Roaming free

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    My son is five years old and he wants to roam free, wants to be free to go off and play and explore in the whole of his territory, which is our small French village. Of course he cannot do that without restraint because he is a small child but he gets very upset and angry when I try to prevent him. This all strikes me as very... precocious. J is bright and in some ways quite aware but he is certainly not intellectually precocious or gifted, or anything like that. So I am puzzled, a little, at what is at the origin at this great desire for independence and freedom which isn't typical of a five year old child. It is typical of some Moroccan boys in Morocco, though, even though he himself has never lived like that in Morocco (when staying with my Moroccan ex-husband in Morocco, he is not allowed to disappear without them knowing where he is).
    So I just wonder... DDD mentioned that her ADHD daughter was like that when a young child. Have others of you had experience of it? What is your take on it? He really reminds me of a teenager and it is as if we are already engaged in the teenage battle to be able to go out all the time... Incredible but true :sigh:
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, maybe no-one can provide me with the magically insightful answer of why J is like he is :) But one thought that did occur to me this evening as he was crying and protesting to go out and ride his bike with two older boys who came by our house (he was tired, under the weather with a cold and was staying inside the house tonight, come what may) was that of Odysseus and the sirens. You remember the story - Odysseus was to sail past the famous siren mermaids, who lured sailors to their death with the sound of their irresistible singing; he told his sailors to tie him to the ship's mast and to ignore all his entreaties to untie him as they passed the haunting song... You have to tie yourself to a proverbial mast and remain deaf to all these entreaties until you safely pass the danger :) Sure enough, five minutes later he had got over it and was on to some new centre of interest...
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oooh, I like that metaphor, Malika!
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Well, now, with a metaphor like that... how about an explanation? It's called the flip-side of "attention deficit". ADHD is not really about attention "deficit"as is is about attention "management". So, when us ADD/ADHDers latch onto something... we can get into "hyper-focus". This is not always a bad thing. When I'm in the middle of some systems crisis and flying at a million miles an hour with data coming in from 10 directions at once? Don't even TRY to talk to me, I won't even notice unless it's "on task". BUT... if I end up hyper-focusing on something irrelevant... it can be a total pain (or so my family tells me).

    And yes, hyper-focus usually is associated with things we enjoy - I NEVER hyper-focus on housework, for example! But I do enjoy my work. Or a jig-saw puzzle, etc.

    J may just be hitting hyper-focus on a particular issue... kind of like "hearing the sirens" in your metaphor. As he gets older, you will be able to teach him how to make good use of this trait.
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thank you, IC :) I was rather hoping for an explanation, or something approaching it, for why, rather than your typical image of a five year old child being frightened if s/he is separated from her/his parent/s and fearful and uncertain of the world, J is like this enormously confident mini-explorer, who wants only to escape the apron strings and venture into the wider world...
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Malika. He has ADHD. What else do you expect?

    There is a theory out there somewhere that all the great explorers - and all the minor ones too, the "extreme pioneers" - were probably ADHD. The world would be a much different place if it wasn't for these "wanderers".

    The challenge is to keep them safe until they grow up!
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think a desire for independence is very typical for some 5 year olds, it just depends on their personality. I look at it as a personality trait, vs. an ADHD trait. (neither of my kids has ADHD). My Oldest didn't have a shy bone in her body, and at that age would go knock on neighbor's doors and ask if they had any kids. I frequently had to track her down; if I turned my head for a minute she'd go on down the street looking for someone to play with. Youngest was very shy and more fearful, she would never do this. My grandson tests these limits all the time, though, and I think he'll be more like Oldest. He tried to walk away from a friend's yard one day, because he wanted to go to the playground.. it didn't occur to him that he couldn't. My daughter had to explain to him that he had to ask permission, and that a grown-up had to go with him.

    We set limits, kids test limits, we tick them off by enforcing limits. It's all part of the parenting dance :)

    Sounds like he just has an independent personality.. which may serve him well later in life, if he can harness it!
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sounds like my middle granddaughter! She just takes off out of the house and roams all over the townhouse area.
  9. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    My niece, who is now 26 and, thankfully, level headed, as a child would pronounce to her parent every time they restricted her, "I just want to be FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE, Mommy and Daddy! Can't you understand?" and cry until she got her way, lol.
  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Malika-My difficult child was so like that at that age. He had a sense of adventure and no fear whatsoever. He used to even go to our adult neighbors and ask them to come out to play with him!

