Out of control three year old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-13-2013, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I watch a friend's three year old son while she works. She is also concerned about his behavior because he does not self entertain, he is aggressive at times, does not listen, throws tantrums, makes extreme messes, lies, etc. At all times he is extremely needy for adult interaction. Would rather exclude the other child from playing with them and demand that the adult give them full attention. Even if you give them a lot of attention throughout the day, if you use the bathroom, or shower or take time to make them a lunch, they have already found something destructive to do, as if they are punishing you for the moments you are not able to give them your divine attention. I have had my thermostat set to 95, after multiple times explaining to him that he should not touch it. I have had toys broken, balls popped with tacks, he hits my son, snatches toys out of hands and runs and laughs while my son cries. He has poured multiple cups of water on my living room carpet while I was showering once. My living room was soaked! He got into a box of pecans and crushed them into the carpet, not to eat them, but to make a mess. He has toilet papered his mom's house when she fell asleep next to him while trying to get him to nap (and he used brand new 12 rolls of double rolled tp!). He sleep walked and peed on his parents entertainment center. I always have to remind him to not hit my cat. He takes food off of my son's plate and eats it before eating his own food, and acts like he doesn't know anything about it when my son cries that someone ate his food. I have gotten to the point where I can't do my grocery shopping because of him. So many times he begs me, whines and cries for everything. Telling him "no" means nothing to him. My friend says his dad buys him a toy just about everytime they go to Walmart, even if he is screaming and whining. And I know consistency is important with parenting, but I don't think the father thinks he is doing anything wrong and is not the type to take constructive criticism well. His dad is also overworked and probably very depressed. When he gets home he is too tired to give him attention, and his mother is busy cooking and cleaning. Then the grasping needy behavior goes on at home. He doesn't nap for his mom, however, he naps for me. Frequently, when he wakes up he is in a horrible mood. Screams and cries and kicks his legs around for a long amount of time. If you suggest something he screams louder and cries harder and acts like the suggestion scarred him for life. In this bad mood after naptime he will be obstinent about everything you ask him to do, whether it is put on his shoes so he can go home or to ask nicely for something instead of screaming and demanding.
Does anybody have any idea what could be different about this child? Could it be ADHD? What do you think? What do you think his mother should look into? She is so stressed about it.
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#2 of 6 Old 01-15-2013, 05:33 PM
 
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I'm not sure if anything is different with this boy, I dont have experience with special needs. What it sounds like though is that he is desperately seeking attention and negative attention is better than nothing. The way you described the parents at the end of the day really saddened me. Here he is separated from his mom and dad all day (looked after by a caring babysitter but you're not mom or dad) and when he gets home, mom is too busy with chores and dad is tired and unhappy. When does he get the attention and fulfillment he needs so much? Before anything behavioural or special needs should even be considered, he needs his parents to really try to work through this with him. Maybe they could both take a week of vacation time and reconnect as a family. Or maybe mom could ask for help with chores from grandma so she could give the boy lots of her time. I'm not an expert but I just felt really saddened by this post. I think the family needs to pull together to figure out what's going on. I'm just a mom and this is what my instincts are telling me. I hope things improve for everyone involved.
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#3 of 6 Old 01-16-2013, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am sure that the lack of interaction with the parents is part of it. At the same time, there are some days when we do invite them to go with us to the gym and we play basketball with the kiddos and take them to the big toy. I think you are right about more parent-son time. That would be an excellent place to start. I think that their jobs aren't very flexible ones, though, and she lives away from all family. So really she does not have that family element there to help her. Her husband does not see participating in house chores as "his" responsibility. He might help some, but he often forgets to do the ones he has agreed to do, such as taking the trash out and to the curb. 

I have looked up symptoms of ADHD in toddlers, but I also know that maybe some may disappear once he is more secure. He matches up with interrupting, talking loudly, not listening...and one thing that got me was hitting. When they lived in their old town and he went to Daycare, he was hitting a lot. The Daycare asked he his daddy play fought with him. But he doesn't. They came to visit us one time and each time I was trying to get video of our two kids playing together, I had to stop video because it was constant hitting and pushing. And they say that is common in kids with ADHD. He was also a late talker. I wheedled hitting out of him once I began to watch him. I used time outs each time. Hitting has slowed down quite a bit.

 And as for the store thing....if everyone could be consistent, I think that behavior might curve, but it is so stressful for me. And really, I don't think the father is open to constructive criticism. He is a very moody person. Depression is a tough thing to kick sometimes, and I don't think he wants to admit he needs help. :o( Just kind of waiting on him for that one. 

I wish I could say I was the perfect babysitter spending every waking moment with him, but sometimes I have to run the house as well. I even watch him when I am sick, and those days turn into bad days. He goes bonkers. Screaming constantly or making another kid cry. I do take moments to play games. I play tickle monster, which he loves, we play memory games, hide and seek, hot and cold, I take them to parks (when the weather is good), we sing songs and read books etc.... But in between I do the extras, and its in those moments, it gets crazy. I also want to encourage him to play with peers, not just adults.

