Six year old extreme reaction to being corrected — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Six year old extreme reaction to being corrected

Hi All

 I am usually a lurker, very occasional post on working moms but I am really struggling to find some insight or answers to what is going on with my six year old.

Normally he is a very quiet shy little boy, six years old.  Very well behaved and I have gotten many a compliment on how well behaved he is. 

The problem is his extreme reaction to when he is corrected.  He has always reacted very strongly to being corrected by myself or his father.  Would cry, say he does not like himself etc.  This has gotten worse over the years in terms of the strength of his reaction.  Typcailly not a huge issue I guess for us since it is rare that we need to tell him about misbehaving.  This week however there were two incidents.  One where my husband corrected him.  DH was very calm, explained that he was not mad but that what he did was not safe, etc.  My son screamed, cried, said he wanted to run away. tried to leave our house and said he wished he was not born.  Eventually he calmed down but we could not have a rationale conversation with him about the incident.

The other incident was today at the sitters (who has never had an issue with him ever, even in discipline and correcting him, usually he just listens to her).  he and her son were playing around (sort of wrestling) but he was being inappropriate in how he was carrying one (pretending to hit him in the groin area (oh my :( ).  So she took him to the other room and spoke to him.  He lost his mind, crying screaming, ran out of the house with no shoes or coat on and said he did not want to go to her house any more.  She had to drag him back inside.  She sat him down and in about 2 minutes he calmed down.   He asked her not to tell us about what happened and that he was sorry. 

So if you have followed me so far.  What can I do?  if I try and bring it he will likely lose it and we won't be able to have a sensible conversation.  What could be causing such an extreme reaction?  I wouldn't think our reaction would warrent getting so upset, we don't yell or scream.  very calm and rationale.  Nothing that should cause sobbing, crying and trying to run away or saying that he hates himself.  I am really worried about him :(.  And how can I talk with him and correct his behaviour if he reacts this way?

M

Re: Six year old extreme reaction to being corrected

  • A few things you can try:

    1) give him something safe to get his feelings out on when he is feeling emotional, a pillow to hit or scream into, a safe place to sit and let it all out, modeling clay to pound on and shape to get out some extra energy, etc.

    2) if you are going to correct him, make sure he understands in advance that he is not bad, people make mistakes and the important thing is learning from them

    3) help him find the words to express himself the right way by talking to him about how he's feeling.  Not questioning, but suggesting that he's feeling frustrated, upset, etc.

    At the same time, 6 y/o is kind of a drama'ish age.  I hear from my 6 y/o all the time how we're the worst family, worst parents, etc. I remember threatening to run away at the same age.  They're mad and they just don't know what to do about it sometimes.  It's our job to teach them the right way to deal with it so that they handle things appropriately when they're adults. 

    DS1 age 7, DD age 5 and DS2 born 4/3/12
  • Honestly, I would be pretty concerned about this situation.  Something's not right about this.  Here are some thoughts:

    --If he's as well-behaved and controlled in his behavior as you say, then it could be that he's dealing with fairly severe anxiety.  He may have grown through the toddler and preschool years feeling like he has to be perfect.  He has a low tolerance for any type of correction, and his reaction is out of proportion to the scolding he's received.  This is a problem, because he'll need to be a bit more secure to handle the type of criticism and feedback that comes with normal, everyday life in school and work!  It could be that you're seeing this crop up now because he's in school, in fact.  He's faced with challenge and feedback all day, and he just can't tolerate additional reprimands, no matter how sensitively delivered, from parents and his babysitter.

    --He's actually only moderately well-behaved, but he has cleverly manipulated you over the years into handling him delicately with his overly-sensitive reactions.  The fact that you say you have never had to correct him or reprimand him for his behavior is odd to me.  Seriously?  Not even as a toddler?  What was he like as a younger child?  Could it be that his "good" behavior is really the result of YOU being super-controlled and always managing him in a way that avoids this kind of direct conflict?   Now, for whatever reason, you and his dad are feeling like it's okay to be a little firmer with him, and he's raising the level of his reaction accordingly?

    Anyway, I would begin with calls to the pediatrician, the teacher, and perhaps the guidance counselor.  Find out what the teacher sees and get information from her.  Ask the doctor and guidance counselor what type of professional might best be equipped to evaluate your son and get referrals.

    Maybe it's just a phase he's going through, and he'll grow more emotionally sturdy when he passes through this phase.  But it doesn't hurt to check this type of thing out. 

