My spouse and I are having tremendous problems with our 4 year old son's aggressive / violent behavior towards both of us (primarily my spouse, who is his stay at home parent) and his play group class mates. He'll sometimes go into seemingly unprovocted fits of anger where he's almost uncontrollable for 10-20 minutes. His behavior includes hitting, kicking, scratching, throwing objects and almost constant name calling. Admittedly, we've been inconsistent with our methods of dealing with him. We've tried everything, time-out / naughty chair, taking things away from him, spanking (we've given up on spanking because it only seems to make him more angry), ignoring what we can (name calling) and modifying his diet. We are especially concerned because we just learned that we have another baby on the way. Our son was 11 weeks premature and endured a very difficult 11 week hospital stay. My spouse is very concerned that the stress of dealing with our son may contribute to a more difficult pregnancy. We're pretty certain that the pregnacy will already be considered high risk.
Can you please offer some advice on how to more effectively deal with / reverse our son's behavior? Also, is there any known link between long, difficult NICU stays and future behavior / anger issues? How worried should we be by his behavior?
A little more history: Our son is often very kind, but his behavior has been getting worse. He's very smart and very coordinated. He's also very small for his age. We never noticed anything like this until after he started his playgroup in the fall of 2006. He was often the victim of aggressive behavior then, but learned quickly to fight back with a vengeance. This school year he seems to be one of the aggressors, especially towards younger kids. He has a real difficulty playing on his own for long. Not paying attention to him seems to be one thing that sets him off (other triggers include being hungry, tired or having his schedule out of whack).
Hey JP, I wrote something just now that might help. I can see a lot of the advice I have given you have already tried but why not read through and see if there is anything helpful there? Its in this thread:
Hope you find something - best of luck and good wishes to the one on the way!
my son who is 4 also displays similar behavior. last year he was sick all the time and was in preschool 2 days a week. this year is 5 days a week and other kids say he's a bad boy, he's told me. i went and watched him at the playground and other kids were chasing him, he was laughing and smiling but when i pick him up he tells me the other kids are picking on him. it is so difficult to tell him not to be aggressive and then tell him to go play t-ball or any sport and not be aggressive.
he seems as though maybe he is bored. i know when my son gets bored he gets aggressive. tell your husband to take him for walks, help with yard work and keep him involved even if he moves the vacuum around too. little things to make him feel like a big boy. make sure when you tell him he has a baby brother or sister he's the man of the house now. that's what i did with my son and he takes good care of his brother, yes there is still aggression at home too, don't get me wrong. i have tons of friends with boys and they seem to go through this hitting pushing, biting stage although unacceptable. it should pass i hope.
another thing to try is play- doh. if there is something he really likes help him mold it out of play doh. that really helps keep my kids attention. puzzles and lincoln logs. hope this helps keep us all posted.
hi, i just found this site and read your letter, i just wanted to let you know your not alone my eldest son also has the same behavior problms and unfortunatly it has only got worse with age he is now 6 he is very sensetive and inteligant for his age, he took to his new brother well at first but now he's 1 and up and about he has become very violent towards him. This behavior was picked up when he was only 1 1/2 when health profetionals sent him to a special needs school thinking he had ADHD spcialist said that wasnt what it was and thats were it all started realy he has seen several child sychiatrists and sycologists,doctors,and health visiters now he has an emotional support worker at school no one has had any ideas for us so i can only wish you luck
First of all, work on prevention----ensure that your son is well fed & well rested (deficiency in either of these categories can make any kid act irrationally). Next, make sure that you do physical activitites every day. Boys are just filled with energy, and they have a much larger demand for large gross motor skill tasks. Get him outside-kick a ball, play tag, hide and seek, baseball, etc. And avoid situations that you know promote his aggression.
If you've done everything to prevent aggression and it still occurs, nip it in the bud quickly (consistently, firmly, but also lovingly), and help your son express his emotions in other ways. Your son turned to aggression as a defense mechanism, and this behavior was rewarded (and therefore reinforced), because it worked for him. Now you have to change that-this behavior must never be reinforced-let him know that aggression will not get him what he wants. Also, keep up with the time outs (they do work). Tell him you understand that he is mad/sad/frustrated, etc, and that these feelings are all okay, but that he needs to use his words to express how he feels. (**Reward him any time he uses his words instead of his hands in the future**)
Promote good behavior as well--don't just point out when he is being bad, but when he is behaving well. You can also go one step further and make it a point to reinforce good behavior (say to him, "mommy (or daddy) noticed that you were very well behaved today. we are very proud of you. how about we go out for ice cream as a special treat?")
