difficult child's that bolt...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    In the past year difficult child 1 has started to run away during conflicts with the parental units (husband and me). He'll get p.o.'d over something -- usually a limit that is set -- and will just take off for a while. He's done this before on two occasions at home (and because it was raining or cold out and he couldn't go far on foot in his pajamas, we didn't really worry much).

    But when it happens in an unfamiliar place, like the timeshare we were at in Hawaii, the anxiety factor in me goes up. I realize that it's happening when his medications are worn off, that he's immature for his age, that he does it because he feels out of control and doesn't know what else to do. After about an hour or so, he usually comes back and apologizes and feels bad about leaving.

    I don't mind him taking a "time out" when he's upset and have told him that before. What I DO mind is him trying to punish us by leaving and making a big deal about it. I've told him as much many times.

    On July 4th, we spent the afternoon watching movies at home. difficult child 1 wanted to do this and got to choose some of the movies. In the late afternoon/early evening, we traditionally go to our city park to play frisbee or football, listen to the band playing, and then wait for the fireworks show. This year, we all decided to stay home and watch one more movie, then we'd leave for the park about an hour before the fireworks.

    difficult child 1 wants to bring a football or frisbee or something to play with. We explain that there won't be: 1. TIME because we'll have just enough time to park the car, walk to the field, find a spot and wait a few minutes for the show, or 2. SPACE as the field is really full of people by that time of night (we're talking thousands of people picnicking on this field). difficult child 1 insists on looking for something to play with (meanwhile the rest of the family is in the car waiting to go). He comes back with 4 tennis rackets and a can of balls! husband yells at him to put it back, while I explain AGAIN the reasons why he can't do this.

    difficult child 1 could not accept this situation and began to sulk, which just escalated as we drove closer to the park. By the time we stopped the car, he refused to get out. husband yelled at him and he got out reluctantly, scowling of course. Then he refused to walk with the rest of the family, lagging far behind. When it was time to cross the highway, a police officer had stopped traffic for a group of us, and difficult child 1 was still lagging behind. The cop told him to hurry up, and he just kept plodding along at his slow pace.

    As we got closer to the park, difficult child 1 decided to climb up in a tree and refused to come down. husband told him we were going to the park and if he wanted to come with us, fine, and if not, he was expected to be at the car by the time we got back or we would leave without him and he could walk home.

    So we ended up watching the show without him. And when we walked back, he was waiting for us not far from his "tree". He took my hand and was very apologetic. And we talked about how it all could have been handled better on both sides.

    I don't know if husband would have left for home without difficult child 1 -- I personally don't agree with making threats like that. But I can also appreciate the frustration husband is feeling because difficult child 1 has pulled this stunt close to a half dozen times just in the last two or three weeks. difficult child 1 turns 14 in about 8 weeks and husband feels that it's time he learned that he can't try to manipulate people like this and that the family isn't going to wait around while he has his hissy fit.

    Part of me felt really bad about leaving him there in the dark up a tree, even if it was his choice. Part of me hoped he'd learn something from this. Part of me worried something would happen to him. Part of me knows he's a smart kid who's acting impulsively.

    He's also taken to mouthing off a LOT more and actually flipped me off TO MY FACE during one of his tantrums in Hawaii. Things got ugly a few times and it did not bring out the best in me.

    I stilll haven't bought the Explosive Child, but perhaps there are some answers for husband and I there. What do you all think? Normal teenage cr@p? Normal ADHD teenage cr@p?

    I'm ready for a kid-free vacation now.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    First, read The Explosive Child. You'll understand your difficult children better and you'll learn some valuable parenting tools (collaborative problem solving and picking your battles).

    Second, yelling doesn't work, for difficult children and PCs alike.

    Third, when he asks to bring sports equipment that isn't appropriate to the situation, help him find something that is appropriate to bring (ie, a gameboy, a book, a deck of cards, a small board game, etc). Anytime my kids become obsessed or fixated on doing something, it is usually their anxiety speaking. In this situation, I imagine he was anxious about being bored before the fireworks started and he wanted to ensure he had something to do.

    Fourth, I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving my son up a tree in the dark, but that's just me.

