Something I don't understand

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    (Well, one among the doubtless many).
    There is a recurring pattern with J that I saw tonight and I think it is telling me something that I need to grasp more than I presently can. The pattern is this: he begins by having what I call tantrums (ie shouting and crying) about something or other, to do with something he wants to do or have and for whatever reason cannot, I get annoyed - not very annoyed, just annoyed, my tone of voice, facial expressions - the mood escalates until I think I have to do something to break it. So I will propose an activity together - J loves to help so, tonight, after the sweets-related tantrums (it may seem harsh on my part to limit him to a few but halloween is not a big deal here, he has never been involved in it before, so doesn't associate it with loads of sweets) that seemed to be escalating into nowhere good, I proposed he helped me make supper. Eagerly he agreed and was busy pinching the ends off beans and shredding chicken. And he is then so anxious to please, trying to be really good, saying please and thankyou, saying things like "I did help, mummy, and I like to help you!" and doing everything I ask, straightaway. He is also very cuddly and affectionate. It really is like a different child.
    I am not sure how to "deconstruct" this other than to think that despite all my good theory, I am still not really believing that J's explosions are not his "fault" and I am reacting to them with annoyance as though he is choosing to be naughty... my reactions seem to be hurting him emotionally so that he is then really keen to "get back in my good books" - which you would never think when he is raging around, saying horrible things and acting defiantly...
    This really is SO hard, actually, to see the bad behaviour as something he totally cannot control, like a broken leg (in keista's image)... I wonder if I could react lovingly instead of punitively when he is difficult whether it would be helpful. Honestly, he is such a darling when he is being "good", which seems to be related to having some directed, focused activity, that it is genuinely confusing.
    Any insights... as ever, gratefully received.
     
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    When he has an activity that he likes and can focus on, all is well... But what would have happened, do you think, if you'd had to tell him to leave the kitchen in the midst of his helping? In essence, stop something he likes?

    Candy in our house is limited so I don't have a vomiting child. Plus, he leaves it where the animals can get into it. Ugh.
     
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I think "pattern" is the keyword there- given his young age. There could be a MH/disorder issue causing it but in my humble opinion, I'd try breaking the pattern and starting a different routine first to see if that helps. Make his days a little shorter, schedule some time with him that starts before this re-occuring tantrum starts, etc. For instance, if you notice that his tantrum starts at 8:00pm, after dinner and bath, then maybe sit down and tell hiim you want to start a new routine so "we're going to start having some time to play a game, read a book, (insert whatever he'd enjoy that isn't over-stimulating), after dinner and before your bath" and see if that helps.
     
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Step, very sincerely, in this "good mood" of his, he agrees to anything and everything I ask, as if he is desperate to please. If I had asked him to leave the kitchen tonight in the middle of helping, I truly think he would have said "okay, Mummy!"
    I don't really understand it.
     
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Well, then, if he continues on in his good mood, you can try an experiment when he is in a foul mood. Sometimes when my difficult child is raging, and I feel like throwing him a punch, I walk over and put my arms around him and he bursts into tears, and the mood completely changes. What if you tried that? It is really really hard, I'll warn you :) but you just have to put your mind somewhere else and work it as an experiment.
     
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    He is always cranky and upset when I pick him after the day at school/activity centre - basically he is tired and possibly over-stimulated. Tiredness is definitely a factor - for example on Saturday night he slept less than he usually does because we had a late night at friends (unusual) and he was tired and very irritable and fractious when he woke at the usual time in the morning.
    It is just that he is SO sweet and eager to please after I have got upset with him earlier that it makes me wonder if I am not really misunderstanding something about him... But, curiously, this easy child side ONLY comes out if we do a structured activity together...
     
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    This is a great idea... I will experiment and report back :)
     
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Hmm... Then it's not transitions... But then you said,
    So... perhaps the key is structure?
     
