My 5 year-old - screaming, hitting, disobedient

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by 4am, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. 4am

    4am New Member

    Hello... I am at my wit's end with my 5 year-old boy. Here are some of the things I am dealing with

    - He hits me when he's angry
    - He screams his words (usually telling me to STOP IT NOW!)
    - He repeatedly ignores my requests
    - Gets easily upset by stupid things (me singing Christmas songs makes him throw a tantrum)
    - Gets sent home from school with notes about his behavior more than once a week
    - Seems obsessed with video games, asking to play constantly (first thing in the morning, right after school)
    - Very hyper, constantly moving, jumping, obsessed with his play-sword and light sabers, constantly swinging them around
    - Argues with everything

    I have no idea what to do anymore. I feel frozen. When I want to dicipline him, I worry about his reaction. I've started walking on eggshells with my 5 year old. It is way out of hand.

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the board. Your little guy sounds like A LOT of our kids. Has he been evaluated? Any psychiatric disorders on either side of his family tree? Tell us a bit about his early development. Did he have an problems with talking or making good eye contact or cuddling or relating to his same-age peers? Can he transition well? Is he overly sensitive to noise, light, certain textures, certain foods? Does he have any strange habits such as clicking his tongue, or smacking lips, or flapping arms or lining up his toys or making high pitched sounds? Does he seem to "get" life or does he seem pretty clueless and sort of confused?
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Sounds like you are having a tough will find that there are plenty of other parents here (myself included) that understand exactly what you are going through.

    Have you sought any help yet for your child? Have you had him tested for any kind of neurological difficulties?
  4. pleez_help

