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boy, 3.5, SO PHYSICAL

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

My son, age 3.5, is very sweet.  But SO VERY PHYSICAL.  Usually it is clear that his actions do not involve malice.  Nonetheless the boy grits his teeth then pummels people all.the.time.


If he isn't pounding or slapping with fists, it is head butting.  Or rubbing my back kindly, but within mere moments switching to scratching deeply or picking at my blemishes.  It seems to be an unconscious switch.


We always pull him away and remind him to be gentle.  He apologizes without prompting and gives hugs and cuddles.  But within a few minutes it is back to the assault.  (People aren't his only victims, he pounds on everything everywhere.)


He gets a LOT of exercise.  I do grab him away when he is hurting someone, but I am not aggressive with him.  His 7 year old sister gets physical with him in response, and can instigate as well.  But it is well within the realm of "normal".


I spend a lot of time with other children my son's age.  So I know that there are plenty of boys with plenty of energy and movement.  I just want to handle this in the best way possible to help him learn to respect others and channel his energy in a positive way.


So...advice and suggestions would be very much appreciated!  Thanks mamas!


PS: I don't know if this is relevant or not, but: Neither his preschool teachers nor the pediatrician (nor us) think he is on the spectrum.  His father does have an audio processing disorder.  We are gluten free at home but my son eats gluten often elsewhere.  We are organic farmers and eat a ton of veggies and all organic meat/dairy.


Thanks again!

post #2 of 5

 My 4 year old sounds similar, and he gets especially rough when he is tired and/or hungry and is trying to get our attention (or his older brother's)

post #3 of 5

He sounds a lot like my friend's son at that age. He is a sensitive, high-energy child who was very physically rough from around 2.5 - 4.5 years old. Not on the spectrum but definitely had some sensory processing issues- he couldn't stand loud noises or even music and was scared of people in costume- he couldn't go out on Halloween. His mother is very gentle and thoughtful, and I think she just tried to be patient with him mostly but also had to be on top of him around other kids and set good boundaries.  I know she got frustrated sometimes. She was in a coop preschool with him but had to quit because there were too many children & parents in the room- it was too stimulating for him and the other parents didn't understand that he wasn't "bad" and he wasn't trying to hurt other kids, he was just very physical and usually expressed himself physically first. For a while she stopped having playdates with other children because DS couldn't stay calm, and she couldn't guarantee he wouldn't hurt anyone (though that was not his intention). I love this kid, he and my daughter (6 months younger) have known each other since she was 18 months- his mom used to take care of my daughter part-time. He has always been my daughter's favorite playmate, though she would get a little worried about how aggressive he could be and complain about him sometimes. My daughter can handle playing with rough kids and she tends to egg them on, then when it gets too intense she cries. Though she is learning as she gets older (she's now almost 5).


Anyway my friend has taken her son for cranial sacral therapy and she thinks that it helped. She found him a preschool that was better suited to his needs- fewer children and consistent caregivers (no parents). It also had a significant athletic component that tired him out, which helped him. Now he is 5 1/2 and in kindergarten, and he still likes to run around and pretend to blow things up, but he's sooo much calmer and easier to be around. Now he will sit down and talk to my daughter for a while before they start getting crazy. My daughter doesn't complain about him hitting her or being too rough anymore- she has also learned to say "I don't want to play this game anymore" instead of running away and crying. He hasn't had any problems at school with discipline, and he seems to have better sensory processing now so I think he is over that hump in his life.


I think it's different for all kids, but there's a good chance that your child will learn how to channel his physical energy more positively as he gets older. In the meantime, it's just going to be exhausting to keep everyone safe and help guide him..

post #4 of 5

You mentioned that he gets a lot of activity- does he get any rough-house style play? If he does- I'd look at that to make sure it's constructive and isn't teaching him that it's an acceptable way to interact all the time.

If he doesn't- consider integrating it (CAREFULLY- rough housing should not hurt and should not be anything that scares him, it shouldn't actually be "rough"- some prefer calling it horseplay for this reason). Rough housing does have benefits to kids, and if done right it can teach self control. I'm not suggesting this because he's a boy- girls can benefit from it just as well.  There's a book called "The Art of RoughHousing"- I haven't read it, but it may be worth looking into. If you're already rough housing, I believe it gives advice on making sure you don't take it too far. If it doesn't seem like this is for your family, then that's fine- it's just a suggestion.


Martial arts also might be useful for the same reason- it's basically more disciplined "rough housing". I'm sure you could find a place that'll take a 3 year old, I had a friend whose whole family did Tae Kwon Doe- including her 2 year old brother. It may be good for your daughter as well- she can benefit from having knowledge of self-defense and it might teach them a way to safely and positively be physical with each other. I'd explain your situation to the teacher and ask if the class seems like a good fit for your son, make sure that the teacher can handle it, etc.


I understand your daughter's reaction and agree it's a fairly normal response- but that would be something to try and stop. If she starts getting overly physical with her brother in the same way he gets with her, even though he consciously knows it's not okay- subconsciously he may learn that this is how people interact and it could reinforce his behavior. Can you teach her more positive ways to react to him?

post #5 of 5
My son is very similar!!! But he's only rough with close family for the most part. In social situations with his peers or even kids of other ages, he has no trouble at all. But he slaps, punches, head butts myself, his dad, my parents, my sister and he is even a little rough with his baby sister (14 months). It is not because he's angry, it's how he plays but it is almost constant. I try to say, "if you want to touch me, rub my back instead of slapping it" and he will try but it's seems a little uncontrollable. It's like a habit or compulsion rather than a conscious act. He will say sorry but do it again right away. He is very sweet and his daycare provider says he is so good withher 20 month old, has never had one problem with him being to rough. His grandad has celiac disease and he has never had what I would consider normal bowel movements so in combination with this behaviour, I have decided to try a gluten free diet with him (just started on Saturday). I do feel like he was calmer today but we will see I guess. For us, there has been a lot of change and turmoil in the little guy's life the last year and a half as we moved across the country, had a baby sister and his dad still works away from home most of the time. We are in the process of trying to get our family back to back together full time and I'm hoping that will help too:)
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