Power struggles and talking back -- need suggestions?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by laurensmyprincess, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    How do you wonderful warrier moms deal with the above?

    My difficult child gets into pushing and pulling matches with me when she wants something she should not have (ie the $500 digital camera that we bought and which she loves). This is just one example, but there are many times when she wont give up something that is not hers and she cannot have. This becomes very frustrating -- it feels like I have no control. If I take it away out of sheer anger, it totally creates an explosive rage that can last a long time. I find it very hard to discipline her in public -- I am afraid she will have a rage. It is easier when we are home. We are just back from a Disney vacation, and I swear there were some moments, that I really thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown with her.

    Another thing -- how do I deal with smart mouth and talking back?? She is only 6 but she seems to be doing this more and more. Ive tried being nice, reprimanding, explaining why it is wrong, etc, every tactic in the book. And she continues to do it. Then, when I try and tell her why it's wrong she will put her hands over her ears, look at me and go "la la la la" pretending not to hear me. It drives me crazy and people think she is the rudest kid.

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.
    It's a holiday weekend or you'd get more responses.
    Before I can give any advice, I need to ask a few questions:
    1/How was her early development? Did she reach her milestones on time? Any speech delays/difficulties? Fine or gross motor problems? Trouble making eye contact? Does she interact normally with her peers? Does she play appropriately with toys and have a good imagination? Is she overly precocious or obsessed with one interest? Are there any mood disorders or other psychiatric problems on either side of her family tree? Were you told that the epilepsy may affect her behavior?
    Has this child ever had a neuropsychologist evaluation? If not, I strongly recommend one. They are great evaluations...very intensive.
  3. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    Thank you so much for responding on the holiday weekend. I hope everyone is having a great one!

    Yes, the epilepsy can absolutely affect behavior. It is pretty textbook unfortunately. Especially temporal lobe onset epilepsy since the temporal lobe is the powerhouse of emotions. However, even with kids with E, the same strategies like Collabrative problem solving are used. Our hospital recommends these strategies for kids like mine. I need to go out and get the book....I read it a while ago. But in the meantime, looking for some guidance.

    Other than her epilepsy, she developed right on time with her fine and gross motor and communication skills. She is verbal, but she has word finding and short term memory issues, again because of where the epilepsy is originating. She is more immature than other 6 year olds her age without a doubt. I would say that she acts like a 3 year old in her behaviours. She is also not very good with other children. She is okay one on one, but gets bossy, and just does not play well in larger groups; almost causing trouble purposely to get attention. I think the other kids are starting to realize that she is different and it really hurts me to watch it.

    Again, thank you for your time and responses.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm wondering if she has learning disabilities perhaps due to her epilepsy. I think seeing a neuropsychologist would be a great idea because that's what they do--pinpoint both psychiatric and neurological issues--and her behavior could be largely due to a neurological difference. I'm not an expert on epilepsy, but I know all about right temporal lobe problems because I have them. Nobody is sure why. I have a serious NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) which made it very hard for me to control myself and caused serious mood problems and learning disorders. If they had diagnosed this early, I'm sure I could have gone to college and learned coping skills etc. Your daughter probably can too. Is she on medication for the epilepsy? I think there is a lot of hope and help out there for your little girl. Does she have an IEP for school? How does she do, since she has that short term memory problem (something I've also had all my life). I don't even know what "senior moment" is. I've always had them...lol!! I would start very early to teach her to take notes of everything--time, dates, homework...EVERYTHING!
  5. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    Thank you midwestmom! She is on tegretol, lamictal and gabapentin for her seizures. (I know it's a boatload). We don't know where the medications, the epilepsy and behaviour issues stop and start. It is a huge mesh of tangled puzzle that we will never figure out but we need to manage. We cant stop the medications because that will cause seizures, seizures can cause lots of behavioural/emotional issues and so the domino effect goes.

    We are seeing a child psychiatrist on July 24th who works with the neurology team at our childrens hospital. In the meantime, I am beginning to read (again) Ross Greene's book. I am wondering though, how the strategies work when there is a neurophysiolgical reason for the behaviours. I guess it must -- like I said, my hospital recommends this approach.

