Today we drove difficult child to . . .

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by barneysmom, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    . . . . a residential treatment center which is 15 minutes away from our home, instead of the residential across the state which is more clinically based. He had been there for seven weeks.

    17 had been very popular at the first Residential Treatment Center (RTC), as I mentioned we heard remarks from staff like "I wish we had ten more like him."

    For the first hour of the drive 17 talked of nothing but computer, Play Station, computer games. We are currently computer-free because neither of our difficult child's could handle being on the computer or play station.

    For the second hour all of 17's rage came to the forefront. He has been to juvie Jan. 2010-April 2010 where he had a psychotic break, then local psychiatric hospital for 70 days (all of them psychotic) and then 7 weeks in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) across the state. I can see why he has a lot of anger. We just let him vent. He was really raging against the police and how if he had a gun he would shoot any police he came across. He banged on the inside of his car door pretty good and was mumbling and whispering a lot.

    He was and still is obsessed with guns and gun games.

    When we got to the new Residential Treatment Center (RTC), the staff thought he would need 1:1 and had reservations about having someone at difficult child's apparent level of care in their facility. He did settle down and started bawling like a baby.

    We have two weeks at this Residential Treatment Center (RTC) to integrate him into coming back home. I'm worried because it has been impossible to set any type of boundaries with him. But he did manage to settle down, was not kicking or hitting anything, was not swearing. So I hope these are good signs. I worry that we are so used to a certain level of violence with him, that we will get swallowed up into it again.

    Any thoughts about how we should approach the computer and play station with him? Is it possible to give him some computer use--under supervision only and no gun games? But is it possible to let someone who has no boundaries, on the computer?

    I am not really feeling any kind of logic in my head to guide me on this -- I am clueless. So far we have functioned without computer or laptop. My husband said maybe we should give 17 some computer if he earns it. He's never earned anything.

    Please share your thoughts because I feel clueless. I wish the therapist (home-based) would make this decision but she says it is up to us. I feel numb.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2010
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Gosh, that's a tough one. My son is a bit like that, but has improved lately. We just got back from the therapist and we talked a bit about computers and anger issues.
    I would set the rules b4 you ever set foot in the door.
    I would seriously consider no computer or PS2 games at all, no hand-held games, no cell phone, because I just discovered you can download games on that, too.
    He will probably go to a friend's house and sneak, but at least you can keep your house calm and under control.

    One good thing is that he wore himself out after he vented in the car. My son does that, too. It is so much better afterward.
    So many of our kids don't know how to vent properly, but they really do need to vent.
    I have learned that sometimes it's better to let my son vent, and be late for something, or not show up at all, than to continue on and then end up with-something worse.
    Perhaps next time he vents, just detach and pretend he's a really loud TV show that you can't stand. Of course, that's easier when he's not slugging you or trying to choke you. My son still gets in my space and in my face, but he doesn't slug or hit me any more.

    In regard to earning something, make his tasks very simple. I tell my son, "Repeat that back to me in a nice tone of voice." He'll semi-shout, then I'll make him repeat it again. Sometimes he has to do it 10X, but he finally says whatever it is in a normal voice. I will thank him and then give him a reward--but nothing big like computer time. It will be permission to stay up 10 min. longer to read, or a piece of candy or something. I will tie it in directly with-his "performance" and say it aloud so he knows.
    If your son holds open the door for you, thank him for it and reward him. If he carries in his suitcase from Residential Treatment Center (RTC), reward him. If you have never rewarded him for that type of thing b4, he'll think you're being sarcastic or that you're nuts, but keep doing it. He will get used to it and learn quickly.
    I know you think he hasn't earned anything, so start making up tiny things. "Thank you for taking a shower today." Think hard, watch carefully. You'll find something.

    I feel for all of you.
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think that rewarding for small things can be great, esp if he hasn't earned rewards before. I would make sure that all computers, game systems, cell phones, etc... are well out of site when he returns. I personally would not allow computer time at home. If he wants to walk to the library and use theirs, under their rules, I wouldn't be against it. Just not at home. in my opinion computers/video games are not something everyone can control. It seems to be a trigger for your son, and being able to use the computer/game system but not play games with/about guns is asking too much of him. It just is not something he is likely to be able to do, even with limited computer time.

