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He broke his cousin's jaw

post #1 of 81
Thread Starter 
How do I deal with this?

DS is 11, hyperactive, excitable, low self-control, etc. He's a fun guy, loves to run around and be silly.

Last night, the cousins were visiting. They were all playing together, it was fine. They get noisy, they get told to keep it down a bit -- by "they" I mean "he" of course. Noise is to be expected, but his volume level is beyond reasonable and he keeps yelling too fast instead of just talking to the people standing right beside him! I'm just trying to say, we don't expect them to be quiet little demure angels. They're free to have fun in our house.

However, I try not to let them get out of control. At one point, they were running around with quilts and blankets over their faces. That was quickly kaiboshed -- not safe. We're talking about an 11yo, 7yo, 4yo, and 2yo. Someone could get hurt. He gets careless when he's having fun and forgets to watch out.

So last night, he had already had several warnings/reminders to slow down, quiet down, get control, relax. Etc.

We grown-ups are upstairs happily playing bridge, then we hear a thump/crack and a wail. It's the 4yo, my nephew. It turns out he got kicked in the face by my son. Here, the stories diverge a bit. He insists he was running and tripped and his leg flew up behind him, whereas my niece says it was running then a deliberate cartwheel. In either case, he was being too careless and his cousin was too close, so he got walloped in the face by my son's highly-trained junior black belt heel.

When he didn't recover fairly quickly (you know how kids will scream then settle down then it's like nothing ever happened), and he couldn't open his mouth far, they took him to the ER, just in case. Yup, it turns out his jaw is broken. Pretty rare, apparently. And it might even need surgery to fix. They're still at the hospital.

I'm just... speechless. I don't know what to do with DS. I don't know how much trouble he should be in. He seems to feel bad, but is also trying to stave off responsibility (he rarely takes responsibility for anything, that's part of the problem, why he doesn't learn from his mistakes). Like he's trying to avoid the guilt. If he obviously felt terrible, like was crying and apologizing and offering whatever kinds of restitution, I dunno, but if it was obvious, I'd be likely to say something like "he's punished enough already just having to live with the fact of what he's done."

But I'm not sure that he is. Maybe he is. I'm not sure. He's still too quick to laugh and giggle and do fun things. Happy to forget aaaaaaaaaaaall about it.

He's been warned So. Many. Times. that if he didn't start to settle down and control himself, not get so excited, then someone would get hurt. Now someone has gotten hurt, an innocent little 4yo, and it could be BAD. And I'm still not sure that he "gets it". I guess only time will tell...

But I'm just... I dunno. I'm furious. I'm sympathetic. A bit. I feel terrible for my nephew, I feel responsible. I feel like I should have been able to help DS calm down by now, or should have stopped things last night before the accident happened. I feel like throttling him. I feel like giving up on him. I feel like locking him in his room until he's old enough to behave SAFELY.

I guess I'm just thinking... at this point, it's no longer about him behaving politely, or respectfully. Or in a way that won't break his own toys/belongings. Now he's shown that he's actually a physical danger to other people. That his carelessness and lack of self-control is negligent enough to be dangerous. And I don't know what to do about it.

I don't even know what forum to post this in heh... I posted here in GD because I want to be positive, helpful, supportive, not throw the baby out with the bathwater. (There's another problem though, what if it had been his 2yo baby sister that get whacked in the head? That would probably have been even worse). Looking for gentle parents to help calm me down and deal with this rationally. At this point I just totally don't know how I should deal with him. :
post #2 of 81
Although I think it's all pretty terrible for everyone, doing a cartwheel isn't the same as say punching someone in the face. Although he should have been more careful, it was an accident. So I think the first thought I have is that in this case the consequences were more serious than the offense.

That said I think you've really outlined the problem - he doesn't learn from his mistakes to take care.

I would definitely, if the other parents are agreed, put your son in charge of entertaining this poor 4 year old for the next couple of weeks. He can buy him games or toys out of his allowance and spend time amusing and nursing him, holding the straw, whatever. (It sounds like he'll need to be supervised.) I wouldn't frame that as punishment but as "what we do when we cause harm to someone, even inadvertently.")

