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Child Behavior Forum
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Avatar universal

out of control sometimes

I have a 7 year old boy whose temper is out of control mainly when there are major stressors in his life (the first week of chool, my difficult 2nd pregnancy), but occasionally during "normal" times as well.  He has been like this since he was 3.  We consulted a psycologist when the "terrible 3s" didn't end at 3 and his opinion was that our son was maturing emotionally slowly but would come around.  He still has HUGE temper tantrums, including hitting and kicking, and does not respond well to anything, discipline or love, when he's in the midst of a tantrum.  I have done a small amount of reading on ODD and I think he shows a majority of the symptoms.  The only catch is that he seems to be a perfect child (mostly) in public.  He's not a behavior problem in school and he has many friends, though I have noticed he tends to be bossy.  He is argumentative, negative, and easily irritated, especially by his little brother.  But there are times when he is a wonderful child, too.  There is a history of mental disorders in both my own and my husband's family (OCD, alcoholism, etc.) and I am concerned about my son.  Does this sound like ODD?  What steps shall we take?
13 Responses
242606 tn?1243786248
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
During a tantrum, children generally do not respond to intervention, for the simple reason that their emotions have taken over and they are operating on an emotional, not a rational, plane. From the description you offer, your child is more likely displaying the symptoms of a fundamental temperament, versus an organized emotional disturbance like ODD (a type of Disruptive Behavior Disorder). One way or the other, the major intervention is going to be the management of the behavior at home, since it is within the amily context that he displays the problems. The systematic management of behavior, with a clearly spelled out regimen (as opposed to ad hoc management of each episode as it occurs) is the hallmark of helping children reuce and even eliminate tantrums. Take a look at Lynn Clark's book titled SOS: Help for Parents. Also of interest will be Ross Greene's The Explosive Child. If you're not encountering success managing this alone, check in with a pediatric behavioral health/mental health clinician. They are ususally quite experienced in helping parents deal with such situations.
Avatar universal
remm, i really identified with your posting.  you really really have to go out today and get dr. greene's book The Explosive Child.  dr. greene would say that if your son could do better, he would, and that there are lots of conditions that lead to inflexible, explosive behavior.  his book is the first one (of many i've read) that was really effective.  he'll get you started on making life more liveable while you start the long process of helping your son and your family.  you aren't crazy, and you aren't bad parents.  hope to see you get the help you need.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your advice.  
Sallymg - could you give me the titles of some other books to get my hands on?  I'm in the process of getting "The Explosive Child" - I found some info on the Net and the characteristics fit my son exactly.
Thank you again.
Avatar universal
remm, we've felt isolated, alienated, blamed for so long.  very little about our son is predictable, yet we've managed to predict what we can.  we have tried reward and consequence, time-outs, redirecting, explaining, not explaining etc -- point is, after a time, we came to the conclusion that it's not bad parenting and it's not our child's lack of motivation to be a good person.  but the messages (verbal and otherwise, direct and indirect) from our family and friends tell us the opposite!  i'll be glad to post again about other books that i've read but i really really think you need to go buy the explosive child, tonight, and read it, and have your co-parent read it.  dr. greene talks about establishing the "user-friendlier" environment at home during the process of hashing out what your child's problem actually is; so while you're finding out what resolutions are required and getting those in place, you're living with as little conflict and as much love & support as possible.  he illustrates lots of variations on the inflexible-explosive child as well as how bad parenting and poor motivation are not the causes of this behavior.  AND it's not that your home is more stressful than the outside world, it's that he's safe with you.  am glad to hear from you, my husband and i both sympathize & look forward to hearing more.  do you still want more book titles?
Avatar universal
I found two books, though have not read, they may be of interest. THE DEFIANT CHILD by Douglas Riley and YOUE DEFIANT CHILD by Russell Barkley.
Avatar universal
Hello to all.
I went to the library and found "The Explosive Child" and have read most of it.  I think I need to re-read it several times to ingest it all.  I have already tried the "compromising" approach on several things that I think I would put in the B basket and have had some success!!  Hooray.  We'll see what happens 2 months from now.
I will look up the "Defiant Child" books, too.
Thank you very much.
Avatar universal
Hi.  My son also can be so sweet, considerate, compassionate, loving one moment, and extremely angry the next.  I am a single mom trying to do the best I can do.  I understand and know where you are coming from.  The book(s) that helped me the best are "Dare to Discipline" by Dr. James Dobson... and "Making Your Kids Mind, without loosing yours" by Dr. Kevin Leman (I think), and "Boundries with Kids" By Dr.Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  They are all excellent and very helpful books.  The most important thing I've found to help is prayer.  Pray with your child and for your child.  Ask God for understanding, wisdom and patience to deal with him.  It isn't easy, but it is important.  I've also found that when my son is in a fit of rage (that is what he does) and yelling at me...sometimes, a simple hug or touch will calm him down enough to where I can talk with him... or go for a walk.  I pray that you will find a solution soon.  I know it is frustrating and worrisome...but take heart -- God loves your family and He wants to help - you just need to ask.
