The Explosive Child - Putting "Plan B" into action..

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Stella, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. Stella

    Stella New Member

    So I've just finished reading The Explosive Child on the recommendation of members on this board and I am blown away. It's the first book I've ever read where i feel the author "gets" the way my child is. I realised that I have been very much "Plan A" i.e. imposing my will on my difficult child, barking orders at her etc. So I have decided to implement Plan C for a while i.e. letting things slide - i've realised in the grand scheme of things having a tidy room, having her hair brushed, and even having her homework done are not life and death matters. I am afraid that I am being too lenient but using Plan A style tactics were just NOT working. She would have an explosion and still not tidy her room, do her homework etc. Since implenting Plan C, she still does not do what is asked but she has not had a big explosion in over a week. I think this is the best way to go about building up my relationship with her. After all the best way to get your difficult child to comply is if they actually like you! My plan is to then gradually bring in Plan B - using empathy, laying our concerns on the table and then solving the problem together. I defintely have to teach her more skills if want Plan B to be successfull as I realised that she does not have the language skills to express how she feels. If she gets frustrated her anger can escalate into a full blown tantrum very, very quickly. I have never heard her say "I am angry" or " I am frustrated". I am looking into the possiblity of a speech and language therapist who might help her with the language side of things.

    The book also helped me to clarify her triggers which are; getting up in the morning, homework, boredom, going to bed at night and asking her to do anything!!

    I've also realised how important her rituals and routine really are to her. For instance when she is going to bed at night she wants me to be sitting in the same place at the same time and i must say exactly the same thing to her before she goes to bed!!! Beforehand I wouldn't have went along with it as i would have thought "this is ridiculous, I'm not going to be controlled" but I am looking at it differently now and think "ok, If by me doing things in an order she likes alleviates her anxiety and prevents and explosion, well it's better for both of us if i go along with it". Part of me feels that I am not doing her any favours by going along with her rituals but then we weren't gettting anywhere at all by me not going along with it. anyone understand what i mean??? I am really trying to go along with the philosophy of the book which is "If children can do well, they will".

    Has anyone here implemented the stragegy i.e. "Plan B" as described in The Explosive Child successfully and any tips???
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    One of the most important things with Plan B, is starting very slowly and planning ahead. Be prepared to change projects if she's not able to work on those areas yet. For example, if you were trying to use Plan B to encourage a 6 month old baby to walk - the baby wouldn't be physically ready to do it.

    So let's say you have put doing homework as the Plan B you want to implement. You would first prepare the ground. Try to set up some sort of motivation ahead of time "Your school wants you to do homework. I do understand that you find it challenging, but I want to help you do what needs to be done. How can I help?" and listen. You could suggest that maybe she could get on to homework as soon as she comes home from school; or maybe she could come home form school and spend half an hour playing a vigorous game, then settle to homework. But discuss it with her, what will work best? Get HER input into this. A suggestion I make, is for the mum to have snacks the child likes available, so the child settles to homework with a plate of snacks and a drink beside her.

    Although I personally wouldn't be putting homework as the first thing in Plan B... but that's me. I just used it as an example.

    The other thing I learned, is that the child who needs this kind of strategy is usually achild who cannot lern effectively to do as they're told. Instead, they need to learn to do as they're shown. So don't put politeness on the top of your list either. We learned to see "rudeness" as anxiety-driven, rather than disrespect-driven. We stopped reacting with "You can't talk to me this way!" (because he just did, so he can) but instead we say quietly, "I am not shouting at you or being rude to you; please do not be rude to me." And it took us time and patience to get to this stage.

    Avoid being sarcastic to your child; often they don't get it and it only cofuses and angers. Avoid punishment that is revenge-motivated (we all tend to do it). Try to catch your child out being good, rather than be on the alert for breakdown in good behaviour needing punishment.

    It takes practice and you won't always get it right. Just do the best you can and don't beat yourself up for the times when you slip up. Communicate with your child and be proactive where possible. Hopefully this will show fairly dramatic improvement for you, in the first few weeks. I hope so. But don't rush. Underneath it all, your child will still be a difficult child. All you will be doing, is making it easier for your child to please you. The child will still be limited by the dirorder tat is causing the problems in the first place. This isn't a cure, it's a way to help manage things.

    Good luck!

  3. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Glad this is working.
    I think problem solving and building a relationship helps in the long run. Being no nonsense and inflexible didn't do anything to help difficult child and really fostered resentment.
    Keep looking at your difficult child and ask "what does she need from me to help her?" Somedays we know the answer and somedays we don't but you can't go wrong if you are intent on helping not hurting.
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! You're daughter sounds exactly like my difficult child 1.

    You know what worked for me? I went word for word out of the book. I said right to him:

    "You know what? I'm sick of fighting with you about so many things. What about you - are you sick of it too?"

    He said yes.

    I said:

    "It seems to me that we'd each be happy if we got our own way, right?"

    He agreed.