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    OK- there is normalcy in that, believe it or not. My son was in day care as a preschooler and in elementary school and went thru a period like this. I ask his pediatrician about it and he said that it was due to having long days where he tried really hard to behave at day care but then came home and felt like he could get some of the tiredness, frustration, irritability out. IOW, it's like us (parents) having a bad day at work but biting our tongue, then coming home and venting. The pediatrician actually used that analogy and said it meant my son felt safe and comfortable enough at home to do this at home, like we might feel venting or being irritable with a partner or on this board sometimes. His suggestions were similar to the ones I threw out before. As far as him behaving fine during structured activities, I think that might be perfectly normal for a 4yo- he's comfortable with structure, and knows what to expect, what to do, etc. The pediatrician also recommended that I spend time asking my son how his day was, bragging on anything that sounded good, letting him know I understood whatever frustrations he verbalized, but not allow him to get too loud or disrespectful about all this- if he did, I was to send him to his room (calmly) and tell him that once he calmed down a bit, he was welcome to come back and finish telling me about his day- that i would listen. Do keep his day as short and low key as possible if he's having long days at day care. And try hard to find a few mins each night just for quality time, before tantrums start- early in the evening.
     
  10. lovelyboy

    lovelyboy Member

    My son was exactly the same.....at first they diagnosed him with ODD.....but later they changed it to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)...more like AS. This made a HUGE difference....I still think he can be a bit oppositianal at times.....but the motive now is more autism like, for example....struggles to move from one activity to another, doesnt like changes, literal thinking and problem reading social nuances....all these mentioned and more causes the tantrums, building up to meltdowns. Since we now understands more what activates or causes the tantrums, its easier to prevent it from happening. The psychiatrist explained to us that this is exactly the pattern, you are correct...no child wants to be so rude and ugly with his parents.....they want the parents love and affection...the tantrums is mostly neurological and cant be helped by the child....so after the bad behavior they feel guilty(good thing....because it means less likely conduct dysorder), and then they want to make up for it....this part about feeling guilty is that caused my sons terrible feelings of depression, anxiety and fear of being rejected!!!!! Since he was put on antidepressants his anxiety is so much better and he can control his outbursts much better.......Dr Greens book on handling the explosive child made a huge difference in our lives.....I would strongly reccoment it, because there you realize not to take this verbal abuse personal....in such situations, ignore eye contact......and later discuss alternatives.
     
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, that's interesting, lovelyboy. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have read "The Explosive Child", but of course reading and understanding one thing, consistently applying is another...
    It is very hard not to take the aggressiveness and abusiveness (I don't think that's too strong a word for it) personally, especially as I have trauma in my background. My responsibility to work on that one, de-fin-it-el-y... Something about a small male shouting horrible things (well, horrible 4 year old things) at me does push buttons for me, no doubt about it. He is very sophisticated in his rages, knowing just the right thing to say to hurt, and it feels like a completely different being from the innocent, adorable being who comes cuddling up to me and who is clearly so needing and wanting affection.
    I do consciously have quality time with J as he spends a lot of time away from me. We talk a lot and I try to give him my full attention when we are together. Always ask him what he did in the day and what he enjoyed most! He likes to tell me about it all, though often remembers things in a rather strange way... :)
     
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I think it is wonderful how insightful you are about the buttons that he can push that make you maybe not handle things like you would prefer to handle them. I have worked hard on this and I wish I had all of you many years ago. It IS hard to not take it personally which is why I do give people who work with my difficult child a break as long as they are not abusive, I know there is a learning curve. For me, I can handle name calling, swearing, (and I had to LEARN to tell myself a different translation of what he says/does...I literally say to myself he is really saying XYZ--like I am really scared or frustrated etc.), and even the physical stuff. BUt I g NUTS with spitting. And wouldn't you know he is spitting now. OMGosh... he usually does it when he has a cold or allergies so it is not all the time, seems to be triggered by that. but now it seems he is doing it all of the time. It is just the most vile thing to me. I can even take biting! I really have to work on this. I am so afraid I will increase it with my negative attention to it.

