Need help with plan B (Ross Greene)!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by pepperidge, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member


    I'm hoping that there are some of you out there who are trying to use plan B. I can do plan C, it is plan B that is giving me trouble. difficult child 2 is an impulsive kid and has a hard time stopping whatever he is doing when his friends/parents/brother tells him to stop. Tonight after playing WII with his brother he began to get sill at bedtime, wouldn't get out of his brother's room, was being silly with this stupid blow up toy hammer. I kept asking him to go to his room, told him it was his bedroom, made the mistake probably of telling him that he wanted a friend to sleep over I needed to see that he could listen. Anyway, his brother said something but not nasty, but more along the lines of please leave me alone. Don't know what comment he made exactly but difficult child 2 hauled off and hit him with this leather belt and left a welt on his hand. I then asked him more sternly to get out of fgf1's room, he did but then went and smashed his new Christmas present (Wii drum set). That just made me sad. I'm currently reading Ross Greene Lost at school (great book), and am thinking he doesn't need a punishment (he already has the natural consequence) but he does need help. The violence scares me, especially since this kid is way stronger and bigger than me.

    difficult child 2 has been suspended from school twice in the last two weeks for seemingly unprovoked hitting. I thought and continue to think that it was largely result of SSRI disinhibition reaction (we d/c medication a week ago). But boy the reactions seemed excessively strong tonight and really makes me feel worried about him going back to school. Maybe being Christmas day and all made it difficult. But we had a pretty low key day and difficult child 2 spent a lot of afternoon playing new game on WII, some with his brother and actually things were pretty good. I told them they had to take some time off electronics tonight so they were fooling around with Nerf guns, happily playing together (a new positive development) but I think difficult child 2 got wound up.

    As for suspension, school says he can go back half day in morning (which are typically better) while they do safe schools and FBA on him and try to figure out whether he is going to continue to hit kids. (no pattern or apparent provocation to kids he hit).

    Anyway here are my questions, you of greater wisdom.

    1) when your kids gets in a very silly state, how do you get them to listen and stop doing something when it is getting irritating, dangerous etc? With difficult child 1 often we would exacerbate it by getting angry and the silliness would shift to anger and then property destruction. I know that threatening with consequences most often doesn't work and makes things worse (perhaps tonight that certainly didn't help) but is there anything you can do? It is harder to divert a 13 year old than a four year old.

    2) If the lagging skill has to do with impulsivity (not thinking through the consequences) and not listening to those around you who are telling you to stop, what does plan b look like? Right now it looks to me like we need to stay away from situations when unwanted behavior will happen , which unfortunately is just about any social situation.
    My son seems either not clued in to what others are telling him (stop) or has difficulty stopping his behavior even when he hears stop (not sure what lagging skill that isl)

    3) I am beginning to think that my son needs a much more intensive therapeutic environment where they work on a lot of plan B all the time. Any one have any leads on such an environment for these kind of kids? Please PM ASAP!!!

    Anything else. I want to help him be less impulsive but how? I am really afraid for the future of this kid.

    At a loss, scared, and depressed.
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I haven't got much time, so I'll give you what I can.

    First, try to avoid negative statements. In other words, avoid "Stop", or "don't". Instead, ask him to do something positive. "Come over here," "bring that to me," "help me move this," or anything that changes the activity. You can't do it by asking him to stop, so directly change the action by asking to to DO something new.

    I have more, but I have to go. I'll be back.

  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I agree with Marg. Giving them something new to do allows them to shift their focus from one thing to another. Also, if I can't break into the silliness/obsession, I give one command only 'look'. I say it without anger and as calmly as I can manage, then I wait until they make eye contact with me and I try and hold the eye contact and take deep breaths. Sometimes I have to ask them to 'look' more than once but once I can get them to do that and take a few breaths, then I give them the next simple thing to do. (I say 'look' or 'look at me' - too many words seem to not work as well as very simple commands).
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think before you make a rash decision, check the medications. As one who has taken many, some had really weird affects on me and made me plain wacky. As soon as I was taken off the offending medications, things improved immensely. Never underestimate the negative possibilities of medication and always look there first. medications are a hit/miss/experiment with everybody. Sounds like whatever he is taking is making him agitated and manic.
    Good luck.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have a few different thoughts.

