22 answers

Need Help with Very Sweet/ Very Angry 7 Year Old

I need help with my 7year old son. He is my 2nd son and almost from birth can be very, very sweet or very, very angry. When he is happy it's "You are the most wonderful mother in the world." "Do you need me to do anything beautiful mother?" Then if he trips over your foot he screams and says "You did it on purpose." and runs out of the room. I tried to speak to him about reacting differently instead and screaming and yelling and he looked me dead in and eye and said " I know what you want, you want to shot me with a bazooka so I will die" No matter how may times we talk about his aggression or anger he says OK and then 2 seconds later is doing it again.
I just got a call from the principle because he got in a fight. A kid was throwing grass so he punched someone that had nothing to do it. The kid then punched him back. I don't know what to do.

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I know this sounds weird, but maybe he is reacting so strongly because of things in his diet, like food dyes? They are known to cause/exaserbate behavioral problems.

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My first thought was....is he playing certain video games, or watching certain show on TV? Do you and the father argue in front of them? I am guilty of arguing in front of my 10 yr old daughter and it, I believe, is the cause of her agression. Since becoming aware of this I try to avoid altercations all together when the children are present.

Hello D.,
I have been a special educator for the past 9 years. I have experience with students with learning disabilities, emotional handicaps, behavioral disorders, and cognitive disabilities. What you have described above is not normal. Your son seems to have a behavioral and/or emotional disorder. Go to his school TODAY and make an appointment with his teacher, the school guidance counselor, and the staffing coordinator (ie a representative from the special/ exceptional education department). Your son needs to be referred for testing to see if he qualifies for extra support through the school system. He could qualify for counseling, a smaller class setting, etc.

Have you discussed his behavior with his pediatrician? His ped might be able to make some recommendations as well.

I know this is a lot to take in but your son needs help, now. As he gets older this behavior will most likely increase and he will become more and more difficult to handle.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Best Wishes,

I have an 8 year old son (my oldest) who has some of the same characteristics. I don't know any of our son's other personality traits, but has he shown any symptoms of ADHD? My son exhibited this type of behavior very young and has always been very impulsive, a chatterbox, and defiant. He was diagnosed ADHD and I was very surprised because he was not the kind of child bouncing off the walls-he's hyper-verbal and impulsive, both are very strong characteristics of ADHD.
You may want to talk to his teacher and your pediatrician and see if something else may be going on. The lack of impulse control is an indicator of ADD or ADHD. I'm no authority, but what I've lived with has shown me different characteristics of an often-misunderstood diagnosis. Chances are, he knows intellectually what he is doing is wrong, but has no control over those impulses. He thinks and then acts. Talking to him and punishing him probably won't help if something else is going on. Talking with his teacher may give you some insight and you may want to see how much he's being reprimanded at school. You don't want him to get frustrated with school because he's always in trouble for something he may have no control over. We are still struggling even with medication and therapy, but you have to do what helps your child. Best of wishes.


I understand what you are experiencing is very frustrating and trying on your patience. I can only imagine how much you want to pull out your hair about now. You are also probably getting flooded with respones that have varying answers that may well confuse you all the more. You say you have tried to talk to your son about his behavior. Have you tried having him do all the talking? Ask leading questions to get him to express himself about why he responds in such a way. I would avoid any prescription medication, the long term side effects a far more deadly than the immediate trouble with which you are experiencing. My best-friend's son was having similiar issues. She came to me for advice and with the help of an allergy test, a dozen books and the our two minds together we found out that most behavior issues are food related. I also have another friend whose 3 kids are allergic to sugar and had the same behavior you described. Without having the allergy test done (which can be expensive if you do not have the right insurance) I would suggest the following diet changes immediately (if you have not done so already): no caffiene ever, no sugar (anything ending in "ose" fructose sucrose etc) especially high fructose corn syrup, nothing that is processed or has preservatives, or anything artificial in it, try organic meats (there are no test studies that show what Bovine Growth Hormone can do to a human, unless stated on package no hormones, it is in the meat). Those small changes should help within a few days. Also, add magnesium to the diet. We are told to get more calcium, get more calcium, but what they do not tell you is that when you consume calcium it utilizes all the magnesium in your system to be absorbed, a child should get atleast 250 mg more magnesium than calcium. Magnesium will have a calming effect on a child that is safe and natural with no side effects. Also, I reccommend the book, "The Maker's Diet" by Dr. Jordan Rubin. I know that it is hard to know who to listen to and which advice to take. I have a co-worker who put both of her boys on medicines years ago, one for ADHD and one for BI-Polar dis-order these children have been through the ringer with the side effects of their medicine, they have also been taught that they are not normal and have things wrong with them (which is no way to raise a child, telling them they are broken only makes it worse). These children have been on every kind of medication there is and when one starts to not have as much effect anymore the mom gets a new stronger prescription. These drugs cause dependancy and do not allow your child to learn how to cope with life and interact with other kids. They can be helped with therapy and diet. I hope you know I am speaking to you from my heart and that I only have what is best for your children in mind. Physicians are trained to prescribe medicines, so be weary of what you give your child. Research any prescription you give him and ask your self, is it really worth risking all these side effects and health complications? Behavior issues are overwhelming in this day and age. My friend also limited the amount of TV she allowed her child to watch, absoluely nothing with any violence. There was a study doen on children who watched wrestling and they were 40% more aggressive than other kids. The children I spoke about in my letter lead normal healthy lives by eating the appropriate diet. Their doctors wanted them on medication as well as their teachers (teachers like to diagnose children as if they were doctors no offense to teachers but they are not trained psychologist and your pediatrician is not qualified to diagnose any major mood/behavior disorders only a specialist should do that). I want you to know you have options and they do not have to be harmful. I pray you find a safe natural way to help your child. God bless.

