The Explosive Child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JLady, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    I am reading the Explosive Child. Each chapter states something about Can these children be helped? Of course... "but not with a reward and punishment program". My difficult child is ithe inflexible, unadaptable, child described throught what I've read so far.

    This weekend seemed like I was the advocate for my difficult child against my easy child's. The easy child's are constantly ridiculing his every action and I think I am learning some things but I may just be making it worse. My daughter and her son have been gone for 2 wks and are back. This is an invasion of the difficult child's space because they are temporarily sharing his room. My daughter put the car seat in the difficult child's place in the car. My difficult child was quite upset about this and moved the car seat. I totally understood this reaction due to what I have learned. The older child (21) had a fit about him moving the seat and wanted to know why he couldn't just move and deal with it. I'm thinking.... because he just can't. He doesn't think like that.

    I'm now viewing difficult child as a child who doesn't think about things the way we do and doesn't see the world the same. The older easy child's are looking at him as a spoiled brat who needs his rear end whipped.

    I really don't know if I'm making things better or worse. The bad part is that they are all home together today and tomorrow without me being there and I'm worried about difficult child.

    Any help? How do you discipline a difficult child? How do you help them? How do they help themselves?
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    One thing I did was say, "On the way there, you sit here. On the way back, you two switch places."
    They saw it as "fair."
    If I were you, I would sit down with-the PCs and explain to them that difficult child thinks differently, and that there is no such thing as fair. They will have to take turns. (I would repeat to difficult child that there is no such thing as fair, too.)

    Never mind how old anyone is. YOU are in charge. You're the mom.

    When you want to "train" difficult child to adapt, I would suggest you do it on your own. IOW, not with-the easy child, if possible. One thing our child psychiatric helped me with-was running "fake" errands. I'd go to the grocery store and not really need to buy anything. If difficult child refused to cooperate, out we went, leaving the cart behind. Same thing with-errands. I was supposed to mix things up--tell difficult child I was going to the Post Ofc, the grocery store, and the dry cleaners. Then, I would do the dry cleaners first, the post ofc second, and the grocery store last. difficult child would inevitably have a meltdown.
    The key is that you know you are now causing the meltdown, instead of it appearing out of nowhere for no good reason. That will help empower you.

    The other thing is, when you do that sort of thing over and over, difficult child will learn that there are certain variables, and certain constants. He's still with-his mom, he's still in the same car, he's still going home to the same house, you are still going to have the same, calm reaction. (Yeah, right! ;)But you really have to stay calm throughout this.) When I mix up my errands, I try to choose places with-drive-throughs, so the meltdown provides a minimum of outside involvement. Try to involve as few people as possible.
    The reason I suggest you do this alone, with-o the PCs, is that it's easier to focus on difficult child when you two are alone, and, knowing he's going to have a meltdown, it isn't easy for the PCs to be subjected to it. Bad enough they have to deal with-the unplanned meltdowns!
    These things have helped a lot for us.
    Good luck!
  3. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    Thanks Terry. Any tips for the easy child's? I have tried to explain things to them. I have talked and talked and talked. They just don't seem to get it and see it as an injustice to them for some reason.

    That is the 2nd time this weekend I've heard the "you're the mom, you're in charge" statement. Somehow I don't feel much in charge at all!
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would not force a young child like him to make so many adjustments in his life and who cares if he is called spoiled? My son is called rude. It's not true--he is the way he is due to the way he is wired; he has Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
    You're not even sure what is wrong with your little guy yet, but you know he is different. You have to make the decisions and not give into them and their complaining, just like I do. See my thread about "I can't talk to anyone, not even my friends." We have to do some accommodating for kids who absolutely can not stand transitions due to no fault of their own. JMO
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Next time you hear, "You're the mum, you're supposed to be the one in charge," remind them, "Yes, I AM the mum, YOU need to back off and let me parent difficult child in my own way. Stop interfering, you are NOT his parent, I am. Back off and do it my way."

    The thing is, what works with our difficult children (Explosive Child style) is often the opposite of how people expect us to parent. And what works for one kid can often backfire with another, so you need to get it across to your PCs, "This is what we are doing with difficult child. Respect my ways or else I'll remember all the old, traditional, 'spare the rod' techniques and use them on you."

