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Thread: Taking steps to find out if DS2's challenging behaviour is "normal"

  1. #1

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    Default Taking steps to find out if DS2's challenging behaviour is "normal"

    So I've finally reached the point that I've booked DS2 in with a GP to get a referral to someone - I've no idea if it will be a child psychologist, paediatrician or someone else - to see if he has some sort of behavioural disorder or similar.

    After 18 months of behaviour issues, I've realised my family can't keep going on the path we're on. Some days family life sux, and I end up in tears, DS2 ends up in tears - it's awful. I love DS2 to pieces, but he's just so extreme in his emotions, reactions, tantrums and on it goes. Trouble is, I doubt he's going to be classified with having a behavioural disorder as he's virtually always well behaved at daycare, and he's really not too bad when we're out in public. It's just at home. I can't credit the differences between DS1 and DS2 - DS1 is no angel, but compared to DS2 he often appears to be!

    First and foremost, DS2 is an incredible attention seeker to the point that he often doesn't like to share any limelight with DS1 or DS3. Whenever he's asked to do something, or stop doing something, 95% of the time it becomes a huge drama involving tantrums, defiance, screaming, sometimes destruction. He's very easily frustrated and his reaction is to scream or squeal. If he's frustrated with a toy, he'll scream and hurl it across the room. Half the time when he wakes up in the morning he's in a horribly foul mood and he won't cooperate with DH or I at all - and he can stay in one of these moods for ages.

    In all my 40 years, no one has ever frustrated me like my second-born son. Ever! Last year I did several sessions with a psychologist to build up my resilience and coping skills. It certainly helped, but I'd challenge even a saint not to lose their patience well and truly with him on any given day. DH and I have tried everything to get him to behave/co-operate/improve his behaviour, but often it feels like all we do is yell and punish (time out, losing toys, denying him things, even smacking as a last resort, particularly if he puts himself or someone else in harm's way - throwing hard toys at his brothers or climbing shelving units, as two examples). We've tried to ignore bad behaviour and reward good behaviour, but even that doesn't seem to evoke any change. I hate it - I'm so sick of being in this cycle of him being extremely defiant and challenging, and me losing the plot. I hate how I feel about myself and my reactions when I reach the point of not coping. When I've had a particularly bad day with DS2, I generally find I have to shut myself away for a while just to regain some calm and composure. And trust me when I say I don't want to leave my room. Kinda like time out for me. But not good when I've got 3 young boys who need me. And it has to change. I want to be a better parent to him, to get him through all this, whether it's a phase or something more. There are times he's loving, warm, chatty - enjoyable ... but unfortunately there are so many more times where he's not.

    And lately he's done things like come into the kitchen, and when I've asked him to leave (because oven and hotplates were on) he had to touch every item I had on the bench that I was cooking with. Even hanging back as I was "chasing" him out so he could touch each thing. It was like he had a mini obsession. And I've seen him do something similar with his Thomas Tank trains when he was cranky. He had about 7 trains in front of him and he picked every one up, screamed at it and then threw it. I'm probably just reading more in to these behaviours than is really there - he doesn't have any other obsessive or compulsive traits that I know of, and he doesn't routinely touch everything on my kitchen bench as a general rule.

    However, I'm at the point where I think "if" there is a problem with DS2 we need to get on to it now in order to affectively address it and work with him to help him through it. The psychologist I saw ruled out ADHD because he's "easy" and well behaved at daycare and in other social scenarios. But the minute he walks through the door at home, it starts. I can accept he's different to DS1, that he has a different temperament. I even know that some of the behaviour traits that are so difficult for me to deal with now - tenacity, determination among others - will actually help him when he's older, provided he can tap into those traits in a positive way. I don't expect to have a kid who behaves well all the time, who does everything their parents ask. Pfffft ... as if!!! All I want is a little less of the tanties, the defience, the moods. A little more compliance and cooperation would be wonderful.

    I guess in this post I'm just venting it out, maybe justifying to myself that I'm doing the right thing. I just know that we've got to take it further to know once and for all if DS2 is just an average pre-schooler with more extreme reactions, or if there's more to it.

    I'd welcome any insights by anyone whose children sound similar. Mind you, I do tell myself DS2 is the only child in the world like it (yes, joking - I know I'm not the only one!)



    ps: if you got through that ramble you deserve a medal ...
    Last edited by AndiE; February 9th, 2013 at 11:18 PM.

  2. #2

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    Oh Andi, that's sounds exhausting! My DD has had behavioural problems but not to that extent. I hope you can get some answers & support, both for you & your son. It's good that you vented, nothing good comes from keeping things bottled up. And if you're not happy with your dr then go somewhere else & keep trying until you find someone who will listen.
    Good luck!