    First, it can take several weeks to come off the SSRI. Depending on which one he was on, the withdrawal can be brutal. Really, truly brutal. Irritability is a major problem during withdrawal. From personal experience, effexor is the WORST with this, and lexapro can be very bad also. Many of the newer ssri medications come out of the body fairly quickly but it takes the body much longer to settle back into normalcy. If withdrawal is a problem for him he may not be in control of himself for several more weeks. This may be the reason for the unprovoked hitting - difficult child may not even realize he is going to hit someone until it happens. Or it could be due to something else.

    When the silliness is ramping up usually the decibel level ramps up. If you very quietly, under your breath, whisper "shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" it can calm this with-o anyone realizing what you are doing. One of my college profs actually did an experiment in class one day with this. I use it with my husband, kids, parents, gfgbro, and even strangers in movies (LOL). They almost never consciously realize that I am making any noise at all but they still lower their volume. I find that as the volume becomes more controlled the silliness decreases also.

    As the kids ramp up, or as difficult child starts to get out of control, avoid telling them/him to stop. Instead call one of the kids over to you and ask them to do something for you that would take them out of the situation/discussion/brouhaha. "difficult child, please come take out the trash now" or "Please take this laundry to your room and put it away" or something similar. You will hear "I wasn't doing anything", "He did it" and other irrelevant statements. Don't be drawn into an argument. Instead say "I didn't say you did", "Okay, but please put it away now", etc... It redirects them into some other task and can defuse the situation with-o you having to play referee. You don't even need to always call difficult child. even if difficult child is escalating, calling easy child away to do something else may be enough to change the dynamic and avoid the drama.

    Consider giving the kids laps. make them run around the house X times, or go up and down the stairs several times. Some form of exercise that diverts their attention and gives them a physical outlet. Depending on where you live, give him a shovel and have him go shovel snow off sidewalks or dig up a garden for X minutes/Y shovels full, etc... If no garden, have him dig a hole and then have him fill it up. He doesn't have to dig the hole all at once, or fill it in all at once. Or have him scrub the bathtub with comet or baking soda. (If you want to let him have some fun while he scrubs the tub have him use baking soda and enough water to make it scrub. Then give him some vinegar (measured amount) to pour around. He will work out the energy, enjoy seeing it fizz when he pours the vinegar on (then have him rinse it with water - diluting the vinegar will dilute the fizzing and rinsing the entire tub with vinegar could get expensive!), and you get a clean bathtub!!

    Getting his attention when he is escalating is one of the major hurdles to helping him learn to control his impulses. Years ago I could NOT get Wiz (or Jess because she followed his example) to pay attention to much of anything I said. I started saying something like "chocolate pudding" or "chocolate chip cookies" in a fairly forceful voice when I wanted their attention. It worked like a CHARM! Literally like magic. I would say it, they would stop - often mid word - and then I could say what I wanted them to hear. When they asked why I was saying that first I told them that I was thinking about it. After a few times they figures out that they were most likely NOT going to get the treat but it did NOT stop working. About 1 time ever week or three I would actually give them the item when I first started using this. NOT on a regular basis, but it was still enough of a reward to let this work for several years. If your difficult children do not like chocolate, say some favorite dessert or food they get rarely but LOVE. This did NOT stop working when he was a teen. If anything the teen boy stomach made it more effective.

    As for the school, he may need an all day sp ed program where they work with him on his level for each subject ANd help him learn and learn to use coping skills and appropriate social skills. Wiz was in a separate sp ed class for all of 5th grade. It was excellent. They brought in high school and college texts for subjects he needed that level of challenge, other students got lessons on remedial levels, and they ALL got a LOT of help with social skills, manners, and any/every other issue they needed help with. IF your school can offer this with a really great teacher and enough aides to make it work well, go for it. You also may want to look at other schools and programs in your state.