    I have written a summary of Explosive Child (it helped me get the info hammered into my brain thoroughly) and worked trough it with my other kids. They took some time to take it on board and yes, there have been times when what they had to tell me about my parenting, while unpleasant, was actually constructive and helpful. So they know I will listen to them. But I WILL NOT LET THEM UNDERMINE ME.

    I will support them also, but if they undermine me in front of difficult child 3, then they will in turn find themselves undermined and criticised in front of him.

    I do strongly suggest you STOP expecting difficult child to be adaptable (since when has he been adaptable?) and instead put the onus on your older PCs (who should be old enough to be malleable, should also be mature enough to see the need for gentle handling) to be the ones to make the adjustments.

    Point out to them that getting difficult child to be adaptable is going to take time and patience. It cannot be forced. You have learned a lot over the years, just because you didn't know all the answers when they were kids doesn't give them the right to make difficult child as miserable as they felt they were. This isn't about retribution or justice, it's about compassion for a brother whose world is much scarier for him than theirs was for them.

    Give them a quick lesson about baskets and about choosing battles. They need to be adaptable; they need to be the heroes and make the change, even before it's been asked. They're now the invaders in difficult child's world and they need to give way to him. it is NOT spoiling, it is instead paving the way to him feeling safer, more confident and therefore more able to slowly become more adaptable.

    Of course it's not fair to the PCs. It's not fair for you, either, to have to police all this and ride everyone so closely. But them giving difficult child a hard time doesn't make it one bit more fair for them. It only makes trouble for everyone, will make you cranky with them and will make everyone's holiday miserable as a result.

    All the best with it. If you want my review, PM me and I'll send it to you, so you can print it out for them to read. I doubt they'll take the time to read the whole book.

    I actually found a very brief summary of the baskets, and stuck it up in our family learning centre (AKA behind the toilet door). It then eventually got the message across to them. They also began to see it in action.

    Also as I began to use it on difficult child 3, what happened FAST was that difficult child 3 behaved much better for me, but became even worse for anyone riding him hard (ie anyone refusing to get on the page with Explosive Child). This taught them FAST to do it my way or to shut up. I actually had to say at one point, "Shut up, do not interact with him if he is difficult, leave the room and let me handle it. If you do not, he will quickly learn to argue with you on sight."

    For tomorrow, try to plan the day for people, to allow difficult child space to be where he wants and to do what he wants, in ways that will not impact on the PCs. And set it up with the PCs to leave difficult child alone and to give him space and time. The issues where they need to give him space -

    1) Do not change what he is used to; do not impose your will on him but instead, adapt to work around him.

    2) If you must interact with him, give him time to adapt. Do not force a sudden change, but give him time to get used to it. For example, if you want him to have his bath, give him a time warning. "I need you to have your bath in half an hour. Please get your computer game to a point where you can save it, or pause it. You have half an hour to do so." Give him choice, give him control. If you're getting food for him, don't insist he eat something he doesn't like or want. If it really doesn't make any difference, let him choose. Don't make him drink juice if he wants milk. Ask him which he wants. It's common courtesy.

    3) Speaking of courtesy, he learns it differently. Even if you feel he is being rude to you, do not react. Instead, treat him with courtesy at all times. If he offends you, leave the room and do not interact with him. But do not shout at him or get on your high horse for being impolite. He needs you to demonstrate to him, by your manner to him, how he should behave towards you. So if you're impatient with him or shout at him, don't complain if he is shouting at you or impolite or impatient with you. You're older, you set him the good example he needs.

    4) I don't care if you think this is unfair; of course you are right but unfair doesn't matter. All that matters this month is what is working, this month. Next month the rules change. But now is now.

    This works. It requires patience and consistency. Those not willing to get on board will be the ones to pay the price. If the PCs fail to follow your requests, then they are showing disrespect to your wishes as a parent, and in doing so are demonstrating that they are right, you are not in charge. You are not in charge OF THEM, and they owe you a huge apology for their criticism of you, because they are NOT helping one iota, a failure to obey your wishes in this is only making your task more difficult.