    I said:

    "Instead of arguing, why don't we sometimes agree to find a way to make us both a little bit happy?" "If I want you to clean up your toys and you want to watch your show, how about if I agree to let you finish that show, turn off the tv and do it AFTER so you don't miss any of the episode that you're watching?"

    He really liked the idea.

    I like it because it's worked so well that he turned to me on more than one occasion and has said "why don't we try to find a way for us to both be a little bit happy?"

    Another thing you might want to try is "prewarn" her before she has to transition to something less desireable to what she's doing (like playing on the computer vs. homework). We start with "10 minute warning!" being announced. Then give a reminder at 5 mins. and then again at 2. I've negated a TON of problems by doing this!

    Good luck!

  5. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    in my humble opinion, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) needs a different approach than Basket A or C. For other issues, The Explosive Child might work, but the trouble with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is that if you give in to the rituals, it makes the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) stronger. They are also unable to negotiate on their compulsions and rituals so Basket B doesn't come into play. I am not saying that you should refuse to go along with any part of it, but that you should work up to doing less and less of it. Your daughter will need to be somewhat on board with the idea but there will be a lot of anxiety along the way. Some kids need medicine if the anxiety is overwhelming.

    Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is CBT and ERP (Exposure and Ritual Prevention) where they are prevented from doing their compulsion, feel the anxiety, see that it goes away and they can cope, and learn to deal with it.

    A good book to read about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in kids is "What to do When Your Child Has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" by Dr. Aureen Wagner.

    I speak from experience at letting it get out of hand. Some times, it seems there is no choice but to go along. However, I have been sleeping in my daughter's room since November because of her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). You can imagine what this is doing to my relationship with my husband.

    I have experienced the ERP working in the past with her. She used to be obsessed with zombies and was afraid to go anywhere in the house by herself. I had her sit and look at some scary pictures from horror movies. She was not really in agreement about this but I insisted because it was driving me crazy to have her follow me around. I only had to do it a few times before she was no longer afraid of them. It lasted for a couple of years until this new fear came up.
  6. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Thanks for the feedback. I have noticed already that giving into the rituals has made her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) stronger but the explosions less frequent. So it's almost like i have to make a decision between the two - less explosions and feed into her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or not feed into the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and have continuous explosions. At the moment her explosions are so out of hand that I will do anything to prevent them. If I gradually phase out going along with her rituals I am sure the explosions will just gradually increase again and maybe even worse than before!! It's so difficult to know if I am doing the right thing. The last thing I want to do is make her worse!!
  7. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    There's a book for kids that explains Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) called "Up and Down the Worry Hill".

    The idea is that you gradually phase out the rituals (especially your part in them, for your own sanity) and she doesn't need that part of it any more, so no explosions. There is a great deal of anxiety involved to get to that point and obviously, that has to be managed in some way. Take small steps so she can see that she can get past it and that it works. You would only want to work on one ritual at a time and the one that is the least anxiety provoking so you wouldn't have continuous explosions all day.

    I really think you should read that book to figure out what to do about the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). There is also a Yahoo group for parents of children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that is a good resource.
  8. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Thanks so much for that recommendation - will definetly have to get my hands on that book and yes the rituals are really starting to drive me insane - they're so bizarre!!
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hi Stella--

    I know where you are coming from...We're pretty new to the techniques in "The Explosive Child", too.

    One of the problems we've run into right from the start is that there seems to be a disconnect for difficult child between "talking" about doing something and "actually" doing something. She can give you the textbook definition of compromise...but has trouble understanding what that means in terms of real life. Basically, she wants to do what she wants to do when and how she wants to do it--and anything else seems to be a problem.

    Like you, we've found that by deciding certain issues can be treated as "Plan C"--has been a HUGE stress reliever. I'm sure that my blood pressure has dropped by not engaging in daily battles over homework, chores, hygiene etc etc

    When we've been trying Plan B--it feels like we come to a resolution...everyone is happy with the plan...and then when it is time for difficult child to do her part...the part SHE came up with--nothing happens.

    So we're still trying to figure it out ourselves....

    Best of luck!

  10. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Stella, somewhere in the archives (and I'll go looking or maybe another member will beat me to it) is a nutshell version of explosive child. If I recall correctly, it may be even slightly adapted to fit a younger child? Not sure.

    Anyway, the point is, when I was first started using this, I wrote my own short summary of the main points of the process, printed it out, and literally packed a copy of it around. I scribbled notes on it as issues came up of what was basket c and what was basket a, and things I wanted to work on plan b with. It really helped me. I was slow to respond to difficult child sometimes, but slow and working on it was better than knee-jerk and setting us back again.

    I may still have a copy of my summary, I'd be happy to share if I find it.
  11. Stella

    Stella New Member

    I'd really appreciate that, thank you -great idea. Could have done with a summary yesterday with me in the car

    difficult child: Mom, I want to call for my friend Sopie
    Me: No, I want you to come home and do your homework first
    difficult child: No, i'm NOT doing it first, im calling for Sophie NOW
    Me: Don't talk to me like that. You can do your homework first then call for her.


