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My son reacted to being denied TV by breaking two of his younger brother’s toys and screaming and rolling on the floor for an hour.

My son recently celebrated his fifth birthday, but ever since he was born, he has been a challenging child. He never fit the description of an “easy” baby, and as he started walking, things only got more difficult. Unlike other children, he couldn’t entertain himself for even a few minutes. I vividly remember sitting on the floor with him and some toys when he would throw them at my head instead of playing with them. I tried so hard to model safe and enjoyable play, but he couldn’t grasp it. As he grew older, his destructive behavior escalated. Even toys marketed as “indestructible” would be broken within a day, either by throwing them on the ground or stomping on them. Books suffered the same fate, torn up without a second thought.

When he turned four, I reached out to his pediatrician for help. We consulted a psychologist who suggested that he might have ADHD but dismissed his behavior as just being rambunctious with excess energy. Occupational therapy (OT) was recommended, and we have been attending sessions for over a year now, but his behavior has only worsened. Hoping that a structured environment with children his age would make a difference, I enrolled him in preschool. Sadly, his teacher had something negative to report about him every day. He would hit his classmates, break their toys and educational materials, and refuse to participate. Now, he is about to graduate and move on to Kindergarten in the fall. Having been a kindergarten teacher myself, I know how challenging it can be to have a disruptive child in the class, and the thought breaks my heart.

Throughout the day, my son spends most of his time arguing and screaming at me. This morning, he woke me up by screaming in my face, demanding that I turn on the TV. In response, I told him that there would be no TV for the entire day. This triggered a tantrum where he proceeded to break two of his younger brother’s toys and scream and roll on the floor for an hour. Despite my efforts, his behavior remains consistently angry, and he rarely seems happy. He constantly complains of being bored. Yesterday, it rained all day, preventing us from going outside, which is one thing he enjoys. I had set up Magnatiles, planned a craft activity, prepared movies, and even made popcorn, but he spent the entire day screaming and crying. Living in a small town, rainy days limit our indoor options, and there are no real indoor activities available apart from Walmart. However, he is extremely challenging to manage in stores, often tearing things off shelves and running away from me.

I have exhausted every approach imaginable to address his behavior. I speak to him calmly, get on his level, offer hugs, and provide positive reinforcement. From A to Z, I have tried every trick in the book, but he remains an angry child who never seems satisfied. He even threatens to call the police on me when put in timeout. I am truly at a loss and don’t know what else to do. He sees a psychologist who insists that he is just highly energetic, and we already invest a significant amount of time and money in his twice-weekly occupational therapy. Regrettably, he has started resorting to hitting us when he is angry.

I genuinely don’t know where to turn or what else I can do. I feel lost and overwhelmed. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.