To cuddle or not to cuddle (after a rage)??

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by bigbear11, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    Hi everyone. I noticed in an earlier discussion there were comments about not cuddling after a rage? I kinda understand why but would appreciate suggestions regarding what to do then. I suppose I have been guilty of cuddling TRex after rages. Even though she would have hurt me (bites, pull hair out, etc) she was calming down she would want to cuddle and tell me how sorry she was. I always thought this was probably a good thing given her adoptive history. I also wanted her to know that I really would love her no matter what. My husband on the other hand most times will accept her apology but refuse to have anything to do with her (reasonably of course... like cudding or calling him to come up and help her go back to sleep). His perspective is that she can't treat people like that and then expect people to act like nothing happened...he will do that for a day or so and then be back to normal. I have always seen his point but felt like if she can't help how she is wired then shouldn't we let her know that "nothing she can do will make us stop loving her?" I am now rethinking this. How would you all suggest I handle it?
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Our was was never extreme, so this may not help... but we found that some rages, we knew exactly where they came from. For example... dinner is late (my fault), and rage comes half an hour after when dinner should have been? Those ones, where the trigger was legitimate and totally out of the child's control, we definitely "cuddled" or equivalent once they were under control. But... where we didn't know the trigger? we weren't so fast to be accepting... played it more wait-and-see. As we got better at knowing our child... we got better at not messing up at home (delay dinner? sure... that means an extra-big snack), and had far fewer to deal with... Unfortunately, some triggers are out of our sight, knowledge and control - school, friends, etc.

    So much depends on the source of the rage... and it is NOT easy to get to the bottom of this, often multiple contributory factors...
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im with insane on this one. Sometimes even holding the child can calm the rage. It really all depends on where things are coming from.
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Third vote for the "depends" answer. The trigger is important and also letting your difficult child know that they have unconditional love. It's case by case.....

  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am the one who made the comment. I also believe that it does depend on the situation. If your child is angry, then when you lose your temper a little and snap (after being very patient for quite a while) the child starts crying and saying that he misses his daddy or grandma (who does not live close), it seems like manipulation, in my opinion. A way to get out of trouble.

    In that case, cuddling is out of line, in my opinion. Even if it is unconscious manipulation, it is teaching the child that if you are angry then they can cry a little and you will stop and cuddle and have special time with them. I meant it for that situation.

    When violence is involved, there needs to be some consequence, but it does NOT necessarily mean that you shouldn't cuddle them WHEN it seems appropriate given YOUR feelings (if you were the one who was hit/hurt) and IF you are not going through the physical signs of fear. Another mom had mentioned that minutes after the rage where she attacked and bruised her mother quite a lot, her difficult child expected to be cuddled but the mom's blood pressure was very elevated, her anxiety was through the roof and she still cuddled because she thought she HAD to.

    I do NOT feel that anyone should be forced to cuddle someone if they are very angry or afraid of the person wanting to be cuddled. It sends a bad message that the child can abuse you and not expect YOU to need some time to feel safe around them. essentially that teaches them HOW to be an abuser and no one wants that future for their child.

    With a 9yo, I would think a whole day of standoffishness is a bit much unless you truly are afraid of the child. I don't think that refusing to cuddle for a whole day with a young child is reasonable. I would think an hour is enough, esp if they do not go back into the rage/tantrum.

    IF your child calms down from the rage faster if you hold her, then by all means do it IF you can do it safely - meaning you don't get hurt and the child isn't hurt either. Some kids will fight that cuddling and others respond to it. I am using cuddling to mean something other than a restraint to keep them from hurting themselves or others. If you have to fght the child to hold them, then you MUST be trained to do the restrain appropriately, and that is not cuddling in my mind. Cuddling is affectionate and a time to bond and soothe each other. The child's psychiatrist or MAYBe the therapist should be able to teach you how to do a SAFE restraint, but you NEED that training or you can seriously hurt your child or yourself.

    I do think the trigger is also very important, as is the level of manipulation involved in the rage.