    And you don't need that. Not from your alleged easy child kids.

    If you need to, feel free to show them this post of mine. And tell them that my PCs (I include easy child 2/difficult child 2 here) also had difficulty with this one, and found out the hard way that they had to do it my way, or they would be the ones to lose out.

    Life isn't fair. Whoever handed difficult child the neurological grab bag he's stuck with, wasn't playing fair. If the PCs are hard on difficult child because he isn't a easy child, THEY aren't being fair to HIM. They're treating him badly, as if they're punishing a blind child for needing someone to hold their hand while they try to cross the street.

    Good luck with this one.

  6. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    Thank you MWM... it's all about what makes difficult child comfortable isn't it? He is young and it's about his needs.

    Marg... I feel empowered by your post here. Thank you so much. I can see myself marching into the house this evening with a new sense of being in control. Do it my way... Period.

    Thank you!
  7. artana

    artana New Member

    I have only been on this board for a while, but after reading the Explosive Child, I can honestly say that I parent this way anyway. I also get a lot of scolding about it, coming from a Hispanic very old-fashioned household. But, as much as I respect my family, I have learned to tell them to back off. I had my mother here, and she was telling my child that she would not go on a field trip if he didn't stop whining. I looked at her and said, "Is that the truth?" and she looked shocked and said no. I told her to stop threatening my children with punishments she would not follow through on.
    This is very hard to learn to do. I love my family dearly and will treat my mother and father with utmost respect about most things. But, it is my child and I want him to feel like home is his safety net. He is still expected to behave, but the rules are more understandable to him and he knows I will try to give him advance warning of changes in schedule. I think eventually, people begin to understand.
  8. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    You've already gotten great advice on your son and definitely telling your easy child's that you're the mom is something they need to understand. There is one thing I would suggest to help your PCs understand a little better. Take them to talk to your son's therapist. Have the therapist explain how his mind works and why you're parenting him differently. Also, get the DVD of The Explosive Child and have them watch it since I really doubt you're going to get them to read the book. This might help a lot.

    In the meantime, you're doing a great job of parenting your son. You're learning and willing to change for him, something he can't do for you right now. Take a very deep bow. You've earned the applause!
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    There's a DVD!!??!?

  10. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night


    There is a DVD but it costs about $60.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Probably not multi-region, either.

    I'd like to strangle the person who invented different regions for DVDs, to make us in Australia (and a few other countries) pay a lot more for them. DVDs produced in the US and Canada are MUCh cheaper than DVDs we buy here. It also has meant that DVDs not released here, but not multi-region, are ones we don't get to watch.

    Unless we happen to have acquired a secretly multi-region player...

    They aren't allowed to advertise on the box or in the shops if a particular DVD player is multi-region.

    Any other industry doing this would be subject to prosecution under our strict laws against anti-competition practices. For some reason, the DVD industry has been exempt.

    Maybe one more thing to run via our new government. They seem to be kicking **** on other issues...

    sorry, didn't mean to hijack this.

    Let's get back to a darn good book and now it seems, an even better movie?? (just kidding - documentary, maybe)

    sorry, I'm feeling a bit flippant this morning.

  12. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    My old library had the DVD, so it is worth checking to see if they have it. Strangely, my daughter and I watched it together. I wanted to get her input into if she felt the way it was described in the book. Obviously, I did this when she was really too old to do much about it but I was curious.
  13. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    I checked with the library. Wish they had the dvd. I will continue reading the book. Marg... I'm looking forward to your summary.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think you have gotten great input here. The one strongest point to make to your pcs is that you ARE the mom, and if things have changed since they were kids, well then things have changed.


    I doubt there is much you can do about them together tomorrow, other than maybe allow unlimited whatever calms your difficult child most (game time, computer, whatever).

    And make sure that you keep calm whatever happens.

    Terry's ideas about errands are wonderful. The best sp ed teacher we had used the phrase "Roll With It" and it carried over to home. Any changes? Roll With It. It became a signal that whatever was really important to difficult child was still going to happen, it just might happen differently. And it sometimes signalled a surprise, like a quick frosty or ice cream cone or whatever.

    But it took time, and it worked.