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Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Inappropriate Reactions to Others Print
We were at the public pool. My son, age 3.5, did something cute. Two women started laughing. He turned around, eyes glaring, eyebrows lowered, and gave them a DIRTY LOOK. They were immediately apologetic. I scooped him up and took him away and reflected his feelings aloud but then explained that they just thought he was cute...that they liked him. He wanted no part of it. He was FURIOUS. I think he said something about wanting to shoot them.

At a recent cultural event he was noticeably anxious. He buried his head in my neck, but then turned to the closest stranger and gave her the meanest look he could muster. A short time later he commenced growling at kids (all strangers) as he walked. His intense reactions to others intensified around age 3.5. (a. 5.5mo, FC)

If someone says "hi" to my son, he will not respond, because it is not on his terms. Now if someone ignores him, he will try and be their best friend; enter their personal space, be overtly affectionate & friendly and even try to climb on their lap because now he feels in control. (a. 7 mo, FC)

If a visitor enters our home, he needs to be the center of attention (could even be a plumber, painter, etc.) He thinks they are here to see him. He will either act superficially cute & charming or throw a fit; if one doesn't work he tries the other. (7 mo. FC)

Starting at around two and a half, my daughter sometimes showed an extreme reaction to being considered "cute." There is a way in which I don't consider this inappropriate at all; she was picking up on the racism inherent in the "China doll" syndrome; in fact, even at two she articulated this to me. "Mama. I am not a doll. I don't like it when they look at me." So when people with phoney, too-sweet smiles tried to engage her (especially while she was strapped in her stroller) or worse, if they tried to tickle her, she could sometimes get quite angry. I felt she was quite justified and tried to affirm her feelings while at the same time smoothing over any social awkwardness.

But sometimes her reactions were more extreme, and showed some misunderstanding of others' intentions. Especially when she was between the ages of three and five, If anyone was looking at her, she had a tendency to interpret it in a negative way - and she would shout, "Don't LOOK at me!" Again, growing self-consciousness is pretty typical at that age and her feelings were not all that unusual, but the intensity of her response seemed overblown. She had a great need to control all elements of her environment, and felt very angry when her powerlessness to do so was brought home to her. SHE wanted to be the one to set the terms of engagement – always. (a. 10.5mo, OR) Sensory processing issues, some PTSD, anxious-ambivalent attachment style – now (at age 6) much more secure.
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