Punching bag for angry child - good idea or bad??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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DS, who is 5.5 years old, has a lot of out of control, angry fits lately which are not warranted. He hits, kicks, throws things, swears, stomps, tells us he hates us, slams doors...
We are having a hard time dealing with these and we are wondering if a punching bag to take his anger out on instead of taking it out on us would be a good idea or a bad idea. We want him to learn that hitting people is not ok, but it is ok get angry sometimes as long as he deals with his anger in a non-hurtful way. My husband is worried that the punching bag will only teach that hitting is ok, which is obviously the opposite of what we want him to learn.

What do you think???
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#2 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 12:51 PM
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I don't know what the experts say, but I had a punching bag as a kid and it was great. I definitely got the difference between that and hitting a person.

Rachel, mom to Eliana (age 3)
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#3 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 01:55 PM
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Make sure you give him words that go with the anger and frustration.

I don't believe a punching bag is inheritable evil, but I do think it could be an easy way for a person to express or identify emotions.

Make sure you validate his feelings and find multiple ways - not just hitting a bag to express his anger (or get it out).
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#4 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 02:15 PM
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Okay, it may be great for your situation but the research shows that engaging in aggressive behaviors when angry leads to more aggressive and angry behaviors. Once the association is formed between feeling angry and hitting it can be a hard habit to break. Think classical conditioning.

Research does suggest that engaging in physical activity as a means to channel anger is good but things like running, shooting hoops, doing sit ups, push ups, essentially non-aggressive but physical activities.

Daily heavy bag punching when *not* angry could help channel some of the physical needs too but *I* wouldn't feel comfortable suggesting it as a way to deal with immediate anger in a child.

For me, when I have been in situations with angry kids who haven't yet learned to ride their emotions I try to teach them these ways by saying, "Hey, when I'm angry I go for a run. Want to run around the block with me right now?" or "You look like you might feel angry. Let's do sit ups until you feel calmer (or want to talk it out depending)." Each activity is then followed (once the child is calm) by a talk out of what happened.

I wish you the best helping your little guy learn that anger is okay and how to use it responsibly.


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#5 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 02:46 PM
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Jenne, that's a great explanation of the difference between the kinds of physical release.


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#6 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 03:36 PM
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Jenne's point is a really good one.

That said, my son is not characteristically an angry child, but when he had his appendix out he was very angry - and a punching bag did help quite a bit.

I've used one myself and I don't think it led to more aggression. I think it really depends on the child/person and context.

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#7 of 14 Old 10-22-2010, 11:43 AM
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I got ds a boppity bag that has sand at the bottom,and you blow up the top part. I always told him to go hit that around when he got mad.I made a mistake though in getting a dino one.He says he doesn't like to hit his dino! I do think it is a good option. Now he just goes in his room if he gets frustrated.
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#8 of 14 Old 08-31-2013, 10:53 AM
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I am in the same boat -- but I feel that if they know this is the only thing they can hit  instead of humans or animals  you are going them their release with a boundary.

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#9 of 14 Old 08-31-2013, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by spudmom1 View Post

I am in the same boat -- but I feel that if they know this is the only thing they can hit  instead of humans or animals  you are going them their release with a boundary.

Welcome to Mothering, spudmom1 !!!

I think a punching bag might be a good choice for a physical child who needs some kind of physical release when they get angry. Everyone is different and not everyone can calm down by sitting still in a room alone. Some kids need some energy released.
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#10 of 14 Old 09-01-2013, 04:33 AM
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I dunno... I got my eldest a punching/kick bag and encouraged him to use it when angry - hitting it allowed him an acceptable way to get it out. No different than going and hitting a pillow, IMO. Since he was already taking karate, the bag was a logical extension of his training anyway. He has never raised a hand in anger towards anyone. In fact, he's the gentlest soul I know.


Didn't work for my youngest - she went running or practiced her shots. Or channeled her anger into her game. By being an aggressive player. (and by aggressive I don't mean a dirty player who intentionally tries to hurt an opponent or playing dirty, but one who isn't afraid to go after the ball.) Different methods for different personalities. 

