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Eight year old boy - anger issues and problems accepting boundaries - help!

(24 Posts)
BeckyBendyLegs Mon 24-Sep-12 20:09:50

My lovely DS1 is very bright (on the G&T for maths) but socially and emotionally he struggles. When he was at preschool he had a SEN teacher to help him deal with issues such as general behavior, routine changes (he hated routine changes at that age and would lie on the floor and scream if he had to do something different such as a school trip to collect conkers), socializing with peers and experimenting with new experiences (such as going in someone else's car). He progressed so much during those times and I was sooo proud of him and he worked very hard then, and he started school, and absolutely sailed through his first three years there, winning the hearts of his peers and teachers alike with his quirkiness and quick mind. But since about eight months ago his behaviour has deterioated quite considerably. He will not accept boundaries such as 'time to get dressed for school', or 'please give that back to DS2', he hurts his two younger brothers to get my attention / a reaction / get what he wants (sometimes something unbelievably trivial such as some chocolate), he lies blatantly about things that he's done (often very small things), and he screams in my face, and worst of all fights me or DH physically if he's really upset and angry. I don't know what to do to help him. It is breaking my heart to see him so angry. I've tried talking to him to see if there is something at school bothering him, he says no. I tell him I love him a lot, and tell him that no matter how much we fall out I still love him. DH and I are going to see his teacher this week (but she's only had him for 2 weeks so far) but at school by all accounts he is a completely different child - he wouldn't dream of defying a teacher. Any advice / experience / anything?? Thanks so much for reading.

frazzledbutcalm Mon 24-Sep-12 20:31:21

This is my dd! I won't even go into our circumstances as it's so long winded! Dd now in yr5 and school has only recognised in the last 2 years that we have a problem, although we've known since nursery hmm.. We've been told she's on the autistic spectrum but have had no official testing yet and probably won't. We seem to just muddle through each day and get by as best we can. Some days are far better than others. We try to just recognise that she can be reacting to something that we don't even realise would be a problem. But we don't allow her to hit out etc, she still gets punished for her behaviour.

BeckyBendyLegs Tue 25-Sep-12 06:48:32

Hi Frazzledbutcalm thank you for your reply. I read this last night just as I was switching off my laptop and it really got me thinking when I went to bed about some of his behaviours. I have no medical training and know relatively little about autistic spectrum disorders but this would explain a lot, such as his inability to empathise when in a rage, his rages over very 'small' things, his rigidity (once he has put his mind to something, nothing will change him, he doesn't understand compromise very well). He was evaluated when he was three years old and the SEN didn't think he was autistic so I dismissed it then. It's something to think about anyway. He does get punished for his behaviour (and treated for good behaviour) but the problem is that when he's in a rage I could say 'no more Cubs for ever' or 'you're not having chocolate until you are 18' and it would go over his head, which is very frustrating.

lljkk Tue 25-Sep-12 07:41:49

I think I read on here that most ASD cases are diagnosed age 7-9.

frazzledbutcalm Tue 25-Sep-12 12:53:17

Dd aged 9, but because she gets through her day at school I'm told there's not much can be done hmm
I know the moment she appears at the school door what kind of day she's had..
We have to park the car in the same place each day, teeth must be cleaned after she's dressed, change an absolute no no, doesn't socialise, ..
She's come on leaps and bounds in the last 2 years but still is not like 'normal' children (hate the use of that word, but you get what I mean).. I found that when I started just backing off a little and realising there might be something triggering her seemingly bizarre rages for no meaning, and dealing with her more quietly and understandingly (is that a word??) she was better.
Atm I'm feeling I don't need an official statement for her, tomorrow I might feel different, as I feel different each day wink

Davsmum Tue 25-Sep-12 14:04:38

Beckybendylegs
You have gone into some detail about your DS behaviour - but very little about how you handle these 'episodes'
You say he will not accept boundaries and he will lie, scream in your face etc...but you make it sound as if he is the one in charge. WHat do you do apart from reassure him you love him?

Surely a child's behaviour will get worse if he feels no one is taking control?
He has to respect you - and letting him get away with shouting in your face or fighting you will hardly earn his respect.
Are you being too gentle on his bad behaviour? Asking him to 'please' give something back he has taken???
Surely you should be telling him in no uncertain terms to give it back?!

