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08/25/2010 12:09 PM

How to handle your child's need to destroy things?

jakers
Posts: 129
Member

During a time out yesterday, our son smashed the light switch plate in his room to pieces. This happens a lot when his anger is over the top. We've tried giving him harmless things to punch or destroy, but it never works. As he says, I have to destroy something valuable to feel better. Afterwards my son is devastated by the damage he's done. As he gets older, he's more aware of what his friends will think of his “damaged room”.

Do you know of a way to help him get this emotion out without destroying things?

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08/25/2010 01:32 PM
gardengirl
gardengirl  
Posts: 1727
Senior Member

I would have suggested what you tried -- giving him something to target his anger on. Has his therapist/PDoc had any other suggestions?

08/25/2010 04:54 PM
orangepixie
 
Posts: 19
New Member

We put up a boxing bag for him to hit My son's room has no door and I am not about to put up another one! He also has a plastic bat he uses with his t'ball set to "bash" that out. The hardest thing is to get him outside when he starts his destruction mood. Watch the signs before it is too bad and get him outside helps me with this type of violence. This is probably for me the hardest of my son's mood swings to deal with as my house always looks like a 'war zone". Please remember you are not alone xx

08/25/2010 05:26 PM
owutatangledweb
owutatangledwebPosts: 2771
Senior Member

Wow, "do you know of another way to help him get his emotion out without destroying things?" That does seem to be the crux of the bipolar dilemma; whether they are destroying property, beating somebody up, or being self-destructive due to not knowing what to do with their feelings. They simply don't know what to do with their emotions. That is what my daughter's DBT therapy was all about. First, they have to be taught to recognize what emotion they are feeling. A child or bipolar person can say they are "mad" or "angry", but there is usually an underlying emotion that they are not identifying. Such as, are they frustrated about not being able to do something? Are they sad about something that happened and this is how it is coming out? Are they fearful of something such as losing something like "control" over something or fearful of something else. After they identify the real feeling, then they need to feel validated. And, if they have not learned to validate their feelings themselves, then we need to try to help with that. Like telling them "I can understand how it must be frustrating not to be able to have candy before dinner". Then, they need to be taught to find a coping mechanism for it, such as distracting themselves with another activity. Sometimes a child your boy's age can't self-distract and you may have to redirect him by say, getting him outside... or listening to music, or calling a friend, or coloring, or going to a special place for when they are angry where they have a special box of things to look at that calm them down when they are angry (For the teenage girls, we used things that calm the senses like a candle, a soothing lotion, special music, etc.) I can't really think of all the distracting techniques off the top of my head so I'm trying to keep your child's age in mind. One of the ones for the teenage girls was taking a soothing bathe or a long shower. I hope some of this helps!

08/25/2010 06:41 PM
lillipets
Posts: 1495
Group Leader

What if you bought him dishes to smash?? You could find plenty stuff at garage sales.

Since he says he has to smash something valuable would this be a suitable substitute?

I'm sure they would make a very satisfying smashing sound.

Maybe his therapist could help him explore the reason it has to be something valuable. If he can get a grip on the underlying reason maybe it will help him substitute something less valuable. Notice I'm not saying not to wreck something, just something less important.


09/05/2010 10:09 PM
fairlanelady
fairlanelady  
Posts: 381
Member

Maybe you could tell him a phone book costs $1000.00, and leave it lying near his room, and hope he rips it up, page by page? *hopeful look* (A friend of mine made her granddaughter do this when she was tearing up books...)

09/07/2010 06:07 PM
owutatangledweb
owutatangledwebPosts: 2771
Senior Member

LOL!!!! Love it!

09/07/2010 08:09 PM
jakers
Posts: 129
Member

Very clever idea!

09/09/2010 07:04 PM
mommy01
Posts: 10
New Member

My son doesn't think about whether something is valuable or not when he "flips". He just swings or kicks or throws things. I try really hard to catch him before it happens but sometimes it just happens to fast. I can say his med's really seem to be helping him get less aggressive when he's angry, so lately it hasn't been too bad (in the past week) But before when I was able to catch him before he destroyed something, I would tell him that I see he's getting really angry and offer ways to calm down, like go outside and run around the yard, or go to his room and get his froggy(stuffed animal with a rattle inside) and tell him(froggy) what is making him mad. Froggy won't respond and let's him vent out his frustrations until he calms down. Sometimes music helps and sometimes wrapping him up in his blanket really tight and rubbing his back helps him too.

09/09/2010 07:06 PM
mommy01
Posts: 10
New Member

I love the phone book idea too! We seem to get 2 or 3 at a time.
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