I'm guessing most parents have moments when they think "Oh my goodness what is wrong with my child ... why are they doing/saying/being X". Over the half term week Goblin had a bit of a personality change. If I think about it it hadn't been sudden. He had been slowly building up to it with an increase in screaming tantrums and sulky responses to very basic requests. But it felt like it came to a crescendo that week. I used to say that full-on melt downs weren't a normal part of Goblin's repertoire but I don't really feel like I can say that anymore. With several such tantrums daily they had apparently become Modus Operandi chez Goblin. And we are still feeling our way in terms of handling them.
By the end of the week I'd had enough and turned to some bloggy chums for some advice and support.
By the end of the week I'd had enough and turned to some bloggy chums for some advice and support.
To my surprise both said that their boys were acting in a similar manor. We brainstormed possible reasons and helpful approaches but mainly took solace in the fact that we weren't alone in dealing with this. I confessed that, not for the first time, I'd wondered whether Goblin was showing signs of ADHD, because his ability to be hyper had ramped up more than a notch. Deep down I'm pretty sure I knew this was just another phase that we needed to ride out. But it was getting really tough and a little scary not knowing what to do. Looking at my 'real life' friends who's kids don't seem to be going through this right now made me embarrassed. Like I had done something in my parenting approach that had created this 'crazy' in my child. But chatting to my virtual chums reassured me that that's probably not the case.
One of my buddies suggested that his changed behaviour might have been a testosterone surge. In my moment of desperation I was relieved to have something to attribute the behaviour to which wasn't "my child is just a brat". It really helped me approach Goblin in a more favourable and calm way. And towards the end of the week his attitude seemed a lot less sulky, feisty and argumentative even if his energy levels were still at eleven. His change in demeanour may have been because he'd had time to process what to do with his emotions, or it could have been because I was looking at him and treating him differently. I was looking at him like a child who was going through something and struggling, a child I needed to help and support - rather than a child who was making me go through something.
I don't know whether Goblin was going through any hormonal changes (probably not) but that isn't really the point. The point is, I changed the way I approached him. When I remembered that tantrums were about him having a hard time, rather than him trying to give me a hard time, I found it a lot easier to stay calm and help him become calmer.
PS: I'd like to thank Theboyandme and Kat from Creative Playhouse for helping me get out of my black hole and take approach things with a healthier perspective. Goblin is back to his loving and kind self. Yes his energy levels are still off the charts but the agression and sulkyness has declined and we are no longer a logger heads - Hurrah!
PPS: I did some research on the internet into testosterone surges in young boys. It is something that Psychologist Steve Biddulph suggests, in his book "Raising Boys", happens to boy children around the age of 3 - 4. My search for medical verification of this drew a blank. All references to testosterone surges in male toddlers that I found on the internet led back to referencing "Raising Boys". Psychologist Steve Biddulph's source in his book is an article in Esquire magazine. So I am unclear as to whether testosterone surges are a genuine thing, but for me it doesn't really matter, the suggestion that there was an external reason helped me refocus my approach.
My recommended reads from last week include
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I heard too that a 3-4 year old boy has as much testosterone as a teenager, so can you imagine how weird & confusing that must be for that little body?ReplyDelete
I felt for you reading through this as i am experiencing much the same thing with my girls at the moment. So draining and by night it leaves you wondering if you are any good as a parent!ReplyDelete
From working in numerous toddler rooms over the years i know deep down that this is just a developmental stage they go through as they begin to find their independance in a world that doesn't yet accept they aren't still babies.....but on a Mummy level it can make you question everything!
