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I Need Some Advice for an Angry 8 Year Old Boy

Hello, I have 3 boys, my youngest 8 is at time the most lovable little boy, but then he pulls a jeckel and hyde and turns so mean and hateful. He's really good at school and has never gotten in trouble there or at any friends houses, but it's mostly at home, with us and his brothers and I'm concerned that it's going to just get worse. I've considered getting him some kind of therapy, but my husband thinks it's normal. Any advice is welcomed. Thank you.

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Hi, My 8 year old has the same issues. I don't know what to do either. I have sent him to the counselors at school, but that did not amount to much. I have thought about therapy also but my husband doesn't think he should.

I am a mom of 2 boys 8 and 3 and a girl who is 7.

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You have an amazing amount of wisdom here, D.! I hope it is helping. I would like to mix the pot a bit.

From what you describe, I don't feel that it is a hormone, imbalance, chemical issue. If it were, he would not be able to distinguish where he would act up. It would be a constant. The key things I would look at were mainly listed below.

First: Little dude is the littlest! And my a lot, as a matter of fact. He is no where near a growth spurt, and without meeting them, I have to assume his brothers, especially the oldest, are quite a bit bigger. Letting him lead in some way, giving him a job permanent that is just his, a night of the week he gets to choose what dinner is, an area in the yard when it gets nice outside to have his own garden or something of the sort....an accomplishment....then let him know how hard you know it is to make decisions and what a good job he has done.

Second: And while we as parents know we love each of our children, what they seem to be the best at pointing out and recalling is where we have "shorted them" in some way. My youngest daughter is brilliant at this! Unfortunately, once a child has decided that you have no time for them, and you don't care about them, and everything else is more important, they trust us a little less.

So, from what I have noticed with my daughter, is that when she feels shorted, she isn't likely to tell me, "Mom, could you PLEASE hang out with me! I miss you!" And honestly, I can recall times I have said this and have had to tell her I did not have time. So taking apart time for them individually is essential. And is it OK to say, "We are going to have some Mom and kid time...." Let them know that this is what is happening and that you are appreciating this time as much as they are. Honestly, 15 minutes putting together a salad or running to the grocery is enough. You do not need full on productions that cost a ton of money. Honestly, I recommend against that being a routine to begin with.

And third: (My apologies for being long winded!) A child's environment is HUGE! Not only what the mother said about over scheduling, which if it is hard on you, imagine what it is like for a child who NEEDS rest and time to download the day but gets none. Overwhelming is just the start.

Sugar, chemically altered foods including food coloring, hydrogenated oils, too much video game/tv time, allergies to mold, pets, wheat or milk, all of these environmental issues are huge. How many times do you eat out a week? Do you eat meat every day? Is it organic or hormone free? On top of that, our kids are perfect mirrors. Are you happy? If he is lovey and huggy one minute and angry the next, he could be quite extra sensitive to emotional energy.

Basically, start with giving more time and attention, give him some responsibility (I recommend not starting with "Here honey! The bathroom is all yours!" May not go over well.) Appreciate him and the other boys as well! I won't say ti is easy, but I do know that 15 minutes can go a long way.

Good luck!

I am a working Mom of 2 daughters 10 and 9. My oldest is autistic and my youngest is "normal".

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I just read a book called the five love languages of children. It explains that each child has a primary type of verification of love they feel from their parents. If you asked your 8 year old how he knew you loved him, would he say, because she does things for me, or because she plays with me, because she tells me she loves me, because she hugs me and shows me, or because she gives me presents when she comes home from the store. These represent 5 general areas. You can figure out what is primary, and if you take extra time with that one, your child should calm down and become more secure. One way to figure it out is to ask as an example, "I have some extra time today. Would you like me to take you for ice cream and a nice talk just us two, or do you want me to organize your toy closet for you?" (quality time vs. service) Also, you can give him an extra unhurried hug and I love you each morning and evening after school, and see if after a week it makes a difference. Or make him a special snack each day to sit down and eat, and see if he seems struck that you took the time to do it, or uses it to try to get "quality time" by engaging in a conversation with you. In other words, add something to the routine that is about one of these five areas, and see if he responds to it.
Also, kids need to know its okay to be angry, but learn how to handle it. ALWAYS let a child know its okay to be angry and to tell you, even when they have done something wrong. Like, "Thanks for letting me know you're angry, but its NOT appropriate to hit your brother." Then at some point, talk about the issue in a way that you want to find out the problem and talk them through what they can do, and give them empathy in a way that shows anger in a healthy way. "wow, that would make me so mad. Your brother needs to know that it made you mad, but if you do something inappropriate, you will get in trouble instead. That doesn't seem fair does it?.... All kids have to be comfortable with their emotions, and learn how to manage their anger feelings in a way that takes care of the problem making them angry. I recommend the book, as it covers this issue in more detail as well. I totally got the concept right away, and it really helped with my youngest, who it turns out is a physical person. I had been treating them both like they were ME as a kid, who was a service-oriented kid. It is absolutely my oldest daughter's primary need, so she has been really happy and secure, but my youngest always acted like she needed something she wasn't getting, then acting out. Once I figured it out, I now feel like I can "manage" her moods so much better. Good luck!

