Avatar universal

What to do?

My husband and I have struggled to raise our highly emotional child, he is now seven and although most of his peers have outgrown daily temper tantrums he is still exhibiting extreme behavior. I currently have him in his room, which we don't do often, (normally he goes to time out we call it cool off time, or has something taken away or privileges revoked.) We are VERY consistent, but I have noticed to much yelling lately, from all of us. For example the reason he is in his room at the moment is because of a screaming fit in the bathtub. He was outside and got cold, so I asked if he would like a bath to warm up. We ran the tub with colors and bubbles but when the tub was just about full the water turned cold, he began screaming for me, like he was dying or burning or something! I ran in there thinking he got hurt or something, but all it was about was cold water. I turned the water off and he began crying and screaming that it was my fault, I explained that the tub was full anyway and to just enjoy the bath.( I don't believe he heard any of this, he was angry with me because I would not make the water hot) I left the room and he began screaming at me again. I was just going to ignore him, because I was frazzled and upset. But the screaming continued, until it changed to "MOM COME AND SEE WHAT I DID!" so I go in, and he has bubbles all over himself smiling. I reply with something like "fun, but there is no reason to scream."(I probably should have worded it differently) He begins crying again but this time its because the bubbles are all going to pop and I wont heat up the water. I know that he understands when the hot water is out I can't do anything about it. I let him know that I would not have added more bubbles to the bath anyway (he has sensitive skin and there were PLENTY of bubbles). He begins to scream at me again at the top of his lungs. At this point I'm fed up, emotionally frazzled and tell him to get out of the tub and go to his room. I'm sure I could have handled it all differently, and no he did not peacefully go to his room. This was an extreme example of his behavior, and it is not like this all of the time. We are mostly happy, joyful people, he is mostly happy and joyful. There are too many factors that set him off, and I just don't know what to do to help him through it.
5 Responses
5914096 tn?1399918987
Not knowing exactly how the discipline is imposed in your family, I think that it is very important to make sure that you have a clear set of rules that are written out and posted for all to see.  Using an appropriate volume of voice indoors should be one of the rules.  Therefore, when your son yells and screams, he knows that he will be consequated for it. Never ignore the misbehavior as the behavior will simply continue.  Each misbehavior needs to be consequated.  Everyone at home including the parents need to be following these rules.

Also, each of your rules should have its own unique consequence specific to the broken rule.  This way, when your son is serving a consequence, he is always reminded of the rule he broke.

Finally, a token economy system (reward system) should be set up so that your son receives a reward for good behavior.  Please keep in mind that the frequency of the reward distribution needs to be based on your son's attention span.  Meaning, if your son has a very short attention span, providing him a daily reward for good behavior throughout the day might be too high of an expectation.  If you set up the reward distribution, but day after day, he continuously fails to achieve the reward, that is a sign that the  rewards need to be provided more frequently.
973741 tn?1342342773
Hi there.  Is he an only child?

also, my son has sensory issues that cause problems with modulation of mood, judging what a normal reaction to a situation should be, being extremely uncomfortable to the point of it being almost painful (like being in cold water), etc.  

Does he have any issues at school?  Does he have an quirks like doesn't like hair brushed, socks, etc.  How's his fine motor skills in terms of hand writing and using scissors?
134578 tn?1614729226
You could be describing my son at a younger age, he would weep and weep if he wanted something to be reversed or changed (one day I remember, it was "sharing day" at preschool and we had forgotten the toy he wanted to share, remembering it it only within three minutes of being at school.  I had to go on to a medical appointment that I couldn't miss, so could not go back for it.  He cried, pleaded and begged -- was genuinely distressed, not acting.)  My nephew used to have very public meltdowns at a surprisingly late age (I remember him on the floor at a restaurant crying when he was in first grade.  He's doing fine now, never was diagnosed as having a special problem although he was rather sensitive and squeamish about bugs and like that up through junior high, and suffered from muscle-tension headaches.)  That all said, as you note, one hopes one's kid will outgrow the meltdown stage by age 7 if at all possible.  

I think I would do a few things.  
-  Talk to his pediatrician.  This seems kind of on the border of merely being normal and being maybe a bit unusual for his age.  See if the pedi thinks an evaluation would be helpful.  
-  Go carefully over and assess his diet.  Some of the additives in foods (like food colorings) really hyper-stimulate some kids.  Watch out for junk in things you don't expect, like the coloring in gummy vitamins.  And of course reconsider his levels of sugar.  A lot of processed food that isn't even sweet, contains sugar.
-  Consider how much screen time he is getting (and the converse, how much exercise), and also what he is watching and how stimulating it is.  The imagery in some shows and games is just too much like being zapped with a cattle prod.  Also consider upping his exercise so he is genuinely tired and sleeps really well.
-  Be sure his bedtime is roughly the same every night including weekends. Be sure he is getting enough sleep.
-  Read up on sensory integration disorder, to see if any of it is familiar.  A lot of kids have what my therapist once called "a touch of" [whatever -- OCD, sensory, etc.], not enough to really rise to the level of a diagnosis but sort of in there in some ways.  If some of the descriptions of behaviors you read look familiar but your son is not as extreme, you can still learn the tricks and tools for handling the issue and put them to good use.

757137 tn?1347196453
I would pretty much go along with AnnieBrooke and add a bit of my own. I would cut back sharply on punishments. They don't do any good anyway. Always speak softly. Don't get angry. Don't get excited. Don't bother explaining what doesn't need explaining. When he has a temper tantrum, be as quiet and unflappable as possible. Answer yelling with silence. If it gets too much for you, read a book or leave the room. If you are consistent this should help.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the reply.
Is he an only child?  No, we have a 2 1/2 year old girl.    

Does he have any issues at school?  Yes, he has problems listening to directions, needs many reminders. Can get highly emotional while playing games.

Does he have an quirks like doesn't like hair brushed, socks, etc.  How's his fine motor skills in terms of hand writing and using scissors? yes, he is sensitive to tags, hates when his sleeves are too long etc. I am unsure of how his writing compares to peers. Fine motor skills seem fine though.
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