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should a 5 year old still be hitting?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I write this, with the utmost frustration and resignation.

I cannot get my ds to stop hitting people when he is angry or very frustrated. Thus has been a huge problem since he was able to hit. I swear I have tried everything, from sticker charts, to role playing to removing him from the situation. Everything. We are not a mean family, we don't hit. I don't understand why he can't control himself. He knows it isn't OK, he can role play endlessly abt what he should have done. He can practice and practice "appropriate" ways to handle his frustraion but it never does any good. If a situation gets frustrating to a point he hits, or pushes.

I just can't deal anymore. I feel like a failure. I don't know what to do with him.

He is a sweet, loving boy. He wants to behave. He doesn't like to get in trouble. He doesn't like to hurt people. I don't know how to help him anymore.

Does anyone else have a child like this? Any ideas?
Thanks.
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamapajama View Post
I write this, with the utmost frustration and resignation.

I cannot get my ds to stop hitting people when he is angry or very frustrated. Thus has been a huge problem since he was able to hit. I swear I have tried everything, from sticker charts, to role playing to removing him from the situation. Everything. We are not a mean family, we don't hit. I don't understand why he can't control himself. He knows it isn't OK, he can role play endlessly abt what he should have done. He can practice and practice "appropriate" ways to handle his frustraion but it never does any good. If a situation gets frustrating to a point he hits, or pushes.

I just can't deal anymore. I feel like a failure. I don't know what to do with him.

He is a sweet, loving boy. He wants to behave. He doesn't like to get in trouble. He doesn't like to hurt people. I don't know how to help him anymore.

Does anyone else have a child like this? Any ideas?
Thanks.
My friend's son will be 5 in a couple of months. He is getting better these days, but he has always tended to lash out physically when he was frustrated. My friend did not have an easy time of it.

Some things she's done have seemed to help. She's made it really clear to him that he can ask her for help if a social conflict is too difficult for him. She'll referee whatever-it-is before it gets out of hand. And she's realized that he needs alone time to recharge after awhile. For example when other kids play at his house, the other kids aren't allowed in his room, and he can go hang out in there by himself for a while if he needs.

Are there any patterns surrounding hitting incidents with your son? Whom does he hit? what kind of things are likely to push him to that point of frustration? is there a certain time of day/location/set of circumstances that seems worse for him? Is there any chance of preventing him from being under the kind of situational stress that leads to his hitting? Would you be able to step in really fast and help him negotiate his conflicts?

I'm sorry mama, I know my friend about tore her hair out over this stuff with her son. It is hard.
post #3 of 11
We are going through this right now with my 5y DD1, I do feel your pain. I don't know what helps, we've gone through all sorts of things as well. Last week I had to leave in the middle of a outing with a dear friend because my DD1 couldn't stop hitting her younger DD.
post #4 of 11
Yep, went through this hell with my now 7 1/2 yo no-problems-wonderful dd1. (edited to add: she hit only me)

We talked a lot about emotions and what were the underlying emotions behind the hitting. She really needed to learn these words and the skill of identifying the problem. We also did some impulse control exercises, which now I don't really remember. One was given me by an online friend; it was something about having the two hands talk to each other. I can't believe I can't remember all this! It was such a horrible time! One was from Daniel Goleman; if you Google him and the words children and emotional intelligence, you might find it. I'm pretty sure it was called The Turtle.

Anyway, one day she was hitting me and later was having a huge meltdown in the car. We stopped the car and took her out and she the scariest tantrum I've ever seen. Dh thought she needed psychiatric care! We just held her to protect her and us. She never hit again after that. She finally switched from hitting to saying, "Mama, I really feel like hitting someone/thing."
post #5 of 11
My 5yo ds hits, too. To my knowledge, he has never hit a friend or classmate, but he does our 2yo ds. I can just see the anger building up in him over what seem to me to be tiny things. The worst part is that my 2 yo is starting to be very agressive with his anger now, too. They can't be together for long before one has hurt the other. It can be hitting, pushing, squeezing. I am at a loss. Another more recent thing is little threats. Ds1 will tell ds2 that if he doesn't give him his toy back he will put him in the garbage and he'll never get out or somesuch. Of course, now ds2 says those things as well. I hate to hear it and try to explain to them that that is not an appropriate way to talk. I wonder though, if I should let them say these bizarre things in hopes that it will curb the physical reactions. I've also been looking for a good book on emotions, but haven't found one yet.
post #6 of 11
btdt. It's hard. Your son is lucky to have a mother who realizes that this is genuinely hard for him, and that he doesn't want to behave this way. You are not a failure, you just haven't quite yet figured out how best to help him.

I highly, highly recommend The Explosive Child: A New Approach For Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross Greene (imo, the 2005 edition, the latest, is the best, most clear version of this book). His website is www.thinkkids.org, and has an overview of his thinking regarding challenging kids and his approach to working with them. This approach has helped a lot. "Children do well if they can." If they can't, we can figure out what's getting in the way and help.

What is not directly addressed in this book is learning about emotions (one key idea is that for some kids there are key skills or underlying disorders that the child may need help with in addition to the approach they recommend). We've found that our dd needs help learning to recognize and regulate her emotions, and to stay calm enough to think in the face of frustration, to know when to take a break and what would help her calm down when she's taking a break. This is really hard, but it's what she needs to do in order to be able to handle frustration without aggression. We've been experimenting a lot and working with a psychologist to help her learn this.

Also, other things that get in her way are anxiety and sensory issues. These things limit her ability to tolerate frustration and stay calm. So she needs to learn ways of coping with them, and she needs support and help in coping with them.

She's also a rigid thinker, so we've been working on helping her be a little more flexible. Helps with the frustration.

I will say that maturity seems to help a lot, and your son is still pretty young.
post #7 of 11
This may or may not be the right way to handle it but I bought my children a punching bag. One of those inflatible ones that you put water in the bottom of. When DS gets upset I send him to wail on it. I have seen a vast improvement and he hasn't had as many outbursts.
post #8 of 11
We have had issues with our 5 year old hitting. Sometimes he goes to extemes though and just keeps punching my 3 year old and I have to pull him off. He tells me he can't help it. I know he has some emotional issues though that we are working on. The Explosive Child is the next book I plan on reading.
post #9 of 11
My DD is 4.5 and we still have issues. It's gotten a LOT better though. What worked for us was explaining that feeling mad was totally okay. It was even okay to feel REALLY REALLY mad. But there were good ways to express it and not-so-good ways to express it.

It seemed to be a real lightbulb moment for her to realize it was okay to FEEL mad. I don't remember what we were saying/doing prior to that but I'm guessing we were somehow making her feel like feeling mad wasn't okay. Now, whenever we have issues we always repeat that her feelings are okay and then give her specifics on how to appropriately express her anger (stomping, verbalizing without yelling, taking time to cool off privately, asking mom/dad/preschool teacher for help, etc).
post #10 of 11
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post #11 of 11
Thank you for the book recommendation, BiscuitBaby. I've talked to ds1 about expressing anger in words and ways that don't hurt other people, but I think that books tend to get through to him better than me simply talking to him.
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