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Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  and pediatric nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience counseling parents.
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My six year old son has been having extreme temper tantrums

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My six year old son has been having extreme temper tantrums for the last 8 months, especially the last 4. They last for 25 to 45 minutes. He's a sweet boy but my husband and I feel like we are walking on eggshells around him because anything can set him off. We have noticed that what especially sets him off is if he is disciplined. We have him seeing a childhood counselor. Our family is emotionally drained and near broken. What's going on with my son?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. I am sorry to hear about the problems with your son. How is his behavior at school? What has the counselor said already?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He is in a Montessori school and has been since he was a toddler. He started a new school this fall and the transition to first grade has been tough. He does not get his temper tantrums at school nor is he fighting. He is distracted though - in Mont schools, children are directed toward a subject to chose their lesson to work on. My son's teachers chose 3 lessons for him to work on - which he has a rough time doing. He's sometimes disruptive to other students (talking to them when they are trying to work) but nothing malicious. His reading is not up where it should be but he can read fairly well, just not at the level they believe he can (and with better reading comes the lessons he's more interested in). He has been moved from the "middle" weekly list of spelling words to the beginning list of spelling words...he loves language arts but getting him to read with me out loud is a challenge and getting him to do his homework, even when I am sitting next to him (which his teachers also say he needs in the classroom) is a major chore and can (at home) lead to temper tantrumes. He needs to be reminded constantly (like many 6 year olds) to keep his hands to himself and he's had some challenges with lying and speaking in a grand manner (I"m better, faster....). He's socialable and has made some friends in class. Overall, doing somewhat poorly but could and should be doing better. I should also mention he loves to read and has had stories read to him since he was an infant, so that subject is not a problem.

Today, he'd had a good day at work, helped me with some household chores (although needy for attention) and so as a reward he got his internet key to use his internet. As is a typical night, after the fifth repeat that it was time for stories he needed to shut his computer down now, he kept saying "just til the end of my (little cartoon) video". I pulled the internet key because he was not listening and we had an ugly ugly 35 minute tantrum where he finally fell alseep.

His counselor has taught him deep breathing (which he doesn't like to do very much yet) and a tapping / imagination release where he closes his eyes, his hands are tapped by his father or me and he describes a park and what he is doing there. When he goes in to a tantrum, at the suggestion of his counselor, we tell him to go to his room (several times) and it escalates where we physically take him and shut the door and hold it shut. He bangs and pounds on it for all its worth.

Any suggestions for me to reaserch on the internet. My family is being destroyed over this and this is also impacting my daughter, his little sister.

Please help.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Answer came too late.
Expert:  Bonnie replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for consulting JA,

The background information is very helpful. There are a few possibilities which we can start to discuss here but will need further evaluation by a child psychologist in person.

The first is related to adjustment to 1st grade. This is a common problem especially for children who are high-strung or anxious. The demands of 1st grade are more that they are used to and it sounds like his struggles are apparent to him. In other words, he may be frustrated by his struggles. If it is just an adjustment, then it should get better with time.

Since he is not melting down at school, it means that he is controlling this negative energy there. But it is "at a cost" because it requires energy and is fatiguing. Then, when he gets home, he let's it all out. Home is the safe place to do so.

Some of the behaviors you describe are symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. That is where the psychological evaluation applies. Here are the 18 behaviors of ADHD:

As far as further intervention, since reading is such a high priority in your family, you may be able to benefit from therapeutic books published by Magination Press. Here are a few that may apply but do look at the website for the many selections:

You might want to have a discussion with him about how uncomfortable his feelings seem to be for him and that.... just like if he had a stomach want to help him feel better. Tell him that reading one of these books together might help and let him choose. While you are talking and deciding about books, if some theories begin to evolve about why he is upset or angry (something at school, jealous of sister) then target that subject when you choose a book.

I hope this has been helpful but please feel free to ask a follow up question.

Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience: and pediatric nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience counseling parents.
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