I'm concerned about DS's behaviour. Should I be worried or am I overreacting?

(12 Posts)
WonderingAspie Sat 26-Mar-16 23:44:32

I do have this in chat too but thought I may get specialist advice here.

I'm really concerned about some of DS's behaviour. He is 8.

From a young age, if he disliked someone, then that was it, he would have nothing to do with them. It could be over something minor like they tried to snatch toy once, but that would be it. He was only about 2 when I noticed it. He isn't as bad now but if someone 'slights' him then it's like they don't get a second chance and he can be quite hostile to them.

There is a cat that comes in our garden, DS called it over (he loves animals) and the cat had always been friendly but it bit him and left a small mark, didn't draw blood. You would think it had tried to kill him! He has named it evil and will chase it away, just because of the one time it bit him nearly a year ago. He does not let things go ever.

He appears to dislike his younger sisters very existence. He can be lovely to her, really sweet if we are telling her off, he doesn't like it and gets very upset himself. But the rest of the time he speaks rudely to her and just doesn't seem to like her presence. Generally she adores him. I asked him today if he would rather she wasn't here and he seemed quite surprised and said of course not. I just said his behaviour towards her didn't show that.

He seems to have an issue with anger. If he can't get what he wants or he thinks something is unfair, he gets so angry. I thought he would grow out of it but it worries me. He is going to be big lad and he is strong. He has never been violent though. His anger just seems disproportionate to the event. He does calm down and I can talk to him and I told him to go off in his room and get his anger out, which he does but it's how angry he gets that concerns me.

I told him today I was thinking of taking him to the doctors about some of this behaviour because it isn't right and I'm concerned, particularly if he gets this angry as a teen or adult. But then he has never been violent so maybe I am totally overreacting. He got a bit upset when I said this today, so I felt awful. I brought the issue of the cat up and how ott his reactions are. We then saw the cat outside at tea time and he pointed it out calmly and said "oh look there it is, oh well" and carried on eating. I was quite suprised tbh so it makes me think am I overreacting.

I just don't want him to get much older, for it to be an issue and I could have done something when he was younger but didn't.

I just don't know and now I feel really bad for what I said to him today (DH was there too and we were both saying it). Today's incident was over a game he was playing with his sister, they argued about it, as usual, DD was not letting something go (she is 5) and in the end I just said to DS "she isn't listening, just leave it and go and play with your lego", not in a accusatory way, just in a calm way. DS took this as a telling off and stormed off upstairs crying and shouting and shouting things about DD. He seems to blame DD for anything, even when I have seen him do things. He just cannot own up to anything but today wasn't his fault and we never told him it was. When we pointed this out he admitted he thought we were telling him off but we told him we weren't.

He does seem to listen and take it in when we explain things, he is a bright boy but it is the overreactions. Another example, they are doing timetables challenge in school and he needs to do 2-12s in 5 minutes for the level he is on. We had a practice the other day and he made a mistake early on and wanted me to stop the time, I said no as this was a practice and it didn't matter, it is the point and he won't get it all right yet but he had an absolute fit and stormed off crying. He does this if he makes mistakes and will screw it up and say it or he is rubbish.

Is this normal and I'm worrying over nothing and he'll calm down as he gets older or am I right to be concerned?

TrulyTrulyTrulyOutrageous Sun 27-Mar-16 00:00:48

For you to post about this suggests that you're genuinely concerned so it's worth checking it out with a specialist.

I listened to everyone tell me I was projecting / over reacting with my dc and as a result he was diagnosed later. I wish I had trusted my instincts.

stilllovingmysleep Sun 27-Mar-16 08:48:37

WonderingAspie,

Just some points & questions:

First of all, children (as adults) come in all sorts of variations as you very well know so I wouldn't be thinking along the lines of 'normal' versus 'abnormal'. That doesn't help you and doesn't help your son.

Second: have you asked him--at different times and in a context where he can feel free to talk--what makes him angry? It's really great by the way that he's not violent, that's something that's so important.

Third: in terms of his sister, there seems to be some intense sibling rivalry / jealousy there. Do you think it may be that he senses on some level that you find her easier and thus feels he's not as accepted by you as she is?

Fourth: in terms of the cat, again have you talked to him and really asked him, trying to see things from his perspective, about what's the matter with the cat?

At the end of the day, mental health professionals can really help (if they are the right one which is not an obvious thing) but you're his parent who knows him best & you can really help him on a day to day basis by listening to him, wondering about what's on his mind & teaching him to be more flexible / less easily frustrated etc.