I also think that you might need to take some share in the responsibility here. You knew he was out of control and yet all the kids were in the basement alone. That was a mistake too - he should have been removed from the situation to calm down, or been supervised. I think you can take a lead here by taking his behaviour seriously early when he is getting too rambunctious and not just reminding him, but stepping in to show your time and attention and focus.
post #3 of 81
Wow - how sad and frustrating at the same time. Sounds like you know your little guy very well and know his struggles and limitations. Have you ruled out all underlying causes for the behaviors you described? I'm just a mama, but when I see kids struggling with behaviors (impulse control?) that most kids have mastered by that age my first thought is to wonder if there is anything else going on that make it harder for that child to reach that developmental point. kwim? I know when I get stares at the grocery store because my 5 yo is pushed to his limit and expressing some of his behaviors that his 2yo brother has mastered, they are judging me the parent and him the child but they don't know everything else he's had to deal with.

That said -- if my child is careless and the result is he breaks a $200 lamp, I don't know that my reaction should be different than if it was a 20 dollar lamp. You know. It was the level of carelessness or degree of behavior that caused the mishap I should judge, not the expense of the resulting damage. So yes, a broken jaw is a bigger problem, but if it had been a cartwheel/flayling limb and a simple goose egg or a black eye what would you be doing differently? I'm saying our adult assessment of how much worse this will be for the 4yo shouldn't cloud the issue of the simple horseplay/lack of impulse control of your child.

And if you're feeling that he hasn't learned his lesson yet regarding this incident, well, it's probably not over yet -- but that doesn't mean be harsher. In my mind, you have the chance to involve him in helping make amends for a long long time as the 4yo heals. Helping the family with chores, making smoothies and cards for the little guy, sharing special toys with him... oh the opportunities. And if impulse control is the issue then whether the lessons are associated with this incident or not, the teaching can continue. bestwishes. And remember that broken bones and unfortunate dramatic injuries can be (and often are) the result of fairly mundane incidents. This is not a dire prediction of your son's future. It's just unfortunate.
post #4 of 81
Thread Starter 
In my defense, they're usually left downstairs alone all the time. We never imagined anything like this happening, didn't realize that his being so excited would be THAT dangerous. At this particular point, he didn't seem so out of control as to warrant being taken out of the situation. Maybe I should have seen it coming? I dunno.

I like the idea of tending to his cousin, buying him treats out of his own allowance. Living with the consequences of his carelessness right in his face, so to speak.

I am hopeful that this is finally the "big one", the lesson that he FINALLY learns to slow down and be careful. I don't know... he's broken so many of his prized possessions before and still swings his camera on its strap, etc.

And yes, I know it's not as bad as punching someone. I know it was not deliberate. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body. It's the carelessness... the lack of concern that he has for being careful.

Bittersweet story: I dropped him off at gymnastics this morning. He's a competitive gymnast, trains 3 hours each morning over the summer. His coach used to always 'inform' me of the troubles he was having with DS paying attention, being too rambunctious with the other boys, being out of control, etc. Last year after his first BIG competition, he started noticing a change -- DS was a bit more focused and serious about it. One week early this summer, out of the blue the coach said there had been a fairly sudden, positive change in DS, he was like a different kid in training.

I hadn't talked to the coach much since then, but he talked to me today. He wanted me to know how wonderful it had been coaching DS this summer. What a huge change it had been. What a JOY he was to work with now. How his "uncontrollable energy" was finally getting somewhat under control and harnessed.

