How do you deal with the constant negativity?


It is just so hard sometimes! It is a constant litany of name calling, bad-mouthing, swearing... Really it seems like it's about nothing at all. For example right now difficult child is watching TV - the show about the overweight kids trying to get fit and he is saying the cruelest, ugliest things! He was even CALLING MR. CLEAN rude names on the commercial!! He is very irrational and if I come close to commenting, which, half the time I just can't stop myself from doing, it just gets worse. When will I learn. But, how do you respond to the mouth? Ignore it? Punish? I'm re-reading Ross Greene for the umpteenth time and I know he says it's just verbal garbage (he does say that doesn't he?) but GEEZ!!! It's awfully difficult doing anything remotely nice for him when he's in this space but dancing around him is the only way to keep him from melting-down. Sorry for the vent... By the way, we have gotten him to two therapist appointments even if today his father spent 35 minutes trapped in the elevator with him...I owe him big time!


Going Green
I'm still trying to figure that one out myself. Most of my difficult child's remarks are directed towards husband and I either by actual words or by tone. Drives me absolutely up the wall. I try to ignore it when I can but if I do, he thinks he's getting away with it and that just makes it worse. If I say something to him, he just gets mad and mouths off even more. Then he has the gall to get mad/upset when we are mad/upset with him. It's as if he honestly thinks he can talk to people that way and get away with it.

Wish I could offer advice but know you're not alone. Sending hugs and the beverage of choice. :smile:


Well-Known Member
My child is only six, so please realize we aren't in exactly the same situation. I have never tolerated disrespectful behavior from her toward myself or another person whether present or not. That's a basket A for me. I'm not even particularly nice about it, but I shut her down immediately. She usually loses something or going somewhere that is extremely important to her.
She may think it now, but she certainly doesn't say it.


New Member
I'm sorry you are enduring the verbal garbage. Sending out some supportive hugs. Our difficult child can be rude - and have a horrendous tone of voice, but generally speaking, he is not insultive or abusive verbally unless he is in full meltdown mode - beyond that line in the sand where he goes beyond the point of no return.

When he is in full meltdown mode, we get things like "you big fat freak", etc. on a regular basis. He will say things like "you're a big fat liar and I hate you and wish you weren't born", etc., and some things that are much worse and that I won't even type. It makes me sad to type those things, because I know when he's in that mode he's in that untouchable place where nothing and no one can change the course of his behavior until it simply runs its course.

I have learned over the years to "shut it down" immediately too - probably similar to TM. Our difficult child may still think some of the things on a daily basis - and want to say them - but he doesn't. And if he comes close, I immediately correct it. He almost seems shocked at that point - like he didn't notice what he said was rude.

Good luck with this one. :angel:


New Member
I'm not a Ross Greene fan (sorry guys). The term "verbal garbage" isn't going to get difficult child anywhere when he's older.

I feel the same as TM and Nomad, consequences need to be put in place. And, just as Nomad said, I'd ask difficult child how he feels when someone calls him a name. Bring it up to the therapist.

Something that worked for my easy child when he had his little bout with cussing (it lasted about 2 months around age 5ish; I put a Mason jar on the kitchen counter. For every hour he did NOT curse, I put a quarter in. For every time he DID curse, I took two out. Start with 4 quarters (in case you don't get to put any in to start).

On Friday, if he had money in there, I'd take him to the store and he'd spend what he had.

Know, this isn't an instant fix. It took me about 3-4 months to change two months worth of cursing. Now, at 9, he doesn't do it anymore.

Worth a shot.

Another thing I'd do, if difficult child is talking trash to the TV, turn the TV off. Just warn him first, if you can't say nice words, you can't watch TV. Give him a count. Three times, it goes off. Then count, each time he says something nasty. Just say "one". Then "two". When you get to three, say nothing, just turn off the TV, end of story.

I wouldn't just sit by and let it slide. It's never going to get better that way.


New Member
Honestly, I would simply turn off the television or at least change the channel. I would give him a warning that this was going to happen and then explain that there is no reason to say mean things even to a tv program. I would also offer him some options of things to do -- play a family game together, play a video game, whatever.

For me, rudeness is high up on my list of unacceptable behavior. It's probably one step below lying and stealing. The worst offense to me is bigotry in any way, shape or form. This is equal to violence. Making fun of obese people is bigotry. So, I wouldn't worry about meltdowns, etc. I would stop it now. Sorry.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
Ditto with nipping it in the bud... I give the count most times also. I will say to K and N, we don't talk to each other like that in this house, or do you want me to talk to you that way? Make it clear to the point. Stop now, and you can count or give a warning etc. I would limit the discussion, I will give her a time out and then discuss why she can't talk like that.

