Trying to make sense of todays blow up

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by humbleyourheart, May 20, 2009.

  1. humbleyourheart

    humbleyourheart New Member

    We have major issues with disrespect and anger and today just had me in tears. I had to call my husband to come home from work early because I am just so tired of dealing with my son. The simplest request or question can set him off. Today I picked up from school and he was in a pretty good mood. We got home and he asked if he could call his friend to play. I told him he could. After he hung up the phone without having talked to anyone I said "He wasn't home, huh?" To me I was just making conversation. But he blew up. He screamed at me "HE wasn't home. Why don't you use your brain!" I started to tell him not to talk to me rudely. I was bending down getting something out of the frig and he shoves the frig door into me. I tell him for that he is not allowed to play with friends this afternoon. He starts screaming and takes the phone which is in his hand and smashes it on the floor and it breaks into pieces. I tell him he needs to go to his room and he is still screaming at me and starts kicking the doors. I tell him a couple more times he needs to go to his room and physically try to get him to, but it wasn't working very well. He heads for the door and says he is leaving and takes off on his bike which he is not allowed to do. He is only 8 and not allowed to roam the neighborhood by himself. I am getting ready to get in the car and go looking for him when his friends mom calls and says he is over there. I ask her to send him home. He walks in still with his major attitude and asks why I am crying. In a sarcastic way not a caring way. I try explaining to him why I am upset, but he doesn't see that he did anything wrong. It's my fault he got so upset. I just don't know what to do anymore. I feel like I can't even talk to my own child.
  2. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    No great words of wisdom here just wanted to let you know you aren't alone I go thru these little spats with Angel a lot. I've noticed the more I react the more she blows out. Enforcing punishments is very difficult but once I give out a punishment I will go to the wall enforcing it. Like if I say no tv for rest of the night and she turns it on - I remove the TV while she is at school and she doesn't know who's house I have stashed it at (and it stays gone 24-48 hours), I've done the same thing with the bike. Try to avoid long punishments because they are very difficult to enforce. Another good idea is try to find an alternative activity if take a privlege; Angel gets into lots of trouble when finding her own things to entertain herself (like coloring the cat with markers). Anyway welcome to the group.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, 20:20 hindsight here.

    This is notto say you are a bad parent, but I'm looking from the outside, plus have a different perspective. I'm also putting myself in your son's head (as well as in yours.

    Your point of view - you tried to make conversation, possibly trying to lighten a moment of disappointment for him. And he just got rude with you and then violent, so you applied consequences which only made things worse. So what can you do? You're only being a parent, doing what we're told we need to do (ie teach appropriate behaviour and apply consequences when the wrong behaviour is used).

    His point of view - his friend wasn't home - how frustrating! Then you stated the obvious as if mocking him and of course he got furious! Of course you must have known his friend wasn't home - because he heard the person on the other end clearly state, "he's not home," and so of course you must have heard it too. Because everything difficult child hears, you of course also hear and know. So why state the obvious? You must be mocking him. And of course he is frustrated and angry, so feels he has to lash out at someone. Then you get upset with him for being rude, when all he is doing is expressing his frustration and after all, you started it by being sarcastic about friend not being there (please note - this is HIS point of view, I'm not saying you did anything of the sort).
    Then (his point of view again) he gets told, "OK, no friends over to play," so he gets violent because of course you're baiting him and taunting him.

    And so it continues - he is venting, you punish and he has yet more reason to be angry and upset (and need to vent).

    So now I will suggest (for future reference) an alterntaive dialogue. But ground rules first - don't punish for too many things at once; don't punish the stuff he has least control over. So choose now what to ignore (until a future date when you think he is finally able to control himself better). My recommendation - ignore apparent disrespect, simply don't tyake it on board as disrespect but instead, view it as him venting his frustration. Don't wear any of it, let it roll off.

