My 5 yr old grandson

by Virginia Allison
(Milwaukee, WI)

Tailer was introduced to our family at the age of 2, when my son and his mom fell in love. There is an age difference of 10 years between them, and Julie was just 19 when they got together. (Nick always chose very young girls to date, despite our pleas to find someone closer to his age.) Tailer was the result of an earlier relationship when Julie was just 16. Nick had had many relationships, but never married until Faith came into his life. Nick also had no experience first hand experience with children. Suddenly here he was with not only a very young girlfriend, but also a 2 year old boy, living with him.

As Tailer was in his "terrible twos" stage, Nick was impatient with him, frequently scolding Tailer excessively. After awhile, Nick became a bit softer toward Tailer, and began to consider him his "dad". Julie and Nick were married recently, and things seem to be going fairly well, although Nick becomes overwhelmed with a somewhat immature wife, and an extremely inquisitive 5 year old who can at times become irritating with his babyish behavior. I noticed about a year ago, that Tailer had subtle behavioral issues.

1. Can't seem to sit still; almost always slumps with legs thrown wide open and feet together, like a baby. He's always playing with his feet, and I've even seen him biting his toenails. Fidgits constantly when sitting at the table during meal time or while drawing/coloring/writing.

2. Will be talking normal, and suddenly switch to an irritating voice, using baby talk along with making strange faces and hand gestures that appear to be exaggeratedly abnormal, twisting his fingers in very odd positions.

3. Mentioned that he hates hair growing on his body. He has a short crew about 1/4 inch...and keeps tugging at his hair, saying he needs it cut. When I said it looked perfect, and asked why he thought it needed to be cut, he responded that he doesn't like hair growing on him, and added, "I don't like hair growing on my body."

4. Constantly points out tiny insignificant things like; when we're walking through a parking lot, and he sees a drink bottle or can, or anything on the ground, he has to point out that "Someone forgot to put it in the garbage", or yesterday, when I had him at the park, there was a child's sock laying in the grass, he seemed to almost obsess over the fact that it was there, and couldn't seem to go on to another subject, despite my attempts. He will point out when something is out of place in my house, like if I have laundry to fold, and have it strewn on my bed. He'll say, "Your room is messy, Grandma, you leave your clothes everywhere." Yet, he is not at all neat with his belongings, as his room is a disaster area, with clothes and toys scattered everywhere. It's like walking through a mine field! Yet at times, he feels like being neat, so he'll clean things up, and then demand praise for it more than normal. We praise him very much for taking the initiative to do it, yet he asks, "Didn't I do a good job?" And, "Are you very proud of me for cleaning my room?". Also constantly talking about other people, like "Suzie didn't eat all her lunch today at daycare. She should have ate it all, because..." and goes on and on in an ominous type voice, indicating bad behavior on Suzie's part. Or things like pointing out the obvious; While I'm vacuuming the floor, and he can see that I have not gotten to an area yet, he is compelled to point out, "You missed this part, Grandma."

5. He is a know-it-all. This, I can really see, he has gotten from Julie. As young as she is, she feels the need to interject her "knowledge" about almost every subject, onto everyone, even though she actually knows nothing about what she's saying. It's actually comical at times. But Tailer is always saying illogical things that he "knows" to be true, with such assurance in his voice, just like his mom.

6. Until just a couple of months ago, he obsessed over monsters, blood, killing, death, etc. He is still afraid when he hears a noise that is not familiar to him, running to me and asking, "Who made that noise that went like this.." and then demonstrates what the noise sounded like to him. He is easily reassured when I tell him, "It was the refrigerator starting up" or "I made that noise by knocking something on the table", etc.

7. Has a poor memory...or maybe selective memory? He is excited to learn things he needs to know for starting school in a few days, and is persistent at studying them. We are trying to teach him Nick and Julie's phone number, which I've done with other children, even younger than 5, with quick success. Tailer and I have repeated the number thousands of times over a 2 day period, and he still gets it mixed up. I'll have him say it with me over and over, then I have him do it on his own, and most of the time, he gets it wrong. He knows the numbers by sight, so I put it in big writing, on a piece of paper, splitting it into 3 lines. Even looking at it on the paper, he cannot get it right most of the time. He has, however, recently mastered tieing his shoes, which has been a great opportunity for praise.

8. Doesn't seem to like hugs, and does not give kisses. It is hard for me not to hug him when he's around, it's just a natural thing to want to hug a child, especially your own grandchild. Very rarely, he will come and "tackle" us, giving us a bear hug, but to give hugs and kisses goodnight is out of the question. When he does give hugs, he turns his head to one side, very exaggerated, as if to say "I don't want your germs", and the hug is not genuine, it's more mechanical, and quick.

