Kid pouring stuff over his head

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01 May 2015, 8:34 pm

Anyone else's kid do this? Ideas to make him stop?

He pours anything that will pour- water, juice, syrup, laundry detergent, ice cream, soup, sand, gravel…
He has been doing this since he was very young, but it used to be easier to stop him. Now he is getting bigger and kinda over-powering me (and others). Hmm.
He poured maple syrup over his head today at school (they made pancakes).

By the time I'd collected him from school, the syrup had mostly dried so it was really hard to get out, and he was miserable. I told him several times that this is the syrup that HE poured over his head and if he hadn't done that, this wouldn't be happening. But I highly doubt he learned anything from this experience. The time he dumped laundry detergent over his head, I had to rinse him off with a shower (if I'd put him in the bath, there would have been way too many bubbles) and he hates showers, so he started screaming and rubbing his eyes, and then his eyes were really sore for a day or so afterwards. You'd think that would teach him, but nope… he still goes for soapy things.

Anyway, like I said, my former method was all prevention. I just didn't leave stuff out, and if I did, I grabbed it from him before he got a chance to pour it. But that's not going to work at all for much longer. And it's happening everywhere, not just at home (like syrup at school- I don't even keep syrup at home). The water is bad too because then it goes all over the floor too. That's just a pain. I wish he'd stop. He never just drinks a glass of water; he ALWAYS drinks a bit and then dumps it over his head. I do give him drinks in a sippy cup or water bottle, but he can take the lid off- this isn't an accident- he wants to pour it over his head. He will get a cup and go to the sink just to pour it over his head. I make him help me dry the floor when it's water, which he doesn't like either. Maybe it's a discipline issue, but if so, I've no idea what he is thinking.

I think it's a sensory problem. He loves playing in water, and I let him play in water every day during his evening bath, we also have a water table outside. He smears poo too, not sure if it's related. He has a lot of tactile sensory problems, he does get OT, and I try to provide him with lots of appropriate sensory experiences throughout the day… *sigh*

Thoughts?


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momsparky
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02 May 2015, 11:46 am

Seems like he likes the feeling of something heavy and viscous on his head (unlike water.) Have you considered trying different kinds of hats? Maybe if he's wearing a hat, either he will be able to listen to you about the behavior - or it will at least make slightly less of a mess? You know, like beanies or bathing caps or do-rags; something that he can get sensory feedback from.



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02 May 2015, 12:35 pm

If he is at all verbal, maybe it would be a good idea to just ask why he feels the need to pour things on his head...and why he will not stop when requested even if he's making a mess. Aside from that I'd imagine he likes the feeling of something on his head....perhaps having him wear a hat or a sweater with the hood on or something....I really don't know that's what it is or that it would even help but its just a thought, maybe if something was on his head he wouldn't pour things over it.


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02 May 2015, 1:25 pm

Thanks for the replies. I'm trying to get him to dress himself so I don't dictate to him what to wear, but a hat might help. He does have a hat that he likes but I think he likes how it looks more than how it feels (it's a very sparkly top hat :lol: ). He has a toque too but it's kind of hot for that right now heading into summer. He definitely has some issues with his head. He likes to have long hair (shoulder-length) and his hair is thick too, so that's a lot of hair, but having long hair doesn't stop him. Anytime we cut it shorter, he banged his head- otherwise he never engages in that type of behaviour so clearly there is something about needing stuff on his head. I don't know why I didn't think of a different kind of hat. That's a very good idea.


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Hyperborean
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02 May 2015, 1:46 pm

I think you're right when you say it's a sensory issue, it's not uncommon. Something you might look into is does he pour things over his head at particular times of day, or in certain circumstances or when certain people are saying or doing certain things? Or when there's a particular noise, smell or light level etc in the room? I'm not a psychologist so I'm guessing slightly, but I say this because there's often a prompt or 'trigger' to this sort of behaviour, which can be very challenging. It could be caused by something totally unremarkable which you are not aware of, but which to him has some significance. Why not try setting up a routine, daily time when you allow him to pour something over his head, turn it into a regular ritual and even give it a special name like 'splash time', or something that appeals to him. My work is with young adults with AS/HFA so I don't come across this very much, but I know people who do, and they say there's often a quite simple cause to it. You might want to talk to someone with specialist knowledge.


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02 May 2015, 4:26 pm

Put cool water in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag or in one of those old rubbery heating pad things (you'd put hot water in it to use it as a heating pad)? Or one of those squishy, plastic ice pack things? It would provide the coolness and the weight, though not the sensation of the liquid running in tracks through the hair. They make scalp massagers too. They are usually metal and you can find them in drug stores probably. If it were kept in the freezer or fridge it might pack enough punch to satisfy the craving for trickling on the scalp. It sounds like something one would do to meet some sort of sudden emotional uprising, either negative or positive.



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02 May 2015, 5:26 pm

Sounds like he is a touch (tactile) seeker, meaning his under-sensitive in tactile sense (possibly also visual) and actively compensates. He craves tactile input. Try providing fidgets such as a Koosh Ball, Light Up Stress Balls, or a Tangle.


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02 May 2015, 7:58 pm

Putting myself in his shoes, if I poured stuff on my head, it would be for sensory reasons.

If he obeys when you tell him to help dry the floor, why doesn't he obey commands not to dump things on his head?



