So I did go back and read some posts from other people on this topic. There seems to be one thing different about my situation. I can't make my son do anything. Some people suggested time out. I would love to see you try to get my son into time out, much less stay there. Some people suggested distraction....there is no distraction. If my son is hitting me or his father, that is what he is going to do, no matter what other options are given to him. Every single thing that was said, does not work for my son. I'm hoping that by explaining my situation (be prepared for a lengthy read) someone will have an idea that actually works for our situation.
My son is currently 6 weeks away from turning 4. Over the last two years he has gone through phases of violence. Most of the violence was sporadic. He might hit once or twice a day for a few days, then stop. The last several weeks though, he has gotten beyond violent and there seems to be no stopping it. In the 4 hours this morning before his nap, he grabbed my skin and squeezed as hard as he could twice, he hit me 5 times, he grabbed my fingers and pulled them apart as hard as he could twice. He hit his dad at least 10 times, grabbed his dad's private area and squeezed as hard as he could and hurt the dogs twice. That was an easy morning. It was double that last night.
He will hurt anyone or anything that he can, by any means that he can. If someone isn't close enough to abuse, he with throw or kick something, usually several things, before making his way to a person to hurt.
It is not just physical hurting either. He is very hurtful verbally. He will scream, call names and talk back to you as meanly as possible, no matter what you say.
Another difference I see from other posts is that he does not calm down. We may get him to calm down for a few seconds, but it will not last. These "tantrums" last for an hour or more most of the time. Even if we pick him up and put him in his room to calm down for a few minutes (usually 2-3) he will talk nicely to us until we let him out, but once he is out, he goes straight to someone to hit them and yell at them.
Now I know there are going to be some questions, so I will try to answer them before they are asked.
First, what is he like when he isn't throwing a tantrum. Well he is an extremely bright child. He has full conversations with us and his vocabulary is extremely advanced for his age. He can count to 20 on his own with no help. He recognizes all numbers up to 100 by sight. He recognizes 90% of his letters by sight (he makes the usual mistakes, M,W, lowercase b & d) He can recognize, name and continue a pattern. He knows every color, and is great at abstract thinking. He can add and subtract any numbers 10 and under. Basically he is very,very bright when it comes to school type knowledge. With that being said, he is also extremely behind in other areas. He pretty much refuses to eat with silverware. If it something he has to use silverware for, like soup for example, he still spills stuff all over the place and can't seem to learn how to put the front of the spoon in his mouth first, no matter how many times I show him. Part of that may be that he usually tries to eat left handed and I am right handed. Maybe I am not teaching him right. He will not play independently for more than a few minutes and even if he does, he is asking you to join in by telling him things to do or watching him play, literally non stop. He can't dress himself. He knows the basics, but can't/won't concentrate to put his clothes on right. He still uses a binky for sleeping and it is a constant battle to keep it just for sleeping...he would use it all day if we let him, which we don't. Anyway, my point is that he is quite advanced in some aspects and quite behind in others. Some of the things he is behind on are my fault, he is an only child and I am disabled, so I am a stay at home Mom. I probably do not encourage independence in some levels. He is never out of my sight, unless I am going to the bathroom. There are some things he could do, but I don't let him for fear of getting hurt. For example, he could climb into the tub at bath time by himself, but I won't let him because I don't want him to slip and fall. So, he is held back a little by me being too cautious, however, i do not think it is the main cause.
As for his temperment, when he is not throwing a tantrum, he is a happy child. He is very active. He can concentrate on playing cars for hours at a time, assuming that one of us watches, listens and says the things he asks. However, cars is about all he will concentrate on. He will not color, build with blocks, or do just about anything other than play cars. He can concentrate enough to watch TV (I only let him watch about 2 hours a day) and play cars, but with everything else, he is hard pressed to pay attention or stay still. Only when he is doing exactly what he wants, when he wants, will he concentrate or pay attention. Other than that though he is happy and cheerful. He is active and fun. Until you so much as hint at the fact that something has to be done other than what he wants.
