Why does he antagonise other kids?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Put basically, J almost always shows the worst of himself when he is with other kids, particularly in new situations. He is so readily conflictual and antagonistic. About the best essay I've read about ADHD, written by a French Canadian doctor, described J to a T. It talked about how these kids create and develop relationships based on rivalry that tend to be quarrelsome. Yes, J does rivalry and quarrelsome very well, even though with me or one to one with adults he can be so sweet and adorable. A friend came over this afternoon with her son and friend, aged 9 and 7 or 8. J refused to share his toys, was rude, pushed one of the boys at one point. He seemed to really antagonise them both, although to be fair later on in the afternoon he was being more co-operative and socially aware. When he plays by himself in the house, he plays long games of imagination, involving dialogues and lots of inventive "happenings" that are nonetheless very calm and concentrated... I have never seen him play like this with other kids - could be he does, at school or elsewhere, but I only ever seeing him having these "jockeying for position" conversations and interactions with other boys. Girls he seems to play with co-operatively.
    I'm a bit concerned about it. I think this is J's real area of handicap. I don't know how, if at all, I can help him with it. Today I just got rather cross with him and told him firmly that when guests come to the house, he must share his toys with them. Which he very reluctantly did, eventually. I don't know what the payoff for him in behaving like this is - attention? I tried talking to him afterwards about it a little but I also don't want to dramatise the situation. I could see the other boys were irritated by and mocking his behaviour... Does he get anxious, insecure?
    I'm not worried about school. I am worried about this.
  2. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    This describes my youngest perfectly. It is sad really because even though he has made progress other kids have leaped ahead socially. And it does impact school as we are seeing because he has turned into a bit of clown, challenging of teachers etc as he feels more and more socially isolated. Which doesn't make his teachers like him, which makes him feel bad about himself, which cause him to be more judgmental about others, which further alienates his friends.... vicious circle.

    I wish I could give you some advice. We have not found counseling very effective (not enough in the moment), social skills groups were marginally effective--targetted more at kids with autism spectrum issues rather than whatever it is that is going on with my child (who is definitely not on spectrum, but has difficulty regulating himself in appropriate ways that are not hit you over the head off-putting). Two things that seem to help are finding things for him to do that involve positive adult mentoring, and trying to stop the constant barrage of criticism or anger at home. Not that we terrible that way, but it is just that all these kids seem to hear is negativity--in part deserved but not helpful.

    good luck. It is a very tough situation.

    I guess the only other thing I could say is to have a heart to heart with his teacher next year. Too me the behavior you describe is more important than what my child actually learns. I think having friends and fitting in will in turn make the whole experience of school more positive and free up energy for academics. So if the teacher seems to be someone who could gently reflect back to J what is going on socially and help him find better strategies that would be great. Are French teachers trained in that area? Otherwise a really dynamite type of Special Education teacher in the US could help.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Don't think it's on purpose. I think he has very real social deficits. I think he needs professional help in this area. It would help him a lot. If the poor little guy gets no help in appropriate socializing, he may end up all b y himself at recess, especially as he gets older and kids tolerate it less.
  4. buddy

    buddy New Member

    First, I agree with you Malika, it sounds like an area of concern....I think impulsive kids/adhd kids just dive in and want things their way often....I am sure there are other reasons. It is so much harder when there are three than just two...but I know you have mentioned it even when one friend has visited.

    Sounds like he wants to play with others though...so he is missing some skills for doing so. He has matured quite a bit this year but maybe this will take longer...

    This could be one big argument for being in a place where you have more options for support, even including cousins or more schools or therapies....

    Are there any pee-wee sports for him???
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Well, yes it's a problem, or a challenge - whatever word you want.
    But there are probably several factors, and one of them will be some level of hypersensitivity on J's part, to subtle cues the other kids put out... but he doesn't know how to react to these.

    It was hard for me to help difficult child with this, because I *don't* see these subtle things. But we found somebody who does... and that therapist explained to ME that this is what was going on...

    So, possible explanation is that these two older kids were on the surface polite and socially appropriate, but really didn't want to be there nor playing with a "little kid"... and J picks up on this, and reacts strongly. But everyone else only sees the strong reaction. Even the other kids will not be aware of these subtle signals.

