Explosive Child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I am reading "The Explosive Child" very avidly at the moment. J has got more and more explosive and I have been flioundering around with it all, losing my rag, often getting explosive back. Yeah, I should know better but in the heat of the moment often I don't.
    A Moroccan woman I know here - really she's not a friend any more - poured contempt and rejection on our heads the other day because J had a meltdown while at her house and then refused to leave. This has been a BIG battleground, this refusing to leave places he doesn't want to leave... Anyway, her approach is to beat a child into submission, literally, and she no doubt thinks this is the required solution for J...
    Today the penny kind of (re) dropped. I have to use my own judgement and intuition to parent J, not what my society is telling me I need to do with him. Here's an example - I could choose many!! Tonight he wouldn't go to sleep by himself in his bed. Until recently I have had the habit of going to sleep with him in his room by lying down with him and then leaving when he was asleep but I feel he really needs to learn how to go to sleep alone now... he is approaching seven. Of course he is rigid, inflexible, incredibly persistent so we had about an hour of him refusing to go to bed as I would not lie down with him, making his bed in the corridor, banging on my bedroom door relentlessly. I suppose I could have attempted a power struggle but no party wins in these... So eventually I took him on my lap and he told me that he was scared of mice and rats (something he picked up while we were at my mother's in the UK... she had mice and I am slightly phobic). I eventually agreed to sit on a chair outside his open door, reading a book. This seemed like some sort of compromise that we both accepted. After about five minutes he declared he wasn't scared any more and that I needn't sit there any more...
    Compromise and negotiation are going to be the way forward. He completely lacks the skills to deal with frustration or thwarted plans. Getting angry with him is not going to teach him any of those skills in any way. Many people may not approve but I know in my guts I have to throw all the conventional wisdom out the door.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Way To Go, Warrior Mom.

    Yup. Figuring out the cause of the problem trumps any other approach... but it takes time, effort, patience, and practice. And often, just helping them to find ways to verbalize what the problem is, takes most of the effort. Problems can be solved if you can get them out into the light of day!
  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Nobody has a right to tell you how to parent. You know your child best.

    I find though that the problems happen not so much at home, where we can love and understand them, but in society where they need to learn how to behave around people who are not so enamored of our children. Thus, I again recommend you get outside interventions so he can learn and get help from a trained professional. I no longer have a clue what is wrong with him, but he does need to stop his negative behaviors in public or he will be ostracized. And the older he gets, the worse it gets as far as others losing patience with our kids. Interventions are vital for our differently wired children!! We can not do it alone. We are too involved. We don't have the training either.

    I hope you can find the way, whatever you choose. Always great to hear from you and get an update :)
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I agree with this (with respect!), MWM. The whole point of "The Explosive Child" is that parents CAN teach their children some of these skills, and need to be doing so. Those skills then obviously transfer over to other situations.
    We expect so much of professionals and outsiders and really that's not always realistic. I don't think J has ever been really helped by any of the various professionals he's seen. I don't mean that ungratefully or in a spirit of complaint. I may still try to get such help for J here - there's not much of it, but there's a bit - but I don't see it as the magic key, the be all and end all. What happens with me is far more important. Unfortunately, in a way, because I might not be up to the task particularly... but there is no choice.
    On the other hand, I totally agree with you about J needing to learn to control his behaviour in public. Of course. Absolutely. For everyone's sake. But this ex-friend is ruthless and brutal with her own child in a way I have never been comfortable with and perhaps somewhere I am relieved that she extends the same lack of compassion to J because it means we can suspend the friendship. Sometimes it's like that, I think... there is a natural ending to friendships. I don't expect everyone to regard J as some little darling but I do expect my friends to have some understanding of his differences and difficulties.
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Malika, I'm not sure he means alone and I'm not sure all kids have the ability to learn how to behave differently. But that is a trip you have to take yourself. In general, the kids tend to get worse until the Terrible Teen years. If he does not improve within the next year, perhaps consider that he is one of those kids who needs more than a loving mother's teaching. He is getting too old to be acting up in public and not getting any outside support. It doesn't always help, but it's another person involved who has ideas, and, best of all, the education regarding kids like ours.

