My DS4 is my one and only child - not having more as he feels like more than enough to us! From birth he was alert, from a few months old we were reading to him. By the time he could sit up in my lap we read for 2+ hours a day - he LOVED being read to, never getting enough. He's been ahead on many things - walking at 10months, knew all of his letters upper and lower and numbers to 10 by about 20 months, by 22 months he could sing the alphabet. We signed with him and when he started talking his vocab grew swiftly and exponentially. He learns new words, memorizes dinosaur names, has a thirst for knowledge and reading, uses an extensive vocab (better than mine - and I have an English degree). He has an amazing imagination, is high needs and high energy. He is happiest when learning or reading. LOVES the zoo, science center, dinosaur museum, etc. Has planned on being a zookeeper since 22months, and a zookeeper vet since 3yrs.
We used to live in a small town and practicing attachment parenting and being introverts and vegetarian besides a weekly literacy program we attended didn't get out much. When he was 22 months we moved to a big city and by 26 months I started a dayhome - 1 full-time 1 year old and 3 part-time kids (1, 2, 4). Within a couple of months my son was voicing his dislike of the dayhome - in particular the full-time 1 year old I watched. This baby I watched was so happy and easy and his parents were great I really wanted to make it work - so continued. Then my son started acting out by pushing and hitting. Despite my best efforts I was unable to get him to stop this (he was around 2.5yrs at the time). I ended up giving my notice to everyone and tried closing my dayhome - though the 1 and 4 yr old part-time kids parents convinced me to keep them. He had seemed depressed and was back to his happy self once we no longer did dayhome everyday. A few months later my son was starting to verbalize not wanting this pt 1 yr old girl here either - though had formed a friendship with her 4 yr old brother. I gave my notice again and they convinced me to just watch the 4yr old boy. He has been my son's main form of socialization and friendship. We tried preschool at 3 and DS was not emotionally ready to be without me. He is enrolled in 4 yr old preschool for the fall. My son also sees his 6 and 8 yr old cousins appx 2x month. It took about a year before I was comfortable with him playing with other kids and around babies without worrying that he would hurt them. Though he's typically always played exceptionally with older kids.
Today was a rainy day and we went to a mall playground, it was really busy and my mom was watching him while I went to buy something, then I met them there. I saw right away he was going through everything in a pattern - and moving swiftly around the other kids. He likes to create an order and then wants to do things in that same order over and over again, which doesn't work well if others are in his way - usually not a problem at home or park outside (more space less kids). I've never seen this play area so crowded and in hindsight it was too crowded for him. He pushed a girl his size off of a fire truck (a few ft) and told me after he didn't know why, then appoligized, talked about it, etc. We should have left then but he hasn't done this for so long I was in shock and not thinking it would happen again. 2 mins later a 1yr old goes down a slide and my son waits till he's at the bottom but not out of the way then slides down and starts kinda pushing the baby (who was seated) out of the way -not hurting, but not keeping his body to himself or waiting his turn. The baby's mom started yelling at my son. I was embarassed and frustrated and we left. As I talked this over with DS, he explained it was cause they were in his way. How do I get him to understand that HE is NOT the center of the universe, that other kids are just as entitled to space as he is, and that things don't have to be done always in the same order? On another note, he is an angel when no other kids are involved - we have the best days, reading, playing, outside activity, he talks and reasons like an adult a lot of the time and I forget he's so young. But around other kids (ie days when I am babysitting now 5.5 yr old), he gets upset, fits, cries half the day. Over sharing, space invasion, etc... He really likes him though and wants him to keep coming (though maybe not ALL day long). My son leads this boy who is 1.5 yrs older, he invents the games, he guides their play, etc.
Add in that he has never slept enough (since 2 he's been getting only 9-9.5hrs sleep a day), sometimes he gets by okay on this (better when no other kids are around), other times he's an emotional wreck all day (especially when other kids are around). I don't know how to get him to sleep longer. Summer he's up by 5, winter by 4. When he was still napping he slept only 6hrs at night, plus nap. He is sick a lot despite healthy diet, I attribute this to his constant sleep deficit. Even when sick will not sleep any extra.
Thanks in advance for any insight or suggestions!
Regarding the incident at the mall- it depends on whether it's a recurring pattern and how long it goes on. I think you will have a better idea when he starts preschool and assimilates (or not) to the rules and environment. Believe me, if he acts like this at school you will be made aware:)
In the meantime, would give him lots of playground and play dates with other children. The best way to help him accept the presence and needs of other children is to give him plenty of practice.
Incidentally, I am coming at this from the other side- I have a gifted six and 1/2 year old son. He pushed when he thought other kids were "too slow" or "in his way." I was alarmed, but he grew out of it when he was around five and 1/2- now he's so nonviolent that we worry that he won't stand up for himself when the situation arises. By the way, he slept the bare minimum at four and actually sleeps longer now!