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Dear D.:
My daughter was the very same way aound the very same age. She is now 30 yrs. old with 2 young ones of her own.
Here is the very best advice I ever received from anyone re: the situation you describe.
A friend of mine at work who was an actual "rocket scientist" and worked with finding employees for NASA listened to me complain and weep over my daughters behavior (Let's call her LP) and one da, after an entire year of listening to this, he said he had the same thing happen with his daughter who was now grown and his brother in law - a notable allergist in the st. Louis, MO area, told him to test for artificial food dye allergies. Here is the at home test. Take a glass of orange juice (real oj with out any additives, expeciall any food coloring - no sunny delight or Juicy Juice, just 100% natural oj) and have him drink it, no other foods or drink other than water after drinking it, then note his behavior interacting with others. Then about 30 min. later, give him orange juice with a teaspoon of TANG in it. Do not let him see you mix it in, then again nothing else to eat or drink and observe behavior. It only took two times for us to see the difference. So we took all and I mean ALL artificial food dyes out of her diet, a bit difficult to do, and you have to be diligent. After that we had out dear, sweet and just a little bit rambunctious child back. It was a very simply solution to a very difficult time in our life. this simple change in her diet got her back into the Catholic school she was being asked to leave and saved us a lot of money on professional counseling. Hope this will help you out. SherryW

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your youngest... that may be part of the issue. maybe he's feeling like he's 'less' than everyone else, who are older and who may tell him what to do alot.. It could be that by being mean and hateful he feels more 'powerful' and more in control of things around him. Especially if he's fine around his peers- where he is an equal in all ways.
Or maybe the negative behavior gets him more attention?

try to create some situations or 'chores' where he is 'in charge' - maybe he decides what chore he will do, and how he will do it. let him help chose things to make for dinner, and help make it, or actually make it all himself and then praise him. Or anything to make him feel less like he's at the bottom of the pecking order? as for therapy.. I've never heard of therapy hurting! better to try it and see, then regret it in a year or so!

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My oldest is now nine and has had behavior issues like you say also. He is an A++ Student and does great at other places but at home has issues. I have found that sometimes it has to due with just plain wanting attention. If I will sit down and talk to him and play a game with him he will generally change his behavior. I know that is like rewarding bad behavior....so I try to prevent it by making sure that he has one on one time with me and his father. Make small rewards for good behavior....if we come home from school and have a good attitude you get to pick out a snack...and if all goes good until after dinner you get to pick a book to read with mom or dad or a game to play. If no issues all week maybe you get to go to the gas station with me and pick out a snack for us to eat while we watch a movie on Saturday night. Sometimes if I am not getting attention from my husband the first way to get attention is to start a fight...silly but in the moment you don't think about it. SO, maybe it is that simple. Maybe he just needs to know he is important more. I am not saying you are a bad parent and don't pay attention to him; please do not take it that way. Just some kids require different amounts of attention and affection. Best of luck. C.

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I would look into having a hair analysis done to see if maybe he has is not getting or has too much minerals, toxic metals, etc. which can cause outburst/anger. I go through my chiropractor whole health center but the lab that does the analysis is Analytical Research Labs. It is worth a shot.. I have them done on my childern every 2 years just to make sure they stay healthy. All you have to do is cut their hair and send it in. That easy and cost around $60 dollars.

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Have you noticed a pattern? My son (now 20) used to be like that. Sweetest kid and then (not very often) he'd be unreasonably mean. We finally realized it was when his blood sugar was low. If we could get him to eat a piece of fruit our sweet Jamie was back. Our daughter also had a personality change with red food dye.
Certainly worth checking out?!? Good luck! Pam L

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I am a psychotherapist with 26 years of experience, but I am going to speak to you as much as a woman who has raised children. It seems pretty evident to me that what you are seeing is sibling rivalry, and it can be upsetting and scary and oh so vicious. There was a time when I told my kids they could never speak to each other again! My own brother and I had terrible sibling rivalry too. It is much more prevalent than you can know, and it's not possible to predict when it will happen, who will have it, etc. It just is. My recommendations are that you ignore as much of the negative behavior as you can, encourage his positive behavior and breathe, breathe, breathe. Time outs for your own sake are good too. Fortunately, my kids are best of friends now as adults, but it took until they were in college for it to happen. I also see many adults who still have that old rivalry going with their sibs. Just remember that you didn't cause this. Kids are born with distinct personalities and sometimes they don't like each other much. We experience this in our lifetime with people we meet. Just because you are related by blood does not mean you will like all of your relatives. He is doing well in situations outside the home, and I think that is always a positive sign that he will eventually out grow some of this, or at the very least will mature enough to hold his jealousies in check, which will make home life much easier. Just don't put too much emphasis on this, as you do not want him to think he is a problem child.

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There's a great book my MIL loaned me "How to really love your child". I know it sounds really cheesy, but it was an easy read and I would recommend it HIGHLY! (I do on a regular basis) It talks about relating to your kids on their level and in a way that best prepares them for a healthy adult life in the world. It was really reaffirming for me with more than one "ah-ha" moment.

Mine is only 2, but using practical ideas from the book - especially healthy eye contact - melts his heart from tantrum to tears to hugs, all about that fast. Then I can work on what the real problem is, instead of just reacting to the outrage.

I hope that helps you. Hang in there and keep loving on him and your family.


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I am a mother of 6 kids. 3 boys and 3 girls. 3 of my kids are grown up 24,22,20 and 3 are left at home 17,15,and 13. When my boys used to play video games, especially the detailed ones, if they played too long, they would have fits of rage like you are decribing. We do not have an x box or play station in our house anymore and the video we do have they don't play excessively. Amazingly, we don't have as much conflict. Just a thought, but if you have that kind of thing going on, you might watch and see......

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Our church recently hosted speaker/author Josh McDowell. He spoke about the importance of a child's relationship with his/her father. He gave many statistics of the trouble children get into when the father isn't involved. He said if his child was having issues/problems he took it as a sign to spend more time with him/her. He also talked about the most important thing to a child is knowing that the mother and father love each other, because it gives them security. He said when his children had a problem he would ask them first, do you know I love you? then, do you know I love your mother? and finally, do you want to have a relationship like your mother and I have when you get older? He said that if a child answered no to any of these he knew he had some work to do.

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Well here are my thoughts on this and a couple of questions.

1) Is your yougest son involved in sports also ?
2) If so how many different activities does he play ?
3) What sports do your other kids play ?
4) And if they do what are they and how many ?
5) In a given week how many activities do you go to and then add in church and school functions ?

My point to these questions are this:
I don't think it is a bad thing to have kids in extra curricular activities, I also don't think it's bad if they do more than 1. But when you have 3 kids and if they have more than 2 activties for each then it might start becoming a problem. Reason being, your kids spend somewhere around 6-8 hours at school and if the minute they get home they have to get ready and change clothes and head off to a game or function or activity and they all have something everynight of the week asd then get home around 8 or so and maybe have some homework to do. Then try to get in bed at a decent time. The haven't had anytime to relax themselves. On top of that if they come home and get on the computer that isn't any better because it still doesn't let their minds relax.

The problems you may be having with your son is lack of sleep or even enough sleep. Sleep deprevation. We know as adults how we feel when we don't get enough sleep, so imagine how a child feels.

Hi, My 8 year old has the same issues. I don't know what to do either. I have sent him to the counselors at school, but that did not amount to much. I have thought about therapy also but my husband doesn't think he should.

I am a mom of 2 boys 8 and 3 and a girl who is 7.

Sorry, I don't have much advice. I just wanted to sympathize with you! My 7 year old is the same way. I don't understand it either. Most of the time he is mature and loving, but like you said other times it is like he has a different personality. He hits his brother and is very disrespectful to me. It is almost like a mood swing and I haven't figured out what triggers it. Our school has a session called Mad jr. offered by the counselor and helps kids deal with anger. This helped some! If you come up with something that works or helps please let me know!

Hi D.
I am a part time stay at home mom. I have a daughter who is 9 and a son who is 3. I think therapy is an awesome thing. We took our daughter when she was 6 because our little boy was born with health problems and we wanted to be sure she was handling everything ok. Nobody has to know that your son is in therapy. You want to do what you can to help him succeed. This could be a good way to find out if something is going on that he does not want to talk to you about.
Good luck to you.

Talk to your church. Our children's minister is wonderful getting kids to talk to her to find out problems. Counceling never hurts and sometimes a few sessions is all it takes.

My son is oppositional defiant and has intermittent rage disorder this is caused from frontal lobe brain damage from lead poisoning in his case but it can have many other reasons to be present, some of the behaviors you describe he also has, your son prob wouldnt need the same therapys as my son but they have school based mental health in my area where a therapist works w/ my son in school and its great if this is not available it only takes about two hours for an eval, i would def. get one if it is a mental or pschological prob it will not go away on its own and the boys will be boys attitude my husband had towards it did not help, there are excellent meds for children and believe me it will save your sanity!!!!

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