How do you "discipline"

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by bigbear11, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    OK. I am still stuck on "discipline". We have read The Explosive Child and try to employ those practicies. A huge challenge for us is to not engage and TRex knows this. She will push every button... from calling us names, to trying to turn chairs over into the walls making holes, to hitting (pinching, spitting, hair pulling). We cannot walk away from her... she follows. And I am not ready to just lock myself in a room and let her destroy the house. So we end up restraining... which I know is not the most helpful thing to do as it just escalates more. We are sooo trying to control ourselves better. After it is over, she is fine and truly apologetic. So I have never thought calling the police would be really helpful.

    Now, granted, it is not like this every day. We will go a week or so with a sweet great child (very controlled and happy) and then something will trigger her (right now a trip my husband and I have coming up) and then we will have a bad day or two.

    How do you handle that degree of "misbehavior". Because that is definately in our Bucket A! How do you balance helping her understand that the behavior is totally unacceptable without letting her always get her way and feeling like she is running the house?

    I would appreciate any thoughts.
  2. keista

    keista New Member

    in my opinion the big question is if when she calms down, does she understand that that behavior was unacceptable? If she does, then I think you do need to implement some sort of "token" punishment, but I don't believe that traditional punishments are going to teach her to not meltdown. In addition, natural consequences of helping clean up her mess are necessary.

    I'm also curious if her rages are shorter when restrained or allowed to just go?
  3. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    I would say, when a child is a danger to his/herself or others, it is about safety, but during those moments it is not only about physical safety, but emotional safety as well. What I mean by this is to try your best to not engage in verbal sparring, negative commentary and remain as neutral and calm as possible during a most stressful time for all of you. Even though my difficult child can be out of control, he always remembers how people treat him when he is in crisis-if they are kind or not, calm or not.
  4. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    As far as discipline for a meltdown? If discipline means punishment, then no, I don't think that is appropriate.
  5. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest


    Her rages are most always worse when we restrain becuase she fights being held and gets physical back. Yes...I know then it seem so counterproductive to ever do it. She definately know that the behavior was bad. She is sorry... but we are trying to help her understand that sorry is just a word and while nice doesn't mean much unless she tries to control herself.

    Last fall she went about 3 months with admirable self control. When she started getting upset, she would recognize it and go into a closet and color and visibly try to calm herself down. It was great and she was proud of herself. Then things went south again. There was no medication change... nothing different other than the holidays and she started up again. I think that is the hardest thing for us to wrap our heads around... how could she go that long and us see her trying to control herself and then now... not making any effort at all. It is almost as if she tries to key herself up even more during the rage rather than the opposite.
  6. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Have you found a pattern to the CAUSE of the behavior in the first place? Can you tell when she is starting to get worked up so you can try to problem solve with her before it gets that bad? For difficult child 1, that was the key. I had to learn to read his cues. Restraining difficult child 1 is a huge no-no (sensory issues and PTSD). He is also one that would follow us when in the middle of a rage. It took a long time for ME to recognize his signs so I could teach him how to 1)recognize them himself, 2)use his words instead of actions, and 3)handle the feelings appropriately. We are still working on all three but it is getting better. I stopped punishing for rages, beyond natural consequences, because I truly believed he was unable to get control back once he got to that point. We did a lot of processing afterwards until I got better at reading his signs.
  7. keista

    keista New Member

    Does she still use her closet ever? Might just be a situation where you have to "retrain" her? Is the closet a safe place to put her? Can you create a place for when she does rage?

    Wish I could give you more input. I just view rages as a symptom, and can't bring myself tell any parent to punish them as if the child had a truly conscious choice in the matter. If you're at a point where you can see them building and you've "retrained" her and direct her to her closet, but she refuses to defuse, that, in my book, would be considered conscious choice, and that is a punishable offense. The rage itself, not so much. It all boils down to what she can and can't control.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    One of the big challenges is that you have (trust me on this) absolutely NO way to measure whatever effort she is putting in.
    Really? Yes. All you can measure is results. Or lack thereof.

    been there done that. How can she go three months and then... not be able to? Could be as simple as accumulated triggers... and it's NOT the one that sets off the chain reaction, it's all the other ones that you need to track down and deal with. Every single one of them.