If she is raging I let her calm down and then we discuss her actions.

For us though taking things away has not worked for K, the time out and walking away as well as less talking during her "bad" behavior seems to work best for us. At this point!!!
Taking away the issue as well, like turning off the tv, or leaving the park etc.

good luck


Well-Known Member
The only thing that I have to offer you is that one day he will be older and have a life of his own. None of this is easy, or quick. I wish that I had known so many other people in my situation then as I do now. I felt so alone, and thought that only losers had kids who acted like M.

After having gotten to know all of the people here, I know that parents of difficult child's are just like everyone else. Individuals who are working at making the best we can of our lives. As much time as it takes for them to grow up and and move on with their lives, we also have our lives to live on our own, too.

I hope that you will have some peace. I know how hard it can be.


Active Member
I'm with Janna (although I AM a Ross Greene fan - but I accept he's not everybody's cup of tea). If it's something you can enforce, I would turn off the TV program which is producing the "verbal garbage". If he wants it back on, he has to keep those words at bay. If he can't, then the program stays off. And yes, this DOES fit with Ross Greene, in that YOU are now helping him learn self-control - this is not punishment. All you are doing is removing the stimulus that sets his mouth off.

I don't react personally to words like this, apart from maybe saying that talking like that is not going to get any positive results. If the words are directly attacking me, I don't react at all, but I DO store them up for when he's next being nice. If I think he can handle it, THEN I remind him that yesterday he said something unkind which I know he didn't mean. You do need to know what you can get away with, to avoid a meltdown when you discuss this, but if you can do it without meltdown you are likely to have something 'stick' in that brain, at least in terms of words being very hard to un-say.

It's usually difficult child 3 these days and lately he's been pretty good, but when he used to rage A LOT then punishing him while raging did absolutely nothing. He just raged all the more. What I needed to do was find a way to shut it off at the source, and THEN deal with it.
My best example with him is from when he was in mainstream. One evening he was screaming how much he hated me. Probably because I was making him go to bed. He was tired, he'd had a bad day at school, he was simply not able to control himself. Other than replying, "Well, that's a shame because I happen to love you," I ignored it completely and kept him moving towards bed. I knew sleep would be the cure.
Next morning as I dropped him off at school he gave me a hug and said, "I love you, mum." It may have been partly prompted by me saying, "I love you," to him, but when he said that I replied with, "Then why did you say 'I hate you' last night? It wasn't very kind, was it?"
He replied that he had been angry, I gave him another hug, he apologised and we parted as friends.

I'm not suggesting you try this exactly; it works this way for difficult child 3 at least partly because of who and what he is. We also had to work up to this. But he learned to say "I love you" because his grandma kept saying it to him, every time she saw him. And one day he said it back - to her. She was the first to hear these words from him.
I've made a point to distinguish between the behaviour and t he person. I love my kids. I don't always love what they do, but I always love them. I learned from grandma you have to keep telling them this because otherwise they don't think about it or they forget.

I would also talk to the therapist about this, see if there are any suggestions they can make about strategies to deal with this. I do agree, it needs to be stopped. Nipped in the bud.



Well-Known Member
I don't know about everyone else's difficult children, but mine does not change behavior based on punishments. She just never 'gets it' that the reason she is being punished is to stop doing the thing that got her the punishment. Never sinks in.

Having said that - I do still punish for some things. Even though I know it is not going to change the behavior, I do still have things that I just just can not be around in my house. So, would I turn off the TV - you bet. And tell my difficult child that I do not want or need to hear that kind of talk and to go in another room for awhile.

Do I think this will correct the behavior? No. But, it is important to me to not live with that kind of talk.

I am sure difficult child still would talk that way in front of others, at school, maybe even at church - my difficult child just does not get it.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
My difficult child is similar to busywend's - punishing and lecturing doesn't make the behavior change. She hears me and gives me the appropriate feedback when we've had a conversation about her behavior or attitude, but it doesn't make her change her behavior.

This is the KEY issue we're working on with her counselor - to STOP the negativity going on inside difficult child. Everything is permeated with negativity, especially her opinions about herself and it kills me because she wasn't raised like that.