    I know you have been here a while, but have you read What Your Explosive Child is Trying to Tell You by Dr. Doug Riley? It is super helpful at figuring out the cause of the rage.

    Personally, it would have to be a pretty bad, violent rage before I would go more than an hour or two before I gave my child at least a hug after a rage. And they would probably have to be about middle school age (12 or so). I don't know that I would be able to give a long cuddle, but a good night hug at least would be important to me, and my child even f they didn't admit it.

    You and your husband might want to discuss what you think is an appropriate length of time for a punishment or withholding affectionfor a 9yo with your child's problems. You both need to remember that our difficult children are usually at least 2-3 years behind their chronological age in their emotional/social development. This means that when Wiz was 9 his emotional/behavioral/social age would be about 6. We had to remember that when we set up consequences for him or else it was just overkill. It is really hard to remember this when they are driving you nuts, and of course this is different for each child.
  6. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I have to admit that most of the time I will not cuddle with difficult child after one of his rages. I will talk to him. I will sit with him. I will do positive reinforcement for him. I just don't feel like cuddling with him after he has thrown his fit of rage, called me every nasty name in the book, tried to hit me. I just refuse to do it. And if he will ask me why I will tell him it's because I am very angry at him and I just don't want him to touch me right now.

    Last night he was throwing a tantrum because easy child didn't want to play him. Yesterday was easy child's birthday and he wanted to play with the new Legos that he got. difficult child went off the deep end because easy child "promised" that he would play with him and now he's breakin ghis promise and lying to him and that led to the whole "easy child hates me and this just proves it" thing. So after he calmed down in his room for a while I went to check on him and he was crying and I did cuddle with him and talk softly to him.

    I guess it depends on the circumstances.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I was a child who raged and threw things. A rage attack, as I called them, used to scare me a lot. It was anger out of control that I couldn't stop or control, and I don't believe rages in kids are deliberate, regardless of what started them. After a rage I would sit in my room and want to kill myself, thinking how evil I was, and I promised myself I would never do it again. Only I knew I would because "it" controlled me, not the other way around. So I thought I was crazy. After leaving me alone to collect myself, my mom would eventually come to my room, talk softly to me and hug me. It made me cry and swear I would never do it again (and I wanted to mean it). The hug was very helpful since I was feeling ready to slash my wrists.

    Kids prone to rages will either outgrow them or get diagnosed with some sort of disorder or mental illness or personality disorder. It is not normal manipulative behavior. Due to my own experiences, I would not punish a child for raging. Yes, a trigger is often being told you can't do something or you have to do something so it seems dramatic and deliberate, but once my rage-buttons were pushed, they were impossible for me to rein in. I don't think you discipline away rages. Sometimes they get better on their own (Sonic stopped raging.) I think kids understand they behaved inappropriately and may even be frightened. I'm in favor of kindness after a rage, and not taking them personally.

  8. bigbear11

    bigbear11 Guest

    Thanks... that helps. And I didn't mean to imply that we didn't accept apology or talk softly with or hug a few times when it was over. But I must admit we don't feel like pretending that it never happened. But I love the advice and different perspectives. Can see that the trigger should really impact the reaction we have to it.

    I do know that TRex is truly sorry after a real rage... she says that she can "feel it coming" and sometimes can't stop it. I agree that those you can't discipline away. We are trying to have some consequence (losing TV/computer privilage) after one where she hurts us. That is NOT acceptable and feel like we have to do something. If she just loses it and screams but doesn't get violent with us or distructive, then we consider that a good example of "control" (trying to break the cycle of her lashing out physically) and we are very positive toward that. We are trying so hard to help her undersstand that the emotion of frustration or anger isn't bad but its the how you handle it that can be inappropriate.