Though I am not an expert I would one ask you is his behavior gotten worse since your transition from one to state to another in the year? Also not for nothing does he play alot of violent video games? That can contribute to his aggression. But I would also suggest looking into if he does have a chemical imbalance because going from one mood to another so quickly could be strong signs of such. If it does have something to do with a chemical imbalance you can look into what foods you can eliminate from his diet that can help out.

Did you get the help you need?

I am here to help, you just have to ask.

B., B.A.;B.Ed.
Family Health and Wellness Coach

Consultants are always free.

Hi D.,
My second child has ADD (not hyperactive). I am not suggesting that yours is at all. He also is very different when he eats foods with Red Dye 40. RedDye40.org (I think lists the foods to stay away from). He has the behavior you described. He takes it out on someone regardless whether they did something or not. He is very uncontrollable after eating foods with red dye 40. Strawberry milk was an everyday drink for him. After learning about the dye, I eliminated it and he was so much better - I eliminate it from everything he eats now. The difference is ...he still gets angry, but with out the red dye 40 he is reasonable. (With it he became irrational and angry, even aggressive!) Horrible to say the least! They have found children with ADD / ADHD are more prone to be allergic to foods with this additive. My next goal is to eliminate highly processed foods - food additives are not very healthy and have been shown to have negative effects on behavior. I am not a serious health person, but needed help with my son like you. He has been so much sweeter! I hope that can help you find some answers. There are professionals that can help if you need them. If you live in Gainesville I could give you a recommendation. Keep searching for answers - your son needs you. I am sure you love him very much.

Without knowing any other factors such as a recent traumas,(the move may or may not be one stress factor) I would consult my pediatrician for an evaluation. There could be a medical condition or behavioral disorder that might well be helped with early intervention. There are treatable conditions that show early signs such as what you describe. If it does turn out to be just a discipline problem, you will at least know you have covered all the bases. Your doctor is the safest place to start, and will give you peace of mind. He/she can point you in the right direction to get support whatever the cause. Don't be frightened, but take it seriously. I expect you'll find many people who have "been there" and can speak from personal experience. If you aren't set up with a pediatrician yet, or if finances are a factor, ask the school guidance counselor or administrator to refer you to the appropriate agency. Good luck and blessings on you and your little boy.

Hi D.,

I am a licensed school guidance counseler so I would recommend #1 that you make sure to talk with his guidance counselor about an anger management group at school. Some things you can do at home: do not let him watch violent or aggressive movies/tv shows and read books to him about handling his anger...the school guidance counselor should have resources for you as far as what books would be best. Is he jealous of his little brother? It's tough being the middle child so you may want to do some research on the middle child and how to help him cope. I hope this helps!

I know this sounds weird, but maybe he is reacting so strongly because of things in his diet, like food dyes? They are known to cause/exaserbate behavioral problems.

This is serious. This sounds like a character disorder. I don't meant to be unkind or scare you, but this is likely to get worse. I have read about this, in my husband's books. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and therapist. This behavior could very well be a sociological pathology. Take this boy to a child therapist and do it immediately! At this age, therapy may have a positive outcome. Don't wait until something really serious happens. God help you and bless your son. If you don't have any extra money, call the state's child services division or ask if the school system has a psychologist who can refer you to free services. Please, get professional help.

get him tested for bipolar. that's when a person goes from nice to wild in minutes. It is like dr.jeckel and me hyde. Try to get the school to test him PL94192 If they don't tell them not to call when they have problems

First, contact your son's school and set up a meeting with the school counselor.

