Spitting, hating, hitting . . . what do you DO?!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by becklit, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. becklit

    becklit Gimme 5

    I am really struggling with my 5 year old difficult child. He recently started seeing a child psychologist but I haven't gotten really any concrete advice on what to do with certain behaviors. I'm on the waiting list for The Explosive Child at my library, but need some advice NOW. I taught elementary school for several years, and thought I was pretty patient and had a pretty firm grasp on how to deal with certain behavior problems until now. I am completely at a loss. Nothing seems to work.

    Have you had the following problems and what did you do about them?

    1) constant spitting--in anger and also for absolutely no reason. In people's faces (even at new baby sister), here, there and everywhere. Disgusting! It's absolutely infuriating to me and I don't know how to get him to stop, or at decrease it's frequency.

    2) saying "I hate you" to everyone in every circumstance. I know this is just a child's way of expressing frustration and anger, but I can't stand it because it is so hurtful and it's an awful example for his two year old brother who has picked up on it.

    3) Hitting. Hitting. Hitting. He'll slug his sister for no reason as she walks by. He takes punches at anyone who crosses him. He has this certain giggle that makes me cringe and shudder every time I hear it because I know it means he is up to something that is going to hurt someone else. He seems to find it highly enjoyable to makes his siblings shriek in pain.

    All of this is CONSTANT and I'm at a loss. I know I probably make it worse because I get so impatient and frustrated with him. I start each day with a new resolve to be totally calm, loving and understanding with him . . . but by the 10th episode of the day I've had it. My voice is no longer quite so sweet and I probably plop him a little to hard onto the "stop- it stool" (our version of time out) and I feel compelled to throw him in his room and lock the door. He is destroying my other children's lives. He disrupts EVERYTHING and has destroyed the visions I once had of how family life is supposed to be. I find it a horrible struggle to stay calm and I'm so frustrated with myself because of it. The joy is gone. The life is being sucked out of me, and I used to be such a happy, positive, and friendly person. Now I don't even want to go out of my house . . . and I don't very much. I used to pride myself on my ability to interact with children and now I'm failing with my own child. My self-esteem is ZERO. Please help. I find myself wanting to escape (permanently) and it scares me. I don't know how long I can hang on.
  2. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Don't beat yourself up! You are human and you wouldn't be here if your were not looking for and trying to help your family.
    All of us feel frustrated. Until you figure out what is going on with difficult child you have to go easy on yourself and him a bit.
    I would be firm with the most important things, the things that can slide... let them.
    if he is having a meltdown, spitting or hitting. Let him know it is not OK. I would remove him automatically from any situation. I remove K from the room if she touches her sister. N has a safe place that she goes to.
    For you it would be harder with the baby, but I get everyone in a "safe place" and then take K to another room until she can calm down. (We have to use some alternative techniques that our psychiatrist has taught us, but it is because of her diagnosis)
    If we are out, we leave the place the if she starts getting violent or oppositional. It is very hard when you don't know what you are dealing with.
    I try to distract her, we also do role playing. Re-enacting how she treated others. (not actually hurting each other)
    A lot of it depends on how unstable your child is. Does he like rewards? Use rewards for an hour of good behavior in the beginning, move it to a longer period if he responds.
    No spitting for half a day, he gets something he loves... things like that. It is OK to teach some of our kids cause and effect. Bribary is good at times!!!

    I wish you luck. You are doing a good job...
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think you need to get a good evaluation, not just behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy is not very effective with certain disorders and it sounds like something big is going on with your daughter. I'd see a neuropsychologist. I have a few questions that can help us help you. ODD almost never stands by itself. All the kids here have ODD behaviors--it's finding out the cause of the ODD that's a challenge.

    1/Are there any psychiatric problems on either side of the family tree? Any substance abuse? Any neurological problems you know of, such as any form of autism/Aspergers?

    2/How was her early development? Did she cuddle, make eye contact, walk and talk on time, and can she interact well with her peers? Does she "get" how to socialize? Is she sensitive to light, noise, foods, textures, etc.

