Help dealing with my 7 year old son.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by kd58657, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. kd58657

    kd58657 New Member

    I will just start by saying that my son is a very sweet boy, but has some very real anger issues. Example one: We were shopping and he saw a costume that he wanted I told him that we would come back a different day to get costumes and he was fine with that. Flash forward two days we went to a different store of the same chain and they didn't have the same costume. When I told him I was not going to drive an hour to the other store location he lost it. He started screaming at me throwing punches and then took off running through the store. Punishment, grounded from all video game systems and club penguin. Example two: Last night my step kids were over and playing video games my son was watching, it was time to turn the games off and once again my son lost it because he didn't get to play. Another huge melt down screaming for at least a half an hour throwing things etc. I have taken him to two different doctors and they don't think any thing is wrong. He only does this stuff @ home and is a very good student. I am just lost I just keep asking people what the heck am I supposed to do. Any one have an idea?:headache::headache:
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Oh, this is very familiar.

    At the risk of offending you (I warn ahead because I mean no offence, but I am trying to save you a lot of time here) I tell you what took me a long time to learn - you need to do a few things very differently.

    This does not mean that you are wrong or a bad parent. But what you have here is a child for whom the usual parenting methods not only are NOT working, but are actively causing more trouble. This is not your fault. Push blame, and guilt, well away. Do not own it. And please take on board - I am NEVER saying here that this is your fault in any way. Sometimes kids like this happen anyway.

    Now to what to do -

    1) He needs an assessment, a good one, preferably by a neuropsychologist. If you keep going on as you are, you will not make progress with him and things will only get more painful. It can be made easier. But a diagnosis is needed, so you know where to go and can also get the help you need where you need it.

    2) Read other posts and threads here. A lot of distilled wisdom is here. Not all the help that is effective, is what professionals can provide. There are ideas here, suggestions here, different thoughts. Read as much as you can, think about it, take on board what seems to fit and feel free to discard the rest. YOU are thhe parent, trust your instincts. But be prepared to re-think how you've been doing it - it's not working anyway, so why keep banging your head against a brick wall?

    3) Change your mindset towards your child. There's someting going on with him that doesn't fit, and somewhere in there you're trying to apply standards to him that he just can't give you, not consistently. And when I say this - please remember what I said, I am not being critical of your parenting. Only that what you are trying to deal with here, is well outside the square of what you have been trying to do. It's like you're trying to raise a puppy, when someone has slipped you a walrus instead. His needs and behaviour patterns are not what the rule books would lead you to expect. If you keep treating your walrus as a puppy, he will give you increasing troubles.

    4) Read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It might help you with (3) and explain better what I'm trying to say. For a quick preview, you can Google the book and also read up on it in the Early Childhood forum. Again, take what feels right and leave the rest. But as he develops and changes, re-visit the book. There is tuff there that can make a big difference.
    Some of the methods seem counter-intuitive, seem ridiculous. But they work (if you do it right - and it should be easy) because these methods plug in to the very different way of functioning. It's like an appendix to the raising a puppy rule book, that amends the rules to make them specific to walruses and other aquatic mammals.

    5) Do a sig when you can (you will see my sig at the end of this post). It explains the family dyamics so you don't have to keep going into detail every time you post. It saves you time and energy. Also saves us having to backtrack to find out more so we can help you more specifically. Keep it anonymous though, because you need to feel free to say what you need to, without worrying abour offending family members, teachers, neighbours etc.

    Now to the specifics of your problems - we have experienced what you describe, in varying degrees. It is at least as extreme as you describe, in difficult child 3. The tantrum is coming form two sources -
    1) anxiety - he is really afraid that this thing he wants, is so desperate to own, will slip through his fingers. And you are standing between him and this ownership. The desire is so desperate that he is almost in a panic over it. You can't reason with this especially in the early years of this. As they get older and feel more secure, it's a bit easier. But for us this took years. We found a different way to cope. I will describe it in a minute.

    2) Task-changing problems, which also comes in to when you require him to change mind-track. Example - he might be watching a favourite cartoon show. You come into the room partway through broadcast to say, "Go have your bath NOW!" and you can almost guarantee a tantrum. If you try to wrap your head around it - if he were your partner, your mother or your friend and you wanted them to help you with a task, you probably would say, "Can you come help me when you're ready? I'll only need you for a minute. We can do it in the ad break, or when the program finishes."

    The trouble with kids like this, is where we would normally use force to get parental will to rule, with these kids it rapidly becomes a huge battle and a competition. The more you try the "because I said to do it NOW and I'm the parent, you must do as I say," the worse the fight. And they are STRONG! You may win the first couple of battles, but eventually they will be stronger and you CANNOT lose a battle. it is better to not engage, than to engage and lose.

    So you need to find another way to win, without competing openly.

    So what we do (and began this with easy child when she was little) - we set up several levels of parental support for the "I want this!" routine.
    First, it has to be something we approve of and would allow eventually.

    Second, especially if it's a bargain, it's on sale, it's the last one - anything like this, we will buy ONE item (per child) and keep it for them until they have been able to buy it off us with teir pocket money. Except in special circumstances (such as a huge sale or amazing deal) we can only have one item in the family "shop" at a time. It MUST be redeeemed by the child before another item can be purchased.