Next, what brings on his tantrums. Well, just about anything. 99% of his tantrums come from either being told "no" or something similar. When it is time to stop playing and clean up for any reason at all, whether it be lunch, for us to go somewhere, whatever, it is a guaranteed tantrum. If he wants something and we won't give it to him, tantrum. I don't care if it is a toy that was taken away for bad behavior or something he has never been allowed to have, it's a tantrum. If I give him cereal for breakfast and he doesn't want it, tantrum. If he eats half of the cereal then decides he wants pancakes and I refuse (which I do) tantrum. If you correct him at all, even in the most positive manner, tantrum. If the dog is laying on the floor in a spot that he wants to play, tantrum. Basically unless you do and say everything that he wants,at the very moment he wants, there will be a tantrum. Even if you did do and say everything, he would still have a tantrum, because there would be something he never verbalized, yet he would still expect you to know. If he "thinks" you should be sitting in one spot and you are sitting in another, there will be a tantrum.
I would also like to point out that he is bright enough that he knows that we can't make him do anything. If he doesn't want to eat, we can't make him. If we want him to sit in time out, he knows we can't make him. If we want him to clean up, he knows we can't make him. We can try, but we can't physically make him do something. He knows that and uses that regularly. It's not a matter of him not getting consequences. If he doesn't listen, there is a consequence. It's just that he doesn't care about the consequences, no matter what they are. We have tried everything. We have tried taking away his favorite items and activities. We have tried time out in his room (it's the only time out that we can manage as we can physically pick him up and put him in his room and lock the door, any other time out he will just get up). We have tried talking to him nicely, we have tried showing that we were angry or hurt. We have tried spanking. None of it matters. When he is mad, he is mad, end of story. Nothing you can do or say that and even though he knows a consequence will come from not listening, he will not care until well after the fact. That of course then causes another tantrum.
Now, on to our family make-up as I am sure that will be another question. There is our son, my husband and I and several pets. I am disabled and do not work. My husband works from home 90% of the time. We do not fight or argue in front of him. I think maybe a few times a year we may snap at each other quickly in front of him. There is no violence. Our house is very small, so in the winter months, he probably does not get enough physical activity, as I am physically disabled an not able to take him many places or do just about anything physical with him. In the summer he and I go outside and play at least half of the day. So, I realize that having too much energy may be a small part of it all. He is active though. He plays and is moving around a good portion of the day. Anyway, we try to engage him in learning activities. We take him on regular trips out of the house (usually for some sort of shopping, which he loves). For about 12 hours of the week, he is visiting with his grandparents. So, he does get out of the house.
Now on to a few odd things that I have noticed. First, as I said before, playing cars is about all he will concentrate on. However, at least 60% of the time, he isn't actually playing with them, he just lines them up and "parks" them. Sometimes he groups them by color, or vehicle type, sometimes by size. He really enjoys "arranging" them. He also gets very upset when we do something in a different way, or out of order. He is very particular about quite a few things. He will not make or keep eye contact with us when we are talking to him. He hates loud noises and thinks things are loud that we don't. He walks on his tip toes almost all the time. He is slightly delayed physically....he cant stand or jump one leg or do much that requires any balance. He isn't around other children much, but when he is, he won't play with them. He will be excited to see them at first, but within a minute, he goes off and does his own thing. He occasionally will watch another child, but otherwise shows no interest in them at all. So, in some ways it seems he may have some sort of autism spectrum disorder. However, there are many other things that counter that. He is not delayed in his speech in any way. He will communicate with us, so long as he isn't angry. There are times that he won't respond to his name or us talking to him, but other times he does it just fine. I don't know. I ave called his PCP and have an appointment to have him looked at because I know the tantrums that last hours at a time and take up 5-6 hours of his day can't be good.
So, I have two questions. First, how on earth do we continue to deal with the tantrums until he is able to be seen and hopefully helped? I am extremely disabled and have numerous conditions that cause me a lot of pain. I have severe issues with bone death and more things than I care to mention. To put it simply, I am very fragile. I can't keep getting punched, hit, kicked, pushed, bit, scratched and more. He will automatically go for what hurts the most. For example, I have a lot of trouble with the bones and joints in my hands, so he will grab my fingers and pull them apart as hard as he can....or he will grab my breasts and squeeze them as hard as he can. He hurts my husband, the pets and even himself. Not to mention the emotional toll it is taking on all of us. So, please does anyone have any ideas on how to lessen these tantrums at least?
My next question is do any of you feel that maybe I am looking into it too much? Is this normal behavior and maybe my parenting is to blame. I am open to any criticism, I just want things to be better for my son, so if that is how you feel, please tell me.
Okay, I think that is it. Feel free to ask any questions, I will answer them honestly, no matter what they are. I just need some help at this point. I'm already physically and emotionally run down because of all of my health problems and still trying to be a mother and wife with them. I can't take much more of being beat up by my son and watching him make himself sick from being so upset.