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I need help with a 5 year old whos having emotional issues? PLEASE HELP!

I have a 4, almost 5 year old son whos having some emotional issues. In Dec of last year we had a fire in our house that was very traumatic to my son who at that time was almost 4. He is having transitioning issues at school and constantly lies, hurts other kids, and acts out. At first we thought he may have ADD or AHDD as my husband had this when he was younger. We took him to a certified pediatric phsycologist and she says he has Adolescent Anxiety from the fire and has not been able to deal with it. Any suggestions on what my husband and I might be able to do with him to help. He has a lot of the symptons of ADHD but everyone tells us No. We've tried everything from taking toys away, giving him spankins, sitting him in timeout, spending one on one time with him individually for extra attention, you name it, we've done it and now we need your advice.

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Asked by 3ousoonerkids at 3:03 PM on Oct. 20, 2008 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

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Answers (7)
  • "We've tried everything from taking toys away, giving him spankins, sitting him in timeout.........."

    Your son suffers from a trauma. Do NOT spank him! It will probably make it worse. Call your fire department or the city. Ask them if they offer some kind of emergency lessons. Anything that will explain a child what could cause a fire, how to handle a fire and most important what to do when something is caught on fire. He needs to know that a fire doesnt appear out of the blue.

    Take him to a certified pediatric phsycologist over and over again, until he feels better and until he is over it. It will take some time and effort, but it will be worth it.

    Answer by m.robertson811 at 3:11 PM on Oct. 20, 2008

  • None of those things are going to work. You need to get to the root of the problem not that other things that it causes. I would get a book or movie that has a big fire in it and while that part is going on discuss it with him. Really talk to him about it. How it feels and how scary it is. It may help him deal with it a little better if he thinks you know how he is feeling. Of course if you choose to do that don't make the book or movie to scary. You just want to get out of him how he really feels about it.

    Answer by imtheonlysane1 at 3:15 PM on Oct. 20, 2008

  • I have to agree, and say that punishing him for behavior that is the result of a trauma could only make him act out more, because he feels like he has absolutely no control. It might NOT be something that you alone can help him with, unfortunately. I would really try to take him to a psychologist or therapist. It might help him to talk with someone else. As the other reader suggested, I am almost 80% sure that you can find age appropriate books for him.
    Also, tell him that you understand how scary it was. And ask him if he would like you to come up with a fire plan so that you all feel safer. Have him help you test the fire alarm/get a new one. And also have him help you come up with an escape plan. Like, escaping out the window if he needs to and going to a specific spot/neighbors. If he has control in helping you with this, and PRACTICING the fire escape plan, it may help him to feel reassured.

    Answer by mrseum at 3:29 PM on Oct. 20, 2008

  • My son has also had some emotional difficulty lately, as a result of starting kindergarten. He is really stressed and anxious! One thing we have tried is empowering him with small jobs and rewards for doing them well. He now gets an allowance (only $1.25 per week; it isn't the amount that matters!) for completing the responsibilities on a chart we keep on the refrigerator. I think positive reinforcement is better than punishment.

    I know the trauma you son suffered was very real. I agree with mrseum about involving him in your home fire safety plan, and reassuring him that it will prevent such a thing from happening again. I think too much practice may make the possibility of a fire seem more likely to him, so I would keep it very low key. If you convey that you are in control and he is safe, he will probably feel better.

    Answer by yarnjunkie at 4:27 PM on Oct. 20, 2008

  • You need to give him something to get excited about to distract him. When kids are upset, their little minds can start to drift toward the negative. Never underestimate how easily distracted they can be! I agree with the previous poster that suggested chore with a reward. Let him pick something out (between $10 and $20) the next time you're at the store, and together you can count the weeks until he will have enough saved to buy it. Let him know that for every bad day he has at school, that will be 10 cents out of his allowance, and it will take longer to get his toy. If he seems like he's having a hard time at home, or is down in the dumps, come up with an extra chore for him to do to make extra money. All in all, you may end up being out $20 in a month, but the sense of responsibility will make him feel good about himself.

    Answer by mmmommy0207 at 11:02 AM on Oct. 21, 2008

  • If you feel that the fire was the root of the problem address it. Ask the basic question like "why did it scare you? and does it make you angry and why?"

    My son was going through similar behavior problems when we were in a car accident. He didn't get hurt but for some reason he became angry at the world. He told me that he was angry because he was still scared.

    Being scared isn't an emotion a child can really help ... most of us adults can't even cope with it so he may feel that acting out is his way of convincing himself he isn't scared anymore when in fact he's just in denial.

    I'd suggest bringing him to a fire department and learning how being stuck in a fire needs confidence and he needs to be a big boy, and that no matter how he copes with it you'll be proud of him. Just don't ever let him feel defeated.

    Answer by at 10:11 PM on Oct. 21, 2008

  • My son has the same issues since the loss of his father, and the main successes i've had have been thru John Rosemonds book "Parent Power!," changing his diet (eliminating High Fructose Corn Syrup mainly), and when providing consequences instead of sitting him in a corner, i sit him in the living room where he is with us. Tramatized children where weren't tramatized by being beat can be spanked so :P to above! Just assure him of his safety and security, and maybe consider medication, like paxil for anxiety?

    Answer by bekabunnie at 12:01 PM on Oct. 23, 2008

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