Santa's not coming here tonight!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by elisem, Dec 24, 2007.

  1. elisem

    elisem New Member

    Has anyone else ever cancelled Christmas for a difficult child? Mine (7) spent the entire weekend yelling, screaming, and trashing his room (dumping toy bins and book shelves, pulling over the furniture including his big, heavy dresser, ripping decorations off his walls and ceiling), cleaning up the mess, and doing it all over again. difficult child shares a big bedroom with his little easy child brother. During one of his tantrums, one of little brother's toys got broken.

    difficult child was also threatening to break his windows if he didn't get his way. (He openly admitted later, unprompted, that he wasn't really planning to break his windows, he was just saying that to try to get us to do what he wanted--DUH! I knew that. The difference between on medication and not on medication is that on medications his tantrums are SSSSSSOOOOOOO "spoiled brat" ("you have to do what I say!"--that's him speaking, not me) rather than evil, scary, feral monster that he used to be. In a way, though, these are more annoying--I felt bad for him when he lost it pre-medication, because I knew it was something that he couldn't control and it scared him, too. Now he's just bratty, snotty, ruler of the universe and I want to strangle him.

    So, what did I spend today doing? I spent today moving myself and my husband out of our teeny, tiny bedroom (it's a two bedroom house) and into the big room, so that we could move difficult child's mattress (just the mattress and blankets, NOTHING else) and difficult child into the tiny room. Oh, yeah, and first I went to Lowe's and bought plywood with which to cover all the windows and the closet (I still need that closet for storage, but I don't want him getting into it) in that little room, thanks to the "break the windows" threat. So it's really a tomb in there. And, no, he doesn't have a light, 'cause there's no overhead in there. I let him have a lamp for about 5 minutes until he started another tantrum and I took it away (he's hard on lamps). There's a nice lock on the door, too.

    And now my husband and I are sharing a room with our four year old. easy child doesn't mind--in fact, he likes it a lot. But there's going to be a definite lack of privacy issue.

    Anyway, through all this, we decided that Santa is NOT coming this year for difficult child. You have to understand--this is a kid who thinks (and, in fact has said) that he can do anything he wants and not suffer the really big consequences (getting locked in his room isn't that big a deal to hjim--although hopefully it will be a bigger deal now that he doesn't have all his toys and books in there with him!). So we've decided that this one time at least, he's going to suffer a big consequence. We've told him, but he still, absolutely doesn't believe that he will spend all day tomorrow locked in his room while the rest of us have as nice a Christmas as we can (as husband says, fake it!)

    This was not the way I planned to spend Christmas eve. I was going to bake cookies, read stories to and play board games with my two darling children. Instead, easy child spent the day playing computer games and I spent the day boarding up windows and moving furniture. Merry Christmas, indeed.

  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I'm sorry you've had such a rough day.

    May I ask what your difficult child's diagnosis is and what medications he is on? If you get a chance, would you create a signature. It helps us keep everyone and their kids straight.

    I hope tomorrow is a better day. Hugs.
  3. elisem

    elisem New Member

    Ok--I'll try that. I never knew how to do that...

    difficult child's official diagnosis is ADHD, but I have my doubts. I'm not crazy about psychiatrist--when I asked this guy what sort of counseling/therapy would be useful, he suggested I call my insurance company and see what they'd cover. Hello? I'm supposed to ask my insurance company what sort of therapy I should be looking for?

    difficult child is on Tenex, which is an off label diagnosis. psychiatrist also prescribed Risperdal, but I'm reluctant to go that route, especially since, with Tenex, the violence has almost completely disappeared. (Risperdal runs the risk of possible permanent side effects.)

    We're planning on looking for a new psychiatrist after the holidays--there are several in the practice, so we're going to shop around.
  4. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    Does difficult child still believe in Santa? What worked for us, for Duckie's worst year, was to have Santa leave her gifts (minus one) and a small lump of coal. We gasped as she opened the package with coal and explained that she was now on Santa's "check twice" list. This way, she was on notice that her behavior was unacceptable but didn't feel abandoned by the big guy in red.

    Also, you want to be careful about the boarding up the windows. It's a fire hazard if he's trapped in the room.

    Good luck, I can understand your pain and frustration.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I would be wary of locking him in. That's a really good way to get the state involved in your lives and you getting the punishment.
  6. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    It sounds like you already gave him his consequences when you put him in the room. Taking Christmas only gives him the message that he's a bad, not that he does bad things. Convince him he's bad and I'll guaranty you he'll end up trying to prove you right because he knows that's not what you want.

