What's wrong with my 3 year old??? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 09-19-2012, 05:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 3 year old is just like any other 3 year old except he has these extreme outbursts of anger. They are not like normal temper tantrums. They start out of the blue and they escalate very quickly. He starts screaming, then throwing things and breaking things. He then progresses to hitting, punching, kicking and even trying to stab and hit  people with whatever objects he can find. I usually have to resort to restraining him so he doesn't hurt himself or other people. It breaks my heart to do that. They stop just as fast as they start. He carries on like nothing happened.

 

I have tried calming him down, getting down to his level, sitting him in his room to calm down, ignoring the behavior....but none of it works (those things work when he's having a tantrum).

 

I am at a loss. They seem to be happening more frequently...Any suggestions would be appreciated.


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#2 of 16 Old 09-19-2012, 06:01 PM
 
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Tantrum behaviour can look like that for some three year olds. What is happening right before this outburst begins? Is he frustrated, bored, tired, hurt? How is this different from what you see during more typical tantrums? Does he get triggered by the same things?

 

I wonder if you might get some more helpful replies to this in the Gentle Discipline forum than here in the Mental Health forum. I am going to move your thread there but leave a link from this forum so readers in both can find your post.

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#3 of 16 Old 09-19-2012, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What is happening right before this outburst begins? Nothing...he can be quiet and content coloring his books or playing with playdoh and then just freak out. Sometimes his brother will be walking by and out of no where, 3 yr old tries to stab him with whatever object is in his hand.

Is he frustrated, bored, tired, hurt? I don't think so.

How is this different from what you see during more typical tantrums? Normal tantrums are not  violent and they don't last as long. He usually throws himself to the ground and cries, maybe kicks his feet a little bit. They last about 5 - 10 minutes. These othere last an average of 20 minutes but seem to be lasting longer each time. They are also getting more violent.

Does he get triggered by the same things? I am not sure what the trigger is. They happen everywhere. We were at the grocery store last week and he was helping me shop. He was holding my list and marking things off and marking things off. Out of the blue, he stabbed my hand with the pen and started screaming and trying to pull things off the shelf. He pushed over a stack of cd's and was growling like a bear. He was kicking and hitting. Then he just stopped and was fine. It was like nothing happened.

 

I am afraid that if I don't figure out what is wrong and get this under control now, that he will actually hurt someone or himself. I am at a loss and I really don't know what to do.


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#4 of 16 Old 09-19-2012, 08:10 PM
 
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I don't have any ideas or suggestions except that you might want to make an appointment with a developmental pediatrician to try to get to the root of what's going on.


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#5 of 16 Old 09-20-2012, 07:39 AM
 
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You may want to check out the book, The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It might also be a good idea to check into food allergies. Has anything changed recently for him?


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#6 of 16 Old 09-21-2012, 07:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I had a new baby a month ago but this has been going on before that. It has just gotten worse.


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#7 of 16 Old 09-23-2012, 08:54 PM
 
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You might want to consider consulting with a neurologist.  I have a friend whose daughter was having seizures, which caused similar behaviors in her.
 


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#8 of 16 Old 09-23-2012, 09:42 PM
 
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My ds1 had (& continues to have) what I would describe as extremely violent and dangerous and inexplicable rages at the age of 3. Started around 18mos. He's 10 and still rages. He has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (NOS) and supposedly never managed to learn healthy ways of managing his intense emotions because his father was/is abusive. So, I'm wondering if maybe his dad also has raging tantrums from time to time...? Does your ds do these outbursts primarily for you and not his dad?

Ultimately, as a mom of a very troubled 10yo boy whose problems were apparent early on, seek out help now. Don't wait for it to go on and on and get worse.
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#9 of 16 Old 09-24-2012, 05:22 PM
 
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HUGS to you, I am dealing with something similar with my DS... the one difference is that he usually doesn't even seem angry during his outburts, just aggressive/destructive/out-of-control. I have a lot of other concerns so I am going to take him to a child therapist. It is really frustrating that it just comes out of the blue with no apparent cause or trigger. Nothing I do seems to help, and I too have had to restrain him to keep him from hurting someone or destroying the house, it is heart-breaking (and not to mention exhausting!) I don't know how much aggression & destruction is normal for a 3-year-old but the feedback I've gotten from others is that what my DS is doing is way beyond typical... and it's an unmanageable problem that is interfering with our lives and our happiness, so I'm reaching out for help.

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#10 of 16 Old 09-25-2012, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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His father does have an anger disorder so I have been seriously thinking that is what it is. His dad is on medication that control it and has been for a long time. He was diagnosed with Intermittant explosive anger disorder when he was just a boy. I have seen him without his medications and it is not pretty, but the kids have never seen their father that way. He does it mainly with me, sometimes at school...but usually with me. He just seems so angry.

 

I spoke with DS teacher and she is getting in contact with the behavioralist that visits the classroom from time to time for me.


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#11 of 16 Old 09-25-2012, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Crunchy....I knows EXACTLY how you are feeling. Sometime is seems as if there is no anger there at all.

 

A few days ago, he was sitting in the living room and was coloring. He started to draw on my couch so I told him :we don't draw on furniture, only color books" He freaked out and started screaming, throwing his markers and ripping apart his book. I put him in his room to calm down. I hear him in there growling and then he started crying"mommy, mommy". I went to see if he was calm and his nose was bleeding. He said that the monster did it. It was like he didn't remember what he had just did. He was so upset and crying and scared.


