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4yo DS - suddenly becoming violent and aggressive

(7 Posts)
wrungout82 Mon 18-Jul-16 20:11:31

I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on dealing productively with a violent child. My DS, 4.2, has generally been a happy, loving, affectionate child and continues to be most of the time. He is very bright and excited about going to school in September. However recently we've noticed an upsurge in violent and aggressive behaviour towards DH and I but particularly me - e.g. if he doesn't want to do something, or it's time to go to bed, he can turn in a second from his normal self to screaming, hitting, kicking, as well as shouting things like 'I'm going to punch you!' and 'I'm going to smash you!'. Also, he will aggressively make noises. It is hard to deal with by e.g. walking away as he will follow you and continue to hit/kick. We have tried talking calmly to him about it and explaining that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable. We have used 'consequences' like no bedtime story, no TV, etc. Sometimes he will calm down but other times he gets worse and worse until you end up shouting at him or restraining him, which makes me feel awful but I don't know what to do. I am planning to talk to his childminder about it just to check that there is none of that sort of behaviour when he is with her. I don't think there is or she would have mentioned it! At the moment I'm struggling to feel like I am dealing with this behaviour in a good way so any advice would be appreciated.

WuTangFlan Mon 18-Jul-16 20:58:54

"They need your love the most when they deserve it the least" is what someone said to me about DS in a similar situation.

The punching/smashing thing being directed at you - it's partly separation anxiety. Or it was with DS. It was like he was afraid of rejection so he would do the things more likely to make him be rejected. Testing the boundaries, I guess? It seemed to be tied up with security issues, anyway.

Things that helped - reassurance he was loved even when he was being awful. The "angry tent" - a pop-up tent we put cushions and toys in which he could go to and lash out and hit things safely. Sometimes he would have to be put in the angry tent, as that's the place we go to be angry and hit things - but after a while he would voluntarily go there and let off steam. "I love you but I think you need to go calm down on your own or be angry in your angry tent. Then we can talk".

Hugs. If offered at the wrong point, it could make things worse. So something along the lines of "If you're angry right now, you probably don't want a hug. But if you finish being angry and you want a hug, I've got a really big one waiting for you." Most of the time his outbursts would leave him exhausted and weepy and in need of a hug. I think he freaked himself out by how angry he got sometimes.

"Drawing a line". Sometimes you could tell he'd backed himself into a corner and couldn't see how to back down without losing face, and he wouldn't back down. So sometimes saying "Shall we start over, and just draw a line and forget this happened?" Pretending to "rewind" or drawing a vertical line in the air with a finger would sometimes help. Possibly because it was a bit silly.

Talking to him afterwards about why he got so upset (once he was calm again) and what else he could do next time he feels himself getting cross that might be a better way of dealing with whatever it was. Telling me he was starting to feel cross, taking deep breaths, or whatever. Then the next time he started kicking off there was sometimes a brief window where things could be headed off. Me acknowledging that he was feeling cross, and telling him I can see he was trying really hard not to lose his temper.

None of these worked 100% all of the time but it felt better for us than the cycle of him getting angry and being met with anger for his unacceptable behaviour, him getting angrier still... He still has his moments of anger but no violence any more. It has definitely been a process rather than a quick-fix.

minipie Tue 19-Jul-16 00:09:20

Just marking place as Wutang's advice sounds great and I want to come back and re read re my DD. Thanks

Aramynta Thu 21-Jul-16 15:46:45

I'm going to placemark here OP, if you don't mind. I have no advice but I am going through exactly the same with my DS (4yrs, 5 next month).


GALLEGITA Fri 22-Jul-16 16:57:21

i share your anguish!!

My nearly 4 YO DS has anger issues, weirdly he isnt that bad for us at home but from what i have been told by nursery he goes into rages where they have to just keep other kids away from him and let him tire himself out.
This was originally a bit of a shock as although he is very headstrong and does have a quick temper it has never escalated like that at home which left me very blush

would be interested to see what advice people come back with, wutangs advice was good, may adapt some of those techniques to use with my neary 6yo DS as he finds it hard to express his emotions when he is upset

could it maybe be an age thing that a lot of 4 YOs go through?

Imnotreadyforthis Sun 24-Jul-16 22:30:43

We're having the same issues with dts (b&g), but especially dts! They're 4.5 and constantly winding each other up.
I try to resond with love to the tantrums/hitting/calling me names, but when I've had 2 tantrums each, and several fights by 10am I tend to lose my patience sad.

I'm indesperate need of tips to avoid exploding/shouting as I know it's useless and it's not the parent I want to be!

ButtonLoon Mon 25-Jul-16 08:07:28

My DD 5 is experiencing this. We've tried lots of different stuff, and I read The Explosive Child which I've heard mentioned on here (It's good, but difficult to put into practice with younger children - still I use the general idea) and we've also started 1-2-3 Magic. I'll come back and say more after work!

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