    I do like the idea of a lump of coal (or rock or switch since it's kind of late to get some coal) added as a Santa gift to let him know that Santa is watching.

    If it helps, I used to have a room something like yours for my daughter. It wasn't done as a punishment but as a way to protect her from herself and my things from her. Whenever she went into tantrum mode (which she could do for hours on end), she would go in that room. I actually had plexiglass that slipped over the glass because she had in fact broken the windows. However, it was not there permanently. As was said, it could be dangerous in case of fire and totally illegal. I did put in a ceiling fan with a light so she wasn't in total darkness (again, something social services would frown upon). I also had a lock on her door at the advice of her therapist (with a note from him). I would, however, sit on the other side of the door so I would know when the tantrum was over or if she was truly in any danger of harming herself. The minute the tantrum was over, the door was opened and she was let out with a gentle hug to let her know she was loved even if her behavior wasn't. If she started tantruming again, she would go back into the safe room.

    It took 3 years for her to figure out a tantrum got her nowhere she wanted to be, but she did get the message.

    So long as she played nice and didn't scream, kick, hit or throw, she was allowed to play with her toys (and me). As was explained to me and me to her, the room was not to punish her but to keep her safe until she learned how to control her tantrums. Doing it as a punitive measure at a young age seems to be counter-productive and gives the wrong message -- you're inherently bad and don't deserve good things. Removal of everything and forcing a child to earn things back seems to work better when they are in puberty and beyond.

    Since you don't have the space for a safe room and a bedroom for him, I'd try to explain to him that this is his bedroom but he'll still be able to play with his toys when he is behaving nicely. As he learns to control his behavior and you feel he will be safe, he will get more of his things back, starting with his bed and ending with his toys.

    Sadly, I'd say you are either going to have to soon move to something with three bedrooms or put your younger son in the living room. The odds of your older son being willing to go back to sharing a room are probably pretty slim.

    I hope things are better Christmas morning for all of you. I do understand what you are going through. I've truly been there.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't know what's wrong with your child (nothing listed), but I suspect that there is something wrong or he wouldn't behave that way. I don't think he is "bad." Even if his tantrums are now "different" I don't think he is spoiled or bad because of what he did--it's not the norm for a child to react the way he is. The medications may be taking the edge off, but he's still not stable. Spoiled kids expect lots of things because they are pampered, but that doesn't mean they break a window if they don't get them. My easy child daughter (youngest of five) is very spoiled by her older sibs and us (I admit it), but she would NEVER break anything or throw a tantrum if she didn't get what she wanted. She may pout a little until she was told to stop. Your child is still not a typical child, but I don't buy that he's "bad" either. And he's so young. You can get into tons of trouble for locking a child in his bedroom. If there is a fire...let's just say you'd be investigated by CPS. That's not considered responsible.
    I would not take Santa away or have Santa bring coal either (agree to disagree) for a little kid who is unstable. I think you did enough in the discipline department, and hope he is being evaluated again soon because he sounds like he could use an evaluation. I recommend a neuropsychologist. They are more intensive in the testing area than Psychiatarists. To me it sounds like a lot more than ADHD and maybe the medications are activating him. Do mood disorders run in the family? If he actually has a mood disorder (not saying he does, but IF he does) stimulants can make him ever wilder. Claims of "I can do anything I want" can be child mania (again, not saying it is, but it's common). You may want to do a signature like I did below. Good luck. And, yes, we did just have a long thread about this same issue.
  8. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Elise,

    Sorry you had such a crappy day - and Christmas Eve to boot! I agree with the others that send you caution regarding boarding up your son's room. If there were a fire, your son could not escape. There must be another solution.

    I don't know how old your son is, but I don't personally believe that Christmas should be tied to behavior. If you believe in the religeous meaning of Christmas, we celebrate to mark the time when God sent us the ultimate gift of love. Gift giving is a symbol of that gift of love. Commercalism ahs overtaken this meaning for many, but the bottom line is that Christmas is not a reward. The "good and the bad" were given a gift. If you don't have a religious tradition tied to your holiday, it should be basically the same. No rewards given, just the joy and love that comes with giving. I believe, and please understand that his is my opinion, that not having Christmas gifts for your son will do so much more harm than good.

