My 5 year old is a bully

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by helpwanted, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. helpwanted

    helpwanted New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to this site, but decided to write because I’m desperate....I'm a single mother of a 5 year old boy, we recently had to relocate because of my work to Jamaica and my son's behavior has gone from bad to worse.

    In 3 month's he's been able to get him expelled from 1 school and we're already having a lot of issues with his new one. This last school is very small and they give him a lot of attentions, all the children are from expats so they’re used to children needing to adjust to a new country but he hits the teachers and other children, yells and bites. In the beginning I thought it was because he was having problems adjusting but then I started reading articles about children’s behavior and he seems to have ODD. He has always been a handful: first spoke when he was 2, had him on speech therapy for a year, stopped using diapers at 3.5 years even thought we tried everything. He always argues and hits other children and never listens or can be quiet. He sleeps little for his age (only 6 hours) and he’s hyperactive. I’ve taken him to several psychologists and they say he’s just a boy and he’ll grow out of it. I’m stress out and don’t have a social life because other children don’t want to be near him because his mean and I don’t know what else to do! I feel I’ve failed as a parent and things keep getting worse.
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Hello & welcome. :) You aren't alone anymore!

    Just a few questions:
    Does your son have any underlying medical conditions like allergies, asthma or sleep apnea?
    How does he do academically?
    Is there a history of mental illness (depression, etc) or neurogical conditions in the family tree?
    Can he initially make friends but not maintain the friendship?
    Any sensory issues like avoiding certain textures or loud noises? Or, does he seek out sensory input by excessively jumping, pressing into others, etc?
    Did he meet his milestones on time? How is his speech? Eye contact?
    Does he like to spin or swing more than a typical child?
    Does he have any unusually strong fears or preoccupations?

    I know that's quite a few questions but the answers may help us to point you in the right direction. It's been my experience that most children don't behave as your son is because they are bad or particularly willful. Most have an underlying issue that can be addressed and improved behavior then follows.
  3. helpwanted

    helpwanted New Member

    Dear tiredmommy,

    My son is very bright and last year he was doing pretty well at school, know he simply wants to do his things (mainly painting).
    There is depression running in my family, myself and my mother. Neither of us has needed medication and therapy has helped.
    He does have problems now maintaining his friends as he's bulling them they don't want to play with him anymore. Until he was 3, he took everything to his mouth.
    He avoids having his hands and feet dirty, but ironically he takes off his shoes constantly and loves to walk in the sand.
    He met all his milestones on time except with the speech, he was in speech therapy for almost a year and know speaks well. I did notice that after 3 sessions he's behavior improved significantly and got less frustrated. He does tend to avoid eye contact, but depending on the person, he'll look you in the eyes. If he's defying you he'll look straight to your eyes and smile.
    He never can keep quiet if he speaks to you; he needs to keep on moving or touching something.
    I do believe he gets frustrated easily and for certain things, if he knows he made a mistake will cry a lot and is almost as if he's having a panic attack.
    I don't know if this is important but he doesn't have a male figure in his live and used to have problems with men giving him instructions, now he doesn't discriminate

    Thanks for your help ;)
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Have you had him evaluated by a neuropsychologist? He could have a form of autism---Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified or Aspergers. These kids improve with things like language once they get help, but other problems persist and more come up as they get older. Here is a little test to tell you if you should be considering Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)'s (pervasive development disorder aka autistic spectrum disorder...and it IS a wide spectrum):

    Welcome to the board :D
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I get so angry with this - on your behalf. We got told the same things with both boys. With difficult child 3 I even had someone say to me, "There's nothing wrong with him, he's just a spoiled little boy." Even the doctor who finally wrote the referral for us to the pediatrician, argued with me loudly. The pediaitrician had diagnosed autism in difficult child 3 and I told the GP, who then shouted at me in front of a waiting room full of patients, "Stop trying to find things wrong with your children!"

    I don't know how diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is done in Jamaica, but in Australia the histroy of language delay would put a diagnosis on the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) scale firmly into autism, not Asperger's. But don't let the labels upset you, the child's prognosis can still be very good. I look at my boys - difficult child 1 has Asperger's, difficult child 3 has autism, and I can see where difficult child 3 is likely to do even better than his brother. difficult child 1 has a friend with Asperger's who struggles even more.

    If MWM & I are right and this is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), then you cazn breathe easy because your child does not mean to be a bully. HE isn't donig this to be mean, he is simply trying to find ways to control his life because so much of it is, for him, uncontrollable and frustrating.

    You say his behaviour improved when his language improved - that also fits. Often these kids can be highly intelligent which only makes it even more frustrating when they can't make themselves understood. And because their social skills are poor, in their minds the problem is everyone else being deliberately annoying to them.

    Autism is a disorder affecting communication and social skills. While there is some overlap (as you discovered - improve the communication and the behaviour improves) there are separate problems. Speech therapy won't fix the social problems.

    What we discovered - in difficult child 3's mind, everybody is equal. Now some people might see this as a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, in the minds of everybody else in the world, we all recognise that some people are more equal than others! We are taught to respect our elders, to respect those with more knowledge in a particular area, to respect those with more authority. But kids like this cannot see these subtleties, it is just too tricky for them. A lot of the interactions between Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids and their classmates often fall apart because of the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid not recognising the subtle social cues in play. For example, difficult child 3 playing a ball game in the playground with other classmates - it's a team game a bit like baseball. But as the game progressed and the other kids saw problems with the game (some kids hopeless at hitting the ball) the rules were changed to make the game move faster. These rules get changed in subtle ways, the signals pass between players vith a raise of an eyebrow or a look. And sometimes the rules get changed deliberately unfairly, because the kids didn't ant to play with difficult child 3 because of his past history (or the stigma of being seen having him on their team).

