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Please help: does my almost 4 yo need a child psychologist?

(28 Posts)
LittleOneMum Sun 21-Aug-11 20:32:27

Hello and thanks in advance for your help. I am currently on holiday in France and am typing away on my phone, so sorry for typos.
I have a bright 3 year old DS, he is 4 in a few weeks. I also have a 15 month old DD. Today my DH watched in absolute horror as my DS quite deliberately pushed my DD into the deep end of the pool, where she was kneeling to touch the water. Luckily my DH was very close (we have watched them like hawks near the pool) but she still fell in, my DH had to dive in and get her and had to be pulled out from about half way down. She was fine, just got a fright and was only in the water a matter of seconds. I am very glad I did not witness it ( I was in the loo) but my poor husband is still shaking now, hours later.
The question is - what to do? We had a very big chat with him about swimming pool dangers when we arrived and he is bright enough to understand. Not completely but enough. My DH has confiscated all his toys and said that he has to earn them back.
But this was hideous. Apparently he walked up from a few feet away and quite deliberately pushed her in. No context, no reason.
We are now sitting here thinking the worst about him: if someone else had find it to my DD I would think the child was seriously disturbed.

Child psychologist? Any other tips? DH is saying we should go home a week early. I should also say we have now covered up the pool.

Lulumama Sun 21-Aug-11 20:34:01

He did not think through the potential consequences, he just shoved her in. he's only 3, he did not think that something potentially fatal could happen

shows you can't turn your back for a minute wrt to children and water

dfeffo no reason to come home early or take him to a psychologist

Lulumama Sun 21-Aug-11 20:34:30

you are expecting rather too much from him I think

VaginaPuddleduck Sun 21-Aug-11 20:37:51

I agree with lulu - he's three. He can't conceptualise that she could have drowned and wouldn't be here any more.

I'm more concerned about your DH and your reaction to it than what he did, to be honest.

Do either of you spend a lot of time with your DC? I ask in a totally non judgemental way, it's not a value judgement. It's just that I notice of my friends the ones who have their children in childcare most of the week seem to have a greater capacity to be horrified by the behaviour of their pre schoolers than those who spend a lot of time having to deal with these kind of things.

He's only really still a baby. It'll have been an impulsive thing, he wouldn't have thought through all the consequences (nor, at that age, will he be capable of doing so). Sounds pretty normal to me, to be honest. If he was doing it at 9 or 10, then yes, I'd worry, but not at 3. It sounds like normal sibling rivalry. I pushed my baby sister right off my mum's knee at the same age. I think it's easy to underestimate quite how shoved out an elder sibling can feel, and the upset that can cause (despite the best attempts of the parents to help). A child of 3 will still be having tantrums, and a child that still tantrums hasn't learnt to control their emotions or impulses.
I can, of course, totally understand why you're all so shaken, but he won't have meant to do any real harm.

nomorelostweekends Sun 21-Aug-11 20:42:10

Agree with Lulumama

He had no idea of the potential consequences of his actions

He was a bit naughty, but no more or less than any other child his age. Unfortunately his little sister was standing by the edge of the pool and she got pushed in. Very very scary for you all, including DS.

But...

Really no need for a psychologist (and i am one!!).

Try and put it behind you and get on with your holiday. And give your DS his toys back, otherwise the rest of your holiday is going to be grim for all of you.

Good reminder for all of us about keeping our eyes peeled when kids are near water.

Hope your hol gets better!

Pamplemoussse Sun 21-Aug-11 20:42:12

yes, impulsive, not thinking it through, all normal; he won't have had a notion of the consequences

now, you say the pool is covered up - is it also fenced? lock the fence and be ultra cautious (am assuming you are in a villa) and vigilant

bialystockandbloom Sun 21-Aug-11 20:43:22

How scary for your dh - hope he's feeling less shaky now.

No I don't think a child psych is needed. Ds is 3yo and just did a silly, impulsive thing - maybe out of curiosity? It's the same as when children just run into the middle of the road. Unless you suspect him of any other underlying (or visible) aggression or disturbed behaviour? Is he normally aggressive to her? Doesn't sound like it, so I would just put this down to a misjudged bit of silliness from him, not actually vindictiveness.

I would just simply keep a closer eye on them and actually I wouldn't let either of my children (similar ages) alone to wander by a pool without holding my hand - esp the younger one.

VaginaPuddleduck Sun 21-Aug-11 20:45:59

You need to ask yourselves as well - is DH cross at your son, or cross at himself?

Because I have a 14 month old, and no way would I be in a situation where she was next to the deep end of a swimming pool and I was 'really close' but not close enough to actually stop her going in. No way would I be diving in after her. If she was paddling by the pool I would be holding her while she did so.

Hassled Sun 21-Aug-11 20:47:19

He's away from home and probably a bit unsettled. He does not have the capability to think through "if I do X then Y will happen and it will mean Z". He's not bright enoug to understand - he can't be, he's 3. It was an impulse, and he went for it - maybe a bit of jealousy was part of it, but that was all. Nothing sinister, almost certainly standard sibling jealousy. Not the same as wanting his sister dead.

The moral of the story is that you're quite right to watch the pool like hawks. That's all. Relax, calm down - you've had a hell of a shock, but please try to get past it and enjoy Week 2.

welliesandpyjamas Sun 21-Aug-11 20:47:44

If he was, say, 8 then you'd have something to worry about. But he's only 3, just growing from toddlerhood in to boyhood, unable to fully understand danger, death, etc. Yes, be very serious and firm with him, to make sure the incident helps him learn, but don't condemn him/write him off as a bad egg. Does he do other things along these lines? How is henromally with your dd? How old is your dd? How is she towards him?

fuckityfuckfuckfuck Sun 21-Aug-11 20:49:05

Agreed, the problem herewas that your dd was at the deep end at all- she could quite as easily have fallen in herself. ANd your dh was sat watching her as well shock To have confiscated your ds's toys is a major overreaction, and tbh it sounds like you are heping a lot of blame and responsibility on a little boy. Going home a week early? Really??

winnybella Sun 21-Aug-11 20:49:30

There's certainly no reason to cut the holiday short hmm Or to take your son to a psychologist.

