4 year old wearing me out... advice needed!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Mimibear, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. Mimibear

    Mimibear New Member

    Hello I am new to this forum and so excited to finally find some support from people who have been in my shoes. I have a four year old little boy who I truly love with all my heart. He has always been a more challenging child, which I realize now that I have a two year old girl who has been so easy. Up until recently the issues i had with him were tiring but manageable. But within the past six months he has become increasingly aggressive with me and my husband, and occasionally his little sis. But my worst nightmare came true when he hit a sitter the other night and repeatedly told her he hates her. It has happened twice now with two different sitters. Whenever something doesn't go as my little guy has planned, he seems to go in to a quiet rage. He seems calm and calculated and will just walk across the room to begin atcking me by any means possible... Scratching, biting, punching, pulling my hair. I try to stay very calm with him and put him in his room until he is ready to come out, but I am literally getting exhausted from trying to stay calm and I feel like I am on eggshells all day long. Some additional info... He so far has not become violent to peers or anyone at preschool, but usually is quiet and well behaved. From my observations he just keeps to himself but will tolerate other children as needed. At home he is negative and seems to dislike/dread things kids usually , like going to the zoo, having play dates, dressing up for Halloween etc. He has been diagnosed with anxiety and our psychologist does not believe he is on the spectrum or has ODD. Just thinks he is an intense child with some immature coping skills. My biggest fear is his aggression is getting worse before it is getting better, by a long shot. I am so worried I will end up with a very defiant/ aggressive adolescent and adult. Oh and one more thing that makes him extra difficult to handle... He does not respond to any type of reinforcement ("bribing") or punishment ("threatening"). He will not be manipulated. If i threaten to take a toy, he will gladly throw it at me for the taking. He has always been this way. Does anyone have strategies to use for this type of strong-willed child, or an experience which will give me insight to his future that I so worry about?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. Sorry you have to be here, but welcome.

    I disagree with your psychologist. I think you should take him for an overall evaluation. I like neuropsychologists because they test in all areas. He does have spectrum symptoms as well as symptoms of other disorders.

    I would like you to know that It's NOT your fault...your son was born differently wired and will require a different type of parenting. YOu do need to try to figure out what is going on with him. This psychologist sounds VERY unhelpful. Has he done any testing? Personally, I would drop him.

    Questions about your son that can help us: How did he behave as an infant and toddler? Did he cry a lot? Like to cuddle? Make eye contact? Speak on time? Reach his other milestones on time? Play appropriately with toys or does he take them apart, ignore them, break them or line them up? What is the home situation? Did he have a chaotic infancy/toddlerhood? Are there any psychiatric or neurological disorders on either side of his GENETIC family tree? This includes biological dad, even if he never raised his son. He still deposited 50% of his DNA in the child so his family figures into your son's behavior. Many things are inherited. How was your pregnancy?
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Ditto MWM.
    There are some interesting flags in what you have already posted...
    - he doesn't really connect with other kids
    - doesn't like things other kids like - zoo, halloween, etc. - any idea WHY? This could be sensory, for example, or a noise issue, or...
    - doesn't respond well to punishment or reward

    Comprehensive evaluation is the best route.
    While you are waiting, see if you can get an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation for sensory and motor skills issues.
    The Occupational Therapist (OT) report will be useful to other evaluators - and the Occupational Therapist (OT) has therapies, interventions and accommodations that help these issues.
  4. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    What concerns me is the lack of connection that you are describing- that he doesn't enjoy much "kid stuff," doesn't display emotion when he's being aggressive, doesn't seem interested in other kids, and doesn't seem at all motivated by reward/consequence (although my son didn't seem too concerned with rewards and consequences at that age).

    My son was so hard at four. He was highly aggressive with us (parents), defiant, destructive (he would tear his room apart if I tried to make him stay in it), he said mean things, was mischievous, and was defiant (although not aggressive) at preschool. He was angel with babysitters because he had their undivided attention and playtime. I took him to a counselor because his preschool had a hard time managing him, and recommended counseling.

