I immediately tried asking him about it, but he responded quickly, “I don’t want to talk about it!” This was the same response he gave when he shared he had bad thoughts in his head about a month ago.
So the next day I tried to ask him again, hoping that once removed from the situation he would be more comfortable. At first he was very hesitant. So I reassured him that he wouldn’t get in trouble for anything he said and that nothing bad would happen by telling me.
Appearing reluctant, my little one explained that he had voices in his head. Not Mommy, Daddy or his brothers, but voices of other kids, “strangers”. He told me that they call him bad names like idiot and dork and laugh at him a lot. They also tell him to do bad things like steal money from my purse, to beat up his brothers or to destroy property. These are his words as he described it. When I asked what would happen if he didn’t do the bad things, he said he would get a headache. He said that the voices make him feel sad or scared. When I asked if the voices were real, inside the house or inside his brain, he said that they were inside his brain. He said sometimes they are just one voice or sometimes they’re a group of voices.
Hmmm... that’s unsettling.
We definietly can see the correlation of what he shared with me and his behavior lately. It isn’t uncommon for him to run out of a room screamming, “Stop laughing at me!” when the family is laughing together (never at him). He’s quick to assume that people are putting him down when they aren’t and overreacts to a lot of situations. He’s also been putting himself down a lot saying that he’s a horrible person.
I gently let him know that the voices weren’t real and I would try to help them go away forever, but he needed to let me know when they tell him to do bad stuff or laugh at him. Later that day, he came to me twice about the laughing inside his head, I told him that we could stop it if we sang a song together. He was very willing to participate and asked, “Can we sing You Are My Sunshine?” We did and it seemed to do the trick.
I spoke with his therapist and right now she thinks this is related to his anxieties. She thinks the voices are maybe his own thoughts and feelings that he’s struggling with. So we’re making a big effort to give him lots of positive feedback, remind him constantly that he’s a great kid with hopes to override any negative thoughts he has inside.
It does concern me that the voices were described as being “strangers”, sometimes more than one and that they make him feel sad or scared at times. Poor guy, no wonder he seemed so stressed all the time.
I’m glad that he finally opened up and shared what he was experiencing. Now if I can just figure out how to make it all better—because that’s what mama bears do!