    pleez_help New Member

    Hi and welcome! You will find lots of mothers who share your frustration. I have a 9 year old who sounds a lot like yours. We took him to the psychiatrist yesterday, and she told me to not let him play video games. They have too much stimulation in them. She also told us to take away all of his toys that encourage violent play. Has he be diagnosis with anything? Have you taken him to see a psychiatrist? If you give some more info the ladies here can help you better. I am pretty new here, so not much help. Just remember to breath.......alot. It seems to make my difficult child more angry when I get angry with him.
  5. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Hi and welcome to the board! :)
    What behaviour Modifications have you tried with him? What works what doesn't? How long have you tried them for. Most things need a couple of weeks to really see if they work or not.
    For example when our Daughter K was younger we tried 1,2,3 Magic... we did it and followed it strictly for about a month!
    Her room was stripped bare! We stuck with it, after almost a month we realized counting and a bare room really didn't phase her.
    But we had to stick with it for a long time.
    Same with charts, rewards, time-outs etc.
    Even when they are hitting and biting etc. Working with a ton of books and ideas on-line we needed to tease out what were actual tantrums, behaviours or real symptoms that could be changed.
    When we realized that our child really wasn't being affected by any of the parenting Modifications then we sought help.
    Maybe you have tried modifying your parenting and adapting yourself to your child.
    You will have to anyway if you have a special needs child.
    I didn't see if anyone suggested it yet, but "The Explosive Child" is a great book to help with some Modifications. Whether or not your child has an actual diagnosis.
    You have found a great place to get help! We all understand difficult children!
  6. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    Heather: yes, that sounds like the joys of motherhood as I remember 5.
    Definately pull out all the electronic type toys...period when he is not looking. Send time with him reading and doing things like making things, clay, a rice table is good, anything involving squeezing stuff out of a tube(otherwise they do it in kindergarden and teachers LOVE IT when a child is tierd of squeezing stuff out of a tube BEFOR kindergarden)....lots of out door fun that keeps him moving....swimming is VERY GOOD...EVERYDAY For HOURS!!
    REad to him is a wonderful transition activity between activities and especially between waking and sleeping. At that age I would have a stack of books on one side of the bed and I might very well read all of them then piling them up on the other side of the bed. And chapter books as well.The practise of reading to a child gives them the language base, teaches them to listen well, and also models and engages him in the skills to sitting in one place. Also, in my opinion, the close contact with Mom and Dad each day for long sessions of reading provides the calm intimate foundation for consentration in a relaxed, supported environmetnt that then is internalized and creates a lifelong ability to center well as prioritizing active learning...
    REading is also a twin cousin of our other lifelong skill that is elemental in all our
    emotional lives: Time out.
    In my opinion time out as "a punishment" misses the point. The out of control angery type behavoir you are sharing with us in the five year old is the physical acting out of what we will all experiance until the day we die: reactive emotion. That frontal lobe filter that acts as a pause between symulus A and knee jerk B is LEARNED BEHAVIOUR. Our all time wise words "Think befor you act"
    No adult is unaware of how much effort is actually involved with FEELING MAD and THINKING WELL. When parenting the role of embracing and angery child and holding them when they are angery and reassuring them that 1) You look angery. 2)The mad feeling will pass. 3) It is OK. This is a good time for a relaxing time out.
    Agression is the easiest behavior we humans learn. We have to respond to it: either we do nothing and are hurt;duck and avoid it;or we respond as a new inductee to the abnormal use of human power by returning the act in kind.
    What we learn from is also keen compassionate acts of attention to one another. For small children we teach best when we are pro-actively inviting more
    of what we want. "Walk" as apposed to "Don't Run"..."Talk to me gently" as apposed to "Don't yell" and affirming what IS GOOD BEHAVIOR (in a moment when your 5 is being calm and appropriate you can safely tell him with confidence that he is a capable learner).
    The five year old is a being who is learning ALOT all the time and this age is excellant for them to learn multiple languages and to begin to do many more things than ever befor. hense it is EVEN MORE exhausting for parents. You need a plan. you can make a daily schedule that moves from one thing to another just to keep up the pace that is appropriate for the 5's learning abilities.
    practice is the tool and the multiple things that you do control completely are what all is on the agenda for him to do each day. For him it is the work of PLAY.
    For you it is the work of providing the activities that move him forward on his journey of learning.
    The vedio type games I like for the five are the ones that keep them moving. The bike in front of the vedio screen that he has to pedal to play...That I could have used. Daily. Plug in the kid and get the calls made, and do the things I had to do.
    Definately have the 5 doing chores with you regularly TO EARN time on the game. but not now. Not until he is behaving well and earns the time fro his good behavior. If you pull all of it and let him learn to behave without baiting him....I hate that. Ithink that when parents bait their children with "things" they are setting themselves up for a child who is going to be turning to pandering himself to you and it is DISCUSTING. Kids who are participating in the family life like hookers turning tricks: not a smart choice. We all have to do the daily stuff and nobody is the servant for hire.
    Also my son was a biter. The ultimate parent nightmare. "use your words" rather than do not bite. I would use the bite and the hit as the foundation for you explaination as to what has to change. Until you use your words and do as I tell you NONE of that fun for you.
    Get ready for the wild ride as he plys his skills at controlling you through his tantrum mastery. Remember these are the samples of how well he does learn. If his room is safe just let him ride it out in there. if you have to be in the room with him what I would do is hold him in a chair like a lifeguard and do :if you have to say anything use your most sincere beautiful womans voice and softly say something like "this feeling will pass. I am right here." I would also make a soothing outward sigh sound to remind him how to relax...not in the heat of his rage but as he begins to tucker out.
    What is not going to work is to let him intimidate you.
    I use to ask my son this question: do you want me to handle this with my loving adult manners (and changing tone and facial expression)OR DO YOU WANT THE MOMMY MONSTER?
    If you are consistant with your child one day you will lead your child with looks and gesters from across the room. When you mean business and you follow through your child will from time to time act up...usually in developemental transitions...but the foundation will give you two the tools to get the good thing going like a vigurous plant that may need pruning from time to time but it will flourish from the effort.
    Hope so of this is somehow usefull. Best of luck. These are the big challenges, Mom. Seeking help and insight is the path to gathering what works for you.
  7. Janna

    Janna New Member

    I love the word behavior modifications, T! LOL! As soon as I got through the first couple of sentences, that went right through my mind.

