365

    24/7/365 Guest

    Hi! I'm new and so relieved to find this forum.

    I have a 4 year old son who is just a mess! His issues....

    Aggressive (unprovoked) with children and adults
    Attention seeking

    He is also VERY intelligent (early reader, advanced vocab./speech, math skills, deductive reasoning), very cute and very charming (which is probably why he's made it this far!)

    I feel that all of his issues are attention seeking and impulse control issues. The aggression is one of the biggest issues. He cannot keep his hands to himself. He also invades personal space. We have tried all kinds of rewards and discipline techniques with him. Nothing affects him. He knows right from wrong. He can tell you "the rules" but it's like they don't apply to him. Like he doesn't get it. Nothing penetrates. He also doesn't get that kids aren't going to like him if he's hurtful. I tell him and he says, "My friends like me. They love to play with me." Even with all the aggressive things he does we don't feel like he's doing it to hurt.

    We initially took him to his Pediatrician. She recommended a Child Psychiatrist. We couldn't find one that was taking new patients or that saw children so young. I finally found one on my own (45 miles away). He met with us, asked us about our son and began to discuss his front of our son! I didn't like that. We walked out after 30 minutes with a book to read and a script for Risperdal. We weren't super excited about putting him on medications but were willing to try pretty much anything. Started at .25 mg. No change after 2 weeks. Doctor had us increase to .50mg. 2.5 weeks later saw doctor and reported no change in issues. He increased dose to 1mg. I was concerned and asked if that was a safe dose for his age. His response: *chuckling* "No, this is all a plot to hurt your son." OK. Done with him. We are now weaning him off of the Risperdal.

    Next, I looked for a Child Psychologist. I wanted someone who specialized in behavioral issues and play therapy. I found a doctor who does that. She also has a 4 year old son! She doesn't accept our insurance but we're just going to deal with it. She asked me to come to the first appointment alone so we could discuss my son. I liked that. Unfortunately, my husband wasn't able to come to the appointment. After a lengthy appointment she sent me home with some tools. Ignore bad behavior. Discipline if necessary but void of emotion or attention. Spend 30 minutes a day of one on one time doing a stimulating activity. 30 minutes of physical activity. We're trying all of this now. So far (it's only been 3 days) his behavior seems to be getting worse.

    We also have a 2 year old daughter. She is a typical 2 year old. Our son LOVES her so much but cannot keep his hands off of her. Even if it's hugging, it's just too much and unwanted by her. He has nudged her down the stairs more than once and I try my best to NEVER leave them unattended.

    I just don't know what to do next. I go back and forth thinking he has something wrong with him mentally and needs medication or that it's all behavioral and he just needs some training. I'm looking for some advice/opinions or shared experiences of anyone that has dealt with similar issues. We are willing to do/try anything. We just want him to be happy. We want to be able to take him to birthday parties and play dates. (Instead of keeping him away with the fear that he will hurt someone or melt down).

    Thanks for taking the time to read...
  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi Beth! Welcome to the's a great group with a LOT of experience...someone will have some ideas!

    I would recommend that you look into a neuropsychologist evaluation. These are usually available in a teaching or children's hospital. Now don't be surprised if they say 8 weeks or'll be 8 weeks later either way, so you may as well have an appointment. Ask if they keep a cancellation list so that if they have someone cancel, they'll know that you're willing to grab him and go if they have an opening. A neuropsychologist will do a lot of testing over a few different days (kids get tired or bored) and then they'll be able to give you an idea as to what's going on.

    Pick up the book "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Not a tough read (not boring either), but it will give you some insight as to how your son's mind may be wired.

    Have you ever noticed any type of sensory issues? Over sensitive to certain smells, sounds, food consistancies, itchy tags in clothes, fabrics etc?

    Again, I'd like to welocme you to the crowd! Post often and read a lot!

    (also) Beth :hangin:
  3. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Give him more time to get off the medication before deciding the behavioral therapy is or isn't working. That can be some nasty stuff if they don't react to it well - it landed my kid in the psychiatric hospital because it wasn't the right medication for her, and she was worse coming off it than she was on it (which was terrible in and of itself!). And I concur totally with Nvts on the other suggestions. Sounds like a number of the therapists ideas are from Greene's book as to how to handle bad behavior, and the book itself will explain it even better.
  4. 24/7/365

    24/7/365 Guest

    Thank you for your replies. It's so comforting to know that there are other parents out there struggling like we are. (Not that I would wish this on anyone).

    Has anyone tried enrolling their child in Martial Arts? The new therapist I spoke with suggested it. Seems odd to me to send a child that is overly aggressive to learn how to punch better! :) She said they are very regimented and teach respect and discipline. I can just see my guy in there doing his own thing or "karate chopping" another student, being "punished" and not caring. That's his M.O.
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I considered it for a while, simply because I thought she needed her bottom handed to her on a regular basis by someone her own size! However, she is a wuss about pain now (unlike when she was little), and I can also see her doing the same thing you described. A lot of Y's have classes for kids, I thought about it but their days didn't fit ours.
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Karate was a lifesaver for Miss KT! She was 7 when she started, and though we had several bouts of "I don't wanna," the rule I had in place was that she could try any lessons, but had to continue for at least six months to "have enough information to make an informed decision." My management training comes out all over the place...sorry. Anyway, she continued until she started high school (when marching band took up all her time), and earned her black belt. She's now thinking of starting again.

    The discipline was good for her, it was physical outlet for my hyper child, and it was something she could excel at, and that was definitely something she needed. Before you start lessons, I would talk to various senseis and find out what their theories are on training. Some are just into the fighting aspect, and that probably isn't what you want the main focus to be.
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi and welcome to our forum. I'm sorry you had to find us but glad you made your way here because I think you'll find a lot of been there, done that moms.

