How to handle 6 year old's unkind behavior toward others? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 02-19-2012, 05:16 PM - Thread Starter
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DS is 6. Sometimes, he misreads social situations, gets angry, and can behave unkindly (i.e. rude, sarcastic, etc.) toward others. I have found it unproductive to correct the behavior too strongly in the moment; he just gets more "stuck" in his stance, and things gets worse. It's usually more effective to talk with him about what happened after the fact so we can explore alternative responses, empathy for the other person, etc. We had an incident today where he got all bent out of shape over something an adult guest in our home said, very innocently, to him. I was caught off guard (I so often am! these reactions seem to come out of left field), and felt I should have done more in the moment. I essentially told DS to watch his tone of voice, which he responded to right away and it was over. I would have liked to have done more to acknowledge our visitor right away, although I did send an e-mail after the fact to apologize. Forgot to mention, DS has SPD, and at times like today, I do wonder about autism spectrum..? I feel like I need a line, or a cue word, or something that will become automatic for me to use, especially when I am feeling caught off guard when situations like this happen. DS will often say after the fact that he didn't realize how he spoke to the other person; I think it is a knee-jerk reaction, and the underlying emotion for him is feeling very wounded by the other person. It's like a switch gets flipped and all of a sudden he is offended and angry. Thanks for your thoughts!
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#2 of 4 Old 02-19-2012, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mkat View Post

Forgot to mention, DS has SPD, and at times like today, I do wonder about autism spectrum..?

Has he had a full neuro psych evaluation? It sounds like there may be something more than just SPD, but exactly what is difficult say. Getting more clarity on what is going on with him *might* make it easier to figure out how to help him learn better social skills.


You also might check into social skills class. These often don't require any specific dx.


Last, there is a nice series of books to help kids learn specific skills. One of the books in this series, such as this one:

might be helpful for you and your son.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#3 of 4 Old 02-20-2012, 05:09 AM
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I agree with Linda you might want to find out if there is more at play than SPD.  And social skills classes are great.


Right now we're working with our 11 year old on learning to assume the other person has a good intent before responding.  We are kind of at a point where the social skills classes (he is on the autistic spectrum) have gone as far as they are likely to (this by professional opinion) as he gets all the theory.  But in practice, because he has very rigid values, he gets into uncomfortable social situations.  It's helped to : 1) Teach him to wait a moment and think things through before responding (even a full breath in and out) and 2) Find out triggers to anticipate things.


When my son was six, I found his responses were in "left field".  But over time, I realized many of them had common threads and were in character.  He's consistently bad with criticism, people who say something that isn't strictly honest, people who give inaccurate information, and people who are insensitive to issues about animals and the environment.  He basically has similar values to the rest of the household, but "blown out of proportion" or extreme versions of them.  If, for whatever reason, your son tends to exhibit rigid thinking, it helps to figure out what things he doesn't have much "budge" on so that you can discuss a game plan ahead of time.


Explicit rules about how one should speak to others politely (with concrete examples) regardless of differences of opinion are always good, too.

Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!

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#4 of 4 Old 02-20-2012, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you so much Linda and Beth for your replies.  DS has not had any kind of neuropsychological evaluation.  He's only had an occupational therapy eval.  I agree that it would be helpful to know if there's more than SPD at play.  Even if it's not ASD per se, it does definitely seem like there is another neurological difference in addition to the SPD.  Having some clarity about what we are dealing with would help tremendously with selecting appropriate interventions.  I will look into a social skills group, that's a great idea.  I ordered the book you suggested, Linda, thanks for the rec.


Beth, I am still digesting your post and what you say about your son.  Sounds a lot like mine!  I appreciate you sharing what has been helpful to him.  You've given me some good ideas I can use now and as DS gets older.  The idea of assuming that others have positive intentions is definitely one for us to work on, thanks for that in particular.


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