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Anger management for a 4 year old

(15 Posts)
WaxyBean Mon 06-Jun-16 07:00:38

DS2 is 4 yrs 3m and starts school in September. He has been in school nursery part day for just over a year.

He has a foul temper on him and uses me as his punchbag - is there anything I can do to try and nip this in the bud before it gets worse.

So as not to drip feed, I'm the only one he hits, though DH and my mum have witnessed the temper. He's an angel at nursery apparently. He's very, very bright (reading fluently, advanced vocab, counting money, telling the time, playing monopoly!) and gets very frustrated when not constantly being challenged. He dislikes nursery because it is boring even though they do their best to challenge him.

This morning was the final straw. He came into my room when he woke up looking for DH. Upon discovering he had already left for work, he got very upset and angry and started punching me shouting it was all my fault and he hated me. I tried sympathising with him to no effect. Told him it wasn't OK to use me as his punchbag. And eventually I went into the bathroom, where he continued to punch me while I was on the toilet, then punch the glass of the shower when I got in it, alternated with stamping on the floor all the time shouting angrily. I'm not proud but I got out of the shower, held his arms and shouted at him that this was not ok, he was going to hurt me and break all the nice things in the house. This stopped him as he then started on about the fact that I had made him wet (which he could control by getting undressed) and he lost the original anger.

How can I help him to control his anger around things he has no control over? I'm on egg shells around him at times and this is all new to me as DS1 is a very compliant child.

Grateful for any strategies or advice (or sympathy!) please.

EarthboundMisfit Mon 06-Jun-16 07:04:17

Have you visited the GP?

MakingJudySmile Mon 06-Jun-16 07:08:27

Check out the turtle technique

I think he was called 'Tucker Turtle'.

MysteriesOfTheOrganism Mon 06-Jun-16 07:22:34

He seems to be an intellectual type, so needs a lot of mentoring on his emotional states.

Firstly he needs to learn healthy ways of expressing anger. So when he gets angry, give him some cushions to whack. Hitting cushions is fine - hitting people is not.

Redirect his thinking away from blame and onto his feelings. Get him to say what he is feeling and what he is angry about.

People who get stuck in anger when things are "not right" are often unable to deal with their feelings about powerlessness and vulnerability and can therefore struggle to allow anger to shift into sadness (acceptance of loss).

So once he has discharged some of his anger, start mentioning sadness. Ask him if he feels sad about missing his dad, etc. If he starts going into anger or blaming again, gently bring him back to sadness.

It may be just him, but I have to ask what the family attitude towards loss and sadness is. Children generally learn emotional self-regulation from their parents. If he hasn't learned to shift from anger to sadness, I wonder what you and DH have taught him (through your actions)?

PirateFairy45 Mon 06-Jun-16 07:46:28

Restrain him!. What are you playing at??

Fucking hell. What's it coming to when a mother allows a 4 year old child to use her as a punching bag. You know it will only get worse right? You've taught him it's ok by allowing him to do it. Only you can stop it, otherwise when he's 10 years older he's going to be kicking the shit out of you.

I'm not saying hit him, I'm saying RESTRAIN HIM. And teach him not to hit you.

PirateFairy45 Mon 06-Jun-16 07:48:17

flowers for the sympathy you want. Hand holding and all that crap.

PhilPhilConnors Mon 06-Jun-16 08:06:47

Mysteries, your last paragraph isn't fair.
Emotional regulation is something that all children develop at different times - my 11 yr old is still learning how to regulate himself and can be incredibly violent, yet he was born into a non violent, non aggressive family (he has ASD).

Agree with Pirate that if it gets to that point restrain him, or take him to his own space to let off steam. But don't just take a beating, that's awful for you and not brilliant for him to get away with it.

It might be helpful to take a step back and spot his triggers, spot how his behaviour escalates, so you can start to pre-empt it and try to distract him before he gets to that point.

You could start introducing consequences for behaviour to see if that works (doesn't work for all DC, but it's worth a try), something like 123 magic.