    It sounds like you are having a hard time disciplining. Please don't take offense. You are saying you're walking on eggshells around your son, what kind of tantrums does he have? Crying? Does he do anything to hurt himself or is he just screaming/crying, etc?

    Does he have a consequence when he hits you? If you ask him to do something and he doesn't do it, what happens? Video games - awful - I agree, take em. Lock em up. What is the school telling you about his behaviors?

    Some of the things just sound like he needs to be consequenced. Seriously. For example, swinging the light saber around. Take it. Tell him "if you swing that one more time I'm taking it". Don't yell. Don't threaten over and over. Or, do the 1, 2, 3 Magic and give chances. But, do it. Don't say you will and not. Take it. When you ask him to do something and he doesn't do it, give him a consequence. Write it down. Tell him ahead. Get a Dry Erase board, put it on there. If you don't do XYZ, ABC happens. Every time. Every, every, every time.

    Tantrums bite. My son used to throw em, 3 hours at a time. Threw his head through a picture window once over a piece of gum when he was 4. I have stories - nightmares. I guess he was about 7 when I started making rules. Took him about 2 years to really get the grip of it (he's Autistic, very slow to learn lol), but he got it. We work on points here now, and it works good. His tantrums are pretty much gone, but I think, too, that may have come with age and some partial maturity. He still tries to get away with stuff. I just stand firm.

    The thing is, if you're having these issues now, what's it going to be like when he's 10? 15? Are you still going to want to be going through this? Nah. Better to nip it in the bud now.

    I'd call around, see if there's any agencies that offer behavior modification help. Here in Pennsylvania, it's called "Wrap Around". We did it, few times, sometimes it's helpful. Can't hurt to check.

    I don't think the singing thing is stupid. I get really annoyed when my oldest boy (17) plays his stupid rap music. Ticks me off to no end. If I could tantrum, LOL, I would. So, I don't allow it here.

    Hope things get easier. Sounds like you have your hands full. Sending you hugs.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  8. clisa99

    clisa99 losingxmyxmind


    i understand complete.y my son did that last year and is backa t again now that he is 6. he had a period of 4 months where i didnt feel like my life was a living hell here with him. he did really well behaving at school too.

    now he is back to screaming at the top of his lungs. i mean it is blood-curtling and SO embarassing. he does it home and at school

    he also, hits me, curses at me (F word, B word)

    he gets a note sent home pretty often about how he disrespects his teacher and his classmates too

    every day is a surprise. i never know what is gonna set him off orif he will be able to deal with it or lose control. i feel like his teacher is not too keen on having to deal with him either.

    i completely feel your discouragement. *hugs*
  9. cadydid

    cadydid New Member

    Your son sounds like my son 8 years ago. Well actually, it is still him. Only he directs it at my husband, his step father.

    My question is has he been diagnosed with anything? And if so, is he on any medication? If not, getting him evaluated is definitely in order....

    In the mean time.. you have found a great place for support.. I have only been here a week and already I feel better about the situation with my son.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi and Welcome! You have found a wonderful source of support, knowledge and caring. We have all had problems with our kids, so no judgements or blaming mom happens here.

    There ARE things you can do. I recommend a couple of books. The Explosive Child by Ross Greene is one that almost all of us have found useful. It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but once you get accustomed to it, it works quite well. I also like the Love and Logic books (you can explore them at I think what I liked best about them is that a.) it stressed strengthening a loving bond between parent and child while using natural consequences and b.) it "clicked" with my husband so we could be on the same page.

    I really think you probably need to have him evaluated by a multi-disciplinary team (group of docs who work together to try to figure out what is going on, often led by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or developmental pediatrician) or a neuropsychologist (psychologist with very specialized training in testing and how the brain impacts behavior). What you are looking for is not a 50 min evaluation, but an evaluation that takes a substantial amount of time broken into 2-3 hour chunks.

