I am sorry that your son is having a hard time controlling his anger. It sounds like you have good parental instincts and are in tune with your son's emotions well enough to understand that his anger likely stems from the bullying and fear of being bullied. I wonder if there are specific things that trigger his anger more. If you aren't sure what those are, I would try and look for those because sometimes you can anticipate those triggers and teach him ways to calm down before his anger becomes out of control. I also would like to know whether your son losing his temper is a new thing or if he has always had a harder time than others controlling his anger. If new, it is likely that life events and changes are triggering this anger and looking at what underlies the anger can help alleviate it. If it is something he has always struggled with than it might be related to his temperament and then you want to look at specific tools to help him manage his anger.
Here are some specific ideas.
It sounds like you provide him with some good, structured activities and he has an opportunity to develop friendships and social skills through his play dates. I would continue with these and try to make them as consistent and predictable as you can. During the play dates it might help if you are nearby to help him with specific social skills such as communication with the friends so that he can work on communicating his needs and feelings rather than bottling them up or acting on them like the pencil incident. Also, consider whether your child is overbooked. Does he have enough free time to play at home? Does he have time to play with you? Also, talk to him about bullying. There are some great books out there (if you want specific suggestions let me know). There is also a great free printable coloring book on www.kidpower.org that gives children great suggestions on managing bullies. I would also talk with your son about how to know whether someone is being nice or being a bully and talk about who he feels safe with and who he feels unsafe with. Try and cultivate the friendships of the children he feels safe with to reduce his anxiety about the other children. I would also continue to communicate with his teachers so that they are aware of the situation, can monitor it and maybe help your son in the classroom. Here are some other ideas to specifically help with the anger: try and create and stick to consistent and predictable routines. The more predictable and consistent things are the less anxiety and hopefully anger your son will feel. Try and give him one on one time and make sure there are times to relax and unwind in between activities. Try and catch him when he starts to become irritated (it can be harder to calm a child when they are at the height of their anger). Teach him specific ways to calm down: deep breathing, counting, going to a calm down spot in his room, listening to music, drawing, jumping on a trampoline, squeezing a stress ball - whatever relaxes and calms your son - you can ask him for ideas.
I hope that this has been helpful. If so, I would greatly appreciate a positive rating. If I have not fully answered your questions, please let me know what else I can help you with. Also, if you are interested in a discipline handout I have created (that often helps parents in similar situations), please let me know and I would be happy to attach it. I wish you the best. Kerrie
I wanted to follow up and see if my answer was helpful and how things are going with your son. I hope things are going well and I hope I was able to help you. If you found my answer to be helpful I would appreciate a positive rating. If you have further questions, please ask and I hope yo answer them for you. Best