    Be sure that they evaluate him for assistive technology. Wiz used an alphasmart (laptop designed for use in schools by kids - super durable, no games, no ability to load games or anything else) for several years and it really helped cut down his frustration at school, and that led to fewer outbursts. He took notes on it, did assignments on it (even math), etc... I don't know what the newer ones are like, but thank you is supposed to get one in Jan or Feb. The name may have changed but if you google "alphasmart" you will be able to find the current models available.

    I hope this helps.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We also would drop the expectations in evenings when medications were not on board, or any other times when coping ability had gone out the window. We also did our best to head off problems before they developed - so if a kid was beginning to escalate and behave inappropriately, I would often go run a bath. Or send the kid to go run his own bath. Moving the kid through a normal bedtime routine can re-establish some degree of calm.

    Also an important part of plan B - planning. Next morning, when he is calmer, quieter and perhaps a bit more self-aware, you quietly talk about it. Not with a view to "Do you realise just how bad you were last night?" but more with "What can we put in place now, to help you avoid the sort of distress we had last night?" Work as a team, ask him for ideas on how he feels he would be able to perhaps pick up on your cue, or what he felt he had needed at that point. It's not in a blame mode, it's in a problem-solving mode. If he begins to get verbally aggressive (which they can do, trying to avoid you blaming them and attacking first) then do not rise to the bait. Simply say, "I'm not discussing who was responsible for what last night. I'm trying to work with you to find a way to avoid it, should it start to happen again."

    The thing is, and he needs to understand this as well as you, and as well as the others in the household - the final problem is not the issue. It is merely the end-point of a long cascade reaction, the trigger of which may well have been five hours earlier. If you can stop the cascade at any point before the end explosion, then you have won. Big time. And so has he, because he has passed through the earlier triggers, but sidestepped the end result. This is a positive learning experience - "I don't have to explode every time. It is not inevitable after all."

    So, the next step is planning. And as with all Basket B stuff, pull back from him exploding in this process also. But do persist - do it each time. When he is very calm, then try to set some strategies in place for future events, and involve him in this process. ALWAYS avoid blaming when you do this. It's a "no fault" zone. You might even need to express it this way. "I want to talk to you about how you felt when you blew up the garden shed last night. We're not discussing blame - that's for the insurance company investigation, they'll be working on that right after they interview grandpa in the hospital. You and I need to find out what was upsetting you and why, and what we can do in the future, to help you defuse in more positive ways."

  7. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    First off: :rofl: Second thing: You have a marvelous way of putting such things in perspective in a way I can understand. She wasn't the only one having problems with Plan B.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thanks for laughing, HaoZi. I felt we needed a good giggle, even while trying to explain things. Because you have to laugh, sometimes.

    Never forget the funny stuff. Even the appalling stuff can be funny after ten years. Like the time a 3 yo easy child 2/difficult child 2 did her own make-up, with a set of multi-coloured permanent markers. I took a photo but it was the one film that went missing in the print lab. Darn it! She had drawn on red lips with a red pen, black eyelashes dolly-style, blue eyeshadow scribbled on, and pink circles on her cheeks. It did not wash off - it stayed there for a week, every day she attended long day care.

  9. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    Wrote a reply and then it got lost. Seems like par for the course this vacation.

    Anyway, thanks for the laugh Marg. I really really needed it. And the reminder to always debrief without blame. I hardly ever debrief, usually too traumatized. But i realize I need to do it. And acquire the skill of doing it.

    Also thanks for the suggestions on how to deescalate. Not sure about the bathtub one (maybe the toilet bowl?!) but I love the suggestions for getting their attention. I need to find some way of separating the two boys positively. Not sure about that, but am sure that as you all say telling them to stop doesn't help.

