How do you deal with your difficult child's insults, etc?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Both yesterday and today J has had outbursts - both when tired and ostensibly (though really I think it's just a way of expressing some kind of need to be difficult and disagreeable) over TV and his demand to watch before bedtime, which he never does - in which he insults me, shouts that he is going to go and live by himself because I am not doing what he wants, kicks the back of my chair, screams and shouts. It's honestly horrible and I'm sure most of you know what I'm talking about.
    So... when your difficult child acts up like this, how do you deal with it?
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Ignore as much as I can, and I frequently either say something like "sorry you feel that way" or "I know, I'm an awful mom. sucks you got stuck with me."

    A lot of times the "awful mom" will make Wee pause. Depends on how out of control he is.
  3. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    Honestly, I try to ignore it and walk away if I can. Usually he will come to me later and say that he's sorry and occasionally I remind him that if anyone called him the names that he called me (or easy child, for that matter) he would be screaming about how terrible that person was and that that person needs to say that he's sorry for it, but that he seems to think that it's okay for him to do it to others.

    It can be very hurtful and we've brought it up with the therapist. difficult child's response is that it's not something that he means, but it's what he does when he's angry. Trying to get him to undertand that this is something that is not going to fly in the real world seems to be an uphill battle.
  4. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Extinction, for the most part. I couldn't even say "sorry you feel that way" because it would just wind him up even more. We did therapeutic holds if he was getting physical (kicking chair - though more likely he would be kicking us). But if it was all verbal junk, we had to learn to just extinct it. No response from us equaled no payoff for him.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You don't answer a rage. You only answer the real person, and when they are in a rage, they are not the "real person". Ignore. Don't feed it, don't escalate it. Walk if you can - another room, or something.

    Once the rage is over - in this case, maybe next day...
    I'd be looking at what kind of activities need to be trimmed back, because if this is a regular or semi-regular occurence in the evening, it looks like he's running out of steam on some front before the day is done. So... either shorten after-school time, or reduce activities. But tell him what you are doing and why, let him be involved in what gets "deferred" (not dropped forever, just that "we" can't handle all of this right now).
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Ok, that's interesting (useful). The consensus is to ignore it. I generally remonstrate with him and tell him to stop - but then he is not in a totally-out-of-control rage, he is being very difficult and unpleasant, out of order as we say - and eventually he does. It doesn't happen when he is at school. Yesterday and today he was with the childminder - I have a ridiculous workload right now - and has been watching a lot of television which, she and I both noted, makes him excited and aggressive. It's also addictive for him and he demands to watch more and more. My television has tonight strangely broken and cannot be watched any more...
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    What kind of alternatives can you provide for the childminder, for J to do... so that her TV can "mysteriously" also not work one of these days?
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I can't ask her not to watch TV, IC, because she has two kids of her own and they both like to watch it. And of course if they watch it, J has to be allowed too... You see the problem? Anyway, it's just temporary as school starts again on Tuesday. It does confirm to me that TV is just not good for J, which is to say that he just can't handle it in moderation but demands ever more and more... Not to say that he doesn't have these outbursts anyway but they have DEFINITELY been worse since he has been watching a lot of TV. Coincidence?
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    NOPE. Not in my opinion, anyway.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    wow, well that is a good thing to have confirmed at least. Sorry you are having to go through this now though.

    If he is not in a full rage and is able to listen at all, there are some of those Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) tricks they suggest, like if you thought the problem was that he was going to bed too late for the past few nights, you would say, (sincerely, not sarcastic or mean) "thank you for letting me know that you are so tired. That is something I can really help you with." You could say (I am no expert at this, better off in the Daniel Hughes books or other of those attachment/adoption books) maybe something like, Oh sweetie, looks like I really need to make sure we dont watch any more TV at (child minder)'s house because it seems to really make you wound up later in the day. Thanks for letting me know. Mommy's are good at fixing things like this. (if he argues that is not true, I didn't say that, well your body and voice are telling me that). Then divert, do you want to read a book now? Now, here is where I probably go wrong.... IF Q suddenly stops and "turns things around" and apologizes and asks for a chance etc... I do tend to give it to him and it works. He does not go back to the behavior. But I think if he would not need that chance or it didn't work, then I would just do what I said so it is not confusing. He will ask, can that just be a warning mom? I promise not to do it again. And if he can stick to it then I go with it. Now if it is clear it is beyond his control and I really am right, it is what I said, then he is done (staying awake late for a special game or whatever I think is putting him in that icky space).

    Probably not something that a behavior analyst would say is ok but it works for us. I often use the "your body is telling me....'" line.

    Really is a bother, and yes, I do know what it is like. Really really do know.
  11. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Malika have you read The Explosive Child? "THE book" as we call it here. :) It really does an amazing job of explaining how not to feed into a difficult child's behavior, and how to break the cycle.

    Definitely ignoring is the best strategy, unless it turns into a situation that is going to hurt someone. Ignoring does not mean there might not be a consequence afterwards, but in the moment of the tangent, you simply should walk away and not engage with them. Later when all is calm, you can say things like because you did X you may not have Y tonight. It is best however, if you have the consequences for behavior all pre-planned, printed out and discussed with J when he is calm and rational, before any tantrum has happened. Then you can go back to the list when he is calm and point out to him the connection to the consequence. Very neutral in tone, you simply say - remember J we decided if you did A then B would happen as a consequence.