    I haven't read the "what your explosive child is trying to tell you". I will pick that up.
  9. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    MWM, you took the words right out of my mouth. I would NEVER consider punishing a rage. difficult child 1 gets VERY depressed and self-critical after a rage just like you described. He has NEVER had one that was not followed by the depressive state. He's been triggered by everything under the sun but once it hits that rage level, he's "gone" and I won't punish what isn't in his control. I want him to know that my love is 100% unconditional and that I will never "leave" him, physically or emotionally. As he's getting older, the rages are getting less frequent. When we cuddle, we talk TO each other. The talk is getting through slowly but surely.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree Tae Doe. This is not willful misbehavior. It is intrinsic lack of normal control. And, yes, it normally would cause depression afterward. Often very deep depression. A rage is not a personal attack against the parent, although horrible things are often said during rages and regretted afterward. To punish a disabled child for uncontrollable behavior is in my opinion cruel. At the very least, the raging will not stop anyway and the child can decide he is "no good" or "crazy" or "evil" or all the things I used to think I was. It can lead to suicidal thinking.

    The last thing a raging child needs is to be rejected afterward. Any parent that takes t he rage personally may be helped by a therapist. Raging is not how a normal child expresses displeasure. There are many kids who never throw a tantrum in their lives and others who do it only during one stage. If it continues, you don't have a monster, you have a problem on your hands...and the child needs correct diagnosing and treatment.

    When a child feels "no good" he is more apt to do unacceptable things. I would think "Well, I'm bad and crazy anyway so might as well just tear up my stupid homework." And then I'd do it while telling myself, "It's probably done wrong and I'll get an "F" anyway." in my opinion there is nothing good to come of punishing a rage. in my opinion it will only lead to even more bad behavior and the child hating himself (and sometimes you too). Then, if the anger is too strong, you will NEVER be able to reach him/her, especially not when you are in "you are a brat/monster/bad" mode. Again JMO, but it is based on actual experience. I would have an all out rage that would keep my siblings up all night about once a month. I have been diagnosed with a severe mood disorder and borderline personality disorder.

    My parents weren't the best, but my mom understood that I could not control my rages. She was good about them. If she hadn't been, I think I would have gone criminal and druggie. At least her understanding of my rages kept me from breaking the law...I did not TOTALLY think I was a terrible person, and that helped a bit.
  11. Snoopy

    Snoopy New Member

    bigbear...I haven't read any of the responses (I'll go back and read them) but I think it's VERY important to reciprocate if she wants to cuddle. The only time I would say NOT to cuddle after a rage is if you are angry and feel out of control for any reason...due to her behavior. If one parent is upset, that's a good time for the other parent to step in and offer comfort and compassion. If the upset parent is the only one available, I think it's fair to tell your daughter that you need a short time out (grownups need timeouts too!)...then when you feel calm, you can offer snuggles and love. The word for the day about rages is CALM as I'm sure you know this already...definitely easier said than done. And yes...if she's having a true "rage", she is NOT in control of herself. And given her history, her rages are a result of trauma and neglect. I don't know her exact history but if she was in a Russian orphanage for 14 months, she was probably traumatuzed and neglected. The cycle of nurturing was not met for her in those early months. If they had been, she would be able to self regulate. Back to the offering cuddles question...she needs to know you love her unconditionally no matter how she acts. You are NOT spoiling her by giving her attention after she rages. This is exactly the time that she most needs love and connection! I understand it can seem sort of counterproductive but I promise you it's not (like it feels as though you are condoning the behavior if you cuddle her). If the rages were truly a behavior issue (like she actually could control herself but was acting out to get her way or whatever...manipulation on her part) then yes, cuddling would be counterproductive in that situation. I think I mentioned the book Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control by Heather Forbes. That would be a great book to have your husband read (even if it's only the first few chapters) as it very clearly explains why kiddos rage (ones with an adoption history). You might even be able to find a copy at your local library. It took a long time for me to understand my daughter wasn't able to control herself. I knew it in my head as people would tell me this (and I read about it) but I didn't truly understand it and integrate it into my being until I read Heather Forbes words. A little off topic but this can help with rages in the long-term (or things that trigger rages)...I have a wonderful method that our attachment therapist taught us to gain compliance and cooperation when needed. PM me if you are interested. It might be helpful.