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02 May 2015, 9:19 pm

Hyperborean: it seems impulsive often (when he grabs whatever is there and starts pouring), except he does also plan it out when he goes to the tap specifically to do this. I'll look into triggers, that's a good idea too.

QuiversWhiskers: another good idea! We have a massage thing that vibrates that he likes on his head. If there was water in a bag, he'd either open the bag or bite the bag. He bites stress balls until the stuff starts coming out so I'd be worried about one of those heating pads (pretty sure the stuff in there is toxic).

KariLyn: yes he's definitely a tactile "seeker". We have a few fidget toys but they have to be really durable because he bites them.

PlainsAspie: He doesn't obey me. When I say he "helps" me dry the floor, I'm using that word very, very loosely. He doesn't do anything (even stuff he likes), that isn't a special interest, without intense supervision and redirecting every 1-2 seconds. The reason I can make him stop and 'help' clean the floor is that I can spend 10 minutes doing it. On the other hand, preventing him from dumping water, he can dump it so fast that I have to be successful in my attempt immediately, which is much harder now that he is almost the same size as I am. I still have some control, but it takes a few attempts which I don't have when he's dumping water. He still needs physical directing- he won't just follow verbal commands unless it's really simple (sit, stand, etc.).


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02 May 2015, 9:45 pm

I only remember pouring stuff on my head one time, when I was six at summer camp. I opened a carton of milk at lunch and poured it right over my head. I remember I was trying to be funny somehow.

BUT, I have always had issues with sensitivity regarding my head. I wore a lot of hats growing up. I like my hair tied back away from my face, which does put pressure on the head. My hair is very light and fine, and I have a lot of it. It easily feels static-y and little strands will touch my face that I can't find to brush away. Sometimes it seems like I can feel every single little hair out of place. I almost never blow dry my hair, but let it drip dry. That also adds weight. I remember I carried a comb with me all the time when I was younger.

Would it help if your son carried a comb that he could wet and run through his hair? It would give him that wet/heavy feeling without making such a mess.



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03 May 2015, 8:53 am

You're not alone. One of my boys used to pour sand and dirt all over himself a lot. It used to bother me a bit especially with sand from playground sandboxes that get, ahem, "visited" by cats at night, but I never figured out what to do about it. Seems to have subsided in the last few months, again no idea why.
My other boy seems to regard his hair as a place to wipe his hands whenever there's something on them that he doesn't want on there... sigh... thankfully that can be redirected if I notice just before it happens and offer him a towel / tissue / whatever.
They're both a lot younger than your kids, I wonder what's in store for me 8O
The whole idea of clean vs dirty or even downright disgusting seems hard for them to comprehend...


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03 May 2015, 1:29 pm

Nerdygirl: He does like brushing his hair! That's another good idea to brush his hair with a wet hair brush! :D
With all these great idea,s hopefully we see some progress. He's being a terror this week though, don't know what is with him.

Maglevsky: LOL no he doesn't get the "clean vs. dirty" distinction either.

To emulate pouring sand on his head at the park, we have a huge container of uncooked kidney beans which I dump on him and he also likes to put his feet and/or hands in it and just pick them up and have them go through his fingers. If your son has stopped though, then that's awesome. Maybe he won't do it when he's 13! Hopefully, eh. This is one of those things that I feel like I should have worked more on earlier, but there are so many things to work on, it wasn't a priority. So much to do, so little time...


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nerdygirl
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03 May 2015, 4:53 pm

The sand thing/beans and the brushing hair sound like mini-massages to me (I also like running my hands through sand and beans for this reason.)

Maybe you can get or make one of those rice or bean-filled cloth packs. They can be used as hot or cold compresses. Used cold, it would offer more of the feeling that I imagine getting from pouring water on my head. He could put it on top of his head, or around his neck, and it will conform to his shape, offering a little massage. He could rub it back and forth, too, if he wanted.

I don't know if he would try to chew on that, though, like you say he does with other items...



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04 May 2015, 9:13 pm

nerdygirl wrote:
The sand thing/beans and the brushing hair sound like mini-massages to me (I also like running my hands through sand and beans for this reason.)

Maybe you can get or make one of those rice or bean-filled cloth packs. They can be used as hot or cold compresses. Used cold, it would offer more of the feeling that I imagine getting from pouring water on my head. He could put it on top of his head, or around his neck, and it will conform to his shape, offering a little massage. He could rub it back and forth, too, if he wanted.

I don't know if he would try to chew on that, though, like you say he does with other items...

You're onto something here. He has a weighted snake that he puts in the fridge and then puts around his neck. Putting it in the fridge was all his idea. He puts it back in when it gets too warm. I'm nt sure what it's made of, but you can feel little pellets inside of it a bit like sand.


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04 May 2015, 10:20 pm

Two things.

Give him a wet wash cloth. He can squeeze it above his head and only so much water can come out. If summer is coming up, have him go outside on the side walk with a little pail of wet wash clothes. Let him wet his hair to his hearts content.

Or maybe a wet knit cap? Weight and wet.

Also how about filling the sink up with some water and letting him use a brush or comb to wet his hair down. At least he can't dump the water.

Just musing out loud...hope something gives you a workable idea.



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05 May 2015, 7:35 am

We have a hot/cold shoulder wrap that I think is filled with buckwheat - it's an off-brand, but you should be able to find something like it here: http://carex.com/products/2085/Hot-+-Cold-At-Home/ Ours is kind of like a cape, and would easily cover a child's head completely.