Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by jennisue, Apr 5, 2010.
Hello and welcome! I would suggest reading The Explosive Child by Ross Green for a start. I think it might help you more than the other, although the 1-2-3 has a good concept for a young child who doesn't have special issues. If you check out other threads here, you will find that you aren't alone in your frustrations and efforts to help your child and there are many words of wisdom born from experience here- not all ideas work for all our kids but you can choose which ones to try or not.
Hello and welcome, jennisue!
Hi Jennisue, welcome.
I agree with-Klmno, that many of those books are for kids who do not have special issues. Great concept, but in practice, not so good.
Try to watch your son to see what sets him off. How does he transition? Like, when you call him for dinner, how much notice do you give him? Try 10 min, then 5 min, then 1 min. If he's playing with-something, it it's huge, he'll have to leave it in the other room, but if it's a little toy, maybe he can bring it to the table to ease the transition.
Do you have any emotional/psychiatric/neurological issues on either side of the family?
How does he do in school? I'm wondering if he's ODD to just the family or to everyone.
Also, keep an eye on what he eats, because allergies can make things much worse. (You can read about elimination diets all over this board by doing a search.)
Jennisue, we strongly advise you not use real names here, or anything to give away your identity in detail. The reason - things may be OK now, but at some stage in the future you may have a problem with a teacher, a doctor, a member of the family, some other person and you need to know that such a person can't track you back to here and read everything you might have said about them.
For example, I once vented about difficult child 3's teachers. Because I use a pseudonym (Marg is not my real name, it is a name I was ALMOST given when I was born so I feel I can own it, but the only ones who know are my siblings and I trust them) I was able to vent freely about the cow who was bullying my son in the classroom and totally ignoring all the professional advice she had been given. This teacher went further - she banned therapists from visiting the classroom, in later years. She didn't ban it when difficult child 3 was in her class, she knew I would take action because legally, she can't do that. But the parents of difficult children to follow were not so game as me, were unwilling to get this teacher even more off side, and so they put up with the bad behaviour and the bullying. And their kids suffered.
Now i know if I had used even first names only, this teacher would have probably found my posts and known exactly what I was saying about her. She's done it before, when I've written articles for various journals. In writing journal articles I was far more careful about what I said and of course I never said anything that wasn't true, but she still did her best to blacken my name using what I had written, showing her colleagues and telling them I can't be trusted.
Now I'll read your post...
The speech delay isn't necessarily language delay, but it still can be a red flag for autism. That isn't necessarily bad news, by the way. Autism can be an explanation, not a disaster. Once you understand it and can work with the child, you can see some wonderful things. But if it's handled badly (or not handled at all) then yes, L's bio-dad's behaviour now could fit. However, there are a number of conditions it could also fit. All need to be considered.
As for handing other adults who undermine your authority - stand firm and tell them, in front of your child, that you have made a ruling, you are the parent, and to please not undermine your parental authority. It is possible to say this nicely, but it does need to be said firmly, no joking. simple say, "I'll beat that in mind for next time, that you're OK with this. But for now, I've said no and I have to abide by this or he will never learn."
If they argue, take your child by the hand, walk away, stash your child somewhere out of earshot then come back and discuss it. Make it clear - your parental authority is NOT to be undermined. If they disagree, they are to tell you where he can't hear it. You WILL listen to them, but not with the child's ears flapping. He needs firm consistency, and even if you have just made a bad decision, YOU must be the one to say to him, "OK, I have changed my mind, you may now go and climb the tree after all," and not simply because someone else changed your mind for you.
I am fortunate indeed to have a husband who is also an active co-parent. But we don't always agree. Sometimes husband will fall into the "because I said so!" method of parenting, which is disastrous for ODD (and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)). Sometimes he can getaway with it, but it's a bad idea to do this too often, because it can trigger the kid into opposing the parent on principle, because it really does sound like an adult throwing his weight around simply because he's bigger, or older. But I can't undermine husband in front of the kids. Similarly, if he disagrees with me, he has learned to discuss it with me out of earshot. Sometimes husband, or I, will take the other's hand and say, "We need to talk." We leave the room and discuss the situation, come to a decision then come back into the room and tell the kids, together. Or sometimes we agree on who will "do the job". For example, thanks to past issues, difficult child 3 tends to respond more hostilely to husband than to me, so lately I've been given the more unpleasant jobs to ask difficult child 3 to do because frankly, he will take it better from me. And I've given the nicer tasks to husband, to get difficult child 3 to do with him (such as "Hey, son, how about you come out to the workshop and learn how to use the wood lathe?").
