Alternatives to spanking.............


New Member
We've all heard it before spanking doesn't work, and difficult child's don't respond to normal behavior modification strategies like normal kids......So, when you're at your limit and they're still in your face defiant cussing egging you on, what do you guys do?

Since difficult child's medication's were changed last week things at home are rough again (maybe to lax a word). He's completely argumentive, defiant to the end, impulsive, and truly is testing me on EVERYTHING.......all he is getting now is negative attention because he WON'T STOP!!!! I don't even get the opportunity to give him any possitive attention, because he goes from one bad thing to the next in a total whirlwind. He's a constant motion of running in the house, jumping on the furniture, opening doors, going through toys and clothes and making a huge mess, rough housing with easy child and getting him now all hyper and destructive, then fighting with easy child, then biting easy child, going through my papers and files on my desk, running outside and then inside (tracking in mud EVERYWHERE), letting the door fly in the wind where it almost came off (instead of holding it and closing it), becoming a whirlwind when I TRY to do a SMALL 20 minute aerobic video (for my health and sanity, but instead I'm having to stop the tape and monitor him, then start the tape, then stop it again....So last night I decided that I'm not doing my excersie after work anymore, which I started because difficult child and easy child WANTED to do it with me, and I thought that would be a healthy thing for them, and I'd have quality time with them, and I thought it would tire them out at night....but difficult child got bored on the third time and is now doing everything to interrupt it and then he getts easy child into the hyper interrupt mode, so I really can't do it), this goes on and on and on and on until bed time. HE NEVER STOPS..says he will..BUT NEVER DOES. Due to this he's constantly in time-outs, then groundings, then privaleges taken away, etc. If he sees that my attention is minutly on something, he does anything and EVERYTHING that he's not allowed to do, and I'm now constantly saying, "Stop it, stop it, stop it, STOP IT....." AND he just keeps it up. He pushes me to the point where I want to pummel him, but I put him in time-out (instead) AND he STILL keeps it up. Leaves the room, trashing the room, calling me names, screaming like he's being tortured (over and over again). My g-d what people must think. Then I yell at him to "STOP IT", because it literally hurts my ears and is giving me a headache, and I can't take it anymore. It literally drives me crazy.

What do you guys do when you feel like pummeling them to make them stop??? Normal consequences for them DO NOT WORK, what does?

by the way, I ask his babysitter every day how he acts with her, with his tutor and therapist, with the children in her neighborhood (because I've hired her to watch him and take him to his appointments so I can try and work and not lose my job)...and she said he's doing fine. Only two small outburst last week, but he quickly can turn himself around. WHAT????????

So "I" get all the crap???????? What's the deal?????

Can anyone answer that?


New Member
Wow! I would say that he needs some of the other medication that was taken away. Call the psychiatrist and start him on it quick! It takes time to get to therapeutic levels. He sounds manic! Perhaps increasing the AP might hold him for awile. Call the psychiatrist!

Can you get him outside to do some activities in order to get it out of his system?

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
What I had to do with T was find something that was important to Him. Normal punishments rarely had much effect on him. Especially when he was young. He would get up from time out and proceed right on to something else.

I had to sit down and out think him by getting creative. T went thru a long phase where leaving him alone for even a second was inviting disaster. So he wound up grounded to my side for a day. If the next day started out the same, he was grounded to my side again that day. He could play or whatever, just had to do it right next to me. T was a Star Trek addict. So I could use that. If he and he would lose the privilege of watching an episode. Stuff like that. I found keeping punishment small and to the point also helped. Grounding T for a week only confused him. By the end of the afternoon he'd forget why he was being punished.

Most importantly I had to learn to ignore some of the little stuff just so I wasn't always correcting his behavior. If all you're doing is critisizing, kids tune you out and stop hearing you. I also used redirection ALOT. If T had the energy to run around the house like he had a bee in his pants, I'd find something for him to burn off that energy. And when it really got to me, I'd use a "shock technique". I'd stop whatever I was doing and start doing exactly what he was doing. If he was jumping and screaming on the couch, I'd jump and scream on the couch. This is a good way to vent your frustration too, by the way. lol But it usually ended up with both of us cracking up because I looked pretty stupid. Which let me point out to T that he also looked silly doing it.