Set up CLEAR boundaries for your son (maybe make a sign that he sees around the house that says screaming/yelling/inappropriate language = 1 toy taken away for 1 week) or whatever works for you. You have to make him feel the results of his actions. If at the end of the first week he has no toys than so be it. The second week you may see that he has two toys left and so on (improvement). This will be difficult because you have two that are almost the same age but worth it. If he sees consequences to his actions he will start to curb his behavior. You can not stop him from playing with your other sons toys but know that he will miss HIS toys and appreciate them more when they return.

Censor his television/movie choices. See if you notice any patterns in his behavior. Keep a log of what he does and eats and when he has these screaming matches.

Talk to your doctor - He may be going through emotional changes. It sounds weird but makes sense when you think of the emotional changes woman go through monthly due to hormones. His may be a chemical inbalance, it's amazing how having a certain vitamin deficiency can impact your moods.

I grew up with a family member who has bipolar disorder, have you considered having the child tested? It seems like he has very severe mood swings...

Ah D., I just want to extend my support to you as you deal with your son's anger. I wish I knew more and I hope people here have some good resources for you.


I am a teacher of special needs in Florida. I work with students of all types, and I thought I could give you some advice on how we respond to actions such as these in our classroom. Now, if you are already doing these things, disregard the email and know you are doing your best. Some of the best ways to deal with agressiong is to respond with a very calm, loving response and letting them know that no matter how bad they misbehave, we will still love them. We make sure the expression on our face shows no anger and express how we are not mad at them for what they did or said. Sometimes, this sets a person off even more, in these cases we just don't say anything at all. We let them say what they have to say, and then later when they've calmed down, we talk about the comments and discuss a better way to express their feelings. My students have learned to apologize on their own and realize that words can be hurtful. Sometimes, if nothing works, counseling on how to deal with feelings. I hope this helps. :)

Dear D.:
I hear you, sister! I have 4 boys and I was so there with my second child. He, too, was 7 when we decided we couldn't deal with it anymore. Started with our pediatrician, got recommended to a psychologist, from there went to an occupational therapist. My son had the EXACT same things; either very sweet or very angry. Because he could be so sweet it is so hard to think there could be something wrong. My turning point was when I asked him why he did some of this stuff, he said, "My head makes me do it.":I can tell you I was a little panicked! Turns out my son has a sensitivity disorder, and vestibular something something. He too can't have red dye 40, and certain foods. It truly is something the child cannot help. My son has been seeing an occupational therapist for a year and he is a new child. Start with your pediatrician, and go from there. Do not give up on this, your child deserves support. My son knew that he reacted badly to things, and it had a terrible impact on his self-esteem. He thought he was just a bad kid, and that there was something wrong with him. He is so much more confident now; it breaks my heart that I let it go for so long...

It seems like everyone has given you good advice, but rather than picking and choosing I would suggest following them all. I am by no means an expert, but little boys seem particularly adept at hiding their true feelings. Sometimes it takes a good therapist to get them out, but as your son will have to trust this person a lot you will have to make a committment to therapy. Just because you don't see results immediately does not mean therapy is not working. I would suggest you choose a therapist that specializes in children and is willing to do a mixture of group and individual therapy. The group therapy is really important because little kids often have a difficult time trusting adults and are more willing to open up and discuss their problems when they see other children doing this too.

The important thing with therapy is that you keep at it, and if your son still doesn't like or trust his therapist after a few months, I would suggest switching to a different therapist rather than giving up on therapy altogether. Drugs may be an option, but beware of someone who thinks that this will solve everything. Good luck!

