Making life better in disadvantaged communities - our thoughts on everything - from Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
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I was at the park watching a little boy who I know has a behavior disorder. Outwardly, he looks much like the other children, for the first five minutes or so. He is dressed the same, clean, his hair is brushed. They are all playing ball and being little kids about six or seven years old, they are not terribly good at it.
Each time one of the other children swings and misses, he makes a comment like, "You should have hit that!" or "Let me have a turn, I'm a really good batter."
At first, it is not so much that what he says is rude and annoying but that it is constant. Being little kids, they drop the ball a lot and whoever is pitching often throws the ball very far from the batter. He will yell, "Oh, that was terrible! You should have thrown it higher! What is wrong with you?"
This isn't a game where they are trying to 'psyche out' the other players. This is just a handful of kids playing together for practice.
When it is his turn to bat, he steps away from the shoe they are using to mark home base and says, "I'm not batting unless a grown-up pitches. You guys aren't any good. Get your dad to come over here and pitch for me."
The child behind him says, "Fine. It's my turn then. Move."
Realizing he won't get his own way, he goes ahead and takes his turn at bat, complaining every time he swings and misses that the pitcher threw the ball too high, low or far away (which is true at least half of the time, but I noticed that none of the other children complained.) The other children have now started insulting him,
"Don't complain about the pitcher. You're just not very good."
"Oh, I thought you were such a great batter."
He does get a hit and one of the kids catches it, mostly by pure luck, probably. They tell him he is out and he pretends to hurt himself sliding into second base. An adult nearby comes up and spends about 10 minutes asking him if he is okay, while he screams and cries on the ground. The other children continue playing without paying him any attention.
At first I thought they were heartless, but later I see him doing the screaming in pain act two more times when he misses a ball and another child catches it and when he is running for base and is tagged out. Apparently, they have seen this act many times.
Shortly before they leave, there is an argument over whose turn it is to bat and the boy turns and screams curses at two other children.
As the little kids leave the park, I hear one lean over to another and say, "I'll come to your house tomorrow and we'll invite her," pointing to one little girl, "but not him."
What makes this child different from other children?
1. Inappropriate comments which are notable for their frequency.
2. Inappropriate comment noted for its intensity (six-year-olds rarely scream and swear at other children)
3. Inability to follow the rules - insisting that he is not out when he is, etc. and related to that ....
4. Refusal to take turns
5. Lying - laying on the ground screaming he is hurt when he is perfectly fine
Even at age six or seven, children have an idea of how people should act. If someone is far away from their idea of normal, they won't play with him. How is this a disorder? Is it?
This is a child in a low-stress situation. No adults telling them what to do, plenty of room to run around, with other children who aren't engaging in any bullying and, at first, playing very well together. I can only imagine what he is like in a more stressful situation.
Look at those five points above. If this was a person who applied for a job with you or worked for you, would you hire him with those characteristics? Almost certainly not.
"He ruins everything." It sounds like you are talking about a little boy in my classroom. That is what the other children say about him, "He ruins everything." Of course no one else wants to play with him because he just has no social skills at all. My question is how do you teach children like that social skills?
There are a couple of places on our website you can learn about teaching social skills. I would recommend the Family Life and Disability Section on Childhood Problems
http://www.spiritlakeconsulting.com/DA/ … have1.html
The behavior problems section of the Young Children and Disabilities workshop
http://www.spiritlakeconsulting.com/DA/ … vior1.html
and the behavior problems section in the Caring for Our People Early Childhood workshop
http://www.spiritlakeconsulting.com/COP … vior1.html
This is a tough call. How do you distinguish a disorder from just plain old misbehavior? People are always quick to blame the parents, but sometimes these children has legitimate disorders. Does anyone know the difference?