That's all I have, take it if you'd like :) & Good luck.
i just posted a question about my four year old as well. My son does similar things. i don't think he is quite as violent, I'll check with day-care tommorrow, but He throws fits. Your son seems extremely intelligent, and coordinated. My son is also. I wonder if it has anything to do with boredom, or not getting enough physical activity during the day. Maybe they just need a physical outlet. My sons behavior is worse also if he is hungry or tired. Good Luck with your pregnancy. I also heard a good quote at church yesterday. "The only way you can fail as a parent is if you give up". ....so keep on keepin on. :)
My friend's son is extremely agrressive towards others, plus he cries a lot, when smth is not his way. I was checking the net in search how does DIET affect child's behaviour. I heard it had smth to do with the fact that LIVER doesn't tolerate some food products like (popular - MILK), this might be an issues. This is just some food for thought.
hi i have a four year old who started infant school in september. when he is at home he is a very good boy( he has his moments like all 4 year olds!) latley in school he has started being very aggressive, kicking, biting other children and he also urinated on another child. we have tried rewarding him for good behaviour and the teacher has set him tasks to do throughout the day to keep him occupied which worked at first but his behaviour is really worrying us. i had a baby boy who is 3 months old and we moved house 5 months ago so i dont know if this has anything to do with it. we are worryed sick with his behaviour and really dont know what to do. when you ask why he has done these things he just shrugs his shoulders and turns away. can anyone help?
Our son was 7 weeks premature with developmental delays and still has. He is now 6years old. He can be a very loving child then be aggresive and hit and kick and bite and hit himself. We had to have a child psychologist get involved because the aggression is not in the "norm". He was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. When we read on it, he fit it to a tee. Has your child been to a psychologist, etc. Behavioral modification is a must with aggressive behavior, because we get hurt, children get hurt, etc. Being pregnant, you don't need any stressors. My prayers are with you.
Set an appt ASAP with your child's pediatrician for a behavior eval. Sounds like you need intervention now prior to the new babe's arrival. Hang in there and continue to show him your love and support! good luck!!
I just posted a question as well about my 3 year old with pretty much the same behavioral issues. if you find something out PLEASE let me know. ill take any advice i can get. its just unhappy for such a little child to be so mean and angry all the time.
by the way, he has a younger brother who is 1, and they generaly get along very well. just normal sibling rivalry over toys, and parents attention. other than that they are like best friends and the oldest will do anything to help his brother. I think it helped that when i was pregnant with his brother i always made sure i told him it was his baby . not mommies, or daddies baby but his baby as well, then he felt more included in the responsibility of his brother. and he is a VERY proud big brother. i also made sure that i included him with tasks after his broher was born, just little things, and he felt like he was a big part in taking care of his brother.
I have a 4 year old that has over about 6 months developed aggressive behavior as well. He has also developed ataxia, which the neurologist believes is due to a migraine disorder - spent 3 days in the hospital over this one. He too has been constantly stuffy with allergies and colds. We have tried a variety of behavior modifications. Our family nutritionist has recommended diet changes, etc. The only thing working right now is holding therapy when he is having an episode. We are at a loss as to what to do. So, I have an appointment with a child psychologist, neurologist, and an occupational therapist. He's had a CT, MRI, spinal tap, full blood work up, chest x-ray and abdominal ultrasound. Physically, he is perfectly healthy.
I also have a son who is 12 years old with HFA. It took 2 1/2 years to diagnose him so he was almost 3 when, after a great deal of prompting, they decided to investigate it, and 5 by the time they figured out what it was. He is a sweet well mannered child, and very quiet and well behaved. Exception of course being when he is upset. Then he loses control and has a "melt down" Over the years, he has gotten much better about the severity and duration of his melt downs, but he still has them.
Here is the kicker for me. I don't know if at least some of my older child's behavior is being mimicked by my younger son, or if it is his own behavioral issue. Sensory issues are one of my oldest child's hurdles, and I am seeing some of the same types of behavior in the younger one. So is he just doing what big brother does, or does he have a set of completely unrelated issues - autism or not.
I am far too impatient this time to sit back and wait for all the red tape, so that is why I'm getting it all done now. AND, I want to keep him under the care of a professional to get him some help until we can say for sure what it is. The waiting game is not one I play well, and I know that the sooner they know what it is, the sooner we can help him, and deal with it as a family.
