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Behavior, Ripping, Destruction of Toys


My son destroys the things he loves. He will get up in the middle of the night and rip up pictures, break toys, and wreck his video games. He is always remorseful afterwards. Is this a problem you've seen before? Is there any way to stop this type of behavior? This isn’t anything new he has always done this.

Answer of our experts

This is an interesting question. It would be helpful to try and figure out why he is doing this at night. Is he bored because he can't sleep? Is he agitated or anxious about something? It would help a lot to try to figure that out.

I notice that he is in on Topamax. This is normally somewhat sedating, but I wonder if the medication is making him agitated. Did the start of the behavior correspond to the start of the medication? You may want to talk with his doctor. He may need some sort of sleep medication like trazodone for example, if he is up a lot.

If he just seems bored and is ripping stuff, put the valuables in a box on a high shelf, and bring them down during the day. Give him laminated books, scrap paper to play with at night. Have a special box for scrap paper. Show him that he can shred only the paper in that box. Put a picture of him ripping paper on the front of the box, so that he knows it's ok. Good luck!

EA/ TK 7-13-10

In a disorder called Tourette's and others there are so-called 'rage attacks' which are similar to what you describe. Out of control emotional and behavioral dyscontrol that is short-lived with remorse later. Sometimes a low-dose neuroleptic can help (Risperdal for example). This is a strong medication and should be used judiciously.

MG/ TK 7-13-10

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