Ok, so how do you handle this? Fantasy-to-fact in one quick second

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by agee, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. agee

    agee Guest

    So - in this thread I asked how to handle my son's rages so he calms down, etc. and I got lots of good advice about getting him to deal with frustration over time.
    But how to handle this, which is the cause of his current screaming rage?
    He and his brother watched TV/video games, etc. for a while this a.m. and after a certain amt. of time they were told screen time was over. We limit screen time and we give lots of warnings about when it will be over...1 hour...1/2 hour...10 mins, etc. There are usually fits at the end of it but then OFTEN what happened today will happen:

    difficult child: I hate you blah blah blah (screaming). I WANT to watch TV!
    dad: screen time is over. Remember, we told you an hour ago...1/2 hour...10 mins, etc.
    difficult child: But you said I could watch TV with you for the rest of the day! I get to watch TV with you!
    dad: No I didn't.
    difficult child: YES YOU DID! I hate you! YES YOU DID! Screamy scream scream...

    So - difficult child had said to his dad earlier today: I want to watch TV with you the rest of the day, and his dad told him no, that wasn't going to happen because difficult child was using his screen time with brother, because dad had some work to do, etc.. But because difficult child said it, it became TRUE in his mind.
    This happens all the time!
    So now we can't just say no and suffer the consequences of disappointing him, we have to fight against this fantasy that he has that just because he wants it, it will be so. And he's always so surprised when we say no a second time and doubly ****** at us because he truly feels like we're going back on our word.
    Does that make sense?
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Is there any way Dad could watch with difficult child for just a little bit of time (say 15 minutes or half an hour)? Do you think that would help at all?

    Instead of saying no, Dad could say, "difficult child, I'm happy to watch TV with you from X time to X time."
  3. agee

    agee Guest

    The minute one of us goes back on our word is the point where we'll get 6 months of badgering the next time we say no. Seriously. Perhaps if dad had said that to begin with it would have been a better strategy, but we have found that we need extremely clear boundaries for difficult child to really understand what is going to happen (or not). And, as I said when I started this thread, even that won't work since he often believes that if he says it, it's the truth. Us making the rules more hazy seems really counterintuitive.
    And the fact is if difficult child wanted to save some of his time for later with dad, he could have. But he didn't.
    So no, that won't work.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cory is still somewhat that way today. If he even hears us talking about something as a maybe or a something we would like to do as a wish, then he takes it as something that is definitely going to happen.

    For example, if he hears us say that we would like to go to the movies on the weekend, he thinks we said we are going to the movies. No, we would like to but it may well be we cant because of other circumstances. Or he thinks if he badgers us enough about wanting something from us then if we just ignore him and dont outright say NO, then we said YES. Well, no, we didnt say yes. LOL.

    And he is 23 now and he has been this way since he was little.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member


    And I get you on, "If we give way at all, we're stuck with him expecting we will always give way."

    Let me tell you - you're stuck with it anyway.

    What you need to do, is use "Explosive Child" methods to handle tis. You manage it, you dont meet it with the same opposition he uses. Instead, you use negotiation because this teaches him negotiation and also teaches him that straight-out obstinacy is not the way.

    I agree with you, dad should have not been so rigid to begin with. But he was, and he has to follow through. So Dad could say, "What I said, I have to follow through with or you won't learn. We did everything we said. We do not lie to you. But if you can try to calm yourself, maybe next time I will make time to sit and watch TV with you. You need to listen to your time warnings, do your best to stay calm, and then if you are still calm, we will be able to watch TV together. Next time."

    What are your reasons for him not watching TV with Dad? If it's because TV watching gets him a bit more mentally hyped up, then tell him. Also tell him that your aim, and Dad's aim, is to help him calm himself down before bedtime. He needs to be able to demonstrate that watching TV with Dad will be a good thing and not a bad thing.

    Some flexibility from you as parents is good, if difficult child can then learn to be flexible. But you know your son, you know how likely he is to use flexibility as leverage. You need to learn how to reason with him and to STAY CALM even when he is raging. Accept that a lot of the raging is frustration, and not him being rude. Do your utmost to not react, keep in your thoughts your ultimate aim - to teach him to cope.