    Bear in mind that as he grows, what you see may change, so you will want to find docs you can really work with.

    also, because the songs bother him and the constant movement, etc.... I STRONGLY recomment having him evaluated by an Occupational Therapist (Occupational Therapist (OT)) for sensory integration issues. many of our kids have sensory issues and need certain kinds of stimuli and therapy to help with it. I KNOW my youngest would have ended up with an ADHD diagnosis if we had not gotten an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation that showed significant sensory problems - and the great thing about sensory problems is that they can be helped WITHOUT medication. There is a wonderful author, Carol Kranowitz, who has written 2 books that you may find helpful. If you can only buy one, I recommend the 2nd one I will list here: 1.) The Out of Sync Child - this explains sensory issues and how they can be helped. Good, helpful reading, most libraries have it or can get it through inter-library loan. 2.) The Out of Sync Child Has Fun - this is PACKED with activities to suit all sorts of sensory stimulation a child might need. It also has ways to make them quite affordable, which is always a plus for us.

    I hope you stick around, I am glad you found us. We DO have an Early Childhood section of the site, which might also be helpful to you.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Oh, this sounds so familiar!

    The troublewith discipline, is we tend to apply what was used on us, and maybe for us it was OK, but if your child is at all out of the ordinary, you need to do something different.

    For a lot of us, the discipline we grew up with was about control, it wasabout the adult imposing will on the child. And yes, it works - as long as you're not trying to teach achild who has a strong need to control his environment, coupledd with a strong sense of justice and fairness, coupled with a total lack of awareness of difference between adult and child. Because when you thank you to conntrol such a child by force of will, you find two things:

    1) to the child, it seems like bullying, and you are doing it so it must be OK to do it back; and

    2) they are stronger than you, more stubborn than you, more determined than you. If not now, then soon.

    There are other ways but it requires a mental turnaround to find something more effective and perhaps more appropriate. A lot of us have found benefit from "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. There are other books but tis is a good one to start with. There issome discussion on this book in the Early Childhood forum, for a quick preview.

    So your chid plays computer games obsessively? Oh, is this ever familiar! I have two sons like this, one is now a marriedadult and the other is now in his teens.

    I went down the route of trying to limit game play. NOT a good idea.In fact, don't try to do anything, unless oyu can engage the child in the reasonableness of your actions. And trying to totally ban video games is likely to be disastrous.

    Pleez_help, this is for you as well - go carefully with what you have been advised.

    Our experience - yes, there were some games which made difficult child 3 worse. RThose games, we banned until difficult child 3 could demonstrate to us that playing those games was not going to lead to increased behaviour problems. For example, one game in particular would give him nightmares. So at first it was a total ban, then he was permitted to play it on weekends in the mornings only, then when he was nightmare-free we would let him try later and later in the day, until he was OK with these games.

    Other limits we were able to successfully impose - no stimulating games after a certain time. PLus, ALL gaming to stop by acertain time, in order for him to wind down for bed and complete his evening routine without disrution.

    But banning all gaming? Disastrous.

    The reason I think this is so disastrous - for these kids, gaming is often acoping strategy. It calms them down when they're agitated (depending on what game they're playing; younger kids have more trouble with some games and do need to be supported to play calming games at times when they need to calm down). It gives them useful social information, often practical knowledge and general reflex skills training. Logic training, brain training, it uses mental energy which other wise runs riot.

    The rules we had in place -

    1) School work during school hours. No gaming during school hours. Ever. Not even if he's home sick.

    2) Non-stimulating games at wind-down times. Examples of non-stimulating games - it varies from child to child, you have to observe. If a game is not time-limited but still causes the child to get angry and agitated, it comes off the "safe" list. Otherwise, a lot of educational software that allows unlimited time to answer questions, is OK for wind-down. And yes, they can be played during school hours, when all other assigned schoolwork hs been done. But it is a privilege.