    Yes, he has to learn how to do the social "dance"... the interplay of surface politeness that makes the social world go around... without giving up on his highly-perceptive self.
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your input. Part of the problem is that I myself do not have a complete picture of what is going on. At school, he is never left alone at recreation; he is always playing with others, mostly the same little group of boys. At the same time, from what he says, and reading between the lines, there seem to be problems (some of it is just how it is with kids, though) - sometimes he is very friendly with the other boy in his class, sometimes they seem to be daggers drawn, he now seems to have this problem with the older boy in the village he used sometimes to play with, who is being nasty and unpleasant to him. But I don't know what went on there! Was J rude, aggressive with him?
    From the little interactions I see - but I am present, and many people have commented he is worse behaved when I am - he is quick to get into quarrelsome situations with other boys because he wants to win, to be the best, can stamp on others' needs and personalities in that aim. On Saturday, for example, we went to a playground in the next village and he hooked up with a four year old and a six year old he knows from his tennis class. There was a rugby and the six year old goes to a rugby class (I want J to start this in September, presuming we are still here) They started playing some basic form of rugby, the boy having explained how it goes... after about 20 minutes, J and the other boy were upset with each other because J had broken the rules because he just had to win and was quarrelliing about it.
    Other times, MWM, I have seen him being socially appropriate, when I think about it - asking questions, hanging back a bit - so the skills must be there, somewhere. He definitely needs help with this. And I dread inviting people if it turns into these kind of fiascos, which means he doesn't get enough practice to help improve, etc. And I think, IC, there is something in what you say... J does pick up very hypersensitively on such invisible cues. I also think he is a very anxious child in some ways and the anxiety manifests. He also seems to be turning into a "cry baby" - sorry, the term sounds very harsh, I know! - which surprises me. Started crying about the other boys leaving him out on Saturday, trailing them and crying, running back to me and crying. Like he does with the other boy who is now not nice to him.
    The psychiatrist J very occasionally sees has offered one of these weekly social skills groups, pepperidge. I didn't take her up on it because it meant J missing school and maybe I didn't think at the time it was that important. Now I will. And, Buddy, yes, a move to almost anywhere else would probably help matters :) I don't mean that as some anti-French jibe. Tehre are so many good things here. But Britain is definitely a more tolerant and less structured society. It all depends though... I am shortly to apply for British nationality for J. Wish the application luck!! Going to either Britain or Morocco would depend on our getting this.
    I dunno... This is what is important, not how good he is in a classrooom. in my humble opinion.
  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    great way to put it...
  8. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    some only children have mild difficulties like you describe--its really not all that unusual here in the states.

    you say the skills are there somewhere--i'd think if it was truly a serious delay it would be across the board, not a sometimes issue.
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    How wonderful that a social skills group is available. I drove youngest difficult child 3 hours roundtrip each Saturday for, I think, sixteen weeks to participate in such a group. It was costly and I couldn't afford to sign up for one more series. Sigh. on the other hand, it was of some value as the group learned to take turns listening and then sharing what they heard so the tdocs could help direct their reception. Go for it.

    One other suggestion that helped at our home. Prior to the arrival of company difficult child was encouraged to give me the toys that he was not prepared to share. I stored them in my closet out of view. That reduced the stress of playing with others. Lastly it may not be helpful in your case but I found it helpful to difficult child to discuss the differences in "nice" people. In scattered circumstances I had converesations about how others interacted stressing that not ALL kids liked ALL kids and how not ALL adults enjoyed ALL other adults. Using myself as an example on occasion I would say something like "I really admire how Mrs. Jones can garden and knit. She's a nice lady but I am interested in doing other acctivities like volunteering and cooking. Therefore we are acquaintances but not likely to be friends." It helped him recognize that not everybody loved everybody else. Good luck. DDD
  10. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    J seems to be a kid who has trouble self regulating--has trouble with disappointment, competitive feelings etc. Social ostracism according to one of the articles in the forum here leads to depression among kids. Accodrding to Ross Greene, that is a lagging skill that can be taught. You might want to read his book Lost at School.

    Who knows what formal diagnosis that would come under. And who even cares. You seem to be on the right track with helping him learn to regulate himself better.

    You know it may be that more unstructured approach might actually be worse. Part of what helps kids learn to self regulate is in fact structure. Just something to think about! On the other hand, having adults who understand the problem and can help is useful.
  11. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Crazy, right? Q starts a summer social skills group tomorrow...here I am in a major metro area and I have to drive nearly an hour to get him to a group for the summer. I decided it was worth it because from his ESY placement for one of the months it is not so far and it is at least four hours long each session so I am not driving all that way for a one hour group...On Wed, different...I drive 30 minutes to a one hour group...as much time on the road as in the group, lol....but at least I get mileage for that one.
    This tues group??? $2,600 for 8 weeks....but he also gets a 1:1 CPI trained male aide all for him all summer...and the fees are included so going to water parks, go cart places, food....included. Still, huge amount of money (happily had funds we overbudgeted for in his waiver in Integrated Listening Systems (ILS) so got it covered). only part for me is 15 dollars a week in gas thank heaven.

    Can't imagine he would ever need that intensive of a program, but some practice as you said, with guidance and understanding all around him would be really nice. I think DDD's ideas are great...discuss ahead of time what you know are challenges, shows respect for him AND his visitors. I suppose an incentive could be added if needed. NOthing too over the top (at least here that adds too much stress...he then is guaranteed to fall apart) but a bike ride with you or ice cream treat or whatever????

    Hang in there...it helps me when I hear my friends and sisters, even typical kids give their parents fits over stuff like this.
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    It would make me happy if J's sweet, co-operative, generous and playful side could be translated into friendly and pleasant relationships with his peers... I do feel, intuitively (not a head thing) that part of the problem at least is that his life so far really has led to a sense of not knowing who he is truly, where he is truly, and that this anxiety and insecurity feeds his antagonistic behaviour sometimes. Born in Morocco where he lived until aged 18months. Then from 18 months to 2 staying in Britain. Then 2 to 3 back in Morocco where meantime my ex-husband and I divorced, quite messily, then from aged 3 to now in France... Speaking first Arabic, then English, then French... little wonder he does not have a sense of natural and rightful confidence about his identity.
    Clearly, others will not have understanding of all that!! He needs to learn to dance the social dance... not least because others have their rights not to be spoken to rudely or aggressed... I think, yes, it's a self-regulation and impulse problem. Can't hold himself back physically, often, difficulty with boundaries. I also have over-high expectations, possibly, and get stressed when he doesn't behave like a little gentleman in social situations... I need to try to restrain my judgement and dislike, and try to meet him where he is to expand his skills in this area.