6 Year Old Boy Hittng, Throwing, Scratching Biting

Updated on July 20, 2011
D.M. asks from Brockton, MA
9 answers

I have a 6 year old boy that reacts to the word no with impulsive behavior. If he doesn't like your answer he will instantly pick something up to throw it at myself or his dad. Once I try to stop him he then continues on with a full blown tantrum (hitting,kicking,biting,scratching, and throwing). He has not shown this type of behavior at school. He has recently started showing this behavior infront of other close family members. Everyone is upset with me because they think I am not stearn enough with him. The problem is, I have tried putting him in his room for a timeout and he throws everthing at the doors and walls. I am more afraid that he is going to hurt himself, more than anything. Has anyone experienced this and has anyone had success on controlling this type of behavior?

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answers from Honolulu on

You said he does not do this at school, only at home.
Since there is a Dad around, How come everyone is blaming "you"? Not Dad too.

Next, how is his communication skills?
Can he express himself and know he can? Or is he not allowed to?
A boy... really needs to be taught how to express themselves and about their feelings. If not, they get pent up and think that showing emotions are 'weak' and negative. But actually, this attitude harms a child... because they then have no way of venting or expressing themselves whether happy or sad or angry.

Do these behaviors happen when it is after school or when he is tired?
My daughter, afterschool, is very tired... and fussy. She needs to eat and deflate and unwind after school. I know that about her. She will even nap if tired. My girl is 7 years old. And her napping, helps immensely.

Hunger can also make a child this way...because the blood sugar levels are low. But a child will not know that themselves. When my girl is hungry, she gets fussier. So do I....

There is a book called "Have a New Kid By Friday" that has real practical helpful tips. It is not derogatory and an easy read. The Author is "Leman."

has your son always been that way? Or only now?
He also needs to be taught, coping-skills. Children do not come automatically with these skills. It is taught to them...
How to deal with frustration... is something that is always a good thing, to teach children. Even some adults don't know how to to that.

Next, just tell him "WHY" does he act that way? See what he says.....

Next, speak to your Pediatrician about it.... and see what is recommended.

A bad temper, if that is the problem, will stay that way, UNLESS he is taught other ways of coping with his emotions.

A child in a tantrum cannot be reasoned with at that moment. They are in the red zone. So, talk to him after he deflates. A child will deflate, on their own... without interference.

Or, is there something in the family/household that has changed recently? Is he under stress? Anything happen to him that is causing these behaviors? Has he expressed anything... that reveals what is going on in him?

all the best,

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answers from Los Angeles on

I do not agree that this is a child who is pushing your buttons. Nor do I agree at all that spanking will resolve the problem. Six years old seems old to still be exhibiting these behaviors, especially if the behaviors are escalating. Has your son always behaved this way?

Spanking a child who is acting aggressively out of anger will only validate his feelings that hitting is an ok response to anger. I don't have any answers for you. I do feel for you. I admire you for trying to remain calm, and handle things as gently as possible. If this were a once in a while behavior I'd say that he's just taking a bit more time to get his impulses under control. If it happens often though I'd be concerned. It does sound to me as though some outside intervention (and I don't mean your less than helpful family members :)). Have you discussed this with your son's pediatrician? If not, that's a good place to start.

I wish you all the best.

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answers from Dayton on

First of all, there is no judgement here. It is only observation based upon what you have said of his behavior. You should know that you, like most parents, are doing the best that you can. As kids get older there are a lot of murky areas, they aren't little but they aren't exactly big, so what is reasonable to expect and what is a reasonable way to respond and a reasonable consequence?

Now, to the business. He is 6 which means he is old enough to understand right from wrong. He has all of his words and can identify his feelings to both himself and you, his parents. He has a reasonable ability to cope with "no", stress, and transition because he is doing it at school. So what is different between school and home? Probably the structure.

