Drawings of Violent Pictures by a Child.

Updated on February 04, 2011
S.H. asks from Reno, NV
19 answers

My boyfriend's 7 year old draws violent pictures at school all the time. If there is an animal on his work it is gutted and blood is all around it. There has been times that he's talked about killing himself due to his stuttering and not feeling accepted at school. He is fascinated with violent games on you tube. We have put a stop to him watching this and have been monitoring his internet time. He is always pretending to shoot at kids at school, has a hard time listening and doing class work. The teachers say he's very smart, loves to read is at a higher level then his grade. His mom is very skeptical when it comes to him seeing a therapist. She doesn't want him on any meds. I'm not sure what to do on my part, besides be patient with his stuttering, and try to redirect him to a not so violent path. We have even talked about taking all the nerf guns out of the house til he gets older and more mature. Is that too extreme?

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So What Happened?

The boy does get speech therapy at school. He sees her every Monday and we have a meeting with her next Monday. His mom is looking into finding a councelor outside of school. I have read everones input and do appreciate it. I pray that this is just a phase of his, the pation and interest in death goes away.

More Answers



answers from Portland on

One question you asked popped out to me:

"I'm not sure what to do on my part, besides be patient with his stuttering, and try to redirect him to a not so violent path."

I think you have to let your boyfriend and his son's mom come to whatever sort of agreement that they feel works best for their son. That said, one book I would heartily recommend is "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen...and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish. This book is a godsend, and the second part of the title, the Listening part, is very important in drawing out children who might be reluctant to share how they are feeling. Being a trustworthy, open listener can be invaluable in your relationship with this little boy.

As to whether or not the Nerf guns should be abolished in the house-- that might be a pretty big battle. I'm coming from a non-violent stance here too-- we have a Zero Guns/Hurting play household. I think it's important, though, to give this little guy some context for this sort of play. Such as "You need to ask a person before you may play 'shooting' with them. Some kids don't want to play like that, and it makes them uncomfortable or upset." I'd also find some non-lifelike targets for the Nerf guns, like crepe paper streamers hung from a doorway. I'm personally not one for kids playing guns, but if they've already been given to him, it might just be more frustrating and confusing for him to take them away.

Lastly, I'd look for opportunities to help him discover the more constructive and nurturing parts of himself. If you have space for gardening, or even caring for the birds in the backyard, this would be lovely. Does he have a pet to care for? Have him become involved in the daily feeding of the cat or dog. Birds need seeds, suet, and water in cold weather, and I'm sure Home Depot or an online source could supply a build-it-yourself birdfeeder. Find an identification card for your local birds. (As I type this, I realize that you are in Nevada, and I have no idea what the weather is like there right now. Sorry.) The point of what I am suggesting is to help build his sense of goodness and worth through developing other areas of competence besides academic pursuits. I don't know what that might look like, but this might also be an area that his father and mother could put their heads together on. In the meantime, you can still have him help with little things like making a meal or a baking something yummy together. It's always a very special thing to help make something the group appreciates, and if it's cookies or something else easily portable, that would be something he could also share with his mom too. He just might feel very proud of himself!

Hope one of these ideas help!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I have a psych degree (not a masters, I'm not a psychologist). I'm a huge fan of therapy (the right therapist is like finding a best friend who is *super* well educated in exactly what you need, who only looks out for *your* best interests, that you just didn't happen to meet on the street). I've done therapy for ADHD off an on for over 20 years, and I've done peer counseling & triage. THAT SAID... I'm extremely leery of having MY 8yo son in therapy, either.


Because psychologists are all PEOPLE, with greater and lesser degrees of skill and their own philosophical bents both personally, professionally, and educationally speaking.

I've got it down to a science how to find a good psychologist for *myself* (moving every 2 years at the most will do that for you)... but for my son it's a LOT harder. Because half of "finding" them is the first several sessions with them (and that's after sifting and sorting to find a "short list" of 5-10 maybes), and as a parent, you don't get that level of supervision that you do with yourself. Counselors have TREMENDOUS influence over their patients, especially children. Trusting in your own abilities to FIND the "right" person, and then in THEIR abilities is a *huge* leap of faith. Harder then first day at preschool/kindergarten/college... harder than sending them in for surgery.

It can (and should) be phenomenal... but speaking as a parent... it's actually *painful* to hand over your child's mind and heart to another human being. Harder than to a girlfriend or step parent... because you're handing them over to someone whose INTENT is to manipulate your child, and you are rubber stamping that. It's a huge trust issue. In many family counseling groups the first couple meetings the parent is actually in another room with a family counselor BAWLING their eyes out, wracked with sobs, even having panic attacks. It is a scary, scary thing for a parent to do.

