How would you handle this?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    How would you handle this? Just interested to get different perspectives on this - not beating myself up for anyone who feels that I am :)
    Picked J up from the "garderie" at 6.30 this evening (school finishes at 4.30 and there is a childminding service at the school until 6.30) - it is a long day for him, from 8.30 until 6.30 so I am aware he must be very tired when I pick him up, though he doesn't show it of course but is just super energised and hyperactive as ever. He asked to go out on his bike in the village - I know he is hoping to see the other little boy who lives near us, who also goes out and plays around the village in the evening - but I said no, we would spend time together. I would like to get into a routine of him just going out to play when there is no school the following day. Rumbunctious game of "cache-cache" and then we were going to play a board game. As he was getting it out he dropped the cards on the floor. When I told him to pick them up, he went into this big crying fit, rolling around on the floor and shouting that "he always had to pick things up" and that he wasn't doing anything unless I helped him. I felt on principle he should pick them up but after 5 minutes of this escalating temper tantrum, I decided that the best way out was to help him, though I really dislike doing this as it is not teaching the basic principle that what he has dropped, he should pick up... It just wasn't a battle worth fighting though. We then did this together but we ended up not playing because he was then really rude, speaking to me in that smart-alec, insulting way that I really find disrespectful and unacceptable. Not a pleasant evening, all in all.
    Two questions really - what would you have done about the dropped cards and (64,000 dollars), is there any way I can work on getting him to stop this rude defiance when he feels he is losing "power" and control.... Consequences, I'm afraid, make no difference - though perhaps they would if I walked around in a suit of armour and had 10 years at my disposal. All thinking outside the box welcomed...
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    For me, you already said the key words early in your post... long day, hyper, etc.

    In other words, he is TIRED. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and every other form you can imagine.

    So... he did NOT intend to drop the cards. He just can't work to the level of detail that would at 11:00 on Sunday morning. Follow so far? So, my reasoning would be... that his motor skills AND his coping skills are at least blasted back to a 2-year-old level. Therefore... what expectation would you have of a 2-year-old in that situation?

    I still find that it helps to adjust my expectations to where difficult child is actually AT, at the moment. And yes, its tough when a teenager gets blasted back to 2-year-old - but he does. And he can't help it.

    A two year old would probably have heard "oops, here, help me pick these back up".

    The rude defiance... is because he already has lost control... you just don't see it until the 'last straw' happens. By the end of his "school" day, J essentially has nothing left in his gas tank.

    We had to restructure our lives and get rid of before-and-after school care... BOTH kids were too far beyond coping by the time school was over. But I have NO idea how you do that as a single parent. SO... you need to reduce your expectations in the evening, and focus on making it pleasant for J - and therefore for you. Expect top behavior at school, and on days off. But after a hard days work... he needs bonding time more than anything else in the world. And he's perceptive enough to understand that the expectations change - when there's a problem and he is fresh, he must do his part, but you understand that sometimes, at the end of the day, he can't quite do it.
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont think any child under the age of about 7 or 8 would actually be able to completely go through that routine without having a bit of a meltdown. A 4 year old really shouldnt be expected to completely pick up a large number of cards if they drop out of a box like that. He didnt throw the box in anger. It dropped. Even in anger, I would have been on the floor with him helping...Ok J, can you help me pick up all the yellow cards...good job...Now where are all the ones with a blue ball on them. Something like that because I have no clue what the game was.

    Now if he dropped one car and threw a fit because he didnt want to pick up the ONE car, that is different but if it is a lot of objects, then yes, the parent has to help them organize how to pick up. Its a game of "you pick up and I pick up. Can we race?"
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, now, I seem tougher than you on this question, Janet :) Basic unspoken rule in this house is that what we drop, we pick up.... however. I can see and accept that it's unreasonable to expect J to not be affected by his long day and to be able to do things in that state of tiredness that he would usually do. I tend to see it as a principle is a principle... you get the idea. But there needs to be more flexibility, I can see that. He actually really, really wants to go to garderie - he has a great time playing with his chums and although there is no need for him to go in the mornings (school starts at 9) he always asks to go. So I DO often have a lot of work and need the extra time but it's also about J playing with other kids which, without brothers and sisters, he constantly asks to do.
    Anyway, thanks guys. Useful to get this input.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Malika, I DO agree with you on this... if the interaction is so important to him, AND it works for you... then keep doing it...
    And then just make allowances for how the evening goes as a result.

    With "our" kids, its always a balancing act. Not getting to "do" stuff is just as bad as being "worn out".

