My oldest son has a problem with anger. He is normally a bright, helpful, sweet boy. When something is bothering him (i.e. things at school, problems with brothers) his anger can get totally out of control. He gets critical and physically abusive to his brothers. When I try to remove him from the situation he will kick and hit me and try to bite me. He said once that he wants to murder me. His teacher states that he is mean and critical to one or two other boys in class. He wrote in his journal this week how much he hates some of the boys in his class. He does get teased a bit about being small. The teacher sees his anger flare ups as well, but not as often. As the oldest, he expects more attention from us and gets upset when we give attention to his 3 siblings. We have tried time outs, taking away toys or other items and rewarding him for positive behavior. These steps will work for a short time, but then something will happen (that he doesn't always tell us about) and it will be back to chaos again. He often does not listen to my directions and is starting to ignore the teacher at times as well. I try to be consistent with him, but with 3 other kids it is sometimes hard to carry out every single consequence because his behavior dominates the family dynamic. I feel like I am always either correcting his behavior or comforting another child who is crying because of his behavior. I honestly don't know where all of this anger comes from; we have a stable family situation, my husband and I get angry at him but nothing out of control. Please help!! Thank you so much.
In light of the fact that your son's behavior is having an impact in school as well as at home, it would be prudent to seek evaluation by mental health professional. Sometimes such eruptions of anger are indications of delays in developing appropriate level of impulse control and otherwise don't have much of a psychological component. In other instances the anger is associated with developments in a child's life. Most often both causes (impaired impulse control, life issue) are present. It would not be wise to try to handle this by behavior management alone, though a systematic plan for behavior management is very important. Regarding such a plan, take a look at Lynn Clark's book titled SOS: Help for Parents. You won't go wrong by employing the tactics he discusses.
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