Originally Posted by TwinDad
He has his moments at home and has thrown some doozy of tantrums, but my wife and I or his brother have never been hit by him, nor does he throw anything. We usually try re-direction, hugs, calm voices, and as a last resort, timeout in either his room or the laundry room (it's a fairly big room with a door/window, but no furniture where he could injure himself).
Does he do anything that makes you think he might injure himself during those tantrums at home?
The fact he throws tantrums at home gives you something to work on at home. Any time he shows any self-control or when he is getting control after a tantrum, praise him for specifically for showing self-control like a big boy. Tell him he is growing up to be a good big boy. Don't caboose any criticism on the end of this praise, be enthusiatic and give him a high-five or a touch on the shoulder along with the praise. The level of enthusiam can be cheerleader-like, but it depends on the kid, some would be put off if you did cart-wheels, other's will respond well.
Give him lots of attention and praise when he is not tantruming.
Redirection, hugs, and calm voices during a tantrum can be counter-productive because it can amount to a reward in the form of attention. (Being calm is always good, but trying to talk to a kid during a tantrum can be counter-productive.)
Ignoring can be effective, but it must be done in conjuction with lots of attention and positive feedback when the kid is not tantruming. Time outs need to be balanced with adequate time-in when the kid it behaving well.
Also ignoring can bring on something called the "extinction burst". If you have been rewarding tantrums with attention, then when you begin to ignore them, the tantruming can become worse at first.
Another problem with ignoring is that the extinction burst can take the form of more extreme behavior that you cannot ignore. For instance the kid might start head banging or hitting people or doing something else injurious.
In fact, it could be that the teacher is trying to use ignoring at school and this is causing the kid to switch to the hitting strategy.
Behavior that cannot be ignored or treated with time-out calls for more advanced techniques. You have to use role-playing. You can get a kid to throw a pretend tantrum with no hitting and then praise him for improving he's tantruming technique. Alan Kazdin uses this at the Yale Parenting Center to deal with these difficult situations.
Also, most parents don't know how to use time-out. Time-out was invented and popularized in the 1950s by Author Staats and Montrose Wolf. But the term is better known than the proper procedure, and a badly executed time-out can be counter-productive. Time-out stands for "time out from reinforcement". The idea is to remove the parental attention or other whatever is reinforcing the unwanted behavior. So if you provide lots of explanation or face-time while putting a kid in time-out you are defeating the purpose. Either say nothing or say something brief like "no tantrums" and put the kid in time-out without looking at him.
Also, time-out is easy for a kid to defie. Some kids just won't co-operate with time-out. You might need a back-up punishment like taking away a favorite toy. Time-out can get pretty complicated. The location for time-out should be boring, like setting looking at a wall. Most kid's rooms are not a good location.
Edit: Instead of "ignoring" I should say "pretending to ignore". Turn away, walk away, leave the room. But listen or watch out of the corner of your eye. Return and give attention, praise, face-time when the kid gets it under control, or even sometimes if you get a small improvement. Your are shaping behavior with praise and other rewards, sort of like molding clay. Praise minor improvements in the right direction, you don't have to hold out for perfection.