His teacher has posted in the room a clear set of rules. She has made sure all of the kids are aware of the rules. She has made sure all of the kids are aware of the consequences to breaking those rules and the rewards of following them. When the kids have broken the rules she has made sure to follow through on those consequences so that the kids are also aware that she means what she says. She knows these kids are smart and capable and she treats them that way. If you need to set up a similar system in your home, she is a great resource for you and it could even help him at school as well as home to have the same system set up in both places. She can also give you a realy great idea of what reasonable expectations are. Their development is her area of expertise. Use her. Make her your friend in this. You won't be sorry.

As to the fits and time out. If I said no and my son acted out he would go to his room for a time out. If, while in his room, he through all his stuff around and generally wrecked his room then his time out would begin AFTER he set the room to rights and everything was the way he found it when he came into it. If, after 30 minutes, he was still bucking me and the room was still wrecked, I would set a timer and tell him he had 30 minutes MAX to fix it and then I would come in and do it and everything I picked up I would put in a bag and take out of his room and he would lose it for AT LEAST a week. If he still bucked, at the end of that 30 minutes, I would do EXACTLY what I said I would. He would probably lose it again and I would tell him again his time out would start when he was finished. If he wrecked what was left I would start the process all over again. If this meant there was nothing left in his room, so be it. He would get his pillow and blanket at the end of the day and that's it. I would stick to my guns.

If we were in public and he did this he would go into timeout no matter WHERE we were. Even if it meant we went to the car for the timeout. If he acted out further, I would tell him he had 3 minutes to get it together or we would leave and go home. If he didn't get it together we would LEAVE and go home and his timeout would start there and here we go again. I would do all of this as many times as it took for him to see I meant it.

As to him hurting himself, I don't think he is going to. He is selective about where he does it and copes in other situations so he is VERY aware. He isn't trying to hurt himself, he's trying to make you as angry as he is and he is trying to get his way.

I hope this is helpful.


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answers from Allentown on

I agree with Nancy's suggestions.

There's a good book called "1-2-3 Magic" which really helps with discipline. I suggest you read it urgently! Your son is seeing what he can get away with. This behavior sounds extreme for a 6 year old so you need to get it under control right away.

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answers from Boston on

Putting in his room may not be your answer as like most kids, he has toys and fun things in there.
You need to pick a spot... maybe a chair in a corner or against a wall where he doesn't have access to anything. Like the show with the Nanny... if he gets up, you put him back time and time again... he will get the message.
The second he picks something up to throw at you, in he goes. He needs to learn that is not acceptable behavior.. especially for a 6 yr old.
When time out is over, he is to acknowledge why he was sent to time out. Hug him, love on him and let him know it is the behavior you don't like, but you love him.
Yes, it is exhausting but it works.

As a teacher, I have had children in my class who have thrown shoes, books, toys, or used their hands when upset at being told they can't do something by their classmates. Eventually the behaviors stopped.

Good luck!

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answers from Toledo on

This is a perfect example of a kid pushing your buttons to see what will happen. First, you and your hubby agree on how to handle it, and then DON'Tback down! When he absolutely knows that every time he does A, he gets B, he'll start taming it down. Time outs work, but only if you do it EVERY time. Also, put him in a corner where you can watch him--his room isn't really punishment because there's plenty to do. My granddaughter went through this--I had to drag her kicking and screaming to the corner, then she would throw herself on the floor, whine, spit, and refuse to stand and face the wall. I picked up a magazine and sat down, sometimes for as long as 30 minutes, totally ignoring her. Finally, she would stand up, say,"I'm ready for the timer", and face the wall. Then I would start the timer--one minute per year. When it's done, apologies to me, and hug and kiss. For throwing things, anything that gets thrown gets taken away for 2 days to start. If it doesn't stop, 1 week. If he throws something AT someone, lose the toy and get a time out. When he sees that all his stuff is disappearing and he's spending valuable play time in the corner, he'll get the message. Don't lose your temper, that's what he's looking for!

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answers from Boston on

Lisa C. has some great insight. I did this with my son when he was into hitting and throwing things. All his toys were removed from his room and put in the attic. Period. We also bolted his bookcase to the wall so he couldn't climb it and pull it over on himself. There was nothing left with which he could hurt himself. His bike was hung in the garage on hooks from the rafters where he could see it but not get to it (that was for not wearing his helmet).