    Fast forward to six and kindergarten- he is not an angel, but is maturing into an awesome kid. What worked:

    1) calm, consistent responses to his unacceptable behaviors- this was hard because my son liked to "up the ante" screaming would become throwing would become hitting would become biting and so on. What other parents might consider a tantrum was just a warm up for my guy:)
    2) a major focus on his "triggers" by journaling his behaviors
    3) a major focus on his coping skills once we understood what was setting him off- some adjustment to our parenting to support his individual challenges
    4) keeping him occupied or being sure that he was occupied when we couldn't be watching over him
    5) logical or natural consequences where appropriate
    6) a good counselor who used play therapy to help with defiance

    What didn't work:
    1) punitive, authoritarian discipline
    2) permissive parenting- when my son became aggressive, I used only the amount of restraint necessary to stop it immediately. Usually a gentle as possible bear hug to keep him from hitting, biting, head butting. I would whisper calmly as i held him that I allow no one, no exceptions, to hit me- and I would let go only when he's ready to stop being aggressive.
    3) punishing him when he was angry- plenty of time for that when he's calm
    4) forcing time outs when he was in a rage (resulted in major power struggles)
    5) walking on eggshells- he wanted that:)
    6) sticker charts (although they work well for him in the classroom if everyone has one)

    Coincidentally (or not) my son has some anxiety problems that are slowly becoming apparent. It contributes to meltdowns, obsessive thought patterns, and a controlling nature. A trained counselor should be involved if you suspect an axiety problem. He's also academically advanced which makes him a delight now, and a holy terror when he was your son's age. My son does show some signs of mild ADD which is manageable right now- we don't overload him with multiple instructions and are working with him on techniques for transitioning, scheduling etc.
  5. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    I wanted to follow up by saying that I was where you are- worried. I felt bombarded by my son's behavior and scared of what it might mean. Working with a specialist now and taking it slowly may help. My son's issues weren't apparent until he was nearly six, and it's still a moving target. Ross Greene's awesome books and encourage parents to deal with the behavior and triggers- he doesn't undervalue accurate diagnoses, but ultimately, it's the kid's behavior that must change. Focusing on that was empowering to me- it helped me in the "here and now" and it helped my son.
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Angela... your son has anxiety problems? and 'maybe' ADD? I'd be checking on APDs in the next year or so. Things like "auditory figure ground" and "auditory discrimination" have a huge impact on how a kid handles a "classroom" with all it's background noise. The anxiety may be purely secondary. And Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) can "look like" ADD... or both can exist together. Testing usually isn't done before age 6 or 7, because of the complexity of the testing.
  7. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    I hear you- we considered auditory issues as a possible source of his seeming defiance. Honestly, I suspect mild ADD combined with anxiety. You're correct, he could have an accompanying auditory issue and we did bring it up as a possibility with his counselor. She thought that it would have presented as a speech issue, but I'm not so sure. I used to hate the classroom- I could never concentrate and take it in, and just taught myself out of the textbooks. Hmm...I'll take your advice to heart and explore it further with his teacher.
  8. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi. Im at therapy with my son so not much time, sorry. But wanted to assure you there does not need to be a speech issue for auditory processing disorders. That's common for hearing problems. Auditory Processing Disorders (APD)'S can occur with normal hearing. The brain though has trouble with some aspect of interpreting the sounds. ....

    This is a good example of why well intentioned professionals should not give opinions outside of their areas of expertise. To help see if your child has more going on, I'd agree that a neuropsychologist (not a general or clinical psychologist) would be the best choice for helping to sort this out. Bring results of a speech/language evaluation and Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation with you and they can really pull all the results together for you.

    Good luck.
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Don't explore Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) with the teacher. Try... a good Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) (Buddy, you available? lol). Somebody who is trained to screen for ALL the APDs. Teachers... do not have a clue about these (unless they happen to have a child of their own who has it)
  10. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    Feel like I hijacked the original post. I appreciate the input about an auditory issue and will take the advice seriously.
    Mimibear, I would say don't underestimate the behaviors that can be caused by an anxiety issue. My boy has anxiety and a close friend's teen daughter has it too. The associated behaviors and emotions can be quite serious, and may not always look like anxiety (it can come across as defiance, inflexibility, or rage when the root is anxiety). My son does have some areas where we are concerned about possible Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and believe me it has caused huge meltdowns. Anxiety is one area where it helps *a lot* to build those coping skills early and get intervention.
  11. Mimibear

