constant uphill battle

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by odd&adhd-family, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. my difficult child, 7, is so up and down. we had a lot of behavior issues the last few weeks. i have tried now to implement two new resources. today we saw his psychiatric dr for first time. my husband refused to go, more on that later. therapy evaluation went pretty well. actually the whole day went fine for my difficult child, until he asked me about the token system chart i developed to reward him for good behavior. i explnd that with good behavior on various things on list, he would eafn stars. stars would earn privileges, like video games and tv, etc., 1 hr at a time. he looked @ it like i was taking away all his favorite things on a day he was being good. sigh.... not my intention, but now i'm the witch of the west. my son threw a huge tantrum. i gave him a choice- go to bed now or get rid of the attitude and stay up another hour. he said neither, so i picked for him-bed. i have been trying to b more firm with him and i follow through. he physically blocked me from putting him in bed every way possible. everytime i lft the room, like a 3 yr old he kept getting up to defy me. i had to drag him kicking and screaming back to bed for over an hr tonight. i had been calm and firm, too, not backing down. he was going to go to bed. whag my husband can get him to do in 5 min situation, took me over an hr and he still wouldn't abide by me. he even started pushing me as i stood over him to show him i meant business and he wasn't getting out of bed. didn't want to practice spanking anymore, but felt i had run out of options. i was finally sooo overwhelmed and defeated i put him with my husband and left the house for 2.5 hrs driving and thinking til 1:30 am. i'm not spkg to my husband and cldn't even ask for help either, after he earlier refused to attend my difficult child's 1st therapy session today. i'm so frustrated with them both. feel so alone and defeated once again.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    in my opinion rather than trying to "win" the power struggles, I would read "The Explosive Child" and go with that method. Also, I am wondering if his diagnosis is correct. Who gave him the diagnosis? Many of our kids started out first with an ADHD/ODD diagnosis, but that usually changes over time. I like NeuroPsychs the best for diagnosing. They actually test, from 6-10 hours, and cover everything.

    Reward systems and regular parenting methods usually don't work for difficult children.

    Welcome to the board, but sorry you have to be here. Others will come along.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member


    Read that book. It helps.

    Never engage in a battle that you can't be certain of winning.

    Your token system sounds good, but clearly your son didn't get it, and thought you were setting up something bad and not something good.

    The best way to begin with your son (and I do think you need to start over, to find something that has a chance of working) is to start where he is. Get into his head. Try to see things purely from his point of view. For now. I'm not saying the kid is right and you are wrong - far from it. This isn't about right or wrong, it's about perceptions.

    I'll give you an example - difficult child 3. He's got a history of anxiety and stress. He is very good at reading but refused to read a new story or watch a new film or TV show, because the necessary conflict in the story (an important part of any plot) was too stressful for him. But over time we managed to expose him to new films. We showed him a lot of "making of..." special features on DVDs to help him understand the movie making process. When he was about ten years old we had him come with us to a village film night, watching 'Mars Attacks!" We fully expected difficult child 3 to sleep on the floor mats like a lot of other children do on these film nights, but to our surprise, difficult child 3 was watching the screen. part of the action was upsetting him so I kept telling him, "It's not real. It's just a movie. They are actors. The martians are CG, they don't really exist."
    I really thought he understood. But after the film when we were all having coffee (and difficult child 3 was once more complaining of nausea, a sign of anxiety) he was pestering me for answers about the film. "All those buildings they destroyed - how dod they put them back up again? It is expensive to make a movie, they have to rebuild all the stuff they destroy. I get that. But how did they bring those actors back to life again after they were incinerated? And did they put the lady's head back on her, and the dog back together again?"
    That was when I realised that difficult child 3 was really believing that while actors say lines and are filmed, the bad stuff really does happen to people and places, it is the cost of the entertainment industry. It was to him like the old gladiator fights of ancient Rome. I felt like a parent at the ancient Roman Coliseum, forcing my child to watch people being torn apart by wild beasts in the name of entertainment and telling him to toughen up and learn to live with it. What must he have thought of us! What horrible people we must seem to him... and her he was making a supreme effort to watch the movie and accept that WE want him to learn to enjoy films!

    It isn't always easy to see things form your child's point of view, but once you can, it makes it a lot easier for you to lead him from there towards your own point of view.

    You need to listen to him. Ask him what he believes to be the situation with your sticker chart. The point should be - he can earn EXTRA treats. This isn't simply a way of limiting what he currently feels is his free right. He might have been thinking, "I get to watch four hours of TV a night anyway. Now I'm only going to be allowed to watch any TV at all after I earn the privilege."

