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Doing Life Together

child-1337307_1920Parent Question: Our son does get angry, but don’t all kids? He was suspended from school and we don’t want to overreact or minimize problems. He says he hates school and doesn’t want to be told what to do. The teachers have complained about his anger and we have trouble getting him to follow directions at home. How do we decide if our child is just being a boy or has a more serious problem?

Sometimes, it is hard to make the distinction between “normal” temper tantrums, emotional upsets and behavior problems.

In terms of what you are describing, you would want to look for these things:

  1. Does he blame others for his behavior?
  2. Is he easily annoyed?
  3. Is he irritable and moody, often angry and resentful?
  4. Does he argue with you, not follow instructions and act in spiteful ways more than most children?

If so, you may be looking at a child who would fit the diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. These kids have trouble regulating their emotions, resist traditional parenting practices and have poor peer relationships. You see it not only in the home, but also at school.

To begin to turn things around, build a positive time with your son for at least 15 minutes every day. It is easy to give all your attention to the negative behavior. So be intentional about creating positive moments and reinforcing his appropriate behavior.

Find a child mental health therapist who can evaluate your son and provide family help. There are certain types of therapies that can really help him and your family have a more peaceful home and do better at school. Do this as soon as possible in order to prevent more problems later. The sooner he gets treatment, the better the prognosis.

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