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my 6 yr old son hits himself or pulls his hair when he gets scolded. what do I do?


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Anonymous November 10, 2009


my 6 yr old son hits himself or pulls his hair when he gets scolded. what do I do?

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TeacherParent November 11, 2009


How long has this been going on? At what age did he start doing this?
And what does he do when you tell him to stop and how does he answer you when you ask him why he does it?

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healthy11 November 11, 2009


Hi. I'm not a doctor, but It sounds like your son has difficulty dealing with anxiety, and may need to be taught different ways to express his feelings. Where some kids seem to have an "in one ear, out the other" attitude about being corrected for something, your son sounds like he's internalizing the feelings, thinking he's "bad" and "punishing himself." I would mention this to your pediatrician, and perhaps he could give you a referral to a counselor, who might be able to offer better suggestions. In the meantime, maybe you can tell your son that HE's not bad, but whatever actions caused him to be scolded are the problem. Maybe you can tell him that if he feels the need to "let out some bad feelings" he can hit a pillow or perhaps even turn it into a positive action, like use his energy to grab a sponge and clean the bathroom sink or something?

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zansmom November 13, 2009


Thanks for the responses. My son has just recently started doing this, probably in the past few months. I have tried several different approaches in dealing with this, like, telling him he is not a bad boy, but his choices have consequences, and giving him alternate ways of releasing his emotions. He is SUPER sensitive, so I try very hard to emphasize on the positive. He was in pre-k for 2 years with a teacher that I am afraid had a very negative impact on him, and I think that is where a lot of his feelings of failure come from. Plus, his dad & I seperated 2 years ago, and I am not quite sure how he has dealt with that-he is a hard one to figure out! He does still see his dad, but his dad does not have much to offer him as far as being a positive role model.
When I ask him to stop doing something, he usually ignores me. lol. And, I am in the process of training myself to NOT continue to ask him a million times before I loose my temper and dole out the punishment. I now try to stick to asking him one time, maybe 2, and, then it is a 6 minute time out, or a magnet on the fridge (depending on the infraction). 3 magnets on the fridge in one day, and he looses a privilege for the entire next day. One week without loosing any privileges, and he receives a reward. This is our first week into this discipline system, and it seems to be going ok. I just have to remind myself to remain consistent. He is my only child, I'm a single mom, and he is my whole world. I have no experience with kids, and I'm afraid my poor son is being reared on the trial & error method! So, I REALLY appreciate any advice or suggestions from fellow readers. It has now been one week without him hitting himself, or pulling his hair. It just really worries me, and I want to make sure I am caring for his mental health in the best way. Thanks for taking the time to read my story. God Bless!

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healthy11 November 13, 2009


I'm glad to hear that your new method of disciplining your son seems to be helping. If you want to try another approach, many people recommend Thomas Phelan's book, "1,2,3 Magic," which seems to be helpful even for kids with additional behavioral issues.



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