    Welcome to the board. Others will come along. It is hard for anyone to tell you how to react to your child (including a psychologist) without knowing the REASON behind the behavior. A regular psychologist usually doesn't do the intensive testing of a neuropsychologist, and that can lead to diagnostic errors.
  4. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I'm sorry you're in such a difficult situation. Your difficult child's behaviors sound like some of the things mine did for a long time. I found that time outs had no effect on his behavior, and it was so unpredictable that I could never tell from one moment to the next what was going to happen. Have you read Nancy Thomas's book 'When Love is Not Enough'? It's written in the context of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) but the principles can be applied with an ODD situation. I found it very helpful with my difficult child. I believe Thomas wrote a second book that wasn't so well received, but her first book is worthwhile.

    I have to run but will try to post again later - sorry! Hang in there!
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think you have a couple of things working against you here.

    1) Your professional training. You have already raised a couple of PCs, so you've had some reinforcement that your methods are correct. But apparently not with THIS kid. One thing I've learned above all else, is that sometimes even when we know that what we do is good, is well-respected and works, we have to throw it out and find something new.

    2) The "stop-it" stool. If this was working for THIS kid, you would have had some impact. You need to find another way.

    That's not to say that a lot of your training can't come in handy, but for now you need to put it on the back burner and consider yourself a new student in the Conduct Disorders online course in how to survive a difficult child.

    Notice to new student: the first lesson - read "The Explosive Child"; but since your required textbooks haven't come into the college bookstore yet, we'll have to give you some crib notes in the meantime. You will find an earlier paper written by a previous student, posted in the Early Childhood forum. These are written from the point of view of applying the book to younger children in particular so in your case this could well be valuable reading. Your "study buddy" (aka husband) will also need to be brought up to speed, as will your apprentices (the older sibs). This will act as good revision for you, to ensure you have taken Lesson 1 on board to the point where you can now put it into practice.

    Next lesson - stand in front of the mirror each morning and tell yourself, "I am a good and loving parent. This is not my fault."

    Final lesson on the list for today - when the two previous lessons have been satisfactorily completed (you must self-assess) then you can go back and re-visit your previous learning and experience, to see what is still very much of value, and what needs to be set aside, at least for this particular child.

    Fast ready reckoner - emergency short-cuts for now.
    1st - protect the other kids, even if it means quarantine.
    2nd - try to not react unless it's vital for safety. That's only for now. Keep cool.
    3rd - external professional opinion is needed, to see what other factors exist that are thoroughly beyond your control but which COULD respond to some level of external intervention (ie medications, therapy).

    Other academics will offer further input in keeping with their respective expertise in their curriculum area.

    In other words, we all pitch in and help where we have the best experience ourselves, but we've all had to unlearn a lot of good stuff, in order to re-learn some even better but more specific stuff.

    I hope this can help.

  6. Christy

    Christy New Member

    I understand your feelings. I was a professional nanny, a preschool teacher and then an elementary teacher. I dealt with all kinds of kids, difficult children included, and never lost my cool. Then we adopted my son and I couldn't believe how upset he makes me with his outrageous behaviors. He was thrown out of daycare for biting and hiting, always caused problems at the pool and playground, elementary school is a nightmare, and I was constantly screaming and dealing out consequences. I could not understand why I had been able to deal with other difficult children but my own son was causing me to have a nervous breakdown and then I realized theat there were two reasons for this. One, he's all mine 24/7 and this gave me a totally new perspective of what the parents of problem children in my classroom are going through. Teachers, like others, often assume bad behavior is a result of bad parenting. And two, the biggest reason I was so exsaperated, difficult children behaviors reflected poorly on me! I had a rep as a great teacher and now I had was responsible for the worst behavior problem in the school. I felt for the teachers because I knew how difficult it was to have my son in class. I was embarrassed and this made me react to severely with my son. It wasn't until I looked at the situation differently that I was able to focus on being the warrior mom my difficult child needed. I left teaching and made difficult child my top priority. I swallowed my pride and began to contact local agencies asking for help dealing with my son. There is an intensive behavioral support program that is run through our state and county, usually children are refered by social services or another agency. I was the first parent to refer herself. We got great services now for my son. Has his behavior improved? Not so much yet but I am hopeful. I am also thankful that others have a chance to see what we are struggling with and can offer suggestions of whre to go for here.