    THis is not easy. It's about the most difficult part of parenting kids like this. But if you can achieve this, it is worth it.

  6. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    OMG! Been there done that! We started writing down the agreement with him before we went any further (remember: since he's 7 you have to print it, read it to him, have him read it back, etc.). The I bought an egg timer (one of the ones with numbers, not an hour glass) and set it and put it on a high but visible shelf (so they couldn't turn it back to add more time).

    At the 1/2 hour mark, I made sure I read it to him again so that he'd remember and again 5 mins. before time was up.

    It took all the "guess work" and misinterpretation out of things. Remember: 1 task/issue per written agreement and Keep it Simple. No big words - quick and to the point.

    Hope this helps!

  7. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I was going to make Beth's suggestion.

    And I really recommend TEC. You learn not to draw lines in the sand with these guys.

    And this is another perfect time for teaching delayed gratification..."Sure, I'd love to watch a half hour show with you when I get finished washing these dishes. Want to help me?"

    I know, it takes time. But if you don't take the time, it likely won't get any better.

  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I guess I should add that once you kinda get the hang of creative ways to not say no, yet maintain some control over the situation, doing this really doesn't take any longer than dealing with an all-day-long raging child.

    At first its hard because it goes against everything most people think "parenting" is...so you realy have to stop and think about everything you do and say, but once you get the hang of it, its not such a chore. And when you begin to see a payoff...well, then you're rolling!
  9. agee

    agee Guest

    I have read The Explosive Child. I will re-read it. But I just have a problem with this. If we are at all wishy-washy with him about anything he will beleaguer the point until we all want to be anywhere but where he is. The only thing that has worked with him is to give a decisive answer. If we don't say : 3 hours screen time on Sunday and then set the timer and let him know his time limits as it counts down it will be TV TV TV TV all day long. Badger badger badger badger badger.
    And I don't happen to think TV all day long is a good idea. I would be happy if there were no TV or video games in my home, but husband feels differently. So we limit.
    He is most successful with a great deal of structure. He doesn't have much executive function going on. We are constantly explaining his choices and making sure he knows that he is making the choice, not us. But the choices have to be clear: TV NOW or TV later. If you choose TV now you won't get it later. Understand?
    Yes, understood.
    But when the TV goes off it apparently isn't understood. Or at least purposefully misunderstood.
    The same thing goes for treats or time with friends or fun activities with us. We have to say YES or NO. Maybe is always interpreted as Yes. Yes, if you do XYZ is always interpreted as Yes no matter if XYZ is done or not. And NO is also sometimes interpreted as Yes - see my original post.
    I like the idea of writing it down. A contract. Then there is no doubt it's not understood. Or at least we have written proof that it was heard. I will definitely try this.
  10. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I was going to suggest the writing thing, too.

    FWIW, my husband has a very hard time retaining anything I tell him verbally. difficult child 1 to a certain extent, too. Short term memory issues, I guess. I have found that when I write it down, either as a note or an email that he reads, he retains it probably 99% of the time. Another technique I use is having them repeat back to me what I've said to them as confirmation -- "What did you hear me say?" and they then hopefully will repeat what I've just said. I might even have them tell me what that means after they've repeated it.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I hear you. Oh boy, do we get tis! (right, husband/Marg's Man?)

    The thing is, the methods in TEC are NOT wishy-washy. Or rather, they shouldn't be. But i agree, sometimes it can feel like that, if you don't do it right.

    Yes, with these kids we need to be consistent. But consistent doesn't have to mean rigid. In fact, if you can be consistent but flexible, you are teaching him to also be flexible, which is a very important lesson for these kids.

    Yes, TV all day is not good. But these kids actually use things like TV and computer gaming as a coping strategy, that is one reason for them being so insistent. If they could, they would play games all day and never get in touch with the real world. That is not acceptable. But the other side - banning them form gaming, especially as a punishment - you are removing them form their coping strategy, often as a punishment for not coping, which pushes teir anxiety higher, which... you get the picture. It's a matter of finding balance, of negotiating. And yes, you can still be firm and consistent, and still negotiate.