But you know, you have me thinking...This early on, we should try more parental attention as a first. If it doesn't improve then we could go from there.

Thank you for your input. 

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#4 of 6 Old 01-16-2013, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have had times where our families took the kids out for fun, and I have seen moments like those where lots of attention is given. He still seems to spiral out of control and get extra excited and not listen or do as he is told. Its like he thinks they are playing a game with him when they ask him to do something. I guess it is just most days when it seems the father is stuck in a depression rut. I have suggested to my friend to talk to him and tell him that she is concerned with his moods and would like him to feel better etc. I really don't think he is an open person who will actively say "I am having trouble and I need help."

Their jobs are not very flexible and their family does not live close. They are out in the same town as us away from everybody. Their closest family is 3 hours away...the others are in a different state entirely.

I can't say I spend every waking moment with him. I have other errands or chores to run myself. But I do play games and interact with them as much as possible. Sometimes I don't even get everything I needed done in a day because I played with them. Its those little moments when I need to use the restroom etc, that everything goes bonkers. I also want them to be able to play with peers and not rely only on adult interaction.  And now that I think about it he does remind me of an adult who had severe ADHD whom I worked with in my profession. I just don't know kiddos too well, or maybe I don't want to be the one to say whether or not my own friend's little one has something going on. I would rather someone else say it. And it is probably too early to tell anyway but behaviors I looked up on the internet matched up. Early in his life, when he went to daycare, the daycare asked my friend why he was hitting so much. And when my friend and her son came to visit, I had to stop recording them playing together because each time I began it was hit hit shove push hit hit shove push. He was also late to talk and no hearing problems were involved. Every time he speaks it is this loud yelling tone and he interrupts. And he screams a lot. It kind of gets on the nerves after a while. I have began to try to correct his volume lately, but I think that is going to take some time. 

 I do think you have an excellent point though. I think the first place to start would be extra parental time. Because he probably does get less than most secure children do. And frankly, his behaviors are insecure ones. And maybe if we work on that, and nothing improves we could go from there. 

Thank you so much for your input!

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#5 of 6 Old 01-16-2013, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry for the second post.....when I sent the first one a message popped up and disappeared and I wasn't looking at the time until I saw it flash away. I could only tell that my message didn't go through. So I wrote again. :o(

The second time I wrote I saw that it said because I was new here my posts needed to be monitored. So if you see all my messages...that is why. So sorry. Silly me!!

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#6 of 6 Old 01-17-2013, 10:12 AM
 
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While it could be ADHD, it could also be a number of other things (including being a tempermentally-difficult but completely normal three-year-old boy).  ADHD is characterized by extreme impulsivity, inattentiveness, and certain social deficits.  It's caused, in part, by inefficient dopamine receptors, which probably explains the strong correlations between ADHD and later substance abuse.  Since the behavioral features of ADHD are also similar to features of normal (but immature) toddler behavior, it's hard to determine conclusively without a great deal of observation.  Formal diagnosis often doesn't happen until later (school age) for this very reason, when some cognitive maturation should have occurred (and reduced these behaviors). Often ADHD (like learning disabilities) is genetic/occurs in within families.  Finally, there are many other disorders that cause behavioral traits that resemble ADHD (or occur alongside it), so there may be other things going on. 

 

(+ normalish toddler behavior)

(# atypical/possible red-flag)

 

+ does not self entertain

+ aggressive at times

# does not listen (can be for a variety of reasons, but if it's pervasive, that's worth looking into since most kids WANT to please adults at least some of the time)

+ throws tantrums

# makes extreme messes (if deliberate/vindictive)

# lies (if it happens frequently that's suspicious)

# extremely needy for adult interaction (often a feature in attachment disorders)

# can't listen

# breaks things (if vindictive as opposed to accidental)

+hits

+snatches toys out of hands and runs

+makes a mess

# takes food off of my son's plate and eats it (this one's pretty odd--does he do this a lot?)

+begs, whines and cries for everything (his dad is reinforcing it, so it's going to continue)

 

Worth noting, regardless of whether or not he "has anything", he's probably not getting the kind of parental attention he requires (His dad is also overworked and probably very depressed.

His mother is busy cooking and cleaning.)  If he doesn't have a solid emotional connection with his primary caregivers, that can lead to a lot of insecurity/acting out.

 

The important thing to ask, is are his parents concerned about these behaviors?  What do they think?  If this behavior is occurring in ALL settings and they're concerned about it, they may wish to have him evaluated to rule out a problem, but ultimately the choice is theirs.

 

Regardless of what THEY are willing to do about his behavior, you'll have to decide what YOU want to do--if you want to keep watching this kid, you may want to explore some ways to proactively deal with some of his more difficult behaviors (whether he has ADHD or not), since a lot of the interventions that are commonly used with kids who DO have ADHD are helpful in working with any kid who seems to be having difficulty managing their own behavior.  Good luck!

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