Tired of dragging my kid to the car

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Lulu, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    I had a wonderful moment last week when after preschool, 4:6yo difficult child walked out of his classroom with his coat and mittens on and rolling backpack in hand, walked down the hall with his sister and me, out the door, across the parking lot, and then got into his car seat as I held the door open. WOWZA. This has NEVER, EVER happened before. I kissed him on his nose once he was buckled in, and shocked the **** out of us both with static electricity! OUCH! But then I gave him a naturally flavored/colored lolli to enjoy, which he was very excited about. Next day? back to the old tricks.

    Usually, once I actually get him OUT of the classroom (which involves forcing him to put down a toy he won't let go of or put on his coat if he hasn't already), he does one or all of the following: drops his backpack and runs the other way, jumps in front of other moms and kids, hides around corners, plays with whatever toys he sees in the hall, races his sister to the waterfountain, lies down and plays dead, wakes up the sleeping babies, crawls through the parking lot like a dog, searches for every puddle available to splash us all in, refuses to get in the car or refuses to get in his seat or refuses to buckle up, etc. etc. etc. etc. ETC!!! Sometimes I just have to carry him and drag the little one behind me, crying. N's a little over 40 lbs. God forbid we three have to stop in the restroom on our way out--too long of a story there...

    I have tried the little emergency tricks/ideas (loved the tic tac idea, but he apparently hates the flavor!) given so far, but I just haven't hit the right one, I guess. I kind of despair of the thought of dragging him (and people seeing me do it) until he is actually big enough to push me down. If I didn't always have little A with me, I could deal with N much better, I think. :(

    Any words of wisdom?
  2. GinAndTonic

    GinAndTonic New Member

    We've got similar problems over here, often. The things that work best for me are praise -- huge amounts of praise -- when he gets into his carseat right away, and threats when he doesn't. The threat is usually the loss of "screen time" (his daily hour of TV) if he isn't in the carseat by the time I count down from ten.

    Does difficult child have a privilege you could revoke if he misbehaves?
  3. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I feel your pain...or at least I used to. At one point I had a newborn in a carseat and 2 year old difficult child to manage while taking my 5 year in and out of pre-K. There were alphabet letters and words all over that room, including the ABC's stenciled all around the perimeter. I used to haul the baby in one arm and him howling and fighting under the other. I miss a lot of things about having little ones in the house...but this isn't one of them!

    G&T, this is really where you have to know your kid. I wish praise would have worked for us but the more praise I threw in difficult child's direction, the more he resisted because it felt wrong for him to be pleasing me. Lucky you though! To this day I still only rarely revoke priveleges because it tend to make the situation more explosive than less, and I can't get any lesson taught. He does better taking consequences at school, though, but he recognizes the peer pressure need to respond appropriately there.

    Lulu, you might try offering the natural flavored lolly or a small juice box as soon as you take that step out the classroom door. Use it as a distraction instead of reward and see if that works better. Sipping and sucking are sensory calming.

    When verbal commands aren't getting the job done, it's always worth exploring different ways to accomplish your goals. At this point you truly don't know the neurological reasons for the defiance but since there seems to be some suggestions leaning in the direction of AS, these would be some things for you to try out of that camp:

    Have you tried making a list to hand him as you leave the classroom (whiteboard, or laminate a small card), or better yet for the teachers to post by where he hangs his stuff?
    1) Put on coat.
    2) Walk to car.
    3) Buckle in.
    4) Home for video (lunch or whatever)

    Some kids respond remarkably well to written lists, when they would have ignored

    Given the other traits you've described, I think it might be worth checking into social stories. These are stories you create yourself about the child in various life situations in order to help them understand what is expected or appropriate. There are lots of variations so here's the google search:

    I don't know if there's anything here that would be suitable but I have heard rave reviews about the Model Me Kids dvd's, including the school one.
  4. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    G&T, thanks for your thoughts. At different times, I have taken away every privilege imaginable, occasionally to the point of just wanting to laugh at how empty his life is (those are the days when there is nothing left to do but sit together in the car and wait until he deigns to stop fiddling with the locks, the overhead lights, the cargo cover, the cup holder, etc, and finally sits down and buckles up--makes me feel so helpless and so sorry that A has to watch and learn from this, as she has tried it herself several times now). Instead of his being horrified, crying, saying NO NO NO! don't take my computer!, he just smiles. He always smiles through all of this misbehavior. No loss of privileges seems to make a difference for him. And it is so tiring to handle him with no diversions available the rest of the day. Sigh.

    I do give him (and A) praise when they have behaved well in an outing. I also praised N the day he came to the car willingly and with-o incident. But the next day, as I said, he was back to square one.

    SRL, am just reading your response as I look over a preview of mine! I would like to give him food "on-the-go" as we walk down the hall, but I am paranoid of him walking with a lolly in his mouth. Is this an unfounded fear? It is a good idea, and I will definitely consider the juice box. Will try it Monday, in fact.

    Regarding the AS-sounding stuff, it is not so much that he is actually distracted by things he sees in the hall, rather, his behaviors feel calculated to me. He knows they will upset us all, even though I don't yell at him. It is as though he is working toward some sort of reward of being carried to the car where he can crouch in the foot until he feels the time is right to submit. However, I understand that he is likely tired at this time, that he doesn't want to leave the preschool toys, that he may be hungry, and that transitions are, in general, tough for him. So some talk/modeling about frustration and tiredness may be in order. [eta: what I was trying to say was that he knows what is expected and appropriate, and we always have talks about how we act before we go into libraries, restaurants, stores, etc. Come to think of it, we never have that talk about leaving preschool, but when I pick him up, he's generally not into having ANY talk at all.]

