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6450897 tn?1381422335

my 4 year old is out of control what do i do

Ok so here it is I have a 4 year old boy who is extremely out of control... His temper goes from 0-100 in the blink of an eye he hits spits screams calls names and so on he has a 2 year old sister and all these behaviors are trickling down to her. I had one family dr want to have him checked for add ocd and autism and when I moved and went to a different dr she said he was a normal 4 year old .... I don't get it we have tried everything we do time out I've taken stuff from him and its gotten to the point where we are spanking and I don't want to. he goes from one extreame to the next one minute hes telling his sister he loves her the next he is hitting her because she don't know how to say it back I don't know what to do some one is going to get seriously hurt by him one day
7 Responses
3149845 tn?1506631371
Hi, a couple of things come to mind. Its possible he does have some anger management issues and a child doctor who specializes in these types of disorders would be the best help. Also its possible that this behavior was created in the family setting. Starts off slow and very young and when the child sees that his behavior gets him what he wants, he will continue to use it. These are tools for getting ones way.
6450897 tn?1381422335
How do you get in contact with a specialist for this without going through your family doctor.... and I agree some of it is from learning when he was first born up to 2 yrs old we lived with my husbands grandmother and we were not allowed to discipline him but all efforts to correct it have failed. I was in an accident 3 weeks ago and have whiplash I am going to physio and on my first day of physio I came home and as soon as the sitter left he started he laid off and punched his sister in the face .... so I put him in his room and not even 2 mins went by and he started to throw his toys around so I went in and started picking his toys up and putting them in garbage bags ... while I was doing that he was screaming at me spitting in my face hitting me in my head neck and back he does not act like this with anyone else just when hes home people are starting to think im crazy
3149845 tn?1506631371
Just look for online doctors in your area or go through your insurance for the doctor if you have it.
Behavior modification is possible, but youll need to be directed by a specialist to get the best results. If you hit him back it will reinforce his behavior as shows aggression does work.
973741 tn?1342346373
Hi there, welcome to med help.  Oh, I'm familiar with this scenario.  My own son at that age also had issues such as you describe.  He wasn't a hitter but had meltdowns that lasted a long time and came on quickly.  It turned out that my son did have sensory integration disorder (diagnosed by an occupational therapist) but I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this is the case with your son just yet.  I would first try to modify the behavior or see if it happens in more places than just at home.

Does your son go to preschool?  This is where I really became aware of how my son differed from his age mates.  He went two mornings a week when he was 3 turning 4 in Dec, and three morings a week when he was 4 turning 5.  He went to kindergarten when he was 5 for 5 mornings a week.  Anyway, that year of 4 was a really rough one for my son.  Preschool was very difficult.  I too have a younger child that is 15 months younger than him, a brother.  

Some things that did help with my son was to look for triggers.  I know he goes from 0 to 10 in a flash, but think of what leads up to it.  I would jot it down in a notebook.  Examples---  could he be tired, hungry, is about his things getting touched, is he frustrated, mad, what generally frustrates him, etc.  Just record it all looking for any type of pattern.  This really helps get a clue as to what is going on and sometimes adjusting a few things will help curb the meltdowns/outbursts.  

It helps to work on better ways of handling emotions as well.  In CALM moments, talk about emotions.  Get some books at the library written for kids about emotions---  there are many to choose from.  This helps give kids the language to use for what is going on inside.  My boys referred to a bad mood as a 'storm cloud' for a while and a tantrum as a tornado.  Then encourage them to talk about emotions.  You can play a game of either cutting out pictures from magazines or books of people in different moods or draw them and have him identify them.  Angry, sad, mad, happy, thinking, hurt, sleepy, etc.  It really does help for him to be in tune with emotions.  Then talk about his emotions.  how HE feels at different moments.  

Then, think about when he has the tantrum.  Truth is, there is always some kind of sign it is about to happen--  even if it happens fast.  You have to look for this and can then say to him "oh, you look mad. What's going on?"  This really does help head things off if you can pick up on clues that he might be about to blow.  

Again, during a calm moment, talk about appropriate ways to handle anger, frustration, disappointment.  He can't do X but he CAN do Y.  Give him the Y's.  here are known things to work for that age group---  using their words to an adult to say why they are upset and get help, going off to a 'cool down spot' where no one buts him (especially his sister!) and he can work on calming down (an enclosed area works well like a pop up tent, under a table, we use a place behind a chair with pillows), taking some deep breaths in and out, counting to 10, using 'helping hands' (use finger paint and have him make two hand prints, hang this at his level on the wall and then he goes to the wall when upset and pushes against the hands---  known way to slow down the nervous system and causes a release), opening and closing fists tightly.  all of these things have better outcomes and really praise him big time if he does ANY of these.  Positive reinforcement a lot for any good behavior as in over the top so he notices and likes it.  