    Bolting is your difficult child's maladaptive way of coping. He needs parents to help him learn new ways of coping by working with him rather than against him.
  3. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    I don't know that I have any advice for you but I go through the same stuff with Major difficult child. I react like your husband mostly as well and yet it still happens. I would of said the same thing but made sure I was within his sight so he could find us, I also try to ignore his return a bit and just pick up with normal conversation so as to not start all the trouble back up again. With my difficult child a vacation would up his stress level even thou it was a good thing and I would be afraid of the troubles it would cause which is why I haven't been there done that.
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    You state "I realize that its happening when medications are worn off." Have you talked to the medication doctor about this? Maybe it is time to either up the dose, add another dosage time to the day, or add something else?

    I can imagine that the other night your anxiety level was up also - so many people around and difficult child up a tree. He must have been scared also, thus the holding of your hand.

    I do think that when a behavior escalates within a few weeks that something needs to be addressed including the medications.

    My heart goes out to you - I feel your fears. I hope husband can realize that kids (especially difficult children) can not be pushed into growing up. Though I have been to the point where I have been tempted to do the same type of thing.

    Let us know how this issue goes and what help you find. Who knows, I may have a runner on my hands in a year or two and can definately learn from your experiences.
  5. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Fear, anxiety and stress can cause fight-or-flight response or reflex, especially in boys. Females may have a tend-and-befriend response.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    So sorry, gcvmom. I know the feeling. My difficult child has done it, too. He's done the last min.-got-to-have-an-inappropriate-toy thing, the run away thing, the stay-in-the-car thing.
    The good thing is that you know that he won't go far ... he was still by his tree. The bad thing is that he is developing a bad habit.
    I agree, yelling doesn't help but I know the feeling! You'll have to work on some strategies for his overload issues.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    By age 14 my difficult child was spending hours walking around the town, including the university. It was my parents' idea to let him roam aimlessly, but then they let me do it too. It is his way of "getting away" and working off stress. If you are at home, maybe defining an area he can roam in, making sure there are water bottles available, and making sure he has a cell phone so you can reach each other.

    I know Wiz lost roaming priveleges several times (and got 10-15 hours of yard work, not all in a row) because he didn't answer his phone or turned it off. He was on a pay as you go plan and didn't want to "waste" minutes talking to my parents. So he lost play time.

    I don't know the area you live in. Here, we are a small city (barely a city, in my humble opinion) with a major university. It is common to see people of all ages walking around.

    My problem with having Wiz go roaming was that they had no clue where he intended to go. At the same age I had to have a destination in mind or I could stay home. I am not sure Wiz would have followed this, and had no intention of getting into the battle or discipline situation with Wiz. So I let it be, and he still goes roaming when he needs to "get away".

    If he brought the football, he carried it, and there was no room to play with it, would he have insisted on playing with it, or just held it? As long as he didn't make someone else carry it, I am not sure I woudl have objected to it, though I might have offered a bag to put it in so it wouldn't have gotten loose in the street. but not knowing how he would have acted, I probably would have told him to leave it at home too.

    This is why I enjoy kids who can't go anywhere with-o a book.

  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    This has been a problem here, too. When difficult child bolts, it is usually bad news. I have started using TEC techniques to try to prevent the incidences, and I think it has helped (less occurrences). Also, I tell difficult child he has a 15 min. "grace" period or cooling off period- which means if he storms out of the house and is back within 15 mins., then no punishment or fussing over it.

    But, given the outrageous things my difficult child has done in the past (risk to self and possible risk to others- more risk to self though), it is a major concern to me. One of the first counselors said to call the cops every single time. This turned out not to be a good answer. It didn't solve the problem, left difficult child in more legal trouble, and therefore made him feel worse and more desparate- I wouldn't recommend it unless you reach that point where you do think it is necessary.

    Looking for him helps a lot sometimes, others, it doesn't. But, if I can track him down quickly and tell him to come home to work it out a better way, that seems to be good. It reassures him in a way, lets him know he isn't getting by with just leaving for an undetermined amount of time, and it gets him back where I know he's safe and we really can find a different way.

    I don't think there is an easy answer to this one- sorry I couldn't be of more help. Maybe we should have a thread just for ideas and experiences of this.