difficult child's bad behavior is escalating

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by threebabygirls, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. threebabygirls

    threebabygirls New Member

    As the first day of school approaches (5 more days!! :woohoo:) difficult child's tantrums are escalating. I know it's largely because she's nervous, but that doesn't make it any easier for me and easy child's 1 and 2. Yesterday I had to take easy child 1 to the orthodontist and I ended up crying the second half of the drive. As I was crying, she kept saying I was annoying and I needed to be quiet. Never mind the fact that her behavior was the reason I was crying. She kept screaming at me and her sisters, kept unbuckling her seatbelt (I finally told her if she did it I'd call the police--which made the 4 y.o. cry, because she thought they'd take difficult child away) was throwing things...all kinds of things that make driving hazardous.
    When we both had calmed down, I told her I understood she's nervous about school starting next week, but that did not make it okay for her to act like that nor speak to me like that. She said she couldn't help it; she's a bad kid. That broke my heart. I've always tried to stress that she's not bad, she just makes bad decisions. So, I told her again she's not bad, she just was making bad choices.
    I'm so ready for school to start.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Can you hire a sitter and take her alone in the car and run errands? Just to practice the "driving calmly" part. Ea time she throws something at you, pull over.
    I slammed on the brakes once when difficult child wasn't wearing his seatbelt, too. He never did that again!
    Now if he sees me yank the wheel to the right, he says, "Okay, I didn't mean it!" and we don't even have to pull over. Every now and then I pull over anyway and throw open his door and just do a stare-down.

    You HAVE to mean it. The problem is, when you've got other kids in the car and you're on a tight schedule it makes it difficult. That's why the practice runs are so important. Eventually, you can bring in the other kids, but you have to warn them first.

    Good luck. been there done that ... too many times.
  3. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    Is she going to be starting first grade? That is a HUGE step for most kids. For difficult children, it's a time of great anxiety which causes a lot of very difficult behavior.

    I tried, and try not to, ever cry in front of my kids if it's because of their behavior. It's not so bad now with Daughter, but when she was younger she seemed to take an odd pleasure in seeing me upset. I think it made her feel powerful. Not saying that's the case with you. However,I would keep my tears private from the kids, including your PCs ( I know it's hard). Your PCs need to know that Mom is under control and that difficult child is NOT running the show for their own security.

    This is MY opinion, but you have, what I like to call, a "powerful" difficult child. They are articulate and believe themselves to be on the same "level" as other adults. Especially, their parents. This usually means the moms because we do most of the dealing with them. Your difficult child needs a very firm and calm hand. I'm not saying that you are going to make her behavior stop with that, but in your posts you seem to afraid of her. You give her a lot of power. She needs a Mom that has a strong and secure presence. Even if you don't "feel" that way.

    Throwing things while you are driving? Yikes. Very dangerous and completely unacceptable. Solutions can be difficult because of not wanting to scare your PCs. However, you need to take the reins. Again, as much for your difficult child, as for your PCs. If you have to take her, make it clear that any behavior like that and your going to stop the car. You can even drive to the police station.

    I know that I had to only stop once for each of my kids. Do not make a threat that you will not follow through on. My kiids are clear that I mean what I say.

    No seatbelt means no more car for you, unless it absolutely cannot be helped. I'm a fanatic about seatbelts. The kids and I were in a head-on accident (other driver not paying attention) and the seatbelts saved our lives. Don't rationalize with her. Don't explain. You are Mom. You are the boss. You owe her no explaination. Seatbelt goes on, or you are out. It's a safety issue.

    As for the "bad kid" comment. I know it's so heartbreaking to hear that from your child. She probably wonders herself why she acts the way she does. Has she been evaluated by anyone? Her ODD seems to be more of a symptom than a diagnoses.
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    First of all, HUGS to you. It's so very hard, especially when they wind you up enough to make the tears actually spill over.

    I second DazedAndConfused's advice. If at all possible, do NOT cry in front of your children, difficult child or easy child. They need to feel that Mommy is in control and can handle things, in order to feel secure. Also, letting your difficult child know that she holds sway over you, especially at this young age, is setting both of you up for a lifetime of heartbreak.

    Your difficult child sounds a lot like mine was when he was younger. He had natural leadership qualities, which are a very difficult combination when combined with difficult child-ness (think despotic ruler of a Banana Republic, and you're getting the idea)

    Terry and Dazed have given great advice about how to handle moments like that in the car. For the moment, I would recommend focusing on the behaviour and not the emotions that result. Lay down the law for your difficult child and make it clear that you mean business and you mean what you say.

    Sorry you're going through this.

  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I agree with the others. I would pull over ASAP. I have left the car 2 blocks from home and made the kids walk home when their riding behavior was nasty. That is not fair to the 8 yr old and 4 yr old but I don't know that you would want difficult child walking home alone and when you leave the car behind, it sends a stronger message, "I will not drive when it is not safe." My kids were so concerned about the car being left. Once a neighbor said, "difficult child probably liked the walk home." My reply was, "Not with mom lecturing all the way home." But you do not have to say anything - a silent anger also speaks volumes. Your 8 yr old and 4 yr old may not like it, but they will be glad you are doing something about their sibling's nasty behavior - not letting difficult child get away with it.