As an added bonus, my husband has Asberger's. And I do mean bonus. My experience has shown me that people with special needs are special people! My husband is an amazingly smart, funny and sensitive man, and my son is smart, shy and sweet. I have 3 wonderful kids. My daughter is in college studying to be a special ed teacher. It really does affect everyone.
Trust your gut, and keep searching for the answer. Every person is different and needs their own "treatment." Find what works for your family. Blessings.
i cant deal with my son. he just turned three. hes disrespectful he dont listen hes bad at daycare he fights with the kids. he hits his teacher. he dont wanna listen. he does stuff eve tho he knows its bad. he will use the restroom on him self while hes standing next to the bathroom. he tells you no he dont wanna use the bathroom. he eats and then makes himself throw up his food.I cant do it. idk what to do. then he tells me he wants to live with his dad when his dad dont even bother seeing him. his dads girlfriend is really ghetto everytime he goes over their he comes bac home worse sayin curse words and middle finger. thats not the life i want for hi. i want him to grow up to be a good kid. i need help idk what to do.
You do sound frustrated. My son isn't 3 yet, but even now is asserting his independance and sometimes it can be challenging. I find he listens and responds best when I talk very calmly and firmly. For example...he will be climbing on something that is potentially dangerous and I calmly look at him and in a firm voice say "Ryder, down". I repeat it..he is looking right at me and I know he understands, so I just keep saying it. When he does as I ask I make a really big fuss, clapping my hands and saying "good boy". But if I raise my voice he just gets upset and it doesn't work. So I think it is very important to make sure you are in control.
I have to wonder if the urinating and vomiting aren't emotional? It sounds from your post like things might not be too great between you and his father, plus his father has another woman in the picture and perhaps things aren't great over there. Young children often display emotional upsets this way (or so I have read). It may be that you have to intervene in that relationship. Will his dad talk to you about what is going on over there? Personally, I think it's important that even not together parents work together whenever possible. Small children need a fairly consistent environment.
As frustrated as you are, remember he is not bad. He is just a little guy and only has limited ways to express himself. It sounds like something is going on in his life that has him really upset. Perhaps some professional advice might help? Good luck to you.
Has anyone considered mental health evaluation? Some of these comments seem like schizophrenia, others seem like Autism Spectrum Disorders. Consider medication, think of it like a toothache. Would you make your child suffer just to avoid medication? Do not allow your child to be labeled bad or rude or naughty. Beg for a label to protect your child legally. AHDD, PDD NOS, etc...will cause the schools to be required to help your child and prevent your child from slipping through the cracks. blessings everyone.
These kinds of comments scare me more than a childs behavior. You would really allow a mental health "professional" to label a 4yo child? Your comments are defeatist at best. Children this age are learning boundaries that they have never before been able to explore due to the simple fact that they have just learned to communicate. Your answer is to MEDICATE a 4yo for expression challenges?
Get real, folks! discipline and conversation can go much further than a pill. Pills are for the weak and lazy in 99% of medicated children cases.
You make me sad and I feel sorry for your children. Don't give up and teach by example.
Not sure where you dug up this year and a half old post, but couldn't let it go unnoticed.
First the poster never suggested medication, and thus didn't recommend it. Second, there is absolutely no research that supports your claim that, "Pills are for the weak and lazy in 99% of medicated children cases." And the clinical guidelines DSM-V do not recommend medication for a 4 year old.
But more importantly you seem to think that all kids are equal and that things like Autism, ADHD, SPD, etc. don't exist. The point being that if a child does have one of those things I just mentioned, "discipline and conversation" will not work and probably will only make the matters worse.
What is important is parent information. Either how to effectively discipline (which some parents have no clue), or to understand what is the underlying basis for their child's problem and then how to deal with it appropriately.
Have you tried going to extremes with him? When my daughter was 3 I noticed that nothing was working in the way of correcting bad behavior. I ended up going to the extreme with her behavior. Every little tiny thing that she did that was good I praised her and told her how proud I was of her, what a good job she was doing. Anything from using manners, picking up a toy or trying new food. Flushing the toilet. EVERY SINGLE tiny little thing she did that was positive she was praised for and told I was proud. Then when she did things that were "bad" I gave her a sad face, voice and eyes. I told her how sad that made me and how I could not be proud of that behavior. How much I wanted to be proud of her. Crazy thing is she is 17 now, and it still works.
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