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DS, behaviour, tantrums. I'm worried something isn't right. LONG, sorry.

(51 Posts)
worriedabouttheboy Thu 10-Jul-14 19:26:02

Name changing regular, posting here for traffic and so it disappears in 90 days.

DS is 5yo and generally a sweet, happy bundle of energy. I love him with all my heart and I'm worried that this post is going to make it seem as if I don't like him very much. I don't want to be here posting negative things about him, I'm in tears writing this.

Some days are good days, some days are terrible, the majority fall somewhere in between but all of the days have behaviours in common. I'm trying to think of the easiest way to describe it all.

So, a typical day. DS is a fidget, a live wire, a wriggler, he's fizzy, energetic, bubbly - however it is you want to phrase it (and I've heard all the phrases, believe me), that's what he is. He finds it really hard to sit still. His version of sitting still contains movement. For example if he's sitting on the sofa watching a DVD he will sit on his bottom, then he will kneel, then he'll lie on his back with his feet in the air, then he'll kneel again, then he'll bounce on his knees, then he'll roll along the sofa, and so on. This is him sitting still. If we go out anywhere that involves sitting or being still such as the bus or the cinema or anything like that it takes a combination of cajoling, persuading, bribing and constant praising to get him to sit semi-still.

When we're out he touches. He touches everything. If we get in a lift he presses all the buttons. If we pass a door with one of those silver touch pads to make it automatically open he has to press it. At the chemist he heads straight for the make-up and coats his face in as much slap as he can get his hands on from the tester trays. He rolls on the floors or suddenly drops and scoots on his knees. He walks over to babies in buggies and gets in their faces, in a friendly way but very much in their space. He plays with whatever is on the shelves. Last week I had to pay for a whoopee cushion after he put it on the floor, jumped into the air, and landed on it bum first at great force and speed. It burst blush but he didn't seem to think he'd done anything wrong. He was upset when I used his pocket money to pay for it but that was all, he wasn't at all bothered by what he'd done.

He can be impulsive. I'm struggling to think of a specific example off the top of my head but at least 4 or 5 times a week either DH or I will utter the phrase "what on earth possessed you to do that?" I've remembered one. For reasons known only to himself he forced one of the baby's vests over his head and somehow managed to get his arms most of the way through the sleeves too. These vests are sized 6-9 months so you can imagine what he looked like. We had to cut him out of it.

He runs off. If he sees a cat or a bird that's it, he's away. I had to stop him taking his bike to school after he very calmly cycled straight into the path of a car. Thank Christ for good brakes and quick reactions and I don't blame the driver for the mouthful of abuse he hurled at us both. DS wasn't at all bothered, he cried but only because I shrieked his name, he wasn't fazed at all by the car screeching to a stop literally inches away from him.

He accidentally hurts his younger siblings. Just tonight he accidentally headbutted the baby while being silly and yesterday accidentally bum-shoved DC2 into the side of the coffee table, again while being silly. He also plays rough and takes it too far. He was in trouble yesterday for punching DH in the side of the head. DH was doing horsey rides, DS (laughing) smacked him full force in the side of the head.

The very good days are magical. He sits. He listens. He plays beautifully. He's my little helper, my best friend, and really well behaved.

The bad days are horrendous. At dinner tonight he tried to take DC2's piece of garlic bread. He had eaten his but wouldn't touch his pasta, he just wanted more bread. He was told no by DC2 then no by DH and by me. Next thing he was in my face, trying to press his forehead into my forehead, glowering at me and telling me through gritted teeth "I. WANT. GAR. LIC. BREAD!" He was excused from the table and sent into the living room to calm down, which he did. Then came bedtime where, even though he was tired, he decided he didn't want to go to bed. He screeched aggressively, screamed in 3 yo DC2's face and had DC2 crying and frightened. He was violent towards DH, violent towards me, was slapping himself in the face. It was shortlived and he was asleep within 20 minutes but not without sobbing tears. There are always sobbing tears afterwards and he's always sorry and wants to be hugged. I was shocked at the 20 minutes as usually the tantrums can last hours. He once had one that last six miserable, heartbreaking hours. Six hours of screaming and violence and sobbing.

The bad days, thankfully, are maybe once a month, the good days too, the rest of the days are the middle sort.

I've asked school for their take and they don't have any problems with him. He's a little fidgety and a little easily distracted but he's one of the youngest in his year so they expect it. His work is good and his reading is excellent (his reading age was recently assessed as 8 years and 10 months), he takes an interest in the class topics and he plays with the other children. They're doing aquatics this term and he's obsessed with marine life. I have to record sea life documentaries, he gets all fish books from the library and we're taking him to the aquarium next week.

