The Angry, Aggressive Six Year Old

I have written before about the really active, can-be-aggressive small child in several back posts of varying nature, but I had a few thoughts I wanted to share today. ( Please be sure to note I am dealing here with fiery temperaments, not especially with children dealing with sensory or developmental issues affecting behavior).

If you are struggling with a six year old who still seems rather “stuck” in immature behavior that involves physicality, I want to encourage you tonight.  It doesn’t seem as if people really talk about this at all in parenting resources; it seems it is well- assumed that tantrums or any physical response to a limit is over by age three.

From what I have seen, six year olds can definitely still have a hard time controlling their hands, their emotions, their reactions, their physical responses and such.  To those of us involved in Waldorf Education, this seems like of course!  Has anyone ever read the book “Ramona The Brave” by Beverly Cleary?  Here is a passage about fiery Ramona, six years old and in first grade at school, when she becomes completely angry at a classmate (for those of you who have not read this book it is a paper owl and Susan had copied what Ramona had done to make hers, which is why Ramona is angry in this chapter):

‘”Ramona slid out of her seat.  Her chest felt tighter.  Her head told her to keep her hands to herself, but her hands did not obey.  They seized Susan’s owl.  They crushed the owl with a sound of crackling paper.

Susan gasped. Ramona twisted the owl as hard as she could until it looked like nothing but an old paper bag scribbled with crayon.  Without meaning to, Ramona had done a terrible thing.

“Mrs. Griggs!” cried Susan.  “Ramona scrunched my owl!”

“Tattletale.”  Ramona threw the twisted bag on the floor, and as Mrs. Griggs approached to see what had happened, she dodged past her teacher, out the door and down the hall, running as fast as she could, even though running through the halls was forbidden….She ran as if she were pursued by Susan, Mrs. Griggs, the principal, all of Room One, the whole school. She ran from her conscience and from God, who, as they said in Sunday School, was everywhere.  She ran as if Something was coming to get her.”

(When Ramona eventually asks her parents not to make her return to Room One after several more things, her father tells her she must return and to buck up and show her parents her spunk, which actually makes Ramona feel better and gives her determination to do better because her “spunkiness” has been recognized and there is recognition she can use that quality for good).

Anger is an acceptable emotion. But being aggressive is not acceptable.

And the piece that is frequently lacking for parents is how to handle all of this. I am just a mother, and I can only tell you what other mothers have told me.

I do think there could be two separate issues here – one is dealing with the Ramonas of the world – fiery, hot, remorseful when it is all over (or perhaps a mix of remorseful but still a bit angry or feeling like they needed to do something in the name of justice and fairness, LOL) and those children who have truly deeper issues.  Therefore,   I caution you to look carefully at your own child, and determine things with your health care team if your child is on the spectrum of developmental delay in some regard, leading to explosive or difficult behavior.  In these cases, I am not certain what I have to say here will be helpful as I am not a behavioral therapist or a psychologist.

If this is a child who has a true sense of disrespect for his or her parents and is consistently physically lashing out to the parents or other adults by biting, hitting or such at the age of six, I do feel outside counseling help may be warranted.  It may not be that this is not “fixable”, but it may need extra help and the parents may need new help setting new patterns into play.  I would  wonder all sorts of things about that child, about the home life,  that only someone in real life could investigate, evaluate and help with… This is not something to be figured out over email, over a blog, a forum, or a message board.  This is something that a trained professional needs to be involved with for the behavior to change.  And I think it is important to seek that help, because whilst human beings certainly always have the potential to change, what many parents have told me is that the patterns that are established when children are little still can be a “default mechanism” during times of stress as the child grows.  So, I think seeking out someone who is respected, who is trusted and someone whom you can meet in person is important!

