4 Year Old with UNCONTROLLABLE Bursts of Anger

Updated on February 22, 2007
M.W. asks from Dallas, TX
6 answers

My son is normally a wonderfully sweet child. Very mannerable (yes ma'am/ no sir/ please & thank you's). However at school he has these bursts of anger (at home he is fine). I have tried talking to him. Didn't work. Disciplined him... didnt work.Switched his schools to a smaller classroom... didn't work. Placed him in a home childcare (where there was only 2 other children)... didnt work. Stayed home from work with him... didnt work. Setting realistic expectations...Postivie reinforcement.. negative reinforcement... going to bed early... time out... "if you... then I will"... prayer... patience... nothing is working and the behavior is simply getting worse.

The bursts are very unpredictable and very uncontrollable that no one sees it coming. One minute he is fine, the next he is throwing chairs... SLAPPING AND HITTING...

His childcare provider suggested play therapy. Does anyone know of any good Christian counselors... ANYWHERE?? I would prefer a man, as I am a single mother I would think the time spent with another male might be good for him. Before you ask, yes his father is in his life, yes we have a good relationship, however he isnt always there.

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answers from Dallas on

I would also recommend checking out food allergies and intolerances. Both my sons had some issues in this area that were really intense at around the same age as your son. It turns out they are both intolerant to gluten (found in wheat, rye, oats and barley products and any derivatives) and had a dairy allergy. I'm also currently suspecting chocolate as a trigger for my youngest as we get these outbursts fairly soon after he consumes that. You can track this down yourself by keeping a food diary and finding out what food/snacks/drinks he has at school (artificial colorings and flavorings can trigger this in some kids). The reactions can occur anywhere from minutes after the allergen is ingested to days.

You might want to watch this video from the Block Center and see if it looks familiar:
http://www.blockcenter.com/ADD_ADHD/Allergies_Behavior.html (the video about a 9 year old boy is on the right hand side ).
If so, you might check into seeing Dr. Block, who can do a very comprehensive look at potential triggers for your son.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Auburn on

Hi, I recommend a wonderful lady (I know you asked for a man but am offering this suggestion anyway) named Jennifer Wilson that works out of Lakeland Bpt Church in Lewisville. It's the pretty large church right up against 35 South at the Main Street exit. Jennifer is a wonderful Christian woman in her early 30's and is currently working on her Ph.D. in this field. She used to direct the children's ministry at my church FBC Corinth and her father was mine and my husband's SS teacher. She has a special passion for the emotional needs of children. I know of a few families from our church that take their children to see her for "play therapy" and they praise her greatly. One friend says the rates are somewhat less expensive since it is considered a ministry through the church (I think she said $30/hr). I don't have a phone number but I'm sure you could easily find it in the yellow pages. Best wishes to you and your son.



answers from Dallas on

It sounds like you have tried everything. But here is what I do for my emotional child when she starts to get into another aggressive phase. It does not end the roller coaster but it does curb it. My DD is 6 now and still has episodes, but they are nothing like the ones she had when she was 4.
The behavior, for her, tends to happen in waves. She's fine for a few days or even three weeks then all the sudden she becomes an aggressive, emotional wreck.
We have not been able to figure out why she gets this way but we suspect it has something to do with her growth or a sleep dysfunction (cranky during growth spurts maybe? My DH has a long history of sleep dysfunction. I'm hoping she didn't inherit it.)
First of all I have to be very strict when I see the signs showing that another episode is about to start. These signs can vary from oversleeping, moody gloomy behavior, complaining about being tired but bouncing off the walls while doing so, refusal to eat (except for sweets and other unhealthy stuff).
Any unacceptable emotional outbursts and she loses computer rights first, then the TV, then her favorite toys get taken up for the day. Though know when to pick your battleground. A bit of grumbling over not wanting to do chores is not good grounds for losing any rights.
We do quiet table activities if I notice her getting hyper. (Crayons, painting, perler beads, clay ect.). She tends to get jumpy and hyper before a breakdown.
Restrict unhealthy foods (one sweet a day before 3:00pm no chips or other unhealthy snacks) and introduce a multi-vitamin. I'm not much for vitamins but when she gets an episode I do give her one a day. Just in case it's lack of essential vitamins causing the problem.
Spend some extra Mom and me time with her playing board games, reading books to each other, baking bread (whatever it is just make sure you are having fun and interacting with him! No watching TV together). With a 4 yr old boy; break out the cars and trains and play with them for an hour.
Force her to play outside for an hour. This gets rid of excess energy and she gets some sun. She doesn't like playing outside. She would rather stay in and play on the computer or read books.
No napping allowed during the day. I know this sounds bad. Some parents force naps because it gives them a break. But you want them to be tired enough for bedtime that they sleep straight through the night.
Lastly, I put her to bed extra early and let her sleep in if she doesn't get up when I do (but be sure to wake her before 10:00am or she will be up all night). This may not be easy if your child is already going to school, preschool, or daycare.
We homeschool, and I'm a stay at home mom so extra sleep time is not an issue for us.
I also spend an hour or more getting ready for bed. We brush our teeth and wash our faces together. Get out PJ's on at the same time. Read a story. Get a bed time snack if necessary (before brushing; non sugary snack, toast and butter or some peppermint tea, no caffine or chocolate or course). This routine calms her down and gets her ready for bed.
Hope this helps, patience is the key.



answers from Dallas on

Have you considered Terets syndrome? I could be way off base, but if it really seems like something that isn't triggered by anything specific and that he can't control, then maybe it's worth looking into.



answers from Dallas on

my son was like your son exactly. i tried everything..... and i finally got him tested. they said he had odd it is a defient(sp) disorder. that they cant handle things, or just cant get there feelings out. so they blow up. it got so bad that they finally told me that he had bipolar and is now getting treatment. you might think about having him tested. it may be nothing but it is something you catch it early. i hope this helps a little



answers from Dallas on

It sounds like you've tried everything. You have been very thorough, so it may not be something you can change with behavior modification. Maybe he has a chemical imbalance or allergy that is causing him to not respond appropriately.

I know that Dr. Dante Burgos of the Holiner Group in Dallas (Medical City) is a wonderful psychiatrist and that Dr. Denise Wooten is a great psychologist (Lewisville).

Good luck and hopefully some other posts will have more ideas for you.

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