    If you can set up the reward system with him, he will feel ownership. You have made your own choices about what rewards to use - why not ask him? He migt surprise you.

    A really good reward system we were put on to, is a non-material one. difficult child 3 can earn time - that is time with me, spent playing a computer game. When difficult child 3 earns time, we spend that time sitting together playing Mario Party. The reward is he gets to share something he loves with someone he loves.

    Another important thing - rewards once earned stay earned. You don't take stars away or points away, unless you have previously agreed it will work that way. In general it is a bad idea. Instead, if he transgresses then he fails to earn. For example, difficult child 3 first earned reward time for a day with no meltdowns. If he had a meltdown, he simply didn't earn time that day. It was enough - he learned to control himself a lot more, just with that incentive and no punishment.

    I hope this helps.

  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I hate reward charts and but they do have some ability to work for some kids...especially in single child families.

    I think one of the problems you faced was you tried to implement it starting immediately and without consulting with your son about the chart. Like Marg said your son needs to buy into the chart. If he is used to watching a ton of tv and video time, he is going to feel cheated. Now if he is used to playing outside all afternoon then this tv and video time might work well. However, starting it that night was apt to make him feel controlled immediately.

    I think I would set him down this upcomming weekend and make a posterboard together. Use one you can easily remove the stars from each week so you dont have to keep buying them. Make it simple. Maybe break in into 3 times of the day with two easy things to meet. Make the goals pretty straight forward. No wiggle room. Johnny brushes his teeth and earns a star in the morning. Make it so he can be successful early on.
  5. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sorry to hear it was such a rough evening and that husband isn't being supported. Gentle hugs.
  6. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    So sorry you had a bad night. It makes such a difference to have your husband on board.

    I ditto a lot of what was said, especially the neuropsychologist evaluation. They are expensive, take a long time to get appointments and a long time to get the results but are soooooo worth it. (we had an agency actually pay for ours so make some calls) I had been trying to get answers about my difficult child since he was 18 months old with some minor delays and I contacted early intervention. Then every couple years as he failed to thrive in school I would ask the school to test or take him to a psychologist. He never had anything but some help with speech. The neuropsychologist changed all that. At the age of 15 I finally had answers and proof of all the things I saw all along but couldn't prove to anyone. The test was so incredibly detailed and though his psychiatrist is amazing and gave him a diagnosis that IS accurate there was so much more to him that she could never see such as a motor skill delay, memory issues etc.

    The neuropsychologist didn't fix our problems but it gave us a solid foundation of where to start. We learned what behaviors difficult child couldn't help and realized it wasn't being bad and a lack of discipline. We also learned what and how to handle the things we could help him with. In our case the results were kind of sobering and a little sad but it shed light like never before and it made and still makes a world of difference. Even the best doctors who diagnose cannot see all the complicated levels. IF your difficult child turns out to JUST have what you thought all the better because it gives you direcion to head as a parent.

    As for the chore chart, we had varrying success with that which is not the norm for difficult child's in here. It did take a long time and a lot of consistant follow up which translates to constant maintenance. I'm not going to lie it is exhausting but in our case it worked. My difficult child flipped out when we tried to start our chart. In his case anytime we started to push back against him and fight for progress he got temporarily worse. He was very resistant to change especially change that meant he had to try to do better. He always was and still is affected by routine changes like going back to school after summer break or not going to bed on time. The slightest change really does throw him off and it shows in his attitude. I agree with the others that you difficult child has to see it as having a benefit to him for it to really work.
  7. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    For us the rewards chart only became something else to fight about. We had absolutely no luck with them. Someone who is more consistent in implementing them may have a better changes, but it just did not work for us. For my difficult child I agreed with "The Explosive Child" book. The author states that reward charts don't always work, because the child naturally wants to make their parents happy and behave. When they don't it is not because of lack of motivation it is because of the lack of skills. Rather then create another thing to fight over you need to teach them the skills. (Easier said then done). But, he also has some videos where he provides examples of how. I found them very helpful.
  8. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Reward charts were like punishment for my son. It meant if he couldn't accomplish a task or act in a certain way, due to mood changes or anxiety, then in essence he was being punished for his disability. I know that confounds certain people who strongly believe in behavior modification, but it was true for us. I feel those type of charts are saying this is all about controllable behavior and nothing to do with diagnosis. For my difficult child, he definitely has times were he can control his behavior or at least modify it to acceptable parameters and other times he is just not capable-it can be extremely hard to tease those apart, not to mention when you can tease them apart, how you will explain that you won't enforce the chart under certain circumstances (like mood change/mania, already in tantrum/rage mode and no executive decision-making happening).