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Help me help a 4 year old articulate his anger

(15 Posts)
MishMooshAndMogwai Mon 01-Sep-14 21:49:01

A little out of my depth here!

Dsd lives with his mum full time and is having a very tough time. He has witnessed domestic violence and drug abuse and is constantly on the recovering end of his mothers troubles. Social services are involved.
He is a lovely little boy however (unsurprisingly) is starting to struggle and act out.

He has opened up to me and told me he doesn't want to go home and given some examples. He has told DP that he is scared at home of his mums violent ex retuning and just recently has told him that he is saying horrible things because he is angry.

So far so good but it is very clear that there is a lot going on in his little head and he can't find the words to express himself properly.

I've got a few books and games to play with him to help prompt a discussion but that's where I am struggling. Once the discussion begins I have no idea what to say!

I have a few ideas of basic coping mechanisms, removing himself from the situation, counting to 10 etc and will buy him a teddy with the idea that he can talk to it if he needs to when DP and I aren't there and he feels he can't talk to his mum.

It's the discussion itself that has me stumped! How do I encourage emotional literacy in a child if I am emotionally illiterate myself!


Halfpint76 Mon 01-Sep-14 22:03:51

Didn't want to just read and run. I have no real practical or professional help or experience to offer but I think the mere fact that you are obviously concerned for and looking out for this little boy will be a huge help to him.
By just making yourself available to listen to him unconditionally, without judgement will make a difference.

With my Ds, 4, I've tried stuff like role play, whenever I thought he was having a bit of tough time e.g. at nursery and being a bit picked on. Maybe a children's protection charity helpline and website might have some good suggestions.

Are there any options for your DP to get more access/custody if things are so unstable at home?

MishMooshAndMogwai Mon 01-Sep-14 22:10:37

We're working on custody at the moment but SS don't seem to think his 'welfare is being compromised enough' hmm

Role play might be useful (as long as he got to be the hulk!)

I will try ringing the charity we have been in touch with RE legal advice.

Thanks smile

Halfpint76 Mon 01-Sep-14 22:20:45

Oh yes superheroes are a big deal in this house too.. smile. I do think the role play helped my son quite a bit actually, we just mucked about in the kitchen a few times, and he thought it was hilarious when I put on silly voices (pretending to be a bully etc). I think it just gave him the confidence to feel it's ok to speak out and express what he feels. There will be wiser people along shortly I'm sure with better advice. You sound lovely and caring though and that's what that little boy needs right now. Really hope everything goes ok. Good luck

Haggisfish Mon 01-Sep-14 22:23:13

We use stuffed toys and imaginary friends to role play, and I talk about hitting cushions or having quiet time if you feel angry. Also talk about things that make dd feel happy and proud and relaxed, such as behaving well, going for walks and having big hugs.

MishMooshAndMogwai Tue 02-Sep-14 08:27:18

Thank you smile
I'll try a bit if role play and see how he takes to that smile

But what do I say? When I'm trying to explain how anger feels etc

Tambaboy Tue 02-Sep-14 12:09:30

this is a very good book to help children to manage their anger. Your dss might be a bit young for it but it might be worth a look:
What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger (What-To-Do Guides for Kids)
by Dawn Huebner, Bonnie Matthews

Helenanback Tue 02-Sep-14 14:06:52

You could try saying to him, I can see you're angry because ,you're shouting/ crying, hitting out etc. so that he can begin to make a link between behaviour and feelings. As others have said role play is helpful and could follow on from the bit about identifying he's angry and give him a safe way to express it . If he is really angry and needs to get that out first punching a hole in a newspaper you hold can really help expel the tension. He will also benefit hugely from the time and attention you are giving him; make sure SS know he has said he is scared to go back to DM.

MishMooshAndMogwai Tue 02-Sep-14 22:58:43

Thankyou tamba that sounds good, I was looking at books and have managed to borrow a small series that covers a range of emotions so we will be reading those next time he comes smile

helena linking sounds good, that's a good way to put it too him.
I don't want to encourage him to punch too much, like with the hitting cushions above. I don't want it to get lost in translation and for him to go home thinking punching is ok (which he already does as he has seen his mum and her ex fist fighting) only to say that 'mogwai says it's ok to punch stuff when you're angry'
I'd rather teach him to remove himself from the situation, count to 10 and calm down rather than lash out although we all know that screaming into and punching pillows bloody helps sometimes!

Haggisfish Wed 03-Sep-14 21:48:13

Yes, that is my problem with the delaying/suppressing anger! I have made it very clear it is only ok to hit cushions, but I can imagine it would be very different if they had witnessed hitting as you describe. What about fierce running on the spot? Ime they need to get rid if the adrenaline of anger, which walking away/counting just don't do. I also think the risk of internalising anger is greater with those strategies. Let us know what you think and how you get on though-good on you for trying to disvuss these tricky emotions.

Ormally Wed 03-Sep-14 22:04:33

Friends of ours with 3DC use a horizontal 'scale', with a line for everyone, and various Mr Men to stick on to say how they feel each day. Mr Rush often features for Mum & Dad = stress! Obviously the issues sound a lot deeper than some of the more frivolous Mr Men, but there is Mr Worry and similar. It would also be possible to put it ones like Mr Strong and some of the positive emotions too.

A dramatic 'silent scream' is a good one for helping to relieve frustration.

MishMooshAndMogwai Wed 03-Sep-14 22:06:27

I think he'd love the running haggis!
I can imagine the look on his mums face when he starts doing that!

I will keep you posted on it, thankyou thanks

MishMooshAndMogwai Wed 03-Sep-14 22:08:47

I like the mr men idea, I think he might struggle with remembering whos who but maybe something simpler like a face with a different expression on would work for him.

I might work on teaching him to silent scream, though I fear his may not be so silent!

CrushedVelvet Wed 03-Sep-14 22:19:26

Sounds rough. Perhaps try "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk" by A. Faber and E. Mazlish?

MishMooshAndMogwai Thu 04-Sep-14 09:30:55

I'll look that up crushed thanks smile

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