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Out Of Control Boy

by Ms. E
(Montgomery, AL)

I have a 7 year old boy. He does not like to be told what to do by other adults. At school, his teacher tells me that in the mornings he walks into class with a mean hateful look on his face. He will try to hit and pick at the other kids. When she gets at him, he will start crying and yelling in the class. If she tells him that she will call his mom, he will go into a rage of crying, yelling and kicking on the floor.

In the after school program, he was asked to do his homework and he did not want to. He was instructed again to go and do his homework, and he started crying, telling the after school worker to leave him alone. When she stated that she was going to call his mom, he went into a rage of crying, yelling, kicking on the floor and saying do not call my mom. He then called one of the other workers a bad name and went into a corner and pushed down a speaker, breaking it.


This child has been having these problems since he started school 3 years ago. He is presently on ADHD medication, but nothing seems to work. Can you please give me some ideas on what to do with an out of control child?

A fed up mother.




Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Ms. E. Thank you for writing your story on this site. I will try to help you with your son, and I'll ask other mothers to help also.

First of all, I want you to read this page on child anger management. As his mother, you have more power to help him than anyone else. Whether you see it or not, he is a good boy. Children act the way he's acting for a reason. On the pages I referenced above, you will find various methods of disciplining angry children that do not involve hitting them or punishing them physically in any way. If he is being hit or punished physically, that will only make the problem worse.

He needs firm guidance, and he needs to be treated with respect. It is possible to be calm, loving and firm with a child all at the same time. You also need to be able to control your own anger--assess your own anger with these anger management worksheets to see where you are in your own anger management.

The best gift you can give your son is a healthy, loving mom. You also need to believe in him, and believe that he is a good child, in need of some loving guidance and help.

He needs one-on-one loving, kind attention from an adult. Ideally, his father, uncle, big brother or another older male. Also some pure fun time with you would be good. If the only message he gets from adults is "stop that, don't do that, etc." he will decide he must be bad, and he'll act bad. He needs to get the message that he is good, not once, but over and over.

When you talk to his teacher, talk about him in positive ways, and encourage her to believe in him. Discuss his strengths and good qualities, and tell him what those are. Focus on what is good and right about him. Keep a chart of good behavior on the wall at home, and give him rewards for doing the right things. Ask his teacher to do the same thing at school. Praise and positive rewards work much better than punishment.

Never, ever give up on him. If you give up on him, he'll give up on himself. You will become a better person yourself by learning how to love and care for your son.

I wish you all the best in your efforts to be a good mother,

Dr. DeFoore

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Apr 15, 2009
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Things To Consider
by: Denbie

It sounds like your little guy has a lot going on. As a parent of 3 boys and an educator for many years, I am aware of the complexities that add to problems for children. You didn't say how your child is at home. If you give in to his every whim then that might be part of the problem he has with other authority figures. That is only one thing to consider.

A child with ADHD has so much to deal with. I hope you have a good physician to work with who monitors your child's progress on medication and who has completed a good physical exam for him. Your son's teachers can complete checklists that will give the doctor insight into what is going on with his behavior in school- a structured setting which requires much focused attention, limited movement and minimum choice or control by the student.

Medication can help but there are other things that need to be addressed. With a frown on his face when he gets to school, it makes me ask what is going on. If everything is pretty much OK at home then I'd start investigating what is going on at school. So often kids with ADHD develop gaps in their learning because their attention wanes and they can miss out on important information.

Discuss with his teacher any concerns she has academically and find out if he is progressing on grade level in reading, writing and math. Acting out behavior can and usually does mask something else. So often in school it is because the student is struggling with learning in some way and the frustration they experience day in and out becomes more than they can bare. They'd rather act out and be "bad" than appear "dumb" or stupid.

It takes a good amount of intelligence to figure this one out and it is important that the child learns early on what he is good at, what he struggles with and that we are all "smart" in some ways and less so in others. If the difficulty with authority figures carries over into other places where there are no academic demands - team sports, church activities, etc then there are more concerns to consider.

He needs to be able to take direction from others or school and life will be a long road for you both. Have a talk with the school counselor. Also meet with your child's Principal or Assistant Principal. These people probably know your child well and can share insights with you. Become a partner with that person in helping your child to be happier, healthier and more successful in his life.

Discuss classroom placement for your child next year and insist on a positive, master teacher type person that will work with your son and bring out the best in him. Please keep trying to find what works for you both. There is much help to be had. It takes time to reach out and it takes effort to change the patterns that are not currently working. It will all be worth the effort that you put into it. You have my fondest hopes for success.

Apr 14, 2009
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Kindness and positive reinforcement
by: Anonymous

Hello,

I read about your 7 year old son. I have a 7 year old son too, and my heart warmed to you and your child on reading your story.
Your child needs constant positive reinforcement. He needs nurturing and one on one help to build his self-esteem. My son also has anxiety issues and gets exasperated when I deal with him in a confrontational manner and immediately breaks down, cries and yells. he tells me to stop it. I think they just need someone to hug them, kindly just listen to them, and walk them through their situation.

With ADHD or other similar issues, children find it difficult to always listen. They need repeated reminders - teachers need to work with them with positive rewards for good behaviour and they really need a role model - somebody they look up to who loves them - I agree a dad, an uncle, grandfather etc. Sometimes, boys, as in my case, are comfortable with their dads - so they listen to them better. If I follow the dad's approach, I have better success with my son too.

Also, I think good routines, and healthy diets play a big role in making our children happier. At times, anger surfaces when our children are exhausted and hungry.

Yes, please don't lose heart or be fed up. If you believe in yourself, your son, and have good support, you can work it out.

Good luck to you. Hope everything gets better.

-Sue

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