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10-Year-Old Boy Exhibits Discipline and Anger Issues


I have a 10-year-old boy who is doing very well in school. He has excellent grades, and I get no complaints from his teachers regarding his behavior. At home, it is a different story. It seems as if he disagrees with me on everything. I remind him to take a shower… he says no. I ask him to do chores… he says no.

A while back, our son had a big breakdown and said he wanted to kill himself, so naturally my husband and I were very concerned. I talked to some friends and family members and asked them for suggestions about how we could help him. One solution my husband and I came up with was having him to do chores every other day rather than every day. The idea was to cut down on the number of days we are "harping on" him to do chores.

He is a very loving child, and truly does care about others. However, when he doesn't want to do something or gets angry, all of that kindness and caring drains out of him. The other day, he got angry with me because I put one of his shirts in the car window to block the sun for my younger daughter. He got so mad at me that he began screaming and yelling, and even hit me on the arm with his book. After about 10 minutes, he calmed down and apologized for the way he acted. He said that he made horrible decisions and that he knew it was wrong for him to act that way. So we discussed how things could have happened differently in that situation and what he could have done differently to resolve the issue calmly. But this was a rare exception. Please help!!


Parenting is tough enough as it is, but it sounds as if your 10-year-old is making things even tougher. Perhaps since he takes issue with your verbal instructions, an option worth trying would be to make a written schedule of chores (including taking a shower) you want him to do.

Every morning, you could have him read through his before-school tasks out loud, complete them and check them off the schedule after you have verified they are done. After school, he could read his after-school tasks out loud and repeat the process. That way, you don’t have to be involved until it is time to make sure the tasks are completed. This routine also can continue after dinner and right up until it’s time for bed. 

Some children do well with a very structured schedule. They operate best when they are required to do the same things each day at the same time. They feel in charge and safe, since everything is predictable and consistent.

Your son saying he wanted to kill himself takes things to a different level. Regardless of the situation surrounding that comment, the notion of suicide is in his thoughts, or the comment probably would not have come out of his mouth. It may be a good idea to visit with his pediatrician about seeking help from a therapist or counselor. A professional could do a lethality assessment with your son to determine whether this is an isolated issue or if the thought of suicide frequently enters his mind. The professional can then determine whether your son is a threat to himself or others and offer strategies for keeping his thoughts about self-harm and his emotions under control. 

In the end, teaching kids to control themselves is the goal all parents work to accomplish. After all, we cannot be there to control our children all the time so we must help them learn to do it themselves.

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