g
Avatar universal
remm, just don't make the mistake i did and do the baskets without doing the groundwork first.  major problem.  you'll find yourself defining your priorities at every vapor lock and meltdown.  rather, get together w/ your partner and work that all out well in advance.  also, get an appt w/ a developmental pediatrician or a neuropsychologist for your son to determine his issues.  dr. greene's approach isn't in place of any other therapies, just the corrective lenses you need to make your family work while you're figuring everything out.  did you find the brief descriptions of the different causes of explosive behavior to be helpful?  are you any closer to knowing what's up w/ your son?  you seem to have had the experience that family, friends, professionals have assumed it was poor parenting or poor motivation.  i think that makes us doubt ourselves and our impressions of our child.  if, when you ask for a referral to a neuropsych or developmental ped, your pediatrician suggests more behavior modification and you really have tried it all, don't slink away without first being heard out.  it's too easy for people, including us parents, to dismiss this, for we, too, assume that our inadequacy is causing our child's problems.  i'm really hoping for the best for you and your family.
Avatar universal
Hi sallymg and ginar -
My son does have an appointment with a therapist coming up and I intend to go in with book in hand.  I hope that if she is unfamiliar with Dr. Greene that at least she will be open to his ideas.  At this point I am not willing to go for any more motivational stuff as I have been trying everything under the sun for years.  Fortunately, my mom is very supportive and also well educated in young child stuff and I can bounce things off her.  I was telling her the highlights of the book and she agreed that this all seems to make sense in relation to what we know about my boy's personality and quirks.  I'm not sure that I have a grip on what may be causing his behavior but I do know that he has some sensory issues.  So I guess that's somewhere to start.  I'm going to have to read Dr. G at least once more to get a grip on where to begin with the "home program".
We are a religious family too, and I believe that God will lead us where we need to be.  All we need to do is pay close attention.
Thank you for everything.  Hope all is well with you.
Avatar universal
Please help! We have a similar but different problem (if that makes any sense).  My 6-year old son has had behavior problems in day care centers since he was 2 1/2.  We too have tried everything with him and kept moving him from place to place believing that he just needed a fresh start.  We were afraid that the day care centers were labeling him and scrutinizing him unfairly.  The peculiar thing about my son is that he actually very well behaved at home, cooperative, sweet, considerate.  But at day care centers he's been called aggressive, impulsive, disruptive.  He just started 1st grade three weeks ago and today he was suspended for 3 days!  We are in the process of trying to get professional help but I'm so afraid that they aren't going to have any solutions.  He has been in detention every day since 1st grade started.  I feel like we will never get him out of this vicious behavioral cycle and that he will always be labeled a problem child at school and that things are just going to deteriorate from this point on.  I feel like I'm losing my son!
Avatar universal
IT SEEMS THAT WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON - A VERY EVIDENT SENSE OF DESPERATION IN FINDING ANSWERS FOR OUR CHILDREN.  I, TOO, HAVE A SON WHO HAS MANY OF THE SAME SYMPTOMS THAT YOU ALL HAVE WRITTEN OF.  HE IS NOW SEVEN YEARS OLD AND IN THE SECOND GRADE.  HE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANCE DISORDER (ODD) A YEAR AGO AND HAS BEEN ON THE DRUG TAFRANIL SINCE THAT TIME.  THERE HAVE BEEN GREAT IMPROVEMENTS, HOWEVER, HIS BODY HAS A TENDENCY TO BECOME "IMMUNE" TO THE DRUG AND THE DOSE HAS TO BE INCREASED REGULARLY.  UPON OUR LAST APPOINTMENT WITH THE NEUROLOGIST, I WAS INSTRUCTED TO TRY ANOTHER MEDICATION IN COMBINATION WITH THE TAFRANIL.  THE NEW MEDICATION IS CALLED INDERAL AND IS A BETA-BLOCKER, WHICH IS SAPPOSED TO REDUCE THE RESPONSE TO THE BODY'S NATURAL ADRENOLIN.  UNFORTUNATELY, IT IS ALSO A BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION AND CAN HAVE TERRIBLE EFFECTS ON THE HEART, LIVER AND KIDNEYS.  I'M NOT SURE WHERE TO GO FROM HERE, BUT I KNOW THAT INDERAL WILL NOT BE OUR ANSWER.  I HAVE FOUND THAT THE MOST EFFECTIVE RESPONSE TO MY SON'S "MELT-DOWNS" IS TO HUG HIM TIGHT AND TELL HIM I LOVE HIM. MOST OF THE TIME IT HAS A WAY OF BRINGING MY SON BACK TO ME AND DISOLVING THE ANGRY MONSTER THAT TAKES HIM OVER FROM TIME TO TIME.  I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST LADIES AND WILL BE PRAYING FOR YOU AND YOU BABES. AH
Avatar universal
My almost 4 year old has driven me nuts. I am seperated from my husband and now have to raise my little ones alone. I have a 2 year old daughter also. While my son is very smart, he will go into fits of rage usually with me. People sometimes stare or give dirty looks as I pull him thru an airport crying because I can't handle anymore. I have tried everything. He will have good days and then bad days. He will yell at me, cuss me, hit me and throw things. My husband and others blame me. My mom says he has a problem. I can't take much more. I am so glad that I found this site and I know now I am not alone. I will be looking at the library for this exsplosive child book!
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