Avatar universal

Abusive 5 year old son: not sure what to do next.

My son is 5 and is incredibly abusive toward me (his mother). He's very well behaved at school and is a high achiever and doesn't act out there. Sometimes he will try and be controlling with my parents but is not violent or anything with them. In general he will try to argue with me any chance he gets. I am firm and consistent with saying 'no' to things which isn't a problem when we're out in public, but at home with me he will yell, throw/break things and physically abuse me. I don't smack him and have actively tried to raise him in a way that avoids this behaviour. It only started about a year ago and was not as bad as it is now. I assumed it was a phase and what I was doing was actually working. Then it started again and nothing I try works. I've tried so many different approaches that I am out of ideas and google hasn't helped (not that it's meant to be a parenting tool). They will start to work and then completely reverse to worse than he was to begin with every time I try something new. He doesn't live in a violent household and isn't around violent people. He is very well behaved in front of others it's just when he is alone with me he isn't. Examples of what he does is throw and break furniture and belongings. He has tried countless times to hit me with and throw furniture at me. He hits, punches; kicks; bites, etc. He will completely trash the house by tipping rubbish out, throwing food and whatever else will make mess. Once this week he came up to me and peed on the floor and another time this week he smeared some faeces. He said he did it so I have to clean it up. When I try to make him clean up any kind of mess he makes, he makes more. Punishments for this haven't worked. A disturbing thing that happened about 1.5 months ago was he came up behind me while I was working and stabbed me in the shoulder with a pen and said "Great now you can die". If I hurt myself sometimes he will say a sarcastic 'haha' but lately he has actually found it amusing. I really don't know what else to do or know of anything that I haven't already tried.
10 Responses
Avatar universal
I would say to seek professional help from a psychologist. You are not to blame. However, there may be subtle hints that you give your child that makes him believed he will get away with it and he does get away with it. One of my children is very headstrong so I had to change the way I approached her. Reward his good behavior with quality time and ensure that you deal with each situation immediately. Don't constantly bring up previous behavior and don't talk badly about him in his presence.
13167 tn?1327194124
I think you need family therapy.  Is there something you're not saying,  like you've been through a very very rough divorce,  or you adopted him as a toddler,  etc?  He sounds like he is well able to control his behavior,  and purposely tries to hurt you in every way he can think of.  
189897 tn?1441126518
    Therapy might well be called for if you cannot get a handle on this.  
   I noticed that you did not mention his dad.  Does the dad get visitation rights?  Do any of these problems get worse after seeing dad?
   And it is possible that you trying so many different approaches has backfired on you.     Essentially, the rules for behavior modification are that there must be immediate, short, consistent consequences.   Do not expect overnight miracles.  And, the word "consistent" is very important.  Experts say it takes about 3 weeks of doing the same consistent thing to change behavior.   It has taken him awhile to get to this point and it will take a while to relearn control.
     I would also look into buying "Cool down and work through anger" or "When I feel angry". This is part of a series of books aimed at 4 to 7 year olds and meant to be read to them at night (several times) and then practiced.  Kids do need to be taught how to deal with anger.  You do not try and use these techniques while he is screaming.  But once he stops or later on in the day - you can refer back to them or pull the books back out.
You can find them here -  http://www.amazon.com/Cool-Through-Anger-Learning-Along/dp/1575423464/ref=pd_sim_b_5
   There is also "Hands are not for hitting", which deals with finding other ways to deal with anger.   https://www.amazon.com/Hands-Hitting-Ages-Best-Behavior/dp/1575420775
     Finally, you might want to check out ""SOS Help for Parents," by Lynn Clark.   It deals with how to effectively use timeouts.
   Hope this helps.  Keep us posted.
I hate to pass judgment but this is the most extreme thing that I ever heard. The fact that he knows exactly how to to behave and act in public tells me that he is extremely manipulatative and shows sights of a seriously dangerous personality where it may lead down a very scary path.. seek the best professional help immediately!
Avatar universal
Okay, I almost didn't post this response on here for fear that people would think I'm completely psycho for offering this as "advice"....

