Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Amy, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. Amy

    Amy New Member

    This week we took our son to see a psychologist for help with his anger, anxiety, defiance issues. We are still waiting to get into the local childrens' hospital for a formal evaluation, but in the meantime we decided to go ahead and see someone. We've read "The Explosive Child" and have been implementing the advice in the book and much of the time it worked well. The psychologist wanted us to continue using those methods for our son's behavior that seems anxiety driven (which is a lot of it), but wanted us to try the 1-2-3 time-out approach for behavior that is more willful. Every day since then has been a disaster. Of course, one minute after we walked in the door from the doctor's, my son called me an idiot. By the third name he was in his room. He won't go on his own so it involves me either carrying him or dragging him, which isn't easy with- a 7 year-old. Virtually every hour of the day since then (when he's not at school) has involved him testing the time out rules with constant name-calling, hitting, etc. I understand the need to be consistent and that behavior like that is unacceptable. My struggle is with the fact that 1) I don't think time out are an effective discipline technique for my son. We've used them in the past for long periods and they never resulted in any real behavior change; and 2) his behavior took a complete nosedive once we started into the power struggle of the time outs.

    I guess what I'm wondering is if any of you try to follow the guildelines in "The Explosive Child" almost exclusively and don't do time outs or limit them to the most severe behaviors? I don't feel like what we're doing right now is effective, and it's setting up these ridiculous power struggles where no one is learning anything or changing any behaviors. But at the same time, I don't want our son to think it's okay to name call or that he can change the rules by acting out. I just feel so tired right now and at the end of my rope and I don't feel like anyone is giving us the help we need. Any ideas/thoughts would be really appreciated!
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    The only way to really combine Explosive Child and 1-2-3 Magic is if the 1-2-3 Magic is used only for A basket behavior. In my house, with an unstable child, namecalling would not rise to A basket level. I would do one of 2 things if my unstable child called me an idiot (a) ignore or (b) state that name calling is not nice and it hurts people's feelings and then move onto a different topic.

    Personally, I would stick with Explosive Child and see if the psychiatrist can achieve some stabilization with his medications.

    Welcome & Good Luck,
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I personally have never liked the 1-2-3 approach because it never worked for my kids. It also involved a more authoritarian approach (just not my style) rather than a collaborative problem-solving approach. If "The Explosive Child" method was working in your household, why not stick with it? No discipline method should make your life and your son's life more miserable.

    I use timeout as a cooling-off period when behaviors become unsafe. It is not punitive and it is not a set amount of time. Whenever the child becomes destructive to property, self or others, that is when a timeout is used. When the child feels calm and ready to return to the family, he can come out. I've even been known to give myself a timeout when I feel out-of-control and don't want to take my anger out on the kids. This method models for the kids a way to self-soothe when the going gets rough.

    I'm not sure I'd go back to this psychologist if he's not helping.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    1-2-3 Magic is often not very effective for difficult children. Since you got a sort of so-so diagnosis., that in my opinion isn't that useful, I'd take your child for a neuropsychologist evaluation (these are very intensive). I personally haven't had any luck with regular psychologists. They don't do any tests and mostly seem to just guess and tell us to do things like 1-2-3 Magic, which again often don't work. I'd want my child tested in more detail to try to pinpoint weaknesses and strengths. "Anxiety" alone is kind of an "iffy" diagnosis. That's one of my biggest diagnses, but it very rarely stands by itself. It is most often caused by something else, like mood disorders, autism spectrum disorder, LDs, etc. How was your child's early development? Any speech delays? Look at your family tree. Any mood disorders or substance abuse on either side? Any neurological disorders?
    I would try "The Explosive Child" while your still looking for an answer. It's a pain in my opinion to keep fighting with an unwilling child to sit in a chair. My son used to throw his chair halfway across the room...haha. We got a lot of improvement after we got a much more accurate idea of what was going on with him, then we could get him appropriate help. Good luck.
  5. Amy

    Amy New Member

    Thank you all for the advice. I agree with you that the 1-2-3 approach just doesn't seem to work with my type of child and I feel like we're fighting over behaviors that, in the larger scheme of things, just aren't that important given the other issues we have. I do have a question, though, about using time-outs for destructive or hurtful behavior. What if the child refuses to go? When my son hits we usually tell him he needs to remove himself from the room for awhile to get his self-control back but for the most part he refuses to go. Do we all leave the room instead just to give him space? We've tried that before and it usually escalates the situation with him following us and banging on the door and screaming. Ideas?
  6. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I rarely use consquences and rely almost entirely on TEC. Time outs rarely work on destructive behavior for my difficult child either so we find another way. Think outside the box for your situation. Sometimes we leave my difficult child where he is and leave the room. Often we'll pack him up in the car and get out of here. Or maybe leave with older brother if the two of them are going at it.

