Normal 4-YO or is something wrong??? PLS HELP!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MrsMo, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. MrsMo

    MrsMo New Member

    I have a 4-YO son and we've been having some behavioural issues with him. Mostly it is not listening, not cooperating, throwing tantrums, being angry for no apparent reason, and being rude or talking back. We have 3 children - our 4-year-old son and twin 11-month-old girls. Now before you say that everything is due to new-baby/sibling jealous, I have to say that we had behavioural issues with him even before the twins were born, before I was even pregnant.

    As a baby, C was very happy and easy-going. He is very smart and did a lot of things early in the first year. He was saying "mama" and "dada" at 5 months and had first words at 9 months. He had over 20 words at 11 months and at 12 months he could answer questions with "ya" or "no". He knew his shapes and colours before 18 months and could sing the alphabet before 18 months. At 24 months he knew all the planets and could put stickers on over 20 countries on the world map and name them if we asked him to. He has a fantastic memory and has always loved books as far back as I can remember. Now at age 4, he hasn't started school yet (he will start JK this September) but he can write his own name (the shortened version), draw pictures, and tell basic time on a clock with hands (he can tell the hour). He has a wonderful imagination and can make up entire stories in his head and does great imaginative play with his toys. He still loves books and we read every night before bed. We went through a phase of being into chapter books but now we're back to the more standard preschooler books.

    Despite his intelligence, we have struggled with his behaviour. Instead of getting better, it is getter harder. Perhaps it's partly because we added siblings to the mix but perhaps not. At 18 months to almost 3 years of age, he would throw tantrums, sometimes on a daily basis and they would go on and on for sometimes an hour. All out screaming, rolling on the floor, kicking, totally out of control. Then that started to peter out, only to have resurfaced again in the past couple months. They seem to be over nothing and they go on just as long, only he's bigger and stronger now.

    An example in the past 24 hours. Last night after his bath, he was in his pajamas, teeth brushed, stories were read and he asked for raisens. I explained nicely that it was too late for raisens, he had already brushed his teeth, and then he proceeded to throw an epic tantrum. He wouldn't go to bed and was screaming at me, throwing things at me, and wound up tearing down his curtain rod in his room. He threw a tantrum for an hour and only stopped when my husband finally reached his limit and yelled at him. We are not yellers but everyone has limits. This is not the kind of parenting style we go to first though. We try to be calm, loving, firm when we need to be, and talk about feelings and explain things to him. He just gets to the point where he's emotionally out of control.

    After he calmed down last night my husband had a good talk with him. C was very sorry for his behaviour and we fell asleep quickly as he was exhausted. This morning he was okay and then he told my husband he wanted to have a snuggle with me. He came upstairs but I was already up and dressed for work. He had actually already come and seen me earlier in the morning and I gave him a hug in my bed and he laid beside me for a few minutes. He was immediately upset when he saw that I wasn't in bed anymore and started demanding that I go lay down. I calmly reminded him that he'd had a snuggle earlier and I was already up now but if he could ask nicely then I would be ready to listen. He would not ask nicely and got himself all riled up, crying, screaming at me. He would try to say it nicely and then before I can answer, he starts screaming. I wound up leaving for work, telling him I was sorry that he wasn't able to calm down, but I can't listen to him when he's being mean to me.

    He is throwing tantrums lately over things that are equally trivial. Some days he's just in a rotten mood all day and seems to be looking to fight with us over anything. We are so tired of it and just want to have a happy family. We are patient and loving and my husband and I are happy and have a good marriage. We don't fight and we really love our kids. We work but we're not home late and we spend our weekends doing family stuff with the kids.

    He is also acting up at daycare (new in the past 4 weeks) but he had behavioural issues at his last daycare which he'd been at for almost 2 years. At the new daycare he is sometimes not listening to requests to stop doing something (like picking at a hole in the couch for example) or he will irritate the other kids - get in their faces, be overly silly, put his hand on a book they're reading so they have to stop.

    He can go from being cooperate, sweet, mature, calm, to a raging, angry boy so quickly at home and for seemingly no reason. I don't know what we're doing wrong. Maybe we need to give time-outs more regularly and curb the bad behaviour as soon as it starts?? Please, any help would be appreciated. I am going to take him to the doctor next week - anything I should be asking about?? I've wondered about ADHD or some other kind of behavioural disorder. Or is it really just the "F-ing Fours"?? I am reluctant to believe everyone else is experiencing this with their 4-YO.

