Friday, February 3, 2012

Child with anger overload goes out window onto roof

I just found you on the internet and boy is your definition of anger overload my son. My son has been difficult since he was 2.  At age 6, I did have him tested and they said their was no diagnosis and just to continue to receive play therapy. Play therapy didn't work maybe he was too young. (Family sister is bi-polar and my husband's mom has depression)
Most of his extreme anger outbursts are towards me and sometimes my husband and sometimes his cousin (they are like brothers), He never seems to have extreme outbursts to his sister who 16 months older.
The last two days have been extreme. First one was on Monday because of his homework and he didn't like how I was trying to help him. Got so angry that he said he was going to punch me. (he never hit me) It doesn't help that I know I fuel the fire because I wont allow him to treat me that way. He got very heated. Once everyone calms down he apologizes and said he wont do it again.
Next day he fought with his cousin about a sweatshirt he didn't want his cousin to wear. He got so mad, he hid it in his swim bag and lied to me that he did that. He got grounded cause he lied, then he ran out of the house with  socks on and was going to beat up his cousin because it was his cousin's fault. When he went in his room he opened his window and was standing on the ledge to yell at his cousin. He actually ripped the screen and had no idea that he could of fell and hurt himself because he was so ticked off.  
Really I think that we need tools to help him and us handle his outburst.

Dear Mom,

I would recommend you talk with your son about going out his window onto the roof now that he has calmed down and point out the risks and how much you love him and don't want to see him get hurt.  Explain an alternative would be to open the window and shout at his cousin or wait till his cousin comes inside.  If he goes out on the roof again, I would immediately insist he come in.  If it becomes a recurring issue I would even consider putting a guard on the window to prevent him from opening it.  I would also consider a serious consequence later (not to be discussed while he is in anger overload) that is tied specifically to this kind of dangerous behavior.

At other times when your son is not in danger, I would recommend not talking to your son while he is in anger overload.  You can always have a consequence later if he threatens to punch you again, but if you talk about it while he is agitated, his outburst is likely to go on.  

It is good that you are beginning to look for patterns:  you mention it happens more with you and the cousin.  Continue to note the triggers, and then see if you can plan around them sometimes.  For example, if you know helping him with homework sometimes triggers his rage, then take a break when he starts to get upset, walk away, and help him some more later.  It may be preferable for him to get a wrong answer to having a melt down.  Also if you walk away he will see that if he mistreats you he loses your attention.  Then pay attention to him when he calms down.  If you have a consequence for his threats or lies, talk about that later when everyone is calm.  

I will let you know when my parent's manual is ready in a couple of months so that you can work on some other strategies for anger overload with your son,     
                                                                              David Gottlieb, Ph.D.

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