    Example - Current trigger is you and husband going on a trip... assuming, without her? Why? She knows she needs you (even if she rages... especially when she rages... she needs YOU). And YOU are going away? (you = "mom" + "husband")
    We had to turn our lives completely upside down... difficult child is NEVER, not ever, left without one of us. We hate it. It's a strain on the relationship, but... it's the only thing that works for us. We have had to track down and deal with dozens of triggers, including some that only happen at school. The accumulated negative energy eventually spills over, and it's not at any logical point, it's just... whenever the overload overflows...
  9. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I'm not sure if I understand the severity of difficult child's rages. Is she a danger to herself, others? Is the property damage enough to be causing big problems?

    This is what we did when difficult child 1 was little (it started at age 4 - he could throw a chair across the room twice his size then.) We had to make a time out room. I would restrain him just long enough to get him into the room. Then he could rage and I would stay just outside the door. He would rage for hours. I didn't punish him for what he did in the rages. We did talk about it after he was calmed down. Sometimes he would draw a picture of what he thought started it. I learned rather fast the signs that he was escalating. Then I could calm him down and/or isolate him before the rage started. Now, after years of working on it, he has a cool down place (his room) that he can go to when escalating and sometimes he goes himself to his cool down place. It is still not a punishment.

    He does get punishments for his behavior now. But, he has been through years of therapy. And, most his punishments are natural consequences. If you are mean you can't be by others. If you don't do your laundry you won't have clean clothes. You put a hole in the wall you and husband get to fix it. You urinate on the carpet you get to have plastic stapled to your floor instead of carpet. I've found the natural punishments are the only ones that really work with difficult child 1. Everything else becomes a power struggle.

    I am also very good at not engaging while restraining and keeping my emotions in check. Not everyone will agree with me about the time out room.
  10. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi bigbear. Is her behaviour "totally unacceptable"? Maybe what happened to her in her early life is closer to what one might call "totally unacceptable". By which I just mean to say that... I personally really don't feel you can treat this behaviour as if it is coming from a place of wilfulness or "naughtiness". From everything you say, it sounds as if she cannot control it, as if she is in some kind of overload, as IC said. She herself will feel terrible about it afterwards, and scared. No need to heap pointless "punishment" onto this. I think you have to treat her as though, in those moments, she is ill and needs help. Kindness will overcome this, though it may take many years. Severity will not. Having said that, would I be able to implement such a regime of patient loving kindness in response to her rages? Probably not, frankly, because raging touches off a deep seated stress reaction in me. I find it difficult enough with my son, and his "rages" are quite minor in comparison to this.
    So... advice is cheap and easy, implementing it another matter entirely. But I still feel that your daughter is unable to help herself in the moment.
  11. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I believe in identifying triggers - it's what made a positive difference for my difficult child, especially at school. Avoiding the triggers was not our goal. Teaching him to handle the triggers was. If I were try to remove the triggers or avoid the triggers he would never learn how to handle what life is going to eventually throw at him. There were even times, when he was much younger, that I would intentionally push buttons to have a teaching moment. What would happen as he grew and I were not around to identify a trigger and remove it? My goals when from surviving the moment, surviving the hour, surviving the day, surviving the week, then focusing on the future...

    When we began to "expect more" from difficult child (once he had been in therapy for awhile, had a great IEP and BIP in place, etc.) you could see the focus on his face when the school day was over. He wold come out to the car and you could almost see his body and face totally relax. For about two years I didn't plan anything but going home right after school because he needed about 30 minutes or so to just "chillax". You could just feel the effort he was putting into holding it together. This was in elementary school.

    I think what is important is perhaps a safe place to rage if that is possible. I also don't believe in punishment for a rage. Someone mentioned natural consequences and I'm a fan of that. I would't punish for the actual rage, but I would, once difficult child is calm, expect her to contribute to whatever the aftermath is. It's hard to tell you to disengage when she's at her worse but it's what you need to survive.

    I hope some positive progress is quick in coming!


  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with Sharon. We have to remember that discipline is to teach them. If you do nothing then there is no teaching going on.