    Now, what I do is not necessarily what you do - you have your own household rules and that is perfectly fine. You don't have to get rid of them. But you may need to consider modifying them (in a way you feel OK with) in order to begin teaching your son that negotiation is good, nagging and trying to wear people down, is not.

    How we've done it - we will be rigid in not giving way to nagging. However, we WILL listen to negotiation. Now in the early stages this was still difficult because difficult child 3 (and easy child 2/difficult child 2) would still snap back into nagging mode.

    Ways to survive -

    1) Avoid ultimatums, avoid making, "That does it! Now you're NOT getting what you want!" statements. All this does, is teach that you, the parent, have power over the child and you WILL exercise it as a personal whim, a form of punishment. To the child this sounds like control for its own sake, a form of bullying. You mightn't mean it that way, but if tat is how the child sees it, then you have lost.

    2) Avoid viewing this as a "him vs me" situation. Once you see this as a battle you must win, you will have already lost. Instead, you need to see the whole interaction pattern as your child needing you to teach him how to negotiate, and how to get his needs plus your needs compromised in together.

    I'll give you a scenario. difficult child 3 wants to play games. I want difficult child 3 to get his chores done. difficult child 3 is willing (theoretically) to do his chores, but to change task form gaming to chores takes mental effort and he needs help to make tis transition.
    So - I remind him that he can always pause his game or save his game, that way he can (later on/next time) pick up where he left off. He knows this, I shouldn't have to remind him - but by reminding him, he's again touching base with this knowledge plus I am the one 'helping' him remember, so he is getting reminded that I am on his side.
    Next - I remind him why the chores are so important. The birds have to be fed or they could starve. It's fun to feed the birds - they are good company. Son, why don't you get the camera and take photos of the birds? I know you like to do this (ie make the other task as attractive as possible). And the threat of the stick - if the birds don't get fed, then neither do you, because it's not fair for you to eat while your responsibilities go hungry. ALWAYS take care of your responsibilities first, before you meet your own needs. That is an important life principle for when you become a parent.
    I also stress - feed the birds now while it is daylight, because trying to manage in the dark is tricky, there are spiders in there. And sometimes a very large (non-venomous) snake. Daylight is better.
    If he really needs help task-changing, I will 'invent' for myself a task outside too, and I will suggest we go together, to work as a team. He ends up doing the same work, while I do my thing. I might fill a bucket of water for him, he might help me get clothes off the line. Again - he was supported. He generally ends up doing the chores in good grace especially when we work as a team (which is what Shari was suggesting). This is a good technique when you're trying to establish a new chore or a new routine.

    The issue is one of habits. They form habits so incredibly fast. Example again - we live near the beach. I often take difficult child 3 to the beach with me. ONCE when I went to the shop on the way home and bought milk, I also bought difficult child 3 an ice cream. Next time we were heading home from the beach, he wanted an ice cream. "But we ALWAYS get ice cream on the way home from the beach!"
    In vain did I say, "No, we don't, we only did it once."
    For a while I caved, then I began insisting - not today. But I compromised - "when we get home, we'll make some shaved ice and syrup for you if you want." Over time he has learnt that we don't always have ice creams. In fact, they are a treat.
    A lot of the insistence again comes from anxiety - "I need my world to be predictable; I need to know that I am not missing out on anything."
    I have learnt to ignore the raging, the screaming and the yelling - it is not intended as insolence. But ignoring doesn't mean accepting it as OK. Once he's calmed down a bit (again, using TEC methods, as he can handle it) I will say, "I was not shouting at you; please do not shout at me, I was trying to work with you to find a solution, and it is difficult for me to think and to help you, when you are screaming at me. Now, let's try talking about this again, only you try talking politely with me. Let's see which feels better for you and for me."

    ALWAYS keep calm. Show him how you want him to behave. Be patient. This takes time. But hopefully it won't take as long as you fear.