Such great news it makes me tear up. He loves his gymnastics, he's good at it, it's one of the few things he's actually motivated in. And yet, to get this on the heels of his huge LACK of control last night... I'm just all the more bewildered!
post #5 of 81
I worry about this with a friend's daughter. She is really rough. And I don't ever allow her to play alone with my kids, because I worry that (because she is bigger/stronger) she could accidentally break someones neck or something in a freak accident while roughhousing. I remember reading a news article several years ago whre an 11 year old (or close to that) killed his younger brother (2) by accidentally jumping on him on accident. I feel for you OP. I think your son probably needs some impulse control help, but I don't know how you would do that. I agree with pp, I don't think this is a dire prediction of your son's future, just taht he needs help controlling himself right now.
post #6 of 81
I agree with the other posters, it was an accident, but I do think whatever you can do to show him that being careless has consequences will help. And yes, it doesn't have to be a punishment, just that when we hurt people by accident, we do what we can to help them recover.
post #7 of 81
I would also have him be a regular part of entertaining the 4-year-old as he heals. I would also have him work to earn enough money (or a fair amount of it if it is too high) to pay his cousin's insurance deductible (or help with whatever financial expenses there are.
I do not agree that you should treat this as if it were a minor injury (ie a black eye). It isn't and your son is no longer a young child. If my 11 year old did this my goal would be not to punish him but to teach him to take responsibility for his actions.
If you as an adult were driving while distracted and you ran over a fence pole the results would be very different then if you hit a person. Even if it is an accident one still has to take responsibility and make amends. I would have your son do this. If you yell and punish him he will probably not learn much but soberly having him help make amends as best he can hopefully will.
Good luck.
post #8 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post
In my defense, they're usually left downstairs alone all the time. We never imagined anything like this happening, didn't realize that his being so excited would be THAT dangerous. At this particular point, he didn't seem so out of control as to warrant being taken out of the situation. Maybe I should have seen it coming? I dunno.

I like the idea of tending to his cousin, buying him treats out of his own allowance. Living with the consequences of his carelessness right in his face, so to speak.

I am hopeful that this is finally the "big one", the lesson that he FINALLY learns to slow down and be careful. I don't know... he's broken so many of his prized possessions before and still swings his camera on its strap, etc.

And yes, I know it's not as bad as punching someone. I know it was not deliberate. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body. It's the carelessness... the lack of concern that he has for being careful.

Bittersweet story: I dropped him off at gymnastics this morning. He's a competitive gymnast, trains 3 hours each morning over the summer. His coach used to always 'inform' me of the troubles he was having with DS paying attention, being too rambunctious with the other boys, being out of control, etc. Last year after his first BIG competition, he started noticing a change -- DS was a bit more focused and serious about it. One week early this summer, out of the blue the coach said there had been a fairly sudden, positive change in DS, he was like a different kid in training.

I hadn't talked to the coach much since then, but he talked to me today. He wanted me to know how wonderful it had been coaching DS this summer. What a huge change it had been. What a JOY he was to work with now. How his "uncontrollable energy" was finally getting somewhat under control and harnessed.

Such great news it makes me tear up. He loves his gymnastics, he's good at it, it's one of the few things he's actually motivated in. And yet, to get this on the heels of his huge LACK of control last night... I'm just all the more bewildered!
I didn't mean the supervision comment to come across as harsh - sorry if it did.

He sounds like a great kid. Growth is not always linear - sometimes it is a step back before going forward. I do still think though that having to help with his cousin's care would be a huge life lesson that might make a big impression. It is quite different from breaking a camera.
post #9 of 81
Thread Starter 
Update: He's not going to need surgery, it's a hairline fracture and should heal well on its own. Liquid diet for 3 weeks, though.

Quote:
Have you ruled out all underlying causes for the behaviors you described? I'm just a mama, but when I see kids struggling with behaviors (impulse control?) that most kids have mastered by that age my first thought is to wonder if there is anything else going on that make it harder for that child to reach that developmental point.
He's definitely got sensory-seeking issues. We can't get any OT, it's not considered a 'treatable illness' or whatever here in Canada yet (we've tried). I've been contemplating whether he might have a touch of Asperger's (ironically, SIL is wondering the same thing about my nephew, it runs in her family). So yes, we're aware of some of the underlying causes, but while it gives us a little understanding and patience, it still doesn't help control the situations much. A bit, but not much.

