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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My son is 7, and since kindergarten, he has had many

Customer Question

My son is 7, and since kindergarten, he has had many episodes of violent (kicking, hitting) behavior towards other kids and adults, as well as verbal "bullying" of others unprovoked. He doesn't show respect toward others despite our constantly speaking of it and acting it as an example. He is always disciplined by taking away favorite pastimes, snacks... This time, no computer games or tv for a month! And today, another call from the principle. Should we take him to see a psychologist?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 2 years ago.
This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.
Hello, I believe I may be able to help you with your concern. I am sorry that you are having this issue with your son, I can understand how distressing this can possibly be for you. I would like to ask you a few questions to get a better idea of your situation, so that I can better assist you.
1. For how long has he been exhibiting this type of behavior?
2. Does he display this behavior at home as well, or only in school?
3. Would you describe your son as "defiant" towards authority?
4. And lastly, does he exhibit any symptoms of being hyper a lot, difficulty sitting still in a classroom, and difficulty focusing on tasks?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He has done it since kindergarten. Although. When he was 4 and at daycare, the family saw him reach over and pinch a baby until she started crying. I've always worried about that. He is definitely defiant toward authority, whether an adult or 11 year-old. He can sit and read to us or play on the computer for 30 minutes straight, but when we are not at home, he acts crazy and doesn't stop moving. Our pediatrician has mentioned adhd several times, but our son doesn't do that at home! He does have a horrible time controlling his emotions. He bursts into squealing and tears when we get on him lightly for doing something wrong, or not doing something we ask.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your responses as this helps me to better understand the situation. Given the description of your son's symptoms/behaviors and because your son primarily behaves this way at school and not at home, most likely he could have what is called an Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Children with ODD typically will have "over the top" outbursts and tantrums, will be actively defiant towards authority figures, can be disruptive, and sometimes purposefully will try to irritate adults and authority figures as well. Here is a good link on ODD if you want to learn more about it.
Now I would agree that ADHD does not appear to be likely given that your son's behavior does not occur at home, but individuals with ADHD have a 50 percent co-occurrence rate of also being diagnosed with ODD, so it is possible that the ODD may be over-shadowing possible ADHD symptoms, so when the ODD is resolved there may be left over symptoms of easily distracted, hyperness, etc...I am only mentioning this as a possibility because of how often ADHD and ODD co-occur.
But because it appears your son does have an issue with ODD from your description and this has been a chronic issue for at least the last 2 years, he should see a Child Psychologist that specializes in treating ODD and other behavioral issues. Usually the prototypical therapy for this will be Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, and Role-playing to help him learn empathy for others and to help him to better control his emotions as well. If you want to look for a Child Psychologist near you, you can use this link where you put in your zip code and then afterwards you can narrow down the search based on age range treated and treatment focus as well.
I hope this answers your question and gives you some guidance on this issue. I truly wish your son all the best and I hope he will respond well to treatment with the Child Psychologist.
My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime. If I answered your question satisfactorily I would very much appreciate if you could rate my performance in helping you so that I can get credit for this question. Thank you very much