    -A Hurting Mom-
  2. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I feel your pain! I know first hand how difficult it is to deal with such behavior, specially when you don't know the triggers. It seems to come out of nowhere and it is exhausting. Your little guy seems to be VERY smart, it could be something as simple as that: a great intellect in a young body. It could also be something a little more serious (as you mention ADHD). My advice to you would be to conatct his pediatrician for a referral. A psychiatric. evaluation, a vist to a behavioral pediatrician (or other resources your doctor might suggest in your area) might be a good start. If there is in fact something more, the earlier you pin point it, the better it is for your son and family. I'm sure other members will have more insights/suggestion, but you came to the right place. This group has helped me tremendously!!
  3. MrsMo

    MrsMo New Member

    Thank you Ktllc. I notice your tag at the bottom says your youngest has ODD. Is that Oppositional Defiance Disorder? Does it sound anything like my son? I've wondered/worried about this myself. At what point does non-compliance turn into a disorder than can be diagnosed? We love our little boy so much - we just want him to be happy.
  4. keista

    keista New Member

    Sounds a bit more intense than the "F-ing Fours". Also sounds very much like mine was. Have you researched ADHD and or ODD? At that age, I did, and while I kinda saw DD1 in the symptoms list and anecdotes, she didn't quite fit the profiles. Start researching, and see if he fits, kinda fits, or not at all. At least it will be a starting point for Dr discussions. My family, friends and I started joking that even from birth DD1 knew she'd end up being the middle child so her 'middle child' behavior began before she was indeed a middle child.

    Changing up your parenting never hurts (Insanity - doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result) You aren't "yellers", but you said when your husband finally yelled, your son calmed down. Sad to say, you might have to repeat that more often, and sooner. The good news is that it doesn't have to be real yelling - just loud firm parental bellowing. (to me yelling is indicative of you loosing control, so stay in control but DO raise your voice) if it works, great, at least temporarily, right? If it doesn't then you haven't lost that much ground.

    At the Dr, I'd certainly ask for referrals for psychological/psychiatric evaluation - this can cover everything from "normal" bad behavior to ADHD, to Autism, to ODD, to mood disorders. If the Dr tries to dismiss your concerns, then throw up your hands and ask for a referral for yourself because if it's "normal" then you need help learning to be a parent. Yes, I'm being 'tongue and cheek', sarcastic -whatever you want to call it. No, I don't think your parenting is at issue at all, BUT doctors don't always see it that way. I find that if I offer my flaws as a possibility and they see that I'm wiling to do ANYTHING, they start to take me more seriously.

    DD1's therapist was shocked when I agreed that some family sessions might be required. She's encountered too many parents that don't want to "work" with their kids, they just want her to 'fix' them. in my opinion no one lives in a vacuum, and within a family one person's problem becomes every family member's problem. It's obvious to me, but apparently not to everyone.

    Welcome, and stick around. This is a great forum for support, information and guidance.
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Welcome. Is your son hyperactive? And/or does he find it difficult to concentrate for any time on an activity, being easily distracted? These behaviours obviously point to ADHD though not necessarily, of course.
    Have you read "Raising Your Spirited Child"? All the kids the author talks about seem to have intense tantrums. I wonder (as you do) how your son's giftedness relates to his behaviour? Could it be that he needs greater intellectual stimulation? Or, that he is over-stimulated and very sensitive to external stimuli so that he is simply over-wound by the end of the day? This is the explanation given by the author of "RYSC" (can't think of her name just now) for the frequent tantrums exhibited by spirited children...
    Just a couple of ideas. If the shoe does not fit, obviously no need to put it on :)
  6. seriously

    seriously New Member

    That does sound more intense than is typical but I am hesitant to conclude that his behavior is NOT normal in a highly gifted child. Which it sounds like he may be.

    Have you had any psychological assessments done? You don't mention this so I am guessing that you haven't done this. I suggest that you start there before you leap to the conclusion that he has a mental illness or other psychological or developmental problem. I think you should consider getting some basic assessments done with someone who has worked with a lot of young gifted children. You will need to specifically ask anyone you are considering about their qualifications. How many young children have they assessed? What is their training in working with this population? Do they believe that young children CAN have IQ's above 130? Do they believe that highly gifted children have special emotional and educational needs? Will their report include recommendations for meeting those needs?