The behaviour problems at school and even more at home - that could fit with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) too. Keep a diary on his behaviour, maybe ask the school to do the same. What you're looking for here is what is happening BEFORE the bad behaviour. Also, "bullying" at school - how is it defined? Bullying is generally more subtle in it's reasons, it's not just a kid hitting another. difficult child 3 was never a bully, but there were times when he hit other kids, especially if he wanted a turn on the swings. Superficially it can look like bullying, but it can also be the result of extreme frustration, and also the result of bullying - a kid fighting back. Does L try to control other kids? Does he try to say, "You're doing it wrong, you must do it this way!"? What we used to find with difficult child 3 - the school would insist that kids wanting to play on the swings had to line up and wait their turn, but some of the kids would make sure difficult child 3 was kept at the back of the queue. They might let their friends push into the queue in front of them, for example. Or they would change the rules - "we've moved the queue - it starts over here now, so you have to line up all over again." Enough of this and difficult child 3 would hit someone.
difficult child 3 also missed social cues or misunderstood them - we were playing chess one day after school and difficult child 3's friend (and he was a good friend, too, although not a difficult child) was enjoying the game and smiling. difficult child 3 got angry with him and we couldn't understand why. difficult child 3 accused his friend of cheating, of trying to do something wrong. But he couldn't explain why he thought his friend was doing the wrong thing. I had to take difficult child 3 outside and get him to talk to me, away from the scene which was escalating him rapidly to rage point. ANd it turned out - it was because his friend was smiling. difficult child 3 had been exposed to too many kids who would smile as they were mean to him, and had sadly learned that a smile like that was generally associated with someone deliberately goading him. Very sad. Thankfully his friend was very understanding and sympathetic - he'd been smiling because of the odd things difficult child 3 would sometimes say (such as, when scolded, "That's it! Now you've smashed all my grins!") and we just couldn't explain that to difficult child 3.
We had to resolve tat one, by having me sit in on the game and reassure difficult child 3 that if his friend cheated, I'd know it and tell difficult child 3. As the game progressed and I had no need to say anything, difficult child 3 relaxed and began to enjoy the game.
If L is behaving badly out of frustration, you need to do your utmost to reduce his frustration to levels he can manage. Never eliminate it, because he has to learn to cope. But it's baby steps, you don't throw a non-swimmer in the deep end and then calmly say, "He'll learn to swim, if only to survive." Kids drown, all too easily. If you have an unending supply of kids and your aim is to produce one swimmer form a thousand kids, that method works. But the body count will pile up.
Your son probably has a high frustration level plus a short fuse. Not being able to make himself understood adds to the frustration. Chances are he's getting teased for it - that adds to it. At school it's worse if he explodes, so he holds it in, to let it out when he's home on safe ground, where he knows he's loved.
You are right to insist on consistency. You are going to have to also learn to be generous and supportive, rather than authoritative. You don't become a pal, you become a helper. A facilitator. He wants to do X, you're concerned it is dangerous, so instead of forbidding him, you go along with him as far as it is safe but also talk and say, What do you think will happen next? Have you considered the risks?" You brainstorm the various alternatives. Maybe you say, "That looks a bit dangerous. How could we make it safer?"
He wants to do it, often so desperately that he doesn't want to be told of the dangers. So if you merely block and claim danger, he will simply get more obstinate. But if you say, "Let's work together to find a safe way to do this," you can both win.
It is a lot more difficult, and harder work, to raise kids this way. But the rewards are amazing.
I tell myself that I am investing in my son's future. He needs me to put aside what I'm doing, to support him in what he has to do. I wanted to have kids - well, it's not merely a case of giving birth to them, sometimes we get stuck with a bigger job than we anticipated. So we roll up our sleeves and get on with it.
If I had a child who needed tube feeding, who needed to be lifted and had to wear nappies, I would do it. I really wouldn't have much choice. It's hard work, but knowing it's your child you are helping, and doing these things for, makes the job worthwhile. You can't leave your child's nasogastric tube empty, you can't allow your child's lungs to fill up if he needs to be suctioned, you can't leave a child sitting in soiled pants.
And by the same logic, a difficult child who needs extra emotional support and much more hands-on, is just as needy in his own way and just as reliant on close parental involvement.
You were recommended to read "The Explosive Child" - I repeat that endorsement. We found tat book so incredibly helpful not only in understanding difficult child 3 and the way we had to change our methods, but also in giving us the confidence to do so, and to cope with a wide range of challenging situations.
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