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#12 of 16 Old 09-26-2012, 12:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PeacefulSeams View Post

Crunchy....I knows EXACTLY how you are feeling. Sometime is seems as if there is no anger there at all.

A few days ago, he was sitting in the living room and was coloring. He started to draw on my couch so I told him :we don't draw on furniture, only color books" He freaked out and started screaming, throwing his markers and ripping apart his book. I put him in his room to calm down. I hear him in there growling and then he started crying"mommy, mommy". I went to see if he was calm and his nose was bleeding. He said that the monster did it. It was like he didn't remember what he had just did. He was so upset and crying and scared.

Oh mama. That sounds so difficult and scary but so familiar. I'm glad you have sought out help. One big lesson I learned the hard way is - don't just accept what one professional/counselor/specialist says. If you feel unsure about the level or quality care or understanding about the problem, don't stop seeking help; you're not the one who is misunderstanding or irrelevantly reacting. Good luck!
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#13 of 16 Old 12-27-2012, 08:08 PM
 
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I 2nd the possibility of seizures. You definitely want to rule out that if you can, before you go on to explore other possibilities. You need to describe the store episode to the dr. This does not sound like a temper tantrum at all.


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#14 of 16 Old 12-28-2012, 06:40 AM
 
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PeacefulSeams, have you gotten any answers since you posted this? We are still dealing with this with DS, though his outbursts have improved a bit (partly due to therapy, partly because I've been avoiding taking him out much -- which he loves but overstimulates him, and partly because he's been sick & hasn't had the energy to destroy everything!) In fact, we've even been able to start putting a few toys back into his playroom, which for a few months became a safe room & we had to keep it completely empty. I'm curious to see whether the improvement continues once he's feeling better. He is still having about 1 outburst a day, though often less intense. We had him evaluated by a neuro center but we're still awaiting the results. I do still wonder about seizures too, although the informal research I've done suggests that is unlikely, and he had an EEG last year for unrelated reasons & it didn't pick up any seizure activity.

Anyway, I hope you've gotten some answers over the past few months, or at least that things have improved some! hug.gif

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#15 of 16 Old 02-03-2013, 11:43 PM
 
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Its best not to send a violent child into a room alone to calm down, unless you want a torn apart room or a hurt child. I know its second nature, and I still find myself doing it sometimes but certain kids really need our help or at least supervision during that time and he clearly does after the bloody nose incident. Supervision during his tantrum will also help you to document exactly what is happening for your doctor.

 

If his biological father has intermittent explosive disorder, that could be a key factor in determining what is happening with your son. I am not too familiar with the specifics of that disorder but it certainly seems like an apt description of what your son is doing - intermittently exploding bouts of anger and violence. These things are genetic. It doesn't matter if he never sees his father do it (tho that is certainly is a good thing!) I am constantly amazed how much my sons respond to things in the exact same way my XH would, despite my incredible attempts to shield them from it and the fact that I have been their primary care giver for 99% of their waking hours. If they copy anyone it should be me, but no. Spitting image of bio-dad anger-wise.

 

I have a DS who is now nearly 17 and he started around age 3 having explosive tantrums. They were "provoked" but by the most benign things, usually a simple change in activity, or me doing something he didn't understand, like parking in the "wrong spot" at the gas station (there was a right one?!), etc.  We went through the ringer with our kid trying to figure him out. At 4 the developmental ped said Anxiety and OCD, a few years later the child psychiatrist said it was Bipolar NOS and in his early teens a whole team evaluated him through a university mental health outpatient program and he was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and ADHD. I think he prob would have been placed on the spectrum today at his first eval at 4, but this was 13 years ago and it was really not too common of a dx and not well understood at the time, only having been in the DSM-V for a few years. Many times with Aspergers the first signs are random tantrums - these kids usually don't have the typical autism signs - but many of the root causes are the same. Trouble with transitions, rigid behaviors, extreme difficulty tolerating frustration. My DS was extremely social and talked up a storm and never rocked or flapped or lined up cars a day in his life. But he's definitely on the spectrum. Kids with ADHD have really poor impulse control and that can lead to violence as well. Most kids with these kinds of diagnosis and behaviors have more than one thing going on. 

 

My son also had lots of food allergies - true anaphylaxis reaction to eggs, nuts, and peanuts. In hindsight, I think he struggled with brain allergies too. By the time I wanted to try elimination diets with him he was too old to comply, but I think it would have helped. My first course of action would have been to remove dairy and gluten, and all artificial colors, flavors, preservatives. I am currently following that diet with my 11 year old and he's improving rapidly. Like he's waking out of a fog. If I could go back, that is one thing I would change for my oldest.

 

I hope something I have shared has helped. Please update when you can. ((hugs))


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#16 of 16 Old 02-06-2013, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I took him to a therapist who did a quick consultation and DXed him with intermittant explosive disorder....but I think it is based on the fact that his father has it. My DS has had febrile seizures as a baby so I am not sure if that would affect him now. I do believe that there is another reason he is the way he is. I was doing research and this disorder usually doesn't show until late childhood so I am not really sure. I think I want to find a child psych and have a real evaluation done.


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