I still use some of these same techniques today, although he's going to be 21. They still work. :wink: Of course he's at about the maturity of a 12 yr old at the moment.


Well-Known Member
Many kids with disorders just don't respond to conventional discipline, and spanking, in my opinion, just makes them worse, especially if they tend to act out. I'd buy Ross Green's "The Explosive Child." If your child has never seen a neuropsychologist, I'd want him to evaluate my child. If he has any Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)'s, these kids think so differently from "typical" kids that they require school intenventions to help them cope with a "typical" world or they may never learn how to navigate in a confusing world that they don't understand (which can definitely cause serious meltdowns, as they feel misunderstood yet usually can't express themselves, so they act out and scream). Beware that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can be mistaken for bipolar, although a child can have both. If so, both disorders need to be treated in their own ways. Severe SIDs are red flags for any sort of autism, from very high functioning to low functioning and a neuropsychologist will run all sorts of tests to see what's going on, including tests for ADHD and Learning Disability (LD) problems. I strongly recommend that sort of evaluation. Until then, I would NOT engage in power struggles with him, and would purchase the book ASAP. Hugs and good luck!
PS--Often kids, in the earlier stages of thier disorders, can hold their pent up explosions in when they are in public so we, their "safe" people can the worst of it. As the disorder progresses, assuming it isn't treated, sometimes they lose the ability to keep it in at all. Trying to get a correct diagnosis. is very important because every disorder has a different cause and a different treatment. I would certainly ask about the medications, if he did better before, but I would not forget aboutt he Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) aspect.


New Member

difficult child has been diagnosis with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified, and other things. I "Keep" asking for intervention, and for them to teach me what to do at home to help him, and I "GET NO WHERE". For example, last week I spoke to his school Occupational Therapist (OT), and asked again what type of sensory diet does he need and what should I be doing at home. Her answer was, "nothing, because each week they have to change their stragies because what works one time doesn't work the next time, so they can't tell me what to do". I've asked my caseworker at the Psychiatrist office for early intervention, and they want to know what type and their still looking for a practioner who'll take the case. THIS type of constant put-off has gotten us to his age of 7.5yrs old AND I still DON'T have the help he needs.

What should I be asking for in early intervention. You've said that a couple of times either to me or someone else, and I've never asked you must that meant.

by the way, he has a Neuro-psychiatric exam scheduled for Oct'07. So it's comeing but still a long time away.



Well-Known Member

Your little guy is complex. Parenting him is not going to be easy. Some of the things we used to burn up the excess energy were swings in the yard, trampolines, old mattresses, bikes, etc. We even had a hammock.

It isnt easy when they get on your last nerve and escalate that way. Try calming him down with a bath. Sometimes that will help. At this point I doubt he is trying to be naughty.


