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My 5 year old has been acting out terribly and I’m at a loss. My husband isn’t helping at all with parenting anymore for this one (the 5 year old his his) or the other two kids.

The youngest is the one I’ve been having the most issues with: wanting to lie, hide things, destroy others properties, hit, and throws the worst tantrums if he doesn’t get what he wants. I understand he’s 5 so tantrums are a given no matter what, but the way he does it concerns me. He immediately wants to attack people hit them at very specific spots (head, eyes, face in general.)

When he lies he has this hiding spot that me and husband know where it is immediately but he keeps hiding things he’s destroyed or had accidents and hides his underwear there.

The only time he’s nice to others is when he has a screen. The tablet is like the golden ring to Gollum; if it’s gone his entire personality is different. I’ve had to resort to taking away his tablet and PlayStation time due to his behavior, and been doing it for a month and he’s still the same.

I keep trying to talk to him see if there’s something going on at his mothers when he goes there or if school is bothering him, to see if that’s why he’s acting out but he just glares at me and screams till he’s blue in the face. Husband says he just has authority issues that the middle and eldest did the same thing that he will straighten out when he’s 7. But waiting it out isn’t ok, he can’t keep doing this. He’s going to think it’s ok to do it. I’m so lost here, I don’t believe in spanking at all and that’s all my mother tells me to do.

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    Hi there, could you clarify the living arrangements for the child. It sounds like the child in question also stays with their mother at least some of the time, in a different house? Just might help people understand the wider context. This does sound like very challenging behaviour so I want you to get good answers!
    – R Davies
    Commented Apr 23 at 8:02
  • Does he destroy his own things and demand you replace them? And when it's broken, do you go out and replace his things?
    – Pumpkin
    Commented May 1 at 15:43
  • Can you clarify a bit more on what you mean by your "husband isn't helping at all with parenting anymore for this one"? Are you saying he's refusing to engage with the kids at all, refusing to discipline them, or something else? Also, is your son's behavior limited to others in the house, or does he act this way at school too? Commented May 6 at 14:28

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I see things differently than Stu. Your son sounds like he has an unhealthy addiction to and dependence on the screen to calm him. I would stop all screen time, at home, and elsewhere You must also get off the screen as well. Use your phone for phone calls, and use the computer for utility, but do not resort to screens for relaxation, entertainment, passing time or anything else!

Use your and his newfound time to smother him with love, quality time, and reconnecting with people. You can do this by reading stories, taking walks, baking, art, visiting friends, playgrounds, riding bikes, building legos, visiting animals, any wholesome activity where he is engaged.

Do not give in to tantrums, do no bribe with toys or candy, and most importantly make sure your family members are on board with removing his access to screens.

The first few days will be challenging but you will soon get your child back. Five is very young and he can easily relearn healthy habits (and so can you!)

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There is enough badness here to warrant a visit to a mental health specialist.

However, you are obviously frustrated with the boy’s father. Kids will often deal with intermarital problems by acting out. Unfortunately, the chances of getting your son’s father into therapy sounds slim.

I didn’t spank my kids either. I understand your hesitation and my instinct is that it would cause more harm than good.

Does he also abuse animals? That would be a bad sign. I don’t see what’s special about the age of 7.

If giving him a screen straightens him out, give him a screen until he and you have better ways to cope with his behavior. Get that help from a professional.

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