Should I get professional help? Violent 7 yr old.(35 Posts)
I have 2 boys who live with me and their gentle father in a stable family home. I don't smack, don't allow tv in the bedroom, only allow age appropriate content and limit screen time generally. I breastfed both each for 2 years and carried them around in a sling.
I guess I am expecting to be judged so thought I'd get that stuff out of the way first! Not that I'm perfect (not by a long way) but I do try...
My older child is a peaceloving 9 yr old who loves nature and reading. My 7 yr old is quite different. He is Herculean in his build, immensely strong and tall for his age, and he loves to wrestle! At school his behaviour is impeccable and I am told that he is gentle, caring and patient with his peers and with younger children. I have seen this side of him in action when playing with his little cousins and I often feel very proud of him.
However... at home we find him to be dominating, inflexible and demanding. He has a very volatile temper which he seems unable to control. I guess that, at the root of it, he feels very strong emotions which he cannot handle. Anyway, I try to keep to a routine as much as possible, to avoid unnecessary battles. But you can't avoid them all.
And when I do say no to him, or his brother inadvertently irritates him he often pushes, hits, kicks us etc. But I wil not give in. When he completely loses it his body is taken over by anger. He is hot and red like a volcano. I follow this up with consequences and discussion.It makes no difference. Often the consequences fuel yet more rage.
He has always had these tantrums, but lately I feel something darker has crept in. He has overtaken his older brother in strength. I am worried that soon he will overtake mine too and we will eventually find ourselves living in fear of him. And that, in the future, he will repeat this behaviour with his own family.
I think we need outside help, partly because it is so hard to stay calm and logical when you feel under attack, but I am not sure who to approach. It seems a shame to involve his school, where he is thought of so highly. I would welcome suggestions...
I feel very sorry for you little boy.
I think he just feels how much you prefer his brother. This would explain why he is at ease at school where he doesn't have the weight of not being like his brother. If he had anger-management difficulties, these would be present at all times.
What he needs is to feel wanted and loved. You have a conflict going on at home. I would suggest you spent some time with him doing things he likes, or even just spending time with him - and him alone - watching a movie together, take him with you for grocery shopping, giving him the responsibility of the shopping list, ...
Very often, physical children have difficulties expressing their emotions with words so happiness brings you jumps and sadness, a punch.
Your children are two distinctive persons, see the good in him as well. Use his strength for something you would be proud of and in which he can excel, such as a sport. I would recommend athletics or swimming. Being better of his brother at something would do him so much better than a session with a mental health specialist.
I second about sending him to martial art classes, they're great for self discipline and getting rid of energy.
Secondly, I feel he is using his strength in defense. I think he might have a self esteem issue and he uses his strength to try and gain respect as well as intimidate people so he feels he has the upper hand and that people will be afraid of him.
Thirdly he might just be extremely frustrated with something in his life and this is portrayed when something small happens and it causes his emotions to escalate.
I think you should organise a couple of one on one times with him, firstly so you could try and fish for what he is upset about or is frustrating him. You could do this whilst your DH takes your other child out or if your other child has an activity.
I agree that something is definitely bothering him. I suffer from these red rages as I feel I'm never listened to or believed which I find extremely frustrating. I was also bullied at school which fuels my anger. I'm generally very placid especially when in public but when I'm with someone I trust these rages can come out due to my frustrations.
I have one of these - I am certain it's the green eyed monster - they believe you have a better relationship with the older DC - mostly imagined -
Recent example - in y6 older one borrowed a special ring of mine for a party
cheap fake crap. 2 years on younger one wasn't "offered" the ring - which firstly I hadn't given any thought to and secondly would have had she asked - but she remembers these slights!!
I feel that she "sets me up to fail" and therefore "proves" I love the older one more.
But that's not true it's just these "things" she sees as love
I hope that made sense!
If you feel it is out of control you could ask the school nurse for help?Although linked to the school they are independent and it would not affect the teachers' opinion of your son.I think lots of children are good at school and let go when at home and I would be reassured by the fact that his behaviour is very good in school ,it shows that he does have some control.
Do you spend much one on one time with him at home?
