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My Seven Year Old Son Has Tantrums and Hits Me

(21 Posts)
Mumarch Wed 27-Aug-08 12:36:10

Please, anyone out there who has this problem? I am at my wits end, I have tried everything and more and it is getting worse. I have two older children and have never had any thing like these problems before. Please help.It happens every time he is thwarted, and particularly at bedtime, and it hurts.

Saturn74 Wed 27-Aug-08 12:37:36

How do you punish him for being physically aggressive?
Is he like this to everyone, or just at home?

juuule Wed 27-Aug-08 13:58:37

Either walk out of the room and leave him until he's calmed down or put him somewhere and close the door until he's calmed down.

Talk to him once he is calm.
Ask him what the problem is.

Mumarch Wed 27-Aug-08 14:24:00

He is violent to me and his father - much less to contemporaries. We have tried every kind of discipline you can think of, from talking him down, to holding (with advice from a therapist), to shutting him in his room to calm down, to spending hours explaining that he can't do this and why - what the consequences will be. The only thing that works is smacking, but I don't do it more than once in a blue moon because I feel it reinforces his violence. But it seems to be his default mode. We are very positive, give him masses of feedback and try to understand why he is so angry. But he kicks off in a second - and not always. You say 'No' about something simple like not letting him have yet another helping of food or go outside when he is meant to be indoors. I love him so much, but find myself feeling a desperately sad failure when he punches me in the face while I am wearing my glasses.

southeastastra Wed 27-Aug-08 14:29:42

my ds(7) still does this to me occasionally too, sly pinches and thumps when he can't get his own way. one thing i find that does occasionally work is if i just walk away and shut myself away from him.

HonoriaGlossop Wed 27-Aug-08 14:42:00

It's hard because the two examples you give about saying no, sound to me as if in many situations you could say yes. If a child of 7 wants another helping of food it is generally because he is ready for more, IME. Is it possible you could say no less?

So I guess I would say try to say no LESS
and if you have to say no, say it in a different way as in "Yes, you can go out in the garden, first though we need to get these toys put away.." etc.

Other than that, if you've tried everything and he tantrums and hits, then I personally would do as juuule says and give him some time in his room to calm down.

I know you say you've tried many things to stop it, but I think there's no magic trick to it; just keep examining how you're dealing with him, and keep any consequence consistent; don't get put off, keep going, and eventually he will learn. It's perfectly right IMO that if he hits you he should spend time alone and know that mum does not much want to spend time with him at that moment. And don't get lulled into thinking that the odd smack is the only thing that 'works' - if it worked, you wouldn't still have this problem!!

MarmadukeScarlet Wed 27-Aug-08 14:44:57

You mention a 'Therapist' what sort of 'therapist' and why does she see you DS? Not being nosy, just to see if relevant.

Mumarch Wed 27-Aug-08 14:58:22

When I say it works, it stops him from lashing out. I don't mean it is a long term solution. We do say yes a great deal, I think those were bad examples. It all goes particularly wrong when he needs to go to bed, is tired and just will not stay in bed or settle and ends up crying and howling. We are thinking of putting a lock on his door so he has time to calm down and is not still trying to get at us.

HonoriaGlossop Wed 27-Aug-08 15:16:47

Would he stay in bed if you stayed with him? I did this with DS for ages (and he's recently been unwell and I have started again as he's very fearful at night) I sit in with him, read a book by his nightlight. He knows I'll only stay if he's laying quietly.

It would save al the crying and howling perhaps?

Mumarch Wed 27-Aug-08 15:36:51

Therapist is actually for teenager but offered a little advice on small one. That is a separate issue.

Mumarch Wed 27-Aug-08 15:38:20

Little one has had a proper bedtime routine since birth, with stories and the whole bit. The others accepted it as cues to sleep and settle. He uses it as an excuse to go bananas. Although he loves his stories and cuddles, he begins to mess about and I sense things falling apart. This happens both when I am tired after work, and on holiday when I am rested and have lots of time.

