Case Study #1

Introduction: First let me explain why and what I am doing here. In real life I work with dogs for a living. For the past 13 years I have studied and worked with large (over 100 at any given time) number of dogs. I have spent time working with all types of dogs, studying their behavior…spending a lot of time at dog parks too. Dog park study is a underground passion of mine. Prior to this life, in college I worked in children’s day care. I also was a nanny. Since becoming a mom and spending more time on the children’s playground than the dog park I have noticed uncanny similarities to children’s behaviors and dogs. While this doesn’t relate to today’s case study…I venture to guess at some point it will and is really the litmus behind all this…let’s just say I am really observant when at the playground or dog park because I love studying behavior. Moving on…

Scene: A snowy, busy saturday afternoon at the new, all the rage, indoor children’s gym (we’ll call it BBY). The gym has a small area set up for children under 3 with a play house, small climber and soft toys. It also has a track like area for riding toys, a ball area for basketball and other ball games a giant climber and various other houses. There is a snack bar area and an area with tables and chairs. Children are running amuck and some parents are very attentive, others are drinking coffee and chatting to other parents, some are reading, some are texting.

My youngest (16 months old) Zoe, is toddling around. I am close behind her. She leaves the small child area and starts walking to the track area. A 4 year old comes riding up on one of those Plasma cars. He sees Zoe, he sees me see him see Zoe, and instead of stopping (which he had PLENTY  of time to do) he rams right into her with his Plasma Car (Which I think they named Plasma, because that’s what your going to need a transfusion of if you get hit with one). Zoe goes down, he tries to hit and run. Me, and my cat like reflexes, grabs the steering wheel of his Plasma Car and yells, “Hey, Hey, Hey”, “You need to say you’re sorry.”, “It is NOT ok to run someone down.” “You need to say sorry.” to which “Mr. 4 year old, wearing a black t-shirt with a neon skull on it” yells to me, “She was in MY WAY!” I say, calmly, “It’s not ok, you need to go around.” He YELLS, “I was going THAT WAY!” I repeat my previous position and we are getting no where and I refuse to let go of his Plasma Car until he says sorry. Now enters mom…

Mom is in her mid to late 40’s, looks like she has been through a rough bout and says, “I’m his mom…what did he do?” I calmly say (because now I am thinking I am going to look like the ass who is picking on her son) “He ran her over with his car and I am just trying to get him to say he was sorry.” Mom does some pansy ass speech to him, he tries to wiggle away, realizes he is not getting to ride a car until he says sorry and screams in Zoe’s face, “I’M SOR REE!” He rides off, I say to mom, “I just wanted him to say sorry.” She says, “Thank you for stopping him. He’s *deep breath* ‘Impulsive'”.

15 minutes passes, I walk past a child crying and a mom saying, “What happened?” Crying child points in the direction of Mr. 4 year old, wearing a black t-shirt with a neon skull on it (from here on out “Mr. 4 year old”) AND what I am assuming at this point is his little brother who appears to be just under 2. I am assuming this because of the proximity to Mr. 4 year old, wearing a black t-shirt AND because of his near matching black t-shirt with neon skull on it. I do not stick around to find out what they did.

5 minutes passes, and I need to go change Zoes diaper. The BBY has a half door that is locked and can only be opened by reaching your (grown up length) arm over the door and releasing the handle from the other side. At the door is Mr. 4 year old trying like mad to get out. Mom is nowhere in sight. I say to him, “Is your mom here? You cannot go out without your mom.” And I sneak by him. But he really does not mind because this has given him the chance to observe exactly HOW I got that door open. He now gets it and tries to reach over to get the door open. He cannot reach it. But the next person who walks out he tries to sneak past them. And I warn them. So he is foiled again and goes on his way.

5 minutes passes and I am leaving the bathroom from changing Zoe. In the lobby is Mr. 4 year old, Mr. under 2 and their mother. I can hear them before I see them. Mom is making idle threats, both boys are running amuck and now Mr. 4 year old has taken his arm and in one motion swept every paper, brochure, pencil, you name it. Of the front counter of the place. Right in front of mom, right in front of the owner of the BBY. Mom says, “Now look what you did, you knocked those papers off.” Business owner, scowling, says, “Can you please pick those up for me.” Mr. under 2 is grabbing coats off the coat rack and pulling them all down. I keep walking.

This posed many questions for me. And as much as I do not want to pass judgement, I think this situation begs to be examined. Here are my initial questions.

1. What would you have done if you were me when Mr. 4 year old ran down your child?

2. What would you have done if you were Mr. 4 year old’s mom after he ran down said child?

3. What do you think the odds are that mom just happens to have TWO, what I am sure she calls, “Impulsive” children?

4. What term would you give, “Impulsive Children”?

5. Was it impulse control when I saw him watch how to open the door, work at it, think about it.

6. Was it impulse control when he waited, paused and then swept his arm across the desk?

And shouldn’t we instead be asking:

“Where is mom when child who he feels has “impulse control problems” is playing?”

“Why doesn’t she watch him better?”

“Why does it appear that both sons have impulse control problems?”

Now, I know I am opening myself up for a whole can of mommy whoop ass here. My children are not perfect. Heck no…come look at my dining room floor from tonight’s dinner alone. We have two plates of dinner that were thrown on the floor (thank God for dogs!) But I also would not allow my child to get away with running down another child (in FACT  when I was telling Mr. 4 year old he needed to say sorry Zoe was trying to say sorry to him. To which I was all, “Oh no sweetheart, you did nothing wrong you do not need to say sorry.”) NOR would I try to pass it off as “impulsiveness”. I know there are children out there who have “impulse” control problems. BUT I also know that “Impulse control” and ADHD are the new “black”…trust me, I have a child with “sensory issues”, another term being thrown around child development like it’s a new designer name. Zoe bites when she is frustrated, so I watch her like a hawk in situations that I know will frustrate her…I catch her right before she is going to do it and tell her to use her words. My point is, I am present.

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One Response

  1. I enjoy reading your blog!

    This post struck a chord with me – I’ve been in a similar situation before with my oldest when he was littler (he’s now 5), and kind of relived it here.

    Your questions are thought-provoking –

    -1. What would you have done if you were me when Mr. 4 year old ran down your child? — I would have done almost exactly the same thing – I would have stopped the child, gotten down on his level and directed his attention to my unhappy child. I don’t believe in forced apologies (an insincere “I’m soo-RRY!” stings a lot, and teaches the kid nothing), so I would have first asked him to check in with my kiddo and ask if he was ok. Failing that (and in my case, it did fail), I would have gently taken his hand and said, “Take me to your parent,” (even if he didn’t, at this point, a parent would stand up and approach, most likely) and then explained the situation and my expectations to the parent.

    I got lucky and had a parent who actually had their wits about them.

    When we talk about “attention deficit” and “impulsive children”, I can’t help but think the attention deficit is in what the children are lacking from the adults who are supposed to love, care for, and nurture them. Sure there may be legitimate cases out there of brain chemistry gone wrong, but just about every child I’ve ever worked with who had ADD has led me to that conclusion. Same with impulse control – if a kiddo doesn’t have the guidance needed to teach them to control their impulses, whether it be modeling or consequences, they’re not going to learn it. And so many parents are working so hard to keep a roof over their family’s heads that they feel guilty for not being around more, and who wants to be the bad guy for the two hours they get to spend with their kids everyday?

    Just my theory 🙂

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