Sunday, October 12, 2014

Shy child hates to leave home, has outbursts

My son is 11. He has had anger overload issues since he was about 5. When he gets angry it does not last long. Most of the time it's because he lost in a game or he can't do something on his own. Otherwise he is very funny and sweet.

Now when he is at school he does not talk...does not get angry...instead he puts his head down on his desk.  I asked him why he only gets angry at home and he said because that would be too embarrassing. So he is aware of it. He tells me he has anger issues. He also is very shy.

The school thinks he has many emotional issues. Me, as his Mom, I think it's this anger overload...and he is very sensitive.  Is there any type of testing to get done to see what he really has? He is not on any medication.  He goes to school...which is a fight everyday...other than that he hates to leave the house.

Hi, it is possible to have anger overload and to be sensitive or shy as well.  It sounds like your son has some anxiety about leaving home, but you can get him to go to school, which is good.  Mild anxiety can best be overcome by going through with whatever triggers the anxiety.  In this way, the person sees that he can do it, and over time, anxiety usually lessens. 

It is good that your son recognizes he has an issue with anger since he will be more willing to work on it then.  It is also good that he does not explode at school.  This shows that he has some self control.  I would suggest you work on the strategies in my manual to help with the situations you describe:  when he loses a game or when he can't do something on his own.  Consider using emotional distraction (from the first half of the manual) and using a "mantra" that lowers his expectations about winning (from the second half of the manual). 

There is no test specifically for  anger overload.  Anger overload is defined as having frequent, intense rage reactions to disappointments or frustrations.  Children with anger overload can have other issues as well.  You mention the school thinks he has emotional issues.  Ask them to be more specific.  And if you are unsure what the underlying issues are, it might be wise to get an evaluation from the school psychologist and/or a local mental health professional who works with children and families.  By interviewing you and talking with your son, a mental health professional could advise you what issues seem most important and how best to work on them.

All the best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb

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