If you can find a good family counselor/ child psycholigst one of the things that they should be VERY adept at is calming parental fears. If you can work with one for a bit they should be able to give you coping strategies for dealing with mom's fears / assuaging her guilt to a place where she *may* be willing to enter into a counseling partnership with a counselor for her son.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

My children will draw violent things when they're angry. Since he stutters that could be really affecting him in more ways than you realize. Your boyfriend should really talk to the childs mother and find a good counselor, therapist, or mentor for him. Meds are a last resort and depending on the professional may not even be discussed at all. It is irresponsible to ignore a childs needs, especially in this capacity. This child sounds like a great kid, but he's angry and he needs help dealing with that before he gets any older because the older he is, the harder it will be. The drawings may escalate into real violence and no one wants that.

My son is 8 1/2, has ODD, speech delay, etc. Besides changing our diet to help with some of his issues, he's also seeing a therapist and he LOVES her. He talks her ear off and this is from a boy that has major trust issues. He has talked about so much with her that he's hardly even mentioned to me, if at all. She has helped me get a much clearer picture of what's going on in my childs head. I'm empowered to help him deal with things much better now because I understand a lot more now. It's helped in the household dynamic so much. Also, a book that you might like to read is "Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys" by Stephen James. This helped soooo much with my little hooligans.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Wow! Definitely need to monitor what he is viewing, but just because you take him to a therapist does not mean they will put him on meds. Maybe they can get to the root of his obsession.

Is his stuttering due to a traumatic experience or has he always stuttered? Does he see a speech therapist to help him?

Have his Dad or Mom talked to him about what he is feeling? How loving are his parents? Do YOU have any thoughts as to WHY he is doing this other than that he sees it on the internet?

I know this might sound cliché but maybe it’s a cry for help?

At 7 y/o he is just way too young to be drawing pictures like this. Obviously I’m not a professional so that is just my opinion. If my child was doing this, I wouldn’t hesitate to have him see a child counselor.

It’s awesome that you want to help too. You must really love them. He sounds like a very bright child.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

My college degrees were in Psychology and another in Sociology with a minor in Social Work. I studied children's drawings and found a lot of information is contained in a drawing. The pictures you are describing are extremely worrisome to me. He needs to be evaluated by a competent Child Psychologist. It appears to me that he has deep seated issues that may require much counseling and hard work. I would be very afraid to be alone with this child and telling him no to something he really wanted.

I think perhaps the only med that might be needed would be an anti-depressant. But the Psychologist would refer the child to a Psychiatrist for a med check. He is in serious need of professional help based on what you have said.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Little Rock on

your significant other needs to take mom back to court and make it ordered that he goes to a therapist, these are signs that he is very depressed and he needs help with or without a court order if there is joint custody, your man should be able to have him evaluated, if a professional evaluates him and claims he needs to be seen, then it'll be hard for her to fight that in court (she may agree to avoid a court proceeding)

the only thing YOU can do is be there for him when needed, other than that mom and dad need to find the problem and get to the root

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

There is a book that addresses this issue BRILLIANTLY called "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence Cohen. I'm not kidding and I never would have responded to this, but I've just finished it upon recommendation from several people and it is, without a doubt, the most helpful and wonderful parenting book I've ever read. Please consider it. He is a psychologist (this is not a boring read, however) and he addresses complex issues with children through "play therapy". This dr. feels strongly that we over-medicate our children instead of finding out the root of what's really going on with them and helping them through these complicated issues. He has a specific chapter on aggression and aggressive play and what it means and how to help children handle it. Please consider this read. It changed the way I think about my child's play and what she's trying to tell me. See if your local library has a copy. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, I'm sorry your step son is having problems. Try to convince his mother to try therapy. I too think therapy would help him - maybe the school psychologist can help. Meanwhile, please look into the Movie/Book Raising Cain by Michael Thompson. It explains a lot about boys' behavior and the use of guns, etc. You can even email Michael Thompson and ask him questions that might help you.

Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Has your boyfriend thought about redirecting his son to build some confidence? I know alot have recommend therapy which he may very well need. I would not take these drawings lightly. Maybe involve him in sports to get some energy out, enrolling him in an art class that has more direction and positive influence. Its so hard these days to feel excepted, let alone being a teenager. Maybe he has some untold anger with his parents not being together. He needs to feel loved, not just know it... maybe he does need a change in diet and add medication, thats for the medial profession to decide. I wish him the very Best!!


answers from Modesto on

He's the type of kid that you would not let watch TV without supervision, where else would he get those ideas from? He does need some really positive structure to get him back on track. Some kids, once exposed, love gory stuff tho just like some kids love dinosaurs or trains or space ships. So, you sort have to pay enough attention to it so you can tell if it's just a phase or an obsessiveness that falls into a not so normal catagory. It might not be as bad as you think :)



answers from Los Angeles on

does he get speech services at school? he should. Or take him privately. that is killing his self esteem. I am surprised you have to turn off the violent stuff. why is it on in the 1st place?



answers from Spokane on

Any parent who is skeptical of medical and psychological help that will empower a child is abusive and an idiot and should be jailed. The fact is that some children do need help, and should be given appropriate help as neccesary. This isn't about what the parents' rights are, but what rights children have to be medically treated if they need it.

Often, these behaviors are signs that there is something wrong at home. Perhaps he is being physically, emotionally or sexually abused? This attitude, coupled with the reluctance of the mother to send him to a child therapist, should be a concern.

If nothing else, schools have therapists and it might be a good idea to call them to have him come in and talk with them. As for violent images and video games, that's a whole other topic to be tackled in another thread.



answers from Houston on

I would strongly suggest counseling ASAP! Also request the school counselor to get involved. These are definite serious signs of future major problems.

Hope it works out!



answers from San Diego on

Hello, This child needs to be assessed by a professional. Unfortunately, you cannot make that decision. Your boyfriend needs to make an appointment for assessment. He can start with his son's pediatrician. I don't understand how the mother can be more concerned about putting him on meds than she is about getting the help he obviously needs.
Also, is he being seen by the school's speech therapist? It might help with his stuttering.
Good luck with your precious little boy.
K. K.



answers from Los Angeles on

You have to remember that they learn these behaviors from toys, what they see, hear and play. If he's not mature enough to 'act right' with toy guns and gun motions then I think thats a great idea to get rid of them. Perhaps try and redirect his interests...kind of scary about the drawings though, save them and perhaps you can talk to a therapist on your own before having him start seeing one.



answers from Los Angeles on

I too think he should see a professional for help and support.
The reason isn't so much the pictures and violence but he is expressing suicidal thoughts and that should be taken seriously.
Therapy doesn't necessarily equal medications and the parents are involved when the "patient" is underaged so it will be a collaborative decision.
I think strongly encouraging his father to take him to a counselor is another way to support him.
Good luck and hopefully he starts feeling better, poor guy.



answers from Los Angeles on

I don't want to sound like an alarmist and frighten you but the behavior you describe is very symptomatic of eary childhood trauma. This child sounds like he could have been abused, especially sexually or ritually. He needs help right away. The earlier intervention takes place, the better the hope of a positive outcome. There are new therapies available to help with processing early childhood trauma. His mother may be reluctant to seek help because she is unaware of these new therapeutic methods or she may be in denial about his needs. You can call the county Child Protective Services and talk to them. You can remain anonymous and just express your concerns and this family can get some help. The other posts that have expressed concern especially for the future outcome for this child if there is no intervention - I would take those suggestions VERY seriously. Also, the child's father may want to consult with the pediatrician. Perhaps a referral to a competent specialist from the doctor. Good luck to you, to this child, and to the entire family. Also, I am not accusing anyone here. There could be some physiological, brain chemical unbalance, or hardwiring issues involved. A pediatric neurosurgeon, a psychiatrist, or a psychologist could do an evaluation. It sounds expensive but there are often community funded agencies to assist with these types of things. Trust me, it will be much less expensive to take care of this now both in terms of money and in human safety.



answers from Las Vegas on

Having him evaluated by an actual psychiatrist doesn't mean he'll be on meds. Psychologists are great but they aren't an alternative to a psychiatrist. They do two different things. Both are trying to get to the bottom of what's causing the behavior. A psychiatrist looks at the body and a psychologist the mind and enviornment. For your situation I would start with the psychaitrist. Stuttering and clinical depression are often found together. Any good psychiatrist will help you find the right treatment for your child and your family. If your family doesn't want to use drugs then a good one will find the best way to treat with out meds.
Keep in mind too, that taking him for evaluation and getting a diagnosis doesn't mean you have to do anything at all but you will know what you are dealing with when he's a teen. You don't even have to tell him the diagnosis until you feel he's ready to hear it. I'm dyslexic. my parent's knew when I was 4 years old. They didn't tell me until I was starting college. I never knew but my parents and teachers were working together to help me by using methods that work for people who are dyslexic. Kids who have problems like this often don't show up as 'little johnny says his words backwards'. I was treated for REALLY disruptive behavior when i didn't really have a behaviorial problem.
Finally, as a teen I was very isolated and depressed. On the outside everything appeared normal but I was really dealing with some crazy stuff on the inside. I have ocd that completely ran my life. I was one of those realy crazys who you see on tv. I knew that what was going on in my head was not right. I felt that there was something wrong with me and it coudn't be fixed. I thought everybody knew that I was crazy and they didn't want to be friends. Had I known that other people had crazy obsessions I probably would have felt less isolated. I'm stilll phobic of all kinds of weird things but I can deal with it much better just knowing that I'm not keeping this secret 'craziness' hidden. I'm not the only one.

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