23 answers

My Out of Control 7 Year Old

I have a 7 year old in 1st grade. I swear he is the most sweet and tender little boy. I think he is turning evil! He has been doing some really mean things to the kids in his class. He cut a little girls pony tail, he cut another little boys shirt, gets into kicking matches, most recently stabbed a little girl in the hand with a pencil. I am at my wits end. I just don't know what to do with him any more...

What can I do next?

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You really need to sit down and talk to him to find out why he is doing these things. You need to look at the cause rather than the behavior in order to stop the behavior. You might even want to call in the school pyschologist for an evaluation and help. Something happedn to change him. Maybe he doesn't feel he fits in...Maybe the school work is too difficult or too easy for him....Maybe he was picked on and is getting revenge. You're not going to stop this behavior until you find the cause first.

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Hi S.

You have some serious issues. All of the things you mentioned sounds like a deep need for attention. There is something bothering him and you need to get him into counseling immediately. I don't want to alarm you but it sounds like he may have been abused in some way and does not know how to tell anyone or is afraid. Think about any changes in his routine lately. Has he joined a new group at the y or church. Is there a new sport he is playing. Think. 7 year olds don't just "become evil" there is something else going on. Look for someone who specializes in working with children. Don't wait do it now. Good l;uck.
G. L.

1 mom found this helpful

You have gotten a lot of good advice. Many people sympathize, but I have alarm bells going off in my head, and I'll explain shortly...

Please, you HAVE to rule out health and psychological problems before you can call this a "behavioral " issue. Hitting, even the kicking matches and being rude is one thing, and although you would expect him to have workd through these things in pre K and Kindergarten, it's still "normal".

But stabbing a child with a pencil? Using scissors to cut a child's hair or shirt? That's outside the realm of being naughty. That's disturbing behavior, and you need to intervene for your son's well being and the safety of the other kids. I'm surprised the school hasn't suspended him for the behavior you describe.

My daughter showed signs of aggression and a lot of lying and anger starting at about the age of 7. As it turned out in her case these were signs of bi-polar disease. But of course I recognized it only in hindsight when she was properly diagnosed as a teenager.

My nephew was subsequently diagnosed at 7 because of the familial diagnosis of my daughter. It turned out they were both abused by a family member. Neither my sister-in-law or I had a clue at the time, but it came out in psychotherapy, and we jailed the bastard.

Both are now perfect on medication. A psychiatric diagnosis is not a stigma, and it's not a behavioral problem It's a chemical imbalance that can be totally reversed...

Please rule out the harmful things that your son may be suffering.. Don't be complacent and hope it will pass.. Your best case is that it is just misbehavior that you can correct with strict rules, limits and consequences.. But Please.. be sure HE is safe and healthy first.

Have you tried talking to him and asking him why he felt it was ok to do those things? He could be being influenced by other kids in the class. I would suggest a good old fashioned spanking. My 7 year old would certainly get a spanking for any of that.

I'm not quite sure what to tell you - I would definitely schedule an appointment with your pediatrician and possibly a child therapist...I don't know at 7 he will be able to tell you what is wrong. In the mean time, I would be sure you don't leave your 2 year old with him unsupervised. Also, someone recommended a spanking - I personally feel that is the LAST thing this poor child needs...call your pediatrician today and get started for your sons sake.
Best wishes to you both,

When I read your post it was almost as if I had written it myself. I have a teenage son who is so loving, and yet is impulsive and often does things that annoy or risk other classmates. He was just suspended for cutting another boy's hair. We have been to counseling and the psychologist thinks the impulsive (and stupid) behavior is part of ADHD.

I am also worried about my youngest son (3) who seems to love negative attention at times. I don't know if he just picked up on the fact that being bad can get you attention or that he has neurological issues too. My suggestion for your son is to seek counseling no matter what the cause. Sometimes things are too much for a mom to try and solve on her own.

Stay strong and best wishes for a good outcome.

Sounds like he needs to be taught ways to handle his anger. Maybe some kind of martial arts class would be helpful, as well as telling him to count to 10 and take deep breaths when he gets the urge to do something destructive.

Hi S. !

