What could be wrong with my 3 year old, please help?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by andreaf79, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. andreaf79

    andreaf79 New Member

    I don't know where to go now with my 3.5 year old. He has always been very strong willed but I am wondering if it is more than this now. He was the perfect baby, very content but alway really into everything and really advanced. Once he got to a toddler he got the terible two's but really extreme. He seemed to be getting better from this but recently his behaviour has got so extreme. He will be good as gold one minute then I can see the switch, it's like something just goes and he become an awful child, doing anything he can to get in trouble. He will push people over, throw things about, rip things, anything he can think of and the worst thing is it all done with a smirk and when you try to discipline him he will just laugh. Some time he will cry but then crack up laughing a few seconds later. The more he is in trouble the better he likes it. I just don't know why he would want to be in this situation. I've got to the point where I feel like he could give me a breakdown, I just don't know how to stop this. I've tried really praising his good behavior, ignoring bad behaviour, time outs, reward charts and now I've got to the point whare I am constatntly shouting and I've never wanted to be that kind of mum. I try to give him as much attention as I can and we have loads of trips out, I know it sounds like attention seeking but I really do believe I give him plenty.
    He is very intelligent he knew colours and shapes as he turned 2 and now recognises numbers 1-20 and his ABC and he can be really quite devious when he wants to be. Other things that have concerned me are he copies other children, I know this is normal but he does it a lot and doesn't seem to realise he will start annoying the other child getting really in their face. He will also just completely ignore people sometimes, it's like speaking to a brick wall and I know this is a sympton of Autism. The thing is he can be so good and so many people say he seems like he's well behaved it's like he can just turn it on. His nursery teacher has also said she has concerns about him too but wouldn't go any further than that and tell me what she think it may be. She has said give it a few more months and see how he goes.
    Any suggestions would be great as i really need to try to get our family back on track, I have a 1 year old too and don't want his behaviour to start rubbing off on him.
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi andrea and welcome to the forum.
    First of all, I have to say that I would not attempt to give any kind of diagnosis about what is going on with your boy. Three and a half... honestly, the night is young :) At the same time, I do also believe (and have experienced) that the kind of traits, personality and problems that children have when tiny essentially remain the same. The things I said about my son when he was a year old hold true now. So I'm not saying "Oh, he'll grow out of it" or anything like that. But no-one here can say at a distance what is going on and you would need to have evaluations done - I believe that these can happen as young as 3 in the States. He sounds spirited, that is for sure, and is clearly very bright. Sounds oppositional and as if he enjoys the energy of antagonism and drama, if I can put it like that. But why...??
    Are there any issues that you have not referred to in your post? Sounds like he is clearly your biological child, right?
    Others with more knowledge and experience than I will add their views :)
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.

    My first question is where do you live? Various countries tend to diagnose certain disorders in different ways in spite of the DSM. Secondly, no way Jose would I trust a nursery school teacher or any educator to even guess at a diagnosis. They are trained to teach, not to diagnose and they are not usually very good at it. Thirdly, in spite of his young age (I've had five kids pass that age), he does not act like a typical three year old does and I think you're smart to be concerned. also, I think it is also smart to think about possible ASpergers (which is very high functioning autism...these kids are bright and often memorize very impressive stuff early).

    However, what you really need is an assessment because the earlier you get help, the easier it is to change behavior and to help the child (and yourself).

    But first...what country do you live in? We have people from various countries here and they would know best where you should start.

    Also, I love Malika, but I disagree that kids usually outgrow problematic behaviors. From my experiences, both having a lot of kids and working with them, their problems tend to get worse without intervention. My motto is "better to be safe than sorry!"

    Welcome to the board :) and hope you stay a while.
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Please read me again, MWM. We agree! :)
  5. andreaf79

    andreaf79 New Member

    Yes he is my biological child, no other issues I can think of. I would be sure he had something wrong but then when he is being good he is so good. He will help with chores, he loves to help with the washing, cooking, hovering everything, loves to read books and plays games really well but then it's like another child has invaded his body. Thing is the bad behaved child is there so much now we seem to be losing the well behaved boy altogether. I will talk to him after he has calmed down and he knows the difference between right and wrong but he just doesn't care.
  6. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Is there any chance he was abused?
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