    I will look into the social stories and model-me links. Thank you for your info and wisdom!
  5. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Red licorice might be another option, or fruit snacks.

    I wish I had the magic answer for you to solve this problem, but unfortunately I can only provide ideas and hopefully you might stumble upon something that works. I had to shake up the bag of tricks so I wasn't relying on the same thing each day. For instance, you might even take a detour to the puddle and suggest that he jump in it. (Nothing takes the wind out of a defiant child's sails like Mom leading the way!) Keep a towel in the car to mop up when needed. Above all, don't let your frustration show.

    I can't speak for your son since I'm not in your shoes but I will tell you it's worthwhile to keep open to different interpretations of what you're seeing. My difficult child used to do the same smiling behavior coupled with actions that seemed deliberately irritating. I remember one day shortly before his assessment going into his room and laying into him verbally for his behavior and he was laying on his bed smiling. Nothing I said sunk in. Back then I saw it as deliberate on his part and having no desire to please me. In time I came to see it as an inability to read social cues properly. He just didn't pick up naturally what other kids did.
  6. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Get skis. :tongue:

  7. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Like SRL, this is one of the situations I don't miss about having little ones in the house. I really feel for you.

    One of the best phrases that worked for my very-difficult-to-transition difficult child 1 was, "What's the last thing you want to do before we head to the car?" It worked like a charm for many years.
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    That's a good phrase, Smallworld. I'm currently lamenting the fact that difficult child has caught onto one of my best (What are your plans for handling your homework and practicing?). I'm sorry to say that he's onto me. :)
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think it is possible for an almost 5yo to be calculating in finding ways to displease his parents, but probably not the first thing that would jump to my mind.

    Has he been evaluated by a developmental pediatrician to see what is going on? Has an all-around physical lately (I know it is not a new problem, but that is usually what I try about every 6-8 months if we are having problems.) I know that my own difficult child (now 16) would act out horribly as he was starting to have a health problem. So I took to ruling that OUT before I assumed something calculated was going on.

    Has he seen an Occupational Therapist to evaluate for Sensory Integration Disorder? It is a condition where the brain just can't cope with the input from the senses. The Out-of-Sync Child by Kranowitz is a very useful book on the subject. Even more useful is The Out-of-Sync Child has Fun by the same author.

    I found that the Has Fun book gave LOTS of ideas to help ease us through transitions/changes/daily life. And many are quite practical and affordable!

    I would seek out a developmental pediatrican to try to find out what you are dealing with.

    If the lollipop works and the stick is what is scaring you, why not pull the stick out or cut it off short?

    What happens if you put the little on in her seat then just put him in his and buckle him? Will he go along with it, scream for hours, hurt himself or others, or ????? It can be hard to do, depending on his size and yours, but it might be worth it.

    Hope something works. (If not skis, then a skateboard?? )

  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Have you had any success, Lulu?
  11. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    Star*, LOL. If he were on skis, he'd be two miles away before I could gather up the girl and chase after him.

    Smallworld, I will try that phrase. I kind of already use it when we leave tough places, but it's hit or miss. I use the 10 minutes left, 5 minutes left, 3, 2, 1, we're outa here. And in between there I note that he can play with one more toy, and then at about 2 minutes if we're at a home or school, it's time to put the toy away and say goodbye, etc. Sigh. So tiring.

    Susiestar, we are headed to the behavioral clinic at the local children's hospital later in March to see where they think we should go. Good point about the health issues, he won't have another visit until his checkup at his fifth b-day. He is a very healthy little dude. But I am looking into more dietary changes, the more I read about additives, gluten, casein, etc. Since he's gone off artifical dyes, we see fewer meltdowns, I think. I don't think he has Sensory Integration Disorder (SID); he doesn't show the major symptoms that I know about (food preferences, clothing issues, stimulating behaviors, fear of or attraction to noises), but I will go look at some more checklists to get a better idea. That said, I will check out that book anyway, since ideas to ease transitions are MUCH needed. As to just putting him in his car seat and buckling him in, the first problem is getting him out of the classroom. Sometimes we don't even make it to the car until fifteen or twenty minutes later, and he's by then a dervish. We went through a long period of him squeezing himself into the foot so that I couldn't get him out. I cannot manhandle him into his seat (44-ish lbs), and even if he gets in and I buckle him up, he unbuckles himself if he wishes to be free. Sometimes I actually have sat in the front seat and just laughed at the absurdity of it all. I guess "futility" is the better word. Thanks for the ideas and the references.

    SRL, a couple days this week were better at school, but we still had a heckofa time leaving our playdate's house Wed. N took a swing at me and tore through her dining room and kitchen to get away. Yesterday, I stressed to N that a pleasant walk down the hall and into the car to go home would mean he could play on the computer that afternoon. Not behaving (and we went over what that meant) would result in NO computer the rest of the day. Well, we got halfway down the hall and then he started running away. He got one warning to come back or no computer, and he just sped up. Then I announced "no computer today" and he opened the door and ran out into the lobby without me. So, hearing the consequence still means little to him, but then living it once we were home meant quite a bit. I have been able to distract him with a fruit leather several days. Today, on the way home in the car, he threw a party blower at me when I said he couldn't have a lollipop. He is coming to expect the sweets in the car, I fear. Can't win with this one.

    Oh, and about puddles--I have let BOTH children choose a puddle and jump in it in the preschool parking lot. I'm afraid that was a mistake, because now they both DART for the puddles immediately. More sighs.

    THanks so much ladies. Keep those ideas coming. And the support means so much. I write a lot, for which I apologize, but it helps me organize the thoughts in my mind, and it also allows me to unload, since no one in my family or circle of friends understands/wants to hear this.