My 5 year old son is a highly spirited little boy. Lately I am watching his friends progress in ways he is not. I am so confused on what are normal issues vs what is boy naughtiness, or potential ADD/AD-HA. I bring up AD/AD HA because I don't know what else to call it. What are issues I can handle through discipline or positive re-enforcement, or does he have a clinical issue.
Here are some examples. Last night at his wrestling practice the coaches have the boys warm up by running in circles, skipping and so on. My DS marches to his own beat. He runs in circles but starts to laugh a lot, calls the other kids poop pants, runs in the middle of the circle not in line with others. During stretches he is so naughty won't sit still. While the coach is trying to explain to the other young boys their instruction he will jump on the coaches back. The coach will say "One at a time, one at a time" and my DS doesn't seem to hear it. He just does what he wants. When leaving wrestling, he started to run down the hall, I said no running but he just keeps going. I do feel like he just disregards me so much. Then again I also feel like he is totally unaware of his actions. He just can calm down in a group activities.
I already feel like I am constantly rule setting! He needs lots of instruction. Doesn't use a fork, messy messy. Talks a lot! However, he will sit down in our basement with Lego's for hours by himself and creative plays (well for a long time not necessarily hours). When asking him to practice his tae kwon do he will not practice. When coloring he just makes huge scribble circles (calls them tornado's)...I see other kids drawing castles and things. When his teacher tells him to make a snowman, he draws it beautiful. But during his free color it is just big passionate circles in many colors.
At his afternoon preschool (it is a outdoor type program) he ROARS at people faces, really gives the teachers a hard time. They are easy going type teachers. I have found he teases girls and chases them. When asked to stop, he will but goes right back to it.
I feel over whelmed with what should I be disciplining, what it normal and what is not. I try not to compare him but last night in the group of boys, he was different than the others.
Lastly, my DS has a smile that makes a room light up. He can be so wonderful, just so much work. I don't want him to be ashamed of himself I want him to be a good choice maker and be confident. Lately, I am furstrated with gentle disciplin, and feel like cracking down. I won't! but feel like maybe I am too soft. Any advise? Thanks.
He sounds like a wonderful and energetic little kid, who may or may not have sensory issues or attention issues....and it's a shame that school and other formal classroom settings don't make room for different-ness. They do love to label kids and then set about trying to change them.
We went through a lot of what you are saying. My son (soon to be 9) has some sensory stuff....super sensitive to loud and chaotic places (they make him wild) and also loves physical contact--hugging, hitting, squeezing, climbing. He, too, is a little tornado. We're so lucky because we homeschool and I can let him be whatever he wants to be. I have also noticed that if he is in a class or activity that is "right" for him, he is calm and fine, but if he's in a situation where he feels like it's too structured or the rules are just arbitrary (you know, kid-management rules versus what works for the individual kid) then he used to "act out" like your son. However, I have to say, he has gotten much better with that over the years. I think the age allows him to handle the unpleasant situations better.
Examples: About two years ago he was in nature class at the Audubon sanctuary and although he had always LOVED their preschool programs and their teacher, it became apparent that the fit was no longer working. He would act out in class and do things that the teacher ("stand in line, children!") didn't want him to do (like climbing snowbanks, not staying with the group as they walked through the woods), and he even went so far as to knock over another kid's snowman. I got real tired of getting "called into the office" by the teacher after class. My son is very bright and verbal, but was WAY behind on impulse-control at that time. So he could say quite clearly to the teacher that he thought the rules were too restrictive, and the class was boring and so forth, and yet he lacked the ability to physically hold-in all the energy that his boredom wanted to turn into. So we withdrew from the class and learned something very important about the KINDS of classes he wanted to be in.
You may say "he shouldn't be allowed to quit a class just because he's bored." Well, I'm not sure why not. I know it's typical to say that, but if he's getting nothing out of it, why bother. If he IS learning and getting something out of it, then he wouldn't act out.
Flash forward to now. He's in Robotics class at another place. He sits quietly and works with a partner building robots and really enjoys it. I noticed that in last night's class (I peeked in through the crack in the door) he was "done" and sort of checked out toward the end of the class, preferring instead to visit the whiteboard and create art. I did overhear the teacher say something to him about it but my guess was that he didn't say "now go back and sit in your seat." It's not that kind of place. If he did anything disruptive, I would expect the teacher to talk to me about it, and then I could deal with it accordingly. But quietly drawing isn't, really.