But, for those of us truly living with the simply fiery ones who get completely upset, and kick something (and maybe break it!) or who still  throw themselves on the floor, I think there is hope.  What I have seen and heard mothers say that has worked well are several things:

The most controversial one that parents talk about is holding their tantruming child, or even laying their body across a child who needs that gentle physical help to come back to themselves.  Some may think five and six year olds may be too old for this, but I don’t necessarily think so .  I think this one can be helpful for some children to come back  but also insanely tricky because the parent really has to be calm and gentle and be able to say calmly that they are there to help the child calm down – and be able to do this with a child who perhaps is hitting at them or flailing around and still remain as calm as a stone.  And, the child must be responsive to something like that and not have it escalate their behavior even more.    No small order.  So that one may not work for everyone.

So, in the moment is hard. Some children  at age six can respond to humor or distraction, or a bit of flailing on the floor in another space where they are safe but not on top of people for a few minutes before a parent can step in and either hold them or try to sweep up in a matter of fact manner into a snack, a story or something else.

I personally feel very strong physically and emotionally comfortable about trying any of the above.   At six or so, the child should be much easier to calm than previously.  Sometimes at that age, a child will be happy to have a good ole’ fit on their own in their own room, their own space, under a table.  I urge parents who are facing this to also think of a safe place where younger siblings could go if they are home alone dealing with this and have younger ones about.

If the child breaks something, then I feel he or she must fix it, pay for it, help Mom or Dad fix it, or  not receive something they would otherwise get if they do not get an allowance to help pay for it.  If the child hurts someone, I think they need to use their hands to do something nice for that someone, and also for a six and a half year old and up, I think they need to  work for the number of minutes/ amount of time they spent having a huge fit that disrupted the whole family.

Rhythm is another strong aid.  I find these children often have a lot of energy, may be extroverted in a sense, and without form and structure, their energy goes bad places.  You need to be able to channel their energy until they can constructively channel that energy themselves.  Six can be a more difficult age for this, because almost everything may be deemed as “boring.”  Long periods of time in nature can be especially helpful and therapeutic.

All of the basics need to be looked at and re-examined:  sleep, diet of good fats and protein sources, outside time, the stress level of the house, how many outside commitments is this small child under, and media levels.

Limits are important, and can be one of those fine line areas in terms of timing  (not in setting the limit though, the limit still needs to be set!).  Some parents have shared with me that they were slow to set limits in the early years, and this is the child that now responds so badly to them at age five and six; a  “no” makes them fall apart now that they are older with disaster ensuing.  If you know you are starting later with limits and limits sets your child off, you can still set the limit and not use words about it.  I think I gave the example in another post that if all the children are fighting, then staying home is a good option.  You don’t have to announce loudly to everyone that “now we are staying home because you all are horrible, terrible children who need to be hidden away!” but just do it.  If comes up later, than you can say simply you were not feeling generous and we must be kind to each other.  Curb your instinct to lecture and lash out.  Some of these words can be delayed even to  before bedtime if you need to bring it up.

But the fine line of this approach is this:  after the child gets used to having some limits, then they  do need to be set directly, because in life people will tell your child no,they will set limits and your child has to be able to take this without becoming angry or aggressive. A child may outgrow this sort of thing to an extent, but again from what I am hearing from parents of children with older children, again, is that this pattern did seem established in the ages of four to seven and did not just dissipate with time. It took work on the part of the parent to help that child.  Also, I think what happens over time with these children if the adults are not careful, is that the adult does not want to set or enforce limits because that will lead to a battle, so what happens is instead of the child adapting to the limit, the child’s behavior ends up shaping the adult’s behavior.  And this is a true problem that needs to be tackled, because that child may grow up and expect the world to adapt to them and what they want without any consideration for the others, for limits of the law, or other things.  Not trying to sound dire here, but it is problematic.  A trained family therapist or psychologist could also be helpful in this sort of situation as well.

Which brings us to community.  I think children like this need a community of adults to help them and you as the parent,need to be mindful of when you are actually stepping in to be helpful or if you are just shielding your child and being a barrier between your child and what should be handled by the child’s teacher, or the adult the child was talking to.  At six years of age, this child should not need so much rescuing from you in their interactions with others. Let them be.  What they learn may be beneficial, and this is important work for the child to do.  Homeschooling families will need to really look and make this a priority – who else does your child have to show respect and listen to besides you? And if an adult asks them something, do you step in and  navigate the whole thing for the child?