    Here's a link to SENG - Supporting the emotional needs of the gifted. If you have not yet educated yourself on the characteristics of gifted young children I think you would be wise to do so. This is a good place to start since it sounds like your son is struggling emotionally.

    I also suggest you consider picking up a copy of The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It may be helpful to you in coming up with ways to talk with him that could help reduce the blow ups.
  7. MrsMo

    MrsMo New Member

    Hyperactive? Yes and no. I mean, he gets silly, and he does have trouble focusing sometimes but he's not out of control hyper. I mean, he can sit down at a restaurant for 1-2 hours, he can wait in a line, sit through a whole movie, sit calmly and read books for an hour (or more!), paint, playdoh, he loves these things. But he does get into silly moods where he's a bit hyper and not listening but I wouldn't say there's any huge red flags there.

    Easily distracted? I would almost say it's the opposite problem. He'll be doing something and he gets so into it, it's hard to transition him away from it when it's time for supper or time to leave the house to do something. He has a hard time with transitions - supper time, bath time, time for daycare, time to go out - it's gotten a lot better but he still struggles with this.

    The giftedness is not an area I know a lot about. I had heard though, some time ago, that gifted children can be much like raising a special needs child. I will look for the RYSC book - I've thought for a while now that he's a spirited child but never read up on it. Thanks!
  8. MrsMo

    MrsMo New Member

    You're right, I haven't had any assessments done on him but I guess it's a good starting point. I'm going to make a dr appointment for him with our GP - he needs a booster before school anyway so it's a good time for me to get the wheels rolling on this. I have wondered if his intelligence makes him question authority more, making him less compliant, and that maybe he's bored sometimes. He's pretty calm, quiet and friendly when he's engaged in something like playdoh, drawing, painting, chalk, lego, books, iTouch games (weekends only). But he still gets into these terrible moods and nothing can seem to snap him out of it, not even the things he likes to do. I do think he needs more sleep too but he doesn't nap anymore and he doesn't always fall asleep right away at night - he plays in his room or reads books and then he's up at 6:00/6:30 every morning.
  9. keista

    keista New Member

    Seriously, thanks for posting that link. This is one area with DD1 I don't pay enough attention to. Partly because while she is well above average, she's just shy of the "officially" gifted range (DD2 is fully in there). Teachers think it's her intellect and not her anxiety that causes most of her problems - I believe it's both
  10. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Hello and welcome!

    No, it doesn't sound like a typical four year old to me. It DOES sound like he is having some difficulty regulating his emotions. (You mentioned he tried to ask you nicely, but would burst out screaming instead). He doesn't handle things well when he does not get what he wants when he wants it: raisins, snuggle time, attention, etc. And it sounds like he is having trouble getting along with others.

    "Oppositional Defiant" is more of a description than a disorder, in my humble opinion, and if you can find a solution to the underlying problem, the oppositional behaviors should subside.

    You should talk with your pediatrician about a referral to a pediatric neuropsychiatrist for testing and an accurate diagnosis. Don't let a pediatrician tell you "Oh yeah, ADD and ODD - that sounds about right" and just rx something...which sadly, some of them do too readily. Go get a thorough evaluation done.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm going to respectfully disagree on the giftnessness issue, although I respect Seriously very much and usually agree with her. So you will have two points of view on this :) I've seen a lot of gifted kids and some have issues. But giftedness alone as an my opinion that's not usually the case. We have so many uber-gifted people in our family and none of them were behavior problems. If anything, they were more compliant and didn't do impulsive, unintelligent things. In fact, most kids you read about in here are struggling in school due to various reasons. They tend not to do well in school, even if they have high IQs. THAT is very difficult child-like. A highly intelligent child can still have childhood disorders that slow him down.

    I would have a neuropsychologist evaluate him. in my opinion t hey do the best diagnosing and they do actual tests for actual issues, unlike just taking a stab in the dark. Ask your GP for a referral. A regular therapist or even a regular psychologist is unlikely to do the kind of testing a neuropsychologist does. Psychiatrists usually don't either. They often rely on neuropsychs to help them make a diagnosis.