Interesting about the testosterone surge....and the fact that you have seen an improvement since altering your own behaviour a little.Thanks for sharing your thoughts...it always helps to know we are not alone in feeling this way in our parenting journey. Hope things get a little calmer for you both soon xx
One of the interesting things about having twins is that you get to see two children at the same time. they take it in turns to do what I call personality changes. Sometimes it happens at the same time sometimes not but because they both do it I notice it more than I did with eldest who is a singleton. I'm convinced that all children switch moods as their brains develop and digest all the information. It's a subconcious way to test the environment and the new knowledge and strength that they have.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure about half-term since we don't have that here, but when I taught 3 year olds, many of them would regress or act out towards the end of the year because they were anticipating the change of school ending and the summer coming. It's an anxious time of uncertainties, transitions and changes. I'm glad it sounds like he's back on track and feeling better. It is so hard on a parent when they are unsure how to help their child. You are so thoughtful and reflective, Goblin is lucky to have you, mama! KrissyReplyDelete
Hey, did you know Prickly Dad is an endocrinologist? I'm going outside to ask him about this testosterone theory right now (I bet he'll say "I don't know; I'm not a child endo"...but it's worth a shot). It would explain a lot around here, too!ReplyDelete
we've been dealing with a similar issue... i, too, questioned whether or not we were dealing with a potential future ADHD diagnosis... a friend shared with me something her child psychologist told her. age 4 is one of the toughest years for children. i would've never thought it. going to check out that book. but thanks for this post. nice to know i'm not alone.ReplyDelete
Sorry...Prickly Dad, M.D. says he hasn't heard of a preschool T-surge. But again, he's not a ped endo so he probably wouldn't have read about it in the grown-up journals.ReplyDelete
As far as the ADHD-wondering, I've been in the same boat. There is a book by Dr. Anthony Rao, "The Way of Boys," that suggests many boys mature out of it, and I can say from experience that since my older boy turned 5 in October, he has made HUGE strides in his self-control and self-awareness. Yes, he's still, um, "active," but his behavior is so much better compared to a year ago. (He's 5.5 now.)
As far as my just-turned-4-yo, he's so bad that my husband is wondering he has Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I say it's not THAT bad, that we probably need to crack down on him as far as setting limits, which we are starting to do. Ay yi yi, this is all so hard.
This doesn't surprise me. The fact that most references are on blogs and lead back to the same one book makes me think it's probably not a real medical thing. However if it helps us mums cope with our kids behaviour I'm all for it even if it is a myth.Delete
Monko, this is sort of off-topic, but do British mums feel ADHD is overdiagnosed there in the UK like some US moms feel? My general perception is that other countries don't over-medicate everyone like we do here in the US. It seems to me that other countries have a more down-to-earth perspective on things.ReplyDelete
Its an interesting question. I'm not sure about the UK. I read a really interesting article about how France diagnoses a lot less than the UK because they treat the behaviour as causal rather than biological. But I don't know if the UK diagnoses less than the US - i may go and investigate further.Delete
I'm reading "The Wonder of Boys" right now and I'm just getting to the part where it talks about testosterone's influence on boys behavior. I haven't finished reading it so I don't know if it specifies age but I'll let you know (and probably blog about the book) when I'm done.ReplyDelete
I know when my son is having an aggressive day I like to tell myself it's just the testosterone and it helps my perspective a bit. I love your line about how their fits are their way of showing us that they're going through something and struggling, and that we need to help them. That will definitely help me this week.
As always, I love your posts.
When an author cites Esquire magazine as their primary source, it is pretty likely to be an urban legend.ReplyDelete
Much as we may like to have a label to put on the cause of behaviour, if we don't have any evidence then we have to say we don't know.
Yep I agree. I think it's an interesting theory but I suspect if it was a real medical phenomenon there would be a lot more literature on it.Delete
Glad your blogging buddies were helpful :-)I love what you said about tantrums. Wise words. It's so easy to forget that when your in the middle of it all and your child is having a tantrum.ReplyDelete
Hope you're having a fab holiday - being Tudors sounds fun :-)ReplyDelete
I would love for you to link up at the Mommy Archive - we're focused on the challenges of raising boys this week and it would be great to bring together a whole load of resources in one place, Alice @ Mums Make Lists
P.S. Sorry as a MOG (mum of girls) not much helpful to add from our personal experience :-(