Son’s aggression

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    • #188636

      First time poster here. We are really struggling wwith our 5 year old’s aggression. When he feels emotionally hurt, he retaliates by physically hurting the other child. It is though he gets ‘stuck’ in how unjustly someone has treated him and can be very malicious in his retaliation. Yesterday after feeling excluded by a neighbour, he got a rock and scratched her with it. I was mortified at his behaviour but also aware of how bad he felt about doing it. I also feel intense shame about my parenting and being seen as a bad Mum by others. The psychologist we see has taken leave so we can’t touch base with her about this. I don’t want to shame my son but him hurting others is not ok. Please help.

    • #188652

      You may already know all of this, but when he’s hitting out he’s essentially in fight/flight mode, so trying to explain anything (or expecting rational behaviour) will not work – he’s reacting, not thinking. Pick a time well past the incident when you are both calm, perhaps doing something side by side like riding in the car or playing with lego, and casually use some open-ended questions to invite him to reflect on what happened. (Yes/no questions do not invite introspection or creativity!) Be very alert to anything that might sound blaming or shaming – kids are so sensitive to that. For example: “What was the best part of your day today?” “What was the worst?” “What were you feeling when you scratched your friend?” “How do you feel now about what happened?” “If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?”, etc. Be empathetic with him – he no doubt feels bad about losing control. You can have compassion for the part of him that gets so mad it wants to attack others, while helping him think of things he can do instead when he gets frustrated or angry. Having a rehearsed response and planning ahead is so helpful. Teach him about “flipping his lid” (Dr Dan Siegel) so he has language for it. Good luck!

    • #188820
      Penny Williams

      His emotional communication and regulation skills are likely delayed. In the absence of options, there’s only one response to anger, a primal one. Work with him on building social and emotional skills. You can use programs like The Incredible 5-Point Scale and The Zones of Regulation to help with this. I like social stories a lot for younger kids too.

      How to Nurture Social Emotional Development in Isolation

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach, Podcaster & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #188849

      I hope he will be well soon.

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