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anger management in 10 year old

(15 Posts)
mou Mon 01-Sep-08 20:53:52

please please can anybody suggest ways to diffuse anger in a very very highly strung 10 year old.
long history behind problems for which we have been referred to CAMHS. Appointment at end of september. we've had the problem on and off since last june but it is really bad at the moment and in the end he was so violent that i called the police out of desparation.... they were absolutely brilliant with him.
when he is angry i simply can not connect with him and everything i have tried seems to aggravate the situation. going quiet, empathising, reasoning, ignoring, shouting, leaving the room (the house!). crying...don't do all of these in one go..tried over a period of time.
he gets physically aggressive, hitting, kicking, biting, throwing anything that comes to hand regardless of what it is, and has broken and damaged an enormous amount around the house, including his own toys which he knows we won't replace. Also verbally abusive.
He is desparately sorry after the event and cries, but is like a different child when angry.these incidents can last for up to 2 hrs and we have several a week, sometimes 2 or 3 on the same day.
we are constantly looking at what triggers them but my main concern is 'managing' them between now and the appointment so he and we come to as little harm as possible.
any advice would be greatly appreciated...

negril Mon 01-Sep-08 22:01:44

has there been seperation in the last year because that can have a huge impact.

gigglewitch Mon 01-Sep-08 22:12:56

can he manage any sort of "signal" system like traffic light colours or something linked to his feelings, so that he can get himself some p&q time before he hits the point where he loses it?
Sure you've tried everything under the sun, but we have a thing with ds1 who is very understanding of his own triggers for a 7yo, and knows that when his hands go "fisty" (his hands start getting really tense and making a fist - white-knuckle job!) then he needs to go to his room because he is getting wound up. Only this week he's succeeded in getting himself 'chilled' without us diffusing it for him - he went up to his room and played music on a little keyboard instead of biffing his little brother and sister or trashing the house.
sounds like there is a huge reason behind it all with your 10yo, is your referral to clinical psych?

smartiejake Mon 01-Sep-08 22:43:43

I know this doesn't get to the root of the problem and he obviously needs help but is there somewhere you can hang up a punch bag?

He sounds very like a child I used to teach who had the most dreadful temper. His mum bought him a punch bag and she really found it helped to channel his aggression.

mou Tue 02-Sep-08 07:30:42

no separation but a history of verbal bullying, a number of bereavements, tense relationship with his dad, my health isn'n great (not serious, just in a lot of pain a lot of the time) , two older step brothers who he adores left the area,.. lot of emotional stuff.
tried a punch bag... he destroyed it!!!!aaaahhhhh
like the music thing, he does like hitting things when he is angry, perhaps a drumkit!
there is a family history of schizophrenia and i suffer on and off with depression so i probably worry TOO much. not sure if the reference is with a clinical psych, but i think we might be heading that way.
it is such a shame cos when he is coasting he is an absolutely brilliant child..such a shame to lose it.
thanks for the help, just so good to have people listen..tired and tearful mou,first person to make me smile on this thread gets a 10 brownie points. i'm out all day but stil appreciate the advice. have a good day to y'all. xx

jmj944 Tue 16-Sep-08 15:50:39


You have my sympathy. One of my daughters was just like this. It started around the age of 4 but became a real problem from about the age of 10-12. I ended up paying to see a Clinical Psychologist & nearly got as far as CAMHS. Found fear of situations, tiredness & change were common triggers.

I have found the most effective way of dealing with the problem (if you have the patience & energy to think it through while you're under attack!)is to try to present her with a range of choices/options & explain the consequences - in other words allow her to have control & responsibility for what happens through the choice/decision she makes. You have to be very careful/clever about how you phrase things & may sure that the majority of choices produce an outcome you're happy with.

If you can walk away & refuse to get involved until they've calmed down then it is probably for the best - but I know how impossible this is when they are looking for a fight & deliberately provoke you.A calm voice & repetition of options may work but sometimes time out just won't work.

fedupandisolated Tue 16-Sep-08 16:05:41

Hi Mou

Somehow your DS needs to get and understand the message that anger is okay but abuse and violence are NOT okay.