Mumarch Wed 27-Aug-08 15:39:26

He would stay up until about 11pm or later if we allowed it, and then would get exhausted and worse. What is comforting about coming here is that others have experienced this kind of thing, and I am not alone. I wish I had come before. Thanks guys!

HonoriaGlossop Wed 27-Aug-08 15:41:03

but every child is different; some children absolutely can't deal with a bedtime separation; though I accept that is hard if you have other kids who don't get you sitting with them.

HonoriaGlossop Wed 27-Aug-08 15:44:58

Actually thinking on it there was a thread on here ages ago (I may even have started it!) about kids taking ages to drop off. DS as a toddler needed me with him to drop off, then over the years we stopped that and left him alone to drop off BUT he takes absolutely ages. He is sometimes up till ten, ten thirty at night; and as you say mumarch that's with a really good nightime routine, wind down etc.

Lots of people replied that their kids/they themselves used to be awake till late; one poster even said that she used to re-arrange her room very quietly in the middle of the night!!!!!

What I'm trying to say is that ok, you don't want him coming out and being naughty but also it might be worth relinquishing control over whether he sleeps or not. You can't MAKE another human being sleep.

Mumarch Wed 27-Aug-08 16:48:34

I know that you can't make people sleep, but he is much nicer if he gets about 10 to 11 hours at night, and with school looming I am dreading what will happen if I don't get this sorted out again in the next week. What do you think about locking the door on a child? Is that a really bad thing to do? It means my older children are desperate for my company and input, and simply do not get it because of his antics. And as he has me more than they do, and it is the last precious months before the oldest one leaves home, it is driving me mad!

Saturn74 Wed 27-Aug-08 17:00:22

I wouldn't lock the door on a seven year old.

It sorts of ups the ante in the whole bedtime thing being a bit of a battle, imo.

Do you give him lots of count downs to when things will happen?

eg: I'm going to read two more pages of the book, then it will be time for me to go downstairs.

Would he listen to audio cds?

Maybe go for a sticker chart with him, and give him targets for settling down at night.

You can't make him fall asleep, but even lying quietly and resting will do him good.

juuule Wed 27-Aug-08 17:02:09

What if you told him he could stay up but he had to be quiet?

How old are your older children?
Is your 7yo being expected to go to bed when you, his dad and older siblings are still up?
Do you think he might feel he's being excluded?

HonoriaGlossop Wed 27-Aug-08 18:43:26

Yes I agree I would never lock him in. You are disempoweing yourselves doing that IMO - admitting defeat and showing you can't deal with this. There WILL be a way round this, it might not be your first choice but there will be....his antics are taking you away from your older two BUT is what he needs actually inappropriate for a 4 yr old? It can seem it I'm sure when you have to balance their needs with others, but it might not in reality be.

What did you think of the idea of sitting in with him while he dropped off, providing he's laying nicely?

Or as juuule said, perhaps the night time routine is very hard for him with everyone else still up; could he stay up later on the strict proviso that when he does go to bed, he doesn't muck about. He has something to lose then...at the mo he has nothing to lose, only your attention to gain!

Mumarch Thu 28-Aug-08 18:20:59

All good advice. Thank you. Many count downs, many sticker charts, lots of incentives missed and lost (like gocarting). All the right parenting stuff that worked for the other two....
Anyway. Thanks.

dustystar Thu 28-Aug-08 18:26:02

Is this behaviour focused around the bedtime issue or does it happen at other times when he doesn't get his way?

Mumarch Fri 29-Aug-08 15:30:55

At other times as well. Just to update we did put a lock on the outside of his door and last night used it twice, for five minutes at a time, literally to stop him attacking us when he began to show erratic behaviour. He responded by calming down immediately, and making a pattern on his bedroom floor with some of his possessions, and then settling quietly with the door half open.

I am very much hoping that careful use of this will break the automatic habit of attack when thwarted at bedtime. He was delightful this morning.

You might all be horrified, but I was there all the time outside the door listening anxiously. It meant DH and me had a nice evening instead of a horribly stressed one as usual.

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