    Now, to begin -

    difficult child: (slamming phone down)
    Mother: So, he wasn't home, huh?
    difficult child: (screaming) He wasn't home! Why don't you use your brain!
    Mother: (ignoring the rudeness - it is actually frustration, he is too upset to control himself, therefore punishment now won't work) So what do you want to do now? Is there someone else you want to call? How about ...?
    difficult child: I wanted X to come and play! It's all ruined! It's all wrecked! Everyone's being mean!
    Mother: Let's sit and think - do you want a cold drink while we think about what we can do? Let's take a deep breath and make some plans for you.

    He may have been too upset to still listen to any sort of reason, he may have still tried to slam the fridge door into you but chances are less that it would go that far.

    When he is upset to this extent, the best thing you cna do, is try to help him regain control. That doesn't require bribes or mollycoddling him, although erring on the mollycoddle side is vastly better than having him charge out of the house in a rage. But he is upset, because difficult children at his age especially, see everything as if it revolves around them. Nothing happens to them that their mothers don't know about (because their mind and thoughts are an open book, of course you know exactly what he wants before he even says anything, don't you?).

    This blew up on you with little warning. Once he's raging, your main focus should have been to help him regain control. And BECAUSE he's a difficult child, punishing and threats will not help him regain control, it will in fact set him off worse. What he needs, BECAUSE he is a difficult child, is positive motivation and planning ahead.

    When he's calmer, point out that using your diary to organise a playdate could be a good way to plan. Talk him through making another call (when he feels he's calm enough to do so - encourage him to self-assess) and rehearse what to say. "Is X there? When will he be home?" and then when X is home, maknig an arrangement to come play on another day. "When will you be free to come over and play this week? So you have basketball practice tomorrow, math tutoring the next day - how does Thursday afternoon suit you? Great! What would you like to do? I was thinking we could watch a movie, or maybe play some video games. Mom said we could make popcorn if we're watching a movie. Do you have a movie you'd like to bring, or maybe watch one of ours? What will we watch?" and so on.

    Once he's REALLY calm, and if you feel he has the maturity for it, you can also discuss how upset he got. If at any time he begins to get upset agian, drop the topic. Ask him why he got upset with you. If he says, "You were making me angry, saying what I already knew," you have a golden opportunity to reply, "I didn't mean to make you angry. I was just finding out, because I care about how you feel and you seemed to be disappointed. I was thinking, maybe I could make a suggestion to help."
    "Yeah, like what?" This could be delivered in a sullen voice or not - ignore any mood. Just keep going.
    "Well, you have other friends you could invite over. Or maybe we could plan to invite him on another day and put it in the diary so we wouldn't forget. If we know we can plan ahead, I can make sure we have some snacks available."

    Something else to debrief - "You know you shouldn't have ridden off like that. don't you? And you went over to your friend's house after you were told he wasn't there. Did you think you had been lied to and you had to check for yourself? What did you find out?"
    What he found out, was thta he hadn't been lied to and he had ridden over there for nothing. if anything, it was embarrassing to get there and find he had been told the truth.
    If you need to, you can say, "You know you aren't supposed to ride around like that, don't you? We worry about you, we want you to be safe. Riding off like that, especially when you're angry, was not safe. So let's think - what would have been a better thing to do?"

    Of course, all this takes patience, strength, your own ability to deal with extreme frustration, a change in mindset (from the "if I'm firm enough, he WILL learn to behave" model which doesn't work with difficult children) and some fast thinking/fancy mental footwork.
    And practice.

    But it DOES work. The first time you try this and have even partial success, will amaze and delight you.

    I didn't invent this. I got a lot of it from Ross Greene's "The Explosive Child" and a lot more from people on this site. And since we've been using this, I've learned a lot form my own experience.

    Again, you are a good parent. But you're not coping right now because you're taking it all personally and expect him to also take your pain personally (which he can't).

