10 year old son punching his 7 year old sister

Brenda - posted on 01/14/2013 ( 3 moms have responded )

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Is this normal 10 year old boy behavior that discipline will fix?

He left a mark on her side that was still there 20 minutes later.

My concern is both children were adopted 5 years ago, from a biological family that was violent, abusive, and neglectful. He spent two years in therapy and we've taught him how to control his temper. At age 5 he would rage anytime he didn't get his way. (trashing his room, breaking things, yelling, grunting, and hyperventilating). That all stopped at age 6.

Now his behavior is more sneaky. He lies and will not admit the truth even with consequences. I've seen his jealousy of his sister worsen over the last 5 years. We've talked to him many times about the jealousy, planned 1 on 1 parent son dates with him to combat his feelings of jealousy. We are very strict, there is always a consequence, grounding from all media types, extra chores, and spankings. We've banned any cartoon or video game that teach disrespect or violence.

I feel like he is too old for spankings now. I'm worried about his future. I don't want him to turn out like his biological family who is constantly lying, manipulating, and in trouble with the law. It seems like he doesn't have a conscience when he physically hurts his sister.

Is this just normal 10 year old behavior and If I stay consistent with the consequences he will learn? His bio dad has bipolar, could this be effecting him at this age?

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Ariana - posted on 01/14/2013

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Is he still in therapy? With all the issues in his past this may be a good time to go back into therapy, even if just for a short while, to deal with some things.

Also is this happening frequently? Or was it one incident? If it was one incident I would continue with your regular discipline and sit him down and talk to him about why he can't hit his sister. I would also have him apologize and try to find a way to do something nice for his sister (try to get him to think of something). If it persists than I would become more worried and try to bring him into therapy and keep them both supervised to prevent further incidents.

You might also find out why he hit her or what's going on. Not that there is an excuse to hit but she may be doing something that is legitimately frustrating to him and in that case you might want to work more on getting him to communicate to her and you the problem before it escalates to the point where he wants to punch her. So after an incident you can force them to get together and work out a solution to whatever problem happened because of it, same for regular arguments etc.

It may just be a regular 10 year old behavior (especially if it was just this one incident) but it's better to be safe and try to maybe go back into therapy as well as the regular consequences you have. Even though the therapy may have helped his behavior from before he's now older and hittting a new way of thinking in his development. It is possible that issues from the past are cropping up and therapy might help bring any issues out. If not then it's still not harmful to have him speak to a professional about why he's doing this and to help him control himself.

This is just me but I wouldn't spank a child that came from an abusive background. Although it may work for kids in generally good homes to a child who has seen violence it may just be one more trigger to past experiences, but that's just me. At 10 he's definitely to old to be spanked.

I would also try not to assume he's going to turn out like his biological parents. I'm not saying you are, and it is a real worry, but you don't want it to turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy, try to just look at what's going on now and fix the problems at hand, don't assume it's a sign he's going to become a delinquint. 10 year olds test, and although it is very inappropriate for him to punch his sister I wouldn't put it to a sign he's going to turn out just like his biological family.

If his behavior persists or escalates try to bring him back into therapy and keep the kids supervised to prevent more issues from happening.

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Danielle - posted on 01/21/2013

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hi hon this is a very hard subject but i will tell you what i know i was that child i too was adopted and came from a horrible family it could very well be that despite that therapy can be helpful other times its just a cover for true feelings if this is just a brat thing continue with your normal routine if not as hard as it is be blunt but forgiving sit him down and tell him you can tell me anything anything at all and i will be there try telling him somthing about you noone knows when hes is calm ask him what he thinks would help him with his anger remember anger is usually an underlying emotion to something else teach him that hurting others is wrong if he was abused this may take a life time to teach if everyones not having fun noone is having fun make family rules together and ask him if he would like martial arts where he could get his frustrations out and learn self discipline make family time im not telling you to let him get away with misbehaving he still needs structure and discipline you know your son best theres not a whole lot i can tell you with out actually meeting your son every child is different and to spank is your choice but remember if he hits his sister then you hit him and tell him its bad what message are you really sending i know as a pro spanker you will argue this but try to think about it i hope this helps god bless you and your son

Brenda - posted on 01/14/2013

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Hello Ariana,

Thank you for your input. When he stopped therapy two years ago, we continued on at home with what the therapist taught us. He is starting therapy again this week. The frequency of him hurting her bad enough to leave a mark is about once every 8 months or so. He is physical with her (hitting, pushing, etc) at least once a week.

I do find out what happened and talk to him. This time she was reading the back of a box, he wanted it, she wouldn't give it to him, he tried to physically take it, she refused again, he started hitting her head, she hit him back, then he punched her in the side.

We didn't spank him the first year, we did therapy and a lot of behavioral work. He refused to comply and continued to rage and destroy property when he didn't get his way. When we spanked him the raging stopped immediately.

It's been proven that after 10 years old the chemicals in the brain change and spanking is no longer effective. So I know that will be taken out of the equation of discipline after this year. We focus more on removing privileges and chores.

He is very controlling over her, acts like her parent, counts down to her, threatens to take action, and is physical with her when she won't listen to him. Its a pattern that has went on since he was 5 yrs old. The physical aspect has gotten a less frequent, but still very concerning. Hence starting therapy again, and turning for advice from other parents.

I've never mentioned anything about his behavior resembling his bio family to him. I want the best future for him and know how important it is to teach him while he is young. He acts exactly like his bio dad who was part of a huge gang. I monitored family visits while fostering the children. If there is anything I can learn or do that will help him break the lying, manipulating, and violence I want to do everything I can.

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