My 4 year old boy has so much anger

Gill - posted on 12/10/2010 ( 16 moms have responded )

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my 4 year old can be so angry at times, it really worries me as i dont want it to shape his personality. Every morning he comes into my bed for our morning cuddle (which is really cute) he will wrap his arms around me and say "I love my mummy" then if he cannot have something he wants he will start kicking his legs around and saying an angry grrrrr, he will dig his fingers into me as hard as poss - i have no idea how to handle this or how to stop it. I was on anri depressents when i was pregnant and am concerned that they may have caused it. He is such a lovely boy so cute and funny its such a shame he has to spoil it. i have heard that 4 year old boys have a testosterone increse which i think may account for this but how can i help him ??

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Danielle - posted on 03/10/2013

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I also have a 4 year old boy who is very angry and easily frustrated. He sees an occupational therapist who created an emotional toolbox for him. Basically it is just a box with pieces of paper inside. On therapy piece of paper she has written various things that my son has personally identified help him to calm down. For example, count to ten , take 3 deep breaths, lay on the ground and squeeze your body into an egg shape, have a cuddle. As soon as my son starts to explode I present him with the box , he chooses a card and does the activity. It took a while for him to stop refusing or hitting the box out of my hand, but now he chooses a card every time and it really helps. I think if anything a tangible tool for your child to use when having an explosion is really helpful for them and developing their coping skills. Hope this helps someone as it has me

Juanita - posted on 02/28/2013

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I ended up on your post because I was googling "4 year old boy anger" for my own son. After reading a plethora of information and other mother's concerns out there, I think it may be a combination of several factors. It seems that there are plenty of other boys going through a similar situation, although it may be for different reasons... the point being, we are not alone. Some children may be predisposed to more anger due to conditions such as ADD, PTSD, Fetal alcohol syndrome or others. I think there are plenty of cases out there of boys with anger that seem to have no "apparent" source as well. The bottom line is to try to get to the origin of the emotion and most importantly figure out what works best for your child. It may require the use of several different solutions until you find the one that is right and most effective for you.

My son is a very active child. At this age they have loads of energy and I feel as though the days that he does not expend his energy are some of the worst. Make sure he is getting as much physical activity as is feasible on a daily basis.

As a mother working two jobs this next one can be tricky... play WITH him. I find that if I give him just 30 minutes to an hour of my time fully engaged in whatever is most important to him at the time, he is much more willing to "give back" and cooperate with me.

If you know you are about to undertake an activity that causes friction or could provoke a fight with him, try to approach it in a fun way. It helps your own soul to be playful sometimes too. For example - we used to argue about getting his pajamas on for bed. One night I threw them on them bed at his feet, said, "on your mark, get set, GO!" and covered my eyes. I would pretend to peek through my fingers and say, "are you ready now? How about now? Can I look now?" He quickly scrambled to get them on and giggled the entire time!

Lately we have been dealing with some very aggressive behavior and I am finding it most effective to take a deep breath myself first. It only fuels his fire when I respond with yelling or anger back. I do see success more often than not if I lower my voice and talk very very softly. He almost reflects the same behavior back. I call it the "mirror" technique. I model the behavior I am looking for in him and he seems to be forced to follow suit.

We also try to talk to him often, when the anger moment has passed and he is calm, about the ways that are ok to deal with his emotions. I always tell him that it is ok to "feel angry" but not ok to yell or hit. I think it is very important to validate his feelings and let him know that we are human and it is normal, the problem lays within the ways we handle those feelings.

For our son there are two choices...

1. When the task is necessary in order to move forward. Example - a jacket must be worn to play outside and he is struggling with the zipper but refuses to be helped.)
a. STOP
b. Take a deep breath
c. Count to 10 or say something light hearted like "aaaaw nuts!"
d. Try again

2. When the task is not absolutely necessary. Example - building a lego tower that keeps falling over.
a. STOP
b. Take a deep breath
c. Walk away and take a break (get some water maybe)
d. Play something else

I think that if you stay consistent and patient, that over time keeping yourself calm will pay off. If you teach them how to handle these situations as they arise the maturity will follow and you will have given them the tools they need to cope.

Hope this helps. It was therapeutic just for me to write it all out and take a step back to look at it. Slow and steady...

Heather - posted on 12/17/2010

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I had a son who still had anger behaviours into age 5 and occassionally at age 6. I had to come to realize that it was completely about control. He was becoming more independent and wanted to have control over EVERYTHING. Eating, potty, toys, time, siblings, bedtime, you name it. He was so violent at the beginning he would kick his bedroom door so hard, I was shocked that the door wasn't damaged. He was going through a phase with force and verve. There was nothing psychologically or socially wrong with my son. He is just extremely strong willed and stubborn-which I have come to accept. You need a good support network to get you through the harder tantrums and don't label him or listen to people who say he is abnormal. I have come out the other end not physically harmed and he did learn limits. Be consistent and strong with discipline, because once he figures out how to play you, he will up the ante. As soon as he becomes violent; kicking, hitting, spitting-you discipline. He has to learn that he can scream, yell, cry as hard as he wants but hitting, kicking and spitting are unacceptable. I can only offer my support and hope that your son goes through this stage with a little less energy than mine did! Good luck!

