Need advice for raising a young boy who throws destructive temper tanturms.


#1

I have a four year old son who throws temper tantrums like no other child I know. He hits, he kicks, he bites, he screams, he scratches, he throws things at me, he breaks things, he slams doors, he puches cabinets and walls. I have been listening to Dr. Ray Guarrendi for 2 1/2 years, and I still feel lost. My child loses TV time regularly, gets toys thrown in the garbage, sits in the corner and goes to his room multiple times a day. My husband and I spank him (bare bottom) and we rub vinegar on his gums (for disrespectful talk). I am so exhausted by the end of the day. I barely have time to do any chores. I don’t like punishing him all the time. I praise him up and down when he is good. I try to start our day off positive. We always pray after an episode and ask God for forgiveness. I lose it sometimes. I get so angry. I pray about that too. Help!!!


#2

[quote=dhnorris]I have a four year old son who throws temper tantrums like no other child I know. He hits, he kicks, he bites, he screams, he scratches, he throws things at me, he breaks things, he slams doors, he puches cabinets and walls. I have been listening to Dr. Ray Guarrendi for 2 1/2 years, and I still feel lost. My child loses TV time regularly, gets toys thrown in the garbage, sits in the corner and goes to his room multiple times a day. My husband and I spank him (bare bottom) and we rub vinegar on his gums (for disrespectful talk). I am so exhausted by the end of the day. I barely have time to do any chores. I don’t like punishing him all the time. I praise him up and down when he is good. I try to start our day off positive. We always pray after an episode and ask God for forgiveness. I lose it sometimes. I get so angry. I pray about that too. Help!!!
[/quote]

I am so sorry that you and your son are going through this. But I have to tell you that I don’t have any children so cannot offer any practical advice.

But two things stood out to me in your post.

  1. It sounds as if you are doing the punishment for bad/praise for good thing well. Could this be a medical problem?

  2. It sounds like you are doing most of the disciplining. I understand that dad must be gone to work etc. But maybe the old “you just wait until your dad hears what you did” approach might work?

I apologize if my suggestions are off the mark.

Finella


#3

Just a word of encouragement. I can relate to what you’re going through. My son used to act like that when he was little. He is now a grown man in his thirties and has a wonderful family. If I had it to do over, we would not spank him. We never spank our grandchildren. Give him a lot of attention when he does the right things. Let him overhear you bragging to others about what a wonderful child he is. Never call him a “bad boy,” that will give him the wrong self-image, and he will live up to it. Try pasting stars on a piece of paper when he does the right things. A certain number of stars could be worth a video that he has been wanting to watch. When he is cranky or impossible, maybe he is hungry or tired or coming down with a cold. Think about giving him something nutritious to eat that doesn’t have sugar in it, or maybe even some pain medication such as Motrin if he seems to be getting sick. Try laying your hands on him as you say goodnight prayers together. Get help if you need a break, and get a part-time job if you need a break but can’t afford the help. I think you will notice a difference. Of course, it is possible that he needs some medication. I would look into that if positive reinforcement doesn’t appear to be working after a couple of months of trying it consistently.


#4

If this well meaning and I’m sure good advice doesn’t work…

have you thought about looking into the possibility that your son might be suffering from ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

I ask this because your child is acting out in ways that are typical for ODD.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, (DSM IV) of the American Psychiatric Association defines oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) as a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least 6 months. Behaviors included in the definition are the following: losing one’s temper; arguing with adults; actively defying requests; refusing to follow rules; deliberately annoying other people; blaming others for one’s own mistakes or misbehavior; being touchy, easily annoyed or angered, resentful, spiteful, or vindictive.

ODD is usually diagnosed when a child has a persistent or consistent pattern of disobedience and hostility toward parents, teachers, or other adults. The primary behavioral difficulty is the consistent pattern of refusing to follow commands or requests by adults. Children with ODD often are easily annoyed; they repeatedly lose their temper, argue with adults, refuse to comply with rules and directions, and blame others for their mistakes. Stubbornness and testing limits are common, even in early childhood.

The criteria for ODD are met only when the problem behaviors occur more frequently in the child than in other children of the same age and developmental level. These behaviors cause significant difficulties with family and friends, and the oppositional behaviors are the same both at home and in school. Sometimes, ODD may be a precursor of a conduct disorder. ODD is not diagnosed if the problematic behaviors occur exclusively with a mood or psychotic disorder.

