difficult child's topping himself...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Shari, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    It appears wee difficult child has iced his own cake AND added the cherry on top.

    Everyone who knows him has commented that he is FAR worse than he was.

    He has escalated every day and is even regularly hitting husband. Most recently, he was starting to get rough with a cat, and we took the cat away. (He wasn't hurting the cat, but he was escalating, and we were getting the cat outta dodge before he got there). In retaliation, he turned off the movie husband was watching. husband, who is at the end of his rope, too, swatted his butt. Pretty good swat, too. And then it was REALLY on. Wee difficult child hit me, hit husband, went after the cat, then threw about 3/4 of the stuff in his room at me as we were confining him to his room. This is pretty much how he's been for the past month. IT STINKS!

    Just needed to vent.
  2. Jena

    Jena New Member

    Shari i'm so sorry that your going through this with him now. What a horrible night for you guys.

    Do you have any idea why this sudden escalation lately? silly question i know. plus been hard week, when does he head back to school???

  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I'm so sorry he's struggling.

    Does he get a chance to go outside and blow off steam during the day? I know vigorous exercise helps diffuse a lot with my difficult child's and husband as well.
  4. jannie

    jannie trying to survive....

    I'm sorry he's just been so crazy-especially with the hitting....what are his current medication dosages? I know he has been ultra sensitive, but perhaps a small medication tweek is in place.....I know you all are stressed about the school thing as well....Have you made any plans for Monday???

    When my child trashed his room we took most things out of it as I was tired of cleaning up his clothing and his mess....He had almost an empty room for about 6 months at the age of 5. I left him with some stuffed animals and pillows. When he was angry he could throw his animals....he actually did well like this and eventually the animals were a calming thing.

    Risperdal and the tenex defianatly helped with difficult child when he was younger....now it's the abilify.

    Sending hugs-
  5. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    He got kicked out of school. We don't know when we'll find a place for him.

    We have increased his medications. He's on the max dose of Risperdal, checking his Depakote levels, and he's taking 2-3mg of Tenex daily. We can't go higher on it, either. (normally, 1/2 a Tenex tablet will knock him out for 14 hours or better...)

    One of us is home with him daily, and we are an outdoors family. We're outside with him all the time. Doesn't seem to matter if we are or aren't, tho. Just so tiring.
  6. Jena

    Jena New Member

    Shari i'm sorry i forgot about the whole school thing. sorry. my memory is shot.
  7. jannie

    jannie trying to survive....

    Are there any private Special Education schools in your area?

    I still think that somehow the public school system may be able to provide supports. My difficult child does so much better with a highly structured teacher than at home.
  8. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator


    Have there been any changes other than school? Any illnesses? I know Duckie gets a ton worse when she's sick, especially her sensory problems. Also, could he out growing his medication dosages?
  9. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    I'm so sorry. I know how taxing that can be... we have definitely been there many times. Hang in there. Do you have an appointment coming up soon with the psychiatrist?
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Shari, with all that's been happening at school especially with the way they mishandled him, it's not at all surprising that he is reacting this way. From my experience, it would explain the lot, frankly.

    Your husband swatting his rear - that shouldn't be happening. I'm not saying this from an "anti-spanking" moral stance, but from experience of what works/doesn't work with the range of problems you describe.

    And you're thinking - "so you take away spanking, and what do we have left?"

    I know, in some ways it makes it trickier, but it does work better in the long ru. As they get older you have to wean off spanking anyway because one day they will be bigger than you/stronger than you and it won't be pretty. Better to train them while they're smaller, that hitting is not a good thing.

    And that's where the reason lies - if FOR ANY REASON your child is socially inept, then they cannot learn how to behave just by being around other people; it's just too complicated. They need good role models to model for them, the correct way to behave. You need to SHOw him by how you behave to him, the way for him to behave in return. It's in how you speak to him, how you behave to him, how you interact with others also, but how you are to him is how he will be to you. Eventually. if he gets confused by mixed messages, then you get the hissing spitfire. If you continue to stay calm and quiet, he will learn that the hissing spitifre is not the way to go, because nobody else does it or even comes close.

    That's why hitting has to be out - if you're trying to stop him hitting, then you have to stop anyone hitting him. Otherwise, he gets a mixed message.

