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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2497
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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My 5 year old son can be quite aggressive, he will smack and

Customer Question

My 5 year old son can be quite aggressive, he will smack and hit, his tantrums can be quite bad. If i send him to his room to think, he will break things and smash them, he has gouged the number 4 all over his bedroom wall and also put a hole thru the wall where he has smashed it repetidly with the door, it doesnt matter what technique i try to overcome his behaviour, nothing seems to get through. He tells alot of lies, some quite disturbing, he came home a few weeks ago and said that someone had tried to set fire to the school and his teacher cut him with a knive. Ofcourse this is not true but why does he feel the need to do this. He also enjoys killing insects. He will constantly misbehave, if i tell him not to do something then he will go out of his way to do it. I know he knows how to behave but its as if he wants to upset me and hurt me by behaveing like this and i dont know how to deal with it, many thanks Jane
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Norman M. replied 3 years ago.

Hello, and thanks for visiting JA.


He is a bit old for tantrums, as such.


Boys of his age are rather liable to push things to see what happens, and what they really need are firm boundaries. Being ‘soft’ just makes you easier to manipulate, and anger just teaches them to be angry when they in turn are faced with a difficult situation.


He is quite old enough to know about actions and consequences. We humans only indulge in behaviour that bring reward of some kind. Only when that reward (whatever it might be) disappears, or the consequences of our behaviour promise to be unpleasant do we consider changing what we do.


Here is the clue to sorting things out. When you are faced with non-co-operation – give him choices, and make sure he understands the consequences of their choice – and always follow through. If you don’t he’ll just get confused. Please make sure though that all his small successes are praised and occasionally rewarded


Never, never be blaming or accusatory. Stick to facts, tell him how you feel about his behaviour, and make sure he understands that while you love him, his bad behaviour Is hurtful and will not be accepted.


Most of what you have been doing has been excellent, but it is clearly not working, and in this situation, I am fairly certain that your son is going to need professional help to deal with it. There are several conditions – some psychological and some physical – which could be at the root of it, but in order to find out exactly what is going on. I recommend that you arrange an appointment with a pediatric psychiatrist as soon as you can.

I’m going to suggest that you get a copy of the book “How to talk so kids will listen, and how to listen so kids will talk”. Its ISBN is 1 85340 705 4. It embodies many of the principles you have already adopted, but provides much more help.

It might help you turn things around round and it is also a good read!

Best wishes, NormanM




Best wishes, NormanM

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