DS is 3.5 years old. In many ways he is kind of the opposite of a typical toddler -- he can sit through an hour long church service, he is incredibly cooperative when we're shopping, he is well-behaved with friends. (So of course I get the eye-rolling disbelief if I so much as squeak about any of our issues!) But at home he can be a living nightmare. Our house literally looks like a tornado hit it, because he is just wild at home, breaking things, knocking things down, etc. He also has been hurting me & DH (hitting, biting). He's like Jekyll & Hyde. It's like he has an on/off switch, and most of the time we're out, and half the time when we're home, he's just fine, and then out of nowhere the switch is flipped and he turns into a crazy, out-of-control kid that I don't even recognize.
We cannot seem to trace the triggers. He will just be hanging out or playing nicely and completely out of nowhere there is an outburst. When I talk to him afterward, he doesn't have any insight whatsoever into what happened/what went wrong. When I retrace the previous hour or two there doesn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary, overwhelming, etc. that would explain his sudden change in behavior. I can't even seem to link it to any specific food or anything.
Anyway. So I guess what I'm really looking for are logical consequences for hurtful or destructive behavior. When he hurts me, I leave the room, and this does work for the most part (in that it decreases how often he hurts me) but he has incredibly high anxiety and is literally terrified when I leave the room. I would love to come up with something less traumatizing (and maybe even more effective). Another problem is unbuckling the car seat. I had to stop 6 times today to re-buckle him and was about to tie his arms down so we could get home safely! And destroying stuff -- it's not just his stuff he is destroying, and even if it is his stuff he just doesn't care that it's ruined, or that I take it away if I manage to stop him before it's ruined.
There is nothing that is meaningful enough to him that he'd be upset if I took away the privilege (like no TV or taking away his favorite toy -- these things are irrelevant & meaningless to him). He is not at all reward-motivated either. His high anxiety means things like time-out would be truly traumatic to him. So basically I'm saying most of the things I've read or heard suggested just would not work for DS. He also seems to lack empathy? I don't know if this is a typical toddler thing or more related to his social/emotional delays. But anyway, appealing to his sympathetic side ("That really hurt me!" etc.) won't work either. So logical/natural consequences are not just a philosophical choice but a real necessity for us, I think, unless there is some other discipline method I'm unaware of. It works well with him for many things, but right now I feel stuck.
I feel like a bad mom... and like my friends view me this way too... I'm failing everyone, especially DS. Help!