    Trying to learn what makes these kids tick and figuring out what their currency is to behaving better is the key. Everyone does everything for a reason. You have to figure out what that reason is. They get a payoff in some way for doing what they do. Either it relieves stress, shows an emotion that they dont have any better tools to show, gets them out of doing something they dont want to do...or something else all have to figure out what that payoff is. And what happens right before the rage might give you a clue to what that is.
  13. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    My difficult child is much better now, but he was the same way. Terrible explosions, things damaged, holes in the walls and all of it. We did call the police, and he did spend some time in the emergency room, and a short stent in a day treatment facility. (totally incompetent place, did not help at all, but did let difficult child know we would not just take it at home). We felt much like you do now. Very frustrated and struggled with discipline. Nothing worked, and most actions only increased the frequency and level of the explosions. The two things that helped the most for use were natural consequences and finding triggers.

    Natural consequences are those that just result from the behavior. You smash the phone against the wall it gets a crack. You now have to use a phone with a crack. We refused to replace anything broken, or fix the holes in the walls. (after they all go off we'll fix them then). When people come by we don't hide them. We get a lot of disapproving looks, but we always got that anyway. difficult child had to eventually face the holes himself. One day when we were away he found poster board and covered all the holes. This happen two years after they were made, but it forced difficult child to address his past behavior.

    As impossible a task it was, if we could discover the triggers and learn to head them off things improved. difficult child had a significant difficulty organizing his thoughts. Things like he did not want his brother to touch his computer, yet he wanted his brother to fix his computer. The fact that both things can't happen at the same time would trigger him off because he could not think it through by himself. If I could see it before hand I could employ a technique called "reflecting" this is very much like some of the activities in Dr. Green's book, but with additional details. With reflecting we would slowly state what was bothering difficult child. (you state, he corrects, you re-state ... ) Once it was explained and made clear he was very good and then coming up with a reasonable solution. The hard part was catching the triggers first. With time, he did learn how to organize his thoughts and things started improving.

    Strategies we used included keeping my voice calm when he was exploding. To keep myself calm I would use the "Hal" voice, the one from the movie 2010. I would say, "I'm sorry difficult child, I'm afraid I can't do that." Just like the impersonal computer. (Some day he will see the movie and gasp.) But, the Hal voice kept ME calm and helped. Sometimes I would need to simply walk away. I remember one day, grabbing "difficult child in Training" and pulling him out of the house as difficult child raged and knocked over furniture. "difficult child in Training" was very upset. I looked him in the face and said that there is nothing in that house that is more important then you or your brother. Hugged him and we both left. As soon as there was no one to "preform" for difficult child would calm down. We never replaced the broken items, and there were many nice things we would have loved to purchase but felt "why it will just get broken".

    This is more about how we survived then how we disciplined, but by surviving and working on the mental organization skills things got better. Today difficult child still has some issues, but is so much better. I have confidence he can become a mature adult someday. Would it have been better if we disciplined more? I don't know? We sure tried everything we could. More aggressive discipline only seemed to make it worse. Could someone else have done better? Maybe. But I did the best I could and things are better now.
  14. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    For me the hardest part was learning to pull the punishment part out of discipline. For some reason I use to think of discipline as parents set rules then hand out punishments that fit the violation. This worked fine with my son but when tried the same thing with the girls it seemed like they were spending most of their time in time out or I was dealing with Angel retaliating against the punishment. She would rack up 15 more infractions for 1 attempt at punishment.

    Eventually you run out of things to take away- a couple years ago her room consisted of a mattress with-bedding and a bunch of stuffed animals with-plexiglass window and half a door (the cops broke the other half when she barricaded self in room) if I would have enforced everything by her brother's criteria she would have accumulated several years of grounding and never seen tv or a computer game.

    My girls there was some mental illness & developmental issues that were really causing the behavior problems and I needed to look to source of problems not the behaviors. The doctors tried all 3 of the medications in your signature on Angel for behaviors and all of them made the behaviors worse, all kids different but might want prescribing doctor to put those under scrutiny of hurting or helping?