    That problem teacher filled him with mixed messages. She has caused you a great deal of the problems, and by mishandlnig him the way she did, she triggered and then escalated the problem behaviours that finally gave her the leverage to get him kicked out. And now you're dealing with the escalated behaviour at home.

    Think about how he is feeling - he has been kicked out, under circumstances that he feels are unfair. Somewhere deep down he knows he was bad; somewhere deep down he knows tis teacher was bad also. But he has to find an explanation - and the only explanation he can find, is that it's OK for the teacher to do it, but not OK for him, therefore it's him, HE is bad intrinsically, so he may as well just let it all hang out.

    His self-esteem right now is probably rock-bottom. He is angry, he is frustrated, he is afraid, he is very hard on himself but also angry very easily. He probably feels set up for failure, that he just can't get anything right so why bother?

    I'm not saying that therefore you should give in to him all the time and let him walk all over you. Not at all. But I think you need to go back to basics, as if he were a kid who forgot all his table manners, forgot all his toilet training, and you had to start form scratch.

    Get in touch with him inside. Always try to keen in mind, why is he doing this? What is driving him? Then target the driving force, rather than the current behaviour.

    For example, difficult child 3 will sometimes get frantic at me. "Come on, Mum, hurry up! You're so slow! We'll be late! We're lost, we'll never get there on time! Why aren't you using a map? Where are we going? I don't want to go any further, I think we should turn round now ands go home. Why are you ignoring me, Mum? You never listen!"

    None of that is true rudeness. ALL of it is anxiety-driven. Most parents would scold tat sort of talk, would really get annoyed. But if you do, it makes it worse because it drives the underlying anxiety to an even higher level.

    What works - reassurance and persistence. Sometimes if the anxiety is too high, we stop and pause. We talk, I explain WHY it's not so bad after all. But sometimes we just need to finally get to where we're going, on time and safely, for him to feel safe again.

    The example above was difficult child 3 on the way with us to his end of school year presentation day, where he was due to receive an academic award. After the awards ceremony was over and everybody was leaving, difficult child 3 started up again, this time hassling over the number of people in the elevator. He had to control who went in, when, for how many floors and so on. He counted heads to make sure we weren't over the limit. He fussed at every odd sound in the drive mechanism, he was loudly anxious. Thankfully the school staff are used to him now, even though a lot of them haven't met him often. They accepted what he was doing and just carried on. Nobody reacted to the apparent rudeness.

    With wee difficult child, stop thinking of him according to his age. In some ways you need to think of him as a baby, in other ways like an adult.

    Treat him with the same respect you would show to another adult. If a flatmate had grabbed the remote to switch off the TV, how would husband have reacted? The logical way to react with another adult, is to either go get the remote, turn the movie back on but keep hold of the remote, or go find another TV to watch.

    But let's analyse difficult child's behaviour. He's been hitting husband. Hitting others. Tormenting the cat. Sounds to me like a combination of anger, frustration and not knowing what to do with himself.

    So, some suggestions:

    1) Don't hit. He's using hitting as a way to react, so all that you hitting him is doing, is reinforcing this. In other words, hitting is not only not helping, it's now part of the problem.

    2) Try to anticipate the need. When you notice his behaviour starting to escalate, deflect him. Removing the cat was good (for the cat, especially) but you needed to replace it with something physically active. How is the weather outside? A suggestion is to put a tennis ball inside a stocking (or similar) then show difficult child how to stand with his back against a brick wall and swing the tennis ball in the stocking so it bounces off the wall beside his head, arms, legs, whatever. It sounds loud (especially with your head against the wall) so it feels a little like you're hurting yourself, but you're not; there is an adrenalin rush/release from doing this, and it is also good exercise. Put this into place ahead of time. Explain to difficult child that this isn't a punishment, it's an alternative activity. He can choose to do this himself at any time, or you will ask him to go do it at any time if you see the chance he may benefit from it.
    Warning: Do not do this on a gyprock/plaster wall. They break.
    Another alternative is the jogging trampoline - they can be used indoors in bad weather. We had one, we'd send difficult child 1 to do 20 jumps on the jogging trampoline, to burn off excess energy. When not in use the legs unscrew and the tramp slides behind a cupboard for storage.
    Another option if it's hands you see needing to do something - stress balls. Or similar squishy toys. difficult child 3's school sends him these occasionally, with the school logo on them. I wonder if they're trying to tell us something?
    But it comes down to - anticipate.

