This behavior in our children requires extreme caution on our part, as you know.We don't want to do things to escalate the behavior. We don't want to do anything to hurt our child. We want to help them regulate themselves.
Our son is not physically aggressive any longer. Well, except toward siblings. That has been going on since Cain and Abel so if you can figure out how to stop it you probably also have the answers to the War in Iraq and how to develop an alternative fuel. I'm honored to know you. I'm speaking of the out of control rage our children experience. Here are some things we tried that helped. It was one of the first behaviors to go during therapy. To me it was the most frightening because it spoke of a violent future.
I often used the phrase "Use your words". He was so poor at expressing his feelings. He needed to start talking. Talk about what he is thinking and feeling when he is really angry. Do this during a calmer time.
Find alternatives : "When you are really mad you are allowed to..."
Make sure they get a lot of physical exercise. It releases a lot of the energy and can relieve stress. Exercise is a way I deal with stress so I am a big believer in this one. Take them roller skating, to the pool, out riding his bike, on walks with you. If yours is like mine was, they have to have constant supervision around other kids or they find the other "fighters". I could count on him seeking out and fighting with those kids anywhere and everywhere.
Watch his physical behavior closely and learn to see it coming. I could tell when things were headed south and I would say "Taz I want you to scream and yell and kick." He would say NO and walk away. If I missed it and he started I would say "I'm glad you are letting all your anger out. It is good to get it all out and I would encourage him to keep going."
Touch: Sometimes a gentle word and a soft touch would immediately bring him down. Sometimes it did not.
Therapy is essential if your child is demonstrating this behavior. Your child needs to learn to express feelings verbally. You need help so you stay calm and don't cross any lines.
Keep your other children safe. In no way should your other children be endangered. I'd send them to their rooms and have them shut their doors.
Get help. If things become dangerous for you or any of your other family members you need to be brave enough to call 911.
I know this is frightening. If you are dealing with this behavior I will pray especially for you today.
PS I wanted to add Bren's suggestion of calling someone. Our children do not want anyone else to know how they treat us. This is a great idea and one I used as well only I would call my husband and put it on speaker phone. They did not want him to hear the way they talked to me so would stop. It would regulate them to the point of when I hung up they were calmer. I also called our attachment therapist during a particulalry violent episode for some instructions. I went outside to make the call and calm myself. He followed me out and started breaking the branches of the trees. First of all hearing a calm voice on the other end of the line calmed me. He suggested telling him to go ahead and have a fit as loud and long as he needed too. Get it all out. Taz looked at me and walked quietly back into the house.