I firmly believe in past lives, past life relationships with others within our family, and soul karma.  I have had plenty of medium readings where I was informed that my husband and I were sisters in one past life, and he was my mother (I was the daughter) in another.  The latter makes so much sense to me because he is very protective and controlling, in a parental sense, towards me (don't be mistaken, he's not abusive-controlling!).  

My point is this:  As I read something like this, something that has no real sense of any reason as to why this is happening to you and your son, and it makes me think it must lead back to a past life relationship you two had together.  Children can experience past-life emotions/memories from 3-6 years of age.  He could be either 1. acting today based on a relationship that the two of you had in a past life 2. feeling a karmic need to "repay" you for something you might've done to him in a past life (keep in mind, more likely than not, he was not your son in a past life and you were not his mother.  It could've been any kind of relationship, and as terrible as it sounds, you could've been the abuser before and he was the victim...I know that sounds insane because that's not who you are today, and you would never think to hurt him!  So it's strange to accept something like that).

If you want to go with this concept, you might want to look into hypnotherapy with a past-life regression therapist, either for yourself or for him.  It can be incredibly healing for you!  

Just a suggestion ;) and I'm sorry if this post is offensive to the beliefs of anyone else!
Very interesting and I totally believe in what you are saying here Tess.
Avatar universal
Who treats you badly besides your son? Has he witnessed people being abusive towards you? Or towards other women in his life? (My younger brother was horribly abusive to my and my mother after watching our father kick the **** out of us - his young brain got it mixed up and normalized violence to women in his family) your son definitely needs support and it sounds like you could use some too - counselling can help you get to the crux of this, for both of you.
19955978 tn?1487296978
Has anything happened in his short life to cause distress, like his father being absent/divorced?.. the fact that your son's anger is only directed at you is very telling- he winds his neck in with others, and is well behaved..
The faeces/urine behaviour is a sign of serious emotional disturbance ..something must have triggered this extreme behaviour.
Boys especially need very firm, solid boundaries to feel ''safe'' and this needs instilling now, before he gets bigger and physically stronger.
There is a good book called ''Raising Boys'' by Steve Biddulph.
If your son's dad is around, maybe ask him for help- both of you need to be united against this bad behaviour.
Counsellors can be helpful- but they have to know what they are doing- a ''fluffy'' counsellor is worse than useless.
Good Luck...and don't ever fear your son.
YOU are the adult. He is the child.
Avatar universal
Hi. I am writing a response just because you mentioned feces. It is a sign of emotional disturbance. My cousin tried to sexually abuse me when I was 5 years old one night when I slept over at my aunt's house. Next morning When I went to bathroom and had bowel movement I smeared my poop all over the walls. My aunt was mad at me but I didn't tell anyone about what happened. There must be something deeper bothering your son.
Avatar universal
Have you talked to a therapist about Oppositional Defiant Disorder?  ODD. Read about it. Symptoms are exactly what you are experiencing.
Avatar universal
I hope by now you have already seeker professional counseling for you and your son. If not, that is #1. I am concerned about him stabbing you. I agree with the others that this is SEVERE emotional disturbance. My son is now 1t, and I am terrified of him. Similar behaviors started early. Divorce was one reason, his dad was extremely violent to me (he remembers), I found out a few years ago that he had been sexuallt assaulted while visiting is dad ('s "friend" of his dad's), and  that dad's friends had been supplying him drugs when he'd misbehave to "help him". Now he is so bad that he takes a paper grocery bag full of daily meds. He's been in and out of facilities his whole life. He's even been to a youth prison. Please seek help now.
Avatar universal
A lot of children with anxiety or on the autistic spectrum are able to control their behaviour in areas outside the home or in the presence of other people. When they get home or to a place they feel safe the strain of holding in the anxiety is too much and they 'explode'in many ways including violence aimed at the person trying to control behaviour. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)is an anxiety problem which often runs along side ASD and this sounds similar to your sons behaviour. Visit your doctor and ask for an assessment asap and try to remember that his behaviour is not personal it's just pure frustration because he is unable to communicate as he would like to, hope things get sorted soon.
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