    We will see about the medications, hopefully it is taking just a little time to get out of the system. Only found out a few days ago that difficult child 2 had gone out on the roof (in winter snow), tried to lasso a tree (pine tree, weak branches) and swing down off the roof. And the psychiatrist doesn't think that the medications are lading to greater impulisivity? medication by the way is Zoloft, which isn't too bad stopping I think. I have found that most psychiatrists don't like to acknowledge paradoxical reactions.
    oh well.

    Impulse control is such a hard one to teach. difficult child 2 complains that his principal tells him he needs to think before he acts. He says, duh Mom doesn't he realize that I know that already? So how to teach it. Can try social engeneering to keep him out of harm's way, but that gets more difficult as he gets older and his peers are doing things he is not.

    I need a vacation. Have had my 92 year old mom here for Christmas, wheelchair and all. Is nice, but I would so like to escape.

    I'll keep you informed of my progress on plan B. Anyway gone to a Ross Greene seminar? Did you get more out it than reading the books?

    Thanks so much for being there.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You can't teach impulse control. That is what is wrong with so much discipline, especially from schools. difficult child 3 had the district Behaviour Team involved with him, trying to teach him how to manage. He could quote the rules, but when stirred up he would just react and then have to face the consequences. He always knew afterwards what he had done wrong, but in the heat of the moment he could never stop himself. No amount of punishment, or positive motivation, could help him DO the right thing in the heat of the moment. We have had to wait for his brain to be mature enough to put the brakes on. ADHD medications can help with this, but you can't teach it if the brain just is not ready.

    Punishing a kid who knows its wrong but who can't stop himself, is like punishing a kid for who he is. It will send him that message and you will undermine a lot of positive progress as well as a lot of self-esteem.

    If a kid is simply not fully able to cope, then you need to protect him from the risks he will face, in the same way you protect a toddler from falling down the stairs.

    Splinter skills are seen as a hallmark of autism (in its various forms) but you can get it in other disorders too. Just because your child is so smart in some areas, so capable in some things, does not mean he is equally capable in all areas. If you identify a problem area, don't push him too hard to succeed there; instead, lead him, support him, assist him but don't throw him in the deep end unsupported, unless you're willing to diver in and rescue him when he starts going under for the third time. It works better to give him swimming lessons, but first make sure he is physically capable of swimming. There can be so many reasons for a kid to have difficulty learning to swim.

    Maybe that's where your problem lies right now - your expectations are setting him, and you, up for failure.

    Also other siblings complicate the picture After a while they get used to conflict and seem to generate it if it is missing. You may need to use Explosive Child methods on both boys. It's OK to use the methods on PCs too. In fact, it might make your life easier.

  11. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    We had similar issues in our home too!

    If difficult child was in a silly, crazy mood - watch out! Somebody was gonna get injured!

    We decided it was a safety issue. So we had a family meeting one day and we all talked about what happens when that "silliness" starts. Everyone was able to acknowledge that it leads to bad things.

    So (and I really directed the solution here) we decided that each time Mom or Dad heard the "silliness" starting up - we were going to stop whatever game was being played and take a matter what.

    Well, easier said than done....

    The next time I heard difficult child begin amping up, I very calmly stepped in and told everyone that they need to go play separately for a few minutes. I had suggestions ready - video games, cards, play outside, etc.

    The other kids complied - but difficult child was very angry that I had interuppted the activity.

    And that was the pattern for a while - difficult child would begin amping up, I would re-direct and difficult child would get angry...

    But after a while (and I do mean a while!) difficult child began to be more accepting of this system.

    But the key for me was not to make everyone happy in the moment - remember, it was a safety issue? - but to disengage them when things start getting too amped up and out of control.

    And I think what you describe is really the same problem - it is a safety issue. Somebody is going to get hurt. And the key is to re-direct the activity before it gets really out of control. So when your "mommy-senses" start to tingle - time to step in.

    Good luck!