    I am probably way off track by now, but I wanted to respond to your post because I identified with your feelings. Try not to personalize (how hard is that!) difficult child behaviors and don't blame yourself. Step back and ask yourself how you would address this if he were a child in your classroom.

    Good Luck!
  7. becklit

    becklit Gimme 5

    Thanks for the responses.

    TOTORO - Thanks. Role playing is a good idea. I've tried the reward thing but I'm not very consistent because it gets exhausting. You just want your child to "behave for the sake of behaving" sometimes. At times when I've tried the reward system it seems his like his bad behavior escalates on purpose because he knows what I'm trying to do and he won't be manipulated/bribed. Also, the rewards that are meaningful to him are
    a) things that seem to escalate the behavior and are things we are trying to limit (i.e. sugary treats and/or video game time. ) or b) terribly expensive (such as Star Wars toys). I will have to try again and maybe think of other non-material rewards such as one-on-one time spent with me or a trip to his favorite museum. It is such a temptation to "bribe" him with video game time because at least while he's playing he is leaving everyone alone. He would play for hours if I would let him, but my innate parenting style won't allow it because I know it's "not good for them". What do you think? I don't allow any violent, shoot 'em up games . . . the most aggressive one that he plays is Lego Star Wars (no blood and guts, just little lego people falling apart.) Is it okay to stick him in front of a game for my sanity? So far I've been super strict about limiting him. He probably plays for about an hour or two a week (if that) right now.
    Thanks for your input.

    MIDWEST MOM- I have a history of anxiety/depression and am on Wellbutrin for it. I am especially bad post-partum. I was actually hospitalized for a few days 6 weeks after the birth of difficult child because it was so severe. I often wonder if my struggles then, contributed to his struggles today. (i.e. Did I not bond appropriately? Did my feelings of overwhelmed , exhausted, inability to cope for awhile leave him permanently scarred?) Lots of guilt about that. My depression was in check for awhile and things were going great until a military move took us away from supportive friends. (That was 4 years ago!) I do not have a lot of support here, and the depression is escalating . . .

    I think both of my parents have had some major bouts of depression although it has never been "diagnosed". They would deny it . . . major STIGMA about mental illness! They are good, functioning, wonderful loving people but I've seen signs over the years, especially now that I've learned a lot through my own experience. I've heard my dad's parents were a little "wacko" (I hate that term), but I've heard stories of his mom threatening to drink lye to get the kids to behave. There was also something about her chasing my grandpa around with a knife. My grandpa apparently was always having "heart attacks" that took him to the hospital frequently or got him out of doing work around the farm. (I wonder if these were panic attacks . . .) I have an aunt on the same side of the family that I don't know a lot about, but I know she was hospitalized and went through shock therapy for some kind of mental illness. My niece was diagnosed with Aspergers. So yes . . . there's history.

    My son's early development seemed normal, except for the fact that he talked very well, very early. He was speaking in full sentences with an enormous vocabulary by age 2. He is 5 now, and is reading on about a 3rd grade (or higher) level. He is sensitive to loud noises, is very picky about what he will eat, and tags on clothes bother him. He has a hard time socially . . . wants friends but gets very bossy and impatient and kids lose the desire to associate with him. It breaks his (and my) heart.

    After doing a lot of reading I was thinking it might be Aspergers, but the child psychiatric says it's not??? She says he has tendencies and characteristics of it, but it's definitely not Aspergers.

    My husband has had a very difficult time with this child and has from the beginning. I love him, but he has his own issues (i.e. an explosive temper). The following issues have since been resolved through the appropriate channelsand I hate mentioning them because they were not frequent or excessive (although ANY is too much) . . . but when my son was younger there were some incidents where my husbands temper got the best of him. I walked in one day when he was "patting the baby/difficult child" a little too hard on the bottom to get him to stop crying at age 4 months, a little later on some bruises were left on difficult child's legs from some squeezing , and there was an incident when difficult child was about 11 months old where daddy lost control with everyone and did some major yelling, pushing of me, and manhandling of the oldest two children. (Very uncharacteristic.) There is one other major incident that I can think of when my husband stuck his finger in my son's throat to get him to stop crying during a major tantrum throwing at about age 3.

    This child has also been spanked more than any of the others because he is so incredibly hard to deal with.