And no… you didn’t give it to him.

Check out the DSM-IV (Diagnostic Statistical Manual - 4) that therapists and professionals use to determine whether someone is suffering from that condition.

It sounds like your son is behaving like a cousin of mine… who suffers from ODD. He needs professional help.

I “googled” it for you (looked it up using the Google.com search engine). Came up with these links. Hope this helps!

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

behavenet.com/capsules/disorders/odd.htm

mental-health-matters.com/disorders/dis_details.php?disID=67

riri.essortment.com/whatisoppositi_rlnc.htm

emedicine.com/PED/topic2791.htm

asktheinternettherapist.com/counselingarchive_oppositional_defiant_disorder.asp

Treatment for ODD

mftsource.com/Treatment.oppdef.htm

You really need to address this, because if he’s suffering from ODD when he’s a teen it’ll be worse. See the “teenswithproblems.com” link (below).

teenswithproblems.com/conduct_disorder.html

Conduct Disorder

behavenet.com/capsules/disorders/cndctd.htm

If this is not the case with your son, I’m very glad.

Meantime, there’s lots of folks who just read postings at message boards, like this one… so perhaps these links to information about ODD might be helpful for them, as well.

:thumbsup: :whistle: :blessyou: :amen: :heart: :twocents:


#5

I know you are trying to be the best parents you can be, but considering all day long you discipline including yelling and spanking; he is probably just learning this behavior from you. You are the most important teachers in his life, and you are teaching him to react with your temper and with physical pain. You spank him, and you wonder why he hits? It is the only form of communication he knows.

I have a two year, and all children throw horrible temper tantrums, because they get frustrated. My mother would just “lose it” as you stated in your post. If my mother was going to yell and threaten me all day long, of course I was going to be defiant including as a teenager. I was already being punished I had nothing to lose.

And yes I can get really upset too, but you can’t let your child see that or take it our on the child. You need to set an example on how to cope and not stoop to their level. When my daughter gets upset, I sit her ont he couch and walk away. Then I calm down, and difuse the situation. If she hits, I just tell her “We don’t hit.”

Children do see and listen, and if they see you not getting upset over time they won’t be upset either. Now if your husband was verbally abusive and used physical pain to control your behavior, you would get a restraining order on him. Your son is defenseless, and doesn’t have the ability to get out.

To send him for professional help to be diagnosed, if just shifting the blame on an innocent child. I have no problem with counseling for the entire family, but I think the behavior modifications will come just as much from you and your husband not him alone.


#6

DH,

I have a child with special needs. Your son’s behavior sounds very similar to my son’s at that age. It may or may not be Oppositional Disorder. My son is Asperger’s Syndrome.

I would recommend you get a book by Dr. Hallowell called “When you worry about the Child you Love.” It covers most problems with children. He advises you how to deal with a child with problems at home. And he also lets you know “if” and “when” you should see a professional. It’s one of the best resources I found.

But in my personal opinion, if discipline is not helping, you probably need to pursue professional help. Before my son was diagnosed I was often criticized by other parents for not providing the proper discipline. But if the child has a true problem, discipline alone is not the answer.

I will pray for you.
Mary


#7

im so sorry for your desperate situation. i should tell you im not a parent just an Aunt and former nanny and daycare teacher. my Fiance was also a special education teacher. we attended a seminar once because i was assigned to what they call “high risk” kids and he handled students with violent disabilities. what we were taught and what seemed to work well for both of us is this.

when your child becomes angry to a point of hurting himself or others try to get your child to their knees. with you behind them. pull (gently) the child to your lap take his left arm with your right and cross it over his chest and do the same with his other arm wrap your legs around the childs only to restrain him not to tight. hold the child gently against your chest and put you head on his shoulder and talk calmly and rationally to the child rock gently back and forth with saying shhhhh and other calming soothing words.

sorry was copying that out of a training manual. this almost always worked for me bit of advice though while theyre still riled up watch their head, i had my lip busted a few times in this position.


#8

Even if your son does not have a diagnosable disorder, consider the possibility that your discipline may need to be toned down. My mother “washed our mouth out with soap” when we swore. I don’t swear today but not for that reason. And I would NEVER do that to my child. It is extremely demeaning and a violation of a child’s sense of self. So I cringed that you rub vinegar on his gums. I spanked my child. While I am not against spanking, I believe it has to be very carefully and very sparingly administered otherwise it is counterproductive. Again, my parents were much too ready with the physical punishment and their bad example guides me still.