    Your friend sounds like a nut. However, there are many not-nuts who will judge J's behaviors as your failure as a parent. You can't let them get to you. How is his school toward reactive children? What do they do? A lot of coping skills are taught in school, at least in the US. There is help for differently wired kids. You have to consider that at some point he may start to act out this way in school. I'm glad he is no longer in that other school. Is this one better?

    But you are a good mother and I certainly wish the best for cute little J :)
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, the book seems to be all about giving parents the skills to interact with their explosive children differently to make them less explosive. It's quite true that he refers occasionally to seeing a therapist to review and work with those skills (I imagine there he is reproducing sessions he himself had, or perhaps inventing fictional ones?) and if there were a skilled therapist available to help me/us in this process, for sure I would seek him or her out - like a shot! For sure. But there isn't, so... doing it by myself is way preferable to continuing on in the old maladaptive way with J exploding and me exploding in his wake...
    There is a conundrum, I feel, one that will touch most of us here, I guess. Society is as it is and it is not going to change to accommodate our different children. They need to learn to fit in as much as is possible for them since it isn't for the most part going to happen the other way round. However... trying to make them fit in by using the same methods as are used on other children just doesn't work. They have special needs. My getting angry with or punishing J for his public meltdowns - and, yes, it is worrying that these are continuing and actually getting worse cos he didn't use to have them - doesn't help him stop having them. Because the problem really isn't there and Dr Greene is really right when he talks about lagging skills.
    I like the Explosive Child (the book not the actual child so much :) ) I like the philosophy, the compassion and wisdom behind it. And the fact that it's tried and tested. It is non violent and therefore much more likely to work in the end. Probably it would be good to use with ALL kids but it has to be good to use with our difficult ones who cannot just fall in with other's plans and wishes.
    I think it could work with J. Example from last night: the usual battleground over his homework, which was reading over a text. He had a huge amount to do, which I knew would not be realistic, so I said we would do a page - which I had written out for him, because the original text was way too small, and coloured some of the words, which helps him focus his eyes. Anyway he did, reluctantly, a paragraph and then refused to do more - usual thing, said he was very tired, couldn't go on, nothing would budge him. I didn't do the empathy step of asking what his concern was but went straight to asking if he had any suggestions as to how we could resolve our problem? And he came up, straight away, with a really good one... I could read the text to him as he followed it. And actually this is helpful to him and as I did it, he then wanted to chip in and read some of the words!
    It is true that the world does not work this way and will not work this way with our kids. But that DOES NOT MATTER, I feel. We have to try to build their self-esteem and sense of rightness about themselves (not easy, not easy at times) so that they will be better armed to face a world into which they do not readily fit and negotiate it.
  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This post brings to mind two hokie sayings that really are true - "No man is an island" and "It takes a village".

    As the parent of a difficult child that was explosive, displayed inappropriate reactions in public and at school, was extremely hyper, constantly at trouble in school, misunderstood by family, teachers and some friends, etc., I can tell you that it takes more than a mother's love and

    If the knowledge, love and dedication I had could have helped my son, it would have been great.

    But it took understanding, patient, and outside the box teachers, knowledgable and understanding administrators, a fabulous therapist, a psychiatrist who was willing to listen, parents who weren't afraid to let their kids play with mine, an older sibling who was loving and understanding, family members who listened patiently and didn't interfere, and many, many "angels along the way" like the director of an after-school-tutoring program who allowed my difficult child to stay in the program even after a huge rage that shocked everyone in the building and the neighbor who was retired and used to allow difficult child to tag along after school when he was putzing around his wood shop (modeling and mentoring).

    The Explosive Child is a book that most of us read as we begin the journey with our difficult children. It allows us a look inside so that rigidity in thinking fades away. But it is not a stand alone. It really does take a village.