    Could any of these things be the CAUSE? None of these things were habitually repeated. It is not a case of consistent and violent abuse--just a few really bad random episodes. But were they bad enough to negatively affect a child for life?

    Do I tell child psychologist about all of this? I fear it so badly because I'm afraid there will be a misunderstanding and my husband will get in trouble NOW even though it's been resolved through proper authority and is no longer an issue. He also HATES it being brought up because he is so mortified that anything ever happened.

    Sorry so long . . . Help.
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Personally if that is a regular child psychologist making the call, I'd be looking for a more thorough evaluation. Developmental peds, pediatric neuropsychologists, and Autism clinics typically are reported here to be better bets.

    Does he now--or has he in the past-done a lot of lining up of toys or other objects either in straight lines or formations?
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    No, I don't think they're the cause. I think those things exacerbate a type of personality that already exists.
    in my humble opinion.

    Since you have a history, I would definitely get a diagnosis.

    In the meantime, this is going to sound ridiculous, don't hit, spit or yell back. :) Use a firm tone and send him to his room. He is overwhelmed and angry and does not know how to deal with-what's going on in his head. It will also keep him away from the other kids. (I hope he's good about going to his room.)
    At least in our case, our difficult child would go to his room and rage, trash the room, and eventually calm down. But it took yrs of practice. (Sorry, it may not take that long with-you.) Looking back on it, I truly believe that if we had known our difficult child had a wheat allergy (or Celiac's) and had put him on a stimulant earlier, we could have avoided the horrid things that happened to bring me to the point where you feel now. But armchair quarterbacking is soooo easy ...

    So I'd get a grip on it right away, because you've got a lot of kids to deal with-, plus little support and a history of moving in the military.
    Not a good combo.

    with-the sensory issues and the above-level intelligence your difficult child exhibits, you could very well be dealing with-an Aspie. Watch out for a quick diagnosis, though--many psychs think that merely because a kid is very verbal he's automatically not an Aspie. Sounds like you've already been through that. I second the above comments to find a neuropsychologist. And then get a 2nd neuropsychologist opinion if nec.

    About the room issue--our child psychiatric gave us an idea to race our son to the bedroom very slowly, by saying, "You go to your rm now or I will go there first and grab anything that's lying on the floor and keep it." Of course, your difficult child will consider that a non-serious threat and won't move. Then you begin walking. If you actually make it to his rm, start to pick up stuff. Expect a MAJOR meltdown. And maybe even a physical confrontation. (It helps to have a big, calm friend with-you when this happens. Would your husband be calm enough to pull it off, given his history? It would be nice to give him a chance.)
    You will have to do this a few times for difficult child to get it through his head that you mean biz when you send him to his rm. Mine has blocked me on the stairway and spat on me.

    We keep a list of the behaviors to tell the child psychiatric, and he'll look at difficult child and in a stunned and deep-man tone of voice, and say, "You SPIT on your MOTHER?" difficult child really respects him and for whatever reason, the child psychiatric can do all the same things we do but difficult child will listen to him.

    Once difficult child has it in his head that you mean biz, and that you will "report him," you can work on new behaviors. Okay, you're supposed to be working on new behaviors right now, LOL. But I know you're overwhelmed.

    I would suggest only working on one or two behaviors at a time. It's too complicated and exhausting to tackle it all at once.

    In your case, just in my humble opinion, I'd address the safety issue around the other kids, first.

    I'm glad you found us! I know how you feel.
  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I too can relate to your feelings. I have been teaching for a long time and in school am very good with difficult children but my own son has brought me to my knees. It has truly been a journey and one we are still on. The spitting to me was always the worse-such a sign of disrespect-it would drive me crazy. I learned quickly the more I reacted the more he would do it. We also deal with the hitting and the I hate yous. The I hate you part you have to learn to detach from. Try not to take it personally. Most times now it doesn't even bother me though from time to time at the right moment it still hurts-so I know it is easier said than done.

    Sending understanding hugs your way.
  11. OpenWindow

    OpenWindow Active Member

    Kicking, biting and spitting, "I hate you" - yep been there done that too. Behavior charts and rewards didn't work for him either. Same as yours, he figured out quickly what we were doing and did everything he could to sabotage it. He wanted to be in control.