    Any immediate advice on the power struggles? It happened again tonight. We went to the bookstore to pick up The Explosive Child (how ironic). When we were paying, she grabbed my car keys from me. I let her keep them till we got outside, then I asked her very nicely and firmly to give them back, that I needed them to open the car and drive home. Well, very purposely, she put them behind her back and was running away from me. I had to finally grab them out of her hands, which caused her to start crying, make faces at me and tell me that she was sick of going into time outs. I cried all the way home. I need help for her (and us).
  6. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I'm going to say something that a lot of people won't like.....I think you need SuperNanny. Now wait, now wait....hear me out. I think maybe you treat her with kid gloves because of her epilepsy and surgery. I think maybe you're just too nice and don't come across as though you are in charge. I think maybe over the years she's learned to play you.
  7. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    Sara, appreciate your thoughts, but couldnt be further from the truth. We have not treated her with kid gloves, particularly when her behaviour became worse. Believe me, her behaviour is so out of control sometimes, it would shake the most empathetic of people. I'm interested to know why you have come to that conclusion or offer that perspective?

    We have been living with Epilepsy for almost 4 years, and honestly, alot of times I think that a seizure and no negative behaviour would be a heck of a lot better than dealing with all the medications and H**LL that we go through with the behaviours. I know that is terrible to say, but that is how far gone I feel.

    I don't believe that she is just "playing us". I think I could have stopped that a long time ago with all the time and effort I've spent trying to change the behaviour. No, there is a lot more to it than that!

    "Children do well if they can", right? I just don't think she can, and I want to help her learn how.
  8. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I think that keeping a child busy and trying to anticipate and avoid power struggles is helpful. Involve her in your errands as much as possible.

    When you are shopping, let her help find the items. Show her how to find the expiration date on the milk so when she picks up a milk container she points out the date to you. When she starts to read, she can determine if the milk will be good long enough for your family. If you are paying in cash, give her the money at check out to pay. If you have self check outs, let her check the food out.

    Make a list of errands. Draw a map of how to get to them and ask her which route you should go to get them all in. That will be teaching her how to read maps.

    If she takes the keys again, "Would you like to unlock the car doors? Then you can put the keys on the front seat."

    Six year olds like to be busy - they are learning so much and like to learn hands-on. You may work with her on time - ask "How long do you think it will take us to do this errand?" Play learning games - looking for letters - one day see how many "A's" you can find between stops, ect. Keep her in a conversation.

    If you see a power struggle starting, try to change the subject. You know she doesn't plan on giving back the keys and she probably has no plans past holding on to those keys. So, you change the plan - it is o.k. for you to have the keys, can you open the car door or should I? She now has a task to focus on using the object she has in hand. If you feel it won't work, maybe adding, let's see how quickly we can get buckled in the car. Make it a game. Don't let her know that you are frustrated, that will sure to bring on the power struggle by instead using the time to spend your attention 100% on her - that is what she is looking for.
  9. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I came to that conclusion partly based on my experiences trying not to trigger my son's temporal lobe seizures and partly based on your narrative. Why did you let her grab your keys? Why did she even think that was something she could get away with doing? Why didn't you make her give them back immediately? No way I'd let my kid take my car keys into a store. Too much risk of them getting lost. Keys aren't toys, kids shouldn't have them. Then you "asked her nicely and firmly to give them back". Huh? As though she had a right to them and you would like to borrow them for awhile? That should have been handled with a simple "Give me the keys" spoken unemotionally and matter-of-factly with every expectation of being handed the keys.
  10. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    P.S. Another thing we do is have a children's CD in the vehicle. We sing songs alot between stops. You can ask her while in line to pay. What song should we sing first in the car? Keeps her mind on the car and hopefully off your keys.

    Make sure your keys are out of sight and out of reach so she can not take them.
  11. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Another p.s. - Probably not a good idea to let her unlock the car door - though it is o.k. for her to do so while being supervised, she may try to do so at home when you are not around to supervise. Keep the keys hidden at all times.

    I always wanted to teach my kids different things but I always have to think, "Will they misuse this skill?" Such as the car keys - if I allow them to unlock the door, what is next - they may try to turn on the vehicle which can be disasterous - someone can get hurt or killed.
  12. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    Adrianne, thanks for your feedback.

    Sara, how would you have handled the situation when your child still won't give you back the keys even with an "emotionless" order to "give me back the keys?" as you say. If it was that easy, I wouldnt have a problem. What if the child still didn't comply? What would you have done? Grabbed the keys from her? Kept asking until they (hopefully) complied??

    I am not looking for judgemental comments here. I am asking for strategies on how to deal with the situation differently so that I am teaching her the skills that she obviously lacks.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's hard for us to know exactly what we would do, without personally being there.