    Such situations generally caused meltdowns for which difficult child 3 was blamed. From the kids' viewpoints, maybe they were right to blame difficult child 3. But the problem was generally deeper and more subtle, such play needed to be supervised by an adult in order to ensure that difficult child 3 was:
    1) treated fairly and
    2) understood the rules including any changes in the rules.

    It seems such a simple, minor matter but to a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid it can be the end of the world. Remember, these are still very young kids (and so can't be expected to behave with maturity) as well as having problems with reading social cues and understanding rules of social interaction.

    Put all that together, and you get what you have observed.

    But there is a lot YOU can do, even if you still haven't got a firm diagnosis. While you wait for a diagnosis, get your hands on "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene, and read it. To get a fast preview, read the sticky at the top of this page on how to adapt "Explosive Child" to younger children. THis actually should make your life easier. We found it helped us a lot, helped our son feel less angry, less stressed and therefore more able to finally learn (as he was capable) to behave more acceptably.

    If this is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), he will still be able to learn how to behave, but it will need to be taught differently and he will need more time. These kids can be taught social skills but it has to be done in the same way you would teach mathematics or some other subject.

    NEVER expect them to simply pick up social skills just be being around other children. That is how normal people learn but the problem here is, these kids are missing that bit of the brain that makes this work. There are other bits of their brain that will do the job instead, but you have to help them work out their best way of learning.

    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids can be absolutely amazing, wonderful, gifted, delgihtful, loving, caring, HONEST, law-abiding (laws as they understand them to be) and often highly intelligent, especially in their own special area of interest. Use that area of interest to help them compensate and adapt, to learn the other things they need.

    For exampe, difficult child 3 was into computers in a big way, from infancy. So when we finalyl explained about autism to him (we had to wait until his language skills were up to the level of understanding) we explained it in computer terms.

    What we told difficult child 3 - if a page of neatly written text comes off the printer, all set out nicely with big headings, correct grammar and spelling, we can look at it but not know whether the page was typed up on a Mac or a easy child. We could use either computer to do exactly the same job. But the operating instructions and programming language needed to make the computer actually do the job (and interface between us and the computer to make it easier for us) is very different, depending on whether it's a Mac or a easy child. You can't expect the Mac to be easily programmed by a easy child applicaiton, nor will a easy child work properly if you try to use a Mac only application. You have Occupational Therapist (OT) make sure you use the correct software programming for the type of computer, in order to do the job easily.
    And some people have Mac brains while others have easy child brains. Neither is necessarily better, they are computers which can do anything (although have reputaitons do be better than the other in certain tasks).

    The trick is - you help the child find the correct educational "programming language" for his particular method of learning. When you do, he will thrive.

    We explained to our kids about their autism, by making it clear that it is not a defect, it is simply a different way of brain function. It is like a more extreme version of left/right handedness, sort of thing.

    difficult child 3 was interviewed by Aussie TV, aired a fortnight ago. The reporter asked him some probing questions about how he feels about being autistic. difficult child 3's response was that he does have some problems, but he also has capabilities which go beyond most people in the population. I chose to raise him this way because when he was younger I attended a conference with keynote speaker, Temple Grandin. She is someone whose writing you also need to look up, she is amazing. In her talk she said that if she were told she could, if she chose, wake up tomorrow and her autism be gone, she would refuse te offer. Her autism is part of who she feels herself to be and in her case, she values te gifts it has brought to her life. She doesn't want to lose what she feels giver her individuality and her livelihood. She has turned her own quirkiness and talent into a career bonus.

    In difficult child 3's case, he is now 15 and showing great aptitude in computers. So we're taking that further and educating him towards a career in computers. At the same time we're continuing his social education.

    so take heart, you are not a bad parent. After all, you have noticed problems and have taken steps to find out more, to try to help him and try to bring changes. That is a GOOD parent.

    But he is young and that means you are still trying to work him out.

    If this is not Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), hopefully someone will diagnose something that is treatable. But much of what I have said here will still apply for you and for him.

    Give him time, watch and support him, lead him rather than push him, give him as much control as you can without letting him walk all over you and he will be more likely to let you have control where you need it. Reward and encourage rather than punish. Use natural consequences rather than punishment because for a lot of his behaviours, he is probably unable to change - yet. And to punish what he can't change is just cruel. Instead, you impose some control there in order to prevent. For example, if you know that a certain other kid always sets him off, then you assert control to keep those two apart. Or allow them contact but keep it short, pull him out of an interaction before it deteriorates. Try to get to him before a meltdown, that's a lot better than trying to treat a meltdown after it's happened.

    There is so much - but many of us here have been through this ourselves and come out the other side.

    So stick around, dump on us, cry on our shoulders, tell us about the good stuff too and learn to love your son again as he is, so he can learn to love himself too. Chances are right now, he doesn't like himself or anybody else much.

  6. helpwanted

    helpwanted New Member

    I've taken the test and he scored a 38 (no Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)). For Xmas we're going back home and I've already scheduled a session for an assessment. Our main language is Spanish and he’s just learning English, therefore, it would be difficult to have it done here. Depending on the results, we’ll move to a next plan.

    I’ve ordered the book and certainly will read it. What you refer to:

    To get a fast preview, read the sticky at the top of this page on how to adapt "Explosive Child" to younger children

    I can find it

    Thanks for all your words of encouragement and advice, it's good to have a place to talk and not to feel judged.