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What to do? Suspect a problem
Help a loved one

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#1 kaleidoscope

Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:05 AM

I don't know what to do or say, maybe the answer is nothing. But, it's on my chest and I'm concerned about my nephew and his parents.
My nephew is a very challenging child, he is 5 years old. He hasn't changed much since I posted last with concerns for my own DS. He continually harasses, annoy, pester or bother other children. He does not listen to his parents, to other children or other adults if they tell him to stop etc. He can hear, it has been tested. He will just continue as he wants to. He will only hurt other children if he thinks no one can see him, and he is very quick to tell a lie if he gets caught to change it to him helping etc. This happens on an hourly basis, I am not exaggerating or sensationalising, I have real concern for him and his mum and dad.
He has a younger sister and he is always pestering her. Taking her toys (she is about to turn one), holding it above her head so she can't get it, or throwing it under the couch away from her. He does this to my second son as well who is s bit older than his sister. He trips the babies, he snatches and the next moment he is very protective and possessive of them.
He cries easily and if anything doesn't go his way. He is not in control of his emotions and yells/screams easily or if disciplined.
His school has brought it up with his parents, but not in direct words, only hinting. Also that he has shocking short term memory, can't remember things from a minute or hour ago. I have had a chat to them, we are very close, but they immediately say, boys will be boys, it's the school, it's another child's fault. I hope they can realise something is up, it is tearing their family apart. I think mum is in denial, and his dad has concerns but don't see the point of getting some early intervention or help.
We are in WA. I hope I can be of help to them, I love them and care about them, but I am worried. How can I think something may be wrong with someone I love and do nothing? But please tell me to butt out if needs be!

#2 Lightning_bug

Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:47 AM

OP, it's a tightrope act when you become involved with how others are raising their children.  While your intent is genuine concern, people get defensive and feel their decisions and ability are being questioned.

I identified the autism red-flags in my niece and gently mentioned to my SIL it couldn't hurt to speak with a pead.

It's been 4 years since she's spoken to me for "suggesting something was wrong with her daughter" when I did no such thing and despite the fact my niece has since been diagnosed with autism spectrum.

Would I do it again?  yes.  While I was considered the bad guy they did see a pead as I suggested (long story... but people's memories are very selective)  and it got the early intervention she needed even if I lost out.  

You have to decide if speaking up will achieve anything more than causing an argument.  If not, you'd be of more use generally talking to them about various parenting strategies without the confrontation.

Edited by Lightning_bug, 21 January 2013 - 12:48 AM.

#3 baddmammajamma

Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:47 AM

What a tough situation to be in, OP. I can understand why you are so concerned (I went back & read your earlier posts, too).

I think Lightening_Bug's post is right on the money. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to risk possibly straining the relationship with this family (are they from your husband's side of the family or is one of the parents your sibling?) Some parents act VERY defensively when it comes to concerns about their child(ren). Are you the only one who has voiced concerns thus far? Is your husband concerned? What about the respective grandparents?

One approach you could take, which is a softer approach, is focus on something that is non-behavioral related -- like your nephew's short term memory issues. From what I've experiences/read, parents might be less threatened by things like "Have you had his sight/hearing tested" versus "I am worried about Johnny's behavior/quirks."

So perhaps approach it as "I've noticed over the years that Johnny really seems to be struggling with his short term recall. I bet that's so frustrating for him and for you -- and I can imagine that it makes him more apt to cry if he's feeling misunderstood. My friend's son was like this -- great kid like Johnny but prone to getting easily frustrated and lashing out - and it turns out he has some processing issues that were undetected -- poor little guy! Thank goodness his paed caught the issues early, as the parents now have some good tools for addressing them."

Another softed approach is the "Johnny's a great kid, but I can see that you guys are frazzled at times from dealing with the [insert behaviors that most affect family's happiness here]. It might be worth talking to a good paediatrician or psych - not because Johnny has issues with a capital I, but rather, to give you some strategies for dealing with the more challenging behaviors. Who would have ever thought that 5 years olds could be so complicated to figure out? My friend Judy is going through something similar with her son, and she has said that having some good professional guidance has made such a difference in her own ability to cope."

At the end of the day, if they aren't receptive to entertaining the notion that something might be up...and if they aren't willing to take action, there's probably not a lot you can do to change that dynamic. Will your nephew be going to full time school this year? If so, hopefully his teachers & school will sound the alarm bell more forcefully than the preschool.

Good luck. It's heartbreaking when parents are in denial.

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