    (ours didn't need the socialization, so our focus was on reducing the "worn out" part)
  6. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    HI Malika,

    We all face these situations. Have you read the explosive child? It is really helpful in giving one permission not to fight all battles. Also something to think about is that what looks to us like an easy task seems overwhelming to a child sometimes. If you have the gas in your tank to make a game of it, that sometimes helps. Course I was never that good as a parent.

    On the rudeness etc we still have that when my son gets really upset. Consequencing has not proved to be helpful. I would at least go for remorse, someone on this board said, not enough to say sorry, you have to do sorry. So let him think about age appropriate ways to make it up to you perhaps afterwords. What you might be aiming for is to help him learn to take your perspective on what hurts you.

    I think you will get further if you view rudeness etc as something he is not in control of for age, disability etc reasons. Consequencing someone with a broken leg and telling them have to walk normally is only going to make them madder. So see that as a long term project. Looking at the antecedents and figuring out how to forestall these situations will probably make both of you feel better about things. Easy to say, hard to do.
  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi malika! I would have done the same as you did ultimately with the cards. just that now after 10 more years of it than you, I expect that is what I have to do. He spilled something the other day and he did have to clean it, we both had rags, I did a little, he did a little etc. It keeps the stress down and the fights too. Yeah, you know the! He was tired and you probably were too. You know one of my favorite memories of my mom is that even though I was in fifth grade, I would ask her to put my socks on for me (remember knee-highs?). I could do them myself, and I remember our neighbor lady once criticizing my mom/me for doing that. But, she just did it because she knew it reduced my stress and I needed her (it wasn't so much about the socks). It is thru these little things, our matching their needs that we make happy memories. Now, there are times when difficult child will actually say in a SINCERE voice, thanks mom, and gives me a super hard hug.

    As for the "rude" sounding talk, our kids are different in many ways so we probably have different expectations but it sounds really important to you-and it should be- but I would consider his age and his difficult child-ness. (I have had to adjust my life long goals for this but we do continue to work on it). Maybe at a not angry/not upset moment, that might be the time to address that further. Would he understand if you did a little role play, he is the mommy and you show him what you want him to sound like and what he did sound like...have him practice...maybe in a play food/restaurant situation or something....

    I would not do anything ever or go anywhere if I didn't realize that mine WILL be "rude" to me during the set up or transition phase of things. Once into the activity it typically dies down. About once per month (ahem) he gets in more trouble with it (Yes, I know it is really my level of patience that is different, not his behavior)

    not much help. You are doing fine, just have to take it day by day.
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I'm going to add a slightly different point of view... It is all we can do to get Jett to GO outside... because as a small child, and up till bio passed, he spent a LOT of time with video games. He does not have many friends (ONE), nor playmates (he is rude and bossy to them)... Now, it's ingrained to be INSIDE all the time.

    Perhaps J needs that outlet? because at school, and with the minder, he probably doesn't get much real play.

    Just a thought...
  9. keista

    keista New Member

    DD1 used to behave like that all the time. Sometimes she still does. for whatever reason a task is "too difficult" so I assist her or even forgive the task, but even once she's "gotten what she wants" The attitude is atrocious! I think the reason is that the attitude already became atrocious, and these kids have a much more difficult time "switching emotional gears" I guess maybe emotional perseverating. Even though (we think) things should be all better now, they are still stuck in the miserable experience.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Keista - I find it helps to remember that getting a "push" over the speedbump doesn't mean there's any more gas in the tank than before the bump... it takes more than a "hug" to refill a difficult child's gas tank (or even a PCs gas tank... they just don't run out as often!)
  11. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This may seem overly simplistic and won't necessarily work with a difficult child who's already into a tantrum, but I'm going to share it just in case. A trick I use with my 4 year old grandson when he doesn't want to do something is to turn it into a time contest. I say, "I'll bet you can't pick up those cards before I count to 20." Most of the time, it works.. he LOVES competition. This is how I get him to bed sometimes, too, I say, "I bet I can beat you up the stairs!" and off he goes ... racing me to get there first. It's just another way of redirecting him, and it works a lot of the time. When younger kids become defiant over a power struggle, giving them some "perceived" power (i.e., challenging them to a contest and then they get to "beat" you in it), helps somewhat. I think this only works with younger kids, though.. I doubt my grandson will buy into this when he's 8 or 9 ;-)

    I don't think helping him pick the cards up was giving in to him. I think it's a fair compromise with a tired and cranky difficult child.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    CinVa is what Im talking about. I was not speaking about the temper tantrum because I think that was probably a reaction to the game falling and then being told to pick it up. He just sort of melted then. Fairly normal to me. I would have been exasperated if I had been pulling a bag of rice out of the pantry after a long day at work and it fell, spilled all over the floor and realized...darn, now I have to clean it up! Now I am 49 and know I have to but he is 4 and just starting to learn these things. So he vocalizes it.

