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Parenting K-6 Kids/6 Yr. Old wants to hurt himself.


I was watching my 6 yr. old playing outside, and he was jumping off a back deck and falling on his shoulder, chest area.  He sometimes plays rough, and did not think much of it because it was not too high.  But he came in and told me that sometimes he feels like hurting himself.  I got down to his level and asked him just what he meant.  He said he sometimes wants to fall and make himself hurt, or beat on his chest till it really hurts.  
This is a very smart kid, really good in reading and math.  Just having problems with following directions.  He is taking Kindergarten over again because if it.  A short attention span too.  
We are also getting over hoarding his fecal matter. He was "backed up" and we have solved that, but now he sometimes makes more than a mark in his underwear and sometimes has some between his butt cheeks, and he won't tell me so he gets diaper rash.  He has good days and bad days.  I am afraid he is trying to hold it in again, but he says he really does not know when it happens.  Dr. says he is playing us cause if he had lack of control, he would have a complete lack of control.  Not only that he was wiping his poo on the wall of the bathroom.
He used to have a terrible temper.  He even threw a sucker at the wall that left a nick.  We got his tonsils out and I think his temper has slowly gotten better.  He has his moments when he says he hates me.  And he wishes I was not his mom.   
Sometimes I find myself yelling at him, mostly because he is playing me.  I tell him to be quiet, the news is on, or it is annoying, and he will continue doing it.  When it gets to the third time, I finally say to shut up!  And I hate that.  I hate those words and I have told him that.  But it gets his attention.  His father on the other hand is much quicker to yell.  And when he yells, I can tell it cuts my son like a knife.  But he will sometimes continue to do so dad yells.  When he does good things, I always try to brag him up.  Everyday we tell him we love him.  I always say how proud I am of him.
I have pulled him off the afternoon bus too.  There is a "bad boy" on the bus showing him and telling him bad things.  Example: The bad boy found a pen cap on the seat, rubbed in on the inside of the back of his underwear and then down the front of him and put it back on the seat.  And that is just a sample.  
I am thinking of getting with his counselor at school.  But my husband says "He is six!"  I say that is not normal for a six year old or for anyone.  
Thank you for your time.
P.S.  My husband I do not fight, though we may disagree, we don't fight and scream at each other.

Hi Mandy,
I support your decision to consult with a counselor, although I might recommend one outside of school. You were right to seek your doctor's advice in case the fecal issue was a medical one, and while his spreading poo on the wall is a behavior issue, it shouldn't be ignored as simple six year old behavior. Encopresis, as it's called, should be checked out by a professional. It's often related to defiance or feelings of being out of control, but ignoring it won't make it go away.

I'm also concerned about his desire to hurt himself. While implusivity and rough housing are normal behavior for six year olds, a desire to hurt oneself isn't.

Since I haven't observed or talked with him or you directly, I can only speculate that part of what you're seeing is his inability to cope with strong feelings. Children who feel out of control or overwhelmed by their feelings, often do things like spread feces or hurt themselves to feel in control and release feelings (older children sometimes cut themselves as a way of using hurt to release feelings). Of course, I can't say this is what's happening to your son, but the behaviors are enough beyond normal that I'd support your decision to seek out someone who can better assess the situation and provide you and your husband with strategies to help your son. A professional can also look at the attention issue. That is something you can also ask the school about because schools are required to make modifications to children's education if they have issues that make learning challenging. That's not to say your son isn't smart, but if can't pay attention, that can impact his ability to do well in school.

Finally, the one thing I would ignore is when he says he hates you. That is a ploy to upset you. I'd ignore it as away of taking the power of it away. I might also recommend a parenting class. He's learned that he's able to get away with behavior until you're yelling. A class give you techniques and strategies that will help you be firm and consistent, so when you say "stop" he knows you mean it.  

Parenting K-6 Kids

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Leslie Truex


I am a parent of two, but also I'm a social worker with over 15 year experience working with children and families. I can provide many tips and techniques to help with child behavior, interventions for specific behavioral issues, ideas to help children through difficult times such as divorce or grief, hints on keeping the family running smoothly, and tips for developing confident, happy children.


I have a master's in social work and over 15 years experience working with children and families. I have worked in schools, public health, mental health and adoption agencies providing parent education courses and children's groups.

BA in Psychology and MSW.

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