February 26, 2008,
D.V. asks from Florissant, MO on February 22, 2008
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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C.P. answers from St. Louis on February 23, 2008
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.
V.M. answers from St. Louis on February 23, 2008
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.
I am a working Mom of 2 daughters 10 and 9. My oldest is autistic and my youngest is "normal".
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S.K. answers from Lawrence on February 23, 2008
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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S.W. answers from St. Louis on February 22, 2008
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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J.C. answers from Wichita on February 22, 2008
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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C.B. answers from Kansas City on February 22, 2008
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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J.F. answers from St. Louis on February 24, 2008
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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P.L. answers from St. Louis on February 23, 2008
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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P.S. answers from St. Louis on February 23, 2008
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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