Quote:
That said -- if my child is careless and the result is he breaks a $200 lamp, I don't know that my reaction should be different than if it was a 20 dollar lamp. You know. It was the level of carelessness or degree of behavior that caused the mishap I should judge, not the expense of the resulting damage. So yes, a broken jaw is a bigger problem, but if it had been a cartwheel/flayling limb and a simple goose egg or a black eye what would you be doing differently? I'm saying our adult assessment of how much worse this will be for the 4yo shouldn't cloud the issue of the simple horseplay/lack of impulse control of your child.
That's an interesting point. I think, though, that if we treated this like any bruise, then he'll learn that he can get away with this level of carelessness with only minor consequences. It's okay for him to be crazy because no one is REALLY going to get hurt, you know?

And in fact, we have often treated minor bumps etc more seriously because the cause of it was something that COULD have resulted in something more serious, as in a "you're lucky noone got badly hurt" situation. He didn't learn from that.

I think he does need to learn that this level of carelessness is really unacceptable because people can AND DO get badly hurt. Yes, accidents happen, and sometimes someone gets badly hurt apparently randomly (my nephew on the other side of the family recently broke his collarbone -- he just fell off a chair!)... something that seemed very innocuous ends up being a more serious injury. If that were the case here, I think (I hope) that I would treat it as such. A youthful accident that ended up bad just from bad luck, chance.

But since this is something he's been repeatedly warned about, though I guess I never thought it would really happen... He does need to learn that very bad consequences CAN happen, that he's not just able to get away with carelessness because nothing really bad happens, or if it does it's "not his fault."

Quote:
And if you're feeling that he hasn't learned his lesson yet regarding this incident, well, it's probably not over yet -- but that doesn't mean be harsher. In my mind, you have the chance to involve him in helping make amends for a long long time as the 4yo heals. Helping the family with chores, making smoothies and cards for the little guy, sharing special toys with him... oh the opportunities. And if impulse control is the issue then whether the lessons are associated with this incident or not, the teaching can continue.
Yes, this is what I'm kind of thinking now. Wait and see what his own reaction really is, how much he has learned naturally, and work WITH that, gently (but VERY FIRMLY) pushing him to restitution with helping with smoothies, treats, etc. I've talked with my brother and he agrees with that idea.
post #10 of 81
Maybe he'll qualify for help now that something big has happened? Might be worth looking into.

I'd also supervise him very closely from now on. It's ovious that his size is an issue now when playing with his cousins.
post #11 of 81
Thread Starter 
Wow, I was away from the PC for a few minutes and you guys all replied while I was typing the last response lol... Catching up now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spirit Dancer View Post
I would also have him work to earn enough money (or a fair amount of it if it is too high) to pay his cousin's insurance deductible (or help with whatever financial expenses there are.
Thankfully we live in Canada with universal health care. Actually this led to a 'teachable moment' last night, about ER wait times and doctor shortages and how doctors get paid a lot of money because their work is so very difficult, DS asked me 'what about if someone is sick and they can't afford to pay the doctors'? So I got to tell him all about the history of universal health care and the current struggles in the US over the issue.


Quote:
I do not agree that you should treat this as if it were a minor injury (ie a black eye). It isn't and your son is no longer a young child. If my 11 year old did this my goal would be not to punish him but to teach him to take responsibility for his actions.
Yes, that's it exactly. Thank you.