Kleinzeit Sun 27-Mar-16 18:54:23

I’m not quite understanding what the issue is here. Your DS has very intense feelings. But they don’t spill over into aggression. That’s OK. Children tend to develop more control, not less, as they grow older (though they do tend to take a step back in the teenage years!) so I wouldn’t worry about him becoming aggressive later in life. Your DS may be more intense than other children. But to be honest these specific things don’t sound like over-reactions to me, they would be over-reactions for an adult but not necessarily so for a child.

You seem to be worrying more about his inner feelings and what they might mean, than about his actual behaviour. You can talk to him about kindness and forgiveness, model them, and encourage them, but without blaming him or threatening to send him to the doctor because he doesn’t fully have them yet. (The way you phrased it would have come across that the doctor was a threat/punishment for bad behaviour.) I honestly don’t see anything wrong in his anger, unless there is more to it than you have explained here?

It’s not reasonable to expect him to back off calmly just because his sister wasn’t listening to him. To him that might seem, not so much as if you are telling him off, but as if you are taking her side over his. Perhaps you are expecting him to handle conflicts more maturely than most eight year olds can manage?

Getting angry with his sister over a game, speaking rudely to her and not liking her presence are not desirable but I’m afraid they’re well within the realms of normal. Perhaps you could pick him up on what he is saying, reassure him that his feelings are normal and acceptable but at the same time he may not express them in certain ways. You could simply say “that’s rude” or “that’s a put-down”; you could remind him how to express himself nicely; you could bear in mind that many boys do find their little sisters annoying most of the time even though they still love them; you could praise him whenever he is kind to his sister or says something nice and friendly to her; and you could make sure he has space away from her.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't ask for professional help by the way - you are the one who knows him best and it may well be that I'm missing something. flowers

Kleinzeit Sun 27-Mar-16 19:00:09

We had a practice the other day and he made a mistake early on and wanted me to stop the time, I said no as this was a practice and it didn't matter, it is the point and he won't get it all right yet but he had an absolute fit and stormed off crying.

I don’t understand - why couldn’t you stop the time? You say yourself it’s only a practice. I would have stormed off crying too, it must be very frustrating for him to not have his wishes respected. You do realise that many kids would have refused to practice at all?

WonderingAspie Sun 27-Mar-16 22:25:14

Stillloving, I'm not sure with his sister. I asked him once if he thinks we favour DD and said yes. Up until she started school, she was easier to deal with and hardly ever got told off because she didn't need to be. I was aware how it would look to DS who did require telling off more, which is why I asked him. I did reassure him that wasn't the case at all but he does tend to doubt what people tell him sometimes (unless it's the usual crap that his friends tell him). It different now she has started school, there has been a change in her behaviour and she is quite stubborn at times which results in her being told off. The funny thing is, when she really gets told off, he doesn't like it at all. He cries and is really nice to her, like he is making it up to her because we are telling her off. I do praise him when he lets her play or shares with her etc.

I'm not sure what it is with the cat. He loves animals. We have rats and I have said what if they bite you (he adores them) and he didn't really say much. It's like once he has been aggrieved by something, he is like a dog with a bone and just doesn't let it go but it turns into anger.

Today we did some baking and I had a chat with him about how if We go to the doctor, it's for advice as they may be able to help if he's struggling with it or be able to give me advice to help him deal with it. I said it's absolutely not a bad thing but a good thing and they may very well say it's fine and that's it. I told him I had to go before because I needed help to deal with some things from my past (I had counselling but I didn't tell him this or why when he asked).

klein it's not so much the anger, it's really a huge overreaction anger to minor things. I haven't seen a child react quite so much to things before (I don't know children with SN so I have no experience in that area), a few times he started making himself go bright red and hold his breath in frustration. He hasn't don't that for a little while now. Another time he hit himself, again in frustration. I do think it's because he is so overwhelmed with his feelings that he just doesn't know how to deal with them and he knows he can't hit us or trash his room. I did ask him about what happens if he gets angry to school and he kind of shrugged. He did say he goes to the toilet, but obviously he isn't always allowed. He wouldn't 'blow' in school as he knows he would get into trouble.

The timetable challenge, we were doing it how they do it in school. The timer doesn't get stopped for mistakes. They all make mistakes. No one has hit this 5 minute target yet. There are only 4 of them on this level. The point of it is to mimic the school conditions so he can practice. Whoever hits the target first gets 20 house points and being competitive, he wants to do this so wants to practice at home. His mood will depend on how he reacts. He has made mistakes on all but 1 practice and he usually carries on but then he doesn't always know he has gone wrong. I don't make a big deal out of it when he does, just say that's the point of this, to practice and remind him what his teacher said on parents evening about mistakes mean you are learning.