  3. #3

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    oh wow! It sounds like such a tough situation for you all! Hope you get some answers

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    Massive hugs. I dont really know about behavioural problems like you describe, but have you have him tested for allergies or intolerances?

    While we were in the USA I reacted to some seasoning on popcorn and later on chicken and my god, my heart was racing my brain was pumping, I was talking too fast and feeling like I could go mental. I just imagine if a child were reeacting to something, they would be aggressive, difficult and defiant. It might be worth looking at a book like nourishing traditions, or even the GAPs diet to see if you can affect change.

    I would also hazard a guess he is behaving like this at home because you have a young baby and an older child taking your attention and he feels like he needs to act out to get attention, any attention. I would be inclined to start keeping him closer to help his security. Does he sleep in his own room? Is he difficult to get to sleep?

    I would also start making him your special friend and really actively and positively involving him in every activity. So the cooking example, I would pick him up and put him on the bench to watch or find a way he could become involved.

    When my kids are difficult I hold them closer. Stop what I am doing, slow down and try and connect with them more to hear what their needs are. That's just an ideal I aim for though. Yes I do crack it at times and yell, stomp and lock myself in my room

    Good luck.

  5. #5

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    He's acting out at home because that's where he feels safe! We all do it, we act out to family members because that's who we're closest to.
    How does he sleep?? Does he snore? Could some of the behaviour be linked to sleep apnea?
    Sounds like you defiantly need some help.
    Xxxxx

  6. #6

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    Default Taking steps to find out if DS2's challenging behaviour is "normal"

    Great idea that you are taking him to a paed. Are you in melb?

  7. #7

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    Sounds tough and time to call in more reinforcements!
    I reckon having a think about food is a good idea, too. Have you read Fed Up? Do you reckon he sleeps well? If he's in a foul mood, perhaps he's not getting good quality sleep?

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    I'm going to go against the grain and suggest that he is behaving like a normal 3yo, particularly one who became a big brother not long ago. Perhaps have a look for resources on how to handle toddlers/pre-schoolers, like Science of Parenting, or Aha Parenting. He sounds like he's crying out for attention which is why he's not so difficult at daycare. Just a thought.

  9. #9

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    Thanks everyone for your support. DS2's behavioural issues have been going on for 18 months, so well before he was a big brother. With DS1 starting school and obviously the recent arrival of DS3 I totally understand and accept that he's dealing with changes. And I accept that he might take longer than the "average" child to accept and process major life changes. But still, his behaviour and how we cope and function because of it is just in an outward spiral ... hence I'm finally seeking help.

    Arcadia - My boys don't have any apparent allergies or intolerances, but I'll ask the GP to get his blood checked to be sure his levels (iron, magnesium etc) are ok. I've reduced the boys sugar right down but it didn't make much difference.

    Olive and MadB - no I hadn't thought of it being a sleep problem. Good point(s)! He does tend to wake most nights, sometimes 2-3 times and it's like a night terror. He's only half wakes, often strikes out and yells "Nooooo" to anything he's asked. It can go on for 10-15 mins and then, in the blink of an eye, he's asleep again. I'll make a note to mention it to the dr. Of course, sometimes he is tired during the day but he absolutely refuses to nap, and to be honest ... when he does nap at daycare (max 1 hours sleep) he'll still be awake up to two hours after being put to bed. They go to bed at 7pm nightly, so he generally gets 10.5-11 hours sleep each night.

    Ginger - I'm in Brissie. Hopefully my GP knows a good paed.

    Rubyshoes - I'll agree to disagree. I have an older son who certainly has his moments of bad behaviour and attention seeking, but he's not even in DS2's stratosphere. I've also got plenty of friends with children the same age, so I've got a pretty good handle on the fact that DS2 is extreme in his behaviours. And honestly, he could have my 100% attention 24/7 and he would still want more. Gut instinct tells me his behaviour at home is far more extreme than what would be considered normal. Heck, even my parents reckon I need to take him to see someone, and they are generally the most patient grandparents ever.

    I'll keep you posted with what the GP recommends.
    Last edited by AndiE; February 10th, 2013 at 08:56 PM.

  10. #10

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    Andie, you're the one in touch with your kids, so you're best able to tell whether there's something going on or not, for sure.
    Re intolerances - the symptoms are often not what you'd expect. Some people's reactions involve behaviour, mood, sleep as well as physical symptoms like rashes or tummy upsets. And the symptoms can be delayed by days, and may only appear after several days of exposure to the food (as it takes time to reach their tolerance threshold) so identifying the intolerance is practically impossible unless you do an elimination diet. I'm not saying that is what it is, just putting it out there. A lot of parents with kids diagnosed with ADHD, for eg, have found symptoms disappeared on the failsafe diet.

