Getting the wiggles out is apparently torture?


New Member
Okay, so my youngest difficult child can't sit still ever. So today I tell him he needs to "get the wiggles out" and I suggest jumping jacks. OMG, I have never EVER seen this kid freak out like this before. He started screaming and he was spitting while screaming through his teeth. He hadn't even done a jumping jack at this point and this was his reaction. I was sitting across the room from him, so I stayed in my seat and he just kept at it. This was a full blown meltdown. I had my other kids stand there for a minute because I was afraid he was trying to scream loud enough for neighbors to hear and I wanted to be sure everyone knew I wasn't anywhere near him when this started. I wanted husband to see this, so I told difficult child to have a seat and wait for Daddy. I asked husband to ask him to do them and watch his reaction and he got upset, but not like he did with me. He says it hurts, but when I tell him to sit down, he is not crying or sniffling or anything. So is his reaction fake or is it real?

by the way, he did do a few jumping jacks and I was amazed at how uncoordinated he is. He couldn't do them at all. They do them in PE and I know he has problems with doing anything in PE, but I didn't realize it was this bad. No one has ever told me and I've never asked my kids to do stuff like this before. I didn't have him continue, I had him sit down, but what do you make of the meltdown over them? Who would I take him to if he honestly is hurting? How do they test for something like that?

Mrs Smith

New Member
If I had suggested to my son to "get the wiggles out" his mind would have gone right to worms and he would have flipped out thinking he had worms inside him that needed to come out. I'm always amazed by the problems caused by his extreme literal interpretation of language.

Did you ask him why he was so upset?


New Member
I did ask and he said two things. He said he can't do them right and I said that was okay and explained how to do them. Three of my other kids even showed him how all on their own. Then he did two or three and said they hurt. When I say he did them, he jumped up in the air, legs together and put his hands up like you would see if someone said "its a stick up". I had him sit and wait for husband to come home so he could see the reaction. I just sat there in amazement all wide eyed. I couldn't believe jumping jacks had that reaction. It makes me wonder if the PE coaches weren't telling me the whole story on his meltdowns at school in their class.


New Member
Oh, and I used "get the wiggles out" because they use this saying at school. I thought it would help him understand what I meant if I used their terminology.


Active Member
Oh yea........I have had this with my difficult child and push ups. He literally freaks if I tell him to do push ups. I finally realized that he literally cannot figure out how to be coordinated enough to do push ups, and the fact that all the other kids in PE can do them, and he cannot, is what freaks him out. I would be willing to bet that is what is going on with your son. It is not the actual act, or that it really hurts, it is that he knows he can't do them like other kids, and it brings up all that embarrassment from school.

If, as the doctor is suspecting, he is AS, his lack of coordination in doing the jumping jacks is telling. This is quite a classic sign. That being said, my difficult child was very uncoordinated in some things, and great in others - and he was not actually diagnosed with AS, but rather was just on the cusp. So, you never know.


New Member
I imagine I wouldn't be too happy being told to do something I know I can't do well and probably have been teased about a time or two, especially not in front of older siblings. No question his meltdown was over the top, but I'm not so sure that a temper tantrum was totally unreasonable given a little one's logic -- better a full meltdown than taking a chance of big bros laughing at me.

You might want to teach him how to do jumping jacks in private, doing first the hand part and then the leg part before combining the two. That's what I had to do for my daughter.

Another thing you could do is ask him what movement he thinks would work to get rid of his wiggles. For mine, it was 5 minutes of dancing to any heavy metal music (ugh!).


New Member
I'll definately try something different next time. I just had no idea jumping jacks would get that reaction. We've never done stuff like that at home before. His cry to me was more anger than anything, but how do you explain that to a passer by on the street? They don't know the difference in cries in my son. He was just so angry that this is what I suggested. Like I said, I just sat there wide eyed in amazement at his reaction. I haven't seen him meltdown like this so quickly and without a warning sign, it was instant.


Here we go again!
Does he like music? Maybe turning on some high-energy music and letting him dance would be a less threatening outlet to him. Just a thought...

Mrs Smith

New Member
Aww - poor kid. Gotta give him credit for trying. Mine used to do them awkwardly too with arms and legs opening and closing randomly with no sequence at all. I'm not sure he's mastered them yet actually.
All stressed,

sweetie, the fact that you are parenting so many kids is BEYOND my comprehension. If I can offer one piece of advice, please don't think me condescending.

I've noticed in several of your posts, your concern of what others will think. My advice is don't worry about it, and don't feel the need to have to explain it to ANYONE. If I saw a mom with 6 kids and one of them WASN'T acting out, I'd worry. I think you are doing a fantastic job with those kids and you should not have to have the added stress of "what will Mr. Smith think? What might Mrs. Jones say?"

Not an easy thing to do, takes practice. You can do it.


New Member
Thanks BBK. Its hard because I do know my neighbors listen in. I have also had CPS called out on me because people who don't know me, think my youngest difficult children diet is too harsh. I just can't help but worry about CPS getting involved, its happened twice since I married my husband. I guess the absolute worst thing anyone can do to me is think I'm a bad parent. It's really hard to just let that go.
I understand COMPLETELY.