"If" after an adjustment period your son is hitting and having significant issues in preschool, I suggest a counselor specializing in play therapy (kind of the least invasive way to deal with adjustment problems). If there is something more serious driving his behavior, a good therapist will refer him for a full evaluation. I would say on the gifted side of things that (at least in my son's case) he didnt really get a handle on things until nearly kindergarten. He is still intense and can be impulsive and emotional.
My six year old will still whine and cry when he knows my undivided attention is not available to him (he doesn't necessarily want my attention, he just wants me on call, all the time). It was much worse when he was younger.
Thoughts about your situation:
4 was our toughest age with DS1, he did not at all adapt well to having a new sister, acted out aggressively at home and in preschool, during playdates, was a horrible sleeper, often out of control, showed extreme sensory-seeking and sensory-avoiding behaviour depending on the situation. The preschool teachers felt we should see someone, so we took him to a child psychiatrist to ask for him be evaluated for ADHD or SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and came home with a tentative autism diagnosis! Thankfully, the follow-up evaluation showed him to be way off the cutoffs on the ASD scales. They did not quite know what to make of us after that, but some of their paretning tips were helpful, the tips I got here were even more helpful, and now he is almost 7, doing very well in first grade, plays well with friends (occasionally even with his sister ;) and loves his baby brother.
How do I get him to understand that HE is NOT the center of the universe, that other kids are just as entitled to space as he is, and that things don't have to be done always in the same order? On another note, he is an angel when no other kids are involved - we have the best days, reading, playing, outside activity, he talks and reasons like an adult a lot of the time and I forget he's so young. But around other kids (ie days when I am babysitting now 5.5 yr old), he gets upset, fits, cries half the day. Over sharing, space invasion, etc...
In our experience, when a kid shows such a huge need for control over you, over other kids and his environment, there is one underlying reason for this: sky-high anxiety.
Now where the anxiety is coming from: there you've got your work cut out for you.
In our case, it appeared to be a combination of physical, intellectual and emotional reasons which you may find out isn't exactly rare in this forum, but rarely seen by professionals (educational and medical) who do not specialize in gifted kids and their extreme sensitivities.
I would investigate sensory issues (OT evaluation), diet (allergies or nutritional deficiencies), exhaustion due to disordered sleep, maybe emotional disturbance due to the move though it's a while ago (anxious kids need routines!), maybe even generalized anxiety disorder or autism spectrum (at least find out how long waiting times for a full professional evaluation are where you live - if the preschool teachers do voice concerns in fall over his being aggressive with other kids you'll need to act fast, and it may be good to have an appointment lined up even if, with a huge sigh of relief, you can cancel it because the teachers say he's doing well).
Stuff you can initiate yourself:
Magnesium and zinc supplements to help him sleep, fish oil , vitamin D and K fro nervous regulation. There is more I'm sure, otheres here are more speciaized in this than I, or head over to the Nutrition forums. have him checked out for allergies or intolerances. Sometimes elimination of dairy, gluten or sugar works wonders. Maybe melatonin (haven't tried that one with mine, as it's illegal for kids where I live, but otheres have had great improvements. For us, magensium proved enough of a miracle supplement). A sensory diet (google it, or get yourself Sensational kids or The Out of Sync Kid and find out what rings familiar. Quirky Kids and When The Labels Don't Fit may also be interesting for you).
Try to create a predictable environment, particularly at home where he needs to feel safe and be able to recharge. Routine and control for him whereever possible. This may be the reason he cannot cope with the dayhome situation, but can cope with older kids as long as it's outside (more predictability, less sensory overload). Sometimes the routines I need to create for my three kids who are somewhat similar in that respect drive me crazy, but overall life is MUCH easier if I do this much for them.
Maturity should help - unless there IS a real underlying disorder, but I think you'll find out about whether to worry about that one if your preschool teachers are worth their salt, as they should be. Not that they always know best or can diagnose anything, but they do see a lot of kids and should have a good idea of what is really so unusual as to be worrisome.
Have you talked with your son's pediatrician about sleep? Melatonin works for some people- we keep blackout blinds, a regular bedtime, comfortable room temperature, and few toys/ distractions in my son's room (he has a separate play area). My friend still uses white noise for her school age children. If you sleep with him or him with you, evn occasionally, that could be a factor in his early waking.
I'm mum to Tyler, a lovely boy with Autism. My husband has written a book containing 30 or so short stories about out highs and lows of raising an autistic child and is from a parent-to-parent perspective. So far it seems to help sharing what we know and have done with Tyler to aid is excellent progress from non-verbal and stimming all the time, to 100 words a minute :) and in mainstream school (he is in P6 here in the UK - he's 11 now).
If you want to check it out, it's called Autism Is Infectious and is available on Amazon.
If you have any questions etc, please just ask.