I remember when he was in Sunday School when he was younger, whenever the class would start to sing it would make him run out of the room, which the teachers could not allow. (He is very sensitive to music; I could never sing him lullabies either; they'd make him cry.) But, again, it was the type of place where they could problem-solve with him. He is very smart, needs to be respected and involved. So he and the teacher came up with a hand-signal or some such thing (I can't remember what it was) but it allowed him to still do what the teacher could permit, yet respected his strong feelings about the music. A few classes later, the whole thing had been forgotten and now the music doesn't "set him off" any more. I really think age has a lot to do with it.
But I had to laugh yesterday; we were at Trader Joes near our house. We love that place and everyone there sort of knows us, as we are regular customers. And if you've ever been to TJs you know they are really laid back anyway. But while I was at the cash register and when I went out to the car, my son was whirling around me like a satellite, clearly doing "light saber" moves from Star Wars (his new passion) complete with sound effects. Had I arbitrarily chosen to tell him to stand still, others are looking at you, behave, be quiet, we would have had zero luck and I was not about to do it anyway because it was OK for the situation (i.e. not a church service, china shop, etc.) and it was helping him deal with the mind-numbing boredom of shopping. I think his need to always move is awesome. We adults spend a kid's life telling them to sit still, stop moving, and then they get overweight and we say "Get moving! get exercise!....Here is a boring and structured program for you to do it" (sigh)
I try and look at my son's traits which might seem annoying NOW, and think of how they will serve him when he's up & out on his own. I don't want him to enter the world devoid of the amazing energy he has now, or his astounding creativity, or his strong will. These things can be inconvenient to parent for sure, but might be just what he needs, going forward. That being said, if he's running around saying Poopy Pants or whatever, I'd say try not to react strongly to it. Gently say something that won't make it worse. I swear, if they think they are going to get a reaction out of us, they do more of it. If my son had pulled that during our Kung Fu classes, for example, I'd pull him to the side and have him sit with me during class watching all the other kids continue to have fun. I'd say "you can rejoin the class when you can speak respectfully."
Anyway, my advice would be to stop trying to control and extinguish behaviors if it really seems like he can't control them, only choosing to put him into programs he's developmentally ready for. Unfortunately, if he's going to be in school, you won't have that kind of flexibility, and I wish you the best of luck.
Wow, thank you for your time in the note Nellikatz. All great feedback. The Audubon is exactly where he is struggling to behave. His main trouble is out doors when there is so much stimulation. He tells me he tries to be good but then he will ROAR in a little girls face. Girls freak him out for some reason :-) I mean that in a loving way. I really think he is trying to figure them out. He is all boy and loves to shoot, run and say those potty words, none of which are socially cool. And yes, we have thought to pull him, he only goes two afternoons a week but really does not want to go. It was expensive so we are torn right now. I will talk to DH about it.
I love your advise about pulling him out of class and sit him next to me. Loving with a message of "behavior not allowed here".
Thank you again. I just love this website and forum. I admit I have moments of "maybe he just needs a little soap in the mouth" (wouldn't do it) but is does cross my mind. Once I get to that point, this is exactly where I need to be and continue to be. I would hate to think what it would do to him or any child.
Yeah, remember some advice I heard somewhere....it all depends how you look at it. If you see him as purposely defying you, you're going to be tempted to a different, less helpful, less loving reaction. But if you give him the benefit of the doubt and interpret it as "he's doing the best he can; he needs to learn a new skill for coping with X, and I will lovingly show him," it takes you to a different place and, I think, allows you to keep the emotional connection with him.
Imagine it from his perspective, feeling out of control, not knowing what to do, and the one person who loves you more than anyone and COULD teach you how to cope, is sort of against you, punishing you. I suspect it would cause more acting out. It's gotta be anxiety-producing. So it's a good thing you're stepping back from that soap-in-the mouth thing! :-) Though we haven't had much experience with potty-mouth, there have been things we don't want him to say, and we've taken the approach that any extreme reaction from us, whether shock, outrage, laughter....any of those things would probably encourage it. Best to take a calm approach and maybe it will cease to be so amusing to him.
greektome2 your son sounds wonderful, both creative and very self aware. Perhaps the problem lies not in his behavior but in the perception of it. I completely understand that while at practice you want him to listen to the coach, and that at dinner you want him to use a fork but aside from that a lot of the other things seem like "issues" that aren't naughty or indicative of anything like ADD but rather very normal childhood leanings. For example, chances are good that some of his behavior may just be for the reaction that it gets from you or other adults (i.e. the name calling) and if it's not being done in a malicious manner he may simply find it funny (little boy humor is often pretty gross). Embrace and praise your son for the good things he does, correct him when his behavior is truly out of line and don't be afraid to ask him questions about why he behaves how he does, you may be surprised by the answers. Good luck :)