Quote:
If you as an adult were driving while distracted and you ran over a fence pole the results would be very different then if you hit a person. Even if it is an accident one still has to take responsibility and make amends.
I agree with this analogy. I do appreciate the intent of the poster who said that, that we shouldn't overjudge an action due to unpredictably bad consequences, I agree with that. I just think that in this case, the action is indeed one that warrants a more serious consequence. If it had been just a bruise, perhaps we wouldn't have realized how seriously he needs to deal with his carelessness at this point. But the same action could have had even more serious consequences. It's just a fractured jawbone. If the same force had hit a nose, or an eye, or a skull of a 2-year-old, we might be having a very different conversation. He's 11, skinny but very strong, a competetive gymnast and a karate black belt. He needs to be careful with his body.
post #12 of 81
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I didn't mean the supervision comment to come across as harsh - sorry if it did.
No worries, given the situation it was an entirely reasonable comment that I might have made myself if the situation were reversed. Just wanted to clarify, give a bit more information. I'm not offended or anything.
post #13 of 81
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moondiapers View Post
Maybe he'll qualify for help now that something big has happened? Might be worth looking into.
Unfortunately any 'help' he might qualify for would likely just be drugs (ridalin). OT, which is what would really benefit him, just doesn't seem to be AVAILABLE.

Quote:
I'd also supervise him very closely from now on. It's ovious that his size is an issue now when playing with his cousins.
Agreed and he's already been told this. He usually helps looking after his sister while I get stuff done. This is going to make it harder on the rest of us *sigh* In some ways he's 'young' for his age, I wonder if he's just not aware of his size and strength... he's not HUGE by any means (in fact he's quite tiny for 11), but like I said he's strong, and he's FAST.
post #14 of 81
My inclination would be to have a long talk about it emphasizing how he would feel if he were the victim and maybe how he would feel if he were the victim's parents and maybe how he would feel if he were in your shoes. Really ask him to consider it and think about it.

Then ask him what he thinks he could do to make amends. If he got his jaw broken by a big older cousin (maybe a 14 year old!) how would he feel and how would he feel if the big cousin just said "sorry" and went on playing? Would he feel a little better if the big cousin offered to make him some smoothies? What else can he think of that might make him (as the injured party) feel better? Would a homemade card help?

Then I'd direct the conversation to what to do in the future when he's feeling rowdy and rambunctious. What activities are safe? What do we need to do to make sure they're safe (make sure nobody is behind you when you do a cartwheel). Talk about the safety measures they take at gymnastics. Remind him of those next time he gets wild. "DS, remember to keep everyone clear like at gymnastics!" or whatever.

I hope your nephew is feeling better soon. And while I wouldn't "go easy" on my DD if she did that I wouldn't ground her for a year or anything, either. I'm sure she would get tired of hearing my lecture, though!

Good luck
post #15 of 81
You keep using the word carelessness. This is such a pattern for him--I really wonder if it is carelessness or if the way his brain is wired makes things that seem really obvious to others not so simple for him.

There are things that you can try at home to help that don't require an OT--and you already are some--gymnastics is great for him.

I'm probably going to sound like a broken record, but two things have helped my intense impulsive son a great deal. Feingold Diet and Transforming the Difficult Child by Howard Glasser.
post #16 of 81
Thread Starter 
Quote:
You keep using the word carelessness. This is such a pattern for him--I really wonder if it is carelessness or if the way his brain is wired makes things that seem really obvious to others not so simple for him.
Yes, I think you've hit the nail on the head there. I still say "carelessness" because it's faster lol... The net result of whatever factors there are, is that he does not take sufficient care of his surroundings/actions/possessions/work/etc. So it is still a lack of carefulness, whatever the cause.

Quote:
There are things that you can try at home to help that don't require an OT--and you already are some--gymnastics is great for him.
We have a weighted blanket. We homeschool and try to work around his particular abilities and weaknesses. He has a wrist thing that he uses to fidget with.

Quote:
I'm probably going to sound like a broken record, but two things have helped my intense impulsive son a great deal. Feingold Diet and Transforming the Difficult Child by Howard Glasser.
Hey it can't hurt to hear it too many times, it might be the first time for somebody. We've tried Feingold and other dietary things and found little difference. I've read The Explosive Child and some books on sensory kids. He doesn't have temper tantrums as often anymore, which is nice. I'm confident he'll "grow out" of any last remains of that aspect of things. It's the impulsiveness that's still a problem.

