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How to Help Son with Intermittent Anger Disorder?

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I believe my son deals with this. He is currently into a 3 day episode of extremely exaggerated anger based on a non-issue. My concern is his response if he does not get his way – suicide, property damage, etc. Is it better to give in to his wants while the anger lasts? I do not want him hurting himself, someone else, or property. Is pushing getting help the wrong thing to do at this time? I’m torn between caving to his demands to – in his words – put things right or standing up to him and insisting he get help. This sort of behavior has been an issue for years and of course it is never his fault.

How to Help Son with Intermittent Anger Disorder?

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A.

It’s possible that you might have to give into his demands, in the short-term, to prevent his violence but, as a long-term strategy, it will only reinforce his behavior. Giving into him is essentially enabling his behavior.

For your own safety, your son should not be allowed to live in your home if he continues to behave in this manner. You should call the authorities whenever he is threatening. Of course, you don’t want your son in legal trouble, but you have to protect yourself and your family from potential harm. Angry, impulsive people can be dangerous.

It’s normal to experience anger from time to time. The normal response to anger is to be aggravated, but it’s generally short-lived and it passes.

Alternatively, people with severe anger problems are out of control and destructive. They break things and get into fights; they act out their rages physically. They have a higher propensity for violence, which could turn deadly if they have access to weapons. If there are any weapons in your home, they should be securely locked away or removed immediately. People who have shown excessive anger, should never have access to weapons.

I have two final recommendations. The first is your going to counseling. You might be wondering why I’m recommending counseling for you when it is your son who has the anger problem. In counseling, you could learn concrete and effective strategies for dealing with your son’s anger. In addition, if he knew that you were open to counseling, then he might also be.

The second recommendation is that you read books about tough love. Sometimes, parents unintentionally fuel the problem. This may not be true for you, but you want to avoid inadvertently reinforcing his potentially dangerous behavior.

It is also critically important that you think of what is best for your son. You have an established way of dealing with your sons’ anger. Your method diffuses his anger but is that good for your son? What effect will this have upon him? Is this method increasing his problem? Could it lead to disaster? You must do what is best for him in the long run.

I hope this helps. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

How to Help Son with Intermittent Anger Disorder?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). How to Help Son with Intermittent Anger Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 17, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/11/26/how-to-help-son-with-intermittent-anger-disorder/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 26 Nov 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.