    Anyway, good luck!

  11. #11

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    Thanks hun. Certainly makes me wonder if it's food-related. They have a pretty good diet, but of course it could be dairy, wheat etc - things I "think" are good for them. Best I do some further investigation. Worth a shot, that's for sure.

  12. #12

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    Good luck with the next step. I think diet is worth a shot and it might help with night wakings too. Meow had a great thread on healing her son with GAPS diet (he is autistic and she has documented amazing behavioural changes with a strict GAPS diet - not saying your son has anything like autism only that psychological well being is very closely linked to gut health and even small intolerences could be affecting his general health).

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    I always come into these threads with this.. BUT I am living it & it was missed with my kids & I can tell you now, those behaviours in a ten year old are not fun for anyone involved, least of all the ten yr old.

    I would suggest that you start writing a list of his behaviours so you can tell your GP with out getting the "its normal for his age" line. No its not.
    Video him if you can. Visual footage of the behaviours that concern you most will help with assessments.

    My home life is Autism spectrum condition. I have 5 kids, 3 of which have a ASC. My Husband also has an ASC. Please follow your gut. Your psych is right on the ADHD thing, it needs to be in more then one situation with ADHD. However, for years I was looked at like I was crazy when I would describe very similar behaviours about my now ten yr old & the school, day care etc all said he was lovely. But really the poor kid was putting so much into keeping it together in those situations that once he got home he just exploded. He was finally diagnosed with Aspergers & Sensory Processing Disorder in 2011 when he was 9.

    Lists, video & do some research. I could be way off the mark but have a read of the "My Aspergers Child" blog. It has lots of useful information that will help you decide if its a path worth investigating.

  14. #14

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    Default Taking steps to find out if DS2's challenging behaviour is "normal"

    Heh EfJay just said pretty much everything I would have suggested.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by *Efjay* View Post
    I always come into these threads with this.. BUT I am living it & it was missed with my kids & I can tell you now, those behaviours in a ten year old are not fun for anyone involved, least of all the ten yr old.

    I would suggest that you start writing a list of his behaviours so you can tell your GP with out getting the "its normal for his age" line. No its not.
    Video him if you can. Visual footage of the behaviours that concern you most will help with assessments.

    My home life is Autism spectrum condition. I have 5 kids, 3 of which have a ASC. My Husband also has an ASC. Please follow your gut. Your psych is right on the ADHD thing, it needs to be in more then one situation with ADHD. However, for years I was looked at like I was crazy when I would describe very similar behaviours about my now ten yr old & the school, day care etc all said he was lovely. But really the poor kid was putting so much into keeping it together in those situations that once he got home he just exploded. He was finally diagnosed with Aspergers & Sensory Processing Disorder in 2011 when he was 9.

    Lists, video & do some research. I could be way off the mark but have a read of the "My Aspergers Child" blog. It has lots of useful information that will help you decide if its a path worth investigating.
    Fiona, thank you so much for posting and for your suggestions. My gut says something's not quite right and aspergers and autism has popped up among several of my husbands 10 neices and nephews (I think it's likely DH and/or some of his brothers might be on the aspergers spectrum but never diagnosed. My DH sometimes borders on OCD - very, very routine oriented for a start, but is otherwise a normal, social, functioning-just-fine adult). You've no idea how I appreciate what you've said. I hope things are going ok for you and your family.

  16. #16

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    Default Taking steps to find out if DS2's challenging behaviour is "normal"

    I tend to think that while it may not be what a parent what's to hear, sometimes they need to hear it. I just wish someone said something to me when my older boys where three, it would have made a world of difference. So u would rather possibly offend or upset and say something then not at all. early intervention is the key and it can make life so much easier. My now four yr old also received his diagnosis last year and I already see the positive difference having that early intervention has made in comparison to my oldest

  17. #17

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    Default Taking steps to find out if DS2's challenging behaviour is "normal"

    So I would I meant

  18. #18

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    i agree with efjay. early intervention is critical, and if you think his behaviour is not 'normal' then it probably isn't. time to call in all the support you can xo

    andie- if you check out the amaze website (this is the vic one though, there must be a qld equivalent) they actually have a list of suggested peads who specialise in behaviour. maybe go into your gp with an idea of someone you would like to be referred to? it really pays to be assertive in these circumstances.

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