    Mimibear New Member

    y that everyone is recommending an SLPeval, because I am an Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)! So I have the training to know for certainit is not Auditory Processing Disorders (APD). My little guy has always had amazing auditorycomprehension abilities. Someone mentioned that we need to get rid ofour psychiatric, but he has actually been heaven-sent. He is the directorat a local children's facility and has been in practice for over 30years working only with children and their families. He diagnoses5-10 children per month on the spectrum. He feels strongly fromobservation and our reports that our guy is not on the spectrum,although he recognizes some serious traits which would usually pointto an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis. The difficulty with diagnosing my little man isall the strengths that he has that seem to rule out Autism. As a babyhe was never what I would consider friendly, but he was interactivewith family members, always pointing, babbling, walking and talkingwithin normal limits (or early). Other strengths... he has alwaysbeen affectionate and as a baby was very attached to me. He stillclimbs in my bed every night and snuggles with me and he begs hislittle sis all day for kisses and hugs (even bribing her “I willgive you a chocolate chip if you give me a kiss!) He is creativebeyond any child I have ever seen, he understand irony and laughs andthings I don't even think a child should understand. He is alwaystrying to get information, get my attention to tell me and show methings. And although he prefers to be with adults or older kids, heseems to get along just fine at preschool and his teacher says heinteracts, listens, and participates. His dislike for things kidsusually loves seems to be derived from anxiety. He will even tell mehe doesn't like the zoo because there are too many people. Or thelights are too bright if we go to look at Christmas lights. And hewas totally overwhelmed by chosing and actually wearing a Halloweencostume. I know these seem like autistic traits, but could be anxietytoo. Just like someone mentioned, I really don't care too much abouta diagnosis at this point. Obviously I feel anxious because I hatethe waiting game, but he is young and many great things are happeningin his development. So I have narrowed down my concerns to thisintense and very fleeting physical aggression we are experiencing.His little episodes last maybe 3 minutes. As I mentioned it is weirdbecause he stays quiet and calm but will just come at me. Throwing,biting, pulling my hair, anything he can get his hands on. I alwaysput him in his room and after a few minutes he comes out toapologize. Sometimes this type of energy goes on all day and thetiniest things seem to set him off. Other days, like today, we havenot had one issue. But his complete inability to control these littlemoments is what scares me for his future. Angela, our little guyssound very similar and it brought me peace of mind to hear that yourson is now six and doing better. I think that is mostly why I joinedthis forum... to see if anyone else has had similar problems and howthey have played out.

    Everyone keeps saying things like theyare sorry for me having to join this group. But honestly what I amlearning about my son and many other children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or any otherconduct disorder, is that they are perfect! Differences are what makethis world go round. What if every child was the cookie cutter childthat we sometimes wish we had? Where would our society be? Boring,predictable, and we wouldn't have electricity! :) These children area handful and make day to day life pretty difficult, but they danceto the beat of their own drum and teach us all to be more tolerant.:)
  12. Mimibear

    Mimibear New Member

    Thank you, very helpful info!!!
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Mimibear... didn't mean to step on toes, but just wanted to ask specifically because our very good Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) missed it... "Auditory Figure Ground" is not on all the Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) test sequences. It wasn't even tested for in our part of the continent until 2 or 3 years ago. It has nothing to do with auditory comprehension... auditory figure ground is the ability to pick out and follow a "primary" sound, in the context of background noise. Kids with this problem often do great one-on-one, and much worse in a classroom.

    Part of my post was an aside for Angela - and her 6yo...
    The rest... if it doesn't apply to your difficult child, might apply to a future reader.

  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I have to apologize, I got mixed up as to who posted since I was reading on the mobile app. I was responding to A,
    I think, saying that her psychiatric said to have an Auditory Processing Disorders (APD), one would see speech difficulties. Sorry I got confused.

    When people say sorry you had to come here, it is not saying anything is "less than" in regard to your.child.I think people are just trying to say they feel badly there is any concern out of the typical parenting experience because most here have been thru extraordinary issues and we would, of course, not want any child to have beyond typical challenges. But most of us do feel happy to be here--to learn and have support.

    I.too.am an Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and I admit, for me....not saying its the same for you, that even though I actually worked on an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) assessment team and in an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) early childhood program at the time, I would not agree my son was on the spectrum. I would say autistic-like sometimes. I even argued once he was diagnosis. (By then working in a private autism/developmental child center.)....but I finally saw that the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) teaching methods matched his learning style and we made progress so I wanted more of that for him.
    Not for a second saying that is the story for your son, my son has many issues so .....

    Just saying to be open if things evolve in. a way that you can take advantage of whatever works best for your child's learning style.

    We used counselors, psychs, Occupational Therapist (OT), Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), neurofeedback, boost program, attachment therapy, pt, etc. If you make progress and move forward then stick with whats working. For us the psychiatric/mental health field was most limited in methods and opinions and always came up with typical mental health diagnosis even though they knew he had a brain injury. They treated his anxiety as a separate thing even calling what he would say was "feeling fake" derealization. It turned out to be seizures. I loved and trusted these folks. But I learned a big lesson and was left with much regret.