    3) Deal with the source of the problem, as best you can. For example, right now difficult child is feeling pretty awful, a failure and unloved. He needs some successes, but instead all that he seems to be getting right now is discipline and trouble. He won't be fully understanding why the discipline, because once a problem escalates to the level you describe, he can't mentally go back to identify why he is in trouble, all he knows is that everybody is being mean to him. He feels justified. That is not good because we all know, he is NOT justified to behave the way he has.
    You need instead to de-escalate here possible, so he has a chance to remember the incident in perspective and then learn from it. He actually has MORE chance to learn from it, with LESS punishment. That's because the more punishment he gets when angry, the more he sees that punishment as unfair, therefore the lesson is lost. So don't punish him when he is angry. Instead, just keep him safe and yourselves safe. This means time-out can change from punishment, to a safety zone. It's not Supernanny stuff at all. I don't have a time limit for having a kid in his room; I let the kid out as soon as he is calm, especially if he apologises. But I found with difficult child 3, I had to not insist on the apology if he hadn't understood that he had done the wrong thing. Any apology insisted on, would have been meaningless.

    difficult child 3 actually learned to apologise, by hearing me apologise to him (where it was appropriate).

    This is where it can be tricky - when you have to keep at the same time, the "my child is an infant" and "my child must be treated with adult respect" in your head at the same time.

    You've all had a really lousy time lately. It's no wonder you're all fractious, fed up, not too patient with one another. There must be some resentment of difficult child in you, for causing this much strife. And he probably resents you, too, for not making it all better. It's not going to be easy. But if you have an idea of what could be behind it, it might be easier to deal with.

    Something to consider in this - I found, when difficult child 3 was needing my attention (any of the kids, really, difficult child 3 more than most) I had to stop my own entertainment and put it aside to deal with the kids. Within reason, but the kids least capable of being reasoned with are the ones least capable of waiting. And you can't teach such kids patience by making them wait. (might work for some, but not our Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-ish difficult children!).
    So you need to learn and put into practice - you will enjoy the movie ore, if you've got difficult child's needs met first. It's much harder to enjoy the movie if there's a kid in your face saying, "I want a drink of water NOW!" (or similar). As time moves on, you can begin to teach them to wait a few seconds, then a few seconds more.

    Catch him out being good and praise him. If he walks past the cat without hurting it, praise him for being good. If he walks past the cat and strokes it gently, praise him for being loving and gentle. If he hurts the cat, remove the cat but don't say anything.

    You're currently in desperation mode, thanks to circumstances beyond your control (and well beyond difficult child's control). Desperate situations call for short-term desperate measures.

    If you can, get husband to lurk here/post here too. It really helps my husband ("Marg's Man") to be on the same page.

  11. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    There are no private Special Education schools in our area. I am looking for them in other areas, tho. Have found a couple, but I am not sure we can afford them, even if the grandparents help.

    No changes other than school. He slept a lot today, and had more periods of calmer behavior, so we think he may be coming down with something, as he's always better behaved when he's sick. Waiting that one out...

    Have emailed all the docs. BT saw him, but no one else feels the need to see him, and frankly, I agree. They don't know what to do with him, anyway.

    And you're right, Marg, husband's swat was NOT productive and we all know it (husband included). husband is dyslexic and doesn't read much, and I can't get him to read thigns from here, but I'm printing your reply and will read it to him. You're so good at putting it in plain English. Wee difficult child is basically somewhere between the ages of 2 and 3, best I can judge, and it does help to think of him that way.

    In fact, we were just discussing this the other day because he recently just went into the "do it myself" stage. He opens things himself, pours his own drinks, etc. We would push him to do them before, and he was capable, but he would rarely do it without being pushed. Now he wants to do EVERYTHING himself, like a small child does when they're about 3. He is so big and strong and smart and in so many ways way beyond 3, and in others, he's barely 3.

    And yes, my rope is fraying. I am trying hard to maintain my calm, but more frequently right now I just have to get up and walk away. And I'm sure difficult child knows something about it.

    The weather has been good enough to be outside several hours every day. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to make a difference except on the adults trying to deal with him. I will try the ball. We need a new trampoline. He broke the last one. But we have been using his big foam therapy barrel a lot lately, tho.