    I still think when we ask small kids to clean up, its with expectation they are not going to do it with the same ability as an adult and they will most likely need our help. If that means we have to work with them to get it done, so be it.
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all these thoughts.
    The reason I get so upset and concerned about the rude, disrespecful talk is not so much because of how it affects me (though of course it is not nice) but because I see it as a REAL social handicap that will blight J's life if he does not learn that it is a boundary not to be crossed. He does actually have some control over it - hard to explain how I know this, but I just intuitively see that he is choosing to be rude in those moments, in his four year old way, of course. It is one of the things I really want us to overcome. Time will tell if that is a realistic aim on my part...
    I think there is something in what you say, Step. I think he does really want to play outside and he loves playing with T, the 7 year old who lives near us. But really it is too late for him to play out on a school evening - and then I just feel like we should have time together. We did have a nice time after we first got back home, with him telling me all about his day - I was quite impressed with his logical sequencing of events and recall, actually - and then fun playing hide and seek. I do sometimes use the "beat the clock" technique with him, and of course he enjoys it and is quick to take up the challenge, but tonight, as you say CIVA, he was too far gone in his crying and rolling around for that to have worked.
    I have read the explosive child, pepperidge! Probably need to re-read it... :)
  14. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Malika, have you read 1-2-3 Magic? That's another book that I found extremely helpful with my grandson. Wish I'd had it when my kids were his age.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    On the cards, I don't even have to think twice. I would have said, "Let's pick them up, all right?" Heck, I even help my daughter clean her room sometimes (she is fifteen) and we end up having good talks together...this doesn't bother me.

    For the defiance, I actually never had to deal with that sort. If I try to imagine what I'd do though, being me, I would probably say, "Hey, that hurts my feelings. I don't talk that way to you" and drop it. Why? I would not want to give any child too much attention for negative behavior. Also, some k ids do have a tougher time holding it together when they are overtired and overstimulated. I'm not sure he needs to learn not to talk that way. I'm quite sure he knows it isn't the right thing to say, even at his age. I think it's more than he either has to mature and learn to control himself on EVERY level and THEN decide not to be rude...or he needs some sort of professional help teaching himself how to do it.
    Most of our k ids are not know for their wonderful social skills...
  16. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Reading your post I was wondering if this new change in scheduling is something that he knows about and has talked about with you. Yes, lol, I know you are the Mom and he is the kid. on the other hand he is an active bright little boy and any change in lifestyle (scheduling) is difficult on a youngster...particularly a difficult child. Just like "dinner time" "bath time" and "bedtime" a set schedule is really important. To a four year old the definition of "play time" is probably more important than the other parts of the day.

    One of the most difficult parts of parenting a difficult child for me was that it elminated spontaneous trips to visit or go to the store or whatever. Any deviation resulted in behavior changes with GFGmom in the 60's and did the same with difficult child#2 (her son) in the 90's. During the six years I was single it was really frustrating for me.

    I'm not suggesting that you are wrong to attempt improvements but due to his precosciousness he likely has to be very carefully transitioned. I understand how difficult it must be for you. So far as the cards...I, too, would have opted to share the task and probably added "Mommy will help you tonight and I know that you will help Mommy sometimes when she is tired or fussy, too." Hugs DDD
  17. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Lol, MWM. No, you're right - you're all right, really. Parenting J is really very humbling because I think I have a clue... but at times like tonight I feel I don't really have much of one :) You all would have helped the child pick up the cards straightaway - okay, silly Mummy!
    What we are doing here with the forum is helpful and valuable. So... thank you.
  18. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Now, there is an understatement! LMAO That was putting it perfectly. Exactly how I feel all of the time! I love your posts. Very real.
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Malika, your said,
    It may seem to you that he is choosing to be disrespectful, but he may not have as much control as you think. Try to reflect on any car accident you have ever been involved in (I'm talking the small rear end minor bingles here). Sometimes, about half the time, one or both parties will be acting aggressively, rudely, making accusations and being very disrespectful. It can rapidly escalate. The parties involved are often otherwise decent people who are reacting in the heat of the moment, and where this heat is coming from, in a car accident, is adrenalin. A sudden shock, a bit of mental overload (a lot to cope with and they just snap). And this is from otherwise sane, sensible, decent people. Adults. Not 6 yo difficult children.
    If you questioned these drivers after the event, after they have ranted at the other driver, in almost every case they will justify their behaviour. Or they might say, "I could have been gentler about how I said it, but that guy was a jerk, I said what I said because he was in my face and anyway, he's an idiot driver to do what he did." It is easier to rewrite history than to accept we behaved badly; after the event we tend to justify our actions, often with breathtaking success. Very bad behaviour can too easily be justified. We sometimes even rewrite our memories in order to be able to live with ourselves after the event. "It didn't really happen that way; I was paying attention, he just braked suddenly for no reason. Idiot."

