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How can I help my child deal with anger and violence problems?

I need help.  How do I handle this situation?  My four year old bites and kicks and claws his brothers when he doesn't get his way.  When he doesn"t get his way with his father or myself or other people he shuts down. He sometimes comes after me.  His brothers did not go through this so I am puzzled with how to handle this. His brothers are 11yrs.old and 8 yrs. old and it"s hard on everyone.
                                                              Thanks, Lisa
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Feb 23, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Hello Lisa,
Helping your child deal with anger and violence is difficult at times. You are right, it is hard on the family as this behavior was not exhibited by your older children at this age. Most 4 year old children are at a stage of development that includes mood swings with acting out behavior toward others at times. Teaching him to control his frustrations is key. Does he earn an age appropriate consequence should he act out? Setting clear expectations for him can be helpful.
There also could be many factors to consider. What time of day does your son exhibit this behavior? Could he be tired, hungry, thirsty, or not feeling well? What else has changed in his environment? What upsets him most? Providing its appropriate, is there an opportunity to 'get his own way' or to have him perceive that he is 'getting his own way' sometimes? Are you and your husband able to show him some positive attention? It would seem that he is gaining your attention negatively, and shifting his attention seeking to the positive is the goal. There will be good days and bad days--as with any child, they are not perfect all the time. If you feel like talking to someone can help, you can call the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000. We have counselors available 24/7 and we talk to kids and parents about various issues. Thank you for reaching out for help. Good luck and let us know if we can be of any further assistance to you and your family.
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Additional Answers (2)

Danielle
Danielle , Parent writes:
I have a four year old myself who went through a stage like this. What worked for us was making it clear that biting was totally unacceptable. When he got physical, I would put him in a tight hug so he couldn't reach out and hit or bite and say calmly, "I can't let you hurt people. You let me know when you're in control of your body and ready to use words to let me know what you want, and I'll let you go." Usually this made him pretty angry, but he would eventually calm down, I'd release him, and he'd stop doing it. (Or if he did it again to test me, we'd go through another cycle.) Also, I'd tell him before he had play time with a friend that if he "used his body instead of his words" we'd have to leave the park/friend's house/etc. immediately. This is incredibly inconvenient sometimes, but being consistent really helps.

Good luck. Be aware that this is not a result of "bad parenting". This often happens when kids get frustrated that they can't make their needs known.
> 60 days ago

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Redwood_City_Mom
Redwood_Cit... writes:
Hi Lisa,

I agree with Danielle's comments but also wanted to add that it may have something to do with the fact that he's the youngest.  I have two boys and the oldest (5) is gentle and calm and great at using his words to express his emotions.  The younger one (3) is much more likely to express frustration and anger physically.  I think he ends up feeling like as the rest of our family is talking away he can't get a word in edgewise!  One thing that really seems to help is if I stop what I'm doing when he starts to get upset and get down at his level and really help him explain in words what's bothering him.  I've also worked to get his older brother to do the same thing.  By giving him a little more time to speak he's able to say what he's thinking or feeling without getting upset (and violent!).  I hope this helps!
> 60 days ago

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