    I know others think we need to teach them moderation and how to moderate their own computer/game use, and that is fine if they want to do it. Not everyone is able to learn this, just as not everyone is able to learn to read. Your son already seems focused on being allowed to do a lot with the computer, and a lot of the things he wants to do are probably violent. If nothing else happens, seeing him playing and getting so focused on computers is likely to kick up YOUR ptsd. The chances that he will be able to turn it off after 30 mins or an hour, after not being able to use it for so long, are nil. I am just being realistic. I cannot see your son being willing to turn off the computer after an hour, not when he is so focused on it.

    Even if he can turn it off at the appropriate time, knowing it is there will be a constant temptation, a siren luring him at any time that he is bored or doesn't want to do whatever he is supposed to. The odds that conflict will arise from having to stop using it after time is up, or not being able to use it when he thinks he can or when he wants to, are HUGE. It is likely better to keep any computer in your room locked away from him, where he doesn't even know it exists. Don't mention it to him, at least not at first. If he asks about it, tell him it is gone.

    I see nothing to be gained from playstation. He is not going to want to play nonviolent games. Not as fixated on guns and violence as you describe. Wiz was much the same way - he made more lego guns and spaghetti guns than could be counted. Games that didn't have guns, or some way to kill or maim people were "no fun". There really was no way to have fun gaming with him unless you could enjoy killing in some form or fashion. I think your difficult child is likely to have much the same outlook.

    If he goes to the library he will have to work within their limits. Ditto for anywhere else he goes. He may even have a long walk to get there - Wiz used to walk about 3-4 miles round trip to the library and back to use the computer. If someone is going that way, or near there, rides were available. Otherwise he walked. the same might be good for your difficult child. It would at the least add some exercise and sunshine to his day!

    I am serious about no computer time/game time. Even if you allow computer time, get rid of the playstation. If it is stored he will search the house for it and sneak it. If you decide to keep it, off site storage is best. Your other child may not like this, but not having the games won't hurt him either. If nothing else it will give their imaginations a workout.

    If you DO allow computer or playstation time, or keep the game system, find a way to store any essential removable parts so that they cannot get them. It will allow you to control how long they spend on the systems. Take the keyboard and mouse, controllers, memory cards, etc... and put them in a locked place when time is up. maybe even in a locked safe if you have one.

    Do you intend to make gfg17 get a job? If he does, maybe he could buy his computer time at whatever the going rate at kinko's is. It is one way to put limits on it and allow him to have it if he works on it. It will also teach him that he has to work for privileges. You can use the money for extras he wants or save it to help him when he turns 18.
  4. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    Wow thanks for all of the specific suggestions. They are really helpful. This is going to be a tough one.

    Terry, I thought of your advice today, "Think hard, watch carefully." That is really good advice. I usually (always) do watch 17 carefully, but usually for misdeeds. I didn't start out that way. I just got conditioned by all the defiance and violence. So it was encouraging to watch for the good stuff.

    Susie, I do think the computer/PS would be a "siren luring him anytime he is bored or doesn't know what to do." This is exactly right -- these are the times, or when he is tired and vulnerable, that he starts to obsess, and trouble starts with chaos ensuing soon after.

    I was so worried last night I called over to the new Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and learned that he had settled just fine. I talked to him and he sounded good -- settled. This morning I was going to the dog park and called and asked him if he wanted to go. He did. Then he wanted to come home for a bit (first "official" visit was to be tomorrow) so I said OK. He did great. Didn't bring up guns or the computer. It was a good visit and I felt encouraged. I could tell he had done a lot of work at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) to make good choices and keep himself under control. If it's honeymooning I'm going to enjoy it for awhile anyway.

    Susie you are so right about difficult child's sneaking around to find the PS. Gfg13 had been sneaking around the garage (which has a fingerprint lock) when I had to run back into the house to get a diet Pepsi. I knew he was looking for the PS which he found, although I had it hidden pretty good. One time I had it hidden in an ancient bookbag in a closet with a bunch of stuff over it. GFG13 found it. These kids are geniuses when it comes to this stuff. I hate electronics (unless they're mine).