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My 5 year old is very aggressive towards me and I'm at a loss

(12 Posts)
freddiesascot Wed 22-Feb-17 18:24:15

Hi everyone,
I've joined for some advice on my 5 year old boy and his aggression. I'm really lost about what to do.
I'm a single parent of a 5 year old boy, myself and his Dad had an amicable break up around 2 years ago and his dad is still very involved in his life, he stays with his Dad a couple of times a week and spends the rest of his time with me and at school (he's in reception).
He's always been very active and spirited, and when he was around 3 he went through a period of hitting and kicking however we dealt with that behaviour at the time and we didn't have any further incidents for a couple of years.
For the past few months he has become increasingly aggressive towards me and things seemed to have heightened even further over the past few weeks.
He really really tries to hurt me, he tries to gouge at my eyes or bite me as hard as he can or punch me and kick me with all of his might.
He is very big and strong and often manages to hurt me.
Hitting and kicking happens daily, the more serious violence happens 2-3 times a week.
It is mainly sparked by him not getting his own way over relatively simple things.
Tonight's examples have been - some hitting and pushing me as I picked him up from school as I said we weren't able to go look at toys in a toy shop this evening (but that we could go later in the week instead), him throwing a stick at my head for the same reason. Him realising that some toys were at his Dad's and me saying that we could call his dad when we got in the house (we were in the drive) - his response was punching me in the chest and stomach. Us playing UNO together and him cheating, so me saying that I didn't want to play if he kept cheating - his response to this was to throw metal cars and heavy wooden trains at me, hard and at close range. I now have a bump on my head and a bruise on my arm.
I make a huge effort to be gentle in my parenting, I try not to shout and I try to discuss the reasons for his anger and where his feelings are coming from, while still being clear that it is unacceptable. I'm not always successful at this and sometimes do raise my voice and get cross but he certainly doesn't have anyone in his life who is violent or aggressive towards him, he is very well loved and I'm finding it difficult to understand where this level of aggression is coming from.
I also don't understand why it's only directed towards me, he behaves beautifully at school and for other family members, it's only me who is in the receiving end of this.
I lost my temper with him badly tonight and shouted loudly and pushed him quite aggressively, this hasn't ever happened before and it was a knee jerk reaction to him hurting me. I feel absolutely heartbroken about doing this and can't believe that this is where it's got to. I just don't know what to do.
I feel like an absolute failure, completely incompetent and ineffective as a parent and ridiculously I feel like I'm being bullied by him and that I don't really know how to stand up to him.
What can I do about this? I'm so lost.

MrsMulder Wed 22-Feb-17 18:29:55

Have you tried walking away from him? I know you can't do that outside but if he is aggressive in the house I would walk away from him and shut myself in another room. Be clear to him that you won't engage with him when he is being violent.

freddiesascot Wed 22-Feb-17 18:38:39

I think that's one of the things I do most often when I'm in the house.
He quite often tries to get on top of me to do it if we're sat down or will follow me and push me/try to block me when I'm stood up. When I'm able to remove myself from the situation he does calm down reasonably quickly and then will just try to talk to me or play with me normally afterwards.
I try to talk to him about it once he's calm but I still can't get to the bottom of why exactly he gets so angry or make him understand the seriousness of the behaviour.

BarbarianMum Wed 22-Feb-17 19:00:52

Well he's being violent to you and nobody else because, realistically, no one else will put up with it and there would be repercussions if he tried it. Maybe you should take a leaf out of their books.

freddiesascot Thu 23-Feb-17 06:15:14

Thanks for replying. Take a leaf out of their book in what sense?

StorminaBcup Thu 23-Feb-17 06:34:13

It's not quite at the same level but my ds (3) has hit and kicked me. I ended up having to put him in his room (which I hated doing) and leaving him to calm down. He used to throw all of his toys around which I used to make him clear up. The biggest impact was telling him that if he threw his toys around I would assume he didn't want them and they'd go to the charity shop and to other boys and girls who did want them.

It sounds really harsh to do to a three year old but it's been the only thing to nip it in the bud. The only other thing is to check for any obvious patterns: is he tired or hungry? Does he get enough 1:1 time with you? How are his relationships at school (is he getting frustrated with something in school which means he releases this tension with you?)?

Have a look at destructive aggressive behaviour in children and there are some good tips on the various links that follow.

marthastew Thu 23-Feb-17 06:34:27

What would happen at school if he behaved like this towards another child or teacher for example?

ItsNiceItsDifferentItsUnusual Thu 23-Feb-17 07:09:12

Gosh, this sounds very difficult.

I only have a 3 year old, but like storm, I have dealt with him going through an aggressive phase with me by taking away toys. So the first time he does it, I let him know that I will remove a toy for the rest of the day if he does it again. Then always follow through, and take another toy every time it happens. It's an immediate cause and effect which for a 3 yr old at least, has worked. Is there anything you could use to replicate it? It also helped me feel productive, like I'm tackling the behaviour, and that in turn helped me keep my temper on particularly trying days, and everything stayed calmer than it otherwise could have done.

Ds also bit a child (not same one) on two separate occasions at pre-school. On each occasion he was reprimanded by me on collection and told that because of it, he was no longer allowed a biscuit (he usually has one when he gets home). Luckily that has been enough to stop that behaviour. Again, are there any treats your ds enjoys that you could use like this - screen time maybe? I think anything you could do to strengthen his understanding of cause and effect of his aggression is the key.

You're doing the right thing by removing yourself during the behaviour, but perhaps think of some consequences it afterwards, to solidify things for him further? It doesn't sound as though talking to him about it afterwards is enough.

Believeitornot Thu 23-Feb-17 07:21:23

Given his age I think you're wasting your time trying to get him to explain where his feelings are coming from.

You need a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence. Have a stock phrase or two "I know you are angry. You have hit mummy so I'm going to come back in 5 mins". Or something.

Then when you come back, keep it short. "You do not hit people, it hurts". Or something.

You also need to give him methods to deal with his anger. "When you feel angry, use your words and say I am angry". Then you can stop what you're doing and listen to him "i know you are angry, however this is mummy's decision". He will get used to it! Mine did.

I would be firm in any decisions and don't offer alternatives which happen later. E.g. The toy shop - you're not doing that day and that's it (unless he asks). His toys at his dads (they're at his house and that's that).

Basically create incredibly firm boundaries. These will reassure him as he knows what to expect.

I also think you might need to look at the bigger picture here. He might be acting this way towards you because he's releasing all the tension from being so well behaved at school etc. My ds turns in to a demon when he's with me (he doesn't hit though), this is when he's tired or slightly ill or something. It is usually just that he lets his guard down with me and it all comes out.

Believeitornot Thu 23-Feb-17 07:24:11

Also re the bigger picture - the split between two homes might also be causing him stress. Imagine having to split your time between two houses with two bedrooms etc. I know I like my own bed and wouldn't quite be able to relax.

BarbarianMum Thu 23-Feb-17 09:25:07

Agree - a zero tolerance policy towards violence is needed here. No matter how angry/frustrated/ upset he's feeling physical attacks are not allowed and there are consequences for forgetting this. Looking for triggers, tightening boundaries and encouraging verbalisation of anger is also all good but bottom line is you won't tolerate physical abuse.

Suziexxx Fri 24-Mar-17 07:48:31

Hi my lb is 5 and the same but he will hit anyone in his way I have tried triple p and working with school to try help he hit a teacher last week so they have had to involve the police they came out and put a referal into Camhs for me as my first referal was rejected x

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