Any Thoughts on Quirky Child?

Updated on May 04, 2019
M.D. asks from DHS, MD
15 answers

Dear moms,
I have been observing a friends child, and would like to describe her to you, and see what you think. This is the child of a couple that recently (2-3 years ago) moved from overseas, she is 4. My attention was drawn to her when I realized there was some tension between her and my own 4 year old daughter. This friends child, frequently hits and pushes my kid out of the blue and with absolutely no reason. She also speaks very loudly or screams sometimes which is scary to my kid. She is behind in language, significantly so, but cannot tell how much exactly because she is bilingual and also because she articulates very poorly. I do speak both of her languages but usually do not understand her. She is usually not very interested in toys. She likes to go up and down stairs and to jump from couch to couch and on the stairs. All my kids like that, but for this girl it’s almost all she does when they visit, despite the fact that we have a house full of toys. Her mom describes often situations where she was imaginative or engaging with toys but I have not seen this myself. She has mild torticollis which has not resolved fully. She can be sweet and affectionate, and will give me a hug, if I ask for permission.
I wonder if this kid needs a developmental assesment. My son was late to talk, although not so much, so I want to help and also I want to understand. What are your thoughts?

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answers from Santa Fe on

I would not be too concerned. I mean one scenario is she might find out later she is on the spectrum, but she might not. Do you think you might offend her if you suggest she talk to her pediatrician about possible developmental delays? My son at that age only wanted to jump! Jump on a trampoline. Jump using one of those balls with handles. Jump off the couch. He also was obsessed with water, drainage ditches, culverts, etc. My friend's son was raised in a bilingual home where dad spoke only English and mom spoke only Chinese to him. He was extremely behind at age 3 and 4. He barely spoke and when he did it was not well. In 1st grade suddenly he was caught up to everyone else...AND speaking two languages fluently. Just remember...every kid is super different. One kid might be reciting full sentences at age 2 and another may not really speak much till age 5. One of my kids was a really early speaker and his best friend in preschool didn't talk much, grunted like a caveman, and had all these funny made up words. His little friend who spoke late was fine...he's a very smart teenager now.

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answers from Portland on

As a mom of a child who was misdiagnosed (because we felt pressured by others to have him assessed - this is our firstborn), I would stay out of it. It was nothing major in our case.

Just set rules for your home and watch over your child at their house. Step in if needs be and make it be known that's not acceptable behavior for your child.

If she brings it up, you can say "I find what is helpful is....".

Or "what works for our kiddos is..."

That's it. Period.

If she wants your help - offer it.

Oddly enough, my first born had torticollis too. Outgrew it. It's possible the child didn't get it corrected as a baby. It shouldn't (?) have anything to do with behavior.

As far as offering up my thought on the child - I worked in nursery schools, day camps and as a nanny during my teens and my mom was a kindergarten teacher her whole career. I remember quite a few 4/5 year olds who were rambunctious, a little too free with their hands, and wanting to do active play over sitting and playing with toys.

Maybe it's not a good fit to have them to your house for a bit. That's fine. Or meet at park :)

ETA Love what you said 2kidmama!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

90% of your thoughts on this quirky child are irrelevant, and so are mine.

the mother hasn't asked for your opinion, so who cares what you or i think?

what really seems to be going on is that you don't like this child, you disapprove of the way she's being parented, and want to be validated in your dislike.

i think that if being around this child is upsetting to you and your four year old, you limit your time with them. this may create a rift between you and the mother, depending on how tactfully you handle it.

i don't know if the little girl needs an assessment or not because i'm not a professional, and no one you're asking here has laid eyes on her. do you really think we can give a useful opinion on that?

unless your help has been requested, keep it to yourself.

the other mom may have opinions about your kid and your parenting that might not thrill you either.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You aren't qualified to make a determination in this. Have the parents asked your opinion? If they have then point them toward their ped to see if more evaluations are needed. If they haven't asked your opinion then its not your circus not your monkey.

The main issue you are having is that your child is getting injured. That's the part you need to be addressing asap. When your child is pushed you say 'People don't push other people' and when she's hit 'People don't hit other people'. Give your daughter the words to use to state what's wrong in the situation If it continues then you tell the mom that you are sorry but the kids can't play together because your child keeps getting injured and man handled.

I had this come up with a friend who though boys will be boys but it was always my kiddos getting beaten up. I decided that her boys could be boys but my children didn't have to be around while they were. In the end I decided that my job was to protect my young children not correct hers.

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answers from Washington DC on

M. d

if you don't want her hitting your child? then you tell her that hitting is not acceptable. You also give your daughter the tools to stand up for herself so that she can defend herself.

