3 yr old DS with anger issues..'normal' or not? Advice pls. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 03-25-2012, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello ladies.


I could use your personal advice/opinions with this issue. Please bear with me, Im going to try to keep it as short as possible. Any advice, BTDT stories or the like would be greatly appreciated from us. Thanks in advance.


Our DS turned 3 in December and is a very bright little boy. He enjoys puzzels, sports and playing with his big sister. He knows alot of sign launguage, spanish and can count over 20 as well as completing difficult puzzels with little help. He can be very very loving and affectionate. He is very funny and loves to make others laugh. Hes very loved by our family and means the world to us.


But we are a bit worried about some of his behaviours and we would like to know if we have no need to worry, because this is normal or if maybe there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. DH has actually suggested that he thinks we should have him check for a learing disorder, which Im not sure if i agree with or not.


Let me know what you think:


- He has very violent outburst. During these outburst he will punch, kick, spit and yell with a very deep, growly, angry voice. During these outburst ( that can last for about 15 minutes ) he just seems to lose control and no matter what we do, it makes it worse and he will not calm. These outburst are normally brought on by nap times or when its time to stop one activity and go onto another ( such as come in from outdoors and have lunch).


- He will punch others in the face with NO provoking whatsoever. Just today he punched DD in the face, barely missing her eye and left a small knot  right between her eyes. And he is STRONG. I know this from personal expeirence during his tantrums. Today, they both where watching TV on our sofa, DS got up to ask for some juice and when we retuned to the sofa DD had moved into 'his spot' and instead of asking her to move or saying anything at all, he punched her HARD in the face. We have talked to him endlessly about using his words when he is angry and not to hit, but he just doesnt seem to understand. He also got into a 'brawl' with another little boy his age this weekend at a family gathering for no reason. He has never been taught to hit in any manner. We dont have cabel on TV so we only watch family movies together.  I would like to add that he often says he's sorry afterwards, but will turn around and do it again minutes later. And sometimes these punches/kicks are brought on by him not wanting to share and things of that nature.


- He is very defiant when it comes to eating, sleeping and going to the potty. He pee pees in the potty but refuses to poop in the potty, even when the poop is literaly hanging out of his butt ( sorry if TMI ). We have stopped potty training all together because it seemed to make him far too upset.  He will refuse to eat most of the time and only eats a very small group of things ( i know this is pretty common among his age group ) and if he is eating and we tell him how wondful that his, he will stop eating all together. He doesnt seem to care to strive to make us proud, as many children do.  He trys to make just about everything into a fight. He doesnt respond to discipline such as time outs or rewards such as treats and trips to the park, he eaiter seems to just not care or just not understand.


- It doesnt matter how many times he gets time outs or toys removed for doing something, he will repeat the same action within MINUTES of being talked to and put into time out for the action. This is why DH thinks that he might have a LD because sometimes is seems as though he just doesnt remember what we've said, no matter how many times it is repeated to him. Also, he will express how much he really really wants to go to school and he knows that he cannot go until he chooses to poop in the potty, but he will poop in his diaper and then say 'now i want to poop in the potty'. I have explained that you have to go to the potty to poop before the poop comes out, but it seems as though he cannot remember what we've told him.


- He really gets a kick out of hasseling and bothering others. For example, he will say: " Mama, i want pancakes for breakfast" and I will fix them and then as soon as theyre sat infront of him, he will so " No, I want oatmeal now " or something else. He does this with MANY other things and has done this since he was about 2 1/2 or sooner. We have to ignore his second request after explaining why. If we didnt ignore this, he would run us all day.


- He gets many hugs and kisses and is given many activites thoughout the day, though he does have a hard time finishing what he asked to do most of the time, which can make things very difficult.


- He has a stabel and loving home life. We are all active in his life. I stay at home him so he gets plenty of attention and stimulation.


- We have a set scedule for bedtime, bathtime and those kind of things.