I can totally relate to this. My son wasnt the extreme of cutting hair, but most of the other things were an issue at that age.

Not only were we taking counciling, but very close contact with his pediatrican. Discussing these problems with the Dr will also help in finding out if something is medically a concern.

Start with the Pediatrician, they will make sure he is healthy and then move into the counciling to find out why his behavior has changed. Is he acting this way at home or just in school. It could be in reaction to something that happened, being bored or many other "growing pains".

Sounds like you are right on top of things! Continue to explain why those behaviors are not acceptable and provide mild punishment (loss of TV, gameboy, computer, play time w/ friends etc) during this time until you can rule out medical issues.

Best of luck!

Hi Sarah,
I don't have any experience with this, but I'd say it's time to get help. This is beyond being the class clown, or class bully. He's demonstrating dangerous and aggressive behavior. What have his teachers said about his school work, friendships, etc? He needs some adult help, all this behavior is screaming out for it.
I'm so sorry you're going through this. I cannot imagine how this must be for you. My thoughts are with you!!!

your son is not evil...something is wrong. Is baby sister getting more attention and he's jealous? or Either he doesn't understand what is going on in class or the opposite he's bored(have him tested) or he is having social issues...maybe he is being bullied or doesn't have friends so he is acting out. How do you and more importantly the teacher handle these outbursts? He needs to be held accountable for his actions in a way that will effect him(only you and the teacher know him...wether no recess or extra work, no sports or t.v.or vgames...you know what is important to him...I took all my sons books away for awhile...sounds crazy but that's his thing and he earned them back)...there are lots of places for a 7 year old to be where things are happening to him(like the bus or playground)and even though adults are around they aren't aware...I wouldn't concentrate on the WHAT but the WHY... and it may take time he maynot be able to articulate what is upsetting him are you a stay at home mom or is there a caregiver? I don't want to cause undo alarm but children who are sexually abused act out and are told not to tell or else...I'm just trying to cover all bases and I don't want you to be offended or overreact...just covering all possiblities. You need to talk to him a little at a time so not to overwhelm him and in these times remind him how important he is to you and how much you love him and how you want to know what's going on and ask specific questions...not how was school but what did you play in gym? who did you eat lunch with? what did you play at recess? My friend found out 3 months afterschool started that her son hated lunch because he sat by himself..he was shy and didn't know how to eat with the other kids....dig in and don't give up...he's not evil, he's having a problem and this is his way of letting you know! Best of luck!

Hi S.,
I taught boys this age and they do have a tendency to become more aggressive - however, this seems extreme. I recommend that you take notes on the who, what, where, when, how of his behavior from teachers/babysitters - and make your own notes of how he is behaving at home. Are certain times of day hardest? Is it when there is less structure - or during a transition time? Has anything changed at home, school, or his schedule? Most likely it could be a couple of factors that need to change in order for his behavior to improve.
I do suggest you talk to a pediatrician. Especially think about the foods he eats, when he eats them, and how much exercise he gets. Boys (and girls, but especially little boys) need A LOT of run-around time - everyday. And if he doesn't have a physical outlet then that could be causing him to lash out. Also, there are all sorts of reactions to different foods that could be the cause. My husband was allergic to sugar as a child - which caused ADD like behavior. As soon as his family cut out sugar they could see a remarkable difference - he is not ADD by the way. (In college he drank orange juice rather than coffee because of that natural sugar effect.)There was a little boy in my school who had eczema and literally could not sit still because he was just always uncomfortable in his skin. A food reaction can be powerful in influencing behavior or curbing the ability to overcome behavioral tendencies.
If this behavior is only happening in school, I recommend you meet with the teacher and principal or school psychologist to formulate a plan together of how to best help your son. Remember, at 7, a child does not truly understand social consequences the way we do. Look at this as an opportunity to help him through a struggling time. Continue to praise good behavior (catch him doing it without you having to tell him) because if he feels like he's going to get in trouble no matter what, he'll quickly give up trying to behave. I'm sure you were kidding - but your child is not evil - he's a little boy who needs your patience and help - no matter how frustrating and tiring he can be. You are his best advocate.
Best of luck to your family.

