Angry 4 year old

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by samsdad, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. samsdad

    samsdad New Member

    I am the very proud parent of two (normally) well behaved children (4 year old son and 1.75 year old daughter) who is new to this site. Now that we have that out of the way i really need assistance with my son. Our son is displaying extreme agression with his preschool teachers daycare providers to the point my mom is now watching him. Our most recent incidents include a two day trial with a sitter who comfronted him for a minor incident and he spit in her face. He was required to leave a preschool due to similar behavior with others. The common denominator seems to be when he is being redirected, corrected, or made to do something he does not want to do (finish his dinner, sit quietly, stop hitting, etc...) We have sought professional assistance only to realize we really had to instigate any of these behaviors out so the person could witness his behavior. We have read Dr Greene's "explosive child" recently and are instilling this in our daily routine with minor success. Our at home incidents are usually much less extreme than those at other locations and this causes extreme fear of even attempting another facility. The fear is we are adding fuel to the fire by introducing another element. I understand that somethings are normal in child developement, but his actions to others seem so angry. As far as his relationship with his sister, they get along fine if she does not knock down his towers he builds with blocks. We can handle the homefront, but we both need to work. My mother watching him can only be temporary. Thanks for reading.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Is this something that started recently or has it been going on for a while? When he was an infant were his tantrums spectacular? I'm only asking because if it's started recently, there may have been something that happened that he's holding in (went through this with my oldest). If it's been going on for a while, it could be something else entirely.

    A lot of the other people on this board know a lot more than I do, but my first reaction was to suggest the book The Explosive Child... Which I then saw that you've read.

    You may want to look at some other possibilities. I know 4 is pretty young for counseling per se, but I know (youngest child) that play therapy works really well. We needed to do this to tackle some abandonment issues due to husband being non-residential parent for quite a while. difficult child 2 didm't really act up at home, but when being returned to biomom all he!! broke loose.

    I'm sending hugs & prayers your way. You've found a great place for support (I sure did and I've only been here 2 months).
  3. samsdad

    samsdad New Member

    It started just after we moved into our new house and his new/old school. There was a lot of "I don't like the new house" "I don't like my new school" now it has progressed to "I dont like ..." " I never want to do... ever again" "I dont like you anymore" "You are not my best friend". These things I understand and really think we can work with. The items of concern are the hitting spitting and yelling at Former care providers. He would not dream of doing the hitting or spitting at home though he does yell (see above and replace with all caps. The last provider claimed to understand and thought she was able to handle it, but on the second day I get a call telling me I need to pick him up immediately after he spit in her face. I was embarrased!!!!! I was also hurt that my son would think to do such things. I will say that same day I had called at 10:45am after approx 3 hours there and no issues, he is an angel, he helps with others, etc. then she tried to correct him. Well I am still rereading for the fifth time the explosive child book and really trying to adapt it to my sons situation. I really need help with the on and off switch that controls the issues. Triggers from our list include: bedtime, wakeup time, dinner time, clean up time etc... Somehow we accidentally hit this switch when we ask anything of him. Not all the time, but enough to cause me and my wife extreme sorrow for him. thanks in advance to all replies as an engineer I know there are no bad replies only bad execution of those replies.
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    If this just started when you moved into your new house and he started in a new school, you'll want to take a close look at how he's handling transitions in general. Those are huge changes in a child's life and some kids are wired up far better than others in their ability to handle big and even little changes. For some kids it goes beyond struggling with the transitions to that causing very real anxiety but often on the outside it just looks like any other behavioral problems. Closely watch how he transitions from one activity to another or one place to another. There are ways to make transitions easier if that does seem to be an issue.

    What's his speech like--any delays there, or are you hearing any advanced, adult sounding speech? Beyond the difficult behavior are you seeing any other differences such as very fussy eating habits, problems with clothes, obsessions, etc?

    If you've read through The Explosive Child multiple times and aren't being helped by it, it's time to branch out. Are you just starting looking for help with this? Has your son ever been through any assessments?