We really dont go to the ped because we dont vax and they like to try to talk us into it, not to mention we use natural healing methods at home and only go to the ped if its something that we cannot deal with here. But I have asked the ped about this behaviour and he thinks that is ODD and has even suggested meds, but im not sure how I feel about that. He seems so young for that, not to mention, I dont want to medicate unless i really really have to do so.


I would also like to add that DD has many issues herself such as  AS, ODD, OCD, so I have expeirenced pretty severe tantrums with her when she was about. his age, but hers NEVER reached the level that DS does and this troubles me. DD is on medication: 1mg Risperidone every 6 hours. This has done a world of good for her and has helped her greatly.


We have tried to teach DS anger calming techniques that he can use himself, such as the 'turtle' method- but he doesnt apply any of them. We have read books together about anger and how its natural and everyone gets angry, but it doesnt seem to help. I also ALWAYS make sure to validate his anger during his tantrums. I hold him close ( as close as he'll let me without slapping me ) and tell him that is OK and thats he's safe. I always let him know that I understand that he's angry and thats OK. But nothing seems to help and this week has just beed ROUGH and we're not sure what to do.


Also, he isnt given sugary drinks or candies or anything like that except for reward and even then he gets a small candy such as a Kiss. We've tried an elimination diet and it didnt seem to be anything that he was eating/drinking that was causing the problems.


Im sure that theres plenty that Ive forgotten to add here, so if you have any questions please ask me.


So what do you think? Is this normal for his age, or should we have him tested for LD or something else? Everything he does just seems so extreem. I have tried many times to figure out why he is so angry, but I cant think of anything. And it just seems to be getting worse.


Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading and for your replies!

Much love to everyone.

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#2 of 9 Old 04-03-2012, 09:30 PM
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It's really hard to say without experiencing the tantrums, but I would look at the book "The Strong Willed Child", and also look up 'oppositional defiance disorder'.


My other thought is to consider that you may be confusing intelligence and maturity. Your son may well HEAR you and even understand (on a basic level) the words you are saying but will still ACT his age. It's OK! It's very much an age of 'testing' boundaries and limits and caretakers.


My only concern would be the hitting, and since he is hitting a sibling I think I would speak with an appropriate counselor. Not because something is 'wrong' with him, but because you want to ensure that nothing becomes a habit or problem.


Anger is very challenging behavior to correct. It is frustrating, yet how can you show anger when disciplining? I get centered before addressing DS when he is behaving that way. You can't yell at someone to stop yelling, now can you? :) I'm not saying you are, just that I feel your pain. It's very tough to figure out how to handle. Try the book. Strong-willed children can be managed but there's no need to squash their bold spirits.


In fact, I think there is a book about 'Spirited' children as well. Society wouldn't function if we were all strong willed, but we need some!


(Note: Strong Willed Child book is by Dr. James Dobson, so YMMV.)


Good luck mama!

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#3 of 9 Old 04-03-2012, 09:58 PM
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 I would talk to his pedi, or another Dr that you can trust. I would NOT vaccinate him EVER, and this is coming from a vaccinating mama. But if there is a possibility of a neurological/behavior issue there is no way in haties i would ever vaccinate with the recent development of autoimmune stuff and neurological disorders. And I would do as much research on those things as possible you can explain your choices to your Dr so that you can both be on the same page for what is best for your son.


 I would see a specialist who can tell you what behavior is normal and what is not. With you DD having history if some issues in the past it would be a possibility that is what it might be. If medication is an issue for you, and not something you want to do, I'm sure there are people that could be recommended to help with therapies and come up with a plan of what is best for him.


 I can not say that any of those things are normal or abnormal, many sound familiar with DD when she was 3 and some do not, some could be "stages" and some may not. BUT if your instinct is saying something is not right, i would seek professional help. Never doubt your mothering instinct, and never let someone tell you that everything is OK, when you know its not.


Best of luck mama!

