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My son is 6. He is having anger issues and I don't know how to help him. He has always had a problem with this and its getting more aggressive. I know all children have problems with not getting their way, but there's got to be a stopping point! He kicks things, shove things, hits his younger brother, etc. if he doesn't get his way. We've made sure we have quality family time so he doesn't act out for attention. We make sure he gets to bed on time so he has enough rest. I watch they type of foods he intakes so that won't affect him. I haven't had any problems with with at school, it just seems to be at home. His brother is 5 and has started kindergarden this year. So after school, I am torn between two boys who want all of my attention so they can finish their homework first so they can go and play outside. They are still so young, my attention is needed to help them get started. He knows this behavoir is unacceptable. We address it every time he has one of his episodes. Please help!


Dr. Georgianna Duarte Replied: Sometimes, children experience difficult periods when they are having a hard time expressing their emotions in appropriate ways. However, it seems that your son has had this challenging behavior for a while, so here are some suggestions to help you address this, and teach him how to identify, and manage his own angry feelings. First, try to pull back, and observe the why or event which triggers these outbursts. Keeping a short journal of what precedes this event, and what his response is....will help you focus, and identify the strategy that will be most effective. Second, if the behavior is at a dangerous level, safely stop the behavior, and calmly pull your son away from the situation, and help him identify the problem. Your calm intervention is critical, and consistently trying to help him find the words to express why he is angry, and that he has a right to those feelings. There are numerous books to help children identify and manage their anger.....The website (if you at Vanderbilt University, is called Center for Social and Emotional Foundations of Learning. On this site, there are numerous tools, videos, and suggested books for children to learn how to more effectively express their emotions in acceptable ways. It appears that he is frustrated, and angry and doesn't select an appropriate way to express it, so now it is a good time to intentionally teach it. There is a great turtle technique on the website as well. Providing jobs for responsibility, and being sure to recognize, and provide constructive feedback when he does express the angry in a calm way are key ways to let him know that he is valued, and that when he does manage his anger is noted. Discuss and create some very simple limits together!! (4 or 5) and post these in several locations of the house, and gently remind him. Be clear abaout the consequence, make it reasonable and fair.
Posted On 2008-03-18 12:30:46
Dr. Vicki Panaccione Replied: Your son's escalating outbursts may very well be related to changes that this school year has wrought. Last year, he was the only one in school and the one who commanded your attention at the end of the day. Now he has to share his status, and your attention. Things may be escalating as you each begin to dread his walking in the door, expecting a repeat of the day before. Be careful to greet him each day with a positive attitude and belief in a fresh start. During a quiet moment, perhaps at bedtime, talk to him about his feelings, and let him know you understand that things are different and it's hard to have to share you. Ask him for suggestions about how after-school time could be better. Not only are the boys competing for your attention, but also who will go out and play first. To stop this, set aside 20 minutes after school when they both have to engage in school-related activities. Or, you could work with them one at a time, while the other boy plays inside. No one goes out until the time is up, or when both are finished, so there is no need to rush. You might ask your older boy to act as your assistant, helping his brother with his ‘easy' work. This can give him back some elevated status, and a way to receive your approval. Be sure to praise cooperative and independent behaviors; if you only give him attention when he needs help or he's acting up, then he will continue to be more and more demanding. Intervene as soon as he acts up, rather than waiting for his behavior to escalate. Put him in a safe place to calm down; this will let him know you will not tolerate the behavior and will keep him safe. Teach him ways to channel his anger, providing physical outlets such as bop-bags, pillows or ‘wresting buddies.' Dr. Vicki
Posted On 2007-11-30 16:04:39
Mark Viator Replied: The good news is that you have a few options with this situation. First off, many children do have anger issues that can be dealt with in a variety of ways. Because currently your 6 year old is not displaying these behaviors at home, we can assume that we are dealing with a boundary issue. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things with regards to making sure he is well tended to. Now it is time to establish some clear and concise rules that reflect the type of behaviors you expect him to display. For example, set a rule that says "you will not hit or shove." Tie these expected behaviors to privileges that he enjoys. If he takes control his behaviors, then he can keep the privileges. If he breaks his rules, then he looses the privileges in a rank order from least important to most important. He will loose these privileges for a 24 hour period. Set up these rules for both your 5 and 6 year old. One excellent resource is a book by Jamie Wyble, LCSW called Positive Discipline. Another good resources is Larry Koenig's book called Smart Discipline. The thing to remember with any discipline system is to be consistent. Institute this system and remain consistent in keeping it. If after a week or two the behaviors do not go away or if your son begins being aggressive towards others, then I do recommend you taking him to his pediatrician or to a child counselor. It is possible that he may be exhibiting behaviors associated with oppositional defient disorder. Usually behaviors are exhibited towards most authority figures, so school teachers would be reporting these behaviors. This is why I think this could just be behavioral issues associated with getting attention. Try the discipline system, be consistent, and if this does not work, then seek some form of professional counseling help. Good Luck.
Posted On 2007-09-29 11:41:07
Mark Borowski Replied: My gut reaction is to suggest you consider getting professional help for your son, through a counselor or psychologist, etc. because it sounds like it has been a problem for a long time and it appears whatever you have tried to do has not worked (although I'm not sure what that is). That being said, here are some things to consider: 1) How do you specifically handle his tantrums? (You didn't mention that.) I would suggest timeouts where he is isolated for a few minutes from others, followed by a discussion as to the reason for his timeouts, and then have him apologize to his brother or whoever. This is pretty basic and you may already do this. 2) Try to discover why this hasn't happened at school, which might narrow it down to something between your two sons or something specific to home. 3) Be effusive in your praise for your son when he does NOT throw a tantrum or simply handles a situation well and ask for others who care for him (family, babysitters, teachers, etc.) to do the same. Also, regularly explain to him how you or others positively handled a situation without getting angry, etc. Hopefully these positive examples will eventually make an impression on him and impact his behavior. 4) As far as homework after school, consider doing homework with each of them separately and alternate days who goes first. This will take more time for you but maybe it will solve the problem of being torn between the two. Or maybe you can somehow work it out at school where they are given homework on different days, if the problem is that bad. This might be asking too much of the school and I wouldn't expect the entire class to switch homework days, just an exception for one of your boys. At that age, my daughter had flexible due dates so she had a couple days to get the homework done so maybe that's the same (or could be the same) at your school. I hope this helps! Mark
Posted On 2007-08-22 15:23:49
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