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#11 of 14 Old 04-17-2015, 05:01 AM
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Good Idea!

Put your child in Karate and their instructor can teach them self control and discipline. Unless your child becomes the next Darth Vader, then there's much to regret.
Besides, the child needs to be active both physically and mentally. Choose activity classes that interest your child and help him/her focus to perfect their skill, thus unleashing positive energy. From Art to Martial Arts, the choices are almost endless
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#12 of 14 Old 04-17-2015, 04:40 PM
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He already has an association between feeling angry and hitting. A punching bag isn't to create one, because it's already there.

My thought is to introduce a couple of options for expressing angry feelings and see what he takes to. If the punching bag works as a release for him, then it is a step in the right direction. Everyone who has dealt with a child with serious angry/aggression problems will get that, and the people who are like, "oh, no, he is hitting something" really haven't been there.

Another option would be a mini trampoline. (if your weather/living situation isn't conducive to going out and shooting hoops or going for a run around the block, consider something that you can have available at all times, even after dark or when it is raining).

When you are dealing with a serious behavior problem, it helps to consider the function of the behavior (in this case, it is most likely a physical release) and then find a more acceptable way to meet that same function. And then reward the child for using the more appropriate option. Transitioning to something that is similar to what the child is doing *may* be easier than transitioning to something that is completely different.

And it is OK to hit a punching bag. That's what they are for. It's also OK to jump up and down on a trampoline. But you can't punch the cat, nor can you jump up and down on the cat. It's really the same idea.

Also, even if he starts to spin out of control, if you can then get him to transition to the new method (whatever you decide on), he should be praised and rewarded for transitioning to the new thing, rather than focusing on the fact that he didn't start there. The first step is just a small measure of self control. Once he gets that first small step, growing it bit by bit can come gradually.

but having said all that, I would carefully consider everything going on in his life and try to figure out if something is going on that is causing him to be angry. What is his day like? Does he have frustrations in his life? I was in a first grade class today when they were taking a reading test and it was HARD. I could imagine a lot of the kids being a mess at the end of the day. Does he have a day care provider? What's that like? Anything different going on at home? Is it possible that he has trouble processing sensory information? One of my kids does, and it sometimes looked like tantrums. Getting to the root of the problem *may* be a more long term solution.

You might check into "non-violent communication." I learned stuff through it that helped me let my kids know that I really heard them and really understood where they were coming from.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#13 of 14 Old 04-17-2015, 09:57 PM
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I asked the child Psychologist the same question regarding my son. His advice was that a punching bag is a great idea ONLY if the child is already hitting. The goal is to begin teaching the child the correct way to handle angry and frustrating emotions and phase the bag out slowly as the child is able to handle things better.

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#14 of 14 Old 04-17-2015, 10:50 PM
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Easily Frustrated

I think with people who are easily frustrated/angry/irritated easily getting them out of their head and moving their body is actually a very necessary and tangible way to learn about emotions and how they are just parts of our bodies like thoughts, but don't need to "control" us. There is no way a child who is like this will be able to just use language, many adults freak out and act immature, bully, act out, etc.

I suggest a previous brought up topic of putting him in some sort of martial art activity where he will learn to focus his mind and body at the same time which will help him to control his thoughts and emotions - teach discipline, focus, and attention.

If it seems he is angry a lot he not be getting enough physical activity during the day, he may also be feeling a lack of autonomy and control in his life, he may also just be really bored and need to be challenged in multiple ways that sometimes school fails to do.

Try to give him more choices in life, and if possible, more time to run around and be free, then try to put him in some martial art activity or sports. It may take a while to adjust his habits, but eventually it should be beneficial. It is important to discuss emotions at a time when he is not upset.

If those don't work you could try to find someone with additional suggestions, some resources to offer more ideas, it could also be food. Some children are really sensitive to certain dyes, preservatives, or additives, which could be affect him.

The short of it - get the punching bag and use it for right now for a temporary fix. But try the other options, it may take a few months. But there should be improvements.
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