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4yo very sensitive - cries and gets angry at the slightest thing - advice?

(8 Posts)
Pomander Thu 11-Oct-12 16:48:09

I am really struggling with my ds.

He has been "high maintenance" since he was born - clingy, cried a lot, didn't like being handed to someone else, etc.

I thought this was just a baby/toddler thing, but he is now 4 and still the same.

For example, if I took him to see Father Christmas, he would have a meltdown and under no circumstances would he go in, even though lots of other children would be happy and excited about it. He doesn't like crowds, unless he is holding someone's hand, not really that keen on starting new things like school.

He started school last month and has settled in well(ish), but even though lots of other children are happily skipping in by themselves, he is adamant that I go with him to the door. He is perfectly capable of walking to the door from the gate by himself, but if I suggest it he will start crying uncontrollably. He also says he cries every day in assembly - when I ask why, he says it is scary.

Today there was a stay and play at the school - when I went in I was so happy to see him happily playing with his friends. But after a few minutes, he knocked over a boys tower (not sure if accidentally or on purpose), and one of the other boys told the tower maker boy grin who then told the teacher. The whole time this was going on, my ds was crying and grabbing at both of the boys saying "no, no, don't" and when the teacher was told, he went into a complete meltdown, crying uncontrollably because he didn't want to be told off.

I tried to stay out of it, but then he came over to me, so I felt I should give him a cuddle as it would be cruel not to. It took him ages to calm down.

I distracted him and asked him to show me round the class and he was fine after that - had a great time playing, but when the teacher said it was time to tidy up, he got upset again because he didn't want to stop playing.

When we left the school he started trying to hit out at the boy who had "grassed him up" to the other boy.

It is not just at school that he is like this - at home he can switch between being angelic, to being a horrible little boy who hits and kicks. If we ask him to sit on the naughty step, he will do it, but as soon as he is off he will start nonsense like if you ask him to say sorry, he will say "I'm not sorry"

I tried to talk to him calmly about the tower incident and asked how he would feel if someone knocked over his tower. He said he would feel sad. Then I said, well, how do you think X felt? He said he would have been happy.....

I just don't know what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong.

I can cope with the naughtiness - I know that's normal, but it's the extreme reaction to things - the sudden meltdowns and uncontrollable crying that I find difficult.

It's as if his emotions are bubbling under the surface and the tiniest thing will just set him off.

I feel sorry for the teachers, but also it makes me feel sad, because everyone else looks so content and happy and I can see all the looks that he and I get, and feel that I am being judged sad.

If anyone has any experience or advice it would be much appreciated.

neverwhere Thu 11-Oct-12 22:23:03


lljkk Fri 12-Oct-12 08:02:08

Awwww, he's only little. It's amazing how much composure some of them can muster, when you think about it. Wouldn't we all like to be gibbering wrecks some days.

I wonder if one of those books like The Highly Sensitive Child might help you, at the very least they might have suggestions for coping with the behaviour, regardless of whether you find the label useful.

Whatever else I would try to respect the sensitivity whilst encouraging him to be more confident about difficult situations, widen his comfort zones, can't pressure him into being different.

Pomander Fri 12-Oct-12 08:15:14

Thank you so much for replying. I will definitely have a look at that book. I feel it probably has a lot to do with me actually. I am quite an anxious person and after he'd had a couple of nasty accidents (concussion) playing outside, I completely stopped taking him to the park or soft play for fear that he would somehow injure himself blushsad.

He doesn't see any friends outside of school and never has really. He is an only child and I feel like I have babied him a lot and wrapped him up in cotton wool. He also still has a comforter and a dummy at night as well as still being in pull -ups in bed.

I think I feel very guilty that I haven't allowed him to just be a boy because of my anxiety that something will happen to him, and now I don't know if it's me that has caused this, or if he has a behavioural problem/anxiety himself.

Scootergrrrl Fri 12-Oct-12 08:23:12

My DS was very similar and still is highly-strung about lots of things. I'm almost certain it won't be your fault - I have three children and two of them are happy-go-lucky, go anywhere, take it in their stride types and DS is the one who collapses in tears at the slightest thing. He is better than he was (he's six now) and we too found the Highly Senstive Child book very helpful. The basic premise is that they are not being silly, or fussy, or naughty, or whatever - it's that they genuinely find things overwhelming. It's important to give them ways to cope with things and to reassure them that the way they are feeling is normal and ok, even if it's different to most of their classmates.
We found it helpful with DS to tell him it was ok to feel scared or worried but that it was not ok to hit out or kick, then you separate the feelings from the actions, iyswim. Give him coping strategies that help him become more confident - counting inside his head or going to a quiet place when he needs to.
I'll think some more about what we did, if you like, once I've scraped down the kitchen after breakfast (got to love Weetabix!) Sorry if it's a bit long but I really do know what you're talking about. And don't beat yourself up about it.

Pomander Fri 12-Oct-12 09:08:59

Thank you for replying Scootergrrrl.

I will definitely have to find a copy of that book if that is the premise of it, because my husband thinks that I am too soft on ds and that he needs strict discipline/shouted at etc sad. I'd like to be able to show my dh something in print that can explain things, as he pretty much thinks that I am talking tripe when I say that he should try and think about how ds feels.

I think coping strategies is what I need. DS always seems a lot happier if I say things like "If you feel scared, think of a funny story/find your invisible brave power etc"

Thanks again so much - if you've got time to write some more then it would be appreciated smile.

lljkk Fri 12-Oct-12 10:00:47

Maybe you need to be braver about facing up to difficult situations, too? And risk in particular. Learning that he can go to the park & fall over & get hurt but get up & dust himself & start playing again, even if it's after a bit of crying, is good for him (might be good for you too!), teaches him that he can face off unpleasant events. Sounds like it might a rewarding challenge for both of you.

Scootergrrrl Fri 12-Oct-12 12:24:30

I spent a lot of time saying to my husband that it didn't matter if HE thought it was daft to have a meltdown because someone moved one of the toy figures DS was lining up, or a little dog barked at him - DS thought it was something to get upset about and that was that. I don't mean that children should always be allowed to strop and stress about every little thing, but that there are children for whom those little things are really big things. I always said to DH that I wouldn't give a flying if someone took his motorbike and crushed it into a cube, but that he would be very upset and we, as his family, would be sad because he was sad, and that it was the same for DS. I hope that makes some kind of sense.
It's really hard though, because you don't want them to be upset but equally you don't want to raise them to be afraid. Lljkk's idea of being braver together is a very good one.

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