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5 year old scratches himself when angry

(17 Posts)
vanillasky1001 Thu 09-Aug-18 20:59:52

My 5 year old, who’s a pretty sweet little boy 90% of the time, doing well at school, has some good friends, hobbies etc, can have the most unbelievable tantrums, throwing things, lashing out, which can culminate in his scratching his own face and body in frustration. You can’t reason with him at this point, we tend to just put him in time out (sitting on stairs) and keep checking till he’s relaxed slightly and I can go in and give him a hug and make up. Usually he’ll stop scratching when I put him in time out, if it’s really bad i’ll hug him till he calms down. When he calms slightly he generally pops right out of the strip really quickly with a bit of a distraction. Is this the right thing to do? Does anyone have any advice?

user1457017537 Thu 09-Aug-18 21:05:55

Is he having any E numbers. You should check everything he eats and drinks. Don’t underestimate the effect they can have on a child’s behaviour if they are susceptible.

vanillasky1001 Thu 09-Aug-18 21:15:34

Ok hadn’t thought of that to be honest. We’re on holiday this week and diet has been lax so yes, and it has been quite bad. Thank you.

user1457017537 Thu 09-Aug-18 21:21:08

Hope it helps but things like cake mix are full of E numbers. Lollies, sweets, some cereal, just check before you let him have any. Even ketchup has them. Hope this helps

TomHardysBackpack Thu 09-Aug-18 21:24:09

Following as I'm struggling with my 5 year old at the moment too. He can be so lovely, but very minor things will set him off into a rage where he bares his teeth and lashes out punching and kicking and throwing things. I have found that an increase in this behaviour coincides with when his snoring is worse (he has suspected sleep apnoea), and I wonder if it is related to quality of sleep. Does your ds sleep well?
I find it so difficult to discipline him as he does not really care if you take anything away from him, give time out etc. Nothing seems to help and it is so draining.

Calledyoulastnightfromglasgow Thu 09-Aug-18 21:25:56

I had this with my daughter. She was very stressed out with piano lessons. She would scratch herself.

We stopped piano lessons and it stopped.

I think it was the way she expressed her frustration.

Is something in particular bothering him?

vanillasky1001 Thu 09-Aug-18 22:45:15

He's not a great sleeper no, we co slept with him, I remember placing him lovingly in the bed next to me on our return from hospital when he wouldn't sleep anywhere else and thinking 'it's not like he'll still be there when he's 4'. My 2 year old is a dream, 5 year old goes down in his own bed after generally a struggle but is still like a ninja sneaking into mine in the small hours...we don't even wake up.
I don't think he's worried about anything in particular, my Grandpa has died recently and he talks about that, but the stroppiness had started before that.
Have chatted with DH and on our return from hols we're going to try a very wholesome diet (can't hurt us either) and some good sleep routine (which he does respond to) and see how that goes.

Lavenderdays Fri 10-Aug-18 14:05:33

vanillasky Sorry to hear this happening to your son but I could have cried with relief at reading your post because my nearly 5 year old daughter does exactly the same thing and it is stressing me out. I try to cuddle her more and give her a bit more attention (has a baby sister). I have bought some fabric pens and together we are going to create an angry cushion where she can go to and count to ten...no idea if this will work but I feel desperate and want to help her control her anger, especially as she appears to be turning it in on herself with the scratching. My eldest daughter never had this issue, so not sure where it comes from other than dd2 is getting slightly less attention. DD has always been challenging to parent - very bright, very active and virtually no fear, I feel like I've spent the last 4 years keeping her safe and to be honest, will be relieved when she starts school in September for more structure etc. Will consider the E number thing - anything that might help. I keep wondering if this is the start of self harming but dh doesn't seem overly worried at the moment, hoping it is a phase that she will grow out of and together we can come up with some anger management. Will watch this thread with interest and feel immense relief that I am not alone with this.

user1457017537 Fri 10-Aug-18 15:02:39

With regard to E numbers, I realise I am coming across as somewhat evangelical about them but it really it hard to explain the difference in a child who is susceptible. It really is easy to check as the information is on the packaging and should be available in restaurants. Just check before your child eats anything. Mine used to check himself and ask others to check for him if he was on a play date, etc.

