How to help my 5 year old with his anger and mouth?

Carolyn - posted on 05/04/2011 ( 1 mom has responded )

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My son is 5. He is an only child. I have paid alot of attention to him as he was growing up. Now he is getting older he wants to do his own thing. But he has a very bad anger issue and mouthy. Throwing things...breaking things..said he is going to find a new home..kill himself..he said he dont know and dont care..shut up...everyone is stupid..he is the boss..I feel like I have failed as a parent..when he was in pre-k he was great..no problems..no signs of ADD or ADHD. Not sure if this is a stage he is going through or what. he was never like this. it upsets me to know end. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Jessica - posted on 05/04/2011

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Hmmm.... My one year old heard our neighbor's kids saying they were fat and ugly.... so he said it too. after some explaining he doesn't anymore but perhaps he has seen other children act that way? What tv shows are you watching while he is up? we had to change some of ours after my husband's favorite shows started getting repeated... and of course they pic out the worse things to repeat. Most five year olds don't know what that stuff really is. Some do but most don't. My advice. FIND where he is getting it from and get him away from it as much as possible (within reason). Talk to him about it. explain "why" to him. The REAL reason why, not "cuz I said so", instead example: Don't touch the stove. Thats hot. Hot hurts. Mommy doesn't want you to get hurt because mommy loves you. People who love you don't want you to hurt. When you hurt it makes mommy sad. Do you want mommy to be sad". This one is one I had to use with my little rebel (he is a year and almost three months... but sometimes he trys to act like he is fifteen years old). Also, we had to stop using mean words (we don't believe in bad words... but we do believe in mean words.... aka: how you use them) when mad at each-other or someone else. Yours is at the age where he will START to understand these things... but he might not QUITE get the concept... and yet is still as easily influenced as a younger child... so you may want to try these things... though you may not have to use as many words as we do (he is younger and needs the added words to understand). After you figure out what it is, get him away as much as is reasonable, then do what you need to to show him that ISN'T OK for HIM to do. Does that help?



ps: sometimes all that mental crap (as I said we don't have "curse" words just words used in a mean manner), is useless and does more harm than good. It isn't usually that complicated.

Rebekah - posted on 05/04/2011

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Sorry to hear you are having a rough time right now! I also have a 5 year old son (only child).
Is there anything happening in his life right now that might be causing stress/tension for him? Any changes, or family stress? If so, perhaps he is having a hard time articulating it and its coming out in angry outbursts instead. In a calm moment, are you able to talk about his behavior and ask him what ideas he has about what is causing it and what might help? Sometimes if you enlist kids' cooperation when it comes to a change in behavior, it helps them to buy-in. I can't imagine he feels good about breaking things, or getting in trouble for his actions, or going so far as to threaten to kill himself. Perhaps he would grab at the offer to make changes with your help.

I would be concerned too, if my son were threatening to hurt himself. I would want to get to the bottom of that and ask him what's really behind what he is saying. If he seems to be showing signs of depression, get him to a mental health professional asap. But, if it seems that he is being manipulative to try to get attention or get what he wants, I would let him know that it is not acceptable to use those words to do that...instead, I would give him other words to communicate his needs. I work in mental health with suicidal individuals, so I would really want to lay some ground rules about the words being used. Further, I would also redirect him from using disrespectful words and behaviors (destruction of property) ...again, give him healthier, more appropriate words and behaviors to get the anger out. He can squeeze a pillow, jump up and down, shoot basketballs into a hoop, etc if he needs a physical outlet. And verbally, coach him to pinpoint what he is feeling. You can model this for him. "I am angry/frustrated/scared/sad because______." Sometimes anger is a secondary emotion, meaning sometimes we feel another feeling like fear or lonliness and then it develops into anger. Help him trace back to what he is really feeling and deal with it from there. Offer structure and boundaries... you say he has a bad anger problem, so he might feel out of control himself and will feel better if given clear guidelines/expectations. He can construct his own "cool off" spot...not as a punishment, but a place he can go to unwind until he's calm enough to talk it out. Make sure you are modeling the behaviors and language that you want him to repeat...I think it can be a teachable moment when I'm angry about something and my son is right there witnessing it all...I'll talk out loud so my son can hear how I'm trying to think it through, keep perspective, etc.

If he is really into wanting to do his own thing (my son loves that too!), then use it...let him know that you can give him more "big boy" (age-appropriate, of course) priveleges/responsibilities when he makes good efforts to handle his anger better. Perhaps that will motivate him. Are you giving him opportunities to be more independent? If he is saying he wants "to be the boss," sounds like he does want more control. Give it where you can, appropriate to his age. Kids this age are often motivated by behavior charts...consider if this is something that would help keep him on track. If so, it should be very positively focused on the behaviors you want to see. By the way, my son also can be a little bossy at times...being an only, I think he gets his way an awful lot (just by default...he doesn't have any sibs to compromise with), so we periodically are working with how to cope with not getting his way, being told "no," etc. I think as he (my son) progresses through school, this will get better as he has to deal with a classroom full of kids and isn't the only one. That being said, he still needs boundaries at home and needs to know that he doesn't rule the roost.

Final thought (at long last!)...you are NOT a failure as a parent! Parenting is tough, and its an ongoing effort to teach our kids what to do with all that life has in store for them, including dealing with strong emotions. I know it doesn't feel good when our kids act in a way that isn't what we want for them, but you still have so much influence over him with how he gets through this. Keep showing your love and support of him. He needs you. Sorry this was so long! Hope it improves soon! Stay strong.

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