    You have to find what motivates him. I have only found a few that motivate my difficult child, and one is video games. I used to limit video game time but than I realized it was really the only thing difficult child enjoyed. So I used it as a reward for everything. He played a lot of video games, and still does, and I don't believe it has been a negative thing. It helps him with the other kids - they are all talking about the games and so is he. easy child's friends come over and he can play games with them. He is still getting good grades in school. He does get worked up after playing too long so I do make him do something active and away from the video games, but it has worked for us. When he does do his chores or clean his room, it is usually only because we tell him no video games until the other stuff is done.

    One thing I learned from the Explosive Child was that difficult child doesn't really want to be in trouble all the time, he doesn't want to make us mad. What child would really want to be in trouble all the time? When I look at it like that, it makes it easier for me to cope with him and to try to help him learn the right way to act and react, instead of just disciplining all the time.

  12. freckledpotter

    freckledpotter New Member

    I have been experiencing similiar things with my difficult child for 10 years. He is only 19 mos. older than his brother and has always been violent toward him. I just want to let you know that it's not your fault and you're not a bad parent!!!! I have dealt with those feelings too, and the best thing that ever happened was finally getting a diagnosis and realizing that all of it isn't happening because I'm a bad parent. Hang in there, keep the other kids safe, keep your difficult child safe and you will make it through. Glad you're here and hope you find some peace (even just a little) soon!
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Becklit, you had a few questions. I will deal with them in reverse order.

    You mentioned (reluctantly) some past incidents when your husband lost his temper, and could these incidents have caused your son's problems?
    Seriously - I doubt it. However, the tendency in your husband to have a short fuse COULD be interfering with your son's ability to control his own temper and to respond appropriately to his dad. We have a similar problem with difficult child 3 and husband, because in the past husband has tried to be the heavy authority figure and it has backfired, badly. NOw most of difficult child 3's oppositional behaviour is reserved for husband. If there is an unpleasant task to ask difficult child 3 to do, I now have to do it because for husband, difficult child 3 will almost automatically object. Instead, we try to reserve some positive fun stuff for husband & difficult child 3 to do together, to try to rebuild a good relationship.

    However, this is after several years of using "Explosive Child" techniques (although we did see amazing improvement in difficult child 3's behaviour fairly quickly).

    Your husband didn't cause these problems. There is something more that your difficult child 3 was probably born with, that requires a different approach to what people think of as the usual effective parenting methods.

    And now your other question. Becklit, you asked, "s it okay to stick him in front of a game for my sanity?"


    That's my call, anyway. If your son finds that playing computer games helps him in any way, I would let him. However, it does need to be regulated, at least to a certain extent.

    We live in a house full of computer games. We did try to strictly control it at first but trust me, difficult children will find legitimate ways in which to indulge their craving. I say LEGITIMATE ways, because they will swap games, borrow games, even do the same thing with game systems. They will go and play at friends' houses and get to play there. The more you try to restrict it, the more your game-obsessed child will resent restrictions which do not seem to be imposed as strictly on others.

    So what do you do?

    We re-thought the whole thing. Why were we so against computer games? After all, the kids are building a range of skills in fine motor coordination. With newer game systems like Wii, they're building gross motor as well. OK,the close screen stuff isn't good for eyes but it's not that bad, either, especially if you impose the same rest breaks that a responsible workplace imposes on its keyboard operators. Standard health rules and O H & S guidelines SHOULD be taught to ALL game-playing obsessed kids. If they learn them now, they will do well later, in the workplace.

    However, kids do have other things they need to do in life. We need to manage self-care (washing, dressing, eating). We have chores and responsibilities. We have social interaction. Gaming shouldn't interfere with this.

    After observing difficult child 1 (our first obsessed gamer) we could see tat for him, playing computer games actually helped in many ways. it also helped relax him. We did find though, that some games made him more tense and so we limited his play of such games. difficult child 3 was much worse with the games that unsettled him. We had to ban him from some games, based on how tense he would get when playing, and whether he had nightmares if he played them later in the evenings.

    Home-schooling does increase the temptation to play computer games when the kid should be working. We even managed that one OK.

    We put a number of things in place and looking back, I am pleased with what we did because by sheer fluke, we did things in harmony with "Explosive Child" methods.