It might be worth sitting down when he's calm and relaxed for a discussion about how people get angry and how they react.

Basically there needs to be rules for anger and he needs to know that it's okay to feel angry because it's just a feeling - we all have feelings of anger at times BUT the rules are:
1. Don't hurt others,
2. Don't hurt yourself,
3. Don't hurt property. And
4 (most important) DO talk about it.

There is a fantastic book available from Amazon called "A Volcano In My Tummy" by Eliane Whitehouse and Warwick Pudney. It's aimed at school techers and school nurses I think but it's fantastic. It has all kinds of exercises in there for helping children discuss anger and how they feel when they get angry, how they cope with those feelings.
There are stories and worksheets all aimed at children aged 6-15 years old.
I use bits of it as a HV to help families where a child is - ahem - a little too free with his/her explosions smile.

It's about £6 or £7 - well worth the money imo.

Hope that's helpful.

mou Tue 16-Sep-08 16:34:36

We are seeing CAMHS as to be honest have tried much of what is suggested. Many complicated issues behind it which is why we have got as far as an appointment with above. Talks about self harm and suicide but a doctor suggested restaining him in his room .Don't know if it was a 'good' idea but I was horrified. I called the police on one occassion...he threatens to harm his sister and has tried on a number of occassions. If he actually did he would be devastated and would then have to live with the consequences of what he had done. They were BRILLIANT and talked to him about the future. He has done hundreds of pounds worth of damage around the house and they talked to him about that.

It was the hardest thing i have ever done and he was angry with me at first but understood when we talked. We do talk when he is calm but is a different child when he is in one of his rages and uses things i've said against me...But ironically he sees me as the only one who can 'save' him. Since the police the rages have been more verbal than violent,, except one where he ripped up a painting up that i had done for him and then spat at me.....sad sad mummy moment.

Hard to explain but he and I are so very close. I do lose my ool occassionally but just keep reassuring him I love him and that we will get through it. Teachers brilliant allthough it doesn't really present itself at school... one did suggest parenting classes.....hmm but we are way past that. I have been on them to good effect but they don't deal with this level of problem.

Keep saying, smallsteps on a long road, but we will get there....

Thank you so much for your posts.

mou Tue 16-Sep-08 16:35:59

P.S i meant to say i in no way want to stifle his feelings but help him express them less destructively.

mou Wed 17-Sep-08 09:02:30

Don't know how much longer I can keep this together

Sorry but have had a lousy start to the day. DS just woke up in mood and have had an hour of hell. Tried initially to deal with it with gentle homour but that didn't work. He got in a terrible rage because i asked him to do the washing up he had promised to do as part of earning pocket money.

He has kicked me and slammed me into the work surface and I tried really hard to stay calm but lost my cool when he locked his sister out and she started to walk to school on her own up a busy road. She is 5....busy road.

Damn. I feel low as I am due on and have a cold and my H has gotten into a disciplinary situation at work.

Had all the verbal abuse as well, try to keep that in perspective as he is only 10 but it does bite.


josiefc Wed 17-Sep-08 11:27:29

oh poor thing. Look, I don't have anything particularly useful to add, but having read your posts it sounds like you are doing such a good job and really working through it as best you can, and wanted to say it sounds like you are doing everything right. I hope you can get some help.

You sound lovely.

cory Wed 17-Sep-08 15:48:03

Is it certain days that you know it's going to happen? Because my db used to be like this, and you could tell hours ahead, it was almost like he went around pumping himself up and looking for a trigger. He was violent (though only ever with family), verbally abusive (though never foul-mouthed, funnily enough), but not destructive of property. Again, never any trouble at school, only ever with people he loved and trusted.

These were the days when you didn't really go to a psychologist unless you were seriously ill, so my parents just dealt with it as best they could, restraining him by holding him when he might prove a danger to others, but otherwise just being as loving and reassuring as they could.

He grew out of it around the age of 11. Though in a sense he hasn't grown out of it; you can tell that he still has these days when the world seems really black to him; it's just that he controls it these days. He is a very loving husband and Dad and has never shown any violent tendencies after adolescence.