    Can you tell us more about what you're seeing in terms of early reading and math skills? Precocious reading is called Hyperlexia, and can have a close kinship to Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The highest functioning form is called Asperger's Syndrome and is often missed in little ones by the specialists, especially if it presents in an atypical way in the child. Some other things that you've mentioned (invading personal space, rules not pertaining to him, etc) also would fit with this.

    I also would encourage you to go further with testing, specifically with a pediatric neuropsychologist, developmental pediatrician, or Autism Clinic if you feel there are enough signs for it to be a possibility.
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    You've said a couple of things in your posts that sound a lot like my own difficult child...

    You said that "Our son LOVES her so much but cannot keep his hands off of her. Even if it's hugging, it's just too much and unwanted by her. He has nudged her down the stairs more than once "....this is a BIG Uh-oh for me! My difficult child, too, used to make a big show of "loving" her little brother and other smaller children. It took me a while to catch on, but it turned out that when she was doing something that looked caring (like a hug) - she was actually deliverately hurting the other child. For example, she might give a hug - with a nice hard pinch added. If your child is nudging his sister down the stairs....that does not sound loving to me. Take a closer look at those hugs and see whether they really are "hugs" or not.

    Second, it's been recommended to you to enroll your child in martial arts - the theory is that aggressive children will find this a more appropriate outlet for their aggressive behaviors. We tried this route. We soon discovered that difficult child was completely un-motivated in class...but took every opportunity to practice her new found skills on kids at school.

    in my humble opinion - I do not think you should be giving your child any more "tools" to hurt other kids.

    I'm so sorry you are dealing with this - it's so hard to see our children being mean and aggressive toward others...
  9. 24/7/365

    24/7/365 Guest

    Thanks for your kind responses. It's so nice to have a sounding board of parents who have had similar experiences.

    SLR- As far as reading and math, I'm not sure it's "super" advanced. He's reading and writing "sight" words (cat, hat, dog, mom, dad) He can write/spell his full name and his sisters. He can sound out words and get a pretty close spelling. Math- I catch him a lot doing math with blocks or other items. If we ask him say, "What's 4 minus 2?" He can use his fingers to give us an answer. His preschool teacher is the one who's said he's "advanced". I have done a little research on Asperger's but didn't feel like he fit the criteria. Maybe I should take another look.

    Daisy- I have never witnessed him giving any kind of punishment along with his hugs/kisses, etc. I think he is genuinely loving her. The hugs, etc just usually last too long or are at a time that she isn't receptive. As far as the martial arts- what you described is exactly what I fear. Should we be teaching him the correct form to deliver a punch? At the same time, if his behavior is attention seeking (as I suspect) maybe having something that is only his and that he is good at and being praised for would be good for him. I think we might try it for a while and see what comes of it. I appreciate your input and agree that it is SO hard when our children are mean and hurtful.

    Beth- No, he doesn't have any sensory issues that I have seen. The boy will eat almost anything. He's never had an issue with sounds or texture.

    A few other things I've noticed lately:

    He will not leave our dog alone! He is not hurtful to him but he just can't seem to leave him be. He constantly pets him and tries to play with him. The poor dog can't ever get a nice rest. He's snapped at him a few times and even "bit" him and my son just doesn't learn.

    Another thing is saying, "I love you, Mama" ALL. DAY. LONG. Don't get me wrong, I love to hear it...once, maybe twice a day. But all day? Ugh. It's so hard because he'll do it say, in a waiting room and other people will ooooh and awwwww at how sweet he is. I probably look like a monster when I don't even acknowledge him.

    My newest question (and I'm planning on asking the psychologist at our next appointment) is- Should we take him out of preschool? He seems to have the most issues there. His teacher works with us as much as she can. She has 11 other children to consider though. She can only do so much. If I am right and his behavior is mostly attention seeking and impulse control, I wonder if being in a more controlled environment (at home with me) would serve him better for now. His teacher can't stop the other kids from reacting to him. She can't necessarily ignore his bad behaviors the way we do at home. He has gone to daycare/preschool since he was 10 weeks old, I hate to take him out but I'm wondering if for now, it would be the right thing to do. (My 2 year old would still go 2 mornings a week).

    Thank you all again for your insight.
  10. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Beth! I think you might want to take a look at the Autistic Spectrum info that SRL was suggesting.

    See, I've got an Aspie that was exactly like your son. I mean almost to the letter. Many of the issues that you're describing fit him to a T. I'll call it the "over-zealous" hugging, the grabbing on to the dog, the 10,000 "I love yous" thoughout the day. The "bull in a china shop" way. The controling play. All of it. Believe it or not, it turned out that there were a lot of sensory issues involved, anxiety (that could be what's fueling his fire as well - it quite often presents as anger in children), plain old anger, etc.

    Everyday Aspergers write ups show up with "little professors". They seem quirky like the nerds in school when we were younger. Socially inappropriate. You've read it so you know what I mean. Then there are the Asperger kids that have you end up checking in here! It's like nothing sinks in. Like they've got to experience it to believe you. Very frustrating indeed.

    I would also check out NonVerbal Learning Disorder also. It could be (NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD)) something that you wouldn't have thought of because he's bright, but it traditionally becomes more obvious when the reach school age.

    Pull him out of preschool? I don't know...if he's on the spectrum, the sooner he's with other kids, the more social skills he'll witness.

    My eyes are drooping (it's been a heck of a month today!) so I'm going to go. Keep your chin up! We all understand!

  11. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Repeatedly. Over an extended period.