    3) Stimulating games can only be played if/when it can be shown to not disrupt the child's behaviour subsequently. Therefore it is in the child's interests to demonstrate this; if they fail, they can reapply in a week, a fortnight, a month. YOu set the rules with your child's involvement in the decision.

    4) You respect the child's need to either save the game or get to a logical pause point. In return, the child has to accept that certain chores must be done (such as eating dinner, doing homework, bathing, getting ready for bed). NEVER expect instant compliance for anything; instead, give time arnings such as, "Dinner will be ready in ten minutes. Get yourself to a save point, or pause the game." Never expect the child to stop the game instantly you call. This is a transition problem and is a very common cause of fighting with even avery young child. Some kids just can't transition well and will fdight, often seemingly unreasonably, when you expect them to. We then rspond with instant requirement of compliance to parental authority, and then set ourselves up for failure especially if we have a child who doesn't recognise any authority but his own.

    The more you stand there and deemand instant compliance, the more you will see oppositional behaviour. We all would do it, if our brains were wired like these children.

    Imagine yourself in a work environment. You have been given the task to straighten out the files which have been left in a mess. Incoming mail has been filed with copies of outgoing mail, it's all out of chronological order, accounts have been filed with orders and none of it makes sense. A lot of it is crumpled.

    You are in the middle of mentally sifting through the alphabet and the calendr, to try to work out which particular file you should use for the papers you currently have in your right hand, while in your left you hold duplicate copies which can now be discarded.

    At that moment your boss walks up and says, "Drop everything. There's a birthday cake and presentation happening for Margot in my office NOW."

    If you instantly drop everything, you will have to dift trough the entire contents of your desk to get back to what you were doing, and the last half hour of work, possibly more, will need to be re-done. YOu say to your boss, "I need ten minutes, I can't drop everything right now."

    From your point of view, a reasonable boss would know what you are dealing with and would make allowances. But to your horror, your boss plucks the papers from your hands, drops them ALL in the bin (where many other papers already thoroughly checked and rejected, are now mixed in with papers that could be important) and grabs you by your collar and says, "When I say 'now', I means NOW!"

    How would you react? And how would you rect if you got to the boss's office and found you had to wait for another ten minutes because others weren't ready? And the boss didn't make the same fuss over them not being ready?

    For our difficult children, the world (and our part in it) seems at times to be very unreasonable. They have no good example of how to handle this other than standing there screaming at us (often because that is what has been modelled for them by other adults in their environment). Even when we as parents model quiet reason instead of shouting at them for compliance, they often, at 5, don't have the ability to cope with frustration well enough to not go into meltdown mode.

    For a young child who is used to playing games, suddenly stopping them is going to seem like an adult imposing force of will purely because they can. It will teach absolutely nothing, other than "if you're big enough, you get to have your own way."

    However, if you say to your child, "I find that when you play THIS game, it makes you angry. I think it's too complicated for you and I don't like it when you're angry. How can we make this alright?"

    The child's initial reaction is likely to be panic. "They want me to stop all video games forever."
    So ANY compromise from there, is likely to be an improvement. If you say, "Here is a list of games I thinnk are OK to play any time. And here is al iist I don't want you to play at all for the next week. Let's try this out and see how you feel and how you manage your frustration, over the next week."

    For a five year old, you might need to impose this for just one day.

    This can work, even with a young child. But you need to find ways to help the child feel ownership of the choices, otherwise it's just you imposing your will and the end result is no lesson learned, just you modifying your environment.

    You are really winning, and really teaching your child, when he comes to you and says, "I was playing that game for the first time for a week and I started to get angry, so I turned it off and walked away."

    THat will take some times, but he needs you to lead him to this and not push him.

    When you involve your own child like this, it is not all going to go the way you want it to. You will be compromising. But in the process, you are teaching your child to compromise - a vitally important lesson and quite a sophisticated one for a young child.

    As thigns are right now, he is trying to impose his will on you, because that is all he knows. Ands it's not working for either of you.