    You say (in your sig) that he's very kind-hearted. You wouldn't say that without reason. However, what I think is happening is, he feels emotion very strongly and will rapidly change emotion. He has expectations and when anything derails them, for him it is the ultimate catastrophe. THat's when getting in between him and what he wants, is likely to get you steamrollered. As happened to you.

    Don't take any of what he said or did personally. He really was not thinking about you at all (probably not acomforting thought). That's why he would have been surprised at you being upset. He really had no idea just how badly he behaved and wouldn't believe you.

    It DOES get better. It won't always stay like this. But you can't manage beahviour like this with conventional methods, it just doesn't work. He isn't equipped like "normal" kids.

    With punishment and management - you need to do what works and drop what doesn't. Sending him to his room - it didn't work. It is better to not try it, than to try it and fail. Once you fail - you have to never try it again.

    A newborn baby cries when it wants to be fed. If it cries sooner than we expected (maybe it didn't feed enough last time) what do we do? Do we punish the baby? Or do we feed the baby early? Or find something else we can give the baby (such as a bottle of water)?
    In a lot of ways, you can't judge your child by the usual 8 year old standards. In a lot of ways, he is still the baby crying for a feed. It takes time and patience to teach him to move to the next stage of personal/social development.

    Hang in there. It's not so bad as it seems and I suspect by now, he doesn't think there was ever anything wrong. Whichonly makes you feel al lthe more resentful.

    Punishing him for what he doesn't understand and can't control, will only make him resentful again and won't teach anything positive. Failure to punish him won't cause any problems. However, you CAN try to turn it into a teaching tool, if you try talking to him about it.

    Again, read the book. It does help.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.

    Are you convinced that the diagnosis is right? Who evaluated him? I doubt he tried to hurt her--sounds to me like he was upset about something and it all came out on you. I doubt he's happy with himself for his lack of self-control, but, at the same time, wonder why he can't control himself.

    Has he ever seen a neuropsychologist for a 6-10 hour evaluation?

    How was his early development?
  5. lizanne2

    lizanne2 New Member

    I must say. My difficult child woudl never had actually come home. He probably would have shared that same disrespect with the neighbor mom.

    I am often blind sided by my difficult child's outbursts. And i get my feelings hurt. Breathe. The Intermittent nature of the thing is what got me. the same request often gets several different responses.

    You got some good advice. Plan a break as well. Plan that play date for him and relax yourself one day after school.
  6. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    Marguerite's posting is very helpful. It is the sort of approach that helps my difficult child best. Your difficult child sounds very similar, and the things that seem to help me are:

    - Try to identify what triggers the explosions. Most seem random, but are usually not really. Taking a closer look helps. My difficult child tends to explode when he perceives that something is not fair, if things don't happen as he expected, or when he must manage his frustration. For example: Once my difficult child wanted his brother to install some software on his computer. He also did not want his brother to touch his computer. He did not have the skill necessary to manage this conflict of wants, so he exploded on other things.

    - When you can, teach control techniques in advanced. (Marguerites pre-call planning scenario is a good example). I know you want to both have easy child install the software, and not touch your computer, but both can't happen. Is there anyway easy child can talk you through it, or only work while you watch? Let's think about this...

    - When the explosion has already happened. Remain calm and don't allow your self to contribute to the building of emotions. For me it is very hard not to yell when I am angry at the child, and if I want to yell it is very hard to talk in a normal voice. So I use what I call the "Hal voice" from the movie 2010. "I'm sorry difficult child, I'm afraid I can't do that." If you don't accelerate, he has a more difficult time exploding. If needed walk away.

    - If he is exploding or on the verge of one, change the environment or find a distraction. husband and I will trade places, go out side. Once difficult child was screaming in the car, upset about an event that happened at the Dr office. He saw someone steeling gas from parked cars. Calling and reporting it to the police completely pulled him out of the explosion. You can't arrange for gas theft, but look for what you can.

    - If needed walk away.

    - Find other places that the siblings can go to. (Grandparents, friends, neighbors). The more separation the better.

