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Penny Rayas, MFT
Penny Rayas, MFT, Therapist
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When our six year old gets angry lately he has been hitting

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When our six year old gets angry lately he has been hitting himself in the head and other areas, and lashing out at mom! Is it alright for us to encourage him to direct his anger towards an inanimate object? If not, what do we do?
Hello there and thanks for asking JA. Can you tell me when those incidents happen? What triggers his anger? I ask parents of young children to make a rule quiet hands. The child get a reward every time he can keep hands to himself. When he gets really upset it is because he can't self regulate, what we will do is to teach him how to self regulate this emotions. You can say I see that you are very upset. Stay calm and tell him that " we will have a minute of quit time" role play the quiet time for him and sit by him talking long breaths. If he then calms down ask him to do what you were asking him to do before. Often children have a melt down at bed time or morning. It is important to hard a morning and eventing routine. He has to know what to expect. I like to keep a schedule of activities in the refrigerator. Give him a sticker for everything down well.
Remember to reward good behavior and give him praize for all he does well. Let me if you have any questions. They are finding that hitting pillows does not help children with anger
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
He usually acts like this and becomes very angry triggering him to start screaming, crying, grunting and hitting himself when he is told no and things don't go his way. We have a consistent schedule that we keep him on in our house. We have tried to have him take a minute to calm down but he just doesn't seem to calm down. He will scream and cry in his bed for an hour at times. We usually set him in his bed and talk to him after his calm, but this seems to happen on a regular basis almost every night.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I guess our main focus is wondering if this behavior is a normal behavior because this hitting himself can't be healthy.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I can't pin point a certain time this happens because it's sporadic sometimes he wakes up happy and others the moment his feet hit the floor he's crying and screaming about something. Some days he walks in the door after school and he's yelling at his brother and throwing stuff and screaming nasty things while others days he's fine. But we have incidents like this more than not. There's usually at least 1 incident every day just at different times and about different things.
Hello there, I am sorry I typed a whole answer and this webiste went off and I lost all my writing. Do those incidents happen at school also? No I would say that the behavior is not normal and your son has a hard time self regulating. Have you tried a behavioral reward program? You focus on the possitive behavior you want to happen. We ask for what we want with our words. Everytime he is able to self control and not scream and cry you give him a star. If he has 10-15 stars a week to take him out for icecream or 5 stars to the park. He misses stars for missbehaving. I would name his emotions saying. I can hear that you are angry now, let;s take a minute to calm down. Is he does it reward good behavior with that was great now you can watch tv play for an extra 10 minutes. If he does not calm down give him a time out. Time out is done somewhere that you can see him for the maximum of 6 minutes. He does not talk on time out and you do not talk to him. after he comes down ask him why you put him in time out. He would say because I started to yell, you say yess and you did such a great job staying in time out thank you. Then he can continue the activity. Your husband will have to do the same routine. Also the teacher. This will change slowly and you have to be consistant. It works, not right away but it does work. Have a list of the chedule writen down so he knows what he needs to be doing at any time they you can point to the chedule and ask what do you need to do next? If those methods don't reduce the insidence please take your son to his pediatritian.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I have spoke to his teacher and she says that she has no problems in school with him and he's always well behaved. I will try the reward system you have mentioned and see how that goes. I have researched his behavioral patterns before online and they seem to match the symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder, but since it doesn't happen at school only at home so I was unsure? If this behavior continues I will take him to his pediatrician.
I am glad that he is behaving at school. Sometimes the issue is a small change at home as small as dad working longer hours or a brother and a sister moving out. It may also be that he feels safe to show you how angry he is but he is not safe at school. I am not sure that he is oppositional if he does not have problems with teachers. I have a feeling this is an attention seaking behavior. I would say ignore small things and respond to larger things. Give him a lot of praise for doing things well. Did you have another baby?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
No new baby, but we are a blended family. Me and his dad have been married for a year and together for a little over 2 years. Since the day I met him I have witnessed this behavior and it seems to keep getting worse. We have a great relationship and I am his primary mother figure. His biological mom only sees him maybe 3 times a month and has never really been that involved in his life. The reason i'm so scared is that his biological mother suffers from bipolar disorder and after being with her for a weekend his behavior seems to be worse. She complains about the same behavior at her house and as soon as he returns home it's always worse than before he went to her house, and it takes a while to get him back into his routine again.
I understand now yes children of bi-polar parents have 3 times the chance to get the disorder. Seeing his bio-mother in and out of his life is very hard for him. He probably has attachement disorder. I am glad you are in his life and the more time passes the more he will trust that you will always be there for him. I am glad you have a great relationship with him. Did his mom drink when she was pregnant with him or used any drugs? Chileren who are exposed to drugs and alcohol inutero have problems controling their temper. It is good that you are keeping an eye on him you can always talk to his pediatrician. I hope this is helps.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
She didn't drink or use drugs, at least not that i'm aware of.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
do you think this behavior will fade the older he gets or do you think it will keep getting worse?
It is hard to know if the behavior will improve or not, but I have hope that using the behavioral rewards and being consistant will be better than before. You are doing a ll you can do giving him structure, love and consistancy, this will help. If things do not get better then he may need therapy. I think you are giving him the best chance by being there and setting rules. Let me know how this works for you.
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