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Losing Hope With My 10 Year Old Son

by Heather
(Braintree, MA)

My 10 year old Jake is angry all the time. He swears at me, my husband, his siblings. He likes to irritate his siblings, like the other night he kept turning off the light while his brother was brushing his teeth, my other son kept asking him to stop, then became angry and yelled at him to stop.

Jake said okay and then did it again at which point my other son hit him (which I do not condone) but Jake then started swearing and freaking out and wanted his brother punished. As I got the entire story he denied any wrong doing. He will often say he didn't do things that he did like hitting his sister or breaking pencils and he'll then say nobody ever believes him. If he does admit to the act he will blame others for his actions.

He will swear at his siblings if he is watching TV and they are playing too loud. When I tell him he can't use that language he will say they make him do it, it's their fault.

He tends to throw things and break things when he is angry. Today he was angry because his bed was broken, so my husband put together a different bed frame. He refuses to sleep there, even though it's his mattress, pillow and blanket just a different frame.

He also exhibits low self-esteem and fear of being accepted. He will say he is dumb or he's not good at sports and that other kids even say it. For years we have dealt with sensory problems. He doesn't like coats, pants or socks. He's very specific about what he will wear and he hates cutting his hair or nails. He also struggles with reading and writing.

It seems as though he has gotten worse and I'm not certain if it's just evolving into something more or if it's stress and depression possibly related to losing his oldest brother…my oldest son passed away in July. He was much older than my other children, but they were close.

I know I need help, but I feel overwhelmed trying to find the right help for him near our home. We did go to a counselor after my older son’s passing but the kids didn't take to her nor did my husband or I.

I also had Jake in occupational therapy a few years ago but it really didn't seem like it helped and he started refusing to go because he felt like he was missing out on playing with his friends.

Sorry for writing so much. Any direction you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

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Dec 13, 2015
Your Son May Be Trying To Help Your Entire Family
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hi Heather. I know this might sound like a stretch, but I want you to think about this. The death of your older son in July is a major loss for your entire family. It sounds like you have not had any help with your grief, based on your comments about counseling.

A possibility to consider is that Jake is acting out as a way of 1) being a release valve for the pain and unresolved grief in the family, and 2) providing a distraction for everyone to focus on, to keep from feeling the pain of your loss. This would not be surprising, since unresolved grief often turns into anger.

Please read this web page on grief, and hopefully that will help you understand some of the stages your family needs to go through.

In case you're interested, I offer grief counseling via Skype, for clients that are outside our geographical area (Dallas, TX). You can contact me here for more information.

I would suggest that the first order of business is to address the grieving process that affects the entire family, then see how Jake is doing with his anger at that point. You could be spinning your wheels trying to deal with his anger when it's actually coming from his grief.

I hope this helps, Heather. You and your family (and Jake) will get through this. Make up your mind to find the healing you need, and you will.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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