The most immediate thing you can do is serve whole foods. Get rid of the processed foods, corn syrup, artificial colors/sweeteners, white sugar products, etc.

Food choices and behavior go hand-in-hand

FYI Poor food choices - lack of the proper nutrients and behavior is explained so well in this book: Depression Free - Naturally
I have worked with families who allow their kids to view too much violence (very common) and if something goes wrong in the child's life they become aggressive. Even middle class kids are desensitized to violent acts because of TV, the movies and the horrible, violent video games.
Sometimes it's best to have an Uncle or close relative to talk about something else and then lead into finding out what is going on. A child may not always tell mom or dad. If not, a family therapist can help.

Hi S.,

I have a question for you, how does he behave at home? How does he behave when you discipline him and how do you handle discipline? Are there consequences for ill behavior at home and what are they?

My son is only 5 but I think he was on a similar path. He's been mama's little angel and mama's boy and he used to listen perfectly to me. He was seriously ill as a baby, we almost lost him a couple times, so he had been overly spoiled since birth due to that. I litterally gave him whatever he wanted and didn't implement discipline or consequences.

By pre-school we had a few problems of beligerent behavior refusal to share, tantrums and hitting if someone else had a turn first, telling the teacher "no" disrespecting the teacher, just all around acting out.

I had to "ground" him for a week before I saw any results in changing this. No TV, No playdates, No desserts, No computer games, No Tae-kwan-do, No extra anything at all. But there was lots of talking to him during that week about why it was happening and how we were going to change it all. It took a HUGE effort on my part to treat him differently than his sister that week and give her all the usuals and not him!!!

They have to experience as sense of loss and realize all the things they have to be grateful for in life including a great mom who sacrifices a lot for her kids. Do you think your son is grateful for all he has? Maybe it's time for a reality check. I think he's acting out to see how far he can push everyone and get away with it.

This is a good time to assess and scan his environment and take a good long hard look at how the household is run, and operated and could anything in his immediate environment contribute to this?? It's hard to be really open about it in your mind, don't exclude yourself or his father if the father is in your lives. Also try to watch supernanny, she has wonderful ideas for ill-behavior and great ideas for rewards systems that can work wonders. I would put a rewards system together for him and with him during the week of grounding if you choose to do so. Make a chart or calendar for every day he behaves at school he gets stickers. If he can complete 3-4 days, he earns a small reward.

If those efforts fail, I would take him for a neurological pediatric assessment and for therapy to see if an outside party can help.

Don't get discouraged if you see him improve and then go back to acting out, it can takes months to get it into a "normal" routine of behavior. He will have relapses after improvement. Mine does every few months and has to go through gentle reminders by enduring consequenes of losing privledges.

Don't give up! You can do this!!! Good Luck!! God Bless!!


You may want to have him checked for adhd.

S., I would be very, very concerned. First of all, if he is doing those things in the class, do not let him think or hear you say he is the most sweet and tender boy. He'll think that he can get away with things. Second, I would discipline him and if that means, spanking, it may be called for it. I know that there are parents who do not believe in spanking, but alot of the kids nowadays are out of control because they are not being disciplined at home and some of the punishments are not working because they don't involve spanking. Maybe I am old fashioned, but there are certain consequences that go with certain mishaviors. I have three boys and ages are 3yo, 2yo and a 7 month old. Of course when they are infants no spanking or any of that is called for but when my 3 y o does something, depending on the action and being told to stop and why and he continues and I give him a warning and then he can see that I follow through because in the long run, it'll be better. If I were you, I'd worry about what he'll do to his sister who is tooooo young to tell you what exactly he did to her. He's a dangerous child right now and I hope you discipline and follow through before he reaches teen because then, you won't be able to change him then....Also, check and see if there is omeone picking on him and I have noticed with my 3 yo, he's imitating bad behaviors from another kid who is a year older and always picking on my son and I just saw that the other day and now, I will haveto keep an eye on that situation and talk with his mother if it doesn't stop because my son will be waround this kid maybe at least once or twice in two week period. Sometimes if a child is being bullied, they will bully someone younger than them and makes them feel that they have control at some point. I will pray for wisdom for you from God and pray for protection for your daughter and pray for change in your son. Let us know what happens....