    Punishments don't work well so what I'm really after is a cool down time and distraction to get his mind unstuck from the anger.

    I also wouldn't put namecalling in Basket A. I might verbally make a comment but not punish for it, especially if I were just learning the ropes or if the child's behavior was heightened. This is stuff you can work on later and not worth a battle.

    The Early Childhood board has an article about adapting TEC to younger children which might be helpful to you.
  7. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    With a child who can throw a 2 hour meltdown including head banging and wall breaking, timeouts are a laugh. They never worked for us. The approaches in The Explosive Child worked much better and did a lot to head off any of those meltdowns. It also taught me which were the things to really stress, and to let the small things go as not worth the aggravation. Now the big things are under control, and he's actually doing lots of the small things on his own. I will send the kids to their rooms (or me to mine LOL) when we haven't caught things in advance and we all end up in a yelling meltdown. There's no time limit, whenever everyone has calmed down we come back out, and usually are able to talk it over sensibly then.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Personally, I have had NO luck with time-outs and my difficult child. Until Jess was about 3 and I tried one with her I just thought they were a ridiculous myth. I do remember my shock when I tried it with Jess and she went, sat, and then could tell me why she was in time-out.

    It was such a different thing than my difficult child's namecalling, throwing, hitting, biting abusive tantrum. Sounds like the 1-2-3 thing isn't working.

    Often tdocs have suggested tools. Very few of them worked for long. The ONLY one I have seen work is Love and Logic. It made a big change in husband & my parenting style that it ended up making a change in difficult child's behavior.

    I know that many here have had excellent results with The Explosive Child. I think if it is working, don't fix it. It will get broken soon enough.

    What are your instincts telling you? Follow them, they will steer you the right way. Steered you to us didn't they???

    AS far as when his behavior is dangerous, if you can get him to a space where he can't hurt himself or anything, good. If you have to leave the room, do so. We started keeping all the videos in our room, andif he had a fit, the video and the other kids came into our room. He could have his fit, but he had to clean up any messes.

    It also protected the other kids.

    The biggest thing is don't bluff. If you won't do it, don't say it. If you aren't going to/able make him stop, then ignore as much as you can. Speak up on the BIG issues, let him go on the little ones.


  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    As has been said - never lay down an ultimatum you can't stick to. It's better to not try to discipline for something, than to try and fail. YOU MUST NEVER LOSE FACE. If that means ignoring name-calling, then so be it. We have done well with difficult child 3 and TEC, but there are some things that are just about impossible to fix. Tonight, for example - I was trying to print a colour document and couldn't find the power switch for the colour printer, the one I was trying didn't seem to be responding. So I asked husband to look at it. difficult child 3, also very computer-savvy, said he could have fixed it if I'd asked, so I said, "then go help your father."
    He came storming back a minute or two later saying, "I'm not going to help him any more, I got a clout over the ear!"
    husband yelled out, "I did not hit you!"
    difficult child 3 called back, "I was speaking metaphorically!"
    When I asked husband about it, he said that difficult child 3 had been very patronising, had been treating him like an idiot as if he knew nothing, and he (husband) wasn't standing for it.
    Meanwhile I was talking to difficult child 3. "You must show respect to your elders," I told him.
    "What if they're not respecting me?" he objected.
    "It doesn't matter - you have to put up with it, it is not your place to be disrespectful to an adult under any circumstances."
    He is 14, and we're only just beginning to work on this one, because a facet of his autism means that he treats everybody on the same level, and ESPECIALLY he treats everybody as he perceives they treat him.
    And difficult child 3 perceives that husband treats him more rudely, more brusquely, than I do. And he could be right - but it hasn't been easy for husband to make the changes you need, to adapt to TEC methods. When stressed or trying to concentrate on something, having 'help' coming from a condescending 14 year old is not tolerable.
    Fault on both sides, plus me for trying to direct difficult child 3 to help where it turned out it wasn't needed.

