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Violent 10-Year-Old Boy
Q: My ten year old is getting in serious trouble at school. He fights, he threw rocks at other kids, and the last incident he took a bullet to school and told other kids he threatened to shoot other. I am lost as what to do. I have spanked, I have taken his things away, I have put him on restriction and nothing seems to work.
A: I am sure that you are aware of the past year's tragedies involving kids shooting and killing other schoolmates. Some of these shooters were children your son's age. In most instances, when family, friends, and classmates reminisced about the shooters' attitudes and behaviors, they acknowledged that there were warnings and red flags that these kids were sending before they took others' lives. All the parents of these shooters (with the exception of Kip Kinkel's parents, whom Kip also murdered) expressed shock that their kids would be capable of such horrific acts of violence.
My purpose is not to alarm you needlessly but I would strongly encourage you to seek counseling for your son immediately. His anger and rage are out of control and no amount of spankings and restrictions are going to help him cope with these intense negative feelings and a possible/probable need to act on them in an increasingly violent fashion. Your hitting him and punishing him will only serve to further inflame his rage and strengthen his resolve to hurt others.
He has talked to kids about wanting to shoot other students. He has brought a bullet to school and expressed a desire to have a gun. Just because he said "cap gun" as opposed to 22 caliber gun offers one no relief. He is obsessed with violence and cannot control himself. His school should be made aware of his threats, as they may need to take action to protect their student body.
Lori, this is very serious business and you need professional help right now to deal with your son's rage and potential for violence. Please enlist the support of friends, family and the school system to get your son the help that he desperately needs. You may think that my response is an exaggerated one. I don't think that the parents of the boys who murdered other children or the parents of the kids that they murdered would find my reply to be overly dramatic. Write back if you would like a further reply.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.