    I think it is interesting that he becomes so sweet and happy when doing a structured activity. It shows me something about his learning style. Do you think so? HE must be comfortable taking in information and doing activities when things are step by step or directed by someone. Good thing to know in a school setting...pick learning environments carefully, smile. (I know you do)
     
  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Keep in mind, Ladies- she is talking about a 4 yo. Not that I'm suggesting she tolerate name calling and being disrespectful, but at 4yo, it should still work to send him to his room until he can talk calmly. If that isn't working, it's a different story.
     
  14. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    klmno, I'm afraid that "sending to his room" does not work with J. I had a period - feels like years ago, but actually it was less than one year ago, at the time I started coming to the forum - when I was attempting to do that. He would go crazy - raging, throwing things about in his room, slamming the door, screaming, getting hysterical. Have never seen anything like it before or since. So, after reading and researching, I just stopped trying to do it. Any kind of "punishment" seems to have exactly the same effect. Both at school and out of it, he is now punished less because people seem to have accepted that it just doesn't work with him and he is also not being deliberately turbulent or naughty much of the time. He does get upset when I get cross with him, it seems to make some sort of difference but I do not impose consequences on him. I work much more in the way that all the books talk about for ADHD kids - by positive reinforcement rather than punishment. This DEFINITELY works. He loves to get gold stars, he loves being praised and told he has done well - these modify his behaviour much more than being punished. Of course it's not ideal in that he is not learning that actions have consequences but I do TALK to him about consequences - eg if he doesn't want to share toys or if he is rude to other children, they won't want to play with him, which is literally true and which he can see happening for himself.
    Buddy, yes, it is interesting about the structure. His teacher tells me he is good as gold during class, doing all the activities quietly and attentively. I have had some quandary about whether he would be best off in a conventional or an alternative school but for the moment the highly structured conventional system seems to be suiting him well. I don't know whether that will continue in the sense that the curriculum gets very boring here from age 6 and he is a bright boy with lots of creativity, so don't know how he will/would fare within that...
     
  15. lovelyboy

    lovelyboy Member

    LOL Buddy....mine is burping ALL THE TIME now....even teaching his brother to "fake burp"...He even has the insight to know that he is doing it to anoy me! Even if I try to ignore it he laughs and thinks my face looks funny! OMW! What to do? Maybe just laugh!
     
  16. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    It sounds like he has a hard time redirecting himself and getting himself back under (emotional) control once he reaches a certain threshold. Sometimes when Duckie was little the only way to get on with our day was to stand firm and let her have her meltdown. My thinking was that it was obvious it was coming and I could wait all day on pins & needles or just get through it immediately. The other thing I would try to do is keep a routine where she would do something structured followed by some directed down time. Duckie was never a child that could be left to her own devices but I had some limited success when I would set her up with a low-key activity like looking at a book or drawing a picture while I was doing something in the same room. Time outs were a disaster for us (I later found out they were liberally used at her pre-k school). Instead I'd make time for a "time in" with Duckie. As she grew older, I'd let her know I was putting off our time in until I finished what I was doing and made the length of time greater as she started to develop the patience to wait. The other thing I did with some success was to have a very low emotional response to Duckie when her behavior/attitude was difficult; this often prevented her from escalating based on my reaction to her.
     
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Even with plain old vanilla-flavored ADHD... there is a tendency to be "scatter-brained", which leads to things being "out of proportion"... so, the tiniest thing becomes a major battle... and the big stuff is often a piece of cake.

    Biggest challenge for us is to find that fine balance between "total control" and "freedom"... because freedom = unstructured = blow-up... but no-freedom = frustration = blow=up, so... UGH.

    After a while, we figured out where to "expect" the blow-ups... and re-structured THOSE times, and lightened up a bit on another area where things consistently went well. And... its working, but to an outside observer, they would surely think our life is strange... you can trust your kid to assemble a complicated shelving unit, but NOT to go to the store???

    There is always so much to learn.
     
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