Tbh I find it odd that you would even consider it.

He's very small still- I think you and your DH are overreacting in considering a possibility that your son is a psychopath in the making.

welliesandpyjamas Sun 21-Aug-11 20:51:00

Oh sorry, just re read to see that dd is 15 months old. Then definitely don't leave her out of your reach near deep water.

LittleOneMum Sun 21-Aug-11 21:08:55

I am really grateful for your posts. Thank you so much. Some really wise stuff in there, have read them all to my DH. You are right that he is still very small (my DS that is!) and I agree that he did not understand the consequences. I said this at the time, but my DH (who yes as someone pointed out, works full time and does not deal with this all the time) I think expects too much of him. I am deeply relieved that you don't think he is in need of some help! I definitely will not write him off promise...
And I would be very upset if my DH made us go home from my much-longed for holiday...
Anyway, thanks again. Will put it down to experience and give him his toys back tomorrow, poor little thing x

michglas Sun 21-Aug-11 21:13:15

He's just a baby himself. I am more concerned that your DD was allowed to kneel by the deep end, to touch the water. She could have easily fallen in herself.

ThatllDoPig Sun 21-Aug-11 21:15:26

Just wanted to say good luck and hope you and your DH are feeling much better. All kids need to be watched constantly near water.
One day you will look back on the incident and laugh, probably with your kids. One day!
Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of your holiday, and don't worry too much about your DS just love him.

VaginaPuddleduck Sun 21-Aug-11 21:18:02

Forget about it (except for what it taught you about staying close to your DD) and enjoy your holiday.

Buy DS a big ice cream tomorrow and have a great week smile

cat64 Sun 21-Aug-11 21:18:13

Message withdrawn

fortyplus Sun 21-Aug-11 21:25:58

I agree with all that's been said but would add one comment: your ds won't have understood the possible consequences of his actions but it would be reasonable to have a little chat with him when you give his toys back and say that his sister must have been very frightened when she was pushed in because she can't swim. And that he mustn't push her because she's smaller than him and he could hurt her. Those are concepts that he can understand - the possibility of drowning and that his sister would be gone forever are beyond a 3 year old's comprehension.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday and do keep much closer to your children when they're near the water! smile

NeedaCostume Sun 21-Aug-11 21:26:12

I agree with other posts.

There is a story that my Dad, when he was almost 4, came running in from the garden blurting out 'babySister's crying, and I didn't hit her on the head with a broom'!

That was back in 1948, and such naughty behaviour from toddlers towards their siblings has been going on much longer than that.

Love your son tomorrow and thank you for the reminder of how careful we must all be with kids near water.

emmanumber3 Sun 21-Aug-11 21:32:27

I totally agree with the previous posts. Firstly, at 15 months, there is no way my DD would be alone close enough to any water, let alone the deep end of a swimming pool, to be pushed in. I know you say your DH was close but clearly not close enough. Any further away than actually holding her hand is too far away IMHO. Had you not considered that she could have actually fallen in all by herself, had her brother not pushed her?

Secondly, your DS is only 3. Yes, he was naughty but you are over reacting to think that he had evil intentions.

jugglingwiththreeshoes Sun 21-Aug-11 21:33:34

We were on a family holiday abroad and all the kids were walking round the pool while we had our evening meal on the nearby terrace. Fortunately one of the smallest children had their parent with them ( so anyway there was one adult from our party with them ) One of the slightly older children (aged about 6 ?) fell in and had to be fished out by their Uncle. He was fine but everyone got a bit of a fright.
These things can happen so easily, especially in unfamiliar places.
I'd just be really thankful that your DH was near enough.
And, like us, you'll probably re-evaluate how dangerous that pool can be, and be extra vigilant from now on.
I really hope in the next few days you will begin to enjoy your holiday again, and have a lovely second week together smile
Big hugs to both your DC's, hey ?

fortyplus Sun 21-Aug-11 21:39:11

At 15 months old even a tiny amount of water is a huge hazard. I just returned from a holiday where the local paper sadly carried a report of a 1 year old left unattended for 10 minutes drowned in a few inches of water & cleaning fluid at the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket in his parents' garage.

PacificDogwood Sun 21-Aug-11 21:42:52

3 year olds are savages <<gavel>>

I have nothing to add to all the other wise posters, just a wee story:

One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting on my trike, aged about 3 1/2, looking down a flight of concrete steps leading to the basement of the block of flats with lived in at the time. I considered carefully what it might be like to cycle down those steps. Then, dear reader, I did.
It hurt. There was blood, but no broken bones. My mum came running and comforted me right until I told her I had done it deliberately grin.

Also, aged 4, my brother (aged 2) and I were playing 'who can hold their breath the longest?' at the local lake, 'watched' by my dad (who was reading the paper hmm). We basically crouched down under water and whoever came up first, lost. Anyway, I was most impressed when my DB did not come up. And didn't come up. And still didn't come up.
Eventually, I screamed and my dad fished him out (he had stepped into a hole and gone under, but was totally calm the entire time; just came up and took a big breath in shock).

The point of my reminiscing (sp?) is: at that age children have very poor judgement and no sense of consequences.

So, have a glass of wine. And another one wine for your DH.

Maybe Dh should spend a lot of quality time with his children this holiday wink?? Just a thought grin - you could go to a spa!

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