Be encouraged.  You can guide them and help this child grow up to use their gifts of passion, perseverance, sense of justice in positive ways. But do not shirk from doing the work.  Your child must learn to deal with frustration and limits in a constructive way. You can do this, hang in there!

Just a few thoughts I have garnered from my conversations with mothers and my own experience with the physical child…

Many blessings,

Carrie

About these ads

23 thoughts on “The Angry, Aggressive Six Year Old

  1. Yet another uncannily well timed post! Thank you! Do you have any advice for a 6 YO (in two weeks she’ll be six) who still impulsively acts out at her younger brother (who will be 4 in a few weeks)? Little things like walking by him and giving him a pinch or push for no apparent reason while he is playing and not bothering anyone. Everyone has told me that this can be typical sibling behavior, but I was an only child for 13 years and really have no reference point for this. I’m constantly horrified at this even though I realize I am probably over-reacting. She is not a bully, plays well with her brother more and more as he gets older, and gets along supremely with other kids. Phew! It’s just exhausting to have to repeat myself over and over that we don’t hurt people, especially those who love us so much (as he does her). This behavior earns her, consistently, time on the step away from her brother. Am I over-reacting? Do I react in some way *every* time she does this, or do I need to back off and sort of ignore the behavior? My husband said he was physically impulsive as a kid, and that it was actually hard to control those impulses. I have a hard time with this, as I was always a very in control kind of kid. A total goody-two shoes (I am still a stickler for rules). LOL. Any advice is welcome. Thanks so much!

    • Erika,
      I am an only child stickler as well, LOL….I think though for someone that young that behavior towards siblings is normal, but limits are still needed. I actually would work toward more occupying her through rhythm, work, being outside, work toward praising the things she does for him that are positive, and work toward showing very little emotion over it, no more than lint on the floor or when a child is potty training and they miss the potty and it is like, Oh well, I am sure you will get it next time. Showing that you have faith in her ability to learn to control herself. :) There are many sibling posts on her under the family life tab, I believe some of those back posts also addresses sibling relationships/aggression/picking on each other.
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  2. Great Carrie, thanks. We started First today and, at the end, my son (6.75yo) said he loved it and then noted aloud to me that he didn’t hurt his younger brother the whole time! ie, the rhythm and structure gave him the boundaries/comfort/stimulus/love that kept him whole during this time! Gordon Neufeld uses the term “Stuck kids” – I highly recommend his online classes for anyone looking for intensive parenting coaching/learning!

  3. To add for Erika, some Neufeld ideas – also as Carrie says, he teaches not to work on the problem in the incident. Out of the incident, focus on attachment/connection – touching; holding – even by 6, a lot of kids aren’t held in laps much if at all anymore; connecting about sameness – same color eyes, same interest in xyz. And of course, like Carrie says, the physical work and rhythm is all amazing and to be sure some is one-on-one with the older child…

  4. One of the problems my (just) seven year old is having relates, I think, to his sense of justice/fairness. I saw the beginnings of this at our local pool this summer. There was a play area within the shallow part of the pool with slides, spraying water, etc. There was always a line of kids waiting to go down the slides, but no lifeguards were monitoring the area, nor were any adults allowed on this equipment. So, certain kids would keep skipping to the front of the line, so my son got sick of it, and I noticed him put his arm out to stop the skippers. So the skippers would push him to get past, and he would push back. And then, when it was his turn to go down, he would wait for the previous person to get completely off the slide at the bottom, before he would begin his descent. The other kids would start yelling at him to “GO!” sooner, but as far as he knew, he was doing the right thing, so he kept waiting. SO again, the kids would start pushing, and he would push back. I would suggest just going to a different area of the pool, and sometimes he would, but sometimes it seemed like he wanted to go right back up there and set things right. Now he has just started first grade at a Waldorf school after being homeschooled, and it sounds like the same thing is happening. Some kid shoves him for some reason, he shoves back. I can’t be sure what is causing the initial shoving, but I have never seen my son be the initial agressor, it’s only when he thinks he’s standing up for himself or trying to do the right thing. I’m having a hard time with how to advise him on this, as there is such a fine line between standing up for yourself, letting things slide off your back, being a doormat, etc. Of course, I’ve already told him to tell kids “stop” if they are hitting ar pushing, but what if they don’t? And if there is no adult right there? Any advice on how to help him deal with these kinds of situations?