    Step 1 - respect the child, and the child's property. In many cases the computer game system, or at least the games, belong to the child. They may have been birthday or Christmas gifts, but you can't take them away without disrespecting the child. And remember - you, the parent, are teaching the child how to show respect. This means you show respect first and do not make your respect to them, to be conditional on their good behaviour. You need to find other ways to deal with misbehaviour. (I know this is controversial, but how often do we read on this site, of major tantrums surrounding a kid being banned from gaming for various periods of time, as punishment?)

    Step 2 - still showing respect; involve the child in discussion and decisions surrounding game times. Chores need to be done, self-care needs to be taken care of. Gaming is permitted outside these parameters, but also to ensure balance and a good night's sleep, there needs to be some level of control (as I described) as well as a curfew for gaming. So, in discussion with the child, ask THEM to help set the boundaries. Don't be afraid - this can play into your hands remarkably well.

    Example: difficult child 1 was gaming almost constantly. They were games he'd bought himself with his own money, so I couldn't confiscate them. Of course, I could always shut off the household electricity because I paid THOSE bills. So he knew I had him. But he was old enough for common sense, too. He was home-schooling at the time and would often retreat into gaming to ease his stress. But schooling added to his stress and I wasn't happy about this used as an escape. he had to learn to face it.
    So I said to him, "YOU define how many hours a day you can play computer games."
    He sensed an opportunity ripe for exploitation. "Six hours a day!" he announced triumphantly, thinking he had just conned me, big-time.
    "Done!" I said. "But you must spend equal time on schoolwork!"

    We set up a log book. He had to note the time and sign in when he played computer games, signing off and logging off when he stopped. Similarly, we had a log for schoolwork. He thought this was marvellous, because it seemed to him that he spent ALL his time on schoolwork and not enough on games, when to me it seemed the other way around.

    It took about three days of this, before he cried, "Uncle!"
    It was a shock to him to realise just how much gaming he had been doing. He was clocking up his six hours a day incredibly fast. From that point, we were able to compromise. When it was NOT game time, difficult child 1 voluntarily gave me a vital component of his game system, which I kept in my pocket. Also at other times when he had an exam to study for, for example, difficult child 1 would announce, "No gaming for four days, until after my exam."
    I would hold the component (or leads, or power supply) until the time was up.

    Step 3 - assess the games. Sit and watch the kid play. Ideally, games should be assessed before they come into the home but you might start doing this but it can quickly get away from you. Plus, kids swap. What you need to do - work out your own rating, based on your own understanding of your child. For example, difficult child 1 is ten years older than difficult child 3. The older one could handle some quite 'heavy' games, but I banned them from being played in difficult child 3's presence. The decree - no maiming, no blood. Preferably no criminal activity being encouraged. So difficult child 1 found some games where bloodshed was an option that could be turned off. Instead of lying in a bloodied heap, the corpse would be unmarked and would gradually fade. Hmm... not sure if I was happy, but I let it pass.
    The Star Wars Lego version - the kids love it. The humour in it is great, very subtle sometimes. If you know the movies, you will REALLY enjoy the satire. So both boys enjoy the game, on multiple levels.

    Some games caused problems for difficult child 3 for reasons we just couldn't understand. These games were therefore banned after dinnertime. We found by trial and error what time he had to stop playing these games in order to have an uninterrupted night.

    Step 4 - find "good" games. That is "good" from a parental point of view. There are some really great computer games which are more like puzzles, quiet brain-teasers. A lot of educational games are little more than study and revision with computer graphics. We had more categories, games which are permitted during school hours. Other categories again - games permitted for quiet wind-down times. And more - games for family together play-time. We even brought in gaming together as personal reward for difficult child 3's good behaviour - a meltdown-free day earned him 15 minutes' gaming with me as play partner. This was wonderful in helping him adjust to avoiding meltdowns.

    On the news today has been research announcement that if we keep exercising our brain and challenging ourselves with new tasks, we can stave off brain aging. More games are being brought out which make use of this.

    So maybe our kids have been right all along?

