behaviour advice

Jo - posted on 01/02/2013 ( 7 moms have responded )

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i need advice to help my 9 year old son. he has terrible anger problems and the doctors dont want to know. he can flair up in a second and the screaming, shouting, throwing, hitting and general hating can go on for hours at a time. then like blowing out a candle he is calm and full of sorrys. i am worried he will get worse as he gets older. family have suggested adhd, or some other anger problems. he even goes as far as hitting his head on the wall. please advise if you can, thankyou

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Ariana - posted on 01/03/2013

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Do you know why he's having these flairups? Is there any sort of pattern to when this happens? Or just if he doesn't get what he wants?

You may want to chart his behavior for a week or so to see if there is a pattern to when/why he has these flair ups. Is it only when he's refused certain things, or at certain times if he's tired or something?

What do you do after he's had a fit?

It's great that he's sorry afterwards but he should know that if he decides to act this way there will be a consequence to it, so he'll end up losing something he likes (whatever that may be, tv time, video game time, going out, favourite toy or something like that).

You might also work on calming techniques, so practice them when he's already calm. Show him how to do deep breathing, or jumping jacks, or punching a pillow. That way if you see that he's starting to go off you can tell him he needs to try some of his calming techniques.

I would also practice having him go to his room, and explain that if he starts to lose control of himself you will ask him to go to his room and you expect him to comply, even if he's in one of his fits. Tell him this when he's calm as well not when he's having a flair up. If you ask him to go to his room during a flairup and he refuses then later (once it's over) tell him you'll be practicing having him go to his room while he's calm so he will get in the habit of doing it when he's not. So you'll ask him to go to his room and he'll have to comply right away and you'll do it when everything is calm and happy, tell him he only needs to go there for 1 minute but you expect him to do this. You'll stop asking him to do it when he's calm once he's able to do it when he's upset or having a flair up.

I say this because he may not be able to calm himself when he gets into this pattern and if that's the case he needs to be in his room where he can yell and scream safely as apposed to around others. As he gets bigger he's going to become a danger if he continues to do this. If you can get him to understand even when he's having a fit if you ask him to go to his room he needs to it makes sure you're all safe and also that gives him time to vent in his room and calm himself down. It also takes him away from you so you don't have to be a part of his flair up.

You might also put layers on the type of punishment he gets for a flair up. If he hits or throws things he should have a more severe punishment then if he were just shouting since once he's bigger if he decides to hit he's going to do a lot of damage. Hitting especially should be a no tolerance thing. Although it may seem in the 'norm' for his outbursts right now I would be very clear from now on if there is ANY hitting whatsoever he will have a much more severe punishment then if he just were to start yelling (not the he should do that either, but to show him hitting is worse).

You should also try to get it so he can talk about whatever problems he has. I would tell him you are concerned about this behavior and it will not be allowed any longer. That you and him are going to work on talking things out instead of yelling from now on. If you do the behavior chart and happen to see a pattern in it (he's flipping out over the same type of issue) you may want to speak with him and see if this is something that's bothering him. You can tell him your concerns about the issue and listen to his concerns about the issue and then brainstorm (both of you) to see if there's a solution that makes both people happy.

You might also want to try to do this if there is a flairup about something. Once he's calm try to figure out if there was a legitimate issue and see if there is some sort of compromise. Obviously this doesn't work with all situations but if you can start to show him that if he has a problem you want him to come talk to you, and you'll be open to listening to him (even if what you think he's saying is irrational) and working with him to find a solution that is good for both of you. Once he's used to figuring things out this way AFTER a flairup you'd start telling him that you're only willing to talk about things when there hasn't been a flairup, and that if he decides to behave this way (from now on, once he's used to the talking thing) that will be an end to discussions until a few days later once he's shown he can be calm.

A lot of times kids start acting out like this because they don't know how to express themselves and act out. I don't know the whole situation so he may do it if it's working (does he get what he wants after the shouting?) or because he's allowed (does anything happen to him afterwards?) but it sounds more like he's frustrated and lashing out and lacking impulse control.

I would still have consequences for when he's acting this way, along with the calming techniques, going to his room, and trying to help him talk the situation out so he feels heard. Even if he is frustrated that is no excuse to act like this.

You may want to get into some family councelling as well. He may have a legitimate issue that is getting pushed out through his behavior and a councellor should be able to help you both figure out what to do to help stop the flairups. Good luck to you!

Laura - posted on 01/25/2013

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Therapist! That is the best way I can sum it up. I had problems with my son who will be 9 soon. I began him in therapy when he was 7. My son would act out in terrible ways at home. Hitting/shoving his brothers. Screaming,mstomping, slamming doors, he even kicked a huge hole in the wall! He had other issues outside of the home. I had him in soccer and baseball but had to pull him from those sports because he had anxiety so bad, he would resort to baby like behaviors such as sucking on fingers, hiding, tearing up and not speaking. He was also having problems at school and would show these baby behaviors at school. At home, he was violent and at time out of control. So, I got him mental/behavioral help from a wonderful child councler. After going there for a few months he changed dramatically. I learned so much going there and learned new techniques of how to handle all of the situations. He isn't perfect now but wow! What a change! He is back into sports, on honoroll, and has become very helpful and respectful at home. He still gets angry very easily but he has learned what to do with his anger and how to act appropriately. Seeking counciling for him as well as for yourself may help you. Before you jump on this new bandwagon of doping up kids, try all other options! Remember, meds will only give you a zomby for a child.......

Jennifer - posted on 01/09/2013

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Buy a punching bag! Not one of the blow up ones (it wont last) a true punching bag and let him go to town! He will grow out of it but he needs to be shown how to let it out in a good way. Keep him busy on your down time rides bikes, play ball while your doing all this stuff he will talk. Just ask simple questions and let the coversation build with time. Be consistent and keep reminding him you are there for him.

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♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/03/2013

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In addition to a situation diary, a food diary is a good idea too.

A lot of things are caused by different foods, preservatives, etc!

So, I'll add to my "get another doc" recommendation...start the situation diary, start a food diary, document each episode. As you're doing that, you should start to see correlations between different things, and relating behaviours.

Fran - posted on 01/03/2013

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Hi ya. Im having the same problem with my 8 year old daughter. Doctors told us that she may be starting pubity early, but im sure its more than that. We have tried sending her to her room and lots of calming methods, but its not working. It is getting hard as she's getting worse every fit she has and becoming more violent. Help :-(

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/03/2013

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"the doctors don't want to know"...Time to find another doctor, one who will listen to your concerns.

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