Recently we received this question:
A friend of mine has a 4 year old little boy that I am very worried about. This child shows many signs of anti-social behavior. He is manipulative. He is conniving. He is a liar. He is vindictive. He is sneaky. He will do things, look to see if you are noticing, and have an evil little smile on his face seeming to dare you to do or say anything. Is this the beginning behavior of a sociopath? His mother seems to be oblivious to his behaviors. However she told me that she plans to home-school him…so I have to wonder if perhaps she has “seen” something in him. The idea worries me, because at least if he was going to school…maybe someone else would truly see his behaviors. Any thoughts or suggestions?
The time between ages 3 and 7 are very important to a child’s moral and social development. When considering if a child may be impaired it is most useful to think of the Inner Triangle: Ability to Love, Impulse Control and Moral Reasoning. Hopefully by age four a child has the beginnings of Ability to Love. This would include affectionate, empathetic and care taking behavior. 4 year olds may have trouble with impulse contol. Depending on how this is handled they may become “coniving and manipulative.” 4 year olds are also beginning to learn morals and develop the moral emotions guilt and shame. To understand the depth of the problem consider ALL three sides of the triangle. In your story I only hear that he is struggling with impulse control.
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