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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 4.5-year-old son has recently started saying, "I'm just a sucker. I'm dumb, dumb, dumb. I'm so STUPID." He is the ultimate Drama King but he's not playing at this.

I just don't get it. This kid is surrounded by people who express unconditional love for him. He is supported in every way imaginable and noone, save his dad who can be a little unreasonable at times, forces their expectations on him.

I don't mean to say that his life is perfect, but I don't understand how he could think this about himself. When I ask him why he's saying that, he points to some choice that he's made or something that he's done and continues to criticize himself.

I know that it's normal at this age to see things as absolutes and he's very much at a black-and-white stage. I just can't understand how he can feel this way about himself.

Maybe I'm making too much of it. Or maybe I'm not making enough of it. I tend to overreact at any sort of sign like this because we have such a history of depression in my family and his father and I have just completed our divorce (though we've been separated since just after he turned 2). I also get concerned because this is the kind of behavior that his father exhibits that is so devastating to his ability to be an optimally functional person... I really don't want ds to grow up to be the same. Maybe I'm projecting this too heavily?

I'd really appreciate any thoughts, commiseration, etc...
 

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Wow.

Maybe you can talk with him about it?

My two thoughts that a 4.5 yr. old might understand are:

1. Making a mistake doesn't make you stupid. It just means you made a mistake.

2. Telling yourself you are bad can make you feel bad, as bad as if someone else says it to you.

Do you ever call yourself stupid if you make a mistake? Maybe you can have a club with him, the "we make mistakes" club--to remind each other not to call yourself names if you make a mistake? (I know all about this, unfortunately, because I also call myself names when I make mistakes
)

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by captain optimism
Wow.

Maybe you can talk with him about it?

My two thoughts that a 4.5 yr. old might understand are:

1. Making a mistake doesn't make you stupid. It just means you made a mistake.

2. Telling yourself you are bad can make you feel bad, as bad as if someone else says it to you.
Thank you, CO. I've said #1 to him but not #2. I think this will really help.

He's always had a tendency to be a perfectionist. From the start he's been one of those kids who will get irritated as hell if he can't do something perfectly the first time. It's taken basically his whole life of working with him to just recently get to the point where he'll say audibly to himself, "Just keep trying and trying." Then, when he does try and succeed, he's incredibly proud of himself. Maybe this is just another manifestation of that perfectionism?

I never call myself stupid. Or anyone else. And we don't hang around with anyone (that I can think of, anyway) who does anything like this. I am pretty hard on myself internally sometimes and I'm sure he picks up on this. I'll need to do better. I LOVE the idea of a club! What a creative way to address this and it would be such a great reminder for me to be kinder to myself, as well.
 

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Oh, my God, I could seriously have written your post. My dd, 4.5 also, especially when she is tired or has a blood sugar drop, starts saying things like nobody loves her, nobody should love her ever, she's not perfect, everyone is perfect except for her, she hates herself, she wants to kill herself (!!!!) and other major statements like that.

Like you, we have NEVER, NEVER, NEVER told her she has to be perfect (or that anyone else does). We even got her the book, How to Be a Perfect Person in Three Days (which gently satirizes the impossible quest for perfection and shows how perfection isn't all that perfect). We give her endless love, gentle discipline (she's never needed any, to speak of -- we have a wonderful kid basically by magic, as far as I can see) tons of attention (her dad stays at home and I'm a teacher, so she has 2 full-time parents three months out of twelve. EVERY DAY we tell her that we're so glad we had a child, that we love being around her or in her company, I still carry her in a sling for the physical closeness as much as the convenience...you name it.

I'd hate to think what she'd feel like if we had NOT done those things.

WHY, WHY, WHY is she so hard on herself when we're not remotely so hard on herself or on us or each other?

Just wanted to commiserate and to say you're not alone.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dragonfly
My 4.5-year-old son has recently started saying, "I'm just a sucker. I'm dumb, dumb, dumb. I'm so STUPID." He is the ultimate Drama King but he's not playing at this.

I just don't get it. This kid is surrounded by people who express unconditional love for him. He is supported in every way imaginable and noone, save his dad who can be a little unreasonable at times, forces their expectations on him.

I don't mean to say that his life is perfect, but I don't understand how he could think this about himself. When I ask him why he's saying that, he points to some choice that he's made or something that he's done and continues to criticize himself.

I know that it's normal at this age to see things as absolutes and he's very much at a black-and-white stage. I just can't understand how he can feel this way about himself.

Maybe I'm making too much of it. Or maybe I'm not making enough of it. I tend to overreact at any sort of sign like this because we have such a history of depression in my family and his father and I have just completed our divorce (though we've been separated since just after he turned 2). I also get concerned because this is the kind of behavior that his father exhibits that is so devastating to his ability to be an optimally functional person... I really don't want ds to grow up to be the same. Maybe I'm projecting this too heavily?

I'd really appreciate any thoughts, commiseration, etc...
 

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hm...i like the idea of making a club...can you also try to talk each day about 1 success that happened? as small or as big as he wants, but SOMETHING positive that happened that day to remind him? can you talk to him more about mistakes that you've made? maybe he sees others as not making mistakes because they're not as visible...maybe it would help him to witness others' mistakes and see how they handle it?
 
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