    If you find you have doubts, concerns, see progress is not being made or other areas need support, trust your gut. I.loved one psychiatric we saw but the little token methods and traditional behavior ideas were causing rages to the point where by the end he just attacked me as soon as we got to her office. Another one just let him scream and I said thanks but this is not working.
    In-home programs have worked best for behavior paired with Occupational Therapist (OT) and Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) in school and private clinics.

    I.learned.for us ...and I encouraged my student's families, to get all the input and therapy they could without overwhelming themselves . I used ongoing yearly neuropsychologist evaluations to help objectively monitor progress and to catch any new issues. The neuropsychologist was much better at marrying and sorting out the relationships between developmental issues, neurological issues, and the anxiety / attachment /trauma issues my son had experienced. How to treat them was guided by what his learning style required.

    Hope that makes sense. You know your son best. We only give ideas based on what weve lived and shared with others here. All based on a few paragraphs so as you share more we can understand where youre coming from better. If something we say doesn't fit just pass on it and realize it came from a good hearted attempt to support you.

    I really am glad you're here. I hope I have the stories straightened out in my head....again sorry I goofed.
  15. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    Mimibear, if it helps, the one thing that is noticeably rare or absent from my son's behavior now is aggression. It began tapering off between 5 1/2 and 6. Overt defiance is also rare- although we do have issues with following instructions that seem to be more of an attention or comprehension problem. He's getting on very well in kindergarten, although his teacher is helping him with his shyness and social skills. I'm saying this because, although there are some differences, I too was seriously worried about my son's anger management and episodes as a preschooler.
    Your guy sounds very bright- some of the traits you describe could be related to or magnified by giftedness. Especially the sensitivity and perfectionism. About 2% of children are gifted and I'm sure many more are very smart. His relationship to you tells me that he seems to be well-attached. It's extremely positive that he shows affection. The auditory section was a tangent as I described my son (a help to me, but not to you:). That anxiety is something to keep a close eye on- anxiety disorders are a hard to understand and deal with effectively without a good specialist.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Your son is exactly like mine was. He was friendly with family...pointed, engaged us, etc. He was smart and on the ball. He had good comprehension of what we were saying to him, but he had poor expressive language which drove him nuts. He had no ability to handle frustration and would break into fits until he got good interventions.

    The dislike of crowd, lights, noise etc. sounds very sensory, which is also a huge red flag for autism, but is a problem in of itself. My son got a lot of PT for that. My son also has a great sense of humor, especially regarding irony and word play. Only in classic autism do kids not have humor. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified is atypical autism. It is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but the kids have lots of normal traits mixed with the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) traits. Aspergers is high functioning autism so the k ids are less impaired, but still lack social skills. Lots of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids prefer adults because adults accept their oddities. My son was very much that way. Your son does not interact with k ids his age. That is another red flag. Now...

    Even if he isn't on the spectrum, he is enough like a spectrum kid that he would probably benefit from Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) interventions. Sounds like he isn't getting much other than maybe behavioral therapy and I'm betting the farm that this won't work. Having said that....

    I still think he needs to be evaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). There is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified...atypical autism and even many PhD psychologists are not in the loop about it. I think he could very well be a spectrum kid, although at first my son had a ton of misdiagnoses. The idea that your son is immature with poor coping skills is not a diagnosis and does not explain why he is that way. Also, I've raised five kids to maturity and my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son was the only one who through fits. It is not a rite of normal passage for kids to act the way yours is, even if the child is immature.

    Not trying to tell you what's wrong, but still think your psychologist is not very well informed. We had to travel quite a distance for a neuropsychologist, but in my opinion it was worth it. I'd be surprised if these problems went away with interventions, which requires a diagnosis.

    It is hard for us to diagnose our own kids. I'd take him to another SLT. Again JMO.

    I don't believe changing your parenting will change HIM. It may lead to less problems at home, but there will probably continue to be problems, bigger ones, as he progresses in school, if there is no help in place now.