    He is totally different now and is so afraid of so many things (anxiety). In some ways it seems to compete with his ADHD (probably why he still wants to do everything but wants us to do it with him).
  11. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    If it is such a huge trait of his personality, and potentially part of ADHD, it might not work to reason with him. But have you talked about stranger danger? (even if a small rural village appears safer than some other areas). Maybe be very clear about ALL the potential dangers for a 5 year old wandering alone. You obviously do not want to create unnecessary fears (not that it would even scare him!) but simply explain WHY you ask of him to follow your rules. I can't think of any titles on top of my head, but for sure you should be able to find a few children books on the topic. (oh I got one: Hansel and Gretel not obeying their mother and being caught by the witch. a lot of fairy tales might serve your purpose).
    Just an idea... if you haven't tried it already.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    All of my kids would have wandered if they had been allowed. I think it's kind of normal. What stops many is that the world is not safe necessarily so many of us don't allow our kids too far from us. That doesn't mean they wouldn't go if they could...just means they can't because we won't let them. As a mother I would have been frantic if my five year old was out of my sight. For that matter, I still make my fifteen year old tell me where she goes and check with her often through texting to make sure she's ok.
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your testimonies of other, similar children... Actually, now that I think of it, I too was a bit like that as a child and I had a dream about that last night. I went to boarding school for a while and I just hated it, hated not being able to take off and wander when the fancy took me... I had done this from an early age with my two older brothers in the countryside around us.
    I've tried explaining many, many times to J about the dangers of roads, which I think is the real danger he faces here. He seems to understand, seems to stop everytime on the road and look right and left, but I really can't rely on it. As for "stranger danger" - the unexpected is always a possibiliity, I suppose, but strangers are so rare here that I stop and stare out of my kitchen door when someone I don't know walks past... happens a few times in the summer when we get tourists!
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Here we do discuss the stranger danger issue in schools and parents get info to teach at safety programs etc...but parents are taught that most assaults are from people you know or who are established people in a commuity. The nice normal uncle, mentor, coach, grandpa figure type. More important is to teach about never going anywhere with with a grown up....not having any secrets with any grown ups, not going into anyone's car or house without mommy (or daddy) being with you, not even if they lost their puppy, have a bike for you, want to give you candy, etc. As they mature you can teach them about how most people are good but once in a while there is a person who is not nice and will try tricks like saying they will hurt mommy if you tell, etc. I would never say that at his age though, just to always tell mommy if any adult says to keep a secret. And no one touches or takes pictures of your or their private areas that a swim suit covers. It is a scary discussion but you can do it little by little. Q knows it and sometimes is afraid now to go to a public bathroom without someone standing close by which is actually fine with me.

    We are also told to practice with them what to do if someone tries to take them somewhere, even if they seem nice, and mom does not know. Practice yelling the words "stranger danger" or "fire" or " this is not my mom, someone call the police" ...just screaming or saying help usually studies say people assume the child is just having a tantrum and stay out of it.

    They also get permission to bite, kick, hit at ONLY those times.

    I am sure it is hard when you live in a place where in order to be with other kids, and because it is the norm to do so, they are out of your sight. For us, in the city, we could easily leave our house but only be across the street at any one of several homes that were within the site of our parents. The parents hung out all day, with moms not working, so it was quite tight nit. YET, from the age of K through grade 2 my best friend's brother, son of my mom's best friend, at the home directly across the street from us, who took care of me often (sometimes for days like if a sibling was born)....would force me to hide under the pool table with him if we were playing games, he would make me touch him and he wanted to touch me but I finally made him stop. HE said OK but I had to continue to touch him and if I didn't he would tell my parents and I would have to go to bed at 7 every night and never get to play with all of them again. Sounds stupid but it was my biggest fear because everyone knew I had to go in the earliest of all the kids and how much I hated it.

    In those days, and still I think in smaller close knit towns, people do not discuss, can't even admit this is going on and all evidence says it has always gone on and still goes on. We can only be aware and try to protect them as much as possible.
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the safety advice, Buddy! This may shock city-dwellers, but I have never actually thought to mention this kind of thing. Still, why not? Can't do any harm and it may do good. So on our after-school walk in the countryside today, I said to him that if someone he didn't know wanted him to go with them or to go in their car, he must say no and run away or tell another grown-up. He asked why and I said that there were a few naughty people who wanted to hurt children, which he seemed to accept. I then asked him what he should do in these circumstances later, and he repeated it back. Knowing J, he will remember this perfectly and I won't need to mention it again.
    About the sexual stuff - yes, it's always gone on. And as you say, it's usually perpetrated by people known to the child. I remember going for a walk with the son of a friend of my mother's - I was about 6 or 7, he was about 14 or 15. He asked me to take down my knickers and wanted to touch me. I can't remember whether he did or not... I just remember going home and telling everyone about it - other people were more alarmed than i was... It may sound strange, but I didn't feel in any way traumatised by it, either then or since... But obviously this was an extremely minor incident and when it is not minor but major, that is extremely traumatising for a child. I had already mentioned to J a few times that no-one is allowed to touch his private parts. I agree we do have to prepare children for these things, but without making them overly anxious and fearful - a difficult balance.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012