Question: How Do You Fight that "Knee-Jerk Reaction" to difficult children?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaisyFace, Dec 17, 2010.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I have been so frustrated with difficult child lately that I find myself just getting instantly FURIOUS with her at the drop of a hat.

    And it's not a good feeling - I hate being this way.

    I am so angry at the constant negativity and the feeling that my entire life revolves around difficult child and her issues. I am SICK of it!!!

    Last night, I was aggravated with her over her mouthiness, name-calling and smart-aleck answers to everything - and then she went into her room and made a lot of noise while everyone else was trying to get to sleep. It never ends with this kid.

    And then this morning, I discovered that the last of the hot chocolate was gone. It shouldn't have been - there was plenty left yesterday. But there it empty box.

    Now this was not grandmother's jewels or anything - and I probably only paid 99 cents for the cocoa - so it's not like this was some major investment or family heirloom or anything...

    but my reaction was instant and it was so over the top. I found myself just ridiculously ANGRY....and I really hate feeling this way. I had to take some time to "talk myself down" from this emotional turmoil over what should have been a 'non-incident' when compared to a lot of other things...

    (Remember the Simpson's Halloween Special? Homer's murderous rampage started with "urge to kill rising..rising...RISING...!!!" Of course, the jury might consider it a justifiable homicide - one should NOT mess with a chocoholic's hot cocoa mix.)

    So now that I am calm....

    am I the only one?

    And what you do to keep your emotions in check?
  2. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    Back in our difficult child days, Lexapro worked for me. I noticed on the very first day that my thoughts went from an angry rant about difficult child or husband to a calm response. It is like I started to go down that path of thinking and it was cut off after a few seconds without me doing it on purpose.

    That experience opened my eyes to the way that brain chemistry effects even what we think.
  3. Frazzledmom

    Frazzledmom Guest

    Sometimes, if I can think clearly, I'll rate the event that instigated my response. Then, I rate the intensity of my response. Looks like this. So difficult child didn't bring his laundry downstairs. From 1 (I'm calm and peaceful - he's smiling and complying) to 10 (I'm hysterical - he's dead) and see if the action merits the response. Hopefully the fact that difficult child doesn't bring his laundry downstairs is way below a 5 and my reaction is too. On a good day just going through that excersise helps my perspective.
  4. MyFriendKita

    MyFriendKita Member

    It always helped me to imagine smacking his head against the nearest wall. I never actually followed through, but imagining the "thunk" of his head hitting the wall made me feel better.
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I've had my struggles, too, DF. And I've felt just as horrible about it. I've wanted to make my difficult child 1 just disappear or send him someplace else to live. And then felt incredibly guilty for having those feelings, and then incredibly angry over the situation as a whole.

    My last little meltdown, I blew my stack and left the house for about an hour. Ended up driving down to difficult child 1's school parking lot, found a dark corner and bawled my eyes out for a while, then took a nap. I felt better when I woke up and decided to go home. Everyone was kinda walking around on eggshells the rest of the night and difficult child 1 was very apologetic for his behavior that had pushed me over the edge. Usually I can go up to my room and decompress, but sometimes it's good to just get out of the house.
  6. Jena

    Jena New Member

    ((hugs)) to you i'm so sorry you had to do that, i've been exactly there yet i run to the bathroom because difficult child simply will not let me leave the house. we get so overwhelmed especially now with the pressure of holidays, their behaviors worsen due to excitement anticipation and well we get more pressured. dont' beat yourself up you are only human we aren't Gods, we get upset hurt and even cry. Our kids just think because we're mom's we're supposed to take all they throw our way gracefully.

    I have thought about it past few days and i do think at times it's great for them to see us hurt, let them get how their actions affect us. Let them see human raw emotion besides their own disregard for anyone but themselves.