This child is NOT YOUR CHILD. If you don't like this child? then do NOT have this child over. It's not your place or job to "HELP" her - sounds like you want to judge her. Has the mother ASKED for your opinion on her daughter? How would you feel if SHE did this to you??

If you have concerns about this child - speak to the PARENT - not a group of strangers.
My advice would be to distance yourself from the family.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Given that we, like you, are not qualified to assess this child, and given that (apparently) the mom has not asked you for your opinion, there's not really anything you can do. I agree with others that it will not go well if you bring it up, any more than it would if she critiqued your child.

If she goes to preschool, she will be observed by professionals who can and should refer her for an evaluation (letting the parents know what services are available free of charge from the school district). The pediatrician should begin to notice lack of verbal ability or social skills or whatever, although the doctor will likely rely on what the parents say goes on at home. The doctor should also know what's available locally. A pre-K screening will turn up abilities that aren't present, and they can make a referral as well. As Doris Day says, the only professional option you have is to write down your observations and concerns, and mail them to the doctor, who legally cannot respond but who may use your input as the basis for additional questions or assessment techniques in the child's physical.

So, as they saying goes, you cannot change other people's behavior, only your reaction to it. If you want to meet occasionally in the park where jumping and yelling are less of a problem, fine. But you place your body between your daughter and the other child. If it's not working, head home. You can also limit your get-togethers entirely just by saying "Sorry, that won't work for us. Busy schedule. I'll get back to you when things lighten up." You don't have to respond to every phone call or text, you don't have to over-explain. Anything you say about the child will impact your friendship, and it may even make the other parents more defensive and far less likely to seek help. So if the mom asks why you never get together, you can say what you would say if the kids were 6 or 9 - "They don't seem to get along well or have the same interests." Then change the subject.

If you really like the parents, you can make adult social arrangements you would both enjoy - movies, dinner, etc.,and you each get a sitter for your own child.

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answers from Norfolk on

What would you do if a parent came to you describing your kid as quirky?
If this child is having issues it's really up to her parents to discuss this with their pediatrician.
You can not offer advice if no one has asked for your opinion and anything you have to say will fall on deaf ears until someone is really wanting to listen to it.
So save your breath.

A lot of the time parents will be in denial that there's a problem and turn a blind eye to off the wall stuff even if their kid is screaming their head off on a regular basis.
We saw this in taekwondo where one kid was constantly hitting other kids for no reason, defying instructors - the kid was out of control.
The head instructor tried to talk to the parents and they got defensive 'No, our kid is normal - you just don't understand him', etc.
Finally the other parents simply said 'every class is turning into nothing but dealing with this one kids problems and that's not what we are paying for when we signed up our kids for this class'.
Ultimately the instructor had to expel this kid - there was nothing anyone could do for him and the parents were still not dealing with his issues.

What you CAN do is to protect your kid.
If hitting occurs - play time is over - everyone goes home. Period.
If it keeps happening then you don't do play dates with this child anymore.
Meet up with your friend for coffee without the kids but don't get the kids together anymore.
It's not your kids job to be a punching bag for the other child no matter what her issues are.

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answers from New York on

You need to parent and "assess" your own children and your own home.

You wrote above: "This friends child, frequently hits and pushes my kid out of the blue and with absolutely no reason. scary to my kid...She jump from couch to couch"

So, don't worry about "assessing" her - just keep her far away from your kid and your couches!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

I had a similar situation with my friend’s kids. Her son threw matchbox cars at my son’s head for no reason.

Her daughter would walk up to mine (about 3 years old) and yank on my daughter’s hair. Unprovoked, my daughter would be watching Sesame Street or looking at a book. I witnessed it both times and was blown away. After that, I kept a very close eye on them and would run interference when I needed to.

It was obvious there were issues but my friend would get upset when I took the kids and left because she felt like I was punishing our friendship due to kids behavior.

I decided I would no longer subject my kids to their behaviors. Years later her children were tested and all are on the autism spectrum.

I keep up with my friend, but do not force my kids to be a part of it. My kids were relieved when I came to my decision.

I agree with B though, talking to her about it will probably not go well. You can listen and as I did with my friend ask questions like, have you thought about asking the pediatrician for advice on that?

If her daughter does have issues, an understanding, sympathetic friend is nice. That does not mean, as B stated, that your child has to be on the receiving end of poor behavior.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

If anyone asks for your opinion, then your response is to refer them to Early Intervention in your state. You are not qualified to evaluate child development, and neither are any of us. Early Intervention, however, can give them an eval for free (or, if the child has aged out of their program, EI can refer to the next age level of assistant, also free). This is ONLY IF YOU ARE ASKED FOR YOUR OPINION.

If you are not asked for your opinion, then say nothing.

