Life Advice



Ask Amy: Young nephew’s behavior causes concern

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I’m a clueless aunt looking for some advice.

My little nephew (age 4 1/2) is very smart, but seems dysregulated quite often.

He often runs around in small circles for about 10 minutes screaming, and can only focus for very short amounts of times, avoids eye contact, and often does not respond when spoken to directly.

We recently had a situation where his older sister (age 6) built a fort out of blankets when she wanted/needed some quiet time, and she was very happy while building it.

The little one then, of course, "wanted in" on the fort, did not want to build his own, but then stepped over the boundaries he’d promised to keep just one minute earlier.

He didn't seem to remember what he had just promised, which of course then made his sister upset, so that, after much back and forth, she ended up crying, too.


He then threw a fit, as he often does.

I cannot talk to his parents about the possible need for therapeutic help, as they don't want to address this, and everyone is just helpless.

His mother has a lot of issues and feels like she is under a lot of stress, but she is also not open to doing therapy, or any other kind of self-care, other than stress-eating.

I apologize if this sounds so uninformed, and I am grateful for any advice or input.


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