Hi D.! I have to say that while I was reading your request my mouth was hanging open as it was as if I could have written it myself. My middle son (who will be 16 in May) was and is EXACTLY like this!! It was horrible when he was younger as when he'd get into a "mad" stage, he would throw things at my head (I've been hit with shoes, hair brushes, baseballs, etc.) and then 5 minutes later he was wanting to be all lovey dovey. I took him to a psychiatrist for a while and all the did was want to put him on ADHD drugs, so I stopped going ... I knew he wasn't this. When I talked to his pediatrician (he was around 6 years old then) he told me he could have a food allergy and to watch what foods he was eating with a journal and try to see if something was similar in his eating and behaviour. He also said that he could have a chemical imbalance (like bipolar I guess they call it now) that they could check, but he wanted to rule out several things first. We never did find out what was going on, because his behaviour was just so awful that I hated taking him out in public because I just never knew when he was going to go off. Although he is now a teenager, he still exhibits these same behaviours (without the throwing of things ... I nipped that in the bud STRAIGHT away!!) but they are getting fewer and farther inbetween bouts. I would honestly check with your pediatrician and let them know what is going on ... that really is your best bet at the moment (if you have medical insurance, that is ...). I sure hope this helps and feel free to contact me anytime if you want or need someone who understands where you are coming from. Kind Regards ...

Dear D.,

See your Pediatrician and take your child for an evaluation.
Finding out what the problem is, is the first line of defense in your plan to deal with your child.

Keep a notebook of behaviors, times they occur, what seems to trigger episodes and keep a list of foods they eat. Have the notebook in hand when you see the Ped. and any specialist.

I had three children who had various degrees of Hyperactivity

It usually occurs in boys and more often than not, firstborns.

I broke both of those rules with two of my three girls and with my youngest, a boy.

My oldest was put on Ritalin for a time. I ended the medication because I saw it was doing her more harm than good.
She was like a zombie when she was on it and the behaviors were worse when it wore off.

The degree of hyperactivity in some children is strong enough to warrant medication. However, do not depend solely on the medication. Do whatever you can to help them in addition to the meds.

I got the book, Dr. Feingold's Diet for the Hyperactive child
and started following it. It took time but it worked. Check your local library, Amazon .com,Booksamillion.com, or ebay.

When you fist take children off of foods with sugars, dyes and chemicals they will go through a withdrawal period and act like little monsters; be patient and do not give up.

Hyperactive children are difficult, usually very bright, easily bored and at heart are not really mean. Organization and consistency in their lives are great helps to them , you and the rest of the family.

Save strong discipline for honestly cruel and really, really, bad behaviours. Notice, I said discipline , not punishment, and believe me, a child does know the difference.

Do not label, or let others label them as the bad kid. Try and set small increments of time aside,apart from discipline to connect with them talking( not about their actions or problems) and doing simple things with them.

If you place a hyper child in a chair for time out you must be prepared to put them back in that chair up to fifty times; all the while, keeping your cool. You need to decide what battles to fight and the discipline to administer; do not waver in enforcement. Set down the rules and tell the child ahead of time; maybe even make a chart for them.

Tackle a few behaviors at a time and do not fight all the battles at once. Try not to reward bad actions with lots of attention. Deal with it and get it over as soon as possible.

Going to the store with me was a reward for my children; a reward with consequences for bad behavior. I cannot tell you how many time I drove miles to the store and ended up leaving without groceries or whatever. There were times when I told a mangager, briefly, what was going on, asking if they would put my groceries in the cooler till I could come back or just have them put the items back on the shelf. This discipline works after a few time if you use it consistently.

Store personnel appreciate your forthrightness and will usually willingly help.

Set aside some time for yourself, even if it is just a bubble bath,time to think, do a little reading or a cup of tea with friends. Enlist supportive, trusted friends and family to help you.

When you need to walk away, walk away girl. Make sure the child and siblings are safe and go cool down. Tell the child you need some cool down time, do not argue the point, put them in a safe place and go to your cool down place.

You are obviously a good and caring mom or you would not be asking for help.

I hope and pray all the best for you and your children. Hang in there D., you can do it.

Mom of 5 -
now grown adults


You should speak with your pediatrician. Your son could have a chemical imbalance or something. The first thing I thought of when I read your request is that he sounds manic and could be bipolar. Of course, I have absolutely no authority to suggest such a thing and there are lots of other reasons your son could be experiencing such dramatic highs and lows. Just for your information, here is a link to an article on WebMD on how to handle manic episodes in children:


Take care!

-T. Q

Get help. Either a really good therapist or psychiatrist, or both. Children this young (and younger) can have chemical imbalances causing severe and rapid mood swings, and it just gets worse over time. The sooner you deal with it, the easier it will be. A good therapist can help him learn about anger management and help you learn effective techniques to deal with the outbursts. Please don't allow your regular family doctor to prescribe any psychotropic medications as they are not always up to date or experianced in mental health. If money is an issue, check with your local health department. Also if he continues to have problems at school, request an IEP. Part of the IEP is a psychological exam. From there they can refer you to professionals that can assist your son. Good luck.

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