My son is 4 1/2 years old and is an only child. I feel like he was born with a "difficult" temperament. I am a teacher and my son goes to a full-day preschool while I am working. His teachers (at this school, church nursery, and other day cares he has attended) always comment on how he is "the best behaved in the class". He is very shy at first with new people, but can be quite delightful to talk with once he is comfortable with you.
My concern about my son is in his behavior at home. He has a very hard time with his temper. He will get upset over something very minor with us at home, resulting in screaming,spitting, hitting, throwing things, calling us names, and damaging things. Usually when things get to this point, I place my son in his room and hold the door closed. I calmly tell him that he may not hurt me and he may come out when he calms down. During this time he throws toys and has even put holes in his walls! I always stand at the door to listen and make sure he is safe. Usually after 10 minutes or so he calms down. I let him out of his room and he is able to talk about his behavior. He is very apologetic and can explain what he has done wrong. I talk with him about how "everyone gets angry", and explain positive ways to deal with anger. However, the next time something doesn't go his way it happens again. My husband and I have tried spanking, time outs, and sticker reward charts, etc... nothing seems to work. My husband and I try to be as consistant as possible with our discipline. I feel like our son considers us to be too much of "equals" because he is our only child and gets so much of our attention. A lot of times, my son can be extremely sweet and affectionate and is very bright. I am so worried about this negative side of his personality. Sometimes it seems as if he has 2 separate personalities. Is this something that he will outgrow? Is there a book that you would recommend I read to shed some light on dealing with this? Thanks for your time.
The fact that your son conducts himself well outside the home is, of course, a positive thing. It indicates that his difficulties arise in the parent/child interaction and can be helped by a systematic program of behavior management. I have two recommendations for you. First, and most important, read Lynn Clark's book SOS Help for Parents and follow it in detail. You'll be pleased with the results. Second, take a look at Stanley Greenspan's The Challenging Child. It describes children's fundamental temperaments, and you'll find a lot of familiarity in Chapters 5 & 7.
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