    It is amazing how this lowered the anxiety. An item in the house under parental supervision is an item 'locked in' and definitely theirs, eventually. An item in the store is still at risk of being purchased by someone else and gone forever.

    If the cost was a bit high and taking too long for them to redeem it, I would sometimes 'pay' for extra chores done, so the child could earn it faster.

    Other things we've done (especially with difficult child 3 recently) - we ring up the store and ask them to either put it aside, or transfer it back to the store closest to us. We involve difficult child in this process (or explain to him what we have done to secure it). Security is the important factor. The raging is out of fear that the opportunity will be lost. And when a difficult child rages out of fear, this is not fully in his control. To puynish what a child cannot control is not effective.

    Your ultimate aim - to stop this behaviour. There are other more effective ways. Punishment isn't working, it only means more stuff you have to monitor. You don't have a perfect child, you have one who is having trouble with self-control and behaviour. But the child wants to be good. Sometimes it's jsut too difficult. The behaviour is worse at home because the child knows you love him unconditionally. They can't hold it togeter 24/7 but they pften have enough control to behave better at school or in public. But it's like pulling off your too-tight shoes when you get home - there is a desperate need to do this, to relax and let your sore feet have a breather. But it's not always pretty or pleasant. You only do this around people who will put up with your foot odour.

    End of the day is generally worst. A kid who is unwell - same story. And if you're tired too, it can really escalate.

    There are a number of conditions which can explain this, which can produce similar behaviours but for a range of often very different reasons. Some can be helped with medications, some can be helepd with professional help and behaviour modification, some cannot. But as parents we can always do our own things to help.

    Welcome to the site. We can help. I have a few more ideas but I'll sit on them for now.

  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member


    OK a few questions. Were you actually shopping the 2nd time out for costumes? If so, I understand the meltdown. You still have time to look other places and perhaps in the next month you will be out to the other store. Did you try to get him to purchase a different costume? I am not saying his reaction is appropriate, but with our kids - they react with extremes and sometimes taking a small step toward preventing it keeps everyone peaceful.

    When he was watching the others play was there a conversation about him getting time to play? Was there a known time to shut down the game? Again, I can see the meltdown coming if the exact expectations are not known.

    Many of our kids meltdown with change. And sometimes change to them does not seem like change to us. Does he have trouble with other transitions? Other changes?
  4. sickofbeingtired

    sickofbeingtired New Member

    I'm new to this site too and have been reading these posts since it was such a relief to hear about kids like mine. I'm so tired of hearing what an angel he is at school, with grand-parents, etc., so his behavior at home must be my fault. That said, I'm at the beginning of my process to get help, too. His behavior actually is escalating (more violent toward me & sibs, threats to himself & others, refusal to go to school or daycare, etc) on top of his "normal" inattentiveness and negativity, so I'm looking for the best way to deal.

    Last year, I took the kids out to get costumes (thinking it would be a fun treat, isn't this the stuff we're all supposed to enjoy?), and it turned into a big meltdown when my (then 5-yr old) couldn't find the one he wanted in his size and we "rushed" him. We were there over an hour and he spent most of the time running around looking at "cool" things rather than costumes, despite many attempts to re-direct. He really wanted a costume that had a sword, but because I said he couldn't have the violent toy, he threw a big fit about how that was the only one he wanted and I ruin everything. Once again, the family piled in the car aggravated, no costumes in hand.

    This year, I tried to avoid this by asking him what he wanted to be for halloween this year. I asked him to give me two ideas and that I would pick something up. He seems ok with this since I told him that way I could look at the "cool" stores for his costumes when I'm nearby,

    By the way, maybe my anger is misplaced, but I have grown to hate video games & computer games. We've had more Club Penguin fights than I can count. He only may play these now as a reward on weekends, but it doesn't stop him from talking about them constantly. Just wondering if you can relate>>>
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yes. Even if we cut out all videogames for my son, he would still obsess over them. THAT we can't control.

    I don't know what's wrong with your child. This obsessing IS common with kids on the autism spectrum. Even when son is busy elsewhere, he is thinking about videogames and the characters. And he's sixteen and not violent at all.
  6. I personally think my son thinks and talks about Mario etc a lot because his video games are, to him, a pretty predictable and therefore comfortable world. He's happy there.

    Good luck and yes, "The Explosive Child" is worth its weight in gold. I am just like my son and still hate any sentences that start with "No", "Stop" or "Don't". Unfortunately, children hear a lot of sentences like that. I get significantly better responses out of my son than other people do because I give him time to transition, hype up the next planned activity whenever possible, and most importantly, phrase things so it's more like a choice than an order. Due consideration of his feelings makes him feel respected and less threatened or something.
  7. keithpr

    keithpr New Member

    It's not easy to deal with children of that age. Maybe you can get him away from his video games by turning his interest to outdoor activities or sports. I know that is easily said and difficult to do. Take him out to a ballpark or a basketball match, maybe he likes it and finds a new hobby.