Thursday, May 31, 2018

7 yr old rages at home

Hi there 
I have two sons ages 7 and 4. My oldest lost his father in a car accident at age 3 and have always thought it was an underlying cause for his behavior. We are on a waitlist for in home counseling and I have ordered your book on anger overload. He screams for minutes and slams doors when he doesn’t get his way or over small inconveniences. Sometimes he becomes physical with me and his brother. At school he is quiet and withdrawn, and refuses to do work though his teacher says it’s not lack of ability because he is more than capable when he chooses to be. Other days he’s the sweetest most caring little boy. I think this is what overload sounds like but I guess I’m asking if this is it? Am I on the right track to help him with his anger? 

Hi, the intense rage reaction to disappointment or frustration is what characterizes anger overload.  In my books and in this blog I offer strategies to lessen angry outbursts.  One idea is to identify some of his triggers and anticipate when he might get angry.  Then you can try to avoid the situation or you can lower your child's expectations before the triggering event recurs.  

Once your child starts to get angry (before he is in overload), try to distract him with funny sayings or funny songs.  If you can change his emotion before he gets enraged, you can prevent anger overload.  Once he gets overheated, it is usually best to ignore your child unless he is hurting himself or someone else.  

Having someone come to the home for counseling is a good idea.  That person can help you identify triggers and help you develop strategies.  At school, are there any patterns when he is more likely to refuse work: Certain subjects or times of the day?  Sometimes an incentive chart will help with motivation in school.  If you develop a chart with the teacher, make sure the incentives are exciting to your child and fairly immediate (not delayed to the end of the week--for young children).  But there may be some issue causing him to stop working.  See if you can identify that with the teacher's help.  If the teacher is unsure, you could ask the school do do an evaluation of his learning strengths and weaknesses.

Best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb

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