Consistency is important. Having rules with clear consequences are important, but only if the parents follow through.

Your son seems capable of controlling his behavior in school. He acts out in from of others (first you, then close family) because he knows that you love him. So he can get away with it. Make it so he doesn't get away with it. If he has a tantrum and you put him in his room, he has a bigger one - so it makes you back off. He is in control of the situation. You need to shift the control back to you. You cannot control whether he has a tantrum, but you CAN control how you respond to it. His room needs to be safe, and that means removing anything that is dangerous to him. If he marks up the walls with something, it's not the end of the world. But if all he has in there are his pillow and a few stuffed animals, there is no risk. He is having tantrums because they WORK - he gets attention, he doesn't get disciplined if he's really out of control, and he gets his way by escalating things.

And I agree that the time out begins after the tantrum ends and the room is fixed up. The time out is for calming himself down, not for letting him scream and throw things. So it begins once he is somewhat calm.

Kids need structure and they need to voice their frustrations. You are the only one who can provide structure that is consistent and dependable.

Good luck and don't give up.

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answers from Providence on

Yes. I have experienced this with my 5 year old son. He has always had a mind of his own and I actually consulted a behavior specalist;I was at my wits end(and this was when he was 4). He would bite, kick, hit me and his older brother. I had bruises and his poor brother who is actually smaller than him had welts all over his body. Hes a good kid but wants what he wants. I was told he is actually very smart and he knows when he acts like this you give in. You cannot threaten a time out or take things away, you have to just do it. when hestarted a tantrum, I would immediately put him in his room and close the door. I would tell him when he calmed down, he could come downstairs but we would not listen to it. When he hit, bit, spit, pushed, yelled at me or anyone else i would take his favorite toys away. It got to the point almost all of his toys (all he would play with ere star wars) were taken from him. I had a chart with these behaviors on it. He could earn 42 checks in a week. We started off small, if he earned 30, I would take him out he and I for icecream. Needless to say it was 5 weeks before he made that goal. He could not get a star wars toy back unless he earned all checks in a single day. The next day if he acted up...gone. It took about 5 months and he is a different kid today than a year ago. It is constant on your part not giving in and I still have my chart although today since we are getting into the Wii, for every check, he earns3 min. of game time. Thats all the game time he has for the next day. We go in stages for the rewards. You have to think about what means the most to him and take that from him and have him earn in back..is it a ds, a video game, a toy.... Do not give it. Best of luck. It is a constant battle and I wish you well.

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answers from Fayetteville on

Several excellent posts. I would just add, find out his currency. Fir example what does he absolutely love to do? Make that a privilege, something earned with good behavior. He knows that he can manipulate you and your husband. This is not a control issue because if it were he would demonstrate it at school. You and your husband should sit and talk with him when he is calm. Ask him what is 3 absolute favorite things to do are. List them in order. Make a chart with him. Let him help. Explain these are privileges and he will have to earn them daily. Let him help with the rules. This will make him more likely to follow them. Every week count down the days until he has a week free of tantrums. He is too young for this to be in a row. If he acts out he cannot count down another day until the next tantrum free day. Tell him how proud you are of him when you catch him doing something good. Even for the little things. Children crave attention. So when he throws a tantrum, turn your back and walk away immediately. Don't engage him, don't chastise him, just walk away and ignore him. If he tries to engage you tell him once and only once ' I only talk to young men who are acting nicely. This can be once per tantrum but he will get it. If you are in a store or public when he throws a tantrum leave immediately. And let him know these are the new rules. He will test you a few times but he will learn. Talk to him about frustration and acceptable ways to express it. And praise him when he dies express his frustration correctly. When parents allow their children to throw fits, hit and bite, they will end up with an extremely unhappy child and later, adult. Society does not care for people who throw fits. They end up as outcasts and often in the judicial system. You must do what is in the best interest of the child. Not what feels good to you. Trust me, he will thank you later on.

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