    He obviously does not seem able to maintain. Your frustration is so totally understandable! The exasperation of dealing with an unstable difficult child day in and day out is overwhelming at times.

    I know it is Christmas morning already and you and husband have made your decision regarding gifts. I also understand that noone understands our situation better then you who walk it. I do hope you are able to find a little joy and peace today with your children. Life is not a fairy tale or a tv show, I know I have been guilty of setting my expectations too high in regards to holiday traditions. Perhaps an hour of peace and quiet is a true gift!

    Merry Christmas,
  9. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I don't know if you'll read this by the time Christmas is supposed to happen at your house, but I hope you'll reconsider and let your son participate. I just checked back on your old posts and if all you've done in the way of evaluation is what you've reported to us here, in my opinion what your child needs is more in the way of a comprehensive assessment, a medication adjustment, and appropriate treatments. He's already let you know verbally that the medications still aren't right--it's toned the attitude down a little but it obviously hasn't done in terms of correction what the right medication should do.

    You have gone only a very short way down this path and if your son is raging to this degree, my feeling is that your son needs help--not punishement. Kids who think they can do anything and not suffer the consequences rarely respond to punishments in the unstable state that you are describing.

    If you haven't picked up a copy of the book, The Explosive Child, I hope you'll do so. I know you probably feel like you've done everything you can for your son, but if your son is raging to this degree he needs an immediate call made to his psychiatrist and a call made to the crisis team if his or other family members safety is threatened. Inpatient care can often take care of medication adjustments in a much shorter time.
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hi and welcome,

    I canceled Christmas this year. difficult child is 17, in a group home and not making much progress. HOWEVER: I did not cancel the holiday in my heart or it's true meaning. That I hold very sacred and dear.
    What I canceled instead was our traditional way of celebrating because my son has made me so incredibly sad all year long that I couldn't cope with it - none of it.

    I tried suggestions given to me here by board members - I volunteered, gave to charity and kept to my promise and did not at the last minute run out to buy meaningless gifts for my son. In years past he's always bored by noon, and instead of entertaining himself drives us UP the wall (literally) until he got his way or got to go be with his friends whom we are sure didn't really want him at THEIR family holiday celebrations. And Goodness knows what he told anyone we were like.

    When my son was younger - as a single Mom I struggled to make ends meet but ALWAYS ALWAYS made sure his Christmases were like toyland. I have no extended family, there's just me and my Mom 600 miles away. My sister (whole other story)

    I went without, did three times the work to pay for things, and did the best I could to decorate amid arguments, yelling, throwing things, his tantrums, storming out - slamming doors, messing his room up, breaking windows, throwing his mattresses out the window in the yard for everyone to see, breaking the louvres off the closet door and ultimately them, breaking the door, kicking holes in the wall, TEARING UP the carpet, tearing out the phone lines, lying in bed shooting bug spray at the ceiling with the windows open and the light on to attract bugs, taking all his newly washed clothes (that I did as a favor) and throwing them on the ground, spray painting a bike in the house in his room, busting up all his toys,antagonizing the dogs, breaking a window in the garage, using all his dads hardwood to build a fort, playing his stereo too loud, using my washcloths, to clean his dirty tennis shoes with my household cleaners, dumping all the shampoo and liquid soap out in the bathrooms, clogging the toilet, taking his door completely off the hinges, letting the tub run over into the hall, ruining the carpet and floors, crapping in his pants and hiding it all over the house, breaking into our locked doors, stealing things, having to be served through a straw for a broken jaw he got in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and then finally being with 2 thugs who already were on probation for breaking and entering and robbing local homes. When that happened he tried to swallow a bottle of pills and got sent to the psychiatric hospital and from there was arrested and taken to jail. And his latest episode - calling the family of his biodad who wants to kill me and is why we've been in hiding for years. Nice.

    So with all that - I had a break down - OH and the above - with the exception of the broken jaw was done in 3 days time.

    YUP - I had a breakdown, uncontrollable laughter and then I had 2 huge anxiety attacks that led to a stroke. I'm sick, I'm tired and I don't much feel like making Merry for his benefit. If he has memories of today - so be it. I hope he can overlook it and remember the better Christmases gone by that I did go overboard. If he can't ? I'm no less off and this time I don't feel like an after Christmas idiot for going without, doing without, stressing out, and wracking myself for trying to make it a Merry day only to be told by noon - he wants to leave and by 4:00 PM that I'm a total jerk, he got stupid toys that break and watching him melt into another MEMORABLE holiday tantrum.