    I for one when i get this way and man i've been getting this way alot due to difficult child home with me every single day and literally not 5 minutes to myself since return of hospital I remove myself just like you did. Yet i dont' want till i want to rip her hair out. I can feel it coming in me, my own signs of anger that warmth that starts in your belly and slowly increases to the top of your head my hands begin to shake lol. it's crazy. i get out before the hands start. i lock my bedroom door, and i sit in my rm or bathroom and do not go back into public space i call it till i'm under control somewhat.

    it soo isn't easy yet do not beat yourself up. we have the patience of saints all of us. it's soo hard not to just give thema good wack like alot of our parents would of done years ago if we were disrespectful.

    (((Hugs again))))
  7. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Daisy, this is not parenting for the faint-hearted. Most of us here need to practice a lot of self-care to get through the days. What that looks like for you may take some self-examination on your part.

    For me, self-care involves:
    medications to reduce stress
    Therapy to help me work with my kids, not against them
    Time carved out to do something nice for myself (read, meet a friend for lunch, etc)
    Enough sleep

    I hope you will take some time to think about some ways to reduce stress in your life. Hang in there.
  8. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I'm glad to hear it's not just me! I once had a similar reaction when I found the last granola bar was gone. Like you, just an empty box in the cabinet, the granola bar a snack in someone's tummy. Remember to breathe and give yourself a few minutes to collect yourself. I find that the stress of being a mom to a difficult child seeps into other things and that, at times, my reaction to things is just way out of line. Don't feel bad. I think that it's something that we all have done from time to time.

  9. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    Hubby and I have those reactions all the time. I swear it comes from having a difficult child. We try to let things roll and try not to blow up at things and I think so much gets supressed that at a certain time we just blow. And I notice when we blow it is over the most trivial things. And somehow the bigger stuff I can deal with. Go figure.
  10. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    It's always something, and the constant difficult child-ness is so exhausting to deal with. Whether it's the last granola bar, no more cocoa, or disappearing scissors and tape, it's crazy-making when you can't count on anything to be where you expect it to be.
  11. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Guest

    This post is timely for me- I blew my stack this morning at difficult child when he was waving a comb threateningly at easy child and wouldn't let her leave the bathroom. I was already late to work. I had already given "the countdown" several times as a warning of when we needed to leave. I was double-checking the total for some cash I needed to deposit in the bank and just ignored the yelling and fighting until easy child started to scream. Then I lost it.

    I think I need to adopt some of smallworld's ideas. It's so hard when you have no back-up.
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    You know, we used to joke about difficult child and Onyxx being the same kid.

    Maybe we're the same Mom, too?!

    Yeah - it's calming down right now (amazing), but there are days when everything that's wrong makes me want to throw things, scream, cry, and generally be a difficult child myself. I mean there are times when the dishes are not exactly in the right place and I want to go off. The cereal is on the wrong shelf - AAAAGGGGHHHH!

    Mostly it's every.little.thing. that happens, anywhere out of the realm of exactly how I want it to be.

    FWIW - I have to keep the cocoa mix in my bedroom... Or no one else gets any. One of the BIG cans of Ovaltine was gone - 2 days after I bought it. A subsequent room search (for other reasons) turned up a gallon-size Ziploc bag full of Ovaltine powder... Under her pillow.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is still a problem in my house...can you believe it?

    If I want something special for myself, I have to put it in my room. Even those little hot cocoa packets. Ticks me off to no end. What really makes me mad though is that if someone would just TELL me that they had used the last up or thrown away the darned box, I would know to get more but no...I know the last time we use something there was x amount left and I havent seen anyone use something and there is the box still in the same I assume its still there. Then I reach for it when I want it and its empty! Blah!

    That really ticks me off when its ice favorite brand. I buy like 4 half gallons at a time when they go on sale BOGO. I put them in the freezer and I might not eat any for several days after I buy it. Then when I go to get a bowl for me...the carton is there...Im all ready and happy to make me a nice bowl of Rocky Road...and and...the carton is open and empty sitting in the freezer! Not even a half spoonful left! I might be able to lick the top. I could scream about then. I mean these are all adults here and are perfectly capable of going to the store and replacing my ice cream!!!!

