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Seven-Year-Old Is Angry and Violent
Q: My seven-year-old son has been very angry and quite violent since he was three. He swears constantly and says he wishes he could kill me. I've tried time outs and taking away privileges, but he just seems to be getting worse. I used to yell at him or wash his mouth out, but I have stopped raising my voice and he now does it even more. I don't like being with him anymore. He's so mean. I wish he could be happy. What can I do?
A: Based on what you have written, your son needs some professional care. It's not your fault that you can't correct his behavior, for it's likely beyond your ability to do so. Wishing he could be happy will not accomplish anything. This is a time for seeking assistance outside your family.
If you can afford it, have him see a private psychologist. Also, I'd be surprised if he isn't having similar behavioral problems at school, so I suggest you have a meeting with officials at his school and seek their guidance and advice. You've demonstrated by writing to me that you know it's time to seek outside assistance, and you're right.
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Gavin de Becker is widely regarded as the leading U.S. expert on the prediction and management of violence. His work has earned him three Presidential appointments and a position on a congressional committee. He is currently co-chair of the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board, and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy.