5-year-old acting out in scary way

If you're looking for Hanukkah or Christmas gifts, or new baby or baby shower gifts, a gift subscription to the All MoxieTopics Subscription is just the thing.  Order now and I'll send it whenever you specify.

Alise writes:

"I've been reeling a bit since this weekend.  Long story short- we were away from home and my 5yo was asking and asking for someone to play with him (only adults were around), but it wasn't happening.  So, he quietly went into an empty bedroom and wrapped my scarf around his neck tight enough to turn his face red. This was very atypical of him- he usually is quite loud and angry with his upsets.  My mom found him,
and was shaken a bit, as was I.  I tried not to scare or shame him, but just said it wasn't a safe thing to do. I haven't followed up with him yet- I doubt he'll have any sort of explanation, and I don't want to lecture him too much and give it energy.  Yet, it is making me quite sad and concerned.

My sister is chalking it up to curiosity and thinks he probably scared himself a bit, but I worry that he was being intentional, in that he was mad and wanted to hurt something/himself.

I did take him on a couple visits to a therapist recently because he had a very hard time with his behavior at summer camp (hitting, exposing himself), but she just thought he needed more structure, and for us to set more limits at home.  No red flags.  He started K this fall, and our visit with the teacher went well and she thinks he's
doing fine.

Any thoughts?"

Go see a therapist with him. I'm not saying that because I think there's anything desperate about the situation, but because I think people should make more use of trained professionals who help the figure out how to handle stuff like this.

Therapists have seen this again and again and will be able to a) ask questions and observe and get a good sense for what your son's intention was when he tied the scarf around his neck, and b) give you some ways of talking to him about it so you're not worried about giving it too much energy or not enough.

There's no way for me to know if this was another episode of his acting out because he's still figuring out how to deal with emotions, and he saw something about tying something around your neck somewhere and thought he'd try it. Or if it's something that's more serious that should be watched.

Your son was definitely asking for help. Was he just asking for attention at the time in a clumsy and terrifying way? Or does he need more help? YOU deserve help figuring that out and knowing how to talk to him about it and help him with expressing himself with you.

This could all be really normal and just a phase, or it could be something bigger. So don't try to struggle through this by yourself.

Thoughts? Sympathy?