    I finally decided that if child was going thru chemo and threw up afterward I wouldn't punish them, or if child was blind beating them wouldn't make them see. No I don't just let them run like wild animals though to an outsider it might appear that way. With mine when they exhibit the level of behaviors you described their medications needed adjustment; a few times it got severe enough those adjustments were done inpatient. There have also been times when Angel just needed more supervision then I could possibly give her by myself at home.

    Sorry I'm chatty and got kinda off subject again; what I do now rather then let them violate rule and take away privileges, is make them do what I want to get what they want. I figured the world kind of works that way if want to get paid at end of week have to earn your check, they don't just hand you money and say come back next week and earn it. Hopefully something in here helps
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm coming this as an adoptive mom with a child who had reduced ability to control his impulses due to his birthmother's pre-natal choices. I adopted another child who spent his early years in an orphanage. Does your daughter really have Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)? Any form of fetal alcohol syndrome is brain damage. Also, I'm guess she probably also has a form of attachment disorder.

    I don't think our older adopted kids who started out in orphanages can be disciplined the way our children who were born without drugs in their systems are disciplined. Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) compromises a child's ability to understand cause and affect. Therefore, you can give her even instant consequences to behavior and she doesn't learn from it. Is this something you noticed? Repetition does not often work with Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)/Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) anything fetal alcohol. This is a serious diagnosis, even if the child does not have the entire syndrome.

    I totally suggest you see a specialist in children who were adopted. Most have experience with alcohol exposed behavior and "orphanage babies." They are different animals from other difficult children, some of their problems being medical and neurobiological differences and attachment issues. A regular professional, who does not have a lot of experience with kids like this, is unlikely to help a child with such a complicated beginning. Many don't "get" how their early starts continue to affect them.

    It's totally up to you how you proceed to try to help her but in my opinion it has to be done differently than those who have had birthchildren difficult children and those who adopted HEALTHY (not drug exposed) infants. What kind of assessments has she had and did she ever see anybody who is very familiar with orphanage babies?

    To Malika: It is too bad some of our kids were mistreated even before birth. However, it doesn't help to be angry at their abuse. What helps in my opinion is becoming proactive in treatment and getting them the best they can have so that they can become the best possible, regarding their potential. You can't let a child be violent just because he was treated in a violent way. That just repeats the cycle, which happens all too often anyway...Believe it or not, these kids tend to respond best to very structured and strict caregivers who they believe will keep them safe. Loving on them is fine, but it doesn't solve the problem and some are afraid of love and get even worse. That's why in my opinion our amateur help can't do much for this particular mom. Her child has issues that are deeper than most of our children's. She needs a serioius professional who understands child who have experienced what this child did before she even met her family. With a child from an orphanage who may have Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), leniency is NOT your friend, unfortunately. They need concrete consequences that are very consistant and must be watched carefully, especially if there are other children around.
  16. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    All of you are such a blessing... it is so very nice to be able to really "talk" to other parents who have been there done that. When I talk with other friends or family about this, they certainly mean well but have absolutely no clue as to what this is really like.

    So, I'll try to respond to some of your comments/questions...

    Tedo - We haven't been able to ID a cause for many of the rages. Yes, we know that when we go on a trip (either leaving her or taking with us) the stress can precipitate something prior to and on return. But your average rages... we have no clue. And I agree that is the key to helping her learn how to deal with it.

    Keista - she hasn't used her "closet" or anything since new year. That has been what is so frustrating. When do see her escalating and try to say something gently about going for a walk or doing something to calm down... its "I hate you... shutup" and coming to hit us or throwing the remote control at the TV. That was what I meant about not trying to control (but as Insane said- granted I can't truly gage how much effort she is putting in). Obviously we aren't catching it in time.

    Liahona - yes she is a danger to us... certainly getting worse as she gets older and stronger. She can bites hard enough to bring blood and has pulled hair out of my head (very different from just pulling hair). She also will bang her head (only time she does it and not all the time) on the floor/wall whatever in a rage... very hard. We try to talk afterward but it is hard for her to tell us what caused her to get so upset. She will say things like... "next time tell me to go to the closet" yea well that doesn't work.