    Certain disorders tend to strike in very bright children. I know your son is NOT NOT schizophrenic, but schizophrenics have a higher IQ than average. Another disorder that tends to strike very bright children is Asperger's Syndrome. They are the dogmatic, inflexible, quirky possible "geeks" who have trouble with people and life skills. Aspies have INCREDIBLE rote memories at very young ages.

    My son is on the spectrum. His very first diagnosis. was ADHD/ODD. It's a very common first diagnosis. It is often not the last or final one.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
  12. Confused

    Confused Guest

    Hi MrsMo,
    He does sound very intelligent, and can sit through movies and restaurants. My son is 5 and can not sit through either! I take that back, at school his sister told me he does sit but she can tell he just wants up! Having his little sisters born can effect him a little, and every child handles it diefferently but as you pointed out, he had problems before. The snuggle time made me think of my son yelling at me to go get something or sit back down or so on! Everyone here is right, kids do not always have the same typical "symptoms" of a disorder and if things do not seem right,it's best to talk to his Dr and get some help. Good luck!
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Actually, thinking about it, the only two highly gifted children I've known were both very "good", very compliant and responsible from an early age (one has rebelled a bit in adolescence !) For the little it is worth, some anecdotal evidence...
  14. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    What you're describing sounds very familiar to me, except mine was recognizing letters at 18 months, started reading at age 2 1/2, and could read anything (honest!) by age 3. Given your little guy's interests and behavioral issues, I'd suggest that you read up on Asperger's Syndrome, keeping in mind that most young kids don't fit the description perfectly. Asperger's is the highest functioning form of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders. It's frequently missed by doctors, and often not even considered by parents when they have their head in "gifted mode".

    If I were in your shoes I'd definitely be requesting a referral from the pediatrician for evaluation--with what type of specialist really depends on what's available in your area. Many members here will strongly suggest a neuropsychologist but I know of developmental pediatricians, Autism and ADHD clinics that are superb. Find the most reputable specialists in your area and get as much data on him as you can while he's little. Often what you learn from that is what seemed like "he won't" is really "He can't, at least not at this stage". This can impact your daily life tremendously, when, for instance, a tantrum that appears to be due to a child refusing to wear a coat is really because the coat is assaulting his sensory system.

    Here are some links that may help you--
    Starting with a pediatrician:


    There’s a screening tool for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)’s at this site. Note that scores won’t be accurate for kids who don’t have early speech delays, so it won’t be accurate for kids with Asperger’s. Still useful to see the lists of traits in that case though:
    Sensory Integration/Processing Disorder:

    I do want to make clear that we're only parents, here--not diagnosticians--so take everything with a grain of salt. I have no idea if this is what's up with your little guy, but it's a place to start researching to see if anything rings a bell.

  15. MrsMo

    MrsMo New Member

    Thanks for all the replies so far. I have some reading to do this weekend! So yesterday evening and this morning was a 100% turn-around. He was fantastic at daycare yesterday and had a great day. Yesterday evening he was happy, cooperative, and there were zero issues or struggles. Same thing this morning. We had a little chat last night, did some role-playing (a new thing we've been doing to discuss the issues we're having. We role-play doing things the nice way and then doing things the "not nice" way and then we talk about "how do you feel right now?" and "how does mommy feel?" - I have to say he is responding to this really well so far). So this morning he came upstairs and I was in the babies' room and he smiled at me and nicely said, "Can we please have a little snuggle." I said "Sure - and I like how nicely you asked". What a difference from yesterday.

    I should have also mentioned a little more clearly that the tantrums are not all the time, not every day, it's just surprising because they had been gone for so long and suddenly came back again. Another thing I should mention is that we realized his eczema has flared up again and I know this causes him a lot of discomfort (which could affect his mood). He's also just getting over a cold.

    Anyways, we have a dr appointment for next Tuesday so I'll raise my concerns at that time and see where we go from there. I live in Canada so some of the avenues you've given me might not be available here, however we do have an excellent health care system so I know the support will be there if it's needed.

    Thank you so much for replying to my thread. I didn't know if anyone would reach out to me. What a great community this is. You are all too kind :smiles:
  16. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    A lot of kids with some underlying neurological condition will ebb and flow with symptoms, just like any kid will have ups and downs in behavioral patterns. The difference is in severity and level of functioning for the child and family. This would be a good time to start keeping a written journal to see if you note any patterns, triggers, etc. Sometimes something will show up.