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Brad The Therapist
Brad The Therapist, LCPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 549
Experience:  10 years of experience in working with youth and adults
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my 5 year old son is impulsively hitting kids at school, he

Resolved Question:

my 5 year old son is impulsively hitting kids at school, he understands that it is wrong and is sorry after but is unable to control his impulse.. what can we do?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Brad The Therapist replied 4 years ago.

Brad The Therapist :

Thank you for your question. Before providing suggestions, I have a few questions. First, when did these behaviors first start? What was going on in his life during this time? Any current stressors at home or school? What does your son say why he hits other kids?

Customer:

probably since the start of school, he is in kindergarten this year, so that could be astressor and none of his preschool friends are at his school, it started what seem like acts of attention seeking but now it seems to just be impulsive, the last time he was in canteen lines and just hit a girl standing beside him completely unprovoked and was witnessed by the assistant principal, he can not tell me a reason for the hitting but he knows it is wrong and will apologise but somehow cant seem to stop doing it.. at home nothing more than usual he has a 4yr old brother who has pervasive development disorder NOS, and can be difficult to manage at times... Jonah past he has been unfortunately witness between DV between his father and mysel but that is no longer, his father and i have had counselling and moved on from this, and this hasnt occured for over 12mths now

Brad The Therapist :

Thank you for your response. Although the DV has not occurred for the past 12 months, him witnessing DV may have caused some anxiety for him. When he hits someone, does the school immediately contact you?

Brad The Therapist :

If so, do you go to school right away?

Customer:

initally the teacher would speak to me after school, then they started a communication book and reward charts in the classroom , and walking with the teacher in the front of the line and that seemed to be working initally, but then.. after hitting someone in lines the other day they sent him to the assistant principal who contacted me and told me of the incident and how they will handle that, then it happened again the next day and he rang me again after school and we went up and spoke to him the next morning,they plan to withdraw playtime for two days then structered and closely supervised playtime activities, but he is doing it at home aswell, yesterday at the park he kicked someone.

Brad The Therapist :

You son may have unresolved issues around the DV he witnessed. He may be experiencing some anger or confusion about your relationship with his father. This may be one reason why he is hitting others unprovoked, Another theory is that whenever he hits someone, he obtains attention from you. I'm sure raising a younger sibling with PDD can take attention away from the other sibling and any attention (positive or negative) is attention he wants. A third theory is that by acting out, he knows you will respond, which means that he knows you are safe. When he witnessed DV, he may have felt scared that he was going to lose you. A fourth theory I have is that he may be acting out because he feels guilty for not protecting you when he witnessed DV.

Brad The Therapist :

Nevertheless, your son is trying to communicate something to you by hitting other kids at school and at the park. I'm not sure what that is and therapy typically would be helpful in understanding what he is trying to communicate

Customer:

your theories are what i have thought all along, yes Jonah does get very protective of me when we use to fight he would want to come and get between us and hug me, yes i agree attention seeking is also a possibly true, with his brother i think he reverts back a few years and tries to join in the behaviour his brother is doing which gets very frustrating, but attention from me he gets.. i am very careful that i have times with him alone, we have always, read and cuddle at bedtime, and he goes to sleep with his father stroking his head every night... the question is what do we do, we have read books about not hitting, and controling anger, we have talked and use the traffic lights symbolism as stop think and act, but its not working, we have also talked about what he has seen between his dad and me. and he knows that it was wrong and his father has spoken to him and told him he was wrong with what he did to me

Brad The Therapist :

Although there is a behavioral system in place at school, have you tried a behavioral plan at home? One way to make a behavioral plan is to assign points for his one behavior (which is hitting other kids). Create a sticker chart where he earns a sticker for each day he does not hit a child. For the first week, if he earns 4 out of 5 stickers, he gets a reward, such as extra play time with you. After this first week, inform him that he needs to earn 5 out of 5 stickers to get the same reward. After this second week, extend the evaluation period to two weeks so if he earns 8 out of 10 stickers, he gets a reward of getting ice cream (or whatever you think he will be motivated in doing.) After he accomplishes this, increase to 10 out of 10 days, etc, etc... I think you get the gist. If he is not able to meet the goals for the week, adjust the plan so that he will be able to attain it. So if he is able to do 3 out of 5, instead of 4 out of 5, then try again.

Brad The Therapist :

When implementing a behavioral plan, make sure you review the plan every day with him at the end of the day so that he knows what happened during the day and he is reminded of the reward.

Brad The Therapist :

If this does not work, I highly suggest therapy with a child psychologist who will engage him into play or art therapy to further understand what he is trying to communicate.

Brad The Therapist :

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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