  8. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I would start looking for a develomental pediatrician, neuro-psychiatric, Occupational Therapist (OT) and Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and get some evaluation. Depending on where you live, your insurance and otherfactors you might find easier to see one of those specialist first and others will have a long waiting list. But at the end, I would suggest you see all those specialists if possible. Talk to your regular pediatrician and be sure to be heard. I am lucky to have a good general pediatrician and she is the key to most of the referral, she is always sure sure to word thing in a way that the insurance won't refuse services. The ultimate goal: identify specific issues and get services to help your son improve.
    At such a young age, it might be a bit difficult to have an exact diagnosis (unless it is a big and clear diagnosis), but he might have lacking skills in his gross motor, fine motor, speech, expressing feeling, etc... Those are things that can be worked on.
    Welcome and hang in there. As you walk this road, you'll gain knowledge and acquire tools to help your son.
    My son "is not growing out of it", but we are all learning to cope with his difference. Yes, it is hard and I too become this yelling monster that I hate... I'm still working on keeping my cool in the middle of the storm. But I know I get a bit better over time.
    I'm sure more will come and give you some advice.
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just adding in my welcome. Others have given you good ideas. Glad you found us as you will find much support-you are not alone!
  10. HMBgal

    HMBgal Active Member

    Gosh Andrea (my name is Andrea, too), I feel like I know your child. This was my grandson to a T! He's 5, about to turn 6 now and by the time he hit kindergarten, he had been invited to leave every playground, playgroup, nursery school, then suspended 11 times from kindergarten by October, and he had only started at the end of August 2011! Your child is young, but it sounds like a little more than "terrible twos" or the "terrifying threes." We got the speech evaluation, lots of pediatrician input, stuff from teachers, psychologists, testing for sensory disorders, academic testing, etc. etc. etc. etc. Like your boy, my grandson was an early walker, talker, reader, and when they put him in a k-1 class, he was working at the end of grade one curriculum in January, even though he had been suspended so many days and wasn't allowed at school more than 90 minutes a day.

    My grandson seemed remorseless at times very remorseful at others, hell-bent on getting his own way, regardless. Epic meltdowns, horrible language, throwing stuff. hitting his baby sister and full grown big guys like his father and my husband, and sneaky, too. And forget about babyproofing when he was little. He would outwit any system and when you would tell him to stop, it was like he was deaf. Rewards wouldn't work, they added to his rages. We started reading The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, and that helped us turn the corner. It is for slightly older kids with the ability to understand, communicate a little bit, etc., but even so, it's a great parenting book for any child and can help get you out of that loop of chaos.

    Our solutions may not be what works for your child, but we jumped on it perhaps a little later than we should have, which would have saved us so much pain and anguish, but I can tell you that with facilitated play groups, a one-on-one helper during the school hours, and yes, stimulants, he's a different child. How much of it was natural growth and maturity or the interventions or the combination of the two, we'll never know, but keep after it. Trial and error is sometimes necessary, but with love, patience, determination, pushing other people off the dime to get the help you need, good advice like you'll find here (and my advice here is worth exactly what you're paying for it, but commiseration from people who have been there can be beyond priceless, in my opinion), things will get better. Then they may get a little worse, then a little better again...My grandson is not going to be an easy child to raise, but that little boy has a lot to offer, and we are all just trying to help him get there. Hugs.
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board Andrea. :hugs:

    You said you've tired all sorts of things from rewards to various types of consequences. So.....I'm not criticizing, just trying to get a better picture of the situation.....can you say that rules are clear and consequences for not following rules consistent? (and yes I mean even if he stands there and laughs at you or whatever else he does) I'm not saying trying something new if something isn't working is wrong, but if you're changing the rules (or letting them slide out of exasperation) or the consequences for not following the rules too often.......that alone is going to cause some major issues. Children need consistency, even if it appears it is not working......actually then more than ever.

    Travis was the king of trouble between the ages of 1-8 yrs. His 2nd year he spend as much if not more time sitting in time out as he did doing other things. He was stubborn, and he was autistic and it just didn't "click" for him like it does other kids, so over and over and over again we went........and yes I had to take great pains to never raise my voice and to be certain to praise good behavior whenever I saw it.

    A strict routine can also help a ton. I'm not talking time strict, but order strict. Like: get up, get dressed, make bed (if he does), eat breakfast..... Doing things in the same order each day gives a child a sense of security.

    I recommend a good evaluation for him by a neuropsychologist. But......due to the rapid change in his behavior from easy going baby to what you're now dealing with.......I also have to ask if there is the remote chance he has been abused by someone? I'm not saying he has........but such behavior issues are usually seen a little even during babyhood, although in different ways.

    But at 3.5 yrs of age.........it could very well not be a disorder at all and instead it's a battle of wills. One I just went through a few months back with my grandson who is close to the same age. His parents rules/discipline are no where near as consistent as Nana's rules and dicipline. He was a holy terror, and honestly if it weren't for the fact that he is my grandchild and I love him, I'd have stopped watching him it was so bad. Instead, I out stubborned him. I didn't lose my temper, I refused to raise my voice. Rules didn't change, nor did the consequences. It took many months, and he still tests me occasionally, but he is no longer a holy terror....but a sweet lil guy who minds his Nana.

