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August 10th, 2008

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02:36 pm - very disturbing
My 5 year old son has been diagnosed with uneven cognitive development, and has a history of behavioral problems, including self-harming and being aggressive towards other children.
He'd made good progress, and we let him have a guinea pig under the condition that he help take care of it, and he seemed to really enjoy the responsibility. Last week, my husband told my son that if he got his room clean, he could have his guinea pig in his room, and that was a good incentive for him.
Then, Thursday night, I refused to read to him at bedtime because he had dragged his feet getting ready for bed and his room was a mess.
He came downstairs and said "Oreo dying. I punch Oreo and died him."
We spent the next few hours comforting the guinea pig, but he had internal damage, and died shortly before we got up in the morning. He was such a sweet little guy, and we all miss him. My son mostly talks about wanting a new guinea pig.
My son is getting play therapy, and remedial services, so we're going to tell them what happened and see what they say about it.
Right now, I can barely stand to look at the boy. I don't know if I can ever trust him again. What kind of person kills a defenseless animal for no reason?  How could I love someone that would do something that vile? I just keep remembering the beginning of the new version of Halloween, with the young Michael Myers killing pet rats, and wondering how to keep my son from growing up to be like that.
If anyone knows of any resources to even start figuring out how to deal with this, please let me know. I don't even know what to google.

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:August 11th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
I wish I had any advice, but I hope that the remedial services people can help. This is a huge thing, I can sympathise - my son is diagnosed with PDD-NOS and what is one of the most painful parts of it is his lack of empathy for others, humans or animal. Just, all I can think is that the best thing for your son is for him to know that you hate what he did, but you still love him. You've got my sympathy, I hope that things improve for you and your son, and your whole family as well.
[User Picture]
Date:August 11th, 2008 11:22 am (UTC)
:hugs: I'm not sure of anything that can help, but please remember Hollywood exaggerates things. He's your son and he's 5. He's still barely not a baby. I would say if you are really worried about it, get some therapy. You and him. And if you're really worried about him hurting others, an animal isn't a good idea. Maybe see into volunteering at the local animal shelter or something? So he can see and play with animals, but if he's acting out, he can't hurt one.
[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
I think that, as terrible a moment as it was, letting it be a learning experience, and letting it go is your first priority. Your son needs you to let him know what the implications are with this, in that he harmed something living. But he also needs to know that you love him no matter what.
Yes, harming animals is part of a complex pattern of behavior that typifies adults who fit the "Michael Myers" profile - but it is one small piece. Your son is not going to be a horrible person because he doesn't understand the equation of life yet.
No pets for now, is what I would say. Take him to zoos, to animal rescue shelters (where he can see that they are bandaged and have boo-boos just like he gets), let him engage with pets that belong to people who understand his situation. If he does something inappropriate, that is your learning moment, to be able to correct him, and remind him that animals are alive like him, and feel pain.
My son is six, and grew up with our dog around, who sort of impatiently put up with him pinching and tugging at her, while we would intervene if he got out of hand. He does these sorts of things to us as well (pulling on arm hair, pinching our elbow skin). When he hurts us, we stop everything, and make sure he understands the "ow" factor. It has worked especially well on relations with his little brother, who often gets an unprompted stroke on the head when he hurts himself, far different from the initial moments of fright we'd have, finding our older son sitting on top of the younger, shoving his chest. That behavior has gone away completely, with a lot of work.
I'm not saying it will be easy. It certainly will take hundreds of reminders, and watching him like a hawk. But the last thing to remember is this - most 5 year olds aren't ready for pets anyway. This is something you can move on from, and still love your child.

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