Gosh this is really long. I'm sorry.

I'm worried he's not happy, I'm worried he's not like the other children. He seems like much harder work because he doesn't listen and he doesn't follow instructions and all the other things I've described. PILs think it's down to us, that we are too soft and he needs a sore bottom to make him think twice (we don't smack) but DC2 has the exact same parenting and is completely different to him (DC3 is just a baby so cannot compare yet). Surely if it was us and our parenting, as PILs seem to think, then DC2 would be the same as DS?

Please don't think he's a little shit (as they do) or that he's naughty. He's not, he's really not. We try and teach him but it never seems to sink in and he is a sweet happy boy most of the time. He's so loving. He picks flowers for me and we sing together and play games together and it's usually lovely but the negative things are starting to overshadow the lovely things and I don't know what to do.

Any advice?

ImperialBlether Thu 10-Jul-14 19:35:44

I think it's really awful when any adult describes a child as 'a little shit.' Do his own grandparents actually say that?

When you were describing him, he sounded like the little boy in Outnumbered - hyper, bright, exuberant, friendly and inquisitive.

His tantrums do sound worrying, especially hitting himself.

If he had ADHD, could he possibly be still in school? I wouldn't have thought so.

ImperialBlether Thu 10-Jul-14 19:36:16

He doesn't sound naughty; that's to do with intent, isn't it?

PioneersAndPirateShips Thu 10-Jul-14 19:36:28

I really feel for you. You clearly adore him and it must be extremely tough. I don't think you have caused this, it may be a phase he is going to go through or it may be something more but I think you should make an appointment at the GP to talk this Ithrough. Maybe without him but if someone could film it on their phone that might help explain it?

[Flowers] for you

PioneersAndPirateShips Thu 10-Jul-14 19:37:26


306235388 Thu 10-Jul-14 19:39:04

Ds is 7 and since he turned 5 he's been through phases like this especially in terms of the mood swings and tantrums. We try and ignore mainly and take away privileges.

I don't punish ds for not sitting still, he does so at school when he needs to but struggles otherwise. That's ok by me.

I know you say he isn't naughty and I get that but things like using the testers in the chemists and screaming in your face are naughty behaviours.

Also remember your kids may well need parenting in different ways, I know mine do.

I don't think I'm being much use here. How is he for example when with you guys but socialising with others?

trendytoes Thu 10-Jul-14 19:39:07

How old was he when your next child was born? Could it be jealousy? Do you and/or your DH do things just with him if you don't already? To give him special time. It's good news that he's well behaved at school.

yongnian Thu 10-Jul-14 19:40:01

Didn't want to read and run and sure there'll be someone along with better advice....
Firstly, I don't think any the worse of you for saying 'negative things'. You love your little boy, are worried about him and need a place to be honest and let it out. I've been there so I know exactly how it feels.
The best advice I can give you? If you 'know' deep down his behaviour (not him - his behaviour) is somewhere, somehow out of the normal range, even if school have no issue, PILS are unsupportive (ignore) then ask your GP for a referral to CAMHS. (child and adolescent mental health) When I was at this point with DD, the most reassuring thing a friend said to me was 'they won't find anything if it's not there to find.'
The process wil likely take ages....but that way you will find out what's going on...and how best to support your little boy.'s hard xx

MorvahRising Thu 10-Jul-14 19:41:15

It sounds very like ADHD to me. Do go and talk to your GP because if it is, there is an awful lot that can be done to help.

ItHasANiceRingWhenYouLaugh Thu 10-Jul-14 19:42:58

Aw, love. That is my son! grin And getting him a bit of help has been fantastic.

In particular, looking into sensory processing disorder and making changes to help his proprioceptive system (his sense of where his body is in space) has been totally transformative. Also, fiddle toys.

And it means I can recognise that it is nothing to do with what he wants to do, nothing to do with naughtiness, everything to do with his body and wiring.

The reason the teachers aren't worried is because LOADS of kids are like this, esp 5 year old boys. grin But it is crazy hard to handle at home esp with stupid in laws.

ItHasANiceRingWhenYouLaugh Thu 10-Jul-14 19:44:26

Also, tantrums due to sensory overload make sense of a seemingly baffling situation.