    Why don't you describe how a dinner time fuss might play out at your house and we'll see if parents here can't give you some ideas. Can't promise results but I've been through the Applesauce-Hits-the-Ceiling-And-Cereal-Bowl-Dumped-On-The-Floor School of Hard Knocks...and have lived to tell about it. ;)
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2009
  5. samsdad

    samsdad New Member

    First of all any transition for him can cause an explosion, but does not always do so. Examples clothes, dinner, bedtime, etc... He comes off as real angry about something during explosions and when asked he typically replies in a very Bill Cosby manner " I don't know"

    As far as his speech he is very well spoken and always has been ahead of the curve (others opinions not just me bragging)

    As you stated...
    "There are ways to make transitions easier if that does seem to be an issue."
    I am willing and able to do anything to solve this. We really need to work on this as well as respect for teachers, care providers.

    My son and us have been to a child psyc. and she turned us on to The Explosive Child. My real is during the one hour sessions he really showed none of the traits for why we brought him in. She stated after about our tenth session (including her visiting his preschool) that the move and new school were probably main causes. Other than quoting the book to me I really did not gain much confidence there.

    Dinner begins with his selection process. Now I really do not want to shock anyone too badly, but my son if we let him would eat pickles, cucumbers, broccoli, corn on the cob, green bean, etc.. every night for dinner. After he has selected (part of giving him choices and responsibility) his dinner he will sit down and eat normally through about 2/3 of his meal and then ask for a treat if he finishes his meal. We usually allow for a fruit snack or something similar after he clears his plate. Problemns usually develop at this point including " i am too tired to eat", "My arms are too sore to eat", and my favorite lately " my legs are too tired to eat"

    As for an overall description of his behavior. Change/transition/redirection/ discipline equals explosion typically involving collapsing on the floor and rolling around wailing at the top of his lungs. then start the I dont like you's and such.

    I am sorry for the length, But I did mention before I am an engineer (Mechanical with the funny hat, not the train type with the funny hat)
    so I am way over analytical... I really want plan b to work beacuse I am way too plan "a" and my wife is way too plan "c" so we need our family to fit in the middle.

    Thanks for all reponses.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm thinking that since you've always noticed he was a little different that this didn't really come on suddenly, but now he's older so it is worse. Frankly, I'd give him a neuropsychologist evaluation. He could have Aspergers Syndrome (this is a high functioning form of autism in which the children are extremely bright and actually talk well and early, but they have trouble with sensory stuff, transitions, and understanding how to socialize with same-age peers. In frustration and when they have to do something unexpected or transition, they can be quite explosive if they are not given the proper interventions. I think it's worth an evaluation because the earlier anything is caught, the easier it is to help the problem. I believe in "better to be safe than sorry." As you know, most kids don't act that way around caregivers, and in my opinion it's more than his just being naughty or defiant. Does he memorize things by rote and repeat them (like a whole television show or commercials?) Any obsessive behaviors? Does he make solid eye contact with strangers? Does he play appropriately with toys and have a good imagination? Does he understand other's personal space? Does he complain about loud noise, certain foods, certain textures?
    Welcome to the board :)
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Your mealtimes sound like ours used to be.

    As difficult child 2 gets older, it's not so bad with him. difficult child 1 is now the picky one. It makes us rather nuts...

    One of the things I make on a regular basis in the winter is what the family now calls "Make difficult child 2 scream stew". Beef stew - but the child will sit there and play with it, refuse to eat, complain about the "brown things" (potatoes, which he loves otherwise), kick the floor, try to jump in the conversation with out-in-left-field comments and inappropriate noises... He's never actually exploded about it, but one parent always has to sit with him until he's done.

    We tried the route where he ate till he was "full", but he then complains he's hungry half an hour later. So we give him a small amount (about half a serving, or three bites) of the foods he's not fond of, tell him he can have more of the stuff he likes once he's done with those three bites.

    And the child now loves - and I mean loves - Brussels sprouts. Three bites at a time.

    Other stuff is still a struggle, but his is the passive aggression. It's difficult child 1 who is actively aggressive. Strangely, though, not at dinner. Even if it's lima beans.

