My six year old son is generally immature and seems to have problems with small motor control. He seems to have trouble holding thoughts in his head for more than a few seconds. Writing is torture for him. He can write half a letter and forget what he's doing. His handwriting looks like a four year old. He is a few levels ahead in reading though. He is also easily frustrated. Whenever any little thing doesn't go his way he melts down and cries like a baby. Like a baby! I'm way into being emotionally supportive, but I can't put up with this anymore. When he whines or cries, I ask him to try again to say it with a grown up voice. Then he just shouts in all-out anger. I talk to him a lot about being 'medium', and praise good behavior and emotional regulation.
I think the immaturity in both emotional regulation, behavior, and handwriting are all related. He can't hold on to thoughts and think about planning. From what I can get on the internet, it seems like dyspraxia. So, I'm asking for treatments we can do at home to help him develop his nervous system. It doesn't seem like it's worth trying to get OT, and there isn't any real 'cure'.
I think it would be worth getting him in for a full assessment, then start making a plan from there. I hear the frustration in your post, and I understand where you are coming from, but maybe asking him to be 'medium' is asking too much for him right now. It also sets him up to feel like he is letting you down when he can't be the 'medium' that you want him to be.
For now, concentrate on some small motor exercises- handwriting without tears is a decent approach if you really feel like you need to focus on that. I prefer using lots of sculpting work, fine bead work, crocheting etc to help build fine motor skill. And work on building tools to adjust for executive function lapses. Visual schedules are a big help, step by step goals for how to accomplish a task will make it far more likely that a task is accomplished.
And when he cries 'like a baby' remember that he still is, emotionally- a very young person, probably not even all of his six years. Those emotions are bigger than he is, and they are compounded by knowing that he isn't able to handle them as he knows you want him to. It sounds like the focus needs to be on preventing the meltdowns in the first place- not shaping the behaviour within the meltdown.
FWIW, my 12 year old uses Dragon Naturally Speaking to write about half of her reports. Her work- dictated- is quite advanced. If I force her to write, she struggles terribly. So we separate working on writing from working on learning, or expressing herself. She's about 120 pages into a book she's been writing for about 4 months now. If I had forced her to write (or even type- though she is a much stronger typist than handwriter) she wouldn't have bothered to try. Now, she's hoping to be published before she is 18.
You have to work with who the child you have is, and not worry so much about where they should be. Those kids with huge emotions and trouble with executive function are often truly gifted kids, they just need to be fully understood so you can help to access their potential.
Thanks for the reply, RainbowAsylum. I think he is kind of 'faking' the crying and pushing up the level of freakout on purpose. I want to take him seriously, and I usually do, even when I know he's faking. If he's not faking, then this is the unhappiest kid I've ever known. I wonder about if there is something bothering him that bad or if he is traumatized? I don't know what it is.
But it is a fact that going to school, going to the store, eating meals, taking baths, brushing teeth, and going to bed are events that are going to happen every day, and are not worth crying over. And I always thought he was smart. He can assemble anything with picture instructions (Lego and such), and builds complex things on Minecraft. He also loves breakdancing and is quite talented expressing himself through dance. Man, this doesn't make sense for dyspraxia. Ugh. I don't get him.
He has a doctor checkup in a few weeks, so I'll ask about it.
How does this play out in situations with his peers, like school?
He does sound smart, and he sounds like he has something going on that makes some aspects of life and learning difficult for him. I think an eval makes sense.
Rather than just asking your doctor about the situation, I would ask him for a referral for a "complete neuro-psychological evaluation." You can also request an evaluation from the school. This needs to be done in writing, a real letter with a date and a signature.
I also think he may have sensory issues -- I don't think they are whole story, but they sound like part of the puzzle.
I suggest using visual schedules to help him get through his day, with activities he enjoys mixed in. For example, with the bed time stuff, make up little pictures for each step as well as little pictures for things he like -- like being read to, playing with lego for 10 minutes, etc. Then have him work through his evening routine using the pictures to guide him. After he does the next step with no whining /crying, then he gets to pick a choice activity. For some kids, going through the whole bedtime routine first and then getting one choice works well, however, it may be that he would do better with a choice activity after every step. Holding it together through just one step of his routine sounds challenging for him, and you want a plan he can succeed with.
(actually, if he is reading well, you could skip the pictures, but only if the reading adds zero stress. This is about teaching routine and emotional regulation, not reading skills).
I know this won't sound very "mothering.com" of me, but I think it is fine to ignore the over-the-top attention seeking and task avoidance behaviors. It can be hard to tell the difference, but re-enforcing these behaviors isn't helpful to him.
Instead, find ways for him to deal with his own emotions, such as a quiet place to calm down, some sensory toys to play with, pillows to squeeze, etc. He is 6. He can start learning some emotional regulation beyond "mommy, fix it," but having some tools might help with that.
but everything has pros and cons
I think with his peers, he likes to be really silly to get attention. He thinks he's being funny, but he's just being annoying, so they react negatively to him. But he seems to feed on the negativity and does the behaviors more.
And thanks for the other advice. We will try those things.
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