    - Don't follow when he run-away. This is very difficult to do. But if you follow he will learn that it is a good technique to manipulate you with. If you are concerned about his health and safety call a neighbor or 911. My difficult child deliberately cut his hand and told the therapist he did it because he wanted to kill himself. The therapist said to take him to the emergency room. He did not want to go so he ran a way. 20 police offices, one helicopter and two blood hounds later we found him. In the ER he told the Dr. his strategies for saying he wanted to kill himself and they were all related to manipulating me and husband. He has not tried to run away since, and all talks of suicide have stopped. If he really did have depression that would also have been the best approach.

    - Use award & punishment techniques when they are effective, but learn to recognize when they are not. My difficult child's truly understands the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and he truly desires to behave. But, he does not have the mental skills required to do so. Thus for him, many of the award/punishment techniques just become something else that is frustrating.

    - Teach how to manage frustration by reflecting, stating the problem, reflecting, and communicating

    A) Reflect: Repeat what the child has expressed. This is done to let them know you are lessening to them and understand their position. You do not need to agree to it only prove you herd and understand. "You feel it is not fair that ... got .... when you ...". Did I get it correct? Did I miss anything? Sometimes reflecting is repeating back word for word. Sometimes it is stating your observations. "You are frustrated because your friend did not want to... " Do not worry about getting it wrong. They always correct you.

    B) State the Problem: "difficult child feels that you made an agreement to ....". and "easy child believes that you were going to ....". "Did I get it correct? ... difficult child what ideas do you have to .... easy child do you agree that that is fair? ....

    After this loooong posting. Does it work? no. He is still a difficult child. But it has reduced the number and intensity of the explosions. For example: Yesterday he got mad because I stopped to fill my car with gas. He wanted me to drive him home and then come back with out him. But against his wishes I got the gas. So now he is very angry at me. But his strategy this time is to not talk to me all night. And since this does not damage anything, does not cause extreme frustration in his brothers! I'm OK with it. It is kind of like having diabetes. You don't make the disease go away, you just manage it better.
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
  7. tinamarie1

    tinamarie1 Member

    Hi & Welcome. My son had alot of those same anger issues when he was your sons age. (he still does but can control it alot better now) We took him to see a behavioral therapist that did "guy" stuff with him and would sneak in things about coping with anger. Out of it we started martial arts which was a very good outlet for difficult child to learn self control and how to vent his anger on a punching bag.
    Just an helped us. Im sorry he took out his anger on you. I can relate to breaking down and crying. And it hurts so bad that they don't seem to care.
  8. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    Sounds exactly like Sis at that age. If she was disappointed or frustrated, and you made a comment about the situation, she would absolutely lose it. Heck, she still does.

    Oddly enough, as Marg was saying - it's all interpretation. When I read your little summary, I thought to myself, "Oh jeez, this kid is totally gonna blow.....". It's not that YOU did ANYthing wrong. It's just kid interpretation - and our difficult children are basically teenagers from birth onward, when it comes to irrational thought. ;)

    I can even remember being 14-15, and those types of comments from my parents would drive me NUTS. I wasn't a difficult child, so I didn't then try to hurt them, and then run away, but I would definitely shoot a glare and stomp off upstairs. "He wasn't there, huh?" would have set me off in my head, this is what I would have been thinking: "Well, of COURSE he wasn't there, did you hear me make plans? You saw me on the phone for all of 15 seconds, what, did we just hang up? Do you think I called him to talk for 15 seconds? Why would you even bother saying something so POINTLESS? I'm not even responding to something so dumb, you're just TRYING to annoy me at this point."

    Crazy? Yes. Yes, I was. Hi, my name is eeky, and I was a crazy teen (and I was even a good one!! Really well behaved, usually!!) But If I, a normal girl, can remember the frustration of innocent parent comments, I'm sure they're magnified 10x for our difficult children.

    I think