    Something you can try during a quiet moment... Give him another choice. difficult child 2 hates this one, so it usually works. If he doesn't finish his dinner (at the 2/3 point you mentioned), ask if he would like to save the rest and his "treat" for breakfast. Of course, you already discussed this during the calm before the storm, so he recognizes the choice. If he doesn't want to finish it then, wrap it up and put it in the fridge. Breakfast in the morning should be interesting. difficult child 1 had, one time, half a cup of peanut butter (gotten out and not finished as an afternoon snack), about 3 oz. of apple juice and a tablespoon of lima beans for breakfast. Never happened again with her. WARNING - the first time you pull this stuff out for breakfast there will likely be an explosion. He probably won't eat it, but skipping breakfast once won't hurt him - don't give in!!! The second time, he might remember what happened last time and eat... And after that... It probably won't happen any more. I do say probably because he is not my child, so I can't swear to anything!

    More hugs - I understand the overanalyzing!
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    One thing I will caution about: if you have a child with sensory integration disorder (or don't know if you do) then the "don't give in" techniques can make them much, much worse. If you were ever pregnant and felt like heaving at the sight, smell, or taste of a certain food (it green beans for me! Yuck--I still can hardly smell them without gagging), that's what it can be like for a child with Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) at every single meal. Putting the pressure on a child to eat foods that feel like a sensory assault instead of a satisfying meal can increase meltdowns, cause anxiety, and even increase their sensory problems.

    I'm not saying that limits and boundaries when it comes to meals aren't important. I am saying that parents who are just starting to look for answers need to educate themselves about sensory issues before taking hard line stances that can make behaviors worse.

    Here's a good introductory article about sensory issues. If anything here rings a bell, check out Carol Kranowitz's book "The Out of Sync Child".
  9. samsdad

    samsdad New Member

    Midwest Mom:

    Actually this stuff never happened (or we never heard of it) from his daycares before the move.

    Eye contact on occassion especially when he is interested. never when about to explode or when apologizing about an explosion.

    He has a very strong memory, but not so much on tv. He can recall a statement made a year ago in passing.

    He has issues with others space as does his little sister.

    He does have a strange fascination with infomertials

    Again if in fact you were to witness these actions when they do happen you would think he is a very very very angry little boy who ten minutes later would be fine and you would not know a thing just happened...
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, dad :)
    I would still have him tested/evaluated. I feel like something's up no matter what escalated or started it because I'd want to know for sure that I did the max of what I could. And to me that means evaluating.
    But it's up to you, of course ;)
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    SRL - very true, and something I didn't even think about. Still stuff I am learning! This was something suggested to me by my mother in law, because apparently it worked with husband when he was a child. Seems to work now. Thanks for the reminder that, while things may work for someone, they may make life he!! for someone else. :tongue:
  12. samsdad

    samsdad New Member

    Midwest mom:

    I would love to get him evaluated, but I really want to do it right. It really made no sense for multiple 1 hour visits when he can go for hours/ days without an explosion. I really think also that this chilpd psychiatric. was not right for us as we learned right before our session started I noticed a pattern developing and predicted to my wife exactly what was to be said in that days meeting. I am guessing the therapist thought my wifes eyebrows we permanently in the surprised position. What I am not sure of from reading and posting about this is what type of psychiatric. I need to find to help my son? I will go to the ends of the earth for him on this.

    SRL, I have never been pregnant, but I will never be able to cook jumbilya (SP) in my house again due to my wife having that issue.

  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I was thinking more of a testing evaluation, like a neuropsychologist rather than psychobabble, which I've unfortunately had to participate in myself and don't find helpful. But, again, up to you. I think it's best not to assume "He'll outgrow it." JMO
  14. samsdad

    samsdad New Member

    Day 4 after taking Dr Riley's and others advice for removing Dairy from my sons diet. I am happy to tell you he seems to be reacting MUCH differently than before to commmon situations. Even his blow-ups and almost serene and really short in duration. I will keep everyone informed as we progress, but at this rate we could have a normal 4 year old soon.

    Thanks to all,

    Sams Dad