    I do know that chasing doesn't come into it with me - because I can't chase the child. I have no choice but to stand there, and wait.

    difficult child 3 used to run away from a number of his carers when he was tiny. They would chase - and he would run, thinking it was a game. He also didn't respond to his name being called at the time, because his language delay was so poor tat he didn't recognise it ashis name - or any name.

    But he never ran away from me. He might run a few steps, then stop and look. I would still be standing where I had been to begin with. He would eventually come back - because what else was there to do?

    I would engage him and get him to unlock the car door, though, once he had the keys.

    And letting a young child have the keys - we all do it, or have done it. I remember my mother doing it, my sisters doing it with their kids - baby's getting fretful, so jingle the keys and let the baby play with them.

    Adrianne, I do take your point about safety - it IS something to watch out for.

    One important thing to consider - if the driver doesn't have the keys, then nobody is going anywhere. And just standing around gets boring, fast.

    I see this as like trying to train a dog to not go running away with the ball, and to instead bring the ball back and put it in the owner's hand. It can be done, with the most difficult dog. It's a matter of consistency, discipline and breaking bad habits.

    A dog that grabs the ball and runs away with it, is a dog that has been badly taught and also a dog that doesn't get to play 'fetch' any further. If you have kids, what happens at this point (far too often) is that the kids chase after the dog, shouting and yelling. Since kids who are playing run around shouting and yelling, the dog interprets this as "game". And the best way to keep the game going, is to keep the ball.

    To put an immediate stop to bad behaviour like this, you must first stop ANYONE chasing the dog. You shouldn't even slyly grab the ball when the dog isn't looking, because to the dog, this is still part of the game - being able to sneak the ball back is still continuing the grab and chase game.

    By refusing to chase, and insisting on the dog bringing the ball back to you, then rewarding the dog for doing so (and you need a different reward, not merely throwing the ball again) is the way to begin to turn this around. But all it takes is one episode of kids laughing and chasing the dog, to undo all the good work you've put in.

    That said - some dogs are murder to try to re-train. Some never get it right. I grew up with a kleptomaniac canine who couldn't be trained, and who would steal whatever was in reach, and take it off somewhere to chew. Of course we chased - because when a dog has a brand new pair of shoes and is chewing them, you want to rescue the property. Trying to prevent the dog from getting hold of the wrong stuff, was the only way we could handle it. Not easy, when you live four people in a small caravan and all your worldly possessions are in the (accessible to dog) annexe outside.

    Bringing this back to your daughter - trying to retrain her isn't going to be easy.

    Step 1 - try to avoid letting her have things like the keys. Not easy, but you have to really stand firm. If she throws a tantrum in public - let her. The time is long past, when you can care what other people think. What YOU want from your daughter is far more important.

    Step 2 - don't chase her. But do make sure she has a label on her (I used sticky schoolbook labels - on difficult child 3's BACK so he wouldn't play with it and pull it off). Then stand, and wait. Also, carry a spare key in your purse, or round your neck, or somewhere she can't get at.

    Step 3 - don't punish her when she comes back. Her punishment is that the time of departure had to be delayed, because she had the keys and was not where the keys were needed. So maybe with time wasted, there is no time to stop for ice cream as you had planned? Conversely, you can reward promptness with "Good! We now have time to stop for an ice cream."

    Step 4 - where possible, engage her. Find ways to involve her and make her feel useful and productive. For example when shopping, send her to find the baked beans. When she's older and more mathematically adept, ask her to find the most economical baked beans. If she has the keys, get her to open the car. And if you're concerned she will later try to start the car, get into the habit of engaging the immobiliser at all times.

    You say difficult child wants the digital camera - would it be of any benefit to teach her how to use it? Or is she a total klutz who doesn't have a clue? Is there ANY way you can engage her here? If she really is a problem, then she will have to be kept away from any time the camera is in use. But maybe if she is amenable to being taught, then camera lessons could be a reward that you could use, if she is able to behave herself well enough.

    Any reward, though, needs to be immediate. Same with any punishment (although from your description, you'd be constantly punishing her and that sends her a bad message).

    She really does sound a handful. Maybe by limiting the situations to begin with (to reduce the likelihood and frequency of problems) you can make a beginning.

    Small bites. Small doses. Hopefully, small successes with lots of praise for getting it right.

    Supernanny may not be a bad idea, in some respects - sometimes a fresh opinion looking from the outside can see little things that too-close familiarity can miss. Not that all the typical Supernanny techniques will work for her - they won't, for all kids. I've noticed tat even Supernanny changes things around to suit the situation.