Well-Known Member
I can tell you what helped my Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified son, but his interventions started before he was even three years old. I think they made him the functional, sweet teen he is now, BUT I never think it's too late. My son had Occupational Therapist (OT), PT, social skills (lots of that), school supports, and I did every bit I research I could to figure out how autistic kids think. THat way I no longer got annoyed when he had to do things his way. Rather than seeing him as defiant, I saw him as different and confused in a world that he didn't understand. As time went by, because of all the help he got, he has learned how to navigate in a world that is often at odds with his thought processes and by no means is he a "typical" kid, but he's happy and calm, and that's all I care about now. He is making fast academic and social progress, although he is still quirky. I could NOT get interventions until I called our Dept. of Public Instruction for the state of Wisconsin. Then the autism specialist intervened and our SD couldn't help us fast enough :smile: A child with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified is entitled to autism interventions, and they greatly help both in school, with behavior, and the more YOU read and understand, the easier it becomes to not only become tolerant but to see how to talk to a child with this disorder so that he understands. There are many co-morbids that can occur with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), although not always, plus there are behaviors that mimic ADHD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)--the kids are rigid and literal and can have meltdowns over seemingly silly things such as the furniture being changed or driving somewhere via an unfamiliar route and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids are FILLED with anxiety, but it's part and parcel of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified rather than a different disorder (same with ADHD/Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies). We didn't find medications helpful--it was the interventions that did the trick, however MANY Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified kids do need medications--from what I see in my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Group Risperdal is common for frustration/anger. Not all Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified kids can handle stimulants--mine got mean and aggressive on them. I strongly recommend reading any book by Tony Atwood. He writes about Aspergers, but Aspergers is very close to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified (I've read every Attwood book at least three times). I love kids with any form of autism. Inside the frustration are some of the sweetest, most loving kids I've ever seen. Truly, my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) child is the kindest of all five of my children, but, until he got the right help, you couldn't see it through the anger. Hugs and good luck and BE ASSERTIVE--Call the Dept. of Public Education in your state *usually at the state capital.*


Active Member
MWM, I read your first sentences and the mental picture I got made me chuckle - I know it's not what you intended. You said something like, "we know the usual things like spanking do not work - I'd buy 'The Explosive Child'..." and I instantly thought of "and hit him over the head with it."

Because this is how we feel sometimes, I have to admit.

But really, humour aside - this is a hard one.

[A warning now - this is a long reply. Sorry.]

Frankly, if I know that my difficult child's behaviour has been made worse by either late medications, forgetting medications or a change of some sort, I tend to not even try to fix it. Because in trying to discipline what is basically undisciplinable, I make it worse. Instead, I focus on WHY he is in my face and try to remove the trigger.

LONG Example (sorry): When we were on holiday in Tasmania, we went to Port Arthur, a historic convict prison settlement which, when it was put there, was so isolated and hostile that no prisoner was likely to even TRY to escape. The few that did were always brought back, in one form or another. But with yesterday's events in mind, Port Arthur was also the site of a rather horrific one man shooting about 11 years ago.
difficult child 3 knew nothing of that later history, and practically nothing of the first. When you arrive at this place there are some fabulously preserved beautiful buildings, mostly Georgian in style, with others in ruins. Other buildings such as the church simply weren't completed and there is a beautiful lawn inside the shell.
But we were barely inside the gate when difficult child 3 began panicking. "We've got to get out of here," he kept saying. "Something bad is going to happen."
This wasn't a medication issue, it was panic overriding anything we normally can do to keep him under control. He was becoming increasingly noisy and disruptive and although he was supposed to be listening to the tour guide, I doubt he heard a word she said.
We could have kept punishing him, scolding him for his inattention and disruption. He was getting rude with us because we wouldn't immediately take him away from the place (it had taken two hours' driving to get there and cost a fortune to get in, we weren't going to waste our entrance fee). We could have also got cross with him for getting rude to us.
What did we do? We compromised, as best we could. We were prepared to walk away from the tour so at least his moaning wouldn't put people off or stop them from hearing the tour guide. But fortunately, being on the outskirts was enough to help others hear. We trailed after the group and took photos. husband handed the camera to difficult child 3 because he's a good photographer, but that didn't work this time, he was too afraid. difficult child 3 was still complaining but he stayed with us (I think he was even more scared of being separated from us) so we simply stayed to one side of the tour group and mother in law, who had been there enough to be able to explain a lot of things, became our unofficial tour guide. We saw everything, the tour soon finished and we were left to wander where we wanted to. Some areas difficult child 3 would not go near, when we went inside he stayed outside under the trees. But other ruined buildings he was happy to visit, although in general his mood was one of fear and desperation. When he's afraid and desperate he is rude and in your face. he WAS that. He kept saying, "We have to go, something bad is going to happen."
He finally got his own way, and was predictably rude about it. "At last! You finally listened to me!" he was saying as we left. husband said to him, "We are leaving because we are all ready to leave, it's not because of you." But it was, partly. There were things we could have stayed for, which we knew would be intolerable. By this point difficult child 3's daily medications were wearing off and his panic was beginning to get out of control.
Interestingly, he still had no knowledge of the massacre and only a scanty knowledge of the convict history, which we'd already encountered elsewhere on the holiday with no problems. To help him with his expected homework on Port Arthur, we bought a guidebook (and not to hit him over the head with it, although we felt like it!). The massacre is mentioned only on the last page, with no details other than the date and the number of people. The killer's name is never mentioned in print or verbally in that area.

The tickets were good for two days. easy child 2/difficult child 2 was desperate to get back to the place, but we knew we'd never get difficult child 3 back there. Just up the road was a wildlife park which difficult child 1 wanted to look at (so did we). So next day we went to the wildlife park. difficult child 3 was much nicer to know the next day, until it was time for Port Arthur to open and easy child 2/difficult child 2 wanted us to get a pass out from the zoo and drive her there. difficult child 3 was in the car with us because we were using the passout to buy some lunch locally. When he discovered we were going back to Port Arthur, he went into screaming panic. Even when we explained that we were dropping his sister off in the car park, he was almost hysterical in his insistence that he did not want to even drive down the road. So we drove the other direction, bought lunch, then husband dropped me and difficult child 3 back at the zoo before driving to Port Arthur.

If at any stage we tried to get 'heavy' with difficult child 3 over this, it only made things worse. You can't scold someone out of a phobia. A lot of bad behaviour from our kids, especially when unmedicated, is our kids just not coping. They're not coping when people AREN'T getting cross with them, so how can we expect them to cope better when we punish?
What they need is to be able to remember that this behaviour is unacceptable, and they can stop it by doing x, y or z. In difficult child 3's case, all we could do was try to lower his anxiety level. If he had been angry, we would try to find why he was angry and sort that out - by either helping him deal with his anger appropriately, or isolation from the reason for his anger, or both. But we do our best to not react - rudeness which is connected with a reduced ability to cope plus a heightened arousal level is futile to try to correct. If you comment on it, the child knows it is wrong and is expecting some sort of punishment. If that punishment fails to materialise, the child at some level knows he got away with being rude, and this is more enabling for him to be rude again. Not good.
So we try to 'not notice'. We have a hard time convincing others to also not notice, or to leave it. i really hate it when other people step in and say, "You shouldn't talk to your parents like that - it is so disrespectful!" right when our kid is still angry or upset. It achieves absolutely nothing. We will discuss it with him IF we feel it's needed, WHEN we feel it's likely to have some impact.
People get upset at apparent lack of respect, because they are projecting their own fears about lack of control of younger ones in their environment, onto us. I have a strong enough ego to not get my feelings hurt if my child screams out, "I hate you!" with a string of obscenities. I do not do what my mother did and reach for the soap and washcloth. Instead I calmly say, "I'm sorry to hear that, because I love you. I don't love the behaviour, but I always love you." Then I leave the room. Or mentally switch off and begin some task, humming to myself to let them know I have disengaged.
A kid screaming in my face - I disengage. If they grab me physically for attention, I say, "Sorry - did you say something? I couldn't hear you, it was so loud it was distorting. You need to lower your volume so I can hear you better."
But generally, a kid screaming in my face is out of control, and you can't punish "out of control". A fireman screaming at me to get back, is not being rude - he's trying to keep me safe. He's desperately communicating to me. Our initial reaction might be, "He's so rude!" but then we look at the wider situation and see we were about to step under a falling beam. From the fireman's point of view, the situation was critical. From a difficult child's point of view, the situation can be similarly dire. WE perceive it differently, but we have to communicate that to a kid often beyond reasonable communication.