    Of course, all I'm suggesting here says not a word about WHY your child is like this. That is a separate issue that we can also support you through. It takes time, and frankly you can't wait until you have those answers, to put something in place. You need to change your discipline NOW in order to begin to make some headway and preserve your sanity!

    Please be aware - I am not in any way criticising you as a parent. Your discipline methods are undoubtedly the best, they are what you know, they probably would be ideal for most kids. But they're not working for THIS kid, and that is what matters here.

    There are methods that work. It's not fair, to have to change your tactics, but someone has to. Generally the parent has more flexibility in this, than the child. So it is the parent who has to be the hero, and make the necessary change.

    I hope this can help.

    There is more, but I don't want to overwhelm you to begin with.

    Welcome to the mob, help is here. And understanding.

  12. snowy

    snowy Guest

    i have a similar problem my 6 y/o( who gets all his needs met and more!) swears at me and refuses to do simple things like brushing his teeth or taking his shoes off in the house. he wont do it if i punish or plead and forget about time outs he sneaks out his window! if i put him where there is no window he gets up and runs around the diningroom table so i cant get him! he hits punches me in the back and curses at me "*****". i am so hurt and whats worse than that is he is obsessed with posessing forbidden things, he steals money from my wallet he steals matches from my mothers house and hides them in the woods ,in fact the fire chief has come to our home and talked to him and still he has no fear even the chief said it concerns him that he is saying he knows it is dangerous yet he still talks about the lighters as if it hasnt sunk in. he steals lighters from stores when im not looking at the check out. ive brought him to the store manager and made him pay with his $ yet he continues to do it!! im afraid for his future!:(
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, Snowy. When you can, introduce yourself in a thread of your own so we can give your problems the individual attention they deserve.

    This is a helpful site, so many of us have been there ahead of you and are willing to share their experiences with you.

  14. johns kitten

    johns kitten New Member

    [I Have the same problem with my six year old step son but what I'm wondering is it I'm in the home, or is it siblings?
    My step son hits his dad,and bites,slaps,screams,kicks,tells him lies, he is also very (to active) for his age. He also fights with our older daughter who is 13 purposly trys to get her in trouble.
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I think there is a lot of wisdom contained in Marguerite's post (hello and welcome by the way :)) I would have said get rid of the video games but perhaps some kind of limit on them is a fair compromise. My son (who also has many of these behaviours, in varying degrees) does not watch ANY television on school days and has limited TV time at weekends. I have seen what a disastrous effect it has on him. For the moment he doesn't know of the existence of video games and does perfectly well playing with his toys or doing his various sporting activities instead... I really would encourage you to enrol your son in some form of physical exercise, whether a martial art or a group game, if that is available to you. One of the problems of hyperactivity is of course excessive, unchannelled energy. Please tell us more about your boy and his background. In the meantime, hugs - it ain't easy.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Has he ever been evaluated? If not, I would take him to a neuropsychologist. It's time to get to the bottom of why he acts up...and Neuropsychs are really good at pinpointed specific problems that can cause kids to rage. You can try it alone, but, in my experience, if he is as violent as you portray him you probably need outside help to find out why he acts t hat way and to see what can help him. It's not BAD to ask for help!
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Old post!
  18. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Johns kitten -

    First - welcome.

    This is a very OLD thread.

    Please start a new thread - perhaps on the Early Childhood forum - and introduce yourself...
    We don't want you to get lost and not noticed... NEW threads get noticed!

  19. Rnmama1019

    Rnmama1019 New Member

    Thank you for posting! The replies I have read have been so helpful. I was in tears today because my son NEVER sits quietly in church and after weeks of horrible behavior issues I was in tears feeling like a failure as a mom. Thank you!
  20. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    Gday & Welcome Rnmama,

    While it's good to read over the old threads this one is more than old - it is ancient!

    Please start a new thread - perhaps on the Early Childhood forum - and introduce yourself.

    We don't want you to get lost and not noticed. NEW threads get noticed!

    Don't ever feel a failure. The kids are called difficult child's for a reason!