TheWorldAccordingToJC Thu 10-Jul-14 19:49:30

My 7 year old has ADHD and he's perfectly fine at school Blether ... Not sure what you mean by not being able to attend school with ADHD ? Of course children do

OP - speak to the school in the first instance

BlueSprite Thu 10-Jul-14 19:52:11

Has he always been like this? Reason I ask is that I have a 4.5 year old whose behaviour has become more like this recently. Swings off my arms when out, seems to be pulled like a magnet towards items on shelves, gets 'overwrought' and hyper and it can be really difficult to get through to him in this state. I could go on! He is also an excellent reader.

My DS reacts very badly to sugar and overtiredness. Could this be the case for your boy - end-of-term-itis plus all the extra biscuits/sweets that they seem to get at school this time of year (at least they do at DS' school!)?

He sounds very loveable, if frustrating (like mine) smile

Alice2014 Thu 10-Jul-14 19:53:19

I would say there are some compulsive almost autistic spectrum based tendencies; but just being inquisitive and too busy to sit still. He's clearly a bright and competent young boy. A chat with your GP would do no harm - but perhaps book it without your son there so you can discuss things without making a big deal or bringing things to his attention.

Iworrymyselftosleep Thu 10-Jul-14 19:58:17

worried I clicked on this as even the title resonated with me. My DS is 4. We have some similar issues and this week I've started the process of talking to the health visitor and seeking referrals. I've found it so hard to get to this stage: we have some more acute issues - he's just started play group prior to preschool and its not going well. I fully understand the confusion with the good days bad days etc. all I can say is what I've been saying to myself - if there are some issues then the sooner they're identified and supported the better it is for him, and for the rest of the family. And my other mantra is - he's still the same child.

JammyGeorge Thu 10-Jul-14 20:03:10

My ds1 is 4, he has a lot of those traits.

Can't sit still or be still ever, he even wriggles in his sleep!

He is rough with his little brother and other kids at nursery, not intentionally hitting but barging into them.

He's also loud boisterous and has just in the last month or so started throwing major paddies and hitting DH and me.

At the pit of my stomach I think there is something out of the realms of 'normal' but he is so young and the tantrums are so recent I'm going to see if it passes but I will read this thread with interest. I do think there is an attention seeking aspect to it though.

Iworrymyselftosleep Thu 10-Jul-14 20:04:54

ithasanicering - my health visitor wants to explore sensory processing issues - I'm almost teary at your post where you say it helps understand the tantrums as deep down I feel DS isnt being naughty, just overwhelmed. That a spd could help explain some is very reassuring to hear. (Sorry op for talking to others in your thread blush

ImperialBlether Thu 10-Jul-14 20:06:20

TheWorldAccordingToJC, sorry, all I meant was could a child with ADHD be perfectly still and quiet in school, but never still and quiet at home?

Ratfans Thu 10-Jul-14 20:07:40

He sounds like a few little boys I know of a similar age. I have a friend with a little boy in reception who sounds just like your DS. I admit I find him hard work after a couple of hours in their company grin She was also astonished to hear that school didn't have any problems with him.

I'm not sure if this is correct - but I imagine teachers see so many children throughout their career that they know what's typical behaviour for a 5 year old boy. And they're what they're saying now is that your DS is a little fidgety and a little easily distracted. But that he is young so they aren't worried about it for now, he may grow out if it.

My DD has hit herself during a tantrum, she has possible aspergers. She is also hard work but in a totally different way grin School told me in reception and Year 1 that she was a little immature and easily upset, but as she was also a young one in the year they weren't concerned. By Year 2 they were telling me they suspected aspergers and I should seek assessment.

I guess a certain range of undesirable behaviours are expected in a young child, and it's only when they don't grow out of them in line with their peers that alarm bells start to ring.

If you're really worried and want to do something about it now, go to your GP and ask for a referral. He might grow out of it, or learn to manage his energy and inquistiveness better as he gets older, but there's no harm getting him down on the waiting list for assessment if you are worried now.

Or you could just use the wait and see approach.

ThingyTheBusCleaner Thu 10-Jul-14 20:11:06

Hmm it's shouting ADHD to me too.

I'm not an expert but I'm a teacher and I've seen it a bit in my class.

My friend's DS is just like this. She doesn't seem to see it but I'm convinced there's something. I'd be looking for more expert advice if I were you.

FanjoForTheMammaries Thu 10-Jul-14 20:13:30

It won't hurt to have an assessment if even just to rule ADHd out

mynameisnotmichaelcaine Thu 10-Jul-14 20:17:35

You sound like a lovely Mummy. I would go to the GP on your own and tell them what you've told us. I am an SEN teacher, and have taught very bright boys with ADHD, that you would not have known they had it (would sit and listen to a story for hours if you'd let them etc). Apparently, at home they were very different.