    Good luck - sorry you are going through this.
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Buddy. For the first time last night I felt really scared of J - we were in the car driving home (past his normal bedtime) and he had this stick that he had picked up in the woods. He started brandishing it at me and for a moment I could see him really hitting me or the dog... But then he put it down when I told him (in a very sharp tone of voice).
    It's interesting you talk about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Is that part of what is driving this, I wonder? I can see that I myself still have problems with being very sweet and loving when he is acting up like this because part of me obviously must feel that his behaviour is just unacceptable and he should realise that... Part of me fears that if I indulge him, he will get worse and even more cavalier and dominating. Not saying that that is right, just that the fear is there.
    I am learning though that a tight routine and really watching the amount of stimulation he has are important in terms of keeping his behaviour within normal bounds...
    Just read your post, Steely. Yes, I have (believe it or not :)) read "The Explosive Child". But I need to re-read it... As for consequences. Oh dear, that opens a can of worms. I should have these but I don't, never have. They just don't work with J in the sense that he has such a total, distressing meltdown if I attempt them and he simply will not accept the consequence so that the whole thing rapidly descends into chaotic farce. Am I supposed to ride through all the frenzy??
  13. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I hear you. It is scary to see your kid actually in a position where they could hurt you and then to imagine the what ifs.... I completely get that.
  14. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Guess I should clarify that ignore was the only response early on, when his fits were out of control. Now, tho, he rarely gets that out of control so I can say something now that often diverts the situation.
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You don't start consequences for melt-down situations.
    Start with choices. Are we going to X or Y to day? We only have time for one of them, which do you want. The "consequence" of one choice, is that you don't get to do the other. This is logical. As all consequences are supposed to be. Think in terms of "cause" and "effect". He has to master these concepts, before behavior-related consequences are going to sink in much. And even then... consequences don't work when they are in a rage.
  16. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    for my kids that are my own i say, "i guess you are a (whatever) too then cause i'm your mom and you are just like me. sorry about that." that usually shuts them up. with my difficult child stepson i try to ignore whenever i can because he also tends to get violent. if the outburst becomes ongoing instead of just and incident then i put him in his room until he has calmed down and is ready to act appropriately.

    and i am also mindful to not let him have things like sticks in the car or any other place/time where i can not stop everything at once to go deal with him.
  17. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    No, I totally understand. I ended up being way too lenient with Matt because of the same reason, and it is something I regret, because I don't think he had enough structure or repercussion for negative choices. Later it became harder and harder to give consequences, and he had less and less self control. It seems if he had more consequences he would have had more inner discipline.

    So, in my opinion, I would sit down with him, and get him to agree with you that certain things are not OK in a house where we love and respect people. I would write them down on a list together, and maybe he can even decorate it so that he is buying into the whole process.
    Things I would include on there is no kicking of furniture, no hitting, etc. You know basic safety rules.

    Then I would draw an arrow from the action to the consequence.
    For example:
    Hit ------> no tv for the night
    Kick furniture ------> no legos for the night

    When that is all said and done, post it on the fridge or in his room. If he starts to meltdown, like I said ignore it, but do give him a reminder about the rules when he is having a meltdown, and what happens if he doesn't have a safe tantrum. If he does break one of the rules, wait until he has cooled off, and then take him in your lap and explain to him that because he broke that rule, that mean he wasn't safe, and there has to be a consequence. He might start badgering you, and manipulating you, and even melting down again, but reassure him that you are going to hold firm regardless.
  18. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Consequences are a royal PAIN to enforce. I particularly like the ones that enforce themselves.

    "MOM! There aren't any clean plates!" (bowls, whatever)
    "So... Did you do the dishes like your chore list said?"

    (THUD) "OWWW!"
    "What happened?"
    "I tripped over my bookbag." (in the doorway of his room)
  19. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Yes, step, natural consequences are the BEST, and the learn from them the BEST too. :)

    But when it comes to safety all the psychiatrists and phophs etched into my brain that I had to have consequences for unsafe behavior. Not only does it hopefully curb that behavior, but it also states to the child that you love them enough to keep them safe.
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hmmm, that's food for thought, Steely. I suppose if we take it down to the bare bones, I have consequences in the sense that if he spills something on the floor, he wipes it up, drops something, he must pick it up, etc. I would be willing to try less direct consequences, for behaviour. The issue is that J "loses it" really fast and really intensely - has dozens of shouting, crying outbursts every day when he does not get what he wants or is thwarted in some way. And I can see, based on past experience, what would happen if I tried to institute a consequence for breaking a previously agreed rule. He gets manically upset, and will not give up (the only time he will not drop a tantrum) because, I sense, being deprived of something is unbearable to him, representing... the losses and abandonment in his life? I don't know but I know that what has happened each time before is that he has made himself literally sick with crying and frenzy over this so that the whole thing feels more destructive than constructive.
    But I will give it another go, discussing it with him beforehand and agreeing certain things. That may make the difference.