Squashybanana Sun 27-Mar-16 22:40:22

Wondering aspie, do you have autism? If you do, your child would be at higher risk of being autistic. However in my opinion the diagnosis is merited where the person's life is significantly impacted by the difficulties they have. I have one autistic child and two sub-clinical not quite neurotypical children. The undiagnosed ones have some issues but not the full triad of impairments as required in autism. If your son's difficulties are significantly impacting his life, then a trip to the GP for referral might be worth pursuing. He sounds like he has some flexible thinking difficulties. It's not clear from your post if he has issues in social interaction and communication.

WonderingAspie Sun 27-Mar-16 23:38:08

I haven't been diagnosed. I have only done those online tests and they all score pretty highly for me and tell me that aspergers is likely.

He is inflexible with his thinking, definitely. I wouldn't say he has social and communication problems. There are often issues in his friendship group but it's because there are a lot of boys wanting to be the alpha male, DS doesn't seem to get a look in despite him probably wanting that role. He seems to make friends fine and it quite outgoing. It's if he doesn't like someone that's the problem. There is a girl he doesn't like in his class and if she sees him and says hello, he just won't speak to her. It's embarrassing. He says he doesn't like her and that's it. I can see his reasoning tbh but obviously need to learn to be polite and just say hi. He is quite obvious if he doesn't like someone. Unfortunately so am I despite me trying, I have been told frequently that it's obvious and I thought I was doing a good job of hiding it. Whoops.

stilllovingmysleep Mon 28-Mar-16 07:02:29

Inflexibility is a characteristic that many children share. The thing is to help him build that skill (to be more flexible / less easily frustrated). No diagnosis can do that for you. I recently read a book called 'the explosive child' by Ross Greene that really helps in this area & talks about how to build frustration tolerance & flexibility in kids.

Kleinzeit Mon 28-Mar-16 12:00:54

The timetable challenge, we were doing it how they do it in school. … The point of it is to mimic the school conditions so he can practice.

Yes, I understood that. But what you do at home does not have to be a strict copy of what happens at school. A practice does not have to be under exactly the same conditions as the test itself and it may be more helpful to make allowances. You also say no-one has succeeded yet so it is not important whether he succeeds in this practice or not. Well OK it was not important to you but it was important to him. And having his mother not recognise his point of view and insist on doing it her way because her way is the “correct” way and his is “wrong” could feel frustrating or even frightening.

Also, his reaction to the cat sounds like anxiety more than real anger. He didn’t expect the cat to nip him, he didn’t understand why it nipped him and he probably doesn’t know when it might nip him again. His anger at the cat is a way of managing his uncertainty. Your DS doesn’t need to be reassured that the bite was minor, instead he needs reassurance that yes it was bad of the cat to nip him and he needs to know how to avoid getting nipped in future. Cats nip when they are playing, so it’s better to play pouncing games with a toy or a bit of string than with your hand. Many cats also have a tricky habit of letting themselves be stroked, purring and even rolling over, and then suddenly attacking with no warning because they are over-stimulated. If that’s what the cat did then your DS needs to know not to stroke the cat for too long without a break, to watch out for over-enthusiastic purring and definitely to stop if it rolls over. My DS - who does have Asperger’s Syndrome - has become expert in playing with our cat and just not quite getting nipped. Do you have any pets? You might consider getting a kitten, kittens are nippy scratchy little beggars but they are so small they’re not scary and they’re so cute we forgive them. And that’s a way for your DS to learn how to interact as the kitten grows up (and calms down.)

I agree that Explosive Child can be a good approach. It might also be worth taking a look at Incredible Years - it has a chapter on dealing with fibs, including the obvious ones your DS tells. And I like The Unwritten Rules of Friendship for managing communication and friendship issues. All these books are good with or without a diagnosis. These things are not easy flowers

Kleinzeit Mon 28-Mar-16 13:19:31

oops - sorry I missed that your family has pet rats. Rats and cats don't always mix well smile. It's good that your DS gets on well with his own pets.

WonderingAspie Mon 28-Mar-16 22:30:45

Thanks for those links. I'll check them out.

We did tell him that cats do play like that actually, I grew up with cats and there are loads around here and every time they start rolling on the floor I say they are playing and don't put your hand there. I didn't see the incident so don't know if the cat was playing, quite likely as it is a friendly cat. I did remind him that it is an animal though and they are unpredictable.

Cats and rats definitely won't mix grin. And he would be devastated if anything happened to the rats. I'm dreading the short life span they have!

It made me smile when you said about not mimicking the school exactly. I am pretty rigid and inflexible and follow 'rules' to the letter, hence me not stopping the timer. I really really struggle not to do this, in fact I dont really. Also partly why I suspect aspergers in myself. I've been reading some stuff and I always think it sounds more like me than DS.

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