5 year old violent temper tantrums

(7 Posts)
cheesecakeandchips Wed 07-May-14 21:43:54

Can anyone offer any help or advice on my DS's violent temper tantrums? He is 5 and in the last few years, and particularly the last year his violent temper tantrums have been getting worse and more frequent. At least every other day at the moment, the latest one being tonight.

In general they are sparked by him not getting his own way or being asked to do something he doesn't want to, in which case he starts hitting, kicking, punching, scratching and recently he's started biting again. He throws things, destroys his toys, our belongings and anything that is within his reach. We've tried everything we can think of. We changed our routines so that we spend more time with him and more family time together. We know his tantrums are more likely when he's tired / hungry so we try to keep our routine so as to avoid these, but that isn't always possible. When he was younger we tried telling him off, then ignoring it (on the advice of a teacher), then we tried reward charts, gave him time outs, took his toys away, took away TV privileges. We constantly praise his good behaviour, try to distract him when we can see things are going wrong, use humour, tell him how much we love him, spend time doing things together, engage and try to talk to him. But nothing seems to work in the long term. Time out worked for a while, but now he's getting too big for me to carry upstairs to his room without hurting him, me or both of us. But I can't just leave him as he either follows and continues to hit me, or he destroys our stuff and or ends up hurting himself. I'm completely at a loss as to what to do now.

He's very well behaved at school and is getting on well there, although does come home very worked up sometimes, as he and his friends seem to play fighting games. But that is just a recent thing and he was like this before he went to school.

Me and DH are reaching the end of our tether and it must show to DS, as recently we just seem to resort to yelling at him, or at each other or I just walk away in tears when he has calmed down. We are constantly walking on egg-shells and I have realised that I flinch from him when he makes any sudden movements, because I'm afraid of being hit.

My parents say we need to be firmer, my in-laws think we need to relax, my SIL says we need to have zero-tolerance on violent behaviour - I don't even know what that means as we do not tolerate it.

I'm so exhausted, sad and confused, I just don't know what to do any more. He's so lovely at all other times it makes me want to cry. How can we have got things so wrong?

happygelfling Thu 08-May-14 08:53:44

I really feel for you. My DD (2.5) is going through a phase of kicking me or DH during nappy changes when she's tired. I've had very little good, practical advice on what to do. Family workers at our children's centre suggested acknowledging how she's feeling ("I know you're tired and don't want your nappy changing so I'll try to do it as quickly as possible"). This doesn't really feel like an effective way of responding to being kicked hard in the stomach, but maybe it will help to avoid the situation. My SIL suggested holding her legs so she can't kick and looking away (not giving attention) until she stops. This sounds more effective, but I'm uncomfortable with pinning DD down. Our strategy at the moment is to try to avoid the over-tiredness, and to try to distract her during nappy changes (using a hand puppet to "help" or similar). I read something somewhere suggesting asking your GP for help if the phase doesn't pass. I haven't tried this as I'm hoping that DD will get through this phase quickly.
I realise that our situation is no where near as challenging as yours. DD's kicking has still had me in tears of frustration though, so I really empathise. If you find any strategies that work, please share.

LastingLight Thu 08-May-14 10:42:46

That sounds very hard. Google Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and see if any of that rings a bell. People on the special needs board often recommend a book called The explosive child which might be helpful.

tshirtsuntan Thu 08-May-14 18:15:50

Hi op, I really feel for you, I could have written that post to the letter. Am Sat here in tears after the second outburst of the day, really Don't know what to do anymore. Hopefully someone will come along and tell us what to do....flowers

AMI88 Thu 08-May-14 19:23:14

Hey guys- don't panic you won't be the last mom to feel like this, you certainly aren't the first! I am a CM and have looked after children 0-18yrs for the last 8yrs now. My approach would be;

First things first is to make sure what you are doing at home is consistent between all care givers, mom/dad/grandparents and teachers- anyone who ever looks after you DC.
The next thing, although I'm sure you do already, is to make sure that your children understand what you expect of them, some parents like to write a list of house rules, others like to put picture reminders (tends to be for younger children) of what you expect, so things like "we don't hit each other" "we look after our belongings".
Another thing I have noticed with boys especially, they don't respond to shouting, it's better to sit down, and very quietly say "what's happening?" "Why did you want to hit" so on and so on. Rather than shout and say no, ask how they are feeling first. I have always been surprised by the answer!
Last thing I would suggest is if you catch you DC doing something or about to do something you don't want, give them the option to fix their own behaviour, so say something like "ok if you throw that toy, this will happen, what would you prefer?"
Finally but most importantly, if you say you are going to do something, do it. So don't make threats that you can't uphold.

If you feel that this isn't just a troubling phase, and feel it's a behavioural issue, then speak to the teachers and they will be able to point you in the right direction!
Hope that post was useful- I'm by no means an expert, but I have looked after hundreds of children, and these steps tend to work for me!

Best of luck xx

hotcrosshunny Thu 08-May-14 19:29:16

He could be tired seriously tired from school - it builds up over time.

Does he know how to deal with his emotions? Eg what to do when angry, upset etc? Have you given him tactics? My ds is 4.5 and has had the odd tantrum - which we manage by sitting him down until he calms down and telling him what he was feeling and how to deal with it next time. Rinse and repeat. He is much much better.

hotcrosshunny Thu 08-May-14 19:29:42

I meant to add that 4 year olds have testorone surges too which might be a factor.

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