Q: I am a single mother of 3 children. Their father has been out of their lives for a short time now, however my son’s tendencies began before this. My four year old son is erratically violent and sometimes uncomfortably sexual. He is constantly grabbing himself. For instance, the other night my daughter and he were bathing. It got quiet so I went in the bathroom and he was kissing her! She was pushing him away, I unfortunately blew up, washed them up and went to check on the baby, and my daughter yelled that he was trying to put a toy in his rectum. I made them immediately both get out. I shouldn’t have left them alone again.
I don’t know what to do with him. It gets worse; he seems very violent, but so sensitive too. He is obsessed with any violent things. He talks about death, blood, and killing things. I try to control what he watches and hears, but he does go to preschool, and I know he is hearing some things there. We don’t allow video games and I don’t let him watch anything that I don’t watch with them (or in other words they don’t let me watch anything :)
The other night he walked by his baby sister and out of nowhere stomped on her leg over and over! I have also caught him trying to sit on her and hit her with toys, but I really think it is like something just comes over him, and he doesn’t think about it, it just happens, and then it’s over and he a sweet little guy again! He never complains about the baby, I try very hard to give them all individual attention, although he doesn’t mind one way or the other. I am just very confused, I don’t have a spouse to bounce ideas off of, and I am very tired of hearing “Boys are just like that”, and “Oh, he’s just a boy!” Please, please help me solve my dilemma!
A: I can’t tell you why your son is doing the things he is doing. Some of it may be normal but some of it definitely is not normal. Some mild sexual exploration and curiosity can be expected at this age but some of the things you mention such as trying to put a toy in his rectum is unusual. Some aggressive tendencies again could be expected but violently trying to hurt his little sister is too much.
I highly suggest you get him psychologically evaluated soon. I might suggest starting with his pediatrician to ask for a referral. If you have a nearby Children’s Hospital you may try calling them for an assessment or just ask around for a practice that specializes in children’s issues. Be persistent and keep trying if you don’t find success right away. These behaviors need to get under control before someone gets hurt. I wish you all luck.