Lavenderdays Fri 10-Aug-18 17:57:32

I have a sneaky feeling that it isn't E numbers with DD. She had an outburst (due to frustration and something I did which inflamed the situation) this morning after eating nothing with E numbers for breakfast.
The other thing she does is hug and be overly affectionate toward complete strangers (a bit like a puppy), she keeps asking adults their names and tbh, I don't feel completely comfortable with it and I feel like I never know quite what to expect with her. Certainly, I stopped taking dd out for a while (or minimised it) because of her volatile behaviour (she pushed a child off of a seat and would become too exuberant in soft play/or wouldn't follow instructions and put herself at risk). Thankfully, I think she has turned a corner with all of this since about Easter at around the time dd3 was born. I have spent several hours with her today (and baby) and she has been okay...no meltdowns but I find her very demanding and I am quite prepared to accept that this might be more to do with me than her. I am very conscious about giving my children time and hugs, my own mother was emotionally unavailable as I was growing up and I am certainly a person who craves their own time and space which is unfortunately limited especially as the Summer holidays are upon us. DD2 certainly has some positive traits she is very caring and is gentle with children who are smaller than her, she can be very entertaining - she has a wonderful imagination, she is also capable of role playing/colouring etc. on her own for periods of time and her vocabulary is very advanced for a child of her age. Maybe I am just tired, but I do tend to feel overwhelmed by her sometimes.

Mrscrabtree Sat 11-Aug-18 09:46:48

You could start trying to teach him about emotions when he is calm - eg using different faces to identify and then talking about how he feels inside when he feels these things. Next step would be to use a thermometer type picture to help him identify how much he feels something, then next step is to talk about things he can do to help calm down when he notices the thermometer going up. Make it fun, lots of pictures. Reward and praise him lots as he starts to get it. As a secondary approach you might also want to make a household rule/poster of “no hitting or throwing” and make it clear what the consequence is if this rule is broken by anyone (make it brief and implement after he has calmed down). Distraction can be useful too - but learning anger is ok but how to cope with it is most important. Good luck x

Lavenderdays Thu 16-Aug-18 13:29:28

I have phoned the health visitor today (awaiting a call back) because we had another episode of scratching today. This is so hard to try and parent...I have a baby and so I am sleep deprived as it is. Have talked about emotions and how we need to look after our bodies, how behaviour is separate to who we are i.e we are lovable etc. If it is attention related, I fear I could be looking at a bottomless pit where nothing is ever going to be good enough unless dd is centre of attention at all times (I fear the scratching may partially be attention seeking too because she sees how concerned mummy is). Drained is the word.

Lavenderdays Thu 16-Aug-18 21:25:48

Nothing really useful came back. Health visitor mentioned toddlers head banging out of frustration but now I feel it is all the more an unusual occurrence because she wasn't able to offer any direct help/advice. Only advice was to contact the GP if I am concerned. She didn't seem overly concerned because this has only been going on a couple of months. It's so hard to watch. If it happens again, I will be making a GP appointment.

Lavenderdays Mon 05-Nov-18 20:34:39

vanilla, just wondering how things are going with your dc? Just when I think dd wont do it again (there is at least a months gap in between episodes), she goes and does it (scratching herself). Getting to the end of my tether with worry and on the verge of requesting an assessment...was hoping it would disappear but perhaps I am expecting a bit much.

vanillasky1001 Mon 05-Nov-18 20:58:44

Hi there. So he is slightly better. We've got him into a better bedtime routine, and even though it was just half term we pretty much stuck to bedtimes, didn't let him stay up late, and we've dialled back on snacks etc. I was just thinking the other day we didn't have a massive tantrum all half term (and then my 2 year old had one, but hey). When he gets upset he does go to scratch himself but I'd deffo say more structure and less rubbish to eat means less tantrums at least. xx

Momo18 Mon 05-Nov-18 21:13:38

My 6 year old did similar but he would bit his hands or if frustrated say nobody is listening he would throw his hands to his head and lightly wack it. I bought him a sensory chew for the hand biting and thats stopped pretty much instantly. The head hitting I told him if he's frustrated that he shouldn't hurt himself and we also discussed how biting can cause infections in his hands and it would hurt and make doing the fun things he enjoys with his hands difficult. He really seemed to get that. Opening up and something safe to replace the habit is usually the way forward.

Lavenderdays Mon 05-Nov-18 21:48:09

That's good to hear vanilla. We have access to free child psychology via dh's health insurance, I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt to access it, then perhaps we could have other things ruled out. DD usually scratches herself because she is disappointed in herself...usually she has acted impulsively, then if me or dh is really cross/disappointed with her behaviour, then she becomes really cross with herself (we have told her it is her behaviour that is not good, not herself but I think she might be a bit too young to register the difference). You kind of forget that she could react this way because the episodes have been spaced about 6 weeks apart. There are one or two other issues, I wouldn't mind getting checked out, I think I might just follow my instinct and pick up the phone tomorrow (I too, feel like I need support with how to handle this).

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