Nicola71 asks:

My son is only 7 and is wanting to leave home, he seems so full of anger and also says he wants to die

My son is 7 nearly 8 this October, but just lately he's been threatening to leave he opens the door doesn't matter what he's wearing and says to me he's leaving.
I asked him where will you go as we have no family and his dad lives 10 miles away but his reply is ' I'm going to a strangers house'.
I told him the dangers but seems unvased by it and it seems to make him worse.
He so full of anger I ask why or what makes him felt like this his reply I don't know yet 10 min later he thinks a simple sorry will make it better, I often accept it but 15 min later he kicks of again.
Then one day he says to me he wishes he was dead and that he's going to kill him self I really don't know what to say or do any more it's breaking my heart.
He's a good lad and he can be so loving at times but when things don't go his way he is emotionally   hurting me and his sister. I think I've tryd every thing nothing is working I've spoke to our GP but was told to see the school nurse.
Can any one offer any advice please
In Topics: Children and stress
> 60 days ago



Hand in Hand
Jun 13, 2013
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What the Expert Says:

Hi Good Mom Nicola71:

Your love and concern is easy to feel from your letter. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to hear this from your son.

Here are two things you can try. Both will help. They are two sides of the coin of focusing on connecting with him. Just connecting. When children feel so badly that they say they want to kill themselves, there’s a really big hurt inside that needs to be heard. He’s presenting that hurt to you. Hearing him is what will help.

So next time he erupts and is angry and upset, get close. You don’t have to hug him, just get close. Say VERY LITTLE. The more you talk, the more intensely he will feel that you don’t understand. And in a way, we parents indeed can’t fully understand our children’s feelings as long as we’re trying to solve the problem, or get them to cooperate, or to describe the problem, or to understand the reasoning we’re presenting them.

We call this Staylistening. You stay, and you listen. Not talk, but listen. You try to keep an open mind—what is he feeling? What has upset him so? But don’t ASK him these things, just take what he says, and see what you can make of it, quietly, waiting for more feelings and upset from him. Let the upset get very big, and very full. Your job is to stay, and listen. His job is to show you as much emotional heat as he can.

Strangely (and fortunately), staying nearby, and listening to it all, whatever is said, however angry and discouraged it may be, is part of a healing process. The child gets the poisonous feelings out of his mind. You receive them. That’s all. Receive them. You can say things like, “I want your life to be good,” and “I’m sorry it’s so hard right now,” and “I don’t want to lose you,” and “I want to be with you, no matter how bad things feel.” That’s all. More than 7 words every two minutes is too much talking, and when you talk too much, it’s all about you, rather than all about him. He needs your full and compassionate attention. You don’t have to fix a thing, just keep him from hurting himself, and you, and stay with him. If he starts walking down the street, walk with him.

At some point, he’ll burst into tears, or sweat, or jump up and down in a very vivid tantrum. All this is good! This is feelings, finally coming out in the wash because you’re there to receive them.

Children hold big fears inside them when a parent separates from them. They can also hold big, fearful feelings from experiences like being medically fragile in any way, suffering through a difficult birth, having frightening or isolating things happen to them in their early childhoods. If there's some experience like that, it might be the source of the deep fear that makes him angry.

I also recommend doing Special Time daily to help create good and positive times between you. You set aside 5 or 10 or 15 minutes, tell him you’ll do anything he wants, and then, don’t multitask. Just be delighted in what he chooses, and offer him warmth and your affection while you are with him. When the time is up, give him a big hug, and tell him when the next Special Time will be. Often, upsets follow the end of Special Time, because children’s feelings of disappointment or discouragement or not getting what they need are brought up by having your full attention. If that happens, Staylisten. “I’m sorry, son, but I can’t play Uno any longer. We can play tomorrow. I know it’s hard,” and then, listen to the explosion. Long-stored upsets are releasing, and if you can listen all the way through, he’ll feel close to you, and he’ll be more himself afterwards. It’s like lancing a boil—the yuck comes out, and the healing takes place.

You might need someone to listen to you, because it’s not easy listening to our children’s upsets, especially when they aim them all at us! (All children do that—we’re the safest targets.) He’s not a bad boy. He’s full of bad feelings, and is bursting at the seams. The more you can listen, the more relaxed he’ll become.

I hope this is helpful. We have more information on our website that will be helpful to you.

Patty Wipfler, Hand in Hand Parenting
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Additional Answers (2)

Kellwool writes:
Hi Nicola,

I can totally sympathise, this was me and my Son two years ago!  It is up there with some of the most trying times of my life. It is extremely difficult to hear your beautiful child say those things about himself. Just heartbreaking and also frustrating.

We linked his depressional (think I just made up a word) thoughts to medication he was receiving for asthma. I stopped him on it that day. I would firstly rule out the possibility of any link to medication first if I were you.

We then had a chat with our Son which included some pretty big 'life themes' like perspective and kindness. Our Son is sensitive and we view that as a strength, it can be tricky for him though (particularly at school).

Next was to work on balance in our lives and health. Particularly health, I researched and found a link between the gut and brain that I think is significant and so we now all take a probiotic powder in juice in the morning. I notice a difference when he misses this for more than a couple of days now.

I clearly set boundaries of expectation for what he is to do for himself (included brushing teeth, making bed etc) so it reduced some conflicts we were having.

Then we sought help from counselling. Ours was a child specialist who went back to basics with how he processed emotion. Ie: thoughts are in Our head and feelings in our body, recognising the difference between frustration and anger etc. This was completely invaluable and after two rounds of six sessions he has many, many great tools and a 'workbook' that if he feels issues arising (or I do) we revisit it.

The result is that we are no longer on that horrible roller coaster. Normal childhood issues come up and the ability to reason kicks in most of the time. It's not perfect but it is a world away from where we were and for that we are grateful. We have a good relationship which is more full of love and trust particularly because he saw the effort we put in When he was struggling.

I sincerely hope you find a way through this. I'm not suggesting that my answers are all the right ones for you. If it helps a little I would be over the moon.  

All the best from my heart to you and your beautiful boy.
> 60 days ago

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danalaux writes:
My son was doing some of the same thing about a year ago. he has started hitting his head up against the wall and kicks the wall and punches the wall when i tell him no now. i also have seeked medical advice. the doctor said " my son has ODD and ADHD" He now sees a therapist and a shrink. My son has not threatened to leave home in about seven months. i sat down with him and went over how much money he had and what it would cost him to eat while running away. We also talked about where was he going to sleep and shower. He soon decided he had it pretty good and i didn't hear about running off anymore.
> 60 days ago

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