Would you want your child’s memories of his childhood to be resentment and anger about your discipline methods? Probably not. So try to reduce the physical discipline and use it very sparingly–no more than once a month. There are lots of great books out there on parenting and positive discipline. You might want to consider getting counseling for yourself. A professional can coach you on how to handle your son with more positive parenting techniques. Clearly, you are not a bad mother, because you care enough to know what you are doing is not working. Remember what your goal is with your son and re-adjust your techniques when they are no longer effective. God bless you.

TarAshley’s post suggests a good technique for calming children. Teaching children to calm themselves is a very important self-control technique. Punishment does not help teach self-calming, which is one reason why it is not effective. Children (and adults too) get themselves worked up into a high-pitched emotional state, and have to learn how to avoid getting there by calming themselves when they start getting upset or get out of that state once they are in it. I found with my daughter that role-playing feelings and reactions is very effective in anticipating situations. Role playing teaches children the skills that they can use when they get into that situation the next time.


#9

[quote=Veronica Anne]If this well meaning and I’m sure good advice doesn’t work…

have you thought about looking into the possibility that your son might be suffering from ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

[/quote]

Good answer.

Keep in mind that while Dr. Phil and Dr. Ray and Dr. Spock and Dr. Pepper and all the other doctors like to give us their cookie cutter advice on how to deal with these issues, it is a fact that not all children respond the same way to parental attempts to correct bad behavior.

With one boy we found that punishments got us into a never-ending downward spiral. Every time. So we changed tactics to giving unconditional love, and nothing more. Hugs, attention, and so on. We limited TV time not as a punishment, but through getting him involved in other things. The bad behavior eventually ended. We found there was no need to “correct” behavior because he already knew what was right and what was wrong - they usually do, by the way. (CAVEAT: If the provisional DSM-IV diagnosis above is correct, then your situation may be totally different). This went against EVERY piece of advice we had been given, but it worked for us.

Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

And TarAshley’s and Chiara’s advice is very good, both along the same path as mine.


#10

Why Barrister was that a joke?!:wink: i like the Dr. Pepper line, good one!


#11

These won’t solve your problem but might help.

Get rid of the TV; even shows like Arthur can lead kids to imitate bad behaviour. By ret rid of it, I mean no one in the house watches any type of broadcast ,

Watch out for red dyes. Banniong red dyes has helped my daughter tremendously.

We take off the door when it slams and keep it off for a week or two. It hasn’t been slammed or removed for quite a while.


#12

that seems a little harsh to me. my mom did time out and spankings and blah blah blah, but it was the four most horrible words any parent could say to a child that always did it " im disappointed in you" she said it quietly and then she would look so sad, sometimes even pull out the fake mom crocodile tears, but i straightned up real quick :banghead: <<< me after she said that! no kid can stand to see their mom in pain. << shivers>> it still gives me chills to this day and im 21 years old! obviously it wont work in this situation but to any mom with a headstrong teenager…works like a charm!:wink:


#13

Thank you everyone for your words. Some of them were hard to read. Stung a bit. I agree with the person who says to stay away from red dye and throw the TV away. If it were up to me we wouldn’t have a TV. (My husband isn’t to that point yet.) I should have said that we weren’t always so strict. I thought that I was going to be able to nurture, nurture this child and he would just grow up feeling so secure and happy. But the reality was that he was growing up thinking he was in charge. We got tougher because he demanded it. I wonder about psychologists and all their diagnoses. I wonder if a lot of these medical conditions are really just different personality types. I don’t know. Thank you for your time.


#14

Try a bar of soap (the orange Dial is the worst) when he mouths off. It gets stuck in their teeth and reminds them for a while to watch it. Also don’t be so quick to get him diagnosed. Have you tried calling Dr. Ray? Call him don’t wait for someone with the same situation.

Get a punching bag and have him wack it 100 times or so if he gets disturctive with his fits. Pretty much all TV is garbage but there are good videos on saints and what not that could be viewed sparingly. It is tempting to sit them in front of it so you can get stuff done but in the long run you it will only hurt him (I am sure you know this but I’m just giving you reassurance that TV is bad.)

One more thing don’t hesitate to punish bad behavior now, or like Dr. Ray says the courts will be doing it later.