Quote:
My inclination would be to have a long talk about it emphasizing how he would feel if he were the victim and maybe how he would feel if he were the victim's parents and maybe how he would feel if he were in your shoes. Really ask him to consider it and think about it.
Will do. I'm actually surprised I haven't already, that's usually high on my list heh. He has a worrying lack of natural empathy, we constantly have to remind him to think about things from another's point of view, and he's prone to keep on playing when someone else is hurt (whoever's fault it was heh). His 2yo sister has like 5000% the empathy that he does already. That's one of the reasons we're thinking about Asperger's, apparently that's a common trait. It's not that he CAN'T see things from another's POV, it's just that he DOESN'T on his own, he needs to be prompted, it doesn't come naturally.

Quote:
Then ask him what he thinks he could do to make amends. If he got his jaw broken by a big older cousin (maybe a 14 year old!) how would he feel and how would he feel if the big cousin just said "sorry" and went on playing? Would he feel a little better if the big cousin offered to make him some smoothies? What else can he think of that might make him (as the injured party) feel better? Would a homemade card help?
Good idea. We've talked about amends a bit (he's home from gymnastics training now), he actually suggested before I even brought it up that he should not play his Smash Bros Brawl game for the next week but only play "quiet" games like Endless Ocean. When I suggested he should use some of his money to get his cousin a treat, he suggested that he could make him a card. He WILL make him a card, but it's not going to be a way to get out of spending his own money. We'll continue to brainstorm for more ideas.

Quote:
Then I'd direct the conversation to what to do in the future when he's feeling rowdy and rambunctious. What activities are safe? What do we need to do to make sure they're safe (make sure nobody is behind you when you do a cartwheel).
The problem with this is that he already knows this, we've already done this. He does KNOW, he just doesn't DO, when he gets out of control. He is still insisting that he wasn't doing a cartwheel either, but tripped -- which is less predictable. You don't make a habit of checking that it's clear around you before tripping, right? heh...

But that's an interesting point you make... what to do in the future WHEN HE'S FEELING ROWDY. If we had some kind of a list of activities that are 'safe' (more or less) and get him to recognize when he's getting out of control and then stick to that list... Of course, then he has to have enough self-control to stop what he'd rather do and switch to something on the list. But at least it's planting a seed. We might talk about that.

I should add that SIL is an MDC mama as well, I'd be very interested to hear her take on this when she gets a chance.
post #17 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post
Unfortunately any 'help' he might qualify for would likely just be drugs (ridalin). OT, which is what would really benefit him, just doesn't seem to be AVAILABLE.



Agreed and he's already been told this. He usually helps looking after his sister while I get stuff done. This is going to make it harder on the rest of us *sigh* In some ways he's 'young' for his age, I wonder if he's just not aware of his size and strength... he's not HUGE by any means (in fact he's quite tiny for 11), but like I said he's strong, and he's FAST.
I'm not one to usually say this.....but if the alternative is him injuring people....you might want to consider it.
post #18 of 81
Thread Starter 
I actually blogged about my wrestling with the idea of Ritalin a few months ago:
http://motherbynature.ca/2009/03/the...to-be-working/

I'll continue to consider it. I dunno. *sigh*
post #19 of 81
I'm finding a lot of interesting information reading about "executive functioning." There's a book called "Late, Lost and Unprepared" that gives a great overview of the issues.

It sounds to me like maybe this is some of what's going on for your son, that this "carelessness" is really about neurological wiring.

I'll ditto other posters re having him make it right in concrete ways, including taking extra care of his cousin.

Good luck. Rowdy, impulsive, active boys can be a pip .
post #20 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by moondiapers View Post
I'm not one to usually say this.....but if the alternative is him injuring people....you might want to consider it.
I have to say I agree. And I'm wondering if there isn't something else going on... Most 11-year-olds aren't that interested in playing with older toddlers. I know I have a hard time convincing my 6.5-year-old to play with my nephew, who is 4. If your son, at 11, is playing with toddlers, you might want to consider that he has a developmental delay.

Good luck... Sounds like you appreciate how serious this is and are trying to do the right thing.
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