It may be that your ds needs more help and certainly medical services have come on a lot since those days.

cory Wed 17-Sep-08 15:52:45

If your ds is anything like my db, then I don't think sitting down and explaining the rules to him, as fedup suggests, is going to make much difference. My db knew the rules, he just got into such a hysterical state that he literally did not know what he was doing.

mou Thu 18-Sep-08 14:24:05

There aren't days when you can predict his rages, they more come in clusters. Last year they stopped when he broke up for his school holidays and this year they escalated.
He is and always has been a very callenging boy yo raise and he has two older stepbrothers (who he adores), so between us we have experience of raising boys. But he pushes the boundaries all the time, even when you are agreeing with him!!
These particular episodes atarted about 18 months ago, 1st one about 6 weeks, second one about the same and this one started between christmas and easter.
Sometimes you can sense he is in one of his moods and then sometimes he just snaps, and they are the worst. They can last between 1/2 hr and
2 1/2 hrs and on a bad day he can have two or three. We do have days inbetween sometimes when they calm down but you are still treading on eggshells. I know he is sensitive to this but it is hard to just carry on as normal/ In the end he asked me to take him to the doctors as he is terrified that he will be like it when he grows up.
We moniter his diet, make sure he doesn't get hungry, or tired (that one is difficult as he will not stay in bed until he is exhausted and falls asleep. We have a pretty good bedtime routine but he is like a and out of bed whatever we have tried.
I will look into the book, someone else suggested it as well.

I talk to him when he is calm about how best I can help him when he feels like it but when I try to then put them into practice it is often to little effect.

I seriously wonder if he has some depressive illness as he is slowly starting to wind down from them but now he is getting hyper-happy. No more co-operative but more cheerful about life. He is, in all honesty, very much like his father, which has made life even more complicated.

It is reassuring when people say they experienced the 'only at home with the people he loves' thing, because it is so hard when people don't believe you. He is so well liked by the adults in our community for being friendly, wellspoken and polite. His relationships with his peers are troubled, ( he gets teased a lot as he is so easy to wind up), and he argues with most people in the close family except for my mum and dad and one of his brothers.

Faigle Tue 23-Sep-08 21:44:18

Hiya..have just read your post and there are many similarities with your situation and mine. When I read it I felt empathy and relief that i was not the only one dealing with such a problem. my son is 11, an only child and in turns loving, affectionate & demonstrative and hateful, rude, sarcastic and aggressive. I have very little support from others (both my parents died in the last 5 years, a very volatile relationship with his dad who also has major issues with anger)and at times I felt overwhelmed by the strength of my son's rage and aggression...mainly vented at me. The worst time was during the summer hols when he lost his temper with me was screaming/swearing/trashing furniture and trying to attack me.... the neighours were so alarmed that they called the police. By the time they arrived he had calmed down, and all they did was talk to him. I was glad they came, because it scared him a bit and things have not been quite so bad since. But I am constantly on edge around him, always fearful that he could explode as he is so volatile. Like your son, he also has problems with peers/friends and is very arguementative with all but the most placid of children!On the other hand he is very intelligent, articulate and in new social situations very shy and people who don't know him very well only see his meek/ quietly spoken/timid side. Being so verbally articulate means he can be very cruel & sarcastic too, which really hurts me. Like you I have tried every method possible to deal with his behaviour. At the moment I try as best as possible to not re-act, pretend I haven't heard some of the comments...but inside I am in pieces bcause I find living with him so stressfull. He is very emotionally immature and until recently had major sleep problems too, in that he wanted to sleep with me and was hysterical every night to the point wher he would make himself sick if I said he had to sleep in his own bed. Luckily things have improved on that score through sheer perserverence on my part. but dealing on a daily basis with such a volatile, intelligent highly strung child is very very emotionally draining and these last couple of months have particually taken their toll on my nerves. Just wanted to share my experience, an maybe we could find a way of supporting eachother in dealing with our wonderfully unique challenging children. i hope you read this.

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