Take care, good luck and God Bless +


#15

[quote=RedCrossKnight]Try a bar of soap (the orange Dial is the worst) when he mouths off. It gets stuck in their teeth and reminds them for a while to watch it.
[/quote]

Have you ever had this done to you? Have you ever done this to a child? Are you a parent? This is very unkind and only serves to teach the child that the parent has raw power. It is a technique that involves no love and no caring for the child. Only a very young child can be held down to do this, an older child will physically fight you. A young child is too young for this and an older child is too old for this. It is a bad parenting technique and will win you resentment and disdain from your children. What positive message does it give to your child?

Kids are sometimes frustrating but we parents need to stay in control, especially when our kids make us craziest. When you lose control and do mean things to your kids (shriek, hit, wash mouth out with soap, or worse), you are letting them gain control by showing them that their behavior can make you “lose it”. It will only go downhill from there.


#16

LaChiara,

Do you think it is wrong to punish a child for being disobedient? If so, why? I was spanked as a child, but always knew I was loved. I never resented my parents.


#17

[quote=Finella] 1) It sounds as if you are doing the punishment for bad/praise for good thing well. Could this be a medical problem?

[/quote]

I work with special needs preschoolers and Finella is on to something here. When we screen a child that is exhibiting these behaviors we require a parent to have a full physical and psychological work up. Don’t be frightened by the sounds of it. It will just be more thorough than what you have had in the past. You will need to find a Doctor that has experience with young children and that will not brush off you comments. I would not overlook these things now because It can get worse. The good news is that if you go through all the appointments, and your child does improve with maturity, then you haven’t overlooked anything.

There can be many explanations and I am sure you will feel better when you get to the bottom of it. If there is any diagnosed problem, then you are entitled to preschool for your child that will include any therapy that is needed (speech, OT, PT). I work with children that have all different diagnosis. A common one before they are 6yrs old. is Developmental Delays. After 6yrs. old, then the diagnosis will often be more definite.

I will give you one example of why young children tantrum. If they have a Language processing problem, then they misunderstand what you are saying to them. If their language skills are poor they respond with the tantrum because it is their only input.

There are many things that could be causing this. It is most likely not you or your husband so don’t feel self conscious. Seek help and you will be doing your child a world of good. It will also help you.

You are also entitled to a free screening with your local public school district. Don’t wait until Kindergarden screening. Call your district. Good luck.


#18

[quote=dhnorris]LaChiara,

Do you think it is wrong to punish a child for being disobedient? If so, why? I was spanked as a child, but always knew I was loved. I never resented my parents.
[/quote]

I was spanked also, and I knew I was loved. The point is spanking didn’t teach me what I did was wrong. I was a child unable of understanding right from wrong, I lived in constant fear instead. Reconcillation isn’t until the age of seven, a four year old can’t comprehend the intent of sin. So any violence you take upon him will not be comprehend, and like he will only fight ‘out of fear’ back the way you taught him.

Think about all the things you have taught him without violence. Whether it is potty training, numbers, or the alphabet. Did you discipline him for wetting his pants or skipping the number 13, Heck No. You repeated the correct way of doing it. You can reason without violence.

Any violence towards me, was simply my parents taking their own “temper tantrum”. My parents did the best, I forgive my parents because they simply didn’t know how to control their own emotions. I was an angry teen, and they wonder why?

You must react when your child is disobidient. But if a license child care provider or a nun was re-acting in the same matter you were, she would be in jail now. Think about it. I don’t show emotion when my child acts out. I just calmly remove her from the situation, even if she is screaming and hitting saying she hates me. I let her cool down. When she cools down we deal we correct the problem. She might not agree with my decision and cry some more, but I have not antagonized a child with pain.


#19

Thanks Renee, your response is exactly how I feel about discipline. Sounds like you are successfully parenting your child in a way that you weren’t parented. We can forgive our parents for their parenting, but even better is to learn from their mistakes and be better parents to our children–rather than mindlessly repeating their parenting techniques. God bless you and thanks for sharing your experience.


#20

Also my daughter doesn’t throw a tantrum everyday so I don’t want to compare situations. I definitely endorse diagnosis, I want all of you to be happy. We don’t know all the facts, except you love him and your frustrated and you want change.

Maybe just from personal expereince, I just hope all of this isn’t burdened on the child as only “his problem”. And even if there is a diagnosis that the root cause is psychological on his end, I don’t have a doubt in my mind that you and your husband will be a part of the solution and participate in whatever is needed.


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