I have struggled from time to time with my 6 year old.A reward chart worked really well,with 20p for anything good eg reading well,sharing ,helping and -10p for fighting/hitting.End of the week we added it up and he was given the money.It took him a while,at one point he got upset and said he didn't know how to be good ,but then it started working and he was really pleased with the rewards.We did it for his brother too who is very placid and well-behaved but you can still find a reason to mark down good children to make it seem fair.
Another thing,if he is big and strong thee must be an outlet in sport for him somewhere,has he found one that he likes?
I'm sorry but I must point out just because you breast fed for 2 years and carried them around in a sling does not mean that they are going to be well behaved children and isn't 'perfect' parenting!
Why should someone be judged because of different methods of parenting.
I'll get off my high horse now but it really grates when people think that is 'perfect' parenting and are surprised when their children still have behavioural issues!
I don't suppose either of the boys remember being breast fed or carried in a sling so I don't think that has anything to do with it and I have never heard anyone say to someone having trouble with a 7 year old oh it's because you gave them cow and gate in a bottle and didn't carry them in a sling ?!!
Maybe you should try a grown up rewards system for both the boys? Like marbles in a jar, they can then earn treats and nice things, loose marbles for unwanted behaviour.
Could you try de escalation tactics ?
Could he go to any sports type groups where he could channel the extra energy?
I'm going to guess the younger boy is competitive over the older one? But can't keep up due to the age gap?
Marbles in a jar will fail as the younger boy will lose lots of marbles and create further issues - individual charts work better - for individual rewards
It is very common for children with explosive tempers to behave well at school - it doesn't mean that he is misbehaving because he feels his brother is preferred . He just feels more at ease at home and lets his true feelings out - plus sibling rivalry can really push the buttons. Also rewards/punishments often don't work once a child has lost control and in a rage. The 'explosive child' book really helped me to understand how to deal with anger - key is avoiding the explosion in the first place. By the way OP I understand you were trying to explain that you are a gentle parent and the boys had a secure start rather than boasting! All the advice about making sure he burns off lots of energy is very good too!
The jars would be individual too, I just thought it was more grown up than stickers for both children.
I know many children of that age would be a bit at sticker charts as they are usually for younger children, it's a bit different but very similar principles.
Have you spoken to him about his feelings? How he feels and given him coping mechanisms?
When my DS gets angry (he's 6), I try and ask him what he feels and why and he surprises me as he is able to articulate them (we were helping him label his feelings ever since I can remember). Then we can give him a strategy for dealing with things.
You should also read "siblings without rivalry" - it is very very good. Reminded me not to ever compare the two DCs, dont ever set them against each other and ways to tackle arguments and disagreements.
The bit that jumped out at me was where you said his brother "inadvertently" irritates him - to your DS, it isn't inadvertent and anyway, it is irrelevant, because it annoys him. His feelings of annoyance are perfectly valid - he just needs a way of dealing with the conflict, not being told he is "wrong". So, for example, my DD and DS wind each other up - I will ask both of them what happened, to give a fair hearing and then try and work with them to come to a sensible solution.
it works most of the time - not always, but they know I am listening at least.
OP, if you read your initial post, notice how you describe your sons:
My older child is a peaceloving 9 yr old who loves nature and reading for DS1 and we find him to be dominating, inflexible and demanding for DS2.
In just one sentence, we can read how much you love DS1. But in the following 20, I can't find a single praise coming from you about DS2.
To me, you appear to prefer DS1. A lot. Herculean is not usually a positive adjective.It is mostly associated with difficulties. Interesting that you use it to describe your son.
You are on the defensive and you also defend DS1 when he "inadvertently irritates " your DS2.
I think you might need to really look into your feelings.
We are at a similar stage with DD, age 8, who has major anger issues, often directed towards herself - we don't smack at home but she will hit/kick herself in anger rather than say sorry. She is also incredibly rude and hurtful when upset. I am also wondering about involving a counsellor or getting her some help. I do not prefer her little brother - she was and is my PFB and it's so awful to see her really het up and uncontrolled.