I have very few problems with neighbors, and just ONE child at home. And I still struggle with "am I a bad parent" alllllll by myself.


New Member
Our difficult child's therapist once suggested this and he freaked out, too. Must be something about jumping jacks and difficult children! We then tried jogging in place, which he agreed to try, but in the end, it really didn't have the desired effect, so we let that one go.

Hang in there.


Roll With It
Well, I think maybe I can give you a little more perspective on this, from difficult child's point of view. I was so terribly uncoordinated that they didn't want to let me go to 1st grade because I couldn't skip. And I had to take REMEDIAL PE in first grade. It was awful and humiliating and horrible. Not the class, it was kind of fun, but the way the other kids treated me. And the treatment from the other kids lasted for years and years. They were SO CRUEL.

Your little guy probably thought he had to do them just right, and he couldn't, and the other kids all watched, and the pressure was just too much. Anger, strong and bitter, comes at this point.

Get an Occupational Therapist (OT) (Occupational Therapy) evaluation done by the school. Put it in writing on the FIRST day of school. Keep poking the school until they do it. Occupational Therapist (OT) can help a whole lot.

As far as "getting the wiggles out", it is the kind of phrase that a kid might take to have some kind of strange meaning. Can you use "get your energy out"? And show him just wiggling your body.

In our house we shake on deals. We hold hands and shake and wiggle the rest of our body. This might be a way to help him. Not the deal making, but the "shaking". If he is AS, the play on words may tickle him too.

Regardless of the Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation, get a copy of "The Out of Sync Child Has Fun". It will show you lots of activities to help. I have found that addressing Occupational Therapist (OT) problems heads off other problems at the pass. Not a magic cure, but helps our kids feel at home in and with their bodies.

Good Luck,



Active Member
Susiestar, you've hit the nail on the head, I think. husband read this over my shoulder and thinks he can recognise the problem.

husband: "I'll bet he's been made to do them before and chided for not doing them right. He could have been made to look a fool or feel a fool."

He went on to say that if he's got a problem like hypermobile joints (which husband has, as well as difficult child 3, easy child 2/difficult child 2 and possibly difficult child 1) then he is going to seem uncoordinated and could also be not landing properly. The loose joints hurt all the more, especially with sharp, vigourous movements. A poor landing with jumping jacks can also hurt - jarring ankles, knees & hips.

Occupational Therapist (OT) assessment is a good way to go, especially if you mention the pain difficult child claims. Admittedly some of that pain could be past embarrassment, but it could be a lot more to it. And PE teachers especially, seem to be the worst when it comes to bullying kids who aren't good at physical things. Not all of them, but enough of them to give the whole mob of them a bad name.

I would involve difficult child more in ideas on how to "get over the fidgets". I would NOT use a phrase possibly used by a teacher at school in a situation which probably caused distress. The dancing is a good idea - asking difficult child what else would work for him, involving him in his own management. We used to use a jogging trampoline because we could even use it indoors. It is gentler on joints and the bounces are much more satisfying to a fidgetty child. Storage shouldn't be a problem - you can unscrew the legs and roll it behind a cupboard if necessary.
Don't describe his fidgettiness as "wriggles" because of the worm connotation, Also, do not say you want to STOP the fidgets, or anything else negative. You may want to damp them down, ease them out, get over them or get past them, but to stop them can be a confronting thought for a child who knows he has trouble keeping still.

And the aim shouldn't be to keep still, anyway - it should be to make sure that the physical activity is organised and directed.

If he's getting problems at school, a meltdown of this magnitude is quite understandable. I was a easy child and I know how I felt about things like this. And with what I know about at least some of the things difficult child 3 went through at school and I WASN'T told by the school (other kids make brilliant secret agents) then I can understand the degree of distress.

Good luck with this one. I think you handled it positively, once you realised this was a problem not of your making and indicating something lurking underneath.


Mrs Smith

New Member
Have you ever done the brushing and joint compression stuff for Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)? Mine used to love the joint compression part and it would settle him down immediately. An Occupational Therapist (OT) would be able to show you how to do this.


New Member
Thanks for the input ya'll. I think I did everything wrong in my first response to him, I did it blindly. I had no idea that the saying or that jumping jacks would cause a meltdown at all. Typically when I talk to any of my kids I'm very straight forward, I don't use "kid" sayings. I just thought he'd understand it more if I said it the way school does. He and I have had issues communicating so I was trying something new. I think for now I'm going to continue my literal language with him and avoid the "kid" language. in my opinion I think those kinds of sayings are pre-schoolish, but the newest principal at their old school talks to the 5th graders this way. With all the problems we've had lately I am always willing to try something new if I think it will help.


Well-Known Member
The coordination issue is very interesting. Yes, I would agree that his meltdown is related to his lack of ability to do jumping jacks correctly.
Good luck!