    Your son also reminds me of my granddaughter at the same age who was also too smart for her own good.......and didn't have consistent rules/discipline. Not that her parents were trying to let her run wild, but there were two different sets of parenting methods going on which basically had little or nothing to do with each other .......which resulted in a very confused child who couldn't figure out what the rules were or what the punishment was supposed to be. Within the last year they've been getting more on the same page.......Dad is still lagging behind determined he can reason with a 6 yr old in full melt down because he's actually goaded her into it......but she's MUCH better......and daughter is trying to reign in her husband before she has to take all disciplining privileges away from him to keep things consistent.

    At this age it can simply be your overly bright child has tested / is testing the limits to see what your reaction will be........and since it's getting him a response (you're upset and changing tactics) the behavior is not stopping. An early form of manipulation that gets reinforced accidentally by the parents. Or it can be an actual disorder going on........but odds are you're not going to get a really accurate diagnosis at his age. (the older he is, the more accurate it will be) Yet early intervention of the behaviors is best. So an evaluation won't hurt either way.

    Sitting down and actually writing out the house rules for your son (this is for you, not really him at this age), and writing out what the consequence for each will be......let's it be an automatic unemotional response when he breaks one of the rules. If you have a stubborn/willful child......it may take a long time doing it over and over again before you see a behavior start to go away, and even then......he will probably test you from time to time. Praise is good, but don't over do it, make sure it's deserved praise when you give it......and you don't have to be all gushy with it. So many parents go so far over board with this it gags me (I've even seen kids roll their eyes LOL )

    If a method of consequence doesn't work after a good period of time, try something new (often you may have to think outside the box). Time Out is good, but it has to be used properly. I've seen parents use TIme Out.....and it's useless because the child is sitting on the chair or whatever screaming their head off, trying to escape the chair, or sitting there playing or talking back or whatever....... Time Out with me is the child sits where I put them for a specific amount of time (and no I don't use that minute per age junk, usually it's about 3-5 mins under age 4 and 5-10 min for 4 to about age 6, 6 and up it's 15 mins), time out does not start until that child is sitting still and quiet, and I don't care if that takes 45 mins. And I will tell them in a calm voice it does not start until they sit still and are quiet....several times at regular intervals if necessary. I don't argue with them. I don't explain why their sitting there. I don't engage them at all, except to remind them the rules of time out. Once time out is over, then I explain what they did wrong. And yeah, with stubborn grandson......there was more than once he went over 30 mins just to start his Time Out session. But he got the idea. But I have a lot of parents tell me time out doesn't work.......but yeah. Nor did I use time out for everything either.....because it wears out after a while with over use. At 2 Travis drew on the walls with his sister easy child who was 4.......no time out, instead they were given cleaner and had to scrub the walls.......which was not fun after about the first minute or so. Fighting over a toy, the toy was removed from the situation and not introduced back until several hours later. A tantrum over something was a sure fire way to make certain you didn't get whatever it was you wanted. Grandson Darrin (8) has discovered that arguing over bedtime gets one put to bed a half hour earlier and conning a little brother to ask for a treat or to get to do something means you don't get it.

    But I'll be honest with you, reward charts didn't even work on my easy child. I think the person who thought those up was childless.

  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Without knowing more about the situation... and it would help to know more (country? are you a stay at home mom or do you work and therefore this child is in daycare? if in daycare, from what age?)...

    My first reaction is... start getting evaluations.
    Depending on where you live, neuropsychs may not be available (i.e., we don't have access to them for these kinds of evaluations, where I live). But if you are in North America, there WILL be some way to get a comprehensive evaluation. Sometimes that is done through a child developmental or behavioral clinic at a teaching hospital. Sometimes, it is done by a PhD-level psychologist, there are other options as well.
    But as not every "comprehensive" evaluation is truely comprehensive... you could also look into an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation for sensory and motor skills issues. Either can cause lots of "triggers". Motor skills problems may NOT have been noticed during baby and toddler check-ups. For example, my difficult child was on the later side of every motor skills check-point (sitting, walking, self-feeding, etc.) but NEVER "late", and so the doctors all saw it as a non-issue. Occupational Therapist (OT) saw otherwise!

    The advantage of an evaluation like Occupational Therapist (OT) is that they are usually faster and easier to get in to see (at least in North America), and they have therapies etc. that are helpful for sensory and/or motor skills issues. Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation usually does not give you a diagnosis, except perhaps for sensory integration disorder. But if there are no sensory or motor skills issues, then you can look elsewhere... or, if there are, you can start dealing with these while still seeking a comprehensive evaluation.

    We're all just "other parents" here, and writing from our own experience... but I'm sure you'll find that our "collecive wisdom" can be pretty broad!