    You can also find an empty parking lot and make everyone get out and sit until they all believe they are able to ride again.

    Sending you strength. Stay strong - show no fear - don't let difficult child bring you into an emotion, that is a way to get your attention of whatever you need to focus on.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Aside from trying to deal with it behaviorally, which in my opinion won't work in the long run, do you have another evaluation in the works for her? Sounds like she could use a neuropsychologist evaluation or she may have a really hard time holding together in school. in my opinion she is not making bad choices--she is telling you the truth: She can't help it. I would get on that ASAP or the problems in my opinion will just compound. She is way too young to be waking up each day thinking "I want to do the wrong thing." And she is starting to think of herself as bad, no matter WHAT you say, because she is out of control and knows she is different, and she probably also really wants more help than she is getting. Do you really believe she CHOOSES to make "bad" decisions or "bad" choices? At her age? I've been around the block a few times and I'd look further if this were my child. Something is going on with her beyond just the rather benign diagnosis. of ODD, which rarely stands alone. Good luck :)
  7. threebabygirls

    threebabygirls New Member

    Terry, I love your idea of practice runs, but when difficult child has me all to herself, there are rarely problems. I cannot think of a single time when it was just she and me and she unbuckled in the car.
    Yesterday I actually did pull over the one time she unbuckled and sat on the shoulder of the highway for as long as I could (needed to get to the appointment.) and told her we weren't moving until she buckled up. She buckled up. Next time she unbuckles and we're within walking distance, we'll park the car and walk home. I like that idea.
    Dazedandconfused--yes, she's going into first grade. my difficult child is very powerful. I admire her strength, determination, and perseverity, as I know they will serve her well as an adult. However, they are not qualities I particularly care for in a child, especially my own! I try so hard to not show her my emotions (anger or sadness) but sometimes she gets the best of me.
    MwM--we don't have another evaluation lined up just yet. We're at the end of the long, drawn-out process of getting in-home behavior therapy, and then I'm going to ask for the neuropsychologist. As far as her decision making goes, I KNOW some of the time she's doing whatever she's doing deliberately simply from the look of pure joy on her face. Yes. Joy. Nothing pleases her more than making her sisters cry.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, if she gets pleasure from it, then there is obviously still something very wrong with her. It's not normal. Could be that she's so miserable that she enjoys upsetting her sisters too.
    Glad you're setting up a neuropsychologist. That should give you a very good picture of her problems/disorders.
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh how I hate those dangerous car rides. The others are right, you have to pull over. As for the throwing things and being violent in the car, I know how scary and dangerous that is.

    We always pull over when this happens and don't move again until he is buckled and the dangerous behavior has stopped. Many of difficult child's worst moments have come during car rides. Interestingly, all three of difficult child's hospitalizations were preceded by extremely dangerous car incidents. There were other things going on but that is the one thing that always tipped the scale and made psychiatrist decide on hospitalization. I'm not saying your difficult child needs hospitalization, just sharing our experience.

    Sending hugs your way, I'm sure you are just worn out and as much as I try not cry in front of difficult child sometimes I just can't help it.
  10. Love the sunshine

    Love the sunshine New Member

    I went through the seatbelt issue with my difficult child when he was a toddler. I was constantly pulling the car over as he smiled while undoing his carseat. He was a little Houdini no matter how many locks we had on that thing. He's also a "powerful" difficult child.

    Something I have to constantly remind myself is to put difficult child issues and schedules into perspective. Dealing with an important difficult child issue - especially if it concerns safety, is a higher priority than being on time to an appointment/meeting etc. I've gotten much better at this as he's gotten older.

    My difficult child is older (17) so this obviously wouldn't be an option for you now, but last year I pulled my car over twice and made him get out and walk home. The first time, he was screaming at me and actually spit on my windshield. I immediately pulled the car over and told him to get out and walk home. It was about 1/2 mile walk.

    The second time, he was screaming at me and calling me all sorts of names. We were farther from home - about 2 1/2 miles. I asked him calmly if he knew where we were and how to get home if he were driving. He said yes, then continued to scream at me. I calmly pulled the car over, told him I did not deserve to be treated that way, and told him to get out of my car. He sat for awhile, I sat for awhile and stared at him. He finally got out of the car and walked home. It hasn't happened since. Was it the right thing to do? I don't know, but it was what I knew to do at the time. He knows I'll follow through and won't make empty threats - even if it's an inconvenience for me.

    I feel for you. It can be so frustrating and emotional. If I feel like I'm getting close to crying in those situations, I have a little trick. I think it may be used in yoga or meditation? Anyway, I think of a really nasty color (for me, it's pea green) and a soothing color (for me, it's pink). Every time I inhale, I imagine I'm inhaling the soothing color into my body (in with the "good"). Every time I exhale, I imagine I'm exhaling the nasty color out of my body (out with the "bad"). If nothing else, it helps to relax me, and get my mind off what difficult child is doing at the time.

    Take care,