    Malika - I agree that she is now dealing with the choices of her birth mother and whatever might have happened in her first yr of life. That is not her fault. I want her to know how much we love her.

    Little Dudes Mom - we are working on the triggers... has been very hard to identify. You are right, I have to be able to disengage
  17. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    Love that. That is how I need to look at it. I want her to know that there are consequences to hitting us, breaking things, etc. But its the punitive part that isn't helping or teaching her.
  18. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    Trex seems to get cause and effect at least to a certain extent... if something is put away or a privilage revoked due to her behavior (and we try to tie it to an actual thing like hitting me rather than just the rage in general) she does understand why. When we first came home with her we went to an Int Adoption specialist. She had some minor swallowing issues and started with some in home Occupational Therapist (OT). Then everyone decided that she would be fine and catch up. Plus we thought this was just "terrible 2s" which turned into "terrible 3s", "fearsome 4 and 5", etc! She does have some very real short term memory issues.

    We actually have an appointment with a Fetal Alcohol/Int Adopt clinic in Atlanta but not until Oct. We are currently weaning her off of everything but the Strat and Kap. It has been so long since we have had a baseline and other than a "honeymoon" month or so no medication/class has made much difference. the Pyschs we have use have tried to be helpful... one even with alot of experience with "explosive" kids but no stellar improvements. One thing we need to do is get her into some type of therapy where she can learn skills to help her help herself.

    Thanks so much for everyone's thoughts!
  19. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    You may be right, MWM. I do not have the experience to be able to pronounce on this, obviously. I wasn't advocating "doing nothing", though... simply not punishing, which by bigbear's admission, is not working at all (though punishment seems to me rarely to "work", and that is another debate...) Working with serious professionals who understand Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) - yes, this sounds like a very concrete step to be taking and I hope something good comes out of your meeting in October, bigbear.
    I have sometimes wondered whether my son was exposed to alcohol or drugs before birth. Because of the culture he came from, it is unlikely but still possible. All I can say about him is that punishment TOTALLY does not work, whereas explanation/respect/positive affirmation does. I don't do any punishments or consequences with him, other than what are called natural ones - if he spills something, he wipes it up, etc. I do get cross with him, though, which makes him upset... I see this as a form of consequence. We have a very democratic household for a five year old. It is the style of parenting he asks for, in a sense. His teacher at school is very strict, old-fashioned and punitive... the structure and routine are good for him but the punishing makes him more aggressive and hostile, I think, and very low in self-esteem. It doesn't help him control behaviour or change it.
    So really this is just what I find. Punishment is a no-no for my kid.
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Malika, I do not dismiss your darling little boy's (and, yes, he is a doll) problems. To me, from experience, he does not appear to be alcohol affected. Maybe his birthparents were feisty, but he does not appear to have any serioius brain damage and he is not really acting unattached...that tends to be quite serious. Of course, he was adopted at a young age. A democratic household does not work well for kids who have more serious issues. we were told outright that they crave structure and consistency and firmness. I do not put cute little J. into this category (honestly, I know he is challenging, but he is adorable enough to model!). What works for you works because J. is not in any way brain damaged or physically harmed because of his in utero experience. Like you said, it is unlikely in his culture that he was exposed to drink and drugs and that is HUGE. And I'm so glad for you and J :) Drug and alcohol exposed kids do not ratioinalize well and love structure and consisency and strict boundaries. I tried both :) Sonic is older now so we don't have to be as rigid, but he still craves a strict routine and will try to follow it himself if we don't!!! :)

    This child has a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and, back to the poster, you are doing the right thing getting him evaluated for Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) an good on you for seeing an adoption specialist!!!!! You sound like you are doing all the right things. It is good that your child seems to understand cause and effect. The big question is...does he RETAIN what he has learned or does he tend to repeat it again and again as if he forgot about it the next day (short term memory can be compromised). Or maybe he is too damaged by the alcohol to control his impulses, as this is an actual medical condtion. I hope you find all your answers in October. Until then, maybe get a notebook and write down his various behaviors, what triggers them, if he seems to learn from his mistakes and anything else you feel like logging. That way you have something concrete and comprehensive to bring to the table in October.j

    Hugs to you and hang in there! We are here!