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What is this potentially dangerous impulsive streak?

(6 Posts)
SleeplessNight Mon 08-Aug-11 05:47:29

DS2 is nearly 5. He is lively, witty, articulate and highly observant. At his best, he is an absolute joy to be around. However, he craves a high level of attention. From being a small baby it has been quite clear that negative attention will do quite as well as positive attention, and I'm well aware of the need to try and keep that in check by trying to give him as much positive attention as possible,and to react calmy and consistently when things go wrong. Despite that, he has a strong mischief-making streak that surfaces whenever that attention dips below a certain level. I cope with the general naughtiness reasonably well, and find the methods described in the "How to talk so kids will listen ...." book really helpful. However, occasionaly he will get a certain glint in his eye that tells me I have seconds to react before he does something really bad. Examples are:
- While enjoying throwing stones in a river, suddenly aiming a rock at his brother's back, visibly wrestling with himself over whether the thrill of throwing it is worth the risk of a telling-off. (In the end he did throw it, and caused a huge bruise. I dread to think what would have happened if it had been aimed at his brother's head).
- While helping to put up a tent, suddenly picking up a mallet and hurling it, again at his brother.
- While generally being very road-safety aware, suddenly giving his brother a push into the road.
- Deliberately, and randomly, throwing a handful of sand into a child's face while playing in a sandpit.
- Deliberately trying to shock (or, in his view, cause amusement) by pulling his pants down at school or shouting rude words.
- Deliberately walking into strangers in the street, or ramming them with his scooter
-While being a great lover of animals, when stroking a dog he might suddenly pull its tail, or leap on top of it, in a way that could cause the dog to react badly.
-Deliberately touching something he has been told is dangerous, like a kettle or candle.
-Deliberately pushing over or otherwise hurting a younger child. (He's very gentle and loving with babies, but if a child is a year or so younger, and particularly if they aren't very verbally communicative, I have to watch him very carefully).

Its noticeable that many of these incidents involve his brother (age 7). DS1 has a very different personality. He can be very lively, and then they play together wonderfully, but at other times he can be very self absorbed, and it is then that these incidents often occur. I do what I can to explain to DS2 that big-bro sometimes needs his own space, and to explain to DS1 that little-bro wants his attention, but obviously they're a bit too little to understand all of that.

Another trigger for incidents seems to be when playing around other children that he doesn't know very well, or is finding it hard to communicate with. He wants to make an impact, to start a game, to make friends, but the only way he can see of doing that is to create some kind of strong reaction. I try to help him find more postive ways of joining in, but I'm not always succesful.

The third trigger for bad behaviour is strongly related to how I'm feeling. If I've had a run of bad-sleep nights, or have something on my mind, or just some jobs to do of my own, so I'm a bit less attentive than normal, then it generally has negative consequences.

I'd appreciate any help and advice from people who have experienced similar difficulties. I generally think (hope) that he'll grow out of it, but if there's anything I should be reading, or something I should be doing differently, or some kind of magic solution, then I'm all ears!

pinkytheshrinky Mon 08-Aug-11 06:58:30

My DD does this sort of stuff. We have recently taken her to a Educational Psych and they have found her to be very slightly on the autism spectrum/ she also has some attention deficit although is incredibly well behaved at school and has no 'behaviourla' problems as such - the woman said that the impulsivity is the biggest tell for this. Not trying to freak you out in any way at all but hers has become more marked/more noticeable as she has got older (she is 7). That said I have a son who is 2.5 and have noticed the difference in how dangerous he is compared to when my daughters were little - he will climb, throw and run off and although I am assuming that this is normal (for now at least)

SleeplessNight Wed 10-Aug-11 16:50:50

Thanks pinkytheshrinky. It doesn't really freak me out as I know autism/aspergers is quite a wide spectrum, and he has so many positive qualities that even if he did register on it I think it would be manageable. However, I don't think I would want him to be 'labelled' with it, and so would be wary of getting him tested, unless I thought some positive benefit could come from that. What process did you go through to get your DD tested? Was she referred to a psychologist via her school? Has it led to any kind of positive help, beyond the peace of mind of a diagnosis?

pinkpip100 Wed 10-Aug-11 17:51:02

SleeplessNight, you could be talking about my ds2 (4.7), right down to the look in his eye when he is about to do something awful. It is as though he just can't help himself - a kind of wildness takes over. Ds1 is a very different personality and although they often play really well together, its usually when ds1 wants to stop playing to read quietly (which he often does) or feels a game is getting too physical, that ds2 will strike and hit/kick/throw something. The other trigger points (playing with other children/trying to make new friends/reacting to my mood) also sound very similar.

Sorry, I wish I had a solution or some words of wisdom, but I am also struggling with how to deal with ds2's behaviour. I just wanted you to know you're not alone!

SleeplessNight Thu 11-Aug-11 08:54:22

Hello pinkpip100, good to hear from you. It sounds like we have parallel lives! I wonder if our DS1s are similar too. Mine was always the type of child who absorbed himself in games that needed lots of concentration and reacted very strongly if someone interrupted, so DS2 learnt very early how to make his big-bro react, and has been pressing the same buttons ever since!

Does your DS2 like books? Mine has always loved stories, and I use reading as a way of calming him down (TV works well too, but isn't so good for my conscience smile). He will make a bee-line for any book-corner, and can absorb himself for ages just looking at the pictures. I see this as a very big light at the end of the tunnel, because I think as soon as he learns to read independently, he'll be able to use it as a self-calming method, and will need less of my attention. Fingers crossed!

pinkpip100 Sun 14-Aug-11 20:09:21

Hi SleeplessNight, sorry for very slow reply, but yes DS2 also likes books and loves one-to-one adult attention, so reading to him fulfills both of these and does calm him down. Not always possible/convenient though, but I know I should make more time for it....

DS1 also sounds similar to yours; loves detailed, involved games and doesn't like being interrupted.

Also hoping that going to school and learning to read makes a real difference. Ds2 is such a lovely, kind boy the rest of the time. I am trying to read recommended books 'How to Talk...' and 'Playful Parenting' for some pointers too.

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