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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  • imageneverblushed:

    --He's actually only moderately well-behaved, but he has cleverly manipulated you over the years into handling him delicately with his overly-sensitive reactions.  The fact that you say you have never had to correct him or reprimand him for his behavior is odd to me.  Seriously?  Not even as a toddler?  What was he like as a younger child?  Could it be that his "good" behavior is really the result of YOU being super-controlled and always managing him in a way that avoids this kind of direct conflict?   Now, for whatever reason, you and his dad are feeling like it's okay to be a little firmer with him, and he's raising the level of his reaction accordingly?

     

     I agree with this -- of course, this is my best guess as a stranger who has never met your son. One of the kids I work with used to scream hysterically and cry and beg and ask why no one loves him whenever I told him to do something he doesn't want to do (eat breakfast, sit in the car seat, etc). But an important thing to remember is that running out of the house and calling himself stupid or saying he hates himself are all behaviors that need to be corrected. Just like he can't hit his babysitter's kid, he can't run out of the house without shoes.

    I would drag him back into the house and sit him down and tell him, "That is not a choice." and try to talk to him for a minute or so and if he doesn't calm down then tell him, "I can't hear you when you're screaming and crying like this. You need to take a deep breath and calm down. When you're ready to talk, let me know and we will talk about it." And just do something else in the area until he calms down and wants to talk. But don't let him get out of the chair until you have a talk with him. Make sure he knows that it's okay to be upset but it's not okay to try to run away.

    But if you think there is an underlying medical disorder, then call his pediatrician. In my opinion, if he had an anxiety disorder then you would see it in other facets of his life so if you don't see any signs of that, it's probably more likely that he has you trained to give into his tantrums and you just haven't realized it yet.

  • meo34meo34 member

    Hi All

    Thanks for the insight.  I will try and answer some of your questions.  I will honestly say that I tell him to do things and he will just listen.  So I don't really consider that having to be corrected.  If I say go to bed, stop playing that vido game or go get ready he will just go do it without question.  So I don't think we tip toe around not giving him a reason to be upset.  If we go to the store he may ask for a toy and I say no and he listens and will not bed, cry or ask for it further,  So when I say correct him I mean tell him that he has done something wrong that he knows is wrong, ie hitting, not listening when he's been asked to do something.  And yes this is rare.  I am not just saying this based on my expereince (mothers can be biased I know).  He had a baysitter who watched kids for 40 years and said he was the most well behaved child she has watched.  His day care owner toook me aside and said the same thing and I have strangers approach me and comment on how well behaved and what a good listener he is. 

    He is very concerned about doing the right thing.  He will be very concerned about going through airport security for instance and worry he will have something he isn't supposed to.  He does not want take anything to school that he feels will be against the rules, even if it a special day that they allowd to rbing something and will repeated ask me if it is okay to bring it. 

    So when he does do something wrong it is a big deal to him and hence the freak out I guess,

    I met with his teacher last night as part of regular interview and as part of the meeting, without me bringing up the issue, she said he is an anxious child and that he seems to be afraid of making a mistake.  So could this be this issue I wonder? She sadi that he is very well behaved and causes no issue in class.  If is is aniexty any tips to help or resources?  The teacher said unless there are behavioural issues in the classroom they don't really provide support in school as the guidence counsellor is strecthed pretty thin as is.

    I am not sure about such resources in my area.  Our family doctor is pretty old school and would not be much help/

     

  • MrsSRMrsSR member

    Sounds like anxiety to me as well.

    I'd bring it up with his pedi.

  • imagemeo34:

    I am not sure about such resources in my area.  Our family doctor is pretty old school and would not be much help/

     

    I absolutely agree with speaking with a pediatrician; a family doctor is NOT a specialist in children's health and behavior. I think PPs have nailed it on the head with anxiety and/or OCD.

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • Given your update, I would tend to think that you're dealing with an anxious kiddo, and I would look for a referral to a psychologist or counselor.

    My kids are also conscientious rule-followers.  Both can be perfectionistic and hard on themselves.  When DS was 4, I was worried enough about his anxiety to ask his pediatrician about it.  He was at the mercy of his emotions in certain situations (swim lessons, strange places, during thunderstorms, etc.)  They recommended I wait and see how he was doing at age 6.  If the rough edges hadn't been smoothed down by that time, they would refer him for counseling.   Those two years made a world of difference.  He's still a worrier, but it doesn't prevent him from doing activities and having a full life.

    However, you're dealing with a kid who IS already age 6.  His anxiety IS affecting his daily life -- and it's affecting your ability to help him learn and make good decisions.  Time for some help!

    GL! 


    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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