    Eleven years and counting -

    So if I was wrong - it's my sin to contend with. We did talk on the phone, he did wish me a Merry Christmas, he did call back and wish me a good holiday again, and not the teeniest bit sarcastic. When he asked what we were having for dinner I told him a frozen TV dinner. Nothing hard - no stress for one year. I've made my peace with God about it, remembered to keep today holy and thanked him for the blessings I do have. But NO MORE praying for patience to deal with difficult child. Just the ability to rise above the occasion.

    I told him he has exactly 364 days from today to celebrate Christmas next year with us IF he planned on changing his attitude. If not - it will be another holiday without him.

    I can recommend that you and your hubby get into some sort of family therapy because you're going to need it. Locking your kid in his room (while appealing) isn't helping him at all. I'd probably lock myself in it. BUT (seriously) if you want to figure out how to outwit this kid at his own game - get a good psychologist and start putting into play some of the plans you come up with in therapy. It helped us, because now I'm not feeling sorry for my son and further jepordizing his chances at a healthy mental state - I'm cutting the string and telling him I'm REALLY REALLY not going to play your game any more - not today, not Christmas day, not tomorrow - not at all. If you want to help him? Get a psychiatric - and learn how to outplay him - it will help YOU communicate with your son, it will help you and husband become a united front to your son, it will help his brother to understand what is going on - and it will show him every day where you drew the line.

    You're going to have to have a plan if you intend on keeping this kid in your home. You can get services for respit (weekend sitters), and help with placement in Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s if it gets that bad - but at this point I would say your best bet is on a psychiatric that will teach you how to outwit - the kid.

  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    in my opinion (just me) there is a BIG difference between not having the spirit to celebrate when a child acts out at seventeen and at seven. Seven is still almost a baby. in my opinion you just treat the two ages completely different. Star's son is almost a man.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I agree with MWM. I dont think there is anything I would have done to take Christmas away from my little kids. I dont think there is anything they could have done either.

    For all the hell Cory has put us through...and there has been quite a lot of it as some of the older folks here can attest to, we have never truly thrown him completely away. This years presents to him were nothing like I wish I could have given him but he has shown me with past actions what happens when I buy him nice stuff. This year I bought him clothes off of ebay. He cant return them for cash. I bought him new boxers. I gave him my old Mp3 player and a subscription to download his own songs. Jamie gave him a cd player. Oh and I bought him two new shirts from walmart. 2. Thats the most new clothes the boy has had in years. He was thrilled.
  13. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Your behavior is scaring me. You're going to lock him in a room without windows or a light? A tomb (your words) all day? Please don't do that. I understand how frustrated you must be, but step back or take a break-this is esculating far more than it should. He's only 7. Call a relative to relieve you and husband.
  14. Star*

    Star* call 911

    (MWM) is right - Dude is 17, not 7. True -there are differences in what happened to our family, your family and anyone else....BUT everyone here has children with behavior problems.

    What your son has done - isn't right. At seven, telling you he knew what he was doing - is most likely his way of covering himself for behaviors he simply feels he can not control. So how do you help him learn to control those behaviors? Sometimes it's with doctors, sometimes with medicines - sometimes with diet. We all have choices, and you may want to believe that he can behave and just chooses not to. Then continue to feel sorry for him and make excuses & punish a child that doesn't understand himself. OR understand that a lot of members here would recommend a psychiatric. evaluation, some type of counseling where a professional can explain what is going on in his head, with his behaviors and give you a game plan to help him learn how to make good choices.

    Locking him in his room like you said - isn't right or healthy either. In the long run it will create MORE problems for you and leave deep emotional scars for him. There IS however, learning how to communicate with a child who seems out of control and gaining parenting skills that go beyond "You do what I say or else." you may as well be speaking a foreign language - and threats accomplish nothing.

    Even if you have to - take him to an emergency room and see if they can get him evaluated, and possibly placed in a hospital for a couple days while you regroup and maybe the social worker that gets assigned to him will have some resources for you all.

    We're really here if you need us, and by the tone of your letter you need support. Don't think that anyone is judging you - your level of frustration and momentary solutions - are not going to work, and we just don't want to see your son or you hurt further.

    Come back and let us know how it went. ps. If you do read about parenting styles - read about Totalitarian - you'll understand what we're saying.