(By no means am I saying that this is the problem of that IM’s child, but I just want to emphasise why this kind of behaviour CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be ignored – even if it turns out to be nothing, it is better to be safe than sorry)
Up until my son was 3 and a half, he was an insanely happy, cheeky, friendly, caring and outgoing child. He was loved by everyone and would light up an entire room whenever he smiled. Until he just “changed”. It seemed like it happened overnight. He became violent, aggressive, withdrawn and “dark”.
His behaviour ended up getting him expelled from daycare shortly after his 4th birthday. He would lash out at other children, adults, our dog, and everyone or anyone who paid him any type of attention.
We spent at least 6 months trying to get doctors (GP’s) to listen to our concerns and take us seriously. We finally got a referral to a public paediatrician, however we were told that the waiting list was at least 6 months.
So we also got the GP to refer us to a private paediatrician. After a $400 appointment that only lasted about 45 minutes, this private paediatrician told us that our son was just a very bright boy, to the point that he was too smart for his own good and we as parents just didn’t have the parenting skills to be able to “handle him”.
Had we not had an older child, we probably would have believed what this paediatrician told us. But the fact that we had raised both boys the same, and our older child didn’t have any behavioural issues, we knew that it wasn’t “our fault” that our younger son was behaving this way.
We went back to the GP and had a colourful conversation (to say the least) and we ended up getting fast tracked to see the public paediatrician.
This paediatrician listened to our concerns and agreed that something was not right, so she referred us to our local Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS).
We finally got to see a child psychologist and went to the appointment prepared. We had letters from the daycare centre etc noting the changes in our son’s behaviour and photos etc. This psychologist listened and agreed that our son needed more visits to determine what was going on.
A couple of days after that first appointment, our 4 and a half year old son, pulled a knife on his 7 and a half year old brother. He was taken by ambulance, restrained, to the hospital.
We were not taken seriously by the staff at the hospital, our son was threatening to go and get the security guard’s gun to shoot himself with, and if he couldn’t do that, he would get something sharp and start stabbing people until the security guard shot him dead. But because of his age, his threats were not taken seriously, yes, I know that he couldn’t have really done anything, but seriously, WHAT 4YO EVEN THINKS LIKE THAT????
After a couple more appointments with the psychologist, our son was admitted into the Child and Family Therapy Unit (basically a psych ward for children). They were really not much help because they are so understaffed they were unable to spend much time observing our son.
We were sent home after 2 weeks there and shortly after, our son demonstrated some inappropriate behaviour. We explained this behaviour to his psychologist, and she sent us home with a book for us to read to him. It was all about “Yummy touches and Yucky touches”.
This was just supposed to teach him in a gentle way about boundaries. However, what happened after we read that book changed our family forever. The question at the end of the book was something like, “has anyone ever given you a yucky touch?”
Our son then disclosed the most horrifying thing any parent could ever hear. Yes, he had been sexually abused (by someone outside of our family – he told us who etc).
Details continue to be disclosed slowly, and he is now on medication to help regulate his moods and anxiety. He suffers from PTSD. As a family, we have all been going through hell trying to help our son/brother and it hasn’t gotten any easier because we don’t know all of the “triggers” yet.
We know that none of what our son has said is a lie, because #1: at the age of disclosure, he could not possibly have “imagined”, or made up the kind of things he said, nor was he ever exposed to any such material in our house.
And #2: he can still tell you what happened to him 3 years on. His psychologist has advised us that if it was a made up story, he couldn’t have kept it going for this long.
I am only sharing this because the IM who posted about her son’s behaviours had received a few comments saying that the behaviour is more than likely harmless. And maybe in her case it is, but, steps need to be taken to ease your own mind that there is nothing deeper to his behaviour, because what you described was like looking back at my household over 3 years ago.
So please at least get your son looked at and assessed. Just to be on the safe side. Good luck IM and I hope all turns out okay.