There is a book called 'hands are not for hurting'. great book and there are others in that same series that really drive home that message.  I would make the violence a done deal that this is time out.  Just putting my kids in time out didn't work great for my kids but instead, I knew their hot buttons.  One loved his blankie for example.  Blankie was gone for a period of time if he did things on the NEVER TO DO list.  It only took a few times of losing the beloved blankie for him to understand I meant business.  If he had an outburst in public, no matter what we were doing, who we were with, how inopportune it was, we left.  It was hard going and a tantrum intensified but the message was clear---  we don't do that and mom means business.  I never threatened anything I wouldn't do.  I also never spanked because I think that is a mixed message for kids.  mom hits when she is mad, so why can't I?  Ya know?  

Choices really help with kids who are emotional.  Lots of little choices.  Then he will feel in control but you are ultimately in control because you control the choices.  Watch the dynamic of the younger sister and him.  If it is over things---  then make a rule for them both that each others rooms are off limits to the other and if they have one thing that the other wants, they have to make a trade or take turns (trade as in you can't take a toy unless the other child gets another toy).  

I also used a stress thermometer.  let me know if you are interested in that.  it helped too.  

Does any of that make sense?  
189897 tn?1441130118
COMMUNITY LEADER
    Great answer by Specialmom.  She pretty well covered (and then some) most of what I was going to say.  So let me just add a few points.
    Hopefully, this is a combination learned behavior/lack of communication skills and not  SID or ADHD.  It is certainly not normal childhood behavior as your doc said.  Take of video of him next time and show the doc.  
    Anyway, I say learned behavior because of what happened the first two years in grandmas house.  And what can be learned - can also be unlearned.  It just takes time and patience.
      Essentially, the rules for behavior modification are that there must be immediate, short, consistent consequences.   Do not expect overnight miracles.  Experts say that it will take up to 3 weeks to change behavior, and that is when you are concentrating on one thing. It has taken him awhile to get to this point and it will take a while to relearn control.  But he will.
   Specialmom has great ideas on working with him when he has a tantrum.  Looking for those triggers is very important.  I would add to that until you can teach some communication skills and self control that  talking to him when he is having a tantrum - won't work.
   The rule is that when he starts a tantrum - he gets a short timeout.  And the timeout does not start until the tantrum stops.  He will go nuts for a while.  Just keep repeating - "as soon as you choose to stop your tantrum, the timeout will start and 2 min later you can ..."   Do not try to reason with him or talk with him while he is yelling.  And I am not sure that putting him in his room is working.  He needs to be monitored for the short timeout.  Picking up his toys is not effective - however, as Specialmom said - if he has One toy he really likes, then it might work.
   I like the book she recommended.  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
     By the way, we have found that this behavior like this will happen when there is a younger child around.  For two years he got all his wishes.  Them BOOM - new kid in house (and grandma not around to help out).  Usually year 3 is not too bad because the other child is not to mobile.  But once the little one starts walking and mom has to watch them all the time - things flare up.   So the attention the little sister gets may be a partial trigger. If so, then paying him a bit more attention (like reading those books we suggested) to him might help too.
   Specialmoms questions about preschool are great.  I think that (if you can afford it) getting him into some type of preschool - if only for a short period daily or just several times a week - would be good for him and you!
    We have given you a lot to think about and to try.  I think the most important thing for right now is to remind you what I first said.  "Essentially, the rules for behavior modification are that there must be immediate, short, consistent consequences.   Do not expect overnight miracles.  Experts say that it will take up to 3 weeks to change behavior, and that is when you are concentrating on one thing."  Consistency is highly important.  Plan out ahead of time what you are going to do for a specific circumstance and follow that plan for at least 3 weeks.  (oh, and spanking is a waste of time)
   Hope this helps.  If you have any questions about what I said or Specialmom said, please post!  Good Luck!!!
189897 tn?1441130118
COMMUNITY LEADER
   Oh, I also found this post which is somewhat similar in that it deals with a 4 year old and a younger child.  You might be interested in reading it to see that you are not the only one dealing with this problem (and no, it is not normal 4 year old action).  Also the suggestions are good and include one or two we could have included above (read the last two or three posts in particular).  The link is - http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Child-Behavior/-4-year-olds-crazy-behavior/show/1717969
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