    But talking to her, trying to reason with her, when she's being a little horror - sounds like it's just not working. She's not respecting you and that's not good. You need to get that respect back, by showing her that even if she runs off with the car keys, you are in control. because only you can drive that car, and you're quite calm about staying put until the keys are brought back - to you.

    Natural consequences is not weakness. But natural consequences also take you out of the picture, as the punisher. It turns it around totally, so difficult child is the one punishing herself, because she brought it all on herself. You might have been ready to give her a treat fore being good - but what a pity, there's no time now, because you had to wait so long for the car keys...

    You get my drift?

    You can use this with "Explosive Child" but it really does take a very strong will to stand there and not chase her, when you see her run. She's after an attention pay-off, and you must not give it to her.

    I wish I could help you more, but you are the one with her, I am not. All I can tell you, is that difficult child 3 did things like this, and he doesn't any more. But difficult child 3 could be very different to your difficult child. "Explosive Child" made a big difference to us and to the tantrum level. I also was prepared to put up with public tantrums if necessary, to get the behaviour I wanted. Keeping cheerful in public, even in the face of public criticism, isn't easy. If anyone steps forward and says what we all dread - "You should be ashamed of yourself, raising a child with such terrible manners!" simply smile cheerfully and say, "The job's open, if you want it. The hours, the pay and the conditions are pretty awful, though."
    However - it's what we dread, but how often does this really happen? Most people shaking their heads are quietly saying to themselves, "There but for the grace of God, go I."
    Or "Been there. Done that. Tubes tied."

    Hang in there. Keep asking us. We'll try. Can't do any better than that. Neither can you.

  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's your parenting and please don't even go there with blaming yourself. I would buy a copy of "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It's a great book with wonderful strategies.
    I also don't believe this is behavioral in nature. Most kids buck a little, but are easy to get in line once they get out of it. If this is over-the-line, YOU, as Mom, know it. I've raised five kids (youngest is twelve now) and am not the best disciplinarian. In fact, I can be downright soft. The only child I had who was out of control to the umpth degree at age six was my son on the autism spectrum. And that is because of his disorder (he's nothing like that now).
    I still think a neuropsychologist would be able to figure out what is neurological--and how to best help her. Even if you DID coddle her, she is acting out of the norm (and I believe that you don't). I know I don't coddle my autistic son--he is treated like the other kids, and, in the long run, it paid off. But he's almost fifteen. Give yourself and your little one time. When the right temporal lobe is affected, you DO have trouble controlling yourself...but there are good medications for that and she is only six--she can also learn coping skills. Thought: She is on a lot of medications. Maybe that is also why she is a short-term memory problem. Again, for me the best solution was to write everything down...lol. Buy her some stickies. She may be too young to "remember" to write everything down, but it's good to kind of wean her into the habit. Post-its are my saving graces. I do think she could use some supports in school. My son had social skills and life skills classes in school. They were invaluable to him. As for now, you won't be able to always avoid a rage. But I do believe that after you read "The Explosive Child" there will be less of them. It is bliss to be able to insist that your child give you your car keys back, in an unemotional voice, and have her do it. But that's not the reality of most of our kids. I'd love to see SuperNanny's kids a few weeks after she leaves. KIds tend to behave better for strangers. (((Hugs)))
  15. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I wouldn't have let her have the keys to begin with. Had she literally grabbed them out of my hands, time would have stopped right there until I got them back. She wouldn't have kept them, we wouldn't have gone into the store until i got them back. She would have not been keeper of the keys. That gave her the power. If you don't give her the power to begin with, you don't have to struggle to get it back.

    It's interesting that this discussion is about keys. There's an old saying we use to hear in residental treatment about the only difference between them and us is who has the keys. How ironic and symbolic that this story about a power struggle focuses on who has the keys.
  16. nateisnuts

    nateisnuts New Member

    laurensmyprincess~im in some similiar situations with the power struggle with my 3 yr old difficult child. i feel your frustration. im the last person to offer advice, but i wanted to offer you hugs and support!

    i hope i dont get kicked off the board fro what im about to say, but here goes....Sara....i have never been so offended by someone as i am by you. i expect to get looks and whispers when im out im public, from people who may not understand mine and my sons situations and issues....i cant believe that you would talk to someone and offer your dribble as advice on a board that is suposed to be here for us moms to get support and help!! you can very clearly see from her post that there are other medical issues at play for laurensmyprincess's daughter, supernanny cannot come in and "fix" her daughters brain, shes asking for help with strategies, if you dont have anything constructive to offer.....here's a thought.....dont offer anything. it must be nice to be such a perfect mom and not have these bothersome little problems with your children, but some of us are not as lucky as you......i just cant believe how rude you are, and you offer your rudeness as advice......just soo offended by you....

    if ive stepped on anyones toes by speaking my mind im sorry
  17. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member


    No one will -- should -- ever be kicked off the board for what they say to me. I'm a big girl and I can accept that because I often have a different take on things people sometimes get upset. Sometimes a different perspective is a good thing. It gives you another point of view to consider.