    Most of our difficult children can learn to react differently, to recognize the signs of building frustration, to get a handle on their aggression. It takes time and lots of intervention. They have to be willing. My difficult child is an example of a highly explosive and impulsive child who was able to get a handle on himself and make a positive change. He's by no means typical, still a difficult child, but he has a deep understanding of what he deals with and has been equipped with techniques that can help him "blend" a little better. It took years and, at 18, he's still learning!

    *In 2003 when his behaviors first began to really dive, I never thought he would be here, beginning his senior year and holding down a job! It doesn't happen over night, but it can happen!

  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Sharon. I actually don't disagree with ANY of that! Absolutely... I'm simply saying that you have to start somewhere and if the outside environment isn't ideal, at least one can start with oneself.
    But really it takes a village, yes. And I really, really would like a school for J with teachers that think outside the box and can help him. I really, really would like parents and kids who can to some degree at least take J as he is and still go on interacting with him, rather than rejecting him wholesale like my not very adaptable Moroccan acquaintance... A skilled therapist who knew how to help him confront his frustration and his anger and his requiring everything to be on his terms all the time... I would embrace all that without a moment's hesitation!
  9. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Then why not reach out and try to find it? The earlier these kid's brains are challenged and rewired, so to speak, the better the outcome. What is your fear? He is getting worse.

    What Sharon suggested is essentially what most of us do. You get a circle of involvement regarding those who care about your child and want to help and work together :)

    I do think you are an amazing mother.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  10. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    It is not a question of my fear. We are in Marrakech, Morocco, where there is almost no infrastructure for this kind of help.
  11. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    How was his behavior when you stayed at your Mom's? How is his behavior when he visits with his Dad and family? How is he doing at the school? Most difficult children adapt different patterns depending on where they are located. I am curious.

    I know that you have struggled for years in your attempts to provide a consistent home environment & schedule. It is extremely difficult to rewire patterns in order to provide the calm consistent daily life that most difficult children require. You and J have spent many years alone and although I have no doubt that he recognizes the depth of your devotion I do strongly advise that you refrain from sharing labels and analysis with him. in my humble opinion he does not need to identify himself by his labeled behaviors. Im my experience (and, of course, each of us is different and all of us imperfect!) it is time to teach him to recognize when HE needs to withdraw from situations that may lead to confrontation. Recognizing when he is triggering negative responses may empower him to take breaks as needed so he can chill. Most kids and adults have times when they "sense" that a change of pace or location is needed. He has many positive attributes that can build appropriate self esteem. Many of our children have not been so blessed. Good luck. DDD
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Some interesting observations, DDD. To answer your question: this summer at my mother's J was the worst he has ever been, with some meltdowns more vicious and aggressive than I have ever seen. Over a six week period he had maybe five or six episodes like that. Why, I cannot say. Of course we had just gone from France, to Morocco, to England in a short period of time... that may not be irrelevant. With his dad and family he is (they tell me) reasonably well behaved and not that different from any other Moroccan boy of his age... he does well when he feels socially included, likes large gatherings and being with children in the house. With me he is explosive and highly unco-operative or amenable and relatively mature - depending, doubtless, on a whole set of factors that I can't really analyse. When he feels that people like and understand him, he is his best behaved.
    School... the school in France, where he was for three years, he liked (even if they didn't like him so much always...). Never not wanted to go. Was well behaved, relatively, in class time, more difficult in the breaks. He is now in a school here that is basically exactly like a French school but just outside of France. It is not going so well and I may post about it elsewhere.
    Yes, learning how to defuse his own anger and frustration would be so useful for him and I sense he has the emotional skills to do that, actually. Too bad your boy couldn't be his mentor, Sharon :)
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Maybe he just doesn't quite feel this way at school yet?
  14. HMBgal