    • Beth,
      I don’t think I have any exceptionally wise words here. Seven year olds have a sense of fairness, that is common for seven, and I think adults really need to step in to help groups of children who are younger manage themselves and model and show how to do it. At the school? Surprising! Fairness and learning to control oneself are surely marks of seven year olds (and six year olds).
      I think you are doing a great job, it is a hard thing to abstractly advise, better to advise in the moment in the situation!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  5. Thanks for this post! My just-7 year old is feisty and some days he just completely loses it on his brother. We have been working on his temper ever since we realized he did not actually have a developmental problem, just a feisty, stubborn personality. I have had to explain to several teachers that “yes, he is capable of doing this work. He just doesn’t want to or doesn’t see why he should have to do it that certain way”. Other teachers have just “got” him immediately and had no problems handling him.

    My husband is very good at calmly pinning him down until he calms down. I can’t manage it, so I send him to a safe room (usually my bedroom which only has our bed and a wardrobe) to rant and rave until he is calm, sometimes three or four times in a row.

    We also find that a limited media diet, good food, time outside or bike riding and having some snuggle time every day help him immensely. My latest hurdle is that his friend who is in his class brings lots of sugary, highly processed food to school and shares it with him, which does terrible things to his temper, attention span and general mood. I’m still trying to work out what to do about this . . . .

    In any case, thanks for the reassurance that we’re not alone.

    • Thanks Jill, that is exactly the kind of child I was thinking of in writing this post! THank you for sharing!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  6. Thanks for this post Carrie! We have been dealing with a fiery, loud, energetic and angry daughter for years now. She is 10 and her temper turns on a dime. She has had bouts of aggressive behavior over the years and has been deemed ‘healthy and bright’ by a family counselor that we have been seeing for months.
    However, I am afraid that counseling has not helped her handle her emotions at all. From what I can tell, there has been nothing traumatic in her past that would cause her to be an ‘angry child’. I truly think it is a tempermant that has gone to the extreme.
    We homeschool and she has 3 younger brothers who are very cheerful, calm boys. I feel at a loss as to how to go about handling her outbursts (which now include disrespect and swearing). and wonder sometimes if I’ve done something to cause her to feel angry.

    I know this is a lot to throw out there on your blog but really respect your opinion and would love to hear another outsider’s perspective on this issue!

  7. I am so happy to have read this post. Although I’ve read the Gesell Institute notes on six year olds, sometimes I need to hear the same information 10 different ways before I really digest it. Our six year old has been fiery-tempered from the moment he could grunt. My own difficulty is that his hard-headedness has brought out latent hard-headedness in me, and sometimes I feel like I have two fiesty kids to calm – me and him!

    You hit the nail on the head with suggesting active, outside time, but his need for energy-releasing activities and my ability to provide outlets for him are not always in sync. I also have a nearly-2 and 4 year old, and I find meeting my 6 year old’s needs and the other children’s needs sometimes takes more energy and creativity than I have. I am certain, however, that I need to focus more on this. Thanks for giving me so much food for thought!

  8. Pingback: Part Two of Day Ten Of Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother | The Parenting Passageway

  9. My 6 yr old was suspended today for punching her teacher, when I asked her why? she told me the teacher was making her do something that was to hard…. but she told her uncle Dana that the teacher would not let her go outside…. and this is mins after she had just met with a psychologist at her school…. I have been told by her the kids pick on her…. but I mean with all the stories I dont know what to do… I am at wits end….

    • Oh, Kathy, so hard…
      What did the psychologist say? Does school really stress her out? Would taking a break from school and homeschooling be possible for a time to take her out of that environment where she is in trouble? Is she in the right grade level? Wrong grade levels can also create a lot of anxiety for a child. I highly recommend the books “Your Six Year Old” by Bates and Ames, (The Gesell Institute) =very cheap used on Amazon and “Simplicity Parenting” By Kim John Payne. It may also be worth talking to your pediatrician and employing a family counselor outside the school environment.