    We don't do time-outs for time; if he has to go into his room, it is simply because is is unsafe to be out of his room, and he has to be calm and in control to come out. Period.

    We are having Christmas with my family tomorrow. We will see how it goes. The cousins will be there, etc, so I have no idea. I may be asking for it by even going, but we are. My entire existence this past month has revolved around difficult child's needs; when we celebrated our Christmas at home, the gifts we chose to give him, the gifts Santa brought, attending (or not) various holiday gatherings (twice I had to carry him kicking from grandma's (ex-mother in law's) house, which is a safe and usual place for him) heck, we skipped our New Year's party with the friends we camp with every summer, the party was in a big barn and he has plenty of room to run around, but he was just SO crazy, I didn't want to go and spend the whole time keeping him from bothering everyone else. I guess I'm determined to try this one. I may pay, in the end, but I'm paying one way or the other, so...

    We keep plugging along.

    On a (maybe) good note, forever ago, I requested info from Mayo. They called today. They'll see him. I have no idea if they'll do any better than anyone else, but at this point, I"m desperately seeking another set of eyes to look at him, and they're willing, so... not sure when the appointment will be, but he's in the queue.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2009
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It does sound like you're doing what you can, Shari. Good luck with the family visit. We still have similar problems with difficult child 3 and this sort of thing. Crikey, just yesterday we had a mini-explosion between difficult child 1 and his new wife, which I think was at least partly due to the crowded family surrounding/suffocating him. Thankfully, they both sorted it out for themselves within minutes and it was difficult child 1 who went to his wife (shut herself in the bathroom) and apologised, comforted her, resolved it quietly between them and then both came to the dinner table happy with each other and the topic not discussed.

    difficult child 1 WAS where your wee difficult child is now. It takes time, a lot of patience and a lot of practice.

    At mother in law's (which is where we were yesterday) there is a lot of family, all making a lot of noise and activity. mother in law & sister in law are hyping each other up and frankly both behaving in ways which make it more difficult for any difficult children to cope. Mixed messages, contradictions, repetitions - difficult child 3 has been in need of escape. mother in law's house has a veranda where she has an old computer of ours. difficult child 3 is the main user of this computer, he's been using it as an escape from the bustle and noise.

    Something we've tried to do for difficult child 3 - when going to someone's place where it's likely to be noisy or difficult, we find somewhere on arrival for difficult child 3 to escape to if he needs to. A bed to lie down on if he's tired, maybe (although he's never tired, it was just a handy excuse) even if the escape place is our car. we have activities for him, a comic book maybe or a game, which we have used to give him some positive "time out" or respite from the overstimulation which is a problem in a party environment. Any adult relative/friend who gives us a hard time over it, we just say, "If this was a baby who needed somewhere quiet to sleep, you wouldn't think twice. This is a child with problems, he needs the same consideration in this that you would give a baby."

    difficult child 3 is good these days about taking himself to the car when he needs a break. We do try to park the car in places where it will be safe for him to sit in the car. In Australia, that means parking in the shade where possible. If the car is parked in the sun, it can be dangerous to stay there for more than a few minutes even with doors open and windows down. So just as we always find a rendezvous point for him when we first arrive at a large public place, we find a refuge place for him when we arrive at a family event. It usually requires a quiet word ahead of time with the host/hostess as to where the child can go to be alone if he feels he needs to be, then taking him there to show him the place and be told the conditions (such as a generic "don't touch anything" or "If you need to have a sleep, it's OK to turn down the sheets if you want.")

    Sometimes just knowing there is the possibility of refuge, makes it easier for a difficult child to stick it out a bit longer.

  13. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    My mom's house is a huge old farmhouse and very kid-friendly. Tho there will be a lot of people, they are all people he knows; my family gets together quite a bit and he enjoys them. There is a lot of space in the house, and a huge farm outside. It is a saving grace of going there (and one of the pitfalls of husband's parents' home - its tiny and packed to the gills with clutter - no place to escape from Two Brooms for difficult child (OR me...)) And all of my family, with the exception of one brother who wavers, are on board with difficult child's problems and treatment. They aren't all good at dealing with him, but they ARE supportive and try, and will step out of the way if they need to. Hopefully he at least won't be any worse and maybe I can catch a bit of a breather from the trip.