I am trying to avoid discussing anything with her when she is enraged. I will talk about it the following day when she is calmer and discuss different ways of dealing with the situation that might have gone better. We are having limited success but I do feel children will allow strong emotions to erupt at hone because they feel they have to suppress them at school so often the reaction to the cause at home is utterly disproportionate.
We have tried reward charts with DD but they do not work as she will deliberately self-sabotage and defiantly state that she doesn't want to earn any rewards.
Try giving him a hug instead of the consequences you describe.
He's obviously desperately in need of your attention, positive or negative.
You can turn it around, but you need to start giving him a way out of the behaviour. You say that you never back down. How much do you expect of him, he's only really little.
I could have written your post, we are good parents and I get the short hand of saying all that about carrying and nurturing the babies and toddlers. Am sure too our calm, boundaried, fun home didn't cause my child to be unable to regulate his emotional response.
I don't prefer the others, he gets tons of one on one, he is 'heard' and respected but gave me a black eye a few weeks ago and that was only one bruise of a handful. Yet this out of control child only a few stone lighter than me now does marvellous thoughtful and funny things all the time but when the red mist comes down it obliterates anything rational.
I was worried at 7, am more worried now, GP last week and anything else we can grab. This isn't parenting classes territory, he needs more tools than we have been able to give him and so I would say ask now...you will almost certainly not need any major support (and maybe if you did wouldn't get it...) but take everything, listen to everything so you know you have done everything you can.
Incidentally I rather regret the martial arts classes
Oh Tangerine I hope things improve for you too
Thankyou so much for your responses. I posted at a low point and a few days has given me perspective. I have bought the Explosive Child book recommended by LadyofthePlace. This has helped me to see that he lacks a set of coping skills that gives rise to his frustration and anger. His behaviour is not chosen.
In this case I don't think it is a case of sibling rivalry - he has suffered from tantrums and frustration since the age of 1. The only time it gets worse is when he is more tired than usual or has a wobble in his routine.
I'm sorry if this didn't come across, but I absolutely adore my son. He does lots of sporty things and lots of woodland walks too. I love the fact that he is big and strong, yet so gentle with young children. He is a wonderful boy, and I'm sure will grow to be a wonderful man. And I hope, AnguishedTangerine, that we can get these rages under control before he is old enough to do any serious damage.
Anyway, I would recommend the book for anyone in a similar position. It hasn't offered any solutions yet, but it's enabled me to stand back and see things differently.
I have twins - DD rage started at 6 months - got worse when her brother crawled - he'd pinch her toys - she was more than aware of her "position"
She would flip her dummy and dig it into him in frustration!!!
Just saying he would have been aware!!! It was very clear having two!
You should be able to self refer to CAHMS for advice. He sounds very PDA (pathological demand avoidance) a lot of these kids manage to hold it together in school and explode when home.
Yes, you need help. Seek the advice of a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (www.bacb.com) to help you.
The Explosive Child is a good book, however I kept wondering when I would reach the part where he suggests solutions, but he never does!!
I managed to work with DS1 so he could recognise when he was feeling wound up. He started coming to me and asking if we could talk. Often there would be an outpouring of seemingly minor things that were bugging him, but even just taking the time to listen to him helped him a lot.
He's 10 now and pretty much has it under control.
I wondered that about The Explosive Child mawbroom - the impression I got from peeking into it on Amazon was it was long on description and short on solutions. However I have ordered it anyway as am grasping at straws with DD.
It is true about listening though ... last night DD was very angry at bedtime and DH and I sat and listened to her giving us a litany of grievances about school non-stop for 45 mins. It was exhausting and I wasn't certain at all of responding in the right way most of the time but it was obviously cathartic for her in some way.
DD has absolute intolerance of uncertainty (she even starts reading books from the last chapter) so any unknowns absolutely freak her out and she reacts badly, also to any unexpected changes of plan. I would love her to reach the stage you describe where she would come to me and ask to talk ...
Cheers lady, yeah it's difficult but he is mostly wonderful, just need to figure what's going on.
Good luck Lilith
I would get him medically checked out by a GP. Herculean in build, immensely strong and tall for his age, volatile temper. Sounds like a muscle builder on steroids! He may have a hormonal imbalance.
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