9. He doesn't like to get overly dirty. I invited him to play in a dirt pile I had in my yard temporarily, for my gardens. He begrudgingly took the toys and climbed the dirt pile, and did play for a few minutes, but that was it. When he came inside, his pants and shoes were dirty, but his hands were only slightly dirty, and he went to wash them immediately without reminders. He also is very good about always washing his hands after using the bathroom.

10. Always "flicking" his fingers, unless he's using his hands for something. He takes his second finger and places it at the top of the nail on the "pointer" finger, and bends the pointer finger back a little (so that it bends back at the first joint of the finger). His hands are constantly in this position. He also has his fingers in his mouth a lot, as well as in his nose. It seems like he's just got to have his hands on or near his face all the time. He does not chew other things, such as toys, pencils, etc. Just his fingers.

11. When punished/frustrated/angry to the point that it makes him cry, he doesn't just cry. It's a minimum of a half an hour of whaling extremely loud, non stop, usually without tears. I realize this is a way to get attention, but even when we give him attention while he's whaling, it does not stop or quiet. And if it happens while with others (children or adults), if we remove him from the area and take him to another room, the whaling gets even louder, even if we stay with him. We have tried talking to him and reasoning with him gently, during these times, and that doesn't work. We've told him that we will be closing the door so that he can cry in private, and that only makes it worse.

Julie has taught him songs that are inappropriate for 5 year olds, or would make people look upon Tailer negatively for singing them. Songs like, "Jingle bells, Santa smells...", and "Trick or treat, smell my feet", which may be cute when she does it, but she does not realize that other people do not appreciate that type of thing from a young boy. I wanted to record Tailer and me singing Jingle Bells, and he did not know the real words...he kept singing what his mother taught him. When I told him that we should sing the song nicely, he was lost and just sat silently frustrated.

We love Julie like a daughter, and despite her age, there are times she is incredibly mature. But most of the time, however, she is forgetful, spacey, flippant, reckless and immature, which also makes Nick extremely aggitated. She is one who must let everyone know about every ache and pain she has...not just once, but over and over, with exaggerated motions, like limping if her leg is sore (when there was no limp before she said it was sore), or constantly clearing her throat if it is sore. Tailer does the same thing. We know that much of his behavior stems from watching and listening to his mom. We just don't know how to talk to her about it, without making her feel like we're attacking her, or like we are judging her. It has to be brought to her attention before too much longer, because as Tailer gets older and continues this behavior, people are going to negatively label him. Some already do.

I did not see very many things on any of the lists that I recognized in him, but there are the subtle things that I listed, which I just feel are not "normal" in a 5 year old.

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Oct 23, 2015
We all need to be loved
by: Anonymous

Don't know why I read this but it stood out to me so I did. You are obviously a caring person or you wouldn't have reached out like this. I would suggest researching ocd and aspergers. The hand movements sound like a self comforting action. The 'know it all' is an aspergers symptom. Fixating on the sock being out of place, your 'messy room', not liking dirt are all ocd. I think the wailing without tears is actually truly painful for him.

I hope you are still a part of his life. It sounds like he needs people like you.

Sep 03, 2012
5 yr old
by: Anonymous

hi, i read your post and wanted to pass on a book that i have found helpful. The Difficult Child by Stanley Turecki. It is basically about understanding a child's temperament and developing tolerance and strategies for dealing with individual temperament.

It seems obvious that you do not understand this little boy and are searching for answers. Honestly, he does not sound like a sensory kid - some of his behavior might be driven by anxiety, possible some attachment issues(check out symptoms of attachment disorder- it can be more challenging for young parents to create a secure base for their child?) the somatization (sort-of phantom aches and pains) sounds like low self esteem; in essence, she is looking to be noticed, cared for, loved in a way that is not happening. low self esteem could be informing the child's focus on the wrong doings of other children.

It is so important to look at the level of criticism going around the family system. if fault finding is one of the main courses of relating, (which, sadly is the case in many family systems - overtly or covertly) just making healthy changes in this one area will bring unbelievable results. Remember, 90% of what is communicated is NON-VERBAL~~

also, try not to sweat the small stuff (i.e., songs) i can recognize as a grandmother that is troublesome that he doesn't know the real words to those songs but, the focus being on the more significant issues is what is important. be more accepting of his mother and the child will benefit~

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