I am very concerned about my child's behavior and mood swings. They have been going on for the past 2 years. My son suffers from mild speech problems and delayed fine motor skills, both of which he is receiving weekly therapy. These delays have caused a small group of children at his school to begin to really pick on him at school. I believe that this is what triggered his low self-esteem that brings on his short temper spells. The principal, counsellor, and teachers at his school are really working hard at school to deal with this problem, but at home it seems he cannot control his emotions any more. He takes everything very seriously and will completely lose his cool over the smallest situation. (Example: Last weekend my husband would not let him get a piece of gum at the store because it was getting too late for sweets and he went ballistic.) When this happens we will usually have him go to a quiet place like his room to calm down because he is unable to talk rationally about anything until it is over. This anger spell is almost always followed by a period where he will emotionally beat himself up. He will blame himself for everything and say things like "I can't do anything right" or "I don't deserve to be alive." He then will later tell everyone that he gets mad because he is tired. This has definately put up some serious red flags. My husband and I go out of our way to try to build him up positively. We make a really big deal about even the smallest successes to let him know how special he really is. We have tried talking to him about how he feels and have tried helping do things like take deep breaths and counting to 10. These things help for a short time, but quickly begin to lose their effect. This shortcoming just makes him even angrier at himself and will just cry in my arms about it. I have slowed down our daily routine as much as possible and have even thought about quitting my job to stay home and homeschool him. We have had him talk to the school counsellor and I have talked to the pastor's wife at church about it. It is breaking my heart to see my child go through this. Should I take him to see a professional about this? I am just afraid that they are going to fill him up with medications instead of finding the root of the problem. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
It sounds like you are doing everything right. He is also going through hormonal changes too--my sons went through mood swings at this age and they said similar things if they were upset. One of my sons also got severe headaches too due to hormonal changes. Pre-teens are incredibly sensitive to what others think too. So, that part is all normal. Also, they need more sleep than you think and their sleeping patterns really go crazy at this age. If you can, try to keep to a strict sleeping routine--I had to do this with my boys and it really helped. Also, try to choose an activity or hobby that you know that he would be interested in or good at--something that will build him up. Is it possible too that he can get involved in activities at the church with other children his age?
I would also consider getting him to journal his thoughts--he probably needs other outlets for his frustration.
Everything else you are doing seems good. If you still think that his outbursts are alarming and that he shows signs of depression or suicidal tendencies, I would seek out a medical professional's opinion. Drugs are not always the answer, but if it is necessary, I would do some research before I went that route and I would consider it if it helps your son through this.
All the best, it really does seem like you are doing everything right.
Thanks Waitingwithhope. Your words are very encouraging. We are really involved with our church and he does seem happier when we are there. He is even in a leadership team for 5th and 6th graders. They get to help in leading the children's service. This seems to be helping with his self esteem.
I did not think about journaling. That is something I know he would love. I also will work on a more regular sleep schedule.
Thank you again.
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