    And dont get me started on TP and why any male wants to smell like lilacs and lavender soap.
  14. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    I posted a thread the other day about selliing my difficult child to the highest bidder. I have lost it many a day. I also use medications to help me cope with difficult child. Hang in there DF !
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    DF, this started for me when I was a child, being given Life Lessons from my mother. As I run the film of my life back through the viewer, I wonder if the extreme anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) issues aren't running a lot deeper in the genetic track... oh well...

    My mother would tell me, constantly, that when you feel you can't cope, you put the child down on the floor and walk out of the room. The baby can't fall from there and will be safer there, alone, than in the room with you angry or feeling like you can't cope. She gave the example of the first time my oldest sister held a young baby - my sister suddenly began having a panic attack and this was how my mother talked her through it. My sister began to panic that she would drop the baby, so my mother said, "put her on the floor." She did not take the baby back - interesting. But my mother always did try to turn everything into a Life Lesson. My sister years later became a fantastic mother to five kids, including two foster/adoptions.

    This principle is then what carries you through. First, make sure the child is (more or less) safe. Then walk out. Close the door. Keep walking as far as you need to, until you get calm again. Do not go back until you are calm. If it's a baby - it's still safer to do this than stay nearby, if you are not coping. If you need to in your walk, call in on someone and ask for help. Use the phone and ask someone to come over and mind the baby.

    So now the baby is older? You still need to find ways to walk away, even if it's just in your own head.

    However, this is extreme coping. There are intermediate levels, if you are up to it.

    Intermediate level with a baby - find out why the baby is crying, and fix it if you can. If the baby is hungry - feed the baby. Tend to the baby's needs before your own if those needs are urgent, because then you can relax more wile you look after yourself. If the baby is still a problem after you've tended to their needs - walk away again.

    I know this above bit of advice flies in the face of "first put on your own oxygen mask" but I'm talking about intermediate coping, not crisis coping. In a crisis, tend to yourself, so you can then tend to your family. But at other times - balance it out. Where it's OK, look after the younger ones or the needier ones first. Triage. It begins as simply as plating up the evening meal - you serve everybody else before you serve yourself, because it's very difficult to sit and eat your meal when the kids are still whining for theirs! Breakfast - I would make sure the kids ate first, and then I would have my breakfast after the school bus left. it's a lot easier to eat when the adrenalin has stopped surging through the bloodstream.

    Back to intermediate coping - house rules are a way to manage. You need them, you need to follow them yourself, and you need consequences for those who fail to follow the rules.
    Examples: shopping list. We keep a running list of everything we use up. You can have the rule how you want it - "use something up, put it on the list" or "open a packet of something, put it on the list". Have the rule workable - don't say, "Open the last packet put it on the list" because tat requires someone to actually look to see if there's any more. The easy approach is to assume there is plenty more packets and not bother with the list. Then when you shop, stick to the list. Never shop when hungry. If you are hungry, go into the supermarket, buy sandwich fixings, buy a drink off the shelf, go outside, buy a bread roll from the baker, make your lunch, then go back in and shop for your groceries.
    We met up with difficult child 1 and daughter in law yesterday and had lunch with them. I watched them enjoy a tasty curry or Mexican platter, but go into the store to buy a drink off the shelf at half the price of a cold one form the fridge of the fast food place.
    It seems irrelevant to mention this, but it all comes down to working as a team; thinking about longer-term consequences; learning how to plan; working to a budget. And getting into habits.
    difficult child 1 said, "I need to look around to work out what I want for Christmas, but I need someone with me to explain it to, I won't remember. Please let me have difficult child 3 with me so I can tell him."
    I said, "difficult child 3 won't remember either."
    difficult child 1 said, "Fine. Can you give me some paper and a pen then, please?"
    OK, he should have been carrying it, but that's OK. I bought a cheap pen and some notepaper ($2 - a worthwhile investment) and left him to it.