BeckyBendyLegs Tue 25-Sep-12 16:33:55

Hi Davsmum these are fair questions. When he's behaving like this I try to hold his arms (or they will flail at me), speak firmly at his eye level, tell him 'if you continue this behaviour then such and such will happen' and I give reasonable consequences such as 'you will not be allowed to watch TV tomorrow after school / play on the wii' but these really do not affect him. He actually gets worse and says 'if you do that, then I'll hurt DS2 / rip up DS3's magazine' etc. I'm not sure how far to go with this line so I usually stop and try to leave him to calm down (he often follows me though). He's missed out on a few weeks of cubs, he's lost pocket money to pay for something he broke and lied about etc. I hold him firmly and explain that his behaviour is unacceptable but when he's in a rage it is like he can't hear at all, as if he can't reason in his head. Admittedly DH is more firm than me with him. But he does it to DH too. Perhaps you are right and we've got to a level where he feels insecure and we're being a bit soft on him? I don't know. Today DH has found out about a condition called Oppositional Defiant Disorder but we're not medical experts, it's just a thought. He might just be going through a phase, hormones, or feeling insecure as we're both trying to work out how to deal with him effectively and consistently.

Davsmum Wed 26-Sep-12 10:52:00

Its easy to over complicate something like this - and its also easy to look 'outside' for a reason.
Consequences are a must but you have to stick to what it is you have said and be consistent - that is, do not chop and change how you handle these episodes. Decide on a strategy and stick to it. Don't be stressing about what he is thinking, You are the adult and you know what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour - He does not, so its your job to demonstrate and show him.
Don't let the fact that he may 'up his game' alarm you. Children do not like to relinquish control - but they are also stressed when they feel that the adult is not in control.

If you look taken aback or surprised or worried about his 'threats', he will see this and this gives him the control.
I have no idea if you are being too soft on him, only you can look at what you are doing and decide that.

Of course, He MAY have some medical problem but don't just assume this until you have looked at how you are handling it.

I am no expert - but I had problems of my own when one of my children were little so I took advice and realised that the problem was more with me than my child. Things only improved when I changed what I was doing and stuck to it.

willyoulistentome Wed 26-Sep-12 11:01:40

Just marking my place. Your post could have been writted by me about my DS1. He is 9. He also behaves very well at school, but is a nightmare at home. Problems with social situations. Finds making new friends very difficult. When he was younger I just wrote it off as something he would grow out of. The older he gets and isn't growing out of it the more worrying it is getting. Particularly in comparison to DS2 who is only 7, and is displays none of this difficult behaviour, and has no problems socialising or adapting to new situations.

I am wondering whether he is on the autistic spectrum, but have no idea what good an official diagnosis would do.

Davsmum Wed 26-Sep-12 12:41:19

I don't think children 'grow out of' bad behaviour if you do nothing about it.
If a child is out of control at a young age imagine how difficult it will be when they are a teenager?

All children are different - even in the same family. It doesn't mean one has a 'condition' because they are not well behaved like their sibling(s)

If your child IS on the spectrum then a diagnosis would help beacuse you can get specialist help and support in the best way of dealing with him.

willyoulistentome Wed 26-Sep-12 13:04:52

Davsmum, I was kind of meaning I hoped he would grow out of the difficulties making friends, joining in, trying new things. There is no way he would be in a school play or join a sports club. He certainly never gets away with bad behaviour scott free at home, and behaves impeccably at school. I do worry very much what he will be like as a a teenager, when I have so much trouble with him at age 9.

Sor.ry i seem to have hijacked this a bit

BeckyBendyLegs Wed 26-Sep-12 15:12:15

Willyoulistentome no worries smile It's interesting to read about other people's experiences as well as my own.

Davsmum Wed 26-Sep-12 15:14:40

Not all children want to be in a school play or join a sports club etc. I don't think there is anything wrong with a child not wanting to 'join in' - so long as they happy with what they DO like to do. Why not find out what he likes doing and perhaps his confidence will build in its own good time?

My daughter would not join in anything until she reached age 12 and went to High school. When she was very young she did not even like to go on the playpark if there were any other children there! She preferred to stay at home and do 'arty' things. Once at High school she met new friends and wanted to be part of it all and she became more sociable.

redadmiralsinthegarden Wed 26-Sep-12 15:18:04

marking my place too!
have a 9 year o ds who fits right in on this thread too....

BeckyBendyLegs Wed 26-Sep-12 15:32:38

My DS has always had problems with going to parties, people's houses etc, which is fine (I'm the same). The strategies I was taught when he was at preschool were put in place to help him deal with social situations and help me help him. It was brilliant. He came along in leaps and bounds and learnt to find his own place socially and aged 6 started beavers and loved it.

He's not a gregarious child, like DS2, and never will be. But he doesn't find big gatherings as scary and daunting as he used to.

My issues now are to do with his behaviour at home towards me and DH and his inability to feel any empathy for his brothers, or me or DH, when he is being violent towards them (kicking them, twisting their arms, breaking their things etc). When he's in a rage, he sees red, he cannot be reasoned with, he cannot compromise. Sometimes I can spot the signs and stop the rage coming on, but when I miss the signs, or mess up, its how to deal with him that I struggle with, how to get him 'back' to his usual self. It's as if there are two little boys, one who is gentle and loving and thoughtful and one who is angry and hurt.