GP might say it all sounds normal, but tbh, if it's getting you down like this, it's worth investigating imo.

CrystalSkulls Thu 10-Jul-14 20:17:59

my 7yo has ADHD, your ds sounds very similar!

And breathe...don't panic! Your son sounds georgeous - even though you are obviously finding him hard work.

OK - I can see this is at a level when it is bothering you. I'm not an expert, but have tutored a wide range of children, some with special needs and some not. From what you have written, I can see a few things that remind me of ADHD or autistic spectrum behaviour, but a lot that also seems to be typical SBS (small boy syndrome :D)

It is good that school don't seem to have problems as if it were ADHD or Autistic Spectrum you would expect problems there too. The fact that he has good days with you too is also a good sign.

One thing you could do - start keeping a diary. Note when you have the good days, and the bad days and the in-between days. Note what seems to kick things off (it may be random things like not being allowed his brother's garlic bread!) but also any changes/unusual events or out of routine things that might have happened. It may even be food related - when he has certain foods he has a bad day.

This will help you see exactly how many good and bad days you are having because as you said it is easy to let the bad overshadow the good. It will also show you if there are any patterns or things that trigger his bad behaviour ( eg tea was later than usual, he was over-tired etc). It will also give you some detail so that if things don't improve and you want to mention it to your health visitor/GP or whatever, you can be clear about the issues.

As far as impulsiveness is concerned, children with ADHD ( ADHD is the extreme end of short term memory problems - not saying your son has it) have very poor short term memories. That's why they end up being impulsive as they literally don't remember what they've just been told or what they are supposed to do and get totally distacted by the latest impulsive thought ( eg pressing a lift button etc). They get upset, because they genuinely didn't remember what was just said to them, or the latest impulsive thought was so overwhelming that they just had to do it!

You might try games to assess your son's short term memory ( Like the I went to the seaside and I took... game where everyone has to add on another item and remember all the previous other ones) and help him develop it further.

For routine things that repeatedly cause problems ( eg messing about when he should be doing something like getting dressed for school etc) you could try lists. Eg " In the morning I will..." and then make a list of things like getting dressed, brushing teeth etc ( great he can read so well by the way). Laminate it and stick it on the fridge. He can come and put a tick by the things he has done without being "nagged" and then go and do the next one. So many ticks in a week (for doing things without being reminded lots) could mean a reward of some sort at the weekend.

His reading ability may be your greatest ally here. I wouldn't rely on him "hearing" your instruction that for example "We don't hit or punch when we are playing" but I'd write it down in a little book all about your DS - for example "DS likes to play horsey rides with Daddy. This is great fun and is exciting. It is OK to have fun playing but it is not OK to hurt anyone. It is not OK to hit Daddy. It is OK to enjoy a fun game though."
You can also do pages about how to behave when near traffic, in the chemist and whatever. Put clearly the expected behaviour "When SD walks to school he stays on the pavement. He must not run into the road...etc" and use the phrases " It is OK to..."and "It is not OK to..." Don't do loads of pages all at once but build it up slowly and read it often with him. Keep the text really simple and clear and use your Ds's name where appropriate so it resonates that it is about him. If you are artistic you could draw pictures to go with the pages or maybe your DS would like to do that or you could do it together.

The above technique is often really useful and works well with autistic children - again I am no way saying your DS is on the spectrum, it can be useful for ther children too, I'm just mentioning in case you come across it in the context of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and wonder why I suggested it.

Be consistent about not accepting aspects of his tantrums while accepting he is upset. ( You could put this in his book. When Ds is upset he wants to scream and shout. It is not OK to scream in Mummy's face. It is not OK to scream in DS2's face. It is OK to tell Mummy or Daddy calmly what is upsetting me. It is OK for DS to go and sit in <special place> until he feels calmer)Try your darn'dest to keep yourself calm and level! Do have consistent consequences for things that you have explained are unacceptable.

I'm really sorry that you are finding this hard. The suggestions I have put are things that can help children who are experiencing difficulties and may help your son, even if he doesn't have a special need. I hope at least some of them feel that they might be helpful.

Ahhhh yes my parents used to think my son was naughty and needed a smack. He's now been diagnosed with ASD. He's high functioning. Can't sit still and can have huge meltdowns when he's over loaded.

After reading lots of books I have got to a stage of truly understanding how I can help him and why he acts like he does.

Funnily enough I hardly see my parents now. Life's hard enough without feeling your child is being judged constantly.

There's no harm in asking a GP or your hv.

I can tell how much you love him by your op. You just want to understand and help him better. There's nothing wrong with that.

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