There's also a book called the explosive child which might help him to learn to regulate himself a bit better.

AStreetcarNamedBob Mon 06-Jun-16 08:12:59

If he behaves for everyone else and not you then he doesn't have any "issues" as children can't apply them discrimiately. He'd either have anger management probs or he wouldn't.

What you have here is a major discipline issue. You need to get tough.

WaxyBean Mon 06-Jun-16 08:14:20

I'll reply more fully later, but in answer to some of the questions.

Not visited the GP - perhaps I should, but have v little faith in our GP from previous experience.

Just googled the turtle technique - looks like just what we were looking for. Will read up on it some more.

I do restrain him! But he is a strong little boy, and I am afraid that I will hurt him by restraining him. If I hold his hands he will kick me so I'm still getting hurt. So my preference is to put some distance between us if we can. He knows it is not acceptable to hit me as he will apologise of his own free will later. But in the meantime he gets even more frustrated by being restrained and stands no chance of calming down in that state.

Mysteries - I like the cushion idea! A lot to think about in your second half - I need to digest it before I can reply fully. Both his dad and I both tend to simmer rather than explode (neither of us is violent). We do both talk about sadness at times - over things that didn't happen etc. but neither of us are overly demonstrative wrt emotions. Perhaps something we need to think about and perhaps talk more about with Ds2.

MysteriesOfTheOrganism Mon 06-Jun-16 08:19:06

Phil - I think what I said is perfectly fair. Learning self-regulation is, of course, a process not an event. So naturally it isn't fully formed at either 4 or 11yo. And children continue to learn as life gets more complex. Adolescents are not noted for their self-regulation!

But it is wise (IMHO) for everyone to develop their self-awareness. And that includes recognising our own patterns and issues and reflecting on how that may impact our children (who have different natural temperaments).

It is entirely possible that the OP family does not handle sadness well. Best to find out now and address the issue than find out it is an issue when it's too late to help the child.

MysteriesOfTheOrganism Mon 06-Jun-16 08:21:12

Waxy - children learn through observation of their parents' behaviour: they absorb it. If you don't demonstrate healthy behaviour then a child CANNOT develop it.

Emochild Mon 06-Jun-16 08:38:24


Just because issues are only displayed in certain situations or with certain people does not mean that a child is choosing to behave that way

Lots of children can mask behaviours or emotions in certain situations although this can build anxiety -this can then come out as anger or aggression when a child is in a 'safe space' for them -this might be with a safe person

This may be a discipline issue or it may be a medical issue

No one can diagnose over the Internet
Please see your GP and explain the anger issue -don't hold back on the details

Discipline in its traditional form can make some children worse depending on what is the cause of the behaviour

Behaviour in 4 year olds is a form of communication -your 4 year old may have no idea what he is trying to communicate and you need some proper support in trying to figure that out

paddlenorapaddle Mon 06-Jun-16 09:41:25

Good grief that sounds terrible can I ask what your DH was doing while this was happening ?

Are you well supported are there any other family issues at play ?

If you DS is very intelligent he may well be picking up on things that are beyond his years iyswim and the anxiety is coming out as anger

There's a brilliant book called what every parent should know that can help you to understand why this is happening

You are right to seek support gp,

flowers It doesn't make you a bad mother if you stop your DS from hitting you

MunchCrunch01 Mon 06-Jun-16 10:54:49

I found, shutting myself away worked really well, my DD wanted attention and to rail at me, and shutting myself in another room meant I could completely ignore it. She wasn't silly enough to hurt herself though, not sure if your DS will hurt himself? My DD only does it with me, and I think it's two reasons - she's closest to me, and also, I am, I admit, softer than my DH although I do say no, but she's much more likely to react when I say no as she doesn't expect it. For my DD it's about expectations. He maybe expects you to say yes always?

Notyetforty Sun 12-Jun-16 11:23:03

It's possible he needs more connection with you. Kids often act out when they are feeling disconnected. Hitting is one (negative) way of connecting. Are you able to spend much one to one time with him? google 'love bombing', might help. flowers

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