Davsmum Wed 26-Sep-12 15:53:12

BBlegs
It sounds like he gets very frustrated and reacts because he cannot express himself or communicate what he is feeling?
Do you talk to him about all this when he is calm and something like these outbursts are not going on?

He probably needs teaching how to handle his anger without extreme outbursts. Does he see others reacting like that at all ?
It must be difficult to step back and see whats actually happening when you are stuck in the middle of it.

BeckyBendyLegs Wed 26-Sep-12 16:22:54

I do try to talk to him when he's calm and he seems very reasonable about it and says he will try. We try to encourage him to go sit by himself somewhere when he's upset, to calm down by reading a book, magazine etc but once the rage has started he refuses to do this.

I have no idea where he has picked up this sort of behaviour from, esp the being cruel to his brothers. I don't shout much, I have done on occasion, but it's not very often. DH is much calmer than me.

frazzledbutcalm Wed 26-Sep-12 19:45:59

Becky - honestly my dd is the same so I know exactly what you mean about not being able to talk/make him see sense when he's in these rages. My dd kind of locks into her own little world and simply does not see ANYTHING around her. When the episode is over it's like she wasn't even there.. recognition just isn't there.. I don't even think she realises anything went on. My only explanation for my dd is the possible mild ASD. As your ds sounds extremely similar then it may be worth remembering in the background. In my experience it's all about just learning to understand by not understanding iykwim. I don't fully understand what sets my dd off but when she's off I understand that something I cannot understand has set her off!! confused grin

If you don't have a child like this then it's very difficult to see where we're coming from and what we mean ...

BeckyBendyLegs Thu 27-Sep-12 08:15:12

frazzlebutcalm that resonates so much with DS - your DD and my DS sound very similar. I think the 'understanding not to understand' is good advice. Ironically since I posted on here he's been much calmer and we haven't had a rage since Sunday night. This is also after I've arranged to meet with his teacher on Friday too!

Davsmum Thu 27-Sep-12 10:25:39

Thats good,.. the understanding that its something you cannot understand!!

Perhaps there has to be some 'acceptance' instead of feeling it is something you are fighting. If you accept something ( by that I don't mean allow or condone!) then you will automatically be calmer about it.
If you are calmer you will react differently and then your child will feel this. It can only help.

Sometimes, issues like this seem to be overwhelming and we start to worry far too much which just creates more stress and tension.

Becky, You come across as a really caring and conscientious Mum,...I can't see your DS doing too badly when he has a Mum who is so concerned but yet willing to look for answers to his problems the way you are.

willyoulistentome Thu 27-Sep-12 12:38:34

Becky and Frazzle - yes yes I have exactly this too. When he is calm and in a good mood I can talk to him about his behaviour, explain WHY he can't always have everything his own way i.e there are other people in the family who have wants and needs too... and that it's our job as his parents to bring him up as someone who will be able to take part in adult life and have happy relationships. ( for example - time to get off the DS and go to bed now..or time to do some homework - switch off the TV) When calm, I speak to him about it, he says he understands, he apologises, he promises to behave better in future. But when push comes to shove and it's time to give in to DS2, or me or DH on something he kicks off again and at that point simply cannot be reasoned with. He sort of 'roar's over what we are trying to say to him. He won't make eye contact, he will not listen to me. (Can you see where my name comes from??) he gets violent. He has punched me full in the face before as I was trying to take the DS off him after getting nowhere with words. ( he lost the DS for months after that! - the wii had a very short stay before it went in the loft - poor DS2) ) I feel like we never get anywhere, and the older he gets it is now looking like something different to the toddler tantrums I used to put it down to. I am interested to know whetherthe fact that he can keep a lid on it at school, has any significance. Does it just mean I'm a shit Mum for not being able to handle him well, or what?

frazzledbutcalm Thu 27-Sep-12 13:15:41

I was told dd behaves at school because she know that is what is expected of her. She had the security and confidence in me to be able to let out her true feelings as soon as she sees me ... So I guess it's a good thing that the behaviour stays at home with you wink
It also makes it harder that way though as it will take longer, or for things to get worse before any real help is at hand...

amillionyears Thu 27-Sep-12 13:27:33

From what little I now,it does sound like your DS is on the autistic spectrum.
I think you need to discuss this with your GP.

Davsmum,do you have any personal experience of autism?

BeckyBendyLegs Thu 27-Sep-12 13:53:05

Davesmum thank you for your kind words smile

frazzledbutcalm and willyoulistentome I don't think we should beat ourselves up about parenting skills. We're all just doing the best we can. Very interesting what you say frazzled about why the behaviour at school is completely different to that at home, that really helps explain I think.

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