    (before i know it, shes yanking my hair while im driving, name calling etc etc) it happens THAT fast. "Plan B" just went plain out of my head. Where was my empathy?? lol. Summary would be very useful!!
  12. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    We find that the plan B approach helps reduce the number or level of explosions, but is still only one of many tools needed.

    For us the following things work (sometimes):

    When difficult child and younger easy child disagree on something, Plan B approach to reflect the feeling of each child, then present each child's concern and open discussion with a moderator approach really stops a building battle very effectively.

    But when difficult child is frustrated because he can not deal with the conflicts of his own wishes he is not open to a plan B approach. Changing his environment is the only thing effective. Get him out of the house and onto something (anything) different.

    Sometimes when difficult child is building frustrations he will follow his brothers and pick constantly. These picks can only be tolerated for a short time. So separation is the most effective strategies to help.

    Remaining calm and not getting to upset helps settle him down. Constantly remember teach by example. (very hard sometimes). Then forgive him and don't hang on the behavior. (I keep telling myself - I am supposed to be Christian. Christians are supposed to forgive. He was rude (or what else) because of his illness not meanness. The less I react negatively the more he seems to feel guilty and the more responsibility he takes for his actions.

    My husband has a co-worker whose daughter took her life. My husband and his co-worker spent many hours talking about the common problems her daughter had in common with our son. The co-worker stated that so many of their battles were over such little things. If she could do it again she would remember better where the important things are, and not let a small item become a major issue. So we do use plan C a lot. And we forgive the broken items and lost time. Because having or difficult child is more important. I've heard people complain that to much of plan C can lead to the child growing up to an adult that can't keep a job or remains disrespectful. Yep that is a possibility, but one that only knows how to fight won't be in a better position. My difficult child knows how to be respectful, he knows what is right. It is just his lack of ability to manage his frustrations that keep him from behaving as he knows he should. I hope he out grows it, but know I am trying my best.

    Now after I have written all the answers I will go home this evening and he will prove that I don't know what I am talking about. Then I will come back hear to read everyone else's ideas and see if any might help. - Thanks for them.
  13. compassion

    compassion Member

    For me, the key is that we both get input. From last night: Mom, I want some rubberbands to do my hair (no problem.) I also, want you to go to the store an dget me some new make-up. I did ask her what type of make-iup (She did not care.) She has dozens if not a hundrend peices of make-upon her room. Rather, than goint to get more, will have brother take some dwon for her.
    The huge deal was she went to her dental appointment. sans us, without exploding. She wnated me to take her to her medical appointment, and to come back and see her cats, get her stuff. We are bringing somethng down for her each time we visit (bwtween brother, dad and I, it is 5 times this week). It has been hugely helpful to avoid powerful stuggles and to choose battles but to not budge when something relly is not up for negotiation. Compassion
  14. C.J.

    C.J. New Member

    Try to use a little humor at times, too. Especially basket C. N*'s incessant need to know where I was going (even with a laundry basket on my hip as I was headed to the basement where the washer and dryer are) began to DRIVE ME CRAZY. For the laundry, I began to tell her I was going to China, and invited her to come with me. Had I just asked her to come along to help me do the next load of laundry, I would have had a mini melt down, but asking her to come with me to China got her out of her bedroom, and holding the door open for me.

    Your signature shows your daughter is a poor eater. Mine had a tiny appetite all day, and when the Ritalin wore off at night, she was starving. Her pediatrician (wonderful, dear sweet man who practiced into his 80's) told me to have a selection of healthy foods for her that she liked to eat, and not make eating or not eating a chore or punishment. She ended up eating about six small meals a day - still does now.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    A few interesting points have been made, and some questions raised.

    First - for the past info on this, go to Early Childhood and look at the stickies. They're the threads you remember, Shari. But they are mainly referring to the previous edition, which although really good, is a bit different. I like them both.

    Second - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a problem, but from my own experience it has been anxiety-driven, as are the explosions. If you try to block an obsession, you also risk triggering an explosion (often because you've heightened the anxiety). It WILL depend on how your child ticks, but in our experience we've made progress at reducing some of the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in some areas, by simply leaving it as a lower priority, then moving them into Basket B (or Plan B) as and when we can handle it. For example, difficult child 3 now will try new foods AND tell us what he liked/disliked about them, whereas previously he would point blank refuse because of the texture of the appearance. He has stopped using his hands so much to eat (which he would do if he thought we weren't watching him closely enough - hates using utensils) and his biggest obsession, coputer games, he is much more willing to shut down when asked, than ever before. That is our hardest one, but he himself has observed the link to his anxiety. "Mum, I've noticed that even if I'm not playing my Nintendo DS I feel much calmer if I know I have it with me."

    It will depend on your child, but if there is an anxiety component to your child's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), then reducing the anxiety seems to be a good beginning.

  16. lovemychocolate

    lovemychocolate New Member

    I put in for a consult back in Dec. and just heard back. It's about a year's wait to see him.:sick:

    Anyone here know of someone (here or othewise) that has taken their difficult child to see him?