    Our current rules - difficult child 3 may play games before school. When he attended mainstream, gaming was only permitted before school, once he was completely ready to leave. After school - this was negotiable, but we tried to get homework done first, then gaming. But that's because of the need to get homework done while there's a trace of medications on board. Now, there is no homework. difficult child 3 goes straight to his games when school finishes. However, he has been staying with schoolwork longer in order to complete a task. HIS choice; a very mature one.
    Games must stop at any time, to do chores. We do allow a reasonable amount of time to get the game to a "pause" point, or somewhere that it can be saved. We do not summarily switch games off, no matter how tempting it may be. Mind you, I have threatened to shut off the house power supply...

    At night, gaming must stop half an hour before "lights out". We have been able to lift the restriction on types of games played, once difficult child 3 showed he could handle it.

    There have been benefits to allowing our kids to play computer games as much as they do.
    First - the boys are very much in demand in the neighbourhood, as both a repository of games and also a fount of wisdom (and cheat sheets). Do not be alarmed by cheat sheets - they are a logical way of dealing with frustration and have been made available in most cases by the manufacturers.

    Second - our boys are not only skilled at how to play these games, but they have transferred these skills to the hardware surrounding games as well as computers in general. difficult child 3 is now studying software technology as a school subject, and acing it. He is already fairly sure tat he wants to work with computers as a career path.

    With both boys - knowing that we will not be unreasonable about gaming, actually helps them to relax about it themselves. They have that sense of security. As a result, they are less inclined to sneak game time when they should be doing other things. We allow a bit of flexibility, so they won't be fussing over a game not quite finished, and that way we get more productivity out of them when we need to.

    A lot of people are still very critical of how much we let our kids play various game systems. mother in law comments that whenever we go shopping, difficult child 3's Nintendo DS (hand-held) seems almost surgically attached to him. husband's friends at the train track (where he often takes difficult child 3) have also expressed concern and have been finding tasks for difficult child 3 to do, to get him away from his gaming. difficult child 3 will happily do these tasks but will instantly pick up his DS at the first opportunity. It's his choice.

    But because he has choice, he now does other things. He watches movies. He visits friends. He does read books.

    This works for us. And our boys are doing very well, better than expected for both of them.

  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I like the idea of stopping the games 1/2 hr before lights out.
    Our difficult child has snuck a DVD laptop into his bed more than once and tricked us. We have to work on that one!
  15. Marg,

    I appreciate your telling us all about how you handle video games at home. My difficult child is a major gamer. I have always wondered about how to handle all of this. When he comes home I am going to incorporate how you do things regarding video games for my difficult child.

    I just have to say, you are a wealth of knowledge and I always deeply appreciate your input on everything.

  16. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    How are things today? I think Marg has some great ideas!!! I also agree that sometimes a more thorough evaluation is what is needed. Like MWM says, we have had the Nureo-psychiatric and many psychiatrist's... the Psychologists have always centered on behaviours that we could not change, especially when K was so unstable, or we had not direction.
    For us the WII has been pretty good. It CAN overstimulate K though. So we have to watch how long she plays and at what hour.
    Some days we just have to give in to have any bit of peace in our home... she is watching TV right now. I don't like it, but she has already attacked her sister, raged, destroyed her room and tried to throw things out of the window. So I pick and choose the battles. She is calm right now and her head has a bit less chaos in it.

    I hope you are having a better day, take a little from each reply and see what works for your family...
  17. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thanks guys, for being so kind. Sometimes I worry I'm dumping too much stuff on you all.

    Totoro, the overstimulation was our main issue with the gaming, especially difficult child 3. There was also a patch with difficult child 1 and a couple of games he played for a while; we pointed the problem out to him and suggested we all monitor it for awhile. Helping HIM se the issue was most important. Once difficult child 1 recognised the problem, it made it easier for him to find ways to deal with it. As he got older the overstimulation became less of an issue.

    The thing is - if your kid is so hooked into gaming, there's really not a lot you can do, without clashing in a major way. And once the kid gets older and a bit more independent, they'll be back into it big-time WITHOUT any self-discipline you may have helped them put in place, and probably also without your input at the level they need.

    difficult child 1 at one point (he had fallen behind in schoolwork) declared that he was going to not game for two weeks. And he was true to his word, although he regretted it very quickly. He was getting increasingly frantic for gaming and finding it very frustrating. He was trying to prove that he wasn't addicted to gaming.

