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Rage attacks can be a challenge

“Get me nice parents now! I’ve had enough of you two! Play a game with me or leave the house! Go die in a hole! I don’t want you to live here anymore!”

My crime that unleashed this tirade from my 13-year-old? Checking his social studies teacher’s website, finding out he had a large amount of work due last Friday and insisting he do it over the weekend.

What sealed my fate as a terrible mom was refusing to play a particular game with him after he spent half an hour working on the assignment. There was more he said, but I can’t include it all without the risk of having this post censored.

Rage attacks are beyond the “go away” response typical of kids going through puberty. Dylan screamed at me for I don’t know how long, threatened to “beat me up,” and tore my magazine out of my hands and threw it to the floor. ┬áMy response was to remain as calm as possible, refrain from raising my own voice, not give in to his demands, and wait for the storm to subside.

I have to wonder: Are these screaming fits really Dylan, a result of TS-plus combined with puberty? Or is it a side effect of the medication? When will they subside? My husband and I never give him what he’s demanding when he yells and insults us, so he can’t have learned that’s how to get his way. We in fact remind Dylan that screaming does not get the results he wants, but when he’s in a rage his ability to think logically disappears entirely.

That Sunday he eventually calmed down, and by the end of the afternoon completed the social studies assignment. He even apologized for yelling at me. I never did play the game he was demanding, although I did play another game with him after dinner.

Does your son or daughter experience rage? What provokes it? Is there any response from you that calms your child? Or does it just need to run its course? In Dylan’s case, I think the rages have at least gotten less frequent, but last Sunday’s was especially intense.

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  1. The rage attacks my 13 year old daughter had got intolerable when they got physcal. I will never understand why a child, who believes her father is the strongest man she knows, would attempt to hit, kick, scratch or punch her dad. But that’s what happened. No one tells you what to do in those situations. Mom was stressed, brother was hiding and I was restraining my 13 year old. When I thought we were calming down, and brother walked by, she went after him. It was then we called the police. I can’t explain to you how it feels to watch Mommy, in tears, call the police on her little girl. After a voluntary hospital stay and much theropy, things are getting better. The TS? A phase? Hormones? I don’t know. I do know we can’t control it. It’s best not to respond to it. Try our best to stay calm and wait it out. No triggers. No causes. But we found our reactions could make it worse. She will get better. We’ll all get better. We’re in it together and we WILL survive.

    I love my daughter and we havn’t had a violent episode since.

  2. Thank you for your post! As I read it, I was feeling a slight sense of apporehension and affirmation all at once! My son is 11 and we have similar episodes in our home several times per week. My crimes are usually not letting him have an icepop for dinner or having him come in from playing to do homework. There really does not seem to be any “trigger”, but they are always in the late afternoon and mostly on school days. My husband and I question things all the time wondering if this is puberty beginning, a result of TS or ADHD, or the “let down” we were taught about by his psychiatrist when the ADHD medication begins to wear off. We, like you, usually have our son go to his room to unleash the barage of “advice on parenting” he offers and within 20 – 30 minutes it’s over. He expresses remorse for his behavior as well, but even though we know this is part of living with TS, it puts our whole family in high stress mode for the rest of the evening. I try to talk to my son about his rages during times of the day when he is most calm, but I notice pretty much any verbal response I give while he is enraged only escalates the situation further out of control. Thank you for your transparancy with your situation and please know you are not alone! It still amazes me how much I love my son and appreciate his uniqueness, but feel so saddened to know that if I’M this stressed out by his behavior, imagine how burdened by it he is.

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