Cassie - posted on 12/11/2010

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yes my stepson has some of those same issues as well. we did not know about him till he was three and he was in a foster home at he time. he was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome and also is adhd.he had alot of anger issues that we could not figure out. we have done behavior therapy and at five he was in a program called r.i.p and they taught us to only give him attention and praise when he is doing proper behaviors. when doing improper behaviors they say you should not acknowledge it at all- completly ignore them, even if they are saying hey mom. they eventually learn they only get the attention they crave when they do what they should. it doesnt always work but its a great starting point you could try. maybe that will help

Ruchi - posted on 12/10/2010

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i recently read a book by this author who uses a spiritual style for upbringing children.
for e.g., if a child gets angry instead of trying to stop him instantly try talking so softly with him that he can bearly hear you. so he will have to stop/reduce the activity in order to hear you. you could also teach him some metitation and yoga. these things may sound new age but they do help.

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Gillian - posted on 03/01/2013

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My son has now just turned 7, he is still challenging but his anger issues have subsided gradually over time. I explained to him (many times) that it is ok to be angry as everyone feels anger at times BUT it is NOT ok to lash out at people. He was encouraged to "bash" his bed if he felt really angry - which he did quite often.
Reading all these replies, I tend to now feel that this behaviour is perhaps just another phase he was going through.
I do agree that if you model calm behaviour and ignore the bad then children will eventually get the message - but it is very tough!!
My son is very active and finds sitting still very difficult, hes like a coiled spring at times but on other occasions can sit for over and hour working on building his lego or doing something arty.
I now have the 8 year old phase to look forward to .......who knows what that will bring.

Amanda - posted on 12/15/2010

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When my oldest does anything like that because he doesn't get what he wants, he sure as heck not going to get it! Any actions like that warrant a time out alone in his room, and depending on the severity other steps of punishment are taken, but he never gets what he wanted in the first place. I usually only have to do this once and he is straighten out. He better hope he doesn't every hit me, he'll be in his room a long time! LOL. Sounds like he is immolating someone else's behavior towards you or he needs professional help. I don't believe this "rise in testosterone" crap. Self control is self control, they either are taught to have it or they're not. Good luck with this one, if it's not stopped you end up having a 12 year old that smacks you in the face in Toys R Us because they don't have what he wants (True Story)

Luvenia - posted on 12/14/2010

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OMGoodness, first off; you must not allow him to hurt you physically because he is only four now, imagine him having a temper tantrum in his teens and harming you because you have pernitted it. If you do not pop your child, you could try punishing him by not giving him what he so wants, or threatening to not give it to him if he does not act like a good boy. Then you will see him trying to slowly but surely listen and be sure to compliment him when he does try to begin listening more and more. You should surely seek the advice of a professional however, before all these medications came into play for our children, we had to deal with whatever may or may not have been wrong with them. So if you were taking the pills for depression, don't condemn yourself nor try to allow him to get anything he .wants because you may feel guilty because you needed some help with your medication. You needed to do what you needed to for you to even carry him to term, let him know there are consenquences when you behave in certain ways. Children are smarter than we allow our thought process to go. He will understand what you are telling him if you are firm but loving.

Kate - posted on 12/13/2010

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Hiya, I've worked with heaps of kids, and almost all the boys have at some stage expressed excessive anger. I always took a moment to step back and look at what my expectations were and decide if what I required of them was what was setting them off. I find that short term goals, short term rewards and lots and lots of physical play opportunities means they can fizz out that extra agro. If all else fails, teach him how to express his anger into a pillow and then talk about what made him that angry once the burn to hit or scream has abated.

Julia - posted on 12/12/2010

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My son mason was like that at 4 - it was very hard to go out in public due to other people............ i found that over the past 6 yrs i have gotten into natural heath and alternative medicine and healing along with western medicine- WE have had amazing results. He is no longer violent but a very in tune with his surroundings between crytals, healers, faith healing, angelic healing and pediatritions, psch'c. he is much better. he will tell you its angels and that his rocks (crystals calm him and make him feel better .

Julia - posted on 12/12/2010

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My son mason was like that at 4 - it was very hard to go out in public due to other people............ i found that over the past 6 yrs i have gotten into natural heath and alternative medicine and healing along with western medicine- WE have had amazing results. He is no longer violent but a very in tune with his surroundings between crytals, healers, faith healing, angelic healing and pediatritions, psch'c. he is much better. he will tell you its angels and that his rocks (crystals calm him and make him feel better .

Gill - posted on 12/11/2010

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When I tell him that he needs to be good to get a treat, he says things like "what all day, thats too hard i cannot do that" I think its more of a lack of self conrol with him

Gill - posted on 12/11/2010

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Thank you for your comments, I am hoping it is an age issue, he hasn't seen any violence in our house, or on tv so not sure where it is coming from. its very sad because he is such a cheeky happy little boy and he knows this behaviour is worong but just cannot control it :(

Angie - posted on 12/11/2010

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Remember the terrible 2's? You are living the fabulous 4's. While I think his behavior is more intense than a lot of 4 year olds, I don't think it's that unusual that he is behaving this way. Be firm; tell him that his behavior is unacceptable. Put him in his room until he can be appropriate. I doubt his behavior is the results of the meds you took in pregnancy I think he's just trying to see how much he can get away with.

Amanda - posted on 12/10/2010

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My son was the same way when he was that age. He would kick sceam hit bite I mean you name it he did it. I was so frustrated because I couldn't handle him and at the time my oldest daughter was almost 18months. I hated the fact that she was seeing him behave like this, and didn't want her to think it was okay. My parents finally convinced me to take him to a counselor, and most of his problem was the PTSD which occured because he seen a lot of the abuse his BF did to me. He was acting the only way he really knew how to. I started spending more one on one time with him, and encouraged and praised hiim more and more for good things. I told him that the more he throws a fit, the less he's going to get. He was angry and annoyed for awhle, but eventually toned down. I do think a lot of it is the age, but I think more has to do with what they've seen, and once they do start behaving like this and they see that they can get away with it, they'll continue to do so.

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