    Anyhow, wishing you both luck :)
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  17. Mimibear

    Mimibear New Member

    Thank you all so much. I did not feel like any toes were being stepped on! :) I just wanted to provide more info to get more details from you all. Midwest Mom, our sons sound identical. Do you mind if I ask how old he is and what specific traits resulted in a diagnosis? Part of me is so nervous to get a diagnosis, and part of me knows it needs to happen. But my guy is only four and I feel like maybe waiting a year or two for a comprehensive neuropsychologist evaluation would be best? He just seems so young. I would love more info on the things you have gone through with him, good, bad and ugly. How do I go about finding a good neuropsychologist for children? Thank you so much for all the info you guys. This helps me a ton.
  18. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    Mimibear, glad it helped. My brother (in his 40s) has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnosis. Several of the men in my family are "quirkish" meaning Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) traits with a lot of normal mixed in. Having lived with my brother, I recognize a few traits in my son too, particularly the obsessiveness and anxiety. I bought a book that we love called "The Social Skills Picture Book: Teaching Play, Emotion, and Communication to Children with Autism." It's great because it has pictures and some of the classroom ideas can be adapted to younger kids. There is a chapter devoted to emotional responses, joining in play, etc. I've actually caught my son reading it on his own:) Any kid, autism or not, could benefit from this book (my opinion). Some testing, even at four, could provide some insights. My son took a standardized kindergarten entry test for his private school- he scored in the 4th percentile on an early literacy comprehension (all verbal instructions) even though he knew how to read, and above the 99th percentile in math. It was insightful into how his brain works.
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Mimi, I heard "he's not on the spectrum" until elevin years old, but in my heart I didn't believe it. I don't know if your son does these things (all Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids are different) but mine would also rock to comfort hmself and hit himself if he got VERY frustrated, which was scary. Aside from that, a ton of therapists, psychologists, and even a multi-disciplanary group of professionals, which included a psychologist, Occupational Therapist (OT), PT and a few others all refused to admit he was on the spectrum. Since I thought he could use spectrum interventions, I fought with the school anyway to give him PT, Occupational Therapist (OT) and social skills, which he desperately needed. He also needed a quiet place to learn...too many kids distracted him. He went through a very scary bipolar diagnosis which was dead wrong (he has always usually been very mellow, not moody at all, just frustrated as a toddler to about six only at certain times). They put him on tons and tons of medication that just made him either lethargic or overweight or worse. But I bought the bipolar diagnosis for a few years. Then I took my son to a group of people who actually had bipolar kids. The bipolar kids were far more social than him. He kept to himself and one of the mothers asked, "Are you SURE he's bipolar and not on the spectrum?" He was 11.

    That did it. I took him to see a neuropsychologist. This was against the advice was our psychiatrist who was sure he was bipolar, but we didn't see enough improvement so we did it anyway. We had ten HOURS of intensive testing of our kid. The neuropsychologist had worked for ten years at Mayo Clinic and then moved to Wisconsin. He was top notch and told us he felt it was Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified/high functioning autism. We weaned son off all his heavy duty medications and started him in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) interventions and it was all uphill from there. It was like we finally got it, but all those years of doctors saying.."He's too social" "His eye contact is too good" "he is this, he is that" deprived my son of us understanding him better in the early years. I couldn't trust any professiolnal, after what we've been through, that would say, with absolutism, that he KNOWS what a four year old has or doesn't have. Four is young. Nobody knows.

    Right now I would push for interventions that you feel may help him, but you may need another psychologist to help you get him into an early education program. The 3 year old and up early education program is very helpful, even if the child is bright. The classes are small, but they try hard to teach the kids how to socialize or play with the children who are there. They also provide Occupational Therapist (OT) and PT and SLT as needed.

    Perhaps a regular preschool is too "busy" for him. At his age, my best suggestion is to get him interventions. I would seriously n Occupational Therapist (OT) deal with any therapist who is behavioral in nature. Your child is wired differently they don't respond to typical behavior therapy. And nobody here can tell you what will help because all kids are different and we still don't know what is wrong with him. Use your mom gut. by the way, most ASDers are not brilliant...that halppens sometimes, but it is a stereotype. My son is average and has trouble performing average in certain areas. I believe this is more the norm, but then again there is no one norm.

    I always think it is better to be safe than sorry. in my opinion without telling your psychologist, I'd get him a neuropsychologist evaluation. I just don't want this guy to talk you out of it.

    Wishing you great luck!!!!
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If your son is that bright that he can read and comprehend a book like that at his age, you are lucky. Many ASDers come to understand their condition and, if they are very bright, can overcome much of it. Sadly, very few ASDers are much above average (as most people are not), but I'm so happy that your son is, whether he is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or not. It will help him understand himself better.