    HMBgal Active Member

    We credit the amazing kindergarten teacher that recommended this book to us as saving my grandson's school life. All the problems at home sure didn't get any better at school! It wasn't a magic bullet, but it sure gave some strategies, techniques, and the confidence to tell everyone "If he could do good, he would." We went to his website and purchased the school kit for the school ($35 USD). And we worked with everyone who would be working with him on how to use the techniques. They are good techniques for everyone, not just explosive kids. We also downloaded the data worksheet that discussed strengths and deficits and had the teacher fill it out, we filled it out, then we worked together to prioritize what we can all work on at the same time. And as great as that book is, it wasn't 100% reflective of the types of blow-ups we were seeing. We found "The Angry Child: Regaining Control When Your Child is Out of Control" had a lot more "aha's" for us. And the school would definitely do stupid things that would set my grandson off and make the situation so much worse. Either my daughter or my retired husband would go up to the school every morning and lunch recess to make sure things went okay. There simply wasn't enough supervision and this was a risky time for him to get out of control. He doesn't have the social skills to manage a couple of hundred kids and all of their BS and stay out of trouble. It sounds like your school may be smaller?

    Anyway, good luck! My grandson is in second grade and while he still has problems, he's gained some tools, can identify his feelings, and has better control. Some it has been simply maturing, but everyone has worked so hard, including him.
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that. Very interesting to know your experience!
    J doesn't mind the school. The problem is that it's... same old, same old. In other words, it's just as bad as the school in France in terms of ignorance of and unwillingness to work with him as he is, difference and difficulties and all. Despite what the principal says in her advertising, it's just one size fits all... In one week, we have had
    Humiliating put-downs and judgements in front of him
    Refusal to listen to fact that he is exhausted after school and cannot do three big pages of reading and questions for homework...
    The principal clearly hasn't read any of the documents I provided - letters and recommendations from the experts in France
    Today, he was kept in at break times because he hadn't finished his work and because he said "I couldn't care less about reading and writing"... well, it's just a fact. He can't care less about it at the moment. They are not helping him care about it in any way, as far as I can see. In addition, the principal asked to talk to us both after school to tell us off, as it were, about him not finishing his work and say he must be punished.
    It's all bull**** I've had it with their stupidity and arrogance, truly I have. And after reflection and discussion with friends, I am doing something radical... I am pulling him out of the school and I am going to provide teaching for him, probably some of it myself. He is so bright, there are so many possibilities, being shamed and ridiculed for his concentration and impulsivity problems just isn't acceptable.
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    So... it's the beginning of another adventure!
  17. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    I will never understand why a teaching would think that humiliating a student is the answer to anything.
  18. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I guess, yes, IC... feels rather like I am in freefall without a safety net... exciting and potentially dangerous :)
    I spoke to the husband of the director of the school this morning, who seems more approachable than she is. I think it's in appearance only, though.
    He didn't skip a beat when I told him I was taking J out of the school and I imagine they are relieved, since they see him only as a problem rather than a pedagogical challenge. He said that J was unable to follow any rules and only wanted to do what he wanted all the time, that he was a very proud child. This is of course an exaggeration. He does follow rules sometimes and also seems to want to do so at times. I tried to explain something about his differences and the causes of them, but they're clearly not interested or able to see things differently from how they see them. This is what an alternative approach is what J needs - has to have, in fact.
    I honestly don't know at this point whether I'm capable of teaching J. I don't think I would do any worse than the young Moroccan woman who is teaching his class and who had such problems with him. I am feeling like the ideal would be to find an open, engaged tutor for him to work on the correspondance programme that we will be receiving, the French national education programme. I can try it initially and see how it goes. One day a week he is going to go to a Moroccan kindergarten, in the class with five and six year olds, to develop his Arabic and just hang out with other kids. There are many possibilities of ways to work and things to do, particularly here in Morocco. I have also heard about a psychomotricien here (kind of psychologist of movement) who is apparently really dedicated to kids and to kids with difficulties.
    Wish me luck, is all I can say...
  19. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    Good luck! :warrior: