Re-Reading The Explosive Child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by butterfly31972, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. I have found ourselves in the same rut as before with my difficult child. Me becoming depressed and just giving up and allowing my son to play his video games just to keep the peace and harmony in the home. I need to step up the consequences and back them up but I hate to hear the stomping, screaming, and anger outbursts that become so hard for me to endure.

    Anyone else get this way or am I just a wimpy mom? ;-)

    I am hopung rereading the book will help renew my resolve to help my son.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't think you're a wimpy mother at all. Our kids are hard to raise. Many are wired differently. It might be easier for you if you have him re-evaluated so you have a better idea of what you are dealing with. His early problems and continuing social problems and explosive personality (does he explode when you try to transition him from one activity to another?) are red flags for autistic spectrum disorder. Especially if he was drug exposed in utero, he is at risk. And a regular therapist or pediatrician would miss that. Ditto school.

    Even when the speech problems are resolved (my child's were resolved as well) one doesn't outgrow the problem. With the right interventions, he could get a lot better and easier, if you find out the root cause of his explosiveness and give him the proper treatment. Otherwise, it's like walking up a neverending mountain. You try conventional discipline and the child doesn't respond to it because he isn't conventional and can't be parented in a conventional way. So you keep climbing, never stop, and get tired and give in. And until you know what's completely going on, you don't even know if it's BAD to give in.

    If he were mine, I'd take him to a neuropsychologist. Adopted, drug exposed/alcohol affected kids (if this is your situation) are very hard to diagnose because you don't know their history or if there has been neurological damage. You have to try harder, as a parent, to find out what is wrong. I had to take my son to many professionals to get to the truth. If I hadn't, he would not have gotten so much better.

    I personally don't believe this is a parenting issue. This little guy was likely born different and all that's different about him has not yet been uncovered. My own son also was taken out of Special Education but he needed it. And we fought for it. He is doing great at sixteen, is mainstreamed except for a special help study hall, and makes the high honor roll but frankly I doubt he would be if he hadn't continued his interventions. My son was adopted at two and had been exposed to you_name_it.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
  3. MICHL

    MICHL New Member

    there are times when I back down and let difficult child has his game. Especially if i know it will escalate to an unmanagable situation and will get the best of me also.
  4. wasnt_me331

    wasnt_me331 New Member

    I've never read the book you're talking about, but I can tell you now ... I'm definitely going to. I have 2 of them in my house so I can relate!! There are so many times that I have to pick and choose my battles with them and I do have a tendency to baby them sometimes because I don't want to hear the screaming tantrums or hear them slam doors. It gets old ... really old. You don't come across wimpy at all ... just someone that wants a little peace.
  5. maril

    maril New Member

    I hope re-reading the book helps you.

    Certainly, in my situation, going back and re-reading (even if only certain sections) has helped me. For example, I had checked The Bipolar Child out from the library quite some time ago then recently checked it out again in order to go through it during a "calmer" time in our house, so that I might absorb more the second time around. :D

    Don't beat yourself up. It sounds like you have two active and wonderful young boys, who keep mom on her toes. Good luck.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2009
  6. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    This book was the only way I could raise difficult child without losing my mind. I cannot say it changed his world, but it changed mine. It is a great book, and wonderfully researched. Hugs to you, I totally understand giving in. Sometimes how else are we gonna get thru a day?
  7. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    No you are not a wimpy mom. husband feels this way often. He is so stressed he would sometimes rather let difficult child have his way. husband is so worn out from difficult child that sometimes just to have peace he will let more go.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You are not a wimp in any way. But I do think you need to re-read the book, because you're still thinking in terms of giving him consequences. With most difficult children, consequences (= punishment, in that sense) do not work, they only make them worse.

    Natural consequences - that's another story. And with computer games, it's like the taboo - don't touch the game (like Fonzie - "don't touch the hair.") Instead, I got the child to tell ME how many hours to let him play.

    The most important thing is to let him learn self-discipline. When you've got a really stubborn kid, then instead of fighting the kid, teach him to use that stubbornness productively. The book can help.

    We have found that our difficult child's anxiety is linked in to gaming. Computer gaming is, for our boys, a coping strategy. Gaming soothes them, calms them, helps them opt out when it gets too tough to concentrate on the family social stuff. And because our boys recognise that we will not shut off their gaming, they have relaxed a lot with it.

    Here is an example of what NOT to do, with a difficult child who uses gaming as a coping strategy:

    difficult child sitting gaming. Mum calls out, "Dinner is ready, it's on the table!"
    difficult child does not respond. Mum calls agian, "Come and get your dinner, it will get cold!"
    difficult child answers, "I'm trying to concentrate on this! Leave me alone!"
    Mum gets angry at the insolence and walks over to the screen and switches it off.
    difficult child rages.
    Dinner still doens't get eaten. The rage continues for several hours.

    End result - nada. difficult child feels outraged and won't see that he behaved badly. Mum begins removing stuff as a consequencew, including removing computer games and tellnig difficult child that she will throw them away. difficult child's raging escalates (and we didn't think it possible).

    Final outcome - absolutely nothing achieved and everyone exhausted and angry.

    Alternative -
    Mum: "difficult child, dinner will be ready in ten minutes. Get yourself to a save point or a finish point as soon as you can."
    difficult child: "Aww, Mum, I'm not ready yet! I've sitll got ten levels to get through, let me concentrate!"
    Mum: "OK, I'm just giving you the ten minute warning. get your game saved as soon as you can. YOu've still got ten minutes, it's OK."
    Ten minutes later -
    Mum: "difficult child, time is up. Dinner is on the table."
    difficult child: "I don't remember you letting me know - oh hang on, I remember now. I forgot."
    Mum: "Well, your dinner is on the table and everybody else is sitting down to eat. Do you want me to set the oven timer for five minutes?"
    difficult child: "Yes please, Mum."

    Oven timer is set. It goes off after five minutes. difficult child switches off the game and comes to the table to eat his dinner.
    difficult child: "It's not very hot..."
    Mum: (calmly) "It was when I called you. But you were only another five minutes, it should still be OK. If you want it a little warmer, you can warm it up in the microwave. I'm not doing it, though, because I'm eating my dinner."

    End result - no major traumas. difficult child got to finish his game, chose his own time. But he also got his dinner, nobody got upset or punished.

    The trouble with the way we try to handle our difficult children - we too often fall back on treating them as if they don't have any problems.
    But NEWS FLASH - these kids are NOT normal. They need to be handled differently. They need firmness but also need a sort of elastic firmness, not rock-solid immovability.

    You also need to recognise that a difficult child with anxiety is going to react with panic when you try to insert your own change into their world. And I am a firm beleiver in NOT punishing a difficult child who is reacting out of panic. Of course you can correct the bad behaviour, but I do it gently and without seemnig to be angry.

    Mum: "difficult child, come eat your dinner!"
    difficult child: "NO! I'm not ready! I've still got ten levels to go - shut up, willya? You're breaking my concentration."

    That is not the time to chide. He's concentrating on something else, his reaction was a panic one (fear of making a mistake in the game).
    Ten minutes later -

    Mum: "difficult child, now you're here at the table eating your dinner, let's talk about how you spoke to me back then. I understand that your game was important to you, but you really shouldn't have used that tone of voice to me. Can you think of a better way to have asked me to give you a bit longer?"

    If you stay calm and use this as a teaching opportunity, you are far more likely to get the result you want. The aim is to teach the child more appropriate ways to communicate. He will learn best when he feels safe and not anxious, and also when he isn't enraged. Over time, he will learn to moderate his panic responses.

    This takes patience and studied calmness. It doesn't mean that you let your child walk all over you. Not at all. But it DOES mean that you choose your battles and also actively choose what NOT to fight with him about. You also need to actively choose to leave some areas alone, for now.

    As the child learns that you will give him space and you are trying to help him and not simply be a martinet thorn in his side, you will find his behaviour changing by itself. ALso as you relax which battles to fight, you will find him to be less infuriating.

    I briefly mentioned allowing difficult child to set his gaming hours. That isn't as crazy as it sounds. From a parental point of view, our kids spend way too much time playing computer games. From the kids point of view, they don't get enough time. And they also have a very poor idea of how long they DO spend on gaming.

    So what I did with difficult child 1 (and later with difficult child 3) - I said to him, "How many hours each day do you think you spend on games?"
    Generally the kid will grossly underestimate. I remember difficult child 1 said to me, "About four hours."
    I then held him to it, made him keep a gaming log for a week. I didn't make him cut back on gaming, just made a note each day when he exceeded the five hours he had estimated. He was horrified at how quickly he got to five hours. It also meant that when I next sat him down to talk about his attitude to schoolwork etc, he was much more willing to accept that he should cut back on his gaming time. And he controlled it himself, took an active role in self-limiting gaming.

    The important thing was to teach him to control himself and set his own limits. Doing it this way was more painless, more effective and in the long-term, the way he needed to go when I was no longer around to breathe down his neck.

  9. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I have found re-reading books a really great idea...very helpful.

    You can come at it from a fresh outlook.

    husband and I talk about how sometimes with- our child, we need to protect our sanity, but not give up our parenting role.

    So, perhaps a compromise is in order. perhaps. So, for our special needs child, you might consider more leeway in terms of time on the computer games, but still enforce rules, consequences, etc. Let the rules speak for themselves. After all, if your child can't live by rules, he wont be able to do well in school or at work, etc.

    What you might need to step up are coping mechanisms for yourself and respite for yourself. Let their antics/bad behavior...go in one ear and out the other. Follow the book's advice. Don't be too strict...but at the same time...enforce appropriate consequences when boundaries are broken.

    Also,...if you google "logical consequences," there is some good stuff on line.

    And when you are able, nourish/nurutre yourself to the max.
  10. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I agree that it is good to re-read the book but wanted to add that you may want to seek out some in-person support as well if you feel you are unable to parent your difficult child effectively due to stress and depression. Many parents on this site find they may need therapy and/or medication to cope; there is no shame in this. Please consider talking to your doctor about options for you so you can be the type of parent you want to be. {{{Hugs}}}
  11. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Marg, that was really a well written post. I lived both scenarios and I can tell you the scene where we think about what sets our kids off and find ways to keep the temper (theirs and ours) at bay, is the way to go. But it is hard, at least for me, I really have to think about how I will approach potentially explosive situations and plan my words and actions no matter what his reaction is. I read all 3 Ross Greene books this spring and the philosophy within them really reached me.
  12. Thank you everyone for your replies. I am feeling much better today. I am having surgery in the next few weeks for a hiatal hernia which makes me cough and have GERD like you wouldn't believe. Mornings are that hardest for me physically because of the cough. I am hoping to gain control of this but in the meantime try not to backtrack in what we have gained with my son. The therapist , who I am condsidering firing, has stated that it is normal to backtrack in behaviors and to not be alarmed by it.

    I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and plan to sink some more money into some more testing by a neuropsychologist for my son. The last one cancelled my appointment. due to some emergency that he had. So I need to re-schedule again and hope and pray that he will not cancel again. UGH!!!

    I am gonna do this and one thing that I do not like about my son's therapist is he does not seem to respect the authors of the materials I am reading and have read, including Ross Greene's books. Hello? What kind of quack therapistam I seeing anyway??!!!
  13. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    If CPS - explosive child approach speaks to you , your therapist should be helping you and your child with problem solving and addressing the missing skills your child lacks.
    What is his understanding of your child's behaviors , what does he recommend ?

    The whole CPS approach is based on your ability to have a conversation with your child.
    The way to go is just to engage in general chatting focusing on perspective taking , looking out for the concerns of others , identifying problems , looking for solutions that address concerns , solutions that are win-win , checking for possible problems that the solutions will encounter . Once a kid understands the process and this is the way people get along and live with each other , he will find it much easier to handle the more emotive stuff.

    Here is a piece I wrote on generalizing thinking skills - makes the point I have just mentioned

    in my humble opinion problem solving is essentially the ability to ask questions. Asking questions is the basis of conversation and getting along with people. We don't want kids to just take a solution and use it in another situation , because the situation can be different . ( we comment on a kid's creative thinking rather than solution). But the process , the asking of questions is the same. CPS is very much on the job training with lots of different scenarios and interactions , the parent is like a personal coach. We can expand the ' thinking' experiences by general chatting with kids on other people's , animals , other children problems letting kids take perspectives , asking how do I think he feels , how does he think the other boy feels, what are their concerns , define the problem , find a mutually satisfying solutions , check for possible obstacles that will get in the way of the solutions . When we attend to our children's needs we can transcend the basic situation and use the experience for parallel learning and exploring - so if we need to make dinner we can ask the kid - what questions do we need to answer , or make a check list of questions - for eg how many people , how many plates , what ingredients do we need , how do we make a cake etc. We can give further opportunities for kids to engage in a dialog dynamic by providing them with mentors, peer mentors or older brothers.

    in my humble opinion the problem - the lack of generalization is caused by the kid/teacher focusing on the outcomes and solutions rather than the process of thinking and problem solving which rests on the ability to ask questions. When kids are using the process in non-emotive situations , they have a better chance when things are more frustrating.

    Dr Greene talks about 30-40 problem solving experiences for a kid to aquire the skill and to trust the process.

    The most important tool is your relationship with your child and having conversations with him , meaning we listen , he speaks , we direct the conversations with questions

    I shared a recent post on resources for the explosivechild , I am sure they are helpful