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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5808
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My son has been living with his partner for nearly six years

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My son has been living with his partner for nearly six years now. She had a boy 18 months old when my son arrived on the scene and she had just come out of a violent relationship with the boys father. My son has since been the boys father figure and I have become his granddad. He has grown to be a very challenging boy who will not accept it when he is wrong and has violent tantrums. My son has had two children with his partner a girl (4) and a boy (1). They have married recently and now things have taken a turn for the worse.
Me and my wife from day one have treated him like our own without exception, but I have always noticed his difficult behaviour but have tried to help him by giving him lots of my time playing games etc.
Some examples of his bad behaviour: He was 3 and I took him to a playcenter a girl of 5 ran past us she had long hair which he grabbed hold of causing the girl to fall to the floor she was screaming in pain. No matter how I tried he would not say sorry. Another time I took him to a swimming where he punched another child in the face he was 4 at this time. There has been a catalogue of very bad behaviour at school he is always in trouble, he has attacked his mother on several occasions and once picked up a knife to me. He is 7 now and is starting to bully his sibblings. My son and his partner have tried to get help to no avail and are at there wits end, I fear this could end there relationship as my son told me he cant deal with it any more. Can you offer any advise.


Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


There are many reasons a child acts out. For some children, their personality is the cause. They are naturally aggressive in nature and see nothing wrong with hurting others. For other children, it is a learned behavior. They witness violence or are the victims of violence themselves. And still other children have biological reasons for acting out. They may have been born to parents that used alcohol and other drugs (the father's use can also affect the child's development if he used before the child was conceived). There are also learning disabilities and other organic causes.


Some of the possible causes of aggressive behavior include:


Inadequate verbal and expression skills

Learning disabilities

Lack of routine



Have your son and his wife watch the child. Note when he acts out and what is going on around him at the time. Was there a trigger? Was the child over tired or stimulated too much? They should look for a pattern in his behavior. This will help them and a professional help identify the problem.


Your grandson needs screened to see what the cause might be. A child psychologist or other qualified professional should do a full evaluation to see what might be causing this behavior. Talk to his doctor about a referral to a child psychologist. Or contact your local hospital or clinic for more guidance.


Also, is your grandson getting consequences to his behavior? Children are rarely able to understand how to control their own behavior so adults need to set limits. If he does not respond to simple punishments, he may need more intense corrections. Also the punishment must fit the action. For example, if he yells at someone, a time out may be enough. But if he hits, then he has all his toys taken away for a day. Some children need consistent rules and enforcements in order to bring their own behavior under control.


You can also help your son and his wife try these steps when their son acts out:


Immediately remove him from the scene- if he becomes upset or aggressive, take him out of the situation right away. Don't give him another chance or warn him. Removing him helps him pinpoint when his behavior becomes too much.


Don't yell- keep your voices even. Change your words and tone, but not the level. When you yell, kids can tune you out easier. If the child acts out, say in an even and serious tone, "You will leave with me right now". And ignore any protests.


Set rules and review them often- make the rules simple and straight forward. No hitting, no yelling etc. Talk about consequences if the rules are broken. That way, he is not surprised when he is corrected for his behavior.


Here are some other resources to help you:


The Difficult Child: Expanded and Revised Edition by Stanley Turecki and Leslie Tonner


Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child : Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries by Robert J. Mac Kenzie


You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.


I hope this has helped you,

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