    These things will happen. Apart from using it to tell difficult child 3 that disrespect is not acceptable, I did nothing. If I'd tried to do more, I would have pushed difficult child 3's resentment to a level where nothing was achieved other than a meltdown. Instead, there is a chance that he has now learned to back off even when he feels he is in the right - and that's a HUGE lesson for a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid.

    Sending him to his room would not have worked at all, it would have set things off for an evening of screaming matches and meltdown, which would have led into a bad day tomorrow.

    Time-out - we stopped doing that years ago. It used to work on the other kids, but never has with difficult child 3.
    difficult child 1 would sometimes get violent - I would send him out for a walk, if I could. Being outside would give him space around him which he benefited from more. He might climb a tree, or go sit on a rock in the garden. If he was really angry he might pick up a stick and smash it - we are constantly getting windfall timber, he can break it up as much as he wants.
    But getting him outside - it got him away from whoever was upsetting him, it broke the anger cycle and he would come back inside when he had regained some level of control.
    As a result, he has learned to take himself away from a situation where he is getting angry. This is a good thing.

    You adapt TEC to your situation, you decide what is in the baskets and you control how and when you handle things. Basket A stuff - keep it limited to only a couple of urgent things only. Even today, we don't have very much Basket A stuff. Basket B is actually getting quite full, it's like we have a sub-A, then a B, with sub-A being the behaviours we have had in basket B which have graduated out, due to success. We still won't push him to meltdown stage if he slips on these behaviours, but we generally don't have to worry about them. Stealing, for example - with difficult child 3, it's not in any basket because he doesn't steal. Same with lying. Drug-taking. But rudeness, and frustration, and shouting at people - definitely Basket B. Although a lot of rudeness we ease back into C at times, especially if it's coming from frustration, anxiety or an inability to treat people differently to how he is treated himself.

    There have been times recently when easy child 2/difficult child 2 was raging and although she wasn't violent, I didn't want to be in the same room so I walked out. I have told her that when she is like this, I want to walk right away, go right outside, walk down the road and get right away from her noise. I'm not the only one.
    Sometimes a raging kid needs to be deprived of an audience.

    And any mess they make, they have to clean up or repair. difficult child 3 was raging one day at mother in law's place and he slammed a door. The force of the slam broke a glass panel right next to the door and part of difficult child 3's punishment over the next few weeks, was having to help husband repair the hole. In that way, he learned how the consequences of your actions can take some time and inconvenience to deal with, and SOMEONE has to do it. He could see that husband was working on it too, even though husband hadn't caused the problem.

    In this way, consequences aren't always punishment, but they can be just as effective a deterrent and a teaching tool and surely this is what we are trying to get from punishment? isn't it supposed to be a deterrent and teaching tool? So if we can get as good a result (or even better) without having to punish (which to some kids just seems like retribution or revenge) then we win. A punishment might make US feel better, avenged in some way, but if it's not teaching anything we are wasting our time.

    I could have grounded difficult child 3 for the broken window, but I don't think it would have helped him learn anything more than the vast amount he learned from having to help repair the damage (and look his grandmother in the eye as he did so). Grounding him would have been too easy on him. And while punishing him might have made me feel big and strong ("I can do this to you because I'm the adult, you're just the child") it would have made more work for me as well and really would have been a hassle.

    We need to change our mindset towards punishment, when we are trying to find TEC ways to 'sort' our kids.

    We've been watching a series of Brat Camp on Aussie TV - I have o idea if this series has been screened in your area, or when. But one of the camp counsellors is a Buddhist guy who says that the methods he uses are very zen. And watching him, listening to him - it's also very Ross Greene.

    So next time I'm at church, or with family, or wherever, and someone wants to get critical of how we're dealing with discipline issues, I can say, "Our methods are very zen, but they are the same ones used successfully when all else fails."

    It's nice to have another label to use on back seat parents.