    However, I do believe that those of us with disabled children can have parenting issues, often because we do try to consider our children's feelings. Having disabled children doesn't somehow make us perfect parents who can't improve our skills. In that respect, we are like many -- most -- other people.

    I'm not sure how you took from what I said that SuperNanny can fix a child's brain. SuperNanny does have some good well-established parenting techniques which work on children with and without neurobiological issues. And she often has very creative ways of implementing them. Are you implying that those of us with disabled children should give up regular parenting techniques completely? What do you suggest we do instead?

    Oh, did you miss that my son and I have the same type of epilepsy, albeit not as severe, as the child under discussion?

    by the way, is Nate your child? If so, I find your name offensive. See how people are different?
  18. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Let's get this topic back on track. I'd hate to have to lock it because folks are getting bees in their bonnets. Remember, we are here to offer support, not criticism. Laurensmyprincess has come to us with some very real issues and has asked for us to offer some strategies. We live by words online... and as such we must be careful about how we respond. Assuming about one's parenting has no place on this board.

    Your child has a complicated medical diagnosis, make sure the appropriate health care providers are aware of any sudden changes in her behavior or downward trends. It's just prudent. My Duckie ***only*** has allergies but most parents of easy child's assume she is bratty and I've spoiled her rotten. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My close friends tell me I make them look bad because of my strict adherence to routines and natural consequences. But it still hurts when someone assumes it's poor parenting that causes your child's poor behavior.

    That being said, my Duckie tends to look for issues from which to draw a line in the sand. It's frustrating and exhausting for us both. The only thing that really has helped in this area has been to teach her which side her bread is buttered on. I know this sounds cruel, but we've gone through periods of time at home where she starts with me. This is a signal for me that she is over-something: tired, hungry, stimulated, who knows? Life quiets down considerably.

    "Mom, can I have a play date with A?"

    "No, because you obviously aren't up to it."

    "What do you mean?"

    "You've been mouthing off and taunting me all morning. Sorry."

    This sounds a bit like a punishment but it's really a consequence. We wouldn't let kids have a play date with a fever, so why would I do it with a behavior problem? The problem with this tact is, though, that you must realize things will escalate at least a little (but probably a lot) as Lauren thinks she being unfairly punished. Eventually, though, she'll realize that maybe she really does need some quiet time.
  19. nateisnuts

    nateisnuts New Member

    ok im over it, maybe i just read more into the resonse than was intended. im a little sensitive these days. im sorry if your offended by my screen name, im just trying to inject a little humor into what has become a very stressful and frustrating situation.

    a thought that occured to me....does she like the keys? does she try to get them all the time? what about letting her pick out some cute keychains of her own and maybe put an old key that you dont use anymore on them? my difficult child loves keys, he likes to be like daddy. so we went to walmart and let him pick out 2 or 3 little character keychains and now he doesnt want ours and he feels like a "big boy" LOL
  20. laurensmyprincess

    laurensmyprincess New Member

    Thank you Marg, Midwest Mom and tiredmommy for your excellent advice. I think you have provided me with some great things to think about and try.

    Natieisnuts thanks for your comments too -- I respect that Sara might have a different take on things that are certainly not my own. Everyone has a right to an opinion -- and obviously Sara has been around these boards for a long time. That's great. I'm here though to receive constructive advice because I do have a real problem. It is not make believe, it is not fixed with an emotionless stare, it is very complicated as I'm sure alot of our kiddies on this board can be complicated in their behavior.

    difficult child medical diagnosis is a complicated one. She is on a lot of medications, but we have no choice on that. I will be seeing if we can tweak things a little and maybe go down some to see it it helps with self control and behavior.

    I stayed up almost all night reading Ross Greene's book. I am hopeful again this morning that we can implement some strategies. I think it is excellent and will be back to probably ask clarifying questions on this front. I'm also looking forward to seeing our child psychiatric in a few weeks. Maybe she can validate some of this for us.

    And if anyone else has any other strategies to consider, I'd be glad to hear them!