      Blessings,
      Carrie

  10. Very well written and helpful article. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. I find my daughter falling in second (fiery, energetic) group. The puzzle we are struggling with that she is best behaved at school and in front of others but completely different personality and angry and demanding at home and more so with her mother than me as I believe she has been late in setting the limits and when she has she has not stock by it. I also think my daughter who I think is extremely bright perhaps even specially gifted has figured out our different approaches in dealing with her wrong doings and behaves completely different in presence of us. So 3 exhibits of behavior, outside, inside with one us and inside with both of us! I appreciate any thoughts or advice on how to best handle confrontations. Thanks balazagi

    • Balazagi,
      Six is a tough age in terms of it being a watershed time for development, so first of all I think you can expect improvement with age. I recommend the Gesell Institute’s books “Your Six Year Old” “your Seven Year Old” etc. for information about the developmental differences from age to age and what to generally expect. As you mentioned, boundaries can be the other important piece of this puzzle. Sometimes children hold it together really well for those outside the family because they feel safest inside the family. Sometimes because of the way education has changed so much children have a lot of stress at school at an early age and basically come home and fall apart. Sometimes the family needs help to set appropriate boundaries in a healthy way, either by both parents talking and getting on the same page or by having the parents go and speak with a family counselor, which is usually very helpful to have an outside eye to help bring things together. I wrote a post recently about boundaries here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/04/03/boundaries-for-gentle-parenting-why-how/ and there are also many other posts under the “Discipline” header at the top of this blog and also the other posts on the six year old filed under the “development” Header.

      The third piece of this is that there are also innate differences in the relationship between mothers and daughters and fathers and daughters — the Gesell Institute books detail this fairly well. That could be another piece of the puzzle.

      And finally, the fourth piece is understanding that six year olds need a lot of doing. They need real work, a lot of time outside playing, time to bike and hike and swim and not a lot of screen time. This can be a tall order but I often find parents willing to work from this very physical body kind of angle, along with earlier bedtimes, low or no screen time, whole foods, and boundaries often have a different child by the end of a few months of this. Three to four hours of play outside a day is not too much for a six year old, and many would be happy to be outside all day if they could. :) I don’t know if you are here in the States or one of my readers from around the world, but summer is approaching here in the States and often can be a time to start a new parenting plan that includes many of these features that could be extended into the school year. I recommend the book “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne as a helpful guide in this.

      Blessings,
      Carrie

  11. Hi – I stumbled across your blog while looking for answers to the tantrums of my six year old daughter who started school early and is the youngest in her class. She is bright and confident but gets into frequent temper tantrums ( they don’t last long) which she says she cannot control. She also apologizes a hundred times for getting angry and I must acknowledge her apology with a “Good girl” kiss. I work from home and am very busy at times but I or my husband who can never shout at her, cannot even tell her something in a rushed, hurried tone. We must always be nice to her – otherwise, she says we are angry and she cries until I assure her I am not angry, just rushed and needs her to move fast. It is so frustrating at times. She used to be more aggressive when angry but that has now turned into this. We have a very loving atmosphere at home – there’s a big gap between her and my son who is fifteen. She prays everyday that Jesus will take her anger away. Her teacher tells me she is perfectly behaved at school. What should I do? Thanks a million.