    Now, some patterns are OK. For example, we have a pattern for difficult child 3, on Tuesday nights. Tuesday evening is drama class. It's a class for Special Education kids, many of whom are also autistic, or have other problems. difficult child 3 is one of the higher-functioning kids there. The kids are lovely to one another. But after class, one night I took an easy option and bought difficult child 3 a burger for dinner, so I could just worry about feeding myself when we get home. (another tip - a boy, especially a teen boy, who is hungry - can be REALLY unreasonable! So keep the beasts fed.) But over time, this has become a Tradition - difficult child 3 MUST have his Tuesday night burger.
    Now, this is the interesting bit - over recent months. difficult child 3 has set his own new tradition - HE has decided tat every second week, he will get pizza instead of a burger. The funny thing last week was, "I feel like a burger tonight. But it's pizza's turn this week, so I'll have to wait until next week to have a burger."
    I explained to him that it was entirely his choice. If he wanted a burger two weeks running, it was always his choice. Or he could choose something different again, such as fish. He still ended up choosing pizza, but it was a more sound decision - he really thought about it and made a conscious choice, and owned that choice. "I will have pizza anyway, because it is always good to try different things."
    He is aware of his own habit of falling into routines and his own need to challenge himself and stay accustomed to change.

    We have kept this tradition and added a new one - in the last few weeks since my cancer diagnosis, husband & I have met up after drama class (husband is on his way home from work) and while difficult child 3 is eating his burger or pizza (in the car), husband & I enjoy a quick Chinese restaurant meal. At first difficult child 3 whinged about the delay, but we pointed out - our meal from entering the restaurant, to leaving and coming home, was taking less than an hour. It takes about half an hour for him to order his burger, another ten minutes to eat it. He only has to wait a little while in the car (he doesn't like Chinese food and this way we enjoy a little respite form him) and while he's waiting, he can play on his hand-held game console. The alternative - he can come in and eat Chinese with us and forgo his burger - he chooses not to do. HIS choice.

    What is happening here - difficult child 3 is making these choices, but they are made form options we give him. We are getting what we want too.

    We went through a problem time when difficult child 3 was younger, of him wanting to play a certain computer game (Mission Thunderbolt) which should have been OK for him to play, but somehow caused him problems with nightmares, with anxiety, with sleeping problems, with appalling behaviour in the evenings. So we talked it over with him, explained that we knew he liked the game, but it was causing him trouble. We wanted to ban the game entirely. He wanted to still play it. So we said, "How about you stop playing that game after 4 pm? You can still play it, as long as you obey this rule. If you can't leave the game alone after 4 pm, we'll have to ban it entirely, until we know you can cope with it."
    This worked. He learnt to leave the game alone and not even watch while his brother was playing it later in the evening. And the good thing - difficult child 3 himself observed that he was sleeping better with fewer nightmares. HE saw how good this was. The reinforced his acceptance of our wisdom.

    But over the next few years, he felt he was better able to handle the game. So we talked about it (negotiated, not nagged) and we had a trial run. "OK, son, you can play Mission Thunderbolt this evening until 7 pm. Stop then, and we'll see how you are coping. If you sleep OK, then you can play it until 7 pm tomorrow night too."

    In terms of getting a child off computer gaming and out of doors, we have used technology to help us. difficult child 3 likes photography, but he loves technology. When we got a digital camera, he wanted to learn how to use it. So we showed him, and let him take a few photos. He likes to take photos of flowers (close-up) and also of birds. He actually is a gifted photographer, we discovered, and we have told him this.

    (another important point - use PRAISE as much as you can get away with. Use it appropriately).

    So if I feel difficult child 3 is spending too much time indoors either on schoolwork or playing electronic games, I will suggest we go for a walk (or a drive) with the camera. We'll take photos. Taking photos of birds especially is a challenge to a kid who has trouble sitting still. The trick to it - you have to stand and watch the birds for a while, see where the birds are going. Then you go over quietly (wearing something subdued) and sit there and wait, until the birds can accept you as part of the scenery again and will go back to what they were doing. This can take half an hour or more. It's been an amazing sight for us, to see difficult child 3 sitting still and quiet in the Aussie bush, waiting for the birds to get used to his presence.