    We developed our different mindset to gaming as a result of our observations/experiences with the boys. Instead of viewing gaming as an addiction, we see it more now as a coping strategy and also positive training and education. However, it needs to be put in its place.

    When they know that they are not barred from gaming, they can be more relaxed about it. When you try to over-regulate it, THAT is when you can find problems escalating.

    I view it as equivalent to being told I can't ever, ever have chocolate, ever again. Or being told I can never use a computer again, never post again on CD!

    Another thing to watch out for, especially with younger kids - make sure any game violence isn't desensitising them, or confusing the child about what is acceptable social behaviour. In a kid with poor social development, you do need to keep a close eye on the games played, to ensure that they only see acceptable social modelling in the game. For example, Grand Theft Auto was a game we banned until difficult child 3 could explain to me exactly where the game was inappropriate. But as long as he COULD explain, I was OK with him playing it; after all, many of us grew up on a diet of Bugs Bunny cartoons, many of which can be VERY inappropriate if you really nitpick. Cartoon violence is often extreme and unrealistic - a character gets hit by a falling piano and is NOT killed outright, but staggers around with a large lump on his head and two crossed strips to form an X-shaped dressing. In the next frame, the character is completely unharmed.

    There are some really good games available, which can be either played as part of a family, or are good for actually helping calm someone. With the Wii, for example, we're having a ball with Wii Fit. I can't do a lot of the yoga, but I've watched easy child 2/difficult child 2 do it and seen how it could actually relax someone.

    Other relaxing games - husband has worked his way through the Myst series, which are very vivid alternate worlds accessible through books which open to a time-space warp. The scenery is beautiful; the puzzles complex. The logic required to solve them - mind-stretching. But the scenery draws you on. If a child wants to do this, they may need an adult to work with them. The game can be stopped and saved at any point and it would be a good way to relax before bedtime, for a compulsive gamer.

    difficult child 3 spent his first 6 years in mainstream education learning almost nothing. When he was home for much of his final mainstream year (Grade 5) I discovered to my horror that he had practically NO knowledge or comprehension of geography. We were to go on holidays to Melbourne, driving from Sydney, and difficult child 3 thought we were on the other side of the world. Or he would mention something he'd forgotten to bring from home, and ask if we could just pop home and get it. Showing him a globe brought no comprehension at all.

    So we bought a copy of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" (which I also thoroughly recommend, even before bedtime) and it did the trick - it gave difficult child 3 enough basic understanding of how the world interconnects, to be able to expand his knowledge from there.

    Computers and computer games are non-judgmental. If you have a child with self-esteem issues who is afraid to raise their hand in class, or a child who is really struggling academically, games can actually open academic doors in their minds.

    Choose wisely, try to test out the game before you buy, if you have the chance. And maybe do a deal with the child - spend a proportion of total gaming time on your choices to earn game time on their choices.

    Computer education systems - there are some good ones. difficult child 3 is enrolled with Mathletics, which costs us A$99 a year. It is equivalent, in my view, to another highly publicised, heavily promoted, door-to-door-marketed version which costs thousands. For us in Australia, Mathletics matches out school curriculum. It was actually difficult child 3's correspondence school that got us into it. Other mainstream schools use it for their students - the fee allows the student access to a very detailed website that works them at their level of mathematics and also allows them to test themselves against other students from anywhere around the world.

    For a lot of difficult children, gaming is like breathing. While it is important to encourage the kids to keep some degree of balance, the child's ideas and your ideas will be different. You will need to compromise. But some degree of compromise will be better than trying to enforce your will exclusively, because compromise also teaches the child the need for some degree of self-control, and THAT is what your child will need to develop in order to plan for an independent, productive adult life. And because our kids are slow to learn THAT one, the sooner we start to teach it, the better!

  18. nettycandy

    nettycandy New Member

  19. nettycandy

    nettycandy New Member

    im going through the exact same thing it seems all i do is cry about it anymore but you sound identical in what im dealing with i feelso alone
  20. Hi Nettycandy, I'm sorry that you're dealing with this. This is a wonderful support group and someone else will respond soon. I wanted to let you know that you are on an old thread. Maybe you can start a new one?