My Child says he wants to die - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 04-29-2008, 12:08 AM - Thread Starter
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My 6 year old boy is very sensitive and if he gets upset or embarassed sometimes he has an out of control tantrum. He hits and wants to throw things--he wants to be destructive. Lately, he says he wants to die and that he's a bad person. Then, after it's over, he is very calm and back to his normal, sweet self...most of the time he behaves very well--never a complaint from school and the only issues we really have with him are his not listening or responding to us when we ask him to do something. My dh thinks he's manipulating us when he has these outbreaks...I am very troubled by them, especially recently. My questions are: is this normal behavior for a six year old and how do I (we) handle it without making it worse?

thanks for your help on this!
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#2 of 12 Old 04-29-2008, 12:15 AM
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well i can't comment on normal but perhaps there is context to comments like this.
is there a television in the house where he' s seen older programming and the like that he is modelling?
perhaps he's picking up on expressions in language and using them dramatically but too appropriately?
perhaps he's understood this phrase either gives him attention, or makes the grownups listen to what he is saying.
i don't know the answer, but i know when my son was making these type of statements at school they were often about trying to save face or being embarassed.
we had to teach him to verbalize his frustration and needs in the moment inorder to help him feel better.
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#3 of 12 Old 04-29-2008, 12:23 AM
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I am not an expert in this (although I'll throw it out there that I'm an MSW) but it is NOT normal for a 6 year old to want to die and I would be taking this situation VERY seriously. I would recommend having a mental health evaluation or even start by finding a self diagnostic tool online just to see how many depressive behaviors he may be exhibiting. It sounds like his sensitive nature is somewhat overwhelming for him and perhaps he would benefit from some "treatment"/skills learning that would help him figure out how to appropriately deal with his feelings and feel more in control of himself. I can't give much advice other than to say please take this seriously and help him get to a place where death is not a consideration. He is feeling very helpless and bad right now and really needs help. If you can, try to just deal with the mental health issue right now and worry about the GD once you are getting some help and he has more of his faculties available to him. Good luck with everything.

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#4 of 12 Old 04-29-2008, 01:15 AM
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I'd also have a mental health eval done on him just to make sure. Also, talking about what exactly he means by wanting to be dead and why he thinks that would be better. I'd really avoid trying to get him to stop saying that in case he is reaching out for help and then just doesn't tell you in the future.
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#5 of 12 Old 04-29-2008, 10:44 AM
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It's impossible for someone online to make the distinction between a harmless phase or a serious underlying issue for your own specific child. Only you can make that call.

If you are just asking whether it's possible for a child to say things like this without there actually being an underlying "problem", then my opinion is "yes, absolutely". Again this is just my personal opinion, but unless my child were otherwise acting unusual (eating or sleeping badly, not wanting to play etc.) then the use of "powerful words" during an angry outburst wouldn't alarm me. Children experiment with powerful phrases at all stages of their development. It isn't just at age 3 or 4 that kids try out "shocking" statements. Children of all ages struggle to manage strong emotions. "I want to die" has fantastic shock value and kids from preschool to teens are apt to use it when they are emotional. I don't think this is "manipulation" so much as experimentation. I would focus on helping my child learn to manage strong emotions without resorting to shocking or dramatic statements. I would want them to learn that such statements are counter productive to getting their needs met, since they tend to confuse and upset others, and distract totally from the real underlying emotions (frustration, anger, etc.). Role playing, trying out different statements to use instead, talking about death and what it really means to say "I want to die" etc. I would engage in lots of dialogue, and then following up with encouragment to use more accurate words to express strong/angry emotions.

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#6 of 12 Old 04-29-2008, 10:54 AM
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Kids can have very strong emotions and say things that can sound shocking to us, but I'd go to a mental health professional too to make sure it's within the realm of normal. If he does have a problem with his emotions, how great that he'd be able to start having treatment so early because you noticed this.
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#7 of 12 Old 05-08-2008, 06:47 AM
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I agree with others who have said to get him checked out by a professional. My kid's father remembers saying this to his parents once when he was little and they didn't take him seriously. He remembers that he was serious, and he eventually stopped trying to express things to his parents. To this day, he has trouble with depression.