    • Nayomini,
      First of all, big hugs…Six can be a really hard age, and I think especially when a child’s emotional life is sort of lagging behind how “bright” they are in school. It can be a lot to really hold it together all day at school when everyone is older, more mature, and possibly even more physically adept. How does she do socially in school? Does she have friends at school or is she left out? Sometimes showing up and just watching a recess time can be telling. I would talk to her teacher more about her placement in school. It would not be the worst thing in the world to repeat a grade now and be the oldest in the class. (please don’t throw something at me through the screen! LOL)
      I would go back to basics — strong, strong rhythm where she is doing lots of practical work with you in cleaning, baking, cooking, gardening, sweeping, polishing. Is she sitting down to color or paint or play with salt dough or playdough a few times a week with you? Working from home is tough if your little one has no structure during that time and is left to her own devices. Is there anyway you could find a mother’s helper to be with her during the times you are working at all? Six is still pretty small!
      Outside of a steady rhythm of chores and some sit down work with you, I also suggest the elimination of ALL screens. Screens are like opening a portal into our homes and into the minds of our children and it is not what is on the screen, it is what that screen does to the brain. Also, enough sleep and a diet of whole foods (not processed) is important. She really needs a good four hours outside a day in physical pursuits — bike riding, running, hopping hopscotch, playing kickball, tossing a ball, climbing, playing in the sand and the mud. The physical component is really important.
      I would encourage you to read the book “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne (not Christian, but a good read for what you are going through nonetheless). You may also want to try “Making God Real In An Orthodox Home” by Fr. Coniaris (you can tailor to your denomination) – it has important tips for slowing down, about screens, about how to bring God into your home through the way your family is structured and through the way you set up a slower pace that glorifies God.
      Many blessings, hope that helps — please take what works for you and your family. Talk about it with your husband and pray about the changes your little daughter may need in order to feel more centered about things. :)
      Carrie

  12. Hi, my name is Carrie too. Wow, this article was exactly what I needed right now. I have twin 6-year-old boys (turned 6 three months ago), and they have always been little hot-heads, but not too over-the-top, because they have always been little angels in pre-school and now in Kindergarten. Lately they have been very whiny and fighting a lot, but my main concern is their out-of-control rages at times. Sometimes one of them will get so mad that he will hit or shove or kick the other, and last night one of them got mad over taking turns at playing a game and pushed the other one so hard that he hit his head on the edge of a TV screen (the aggressor got a time-out). Fortunately the “victim” wasn’t hurt, but it upset me, and a friend suggested they need counseling, because a couple of weeks ago the other twin got so mad that he broke his Halloween mask. I did fix it for him with superglue, but I told him if it broke again he wouldn’t get another one. I like your suggestion of making them work, or taking away allowance, or doing something nice for the “victim”. I also like the suggestions about activity and sleep and whole foods and screen time. I think part of the problem is they are still adjusting to Kindergarten and don’t get naps anymore. They go to bed at 8:30 but maybe I need to move that back a half hour. I really noticed they get more aggressive when they are exhausted, and they are tired so much lately.

    My problem, though, is that I am a single mom who works 40 hours a week, and then I come straight home from work and have to attend to their needs. Sometimes I go straight through from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. with little to no breaks, which puts me in a bad mood, and then my temper comes out, and I model bad behavior for them, such as yelling or criticizing. This is what it’s like for me Sunday through Friday, with my only break on Wednesday night when they go to their dad’s house. Do you have any suggestions for making time for oneself while still keeping them active? I know it’s a little bit of a different topic, but I don’t always feel like I can follow the great suggestions I keep reading without giving myself a break, I am just too overwhelmed.

    • Hi Other Carrie,
      Glad to see you write in! Whole foods, and an earlier bedtime is really important. I don’t know what time you get home or what the afternoon routine is like after school, but I would suggest NO screen time at all. NONE. Whole foods, and bedtime definitely by 7:30. I am sure they are tired if they are in all day kindergarten and then some sort of after care and no nap. It would be nice if they could go to the park or do something physically active outdoors in the afternoons, but I really do understand you are working and may not have control over that.

      That is so hard – working 40 hours a week plus full time parenting with no help! I think the best way, honestly, to gain some time for yourself is to set an earlier bedtime. They need it and so do you! Go upstairs, cuddle with them, listen to their day, have a cup of warm milk and honey or tea or whatever,tell them a story, sing a lullaby and lights out. I think the thing you can do best is to slow down with them, so they feel like they have this gift of unpressured, unhurried time once a day. The other way to keep children busy is to have a sand box or even a very large under the bed storage box of sand that you can put on a tarp and let them play. It is very releasing to small children to have something like that to play with.

