Controlling sons anger(13 Posts)
Hi, just looking for a bit of advice really.
My son has SEN and behavioural issues, currently being assessed for ADHD and dyspraxia.
When he kicks off, which is totally out of nowhere, he really lashes out! Kicking, screaming,punching.
I've tried talking to him to calm him, or putting him in his room so he can't hurt Anyone - the schools policy is to restrain him but he's 6 years old and quite big for his age.
He obviously gets privileges took away, and gets a treat when his behaviour is good, which at times it can be as he's the most loving child in the world when he's calm.
I'm just really at a loss what to do when he's lashing out.
There's not a lot you can do when he is actually kicking off. And loss of privileges, talking to him etc won't make much difference because when he's in that zone, it's primitive behaviour not thinking behaviour.
I would devise a safe place for him to 'lose it', with cushions to hit and kick and maybe some calming things there too. Then watch his behaviour very carefully, you could even keep a diary, to see if there are any consistent triggers or signs that a meltdown is coming. Triggers don't have to be immediate, it can be a drip drip effect that multiple small things add up, or something has happened earlier in the day but your son bottles it up until he is 'safe' and can lose it. If you can spot a meltdown is imminent then direct him to his safe place for him to let off steam there.
As well as that, you can look into a sensory diet for him. Find out what activities he finds calming and see if you can incorporate them into his daily routine. Remember, it's activities he finds calming not what you think should calm him. For example, bouncing on a mini trampoline can be calming for some children or excite others.
By the way, I am autistic, and I know that my body language changes when I am about to blow- my breathing changes, hand stims, strained voice... it is very subtle though and you would have to know me very well to spot it. At that point I can be calmed by firm touch and verbal reassurance from DH. If it goes past that point into an actual meltdown I just have to let it run its course. I do an adult version of a sensory diet to try and reduce daily stress- relaxation breathing exercises most days, and make sure I allow 'me' time to pursue hobbies, finally I have chewies and fiddlies to hand all the time as the repetitive movements calm me.
Finally, you might want to post on the SN boards, there are loads of knowledgable posters on there who have been through it and will have loads of other ideas for you.
Thanks very much for your advice it's really invaluable, I'll look into the sensory diet and creating a safe space.
Might be worth looking at.
Is it always from absolutely nowhere when he kicks off? I would keep a note of what is occurring before. Also if you can see he is becoming tense/aggitated on a lower level try and find something calming for him to do. If you look up sensory integration you can find lots of things that are good for calming - deep pressure so bear hugs or being wrapped tightly in a blanket, chewing chewy food etc and also you will know the kind of activities that seem to help him chill out so try and have them available.
If you can identify any triggers then practice with him (when he's calm) more appropriate responses and reward him when he uses those instead of lashing out.
The meltdowns come from having to follow instructions - even simple ones. Eg if his teacher asks him to tuck his chair in that's it it's like a switch, he just refuses and lashes out and needs restrained. If I ask him to get ready for school - there's times he'll lash out at me. He can go days without a meltdown, just minor incidents, then there'll be days the simplest thing has him in tears.
Love bomb him the poor lad. He's only 6 and already labelled. The idea of restraining a child is barbaric to me.
He gets lots of love, as I say he's the most loving little boy ever when he's calm, and he hasn't been labelled the school have noticed he needs a little help as he won't follow rules or boundaries and he's physically hurt both the teachers and students which is why he's needed restraining. It's impossible to cuddle him when he's having a meltdown as like I say he lashes out and kicks, punches, nips etc. I was looking for the best tactic to deal with these outbursts without restraining as it's not something I feel I want to do.
Would he play games that help with following instructions? Things like Simon Says and Do This, Do That? What looks like defiance is probably him going into panic mode because he is having to do something he doesn't want to/wasn't expecting/doesn't have control over. Getting him used to following instructions that are fun might desensitise him a bit. Also my sons speech therapist suggested giving an instruction for something they are about to do anyway so you can then praise them for following it which can encourage them to follow instructions more. That did seem to help for ds as he would hardly ever follow instructions so I hardly got the chance to praise him.
I would talk about consequences a lot as well when he's calm so you could play a game where you write lots of scenarios down that he might struggle with eg being asked to tuck a chair in by a teacher and pick them out from a tub one at a time. Then ask him what might happen if a child followed the instruction and what might happen if they didn't and which would be the better choice etc.
Rather than focus on how to deal with the meltdowns look at what triggers them. Maybe conventional schooling isn't for him seeing as often it's just fitting square pegs in round holes. Don't be swayed by the school's interpretation of him. Maybe it's insensitive teachers at fault. If he's otherwise loving and calm I'd seriously consider removing him from an obviously stressful environment. My Ds is 6 too and if anything is the opposite: calm at school, agitated at home but that's down to a tense situ here with me and his stbxh still living together. 6 yos are going through so much cognitively and are piecing together their identities ths anger is a sign of unease with certain situs - not anything wrong with HIM. Good luck.
With things like ticking the chair in could he have a written list of the acceptable routine? For me if someone interrupts my internal train of thought I explode as it's too much to handle. He's already moved on to what comes after getting out of the chair and probably what comes after that. By having a defined routine set down as a rule he knows a,b and c must be completed before he gets to D. The same will work with getting ready for school or any other task that's not on his mind. Routine could be the key and sticking rigidly to it so it becomes the norm.
To give an example from adulthood if I plan to go out but cannot find my keys I meltdown then can't go out. Something that should have been part of my routine is out of whack and my brain ceases to see beyond the blockade.
Is this oppositional defiance disorder? www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/oppositional-defiant-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20024559
If so I believe the best way is to offer a choice so that the child is in control of his choices. Also to minimise instructions.
Maybe also offer immediate rewards if he chooses to do as asked?
Until the assesments are done it may be hard to figure out how the instructions are triggering the aggression. With my own DS it was to do with communication issues and rigidity. So it took him extra time to understand spoken instructions and decide how to do them. If he wasn't expecting an instruction or if he felt pressured he would get in a panic, refuse and then lash out. His nursery worker once said he often got "flustrated" which describes his mix of frustration and confusion perfectly! For him regular routines worked well (and no surprise changes, even real treats could be disruptive if they were unexpected or changed the routine.) So did special ways of giving instructions without using too many words and with pauses for him to take them in, like "YoungKleinzeit - it's the end of the lesson - time to put chairs on the table" then wait 10 seconds for him to process and then "YoungKleinzeit - chairs up". Also count-downs and count-to-three worked really well; visual timetables so he knew what was coming and what to do without being told; and picture instructions on velcro - DS had a sequence of pictures for his morning routine with toothbrush, toilet, breakfast, clothes, backpack, shoes etc, I lined them up the night before and he picked each one off as he did it!
But it depends on exactly what is causing the problem, hopefully the assessments will help.
In the meantime have a look at Explosive Child for avoiding and managing these tempers. It helped me a lot to keep things calm before DS was diagnosed (and afterwards).
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