Mini “Monk”

Ever since Xander could express his opinions, we’ve had occasions where we refer to him as Monk.  From things like insisting on having a wipe in the car when his hands are dirty to insisting on having two completed puzzles on the floor perfectly aligned together.

Last week he told us he didn’t want to wear his new shoes outside because they would get dirty.  When he feels like he is dirty, he asks to take a bath.

This morning, I coaxed him out of bed with the promise that if we got up and out quickly, we could drive to school a different way.  This is something he has been requesting the past several mornings.  It had the desired effect – he was up, and agreed to get dressed quickly.  Downstairs he drank some milk, and noticed his sticker chart on the refrigerator.  He asked if he could put a sticker on it for the good night sleep he had last night and I told him yes.

Shortly after that , Zach walked downstairs with Parker, and started to get the boy’s shoes on.  We often use a race between the boys as a motivator for Xander.  At 3, he loves to be first at everything.  Since Parker doesn’t really care yet, it’s a nice way to get Xander moving quickly.  With one shoe already on, Zach told Xander that Parker was going to get his shoes on first this morning and win.

Xander, already excited about driving a “different way” immediately started hopping up and down, and wanting to get to his shoes quickly so he could win the “race”.  Unfortunately, Xander’s stickers are hung on the fridge with colored magnets, and Xander likes to match the magnet color with the smiley face sticker color – and he can’t do just one, he needs to put one in each of the 4 corners.  And it has to be flat and perfectly squared on the fridge.  All of this took time this morning, and he was rushing to finish it.

For the first time I watch my son’s compulsive nature prevent him from moving onto the next task because the task he was working on wasn’t perfect.  I could feel my face cringe, and my mind started to wonder “What if referring to him as Monk isn’t a joke?  What if this sort of behavior does indeed hinder his life somehow?”

Xander eventually got to his shoes and slipped them on just in time (of course) to “win”.

So now I question my tiny collection of readers.  Do any of you have perfectionist-type children?  Kids who don’t like to be dirty, who freak out over a spot of water on their pants and insist on changing? Who find the one pine needle on the floor the morning after you swept and insist that you didn’t really clean the house?  Or, should I really start to worry?

5 thoughts on “Mini “Monk””

  1. I would ask his preschool teachers. I would think if it was OCD that it would manifest itself anywhere he is, and not just at home. If they have seen the rituals too, then just ask his pediatrician about it. He sounds like a very well rounded kid, I wouldn’t be too worried about it, he is social, smart, and loving….sometimes they do silly things. My guy can’t stand to be dirty or wet…he was my first and I think I created that monster by changing him immediately when he was younger, a luxury I don’t have with his younger siblings.

  2. I had a young son who was very similar. Wouldn’t play with play-dough, and god forbid there was toe lint in the tub! Many children have sensory issues with those sort of things and it isn’t a big deal. It is important to teach them how to cope though when things don’t go the way they want, like what if you spill your glass of milk all over your pants and you can’t change right away? What do you do? Walking through those sort of problem solving things and giving him the tools to deal with things is way more important than him wanting to be clean.

    Good news to is that my son is now almost 13 and although he is still easily frustrated by others, he is learning how to cope and can get his haircut, and handle the toe lint in the bathtub.

  3. All excellent comments – thank you!! Erin makes an excellent point about turning those freak out moments into teachable ones. It’s certainly more work, but teaching him how to handle damp pants is way more useful than simply changing his pants right away. Thanks again!

  4. Ok so there IS another way to look at this which might help you get through the stress of the moment. Perhaps we shoouldn”t be so quick to say OCD and let’s call it “attention to detail”. Won’t that come in handy when he’s in high school physics & its homework time? Or editing his doctoral theseis? I realize he’s only 3 but in that same realization is the fact that kids live in the moment & he has so many great qualities that a little “Monk” now may pay off in the future! :)

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