A kid whose medications are being tweaked is not in control. Just because they can hold it together for a short time doesn't mean a lot - ANYONE can do that, to a certain extent. I can walk a tightrope, for a metre or so. But If I had to walk a tightrope all day, I would fall off. If I have a lot of people I don't know watching me for a known short time, I will put all my effort into staying on the rope for that short time, so I acquit myself well. But when it's just my family I will relax. I feel safe with them.
difficult child 3 used to hold things together moderately well at school. His medications helped. They would be wearing off by the last half hour and he really had to concentrate hard to stay in control then. he didn't always succeed. And even with full medications on board, if he was upset badly enough, it would override his medication and the school would see problems.

Another reason - we tend to treat our families with more contempt than we treat others around us. There is a respect barrier in place for almost everyone outside the family. At home, we relax more. Someone else sits in our chair - we complain loudly and rudely, but if a visitor came who sat in our chair, we wouldn't react the same way. We'd grit our teeth but be polite. The visitor won't be staying more than an hour or so. Family is forever.

This goes both ways - difficult children treat us badly, but we also treat them badly. And if your child is still trying to understand social interactions, this makes it more difficult.

About difficult child 3's reaction to Port Arthur - when it came to writing up his notes, he had to use the guidebook because no facts had sunk in. He still doesn't know about the massacre there, knows nothing about yesterday's events and has forgotten about 9/11, which we only told him about several years later when he saw it on TV. He cannot handle that sort of thing, it devastates him to hear of it.
So why did Port Arthur upset him so much? We don't know. I'm not keen to say he had a psychic connection - I think it's more likely he was picking up on some sort of vibe from fellow tour members, because once we left the group he was a bit easier, but difficult again when back with a group for a boat trip to the Boys Prison. Basically, he seems to be highly empathic - surprising, in autism. But perhaps it's part of his study of human nature, in his attempts to mimic normality.

And that's just one more thing about difficult children - they can surprise you.


Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member

I so can identify with that feeling of nothing works. When difficult child was about your difficult child's age (and sometimes stilL!) he was like that constantly and consequences meant nothing to him. For him it was a matter of needing the right combo. of medications. Once he was on a better combo we were able to work somewhat with some consequences and privileges. My difficult child wants attention ALL of the time whether it be positive or negative. We try to focus on the positive and believe me somedays that is more than a bit difficult!

It's so exhausting isn't it? I know how hard it is but you need to find time to take care of you. Even if it's totally relaxing for a bit with a bubble bath or a book or vegging in front of the tv after he's asleep. Maybe the exercise video would be good early in the morning or after he's asleep? I tried to have difficult child do an exercise video with me one time-he got the exercise not me-I kept tripping over him.

Sorry things are so difficult right now. Hugs.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
I only know what "sometimes" works here - kt is informed there is no argument. She is asked to redo that. It may take her a bit, but she generally complies.

We have slowly been introducing consequences for choices. in my humble opinion, for our difficult children, it's a maturity thing. Consequences never made an impact on kt or wm. As they have matured, losing a privilege, i.e. going to the park, favorite television show) made them connect the dots, if you will.

Before this year, it was a matter of redirection, modeling good choices & lots & lots of "redo"s. kt & wm are both learning to stop & ask for a redo before I even have to say anything. kt will say something sassy, catches herself & apologizes.

Again, up until now consequences made little impact - so we worked on something that might make a difference. Now, we are teaching responsibility for choices; lay out the choices & possible consequences for choices made & practice this over & over. (Real life doesn't allow for out of control actions with-o a consequence so now is the time.)

wm has learned when he is escalating to just stop & put his head down on the table. "I need to center myself, mom". Fine with me, son.

Just something to consider.


- I'd buy 'The Explosive Child'..."

ditto on that advise........

although I can agree it stinks when you feel out of control of your own kid and there's no off button, medications don't seem to help, and your guy is younger, my 10 y/o difficult child II is very destructive now (hole in wall).

Loss of privaledges for my guy doesn't work, and trips to the mall don't happen with him because unless I am prepared to buy him everything he wants, it's a guaranteed melt down waiting to happen.

Physical discipline does not work, consequences do not work, it is all very frustrating. The dr. looked at me and laughed when I asked about a tranquilizer gun, I was SERIOUS!!!