I gently try to get her back on track using key phrases or words, sometimes all it takes is a look between us. But again, ultimately it is up to her to stop the negativity and turn it around. She's always so sure that there is doom around every corner, at the end of every event; sure that the outcome in any given situation will be a negative one. It is tiring and some days it really wears me down. I just try to stick with it and hope that she changes at some point.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I'm sorry! I know that constant negativity is so draining. Even though I agree with a lot of Greene I still would give a warning and then turn off the tv.

My difficult child has been spending a lot of time in his room lately because of his constant swearing at us. It may not be helping him but, doggone it, it is helping me. If he isn't going to learn from the consequence in this case at least he isn't by me for awhile when he is in his room!


Thanks so much for all of your support and responses. son sounds so much like yours. I really don't think he "gets" it! I WISH so badly I could be the kind of parent that just says, sorry, the TV is turned off or to give that unequivocal ultimatum but I don't do it, partially because I just cannot, at this point, live through another meltdown and partially because it would unquestionably escalate the situation. I ended up just calmly getting up and leaving the room, he ended up having no one to talk to and it stopped. Right now our basket A's are therapy and safety, that's about it. Words, I put in basket B or even basket C but I did like those suggestions about bringing it up later. I think I need more courage. We have "learned" not to talk because he does not seem to respond to it OR it seems to make the situation worse. Additionally, if we were to ask him how he felt when he was called names, I'm pretty sure he'd say that he's never been called names or he doesn't care. He is almost 100% unable to identify feelings.

My husband and I are both people who abhor conflict of any kind so sometimes it seems like we are in the wrong roles. We are not confident parents because, while we have had a lot of experience with children, we are not doing very well with our son. Sadly, people outside the home seem to have more luck. My husband and I see the therapist again tomorrow and we will definitley bring all this up. We are so afraid of the meltdowns, especially now that they involve safety. It's trying to be brave, trying to do things differently, trying to help him when talking does not seem to work in almost any situation!

He does seem to have strong issues with body image. He is a beautiful child but I think years of encopresis have done him in in that department. His easy child brother is also a bit overweight and that drives him crazy. He's so cruel to his brother about his weight. Those of you who would "nip it in the bud" with ultimatums, is it worth broken furniture, raging and a possible trip to the ER? Maybe that's what we should be's just so hard to know. Thanks again.


Well-Known Member
I am of the belief that it is not worth it. I, too, can not stand chaos and conflict in my life. I did let things go for many years. Does it really matter if he learns how to not swear at 10 or 18? No. If he gets it eventually, I consider it a milestone! LOL!


Active Member
No, in my opinion it's not worth a meltdown to me. My difficult child can be very rude and says hurtful things all the time. Usually when it happens I respond calmly that it's inappropriate. Sometimes he will stop, other times he will just say "so," and continue on his rants.

I always repeat the same words or phrases with him when I correct his behaviors because he will remember that more than he will remember the details of a talk and what he learned from it. I hope that some day when he is about to say something rude, my little voice saying "inappropriate" will pop into his head and he will stop.

I don't punish at that moment, but usually I will talk to him later. He went through a few weeks at school when he was saying mean, rude things to everyone for no apparent reason. When we talked about it, I realized he was repeating things he has heard on The Simpsons (a show I don't let him watch, but the comics are what got him to start reading so he has the comic books and husband lets him watch the show). I told him he couldn't watch the Simpsons and he had to give me the comics until he could control his rudeness. Three months later and he's still not allowed to watch or read the Simpsons because the rudeness hasn't stopped, although it's not nearly as severe.

He also really cares that he doesn't have friends and he gets in a lot of fights. He doesn't want that kind of life at all. So we talk a lot (when he is not in a mood) about how he acts and some of the things he says and does, and how that needs to change if he wants to have friends. The hope is that someday it will click with him and he will be motivated to change.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I totally understand it not being worth the battle at times. Even though we right now are giving difficult child his timeouts for swearing it is because he is in a different place than he has been. If it leads to violence, I would reconsider what we are currently doing.


Active Member
The cursing jar works wonders! The difference with us was that when he got rude about the other people on tv (idiots, dopes and morons among other things!), I would put on the old teletubbies tapes that we had. The little kids were entertained and mr. smart mouth got stuck watching them. We haven't had to deal with it in a looooonnnnggg time! :smile:


PS: I like Ross Greene, but can only apply some of his stuff. Some of it goes too far against my grain, and I can't adapt to all of it. My thing was that he really put how difficult child 1's brain was wired which made it easier for me to understand some of his impulses!! ;-)