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#4 of 9 Old 04-04-2012, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies and support! The advice is great. We dont vaccinate ( not sure if i mentioned that in the post or not ) so that will never be an issue for us.


I am working with other tactics to help him with his anger- some are working a little and some havent worked at all.


I will speak with his pedi about this again ASAP. I do, in my heart, feel like theres something more i should look into. I will keep everyone updated with those developments.


EnchantedMamma- I am looking for those books tonight on amazon. Thanks for the suggestions!

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#5 of 9 Old 04-05-2012, 08:24 AM
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Thanks for the book reco - I might need to read that one too. uhoh3.gif

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#6 of 9 Old 04-06-2012, 06:02 AM
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Truthfully, most of this sounds pretty normal to me.  Young children can't well regulate their emotions.  The reason for this is that they can't hold onto to two thoughts or feelings at the same time such as "I'm mad my sister took my spot on the couch" AND "I love my sister and don't want to hurt her."  Until between the ages of 5 and 7, they usually can only experience one of these at a time.  So, they might feel really angry and hit and then moments later feel bad that they hurt their sibling.  Though that feeling of remorse won't be enough to change their behavior the next time until they are older.  I would suggest you check out Gordon Neufeld's Power to Parent Series (library since it's expensive?) or his book Hold onto Your Kids.  Here are some of his more targeted topic downloads as well that may be helpful: http://www.neufeldinstitute.com/products/audio.


Also, I will add that 3 year olds are tough and that him wanting to have some control in his life is showing by him being "defiant" around potty, eating and sleep.  These, as you know, are the three things you really can't control so attempting to do so can be damaging to him and your relationship.  What I would suggest (and it sounds like you may be starting to on the potty) is to really back off of trying to control him in these areas and see what happens.  No pressuring to use the potty or shaming when he doesn't, no telling him what foods to eat, no attempting to force sleep.


Best of luck!



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#7 of 9 Old 04-06-2012, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your suggestions, Mama! Yes we have backed off all of the way when it comes to the potty training. Hes starting to show a bit more intrest in going on his own. Still no poop yet- but atleast hes willing to try on his own now.


Thanks again.

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#8 of 9 Old 04-15-2012, 04:22 PM
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It's hard to determine whether or not a child has ODD or is simply being a toddler until they're older (over 4).  The main difference between normal defiance and ODD is that the behavior is SEVERE and pervasive (a longstanding problem) and isn't limited to certain situations or environments.  Kids with ODD or CD (conduct disorder) are usually pretty "off" and their behavior is so beyond the normal range that you generally can tell they are NOT normal...but at the same time, a lot of normal toddler behavior is so anti-social that you can't help but wonder...


Learning disabilities manifest a bit differently than behavior/mood disorders.  Most of my current students have learning disabilities.  I don't know as much about this in young children, but in teenagers, the behavior manifests in a lot of different ways, but it's usually more spacy, hyperactive, maybe a bit avoidant, but not particularly defiant or angry.  (I rarely see the last two unless the student has a mood disoder AND a learning disability--LOTS of fun, lemme tell ya).


If you still have a concern, it would be best to talk to a Childhood Psychologist or someone in Early Intervention--a regular pediatrician may not be that knowledgeable about behavioral disorders unless they have a psychiatric background as well.



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#9 of 9 Old 04-18-2012, 12:48 AM
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If you have that feeling in your gut that maybe he has some kind of LD or his behavior is really worrying you.....which it seems like it may be...tell your ped you want to be referred to a behavioral specialist to be evaluated. If there is some kind of issue the sooner he gets therapy and help the betterof an out come he has in life. Tell your ped...don't ask their opinion. I am with u on trying to avoid meds....therapy could be great. Then again it could just be normal behavior for his age an evaluation couldnt hurt right. I have a very strong willed 19 month old that I worry could have some issues in the future....sounds alot like your guy. Go with your gut! Good luck smile.gif
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