      The other things I always suggest is a rhythm and routine to chores in the house. What do they have to do to help in the house? Set the table, unload a dishwasher with you, pick flowers for the dinner table from the yard, water plants? This is another great way to capture energy but to also send the message that meaningful work counts!

      You are doing a great job, you have a busy life! Give yourself a hug, take what resonates with you from here and leave the rest behind. Start small, and you will see great progress!
      Blessings, thank you for being here,
      Carrie

  13. Hello Carrie, I have a 5 year old (will be 6 next month) and he has been wonderful at home. He seems well behaved around us, he has never thrown a tantrum, seems to be strong willed, and always wants to please. Last year in pre-k and this year in Kindergarten, (only when he is at school) he shows his ‘fiery’ side. I volunteer for recess at his school and I see a totally different side to my son. This scares me, because we have a wonderful family life and my husband and I “talk” out any problems with our son and we are not the ‘fly off the handle’ family so to see our son scream at other children totally awes me. It started in pre-k when another student was pushing and tripping him, starting arguments, and saying hurtful things. Our son was getting to the point he told us he didn’t want to go to school any more. Other children in his class were picking up on how to “make bad choices” and it soon became a rash. I felt that since this was our sons first real encounter with a large group of kids, he was getting the wrong lessons taught to him. We tried to talk to the school and they kept telling us “we have had other complaints about the child and will do what we can” in the mean time I have seen our sons enthusiasm for school go down the tubes. This other boy ended up changing schools by kindergarten, and I was hoping for a better Kindergarten year. Here we are in to the first quarter and I have noticed when other kids tell him he can’t do something; he thinks they are being mean and he then gets angry. If he is interrupted from trying to explain a situation he screams and gets so mad. We have tried to teach him to “use his words” and he will, unfortunately after he has came unglued. I have tried telling him when he gets upset to: stop/ take a deep breath/ and count to ten and then walk away. He did have a few good friends at school and now he is finding himself playing with whoever because he has came unglued so many times. How can we help him if this ‘fiery’ side only comes out at school and not at home or towards us?

    • Loretta,
      This is so tough. I will really have to think and meditate on it over several nights and see if anything comes to me. It sounds as if his beginning school experience was rough due to a bullying gesture (try the posts on bullying on this blog, and also look at Kim John Payne’s work on social inclusion for schools – this could be a great thing to bring up if you meet with the school). Have you met with his teacher, the school counselor, the school psychologist? I understand you wanting to give him tools to use his words and such, and I guess that is needed in the school environment (I assume this is a public school?), but please also understand six year olds are really in their will and their bodies and they often really cannot stop well in the moment. I often feel the things we expect out of these tiny six year olds are really ahead of where they are developmentally. To get a really good grasp of the six year old, I recommend reading Bates and Ames’ “Your Six Year Old”. I know this doesn’t help this situation in saying that! So, I guess I am wondering where the adults are in all of this to help him diffuse before things get out of hand, because it sounds to me as if his social and emotional regulation is a bit lower than what you or he would like, and the adults at the school need to step in and help him. It sounds as if a lot of this is happening during the free play part of his day? Is the teacher really present with him? What does he or she say about the situation? How is it being re-directed by the adult present? I am also wondering if/ how pressured your son feels at school academically and if part of this behavior has to do with that. How long a day is it? Is there an option for a half day kindergarten?
      The other option, in all of this, is, of course, to look at alternative forms of education. I am a big proponent of Waldorf Education. Is there an option to homeschool at all?
      Also, always go back and look at the basics – healthy food, rest, sleep, no screens, lots of outside time. Can you help him socially by inviting friends over from his class after school to play? How does he do with one on one play? Is it the group that is overwhelming? Does he have any sensory challenges that make the group or people in his space more difficult? How are his physical abilities?

      These are just questions to get your brain thinking a bit outside the box about this situation…I don’t know if any of those things are helpful or not, please do take what resonates with you. I can tell you love your son so much and that this is really hard and frustrating on you.

      You are welcome to email me privately – my email is at the bottom of the About page, and we can brainstorm some more together. I am sorry school is not being a very positive experience for him.
      Thinking of you all and many blessings,
      Carrie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s