My son is 5 1/2 and he also is the most sweet and tender little boy, funny to say, because he does the same things but only at the adults, he is a little better with the other kids. I have been in all kind of doctors, therapist and so on. He is also on medication, but still loses his temper and get out of his way!!! I am 45 years old and silgle mother...I look and feel like 145 years old, i don't know what to do anymore, this week he was expelled from the after school program...I am devasted because I need to work full time and i don't have any friends or relativies in the US. Actually nobody wants us around because he can't behave...

I'd recommend getting the details on what was going on at the time these things happened. My son was having trouble at school when he was 7 and it turned out that he was being bullied and fighting back as best he could. Of course he was the one that was caught doing things but once we talked with him in a non judgemental way we got to the bottom of things.

You really need to sit down and talk to him to find out why he is doing these things. You need to look at the cause rather than the behavior in order to stop the behavior. You might even want to call in the school pyschologist for an evaluation and help. Something happedn to change him. Maybe he doesn't feel he fits in...Maybe the school work is too difficult or too easy for him....Maybe he was picked on and is getting revenge. You're not going to stop this behavior until you find the cause first.

Sarah what happens in school what is his disapline?

I recently heard that when a child acts up, it is to get attention (whether good or bad). Is he getting enough attention at home? I know that when I stop to play with my little girl during my hectic life, she is much more well behaved and doesn't feel like she has to misbehave to get my attention. Just a thought. I hope you get to the bottom of his mischievous behavior.

It is time to ask a professional. Find a family therapist with a good reputation in your area and take your son to him or her. His behaviour is quite serious and a good therapist will not only be able to help you identify the underlying cause, but suggest cognitative therapies to help solve the problem.
Please do get some good help now before he gets a reputation at school as a trouble maker that will be impossible for him to shake. It can then become a self-fulfilling prophesy that shapes his behaviour throughout his life.

Hi S.!

Oh my goodness, my heart went out to you. I have a 5 year old boy who is relatively well behaved. He is a sweetheart, but we do have those crazy moments where he deliberately does crazy things and it can be so upsetting, exhausting, frustrating, etc. I could imagine in the future my son doing similar things. Scary. :)

Anyway, I just wanted to second what I read that Kate wrote. Recently when my son was acting up for a long period of times I tried to notice what it was. There were 2 things that I came up with. One was DEFINITELY SUGAR!!!!!! It's not like I'm feeding him sugar all day long, but there are times when I'm more lenient and he had lots of candy or gum here and there and it REALLY effected him!!! the other was when my husband was working a lot, like a few days in a row he'd come home late when the kids were sleeping and leave before they were up. My guys just get all emotional and either cry a lot or act out when they're missing their Daddy.

anyway, just thought I'd add my 2 cents. But I wanted to say too that it's probably just another phase and you will figure it out. Sometimes it seems hopeless or you feel like a horrible parent, but it's all really part of the journey.

God bless you guys. Let us know how it all goes!!!

Hi I am a mom of ten my youngest is a little boy age 9. One thing I noticed in your post was the comment life is always hectic. With two young children it would seem important to keep life on the quiet side. Maybe spend some down time with him and ask at some point what the best things/worst things about his life..kids like to play games and maybe there is really something that has happened that is effecting him. I would strongly encourage punishment as soon as you find out that he has ever hurt another child, is your daughter safe around him. His anger is of course out of control and he seems to have no fear of authority..have you noticed this since he was at the 3 yr old level or is it new..most kids control their anger esp in school because they know the rules, keep your hands to yourself etc and they do not want trouble from the teacher. He may need some tlc if that does not help I would find a counselor at your church or someone that you really trust. He cannot be happy with himself and they is my worry for him. I hope you know in your heart the next step. But first I would slow life down and let him not have a hectic lifestyle.~D.

Hi S., I have found in my experience that 7 year olds go through something like terrible two's. Your son's actions do seem extreme. Is there anything else going on in your home? It seems late to resent his baby sister. Have you asked him why he is doing these things? Maybe there is some counseling
in his school. Best wishes. Grandma Mary

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