    Now to how they behave towards you - again, you need to find ways to walk away. Think in terms of that helpless baby you're scared you will hurt, or drop (there have been quite a few times when I was scared I would drop one of my kids - with a hefty blow!). But if you can handle it at intermediate level, then confront and say, "That behaviour/remark is unacceptable." THEN walk away. Deprive them of an audience and a target.

    And never forget, you do a lot for your family and you can withdraw services.

    In our family, emptying something vital and failing to advise of the need for replacement, is grounds for withdrawal of access to that product. For yourself, find a substitute. If someone is stealing it all for themselves, then there is no point buying it because everyone else is missing out on it anyway. So EVERYBODY goes without. Or you lock it up and only supply on demand, after you choose to.

    With drinking chocolate, it's almost certain she's eating it with a spoon anyway. Do you want to dip your clean spoon into a container that has had her dirty spoon double-dipping in it?
    A good substitute in an emergency - it's what the best drinking chocolate is made from anyway - get a few squares of good eating chocolate, put them in the blender with some hot milk and switch it on. That's it. I keep good chocolate in the freezer. Here in summer, it has to be kept in the fridge at least, because otherwise it melts or separates. We get a cocoa-butter bloom on the chocolate, in the cupboard. It is possible to have a stash of a block of chocolate for your emergency supply. It takes up less volume than the powder (so it's easier to hide).
    If other innocent household members whine about lack of drinking chocolate, tell them that until they ALL learn to use a list appropriately and also learn to not secretly raid it and think nobody will notice, then they will continue to miss out. If they are innocent, they still need to be more vigilant and help police the misuse.

    As things stand, right now it's only the mother, as a rule, who is really trying to solve these seemingly petty issues. But stand your ground, an d suddenly it becomes everybody's issue. Innocent? Good. Still no chocolate, not until the problem is resolved. Because what's the point? It would still get nicked and the innocent would still miss out. So let's solve the problem first, then we will buy more chocolate.

    Engage the others. Don't carry the load alone. This works with food, it works with respect, it works with attitude. And when you're not coping - this difficult child is a baby who needs to be left alone while you cool down.

  16. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    My difficult child is one of a long line of difficult children, myself included. You can trace our family having a problem with authority all the way back to the Trail of Tears (if records could go back further I'm sure there would be more, just a hunch).
    As it is just me and her, and I already have a built-in knee-jerk reaction and very little patience, I find it very hard sometimes not to yell back, not to throw things, not to beat my own head against the wall. I've mellowed some with age, but I can't always reel in that reaction. The only reason I don't put my head through a wall sometimes is that I have enough headaches/migraines thankyouverymuch. Sometimes I can catch myself better than others, and I was almost numb when she came home from the hospital and pretty much handled everything calmly because of that, but that's worn off.
    I have no insurance, no doctor, best I've been able to do was take the advice from someone else here about using half a chlor-tab for anxiety. Does pretty well, too. Takes the edge off pretty good, anyway.
  17. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Definitely been there many times. I have found that it is really important to keep track of how I am doing with life in general. If I am stressed out, either by my difficult child, by things at work, or other stresses than my tolerance for my difficult child and his behavior is much much lower. It is much harder for me to stay calm. Unfortunately for my easy child child this is true for me with her too.... so if my difficult child was stressing me out, sometimes I wouuld hold it in around him because I didn't want a blow out but then lose it with her for a much smaller infraction. That always made me feel really bad and I would need to apologize to her. Things are so so much easier in all regards now that my difficult child is out of the house.

    So my advice is to really take care of yourself.... it will be easier to keep your cool if you do. And also have clear consequences set out that are agreed upon (or at least acknowledged) and then follow through... I have found I can stay calmer when I know what to do with a certain behavior. I am more likely to lose it when I am frustrated and don't know how to react in the moment.

    I say this like I know what I am doing and always do the things I say... believe me I don't. BUT I do know these things help me handle things better.