4yo says "I want to disappear. I want to die" after getting in trouble

(17 Posts)
WhyWhyWhyWhat Mon 28-Jul-14 22:37:47

sad It's really bad isn't it? I feel sick.

He's only just 4.

5 minute warning for bedtime. He didn't want to go when it was up, made a fuss so I picked him up to put him upstairs. He was thrashing around and I was struggling to hold him. He kicked a big picture off the wall and it crashed down the stairs. I was angry and shouted "Fucking Hell DS!" (bad I know) and put him down, went into my bedroom to calm down. He was crying for me on the stairs so when I had calmed down I went to get him and do normal bedtime.

I told him what had happened was unacceptable, if I say 5 minutes I mean it etc. I was speaking to him nicely, not angry and just trying to explain, he was asking questions about what happened. I apologised for shouting and suggested ways he could make it better, ie say sorry to me and next time not make a fuss when I say bedtime is bedtime.

But when he said he wanted to disappear and then kept saying he wanted to die because of the picture, I felt fucking shit. He is aware of death because my dad is dead and has been asking questions but how could he put that together to him wanting to be dead?

Has anyone come across a young child saying things like that? I feel terrified that I have already screwed him up. He is very sensitive.

WhyWhyWhyWhat Mon 28-Jul-14 23:07:05

Bump? Anyone?

Glastogirl Mon 28-Jul-14 23:10:06

Go to the GP and tell them all this. They should refer on to CAMHS who deal with children's mental health and will be able to assess him and offer the right support and advice smile

slightlyglitterstained Mon 28-Jul-14 23:10:09

DS is just two, so mainly replying to bump this for you - to me I can see how it would be horrible to hear, but he doesn't understand what he's saying really, just that it's powerful in some way?

Glastogirl Mon 28-Jul-14 23:10:31

You haven't screwed him up either!!

Happy36 Mon 28-Jul-14 23:14:07

Bless him, and you. I don't think he understands what he's saying, but do keep an eye on him. Fix the picture together and tell him about something similar you did when you were his age. Don't make a big deal out of him saying "die" if it's just happened once. Hope it resolves happily for you all.

WhyWhyWhyWhat Mon 28-Jul-14 23:26:31

Thank you for the replies/bumps, especially Glasto for saying I haven't screwed him up.

slightlyglitterstained and Happy36, unfortunately I do think he understands it. He has actually said he wants to die once before but I thought he couldn't possibly understand what it meant so blocked it out. But tonight the combination of him sobbing that he wants to disappear/die and that he feels bad, makes me feel that he wishes not to exist because he feels bad about himself.

I will make a GP appointment.

steppemum Mon 28-Jul-14 23:27:51

It sounds to me as if he gave himself a huge fright with the picture. He was then upset because he knew he had upset you.

He is aware of death because of your dad and knows it is bad but doesn't really understand it.

So he said it as a way to express that he feels really really bad and upset.

Unless there are others worries, I would give him a hug and tell him you love him and that when bad things happen it makes us feel bad etc.

WhyWhyWhyWhat Mon 28-Jul-14 23:35:37

Thank you steppemum, you have broken it down really well for me. I did tell him that I loved him and that he was more important than a picture etc. But yes I do have other concerns, I didn't want to make the post too long by going into it all.

odyssey2001 Mon 28-Jul-14 23:43:37

Just my opinion, but I think going to the GP is an overreaction at the moment. A referral to CAHMS is a major deal and this is not something that needs medicalising. There are some great children's books that deal with death. Have a look on Amazon. Hopefully someone will come along with some suggestions.

For what its worth, I think he knows death is bad, he knows kicking the picture was bad, ergo he wants to die. That is small child logic. Saying that he wants to disappear is no different to a toddler hiding their face thinking that if they can't see me, they can't tell me off.

Deal with his concept of death, monitor it and move on.

steppemum Mon 28-Jul-14 23:46:20

I hadn't seen you last post, yes if it is regular thing, I would make a gp appointment.

I think that children find strong emotions hard to describe/express. Eg my friend's son says he is cold when he means scared or ill or upset. They can also be unnerved by the strong feeling.

It can help to teach them words for the things they feel. So helping them understand the difference between sad/angry/upset/scared.

And part of that is validating feelings, so it is normal to feel angry and it is ok to express it. We have to learn how to express it in a way that is safe (so not hitting people, but maybe hitting a cushion)

odyssey2001 Mon 28-Jul-14 23:46:57

Sorry cross post. If there are other issues and you think this is part if a wider issue, then a chat with your GP won't harm anyone. Pushing for a CAHMS referral may be a non-starter. They don't really work with children of this age (in our area anyway).

Hmmm..... Maybe not a good idea to try and carry a thrashing 4 year old upstairs. It's very dangerous because of the risk of losing your balance - it could have been both of you falling downstairs and not the picture.

He knows he upset you because you went into the bedroom to calm down but to him it probably seems like you just didn't want to be near him. He probably had a massive shock and needed you to stay with him rather than retreat to be on your own. Would it be worth trying to work through ways of how you can deal with your anger with him when such situations arise again, without you having to withdraw to a room away from him? He will possibly see that as rejection? Whereas if you find a way to stay calm but WITH him but also in control of the situation he might feel more confident that while you don't like that behaviour it doesn't mean to say that you don't like HIM iyswim?

Obviously if you find your anger at him getting out of hand it's absolutely the right thing to do to go to a different room to calm down but I think if at all possible if you can find a way to stay with him but calm, that would be preferable.

Also if he sees YOU "disappear" (to a different room) as a way to cope with YOUR bad feelings, he might be thinking that that's how he can make his bad feelings go away too.

And it's not beyond the realms of possibility for a 4 year old to have picked up in the idea of there being some kind of peace when people die, especially if he has overheard any talk of ill people suffering and then talk of "he's at peace now; he's happy and not suffering anymore."

You never know, even though his anger with himself over such incidents as the picture is just transitory, in his mind he could be thinking "I would be happy and at peace and all my upset ei if I were in heaven."

Sorry:

"...... and all my upset would be gone if I were in heaven." Of course he doesn't realise the permanence of death so to us it sounds well over the top but to him it could sound perfectly reasonable as a way to solve his problem AT THAT MOMENT.

Mrscaindingle Tue 29-Jul-14 00:16:51

I have had my youngest, now 10, say similar things. He is also very sensitive and worries a lot, he went through a phase when he turned 7 where he was very anxious about death and he can be quite hard on himself at times. It is getting much better as he gets older and he is able to use past experiences to help him realise he can cope with things and not to over react to things that worry or disappoint him.

There are lots of good books on Amazon about helping children deal with their anxieties and I would also say that you do not want to medicalise this at the moment. Obviously if it continues then a visit to the GP might help allay your fears but CAMHS are unlikely to see a 4 year old.

Try not to beat yourself up about the picture etc, these things happen and bedtimes are often quite fraught anyway. You sound like a caring mum and now you realise how he is feeling you will be better prepared to deal with any similar outbursts from now on.

WhyWhyWhyWhat Tue 29-Jul-14 00:35:21

CurlyhairedAssassin, I don't think I can get calm, keep control and stay with him. I do need that space to calm down. And maybe it wasn't the right thing to take him upstairs, but really what can you do, its late, we are both tired after a long day, I'm a lone parent. I couldn't see another solution as he was refusing to go to bed but I knew he would calm down once he was there and could choose a story etc.

Thank you Mrscaindingle, great to hear that your son is learning to handle his anxieties. Can you point me to some of those books, do you mean adult books that explain to parents or books to read with children?

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