    Everyone is capable of bad behaviour. Children are more capable of it. Where it comes from - "Suddenly I'm not coping." Your aim - not to prevent this behaviour, because you won't. he's a kid. Your aim is to help him learn, with examples and practice, better ways of handling a situation. The best way to teach him is by example and using a positive approach. The punitive approach does not work on him, we have seen this. He will respond better to modelling, reminding and a loving approach. "I'm not shouting at you; please do not shout at me."
    I also recommend you model for him, how to identify the real problem than find a solution. For example, in this situation he was over-stimulated to begin with, as well as over-tired. He had already been socialising for two hours after school, so there was no need to increase this. Plus with him potentially being less able to cope (due to being overtired) then it would have been a risky choice to let him go ride his bike right then. So well done for that. Good choice, mum.
    Next - he dropped the cards. He was probably feeling a bit tired, a bit stressed because part of him still wanted to go ride his bike (or resented not being allowed to) and then he is faced with (for him) a catastrophe. It suddenly becomes too much. You want him to pick up. He knows it's the routine. But for now - no way, I'm tired. I've had enough. Now, of course this is not acceptable behaviour and you want him to learn to manage better. But if you become the irresistible force to his immovable object, not only do neither of you win, but you actually ramp up his objections.

    Instead, step in and identify the problem(s). First - he is tired. Second - he dropped the cards. Third - he is cranky and not coping.
    Now to the solutions. First - go easy on him, help him. Second - show him by working with him, how to pick up the cards cheerfully. This will also help with problem (3). Next, if/when he is calm, talk to him about how he is feeling. Let him know you understand he is tired, but it is not good to shout at people just because you are tired or something went wrong. You did not drop the cards. he did not drop them on purpose. Yet you are helping him happily, because he needed a little help and you love him and want to help. You should not shout at the people who love you, it is not kind.

    Too often our little kid learn the blame game really, really fast. Some kids, especially the more reactive ones, will then react with anger and blaming others, before blame can be laid at their door. This comes back to the car accident scenario again - think about people you know and how they react. A punitive approach to discipline actually increases the blame component.

    Two sentences to teach him and to use often yourself, as appropriate.

    1) "It's not always about blame, sometimes it just has to be tidied up."

    2) Sometimes bad things happen to good people for no reason, and we have to deal with it."

    You made some good choices in this. I recommend more and more however, that you teach him to work with you. It teaches him cooperation, it teaches him consideration, it also helps de-fuse what can seem, to a little kid, to suddenly be an insurmountable task. And that teaches him that no matter how big and overwhelming problem can seem, it does rapidly shrink the faster you deal with it. Just dig in and work at it and the problem will go away.

    But if you keep trying to make him handle it all on his own, he will rapidly learn as many avoidance tactics as his little mind can invent. Kids are good at avoidance. We are good at teaching them. Not just parents; teachers too, other adults in our kids' lives. Classic avoidance tactics are - "It's too big. I can't handle it alone." "I'll do it later, it won't take long." "I shouldn't have to do this - it's not my responsibility!" "It was not my fault, so someone else must be to blame. Find them and make them do it."

    It can be breathtaking, just how much energy we put in to trying to avoid doing a task, which would have taken less energy and less time to deal with properly ourselves. Sadly, it is a skill our kids learn all too soon. To unlearn this, we need to first show them the right way to handle things. And this requires soul-searching and personal honesty. You must be vigilant to ensure you yourself are not making the same mistakes you want to correct in your child, because with difficult children you can not go down the "do as I say, not as I do" road.

    What I'm trying to say - you did the right things. And those are the reasons.

  20. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Knowing his level of tiredness, etc I would definitely have helped him pick them up. I am sure that when he is feeling well and "in a good place" he might have picked them up without being asked or at least done so with a prompt. I think we forget that if an adult friend had dropped the cards or even if J had a friend over we would immediately help that person to pick up the cards because it is considerate and polite, but now we are holding our kids to a different standard by insisting they do it on their own.