Just remember that, if he does have problems, it isn't a reflection on you as a parent.

It must be so hard to hear those words from your child.

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#8 of 12 Old 05-08-2008, 03:58 PM
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I would look into play therapy for him. That helped my DD a lot when she was acting depressed and having huge meltdowns about things all the time.
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#9 of 12 Old 05-08-2008, 05:15 PM
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FWIW, My brother said similar things at that age. My mom took him to a therapist who told her that he was at the age where they discover death and he is simply exploring the concepts. Obviously this may or may not be the case with your child, just my :
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#10 of 12 Old 05-08-2008, 05:35 PM
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selectionsbysc, I am sorry this is happening to your son. It can be very scary. My son is 8 years old & we are dealing w/ the same thing. He is doing the same things as your son. He was around 6-7 years old when we heard him say he wanted to die.

He has now upped the behaviors by now trying to kill himself. Luckly its been little attempts like crawl at the end of the sleeping bag or put a pillow over his head. He is very sensitive & once he calms down he is fine. But one day this little boy of mine will be 16-17 years old & will have more strength and possibley a car to hurt himself.

He is now in therapy. I question too if this was normal, this talk of wanted to die, but I stop questioning when his brother came in to tell us "he's trying to kill himself again" Like it was no big deal.

Honestly, get him into therapy NOW. Yes, it could be nothing. If its nothing....great! But what if it is something. You want to help him as soon as possible. My son talked death for about a year before he escalated. I regret not taking him in sooner.

Oh, my son is doing well. He has only had 4 sessions & I can see improvement. He also LOVES therapy & his Dr. He counts down the days to go see her. So therapy is not this big scary thing.

Good luck, I know it sucks. Kids do talk death, some more then others. Just keep an eye on him & get an Drs. opinion. It will make you feel better!
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#11 of 12 Old 05-09-2008, 01:26 AM
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I can see it from two perspectives: part of me would take it VERY seriously and would consider getting an evaluation from a professional, but the other part of me also thinks this is just phase and might go away. But talk, talk, talk about it. Don't just ignore it as "something kids say" ! It's not normal, imo.

DS went through a period where he'd say stuff like that (at about age 9, I think, he's 10 now & I haven't heard it lately). It freaked me out, mainly because I'm bipolar & DS reminds me of myself in a lot of ways. I absolutely took it seriously. "Normal" people don't wish they were dead, we're biologically attached to our own well-being, yk?

But, after talking to DS each and every time he said that, I realized that he's not suicidal. He just has very strong emotions and was using "I wish I were dead" as a phrase that came close to the despair or embarrassment he was feeling. We worked on using more descriptive language and I still check in with him A LOT, especially now that he's on ADHD meds. I think it's passed. Keeping the dialogue open helped us deal with it head-on, though.

to you guys. That's a scary thing to hear form your kiddo!
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#12 of 12 Old 05-09-2008, 08:48 AM
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I have a very dramatic son as well.

Mine has done this dramatic thing when he has done something wrong where he will throw himself on the floor and say, "I need to be punished"

That pushed all of my buttons and totally made me want to cry ... we've never punished! I'm pretty sure he got it from pre-school, but still.

So the first time it happened I jumped in and told him how we don't beleive in punishments, he's never been punished and never will. I know he could tell it rattled me, and guess what? It's become his go-to dramatic performance when I've had to ask him to stop doing something.

So while I don't have specific advise for you .. I do know that in our case, making a big deal about the outburst made my son realize the control those words had over me .. and now he's using that control. I really think my initial reaction made it worse. Now I make light when he does it and laugh, "We never punish you, silly!" and move on. He hasn't done it in a while.

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