Help! 5 year old hitting kids at school, lying, not listening

I don't even know how to write this. I'm totally at my wits end. My 5 year old is in TK and is struggling. He's being aggressive to other kids, hitting, punching. When he gets frustrated he gets physical and is not able to control himself. He is very active and has trouble listening to the teacher. He won't tell us the truth when we ask him about his day. He will lie and say "great" - which I know is not true. We've been in very close contact with his teacher and i just have no idea what to do. We've been talking to him for weeks, but it doesn't seem to be getting better - only worse. He is a very sweet boy, funny, smart - but when we start to talk about these things he just clams up. I can see that he doesn't want to talk about it because he doesn't want us to get mad. He has an older sister and they have always been very physical, and loving - but again - when he gets frustrated he hits. We tell him "it's not okay to hit" you need "to use your words" but nothing seems to be working. Please anyone - advice? Someone to talk to?

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I'm so sorry to hear about your son's TK adjustment issues.  My older son really struggled with impulse control when he was young and our situation became very bad when he was in 4-5 grade.  Kids who lack self-control catch a lot of flak from teachers and they need to go some place where they feel good about themselves.  For my son, that was karate lessons.  We signed up for lessons with West Wind Schools on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley.  Our son got one private lesson a week and also attended two group classes each week.  He burned off a lot of energy and learned how to control his impulsive energy.  He loved the teachers and worked hard to please them.  Through the different levels of accomplishment our son was able to rebuild his self esteem and began to apply the lessons he learned at karate at school and out in the real world.  Our son had attended a lot of group therapies and other behavioral support groups, but the best money we spent was on the karate.  West Wind Schools is expensive, but given how much it helped our son (and our family) we would do it all over again.

Hi there - I don't have concrete advice for you re hitting, except that it's VERY common (my own son was still doing "hitting like" things even at 9 years old when frustrated and tired ... that's my top thought. He's super frustrated and doesn't yet have words - you need to COACH him very patiently and kindly on tactics that work instead of hitting. Work with his teachers. Don't get mad at him - just coach every single time and eventually he'll get it, as mine did. Also, he is not "lying" - he's 5 - he's just telling you how the day went from his perspective (still a great day in many ways ...) or is telling you how he wishes it went. He's not lying and don't act like he is - he's too young for this to be willful manipulation. He's just giving you his baby perspective and baby wishes. Talking ad nauseum to little boys about an issue has never worked for me - even with my now 11 year old. They don't want to hear a bunch of words. He's unlikely to respond the same way as your daughter does. Tell him you love him, make the consequences for hitting clear and immediate (toy immediately taken away, etc), and coach him on alternative responses. It works.


So sorry you're going through this. 5 is young to have to start dealing with this, but dealing with it asap is the best thing to do. I'm sure someone else on here can make specific recommendations, but I'd start with a Child Psychologist. Get him into therapy, something is underlying all this. It may turn out to be medical, so get an MD clearance first. If, after a time, you find that therapy is not enough, you may have to find that a Child Psychiatrist is what's needed - he may need medication. I can't tell you what might be wrong because it's quite a range, and could be anything from a specific, recent incident, through ADHD,  all the way up to major depression. Good luck and let us all know how things go. Hang in there. Oh, and don't forget to get some counseling and parenting ed. for yourselves.

Could it be that your child does not have the wordsto describe the complex social interactions that lead to his hitting? Could it be there's some frustration chronically happening at school that is overwhelming and/or so overstimukating that he scts out physically. 

That's asking  alot from a kid who has recently been launched into school. It may be TK,  but it could also be a big transition that has overtaxed him.

I would caution you about calling him out on "lying". You kid may simply be unable to backtrack and put into words what happened and how he feels about it. I guess my husband vould be called a liar everytime he glossed over a difficult day at work with a "fine".

Diing a play based exploration is frequently fruitful in such situations. Hand puppets, action figures and sometimes even read-aloud books geared toward addressing peer problems can bring to light what is happening with your son.

It's a whole new world for him and to expect he come pre-loaded with the ability to fully comprehend and report back his day to you seems a bit ridiculous, frankly. Boys and girls development can bevery different.

I would duggest you read the book "Raising Cain....". ( forgot the rest of the title).  It really opened my eyes and made me more sensitive to the struggles of boys trying to navigate a world that tupically rewards "girl" behavior and shames/punishes more stereotypical boy behavior.

Good luck!

Can your pediatrician give you a referral to have your son assessed by an occupational therapist?  He may be struggling with sensory issues.  Our pediatrician was able to refer us to Children's Hospital, and our insurance covered it.  There are also private OT practices that can do the assessment for a fee.