    I'm sorry to use so many examples, but I thought it might be a better way to illustrate what I mean, and to show you that I really do understand what you're going through. We've been where you re. And in the earlier stages, we tried to handle it by being rigid and firm, thinking that it would be the best way to go (since it worked on us when we were kids). But with these kids - not only does it not work, but it can set you up for more of the same.

    Since we backed off from rigidity and instead focussed on consistency and compromise, we have found a vast improvement in difficult child 3's manner as well as our own stress levels. We then find our happiness level at home steadily increasing in a positive feedback loop. Seeing difficult child 3 learn to be less rigid and more able to compromise himself, has been our best reward.

    Our ultimate aim as parents, is to help our children become functioning, happy, productive members of society. They MUST learn to compromise, but when life is so difficult for them and so confusing, they often use rigidity as a coping strategy. They have to learn to relax their grip on that security blanket, in order to learn how to adapt to other people and their needs.

    it will take them longer than most kids. But form our experience - they do get there.

  12. agee

    agee Guest

    Wow. Thanks for that. I understand what you're saying. And we actually do a lot of this as part of our day, but it helps me understand why it needs to be always.
    This is a very familiar situation!
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I guess what I'm trying to say - this isn't a matter of fantasy, it's a matter of how he perceives things. It's perspective. And even PCs will have a skewed idea of what is really going on, when their own wishes get caught up in it. I remember easy child wailing about having no friends at school (elementary) and saying, "Everyone else has someone who is their friend, it's only me that everyone is mean to."
    It was all perception - I finally got through to her that EVERY kid at times feels hard done by. It's like in every relationship, each person believes they're the only one putting in effort into the relationship, it's never fair, never balanced.


  14. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Has he ever been tested for hearing or language processing issues? It is entirely possible that he is NOT hearing everything you actually say...and so he is assuming a lot based upon what he partially heard. My daughter has a Central Auditory Processing Disorder--and when she was younger she really didn't "get" a lot of what people were saying. And she would be furious when she thought you said one thing and had actually said something else.

    Something to consider...

  15. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Thanks Marg...you said it so much better! But I do want to add...once you get down this road quite a ways (where Marg is with her difficult child 3 and where I am with my Wee), you can occassionally just say "not this time" and the world doesn't come to a crashing halt.

    DF, good point. My Wee, who is very verbal, with a large vocabulary, also has Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) and severe language and short term memory issues which impact what he actually hears. He passed the school's tests with flying colors - he was bright enough to learn to get by...but when he was tested more formally with more specific tests, his issues are fairly severe.
  16. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Our kids get into what is called "stuck thinking" it sometimes doesn't matter in the beginning of helping them what you say, they are "stuck".

    You have to change the way you think, like the others have suggested you have to try other things, new things. Keep trying, if one does not work.

    My daughter K gets stuck a lot. If I "kind of" say it it is "true" it is "fact". Just last night she told me how excited she was to take an AR test before school. (for many reasons)

    This morning for what ever reason this conversation is gone. I had to sit with her and look her in the eye and word for word explain to her our conversation from last night. She finally remembered. And this is over something that is no big deal! She was stuck in her head with something only she knew about.

    I have had to adapt, I have had to adjust, I have had to be very flexible and I still have in NO way close to anything that is perfect. But the first rule is that anything you do you have to stick to it for at LEAST 2 weeks, even longer for most kids.
    You HAVE to stick to it.
    Even if difficult child is driving you crazy. Even now husband and I will have nights or days when we just don't want to deal and we want to give in. THis is when we take over for each other.
    THere are times when we do give in... sometimes K will still follow the rules because they are working. But other times she is too unstable and I just have to remember this.

    THe key thing that others have mentioned is to try to not get angry.
    Contracts are good, huge laminated wall charts are good. Especially having 2. One that is set up with the rules. The other with the rules for the here and now, for the day or right now.
    Timers are great!

    Try to remember your difficult child does not want to be this way. For every discipline they need 10x more positive comments.
    Hang in there this is such a hard road. I had to remind myself of all of these things this mornings!
    A manic 8 year old is SO much fun.