Otherwise, honestly, it sounds like your kids are not a good match for each other right now. She gets frustrated at your house and yells or pushes. Your child gets upset because she doesn't like that. I think the easiest solution is to stop forcing the kids to be together. You can keep your friendship by meeting the other mom for coffee without kids or by doing other non-kid things together. No more kid play dates for a while. You can try again in 6 months or a year and see if it goes better.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Keep your opinions to yourself.

If you don't want the child scaring your children or jumping on your couch, stop inviting her over.

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answers from Denver on

My only thoughts are that you need to establish some basic behavior standards in your own home.

I'm guessing that this little girl, when she's in your house, jumps on couches and uses the stairs as a parkour course. (What her parents permit in their house is their business). The issue is safety, first and foremost. It's inevitable that she'll fall and hurt herself, either mildly or seriously. Another issue is simply that we do not use couches as trampolines, for several reasons: wear and tear on the couch, injury potential, and learning proper manners when indoors. If you permit this girl to use your furniture as her personal gym, then you're demonstrating to your own child that you have no boundaries and no say over how your home is treated, and your own child will not learn the difference between playing indoors and running wild and free at the playground or at the park. You need to learn to say "we don't stand on the couch" and if the mother and the child both think that you're being unreasonable or boring or too strict, then visits to your home are no longer welcome. And make sure the rules apply to all kids, even your own. If you let your kids jump on the couch but don't let this girl do the same thing, your kids will receive a mixed message and you're in for a bumpy ride.

And of course, when your child is hit or pushed excessively, you observe your child, unless of course she's bleeding or screaming in pain. Your child will probably defend herself, either with a gentle push back, or by yelling "no". At a quiet moment, teach your child that hitting is not nice (don't reference the other girl), and give her some tools - how to quietly walk away, how to speak up and say "we don't hit", etc.

The only thing you need to understand is that this child's mom has apparently not asked you for any intervention or advice.

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answers from Miami on

I am wondering what you will do with the information you gain. Will you tell the mother? Do you think she will listen? Does she have a pediatrician yet? Do you know who the ped is?

If you know who the ped is, you can write a note with some of this description and give it to them. The doctor can’t talk to you, but will have this info for when the mother takes her in to be seen.

If you don’t feel that you can be honest with the mom about her child, this may be the only recourse you have.

None of us can diagnose this child, but what really needs to be done is a speech and language evaluation, at the very least. Getting her school ready is really important and I doubt that she can do this on her own.

If I were you, I would ask the mom to meet you somewhere other than your house. Find a place where jumping all over the place isn’t a problem. Supervise well, and don’t allow your child to be hit. The mother needs to see you protecting your child. Have your child sit with you, away from the other child, to give your child a breather. Do it without apology. You need to create a boundary when this child acts out. Your child needs that.

I wonder if the mother has any idea what to do in order to help her child. I hope she will be willing to ask her ped for help.

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answers from San Diego on

Usually the parents are either in denial or don’t have another child to compare behavior.
This child is in your environment and acting odd, you have every right to be concerned and ask the hard questions to the parents.

They might not appreciate it now but you might give a little nudge to figure out what is going on. The child at 4 can’t speak clearly in either language, that’s a problem.

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answers from Chicago on

I would try not to worry about whether she needs a developmental assessment and just be a good friend. The things you’re describing could be reasons for concern or not. I don’t know how close you are with this friend, but it sounds like you are pretty close, so if you want to help, here are my ideas.

I think you have a couple of choices here. You can choose to be much more present during the visits, or you can put visits on hold for now. If you continue with visits, keep the visits short so that you can be present at all times. Kids don’t push for no reason, so try to figure out what her reason is. Does she want what your daughter has, is she sensitive to your daughter being in her space? Plant yourself in the room so that if she moves to push or hit you can scoop up your daughter and remind the friend that it’s not nice to hit, if she wants her to move she should say “excuse me”, or if she wants a toy, she should ask for it. Give her tools for asking what she wants.

If she screams or talks loudly and your daughter is fearful, you can help your daughter by not overreacting, just help her express herself, “do you want to ask your friend to use a softer voice?” Use your judgment though, maybe your daughter is super sensitive and the friend isn’t that loud, and you can help them both by playing with loud and soft, “let’s talk really soft……let’s yell really loud”, maybe play Simon Says with loud/soft, high/low, etc., built in. This should build friend’s ability to regulate and daughter’s ability to tolerate.

If you can’t understand what the friend is saying, you can gently ask her mom, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t quite understand her, can you translate for me?” If mom is also not able to understand her, then I think this would be an opportunity to ask her if she’s concerned about that. If she is concerned, then I think you can ask if she has considered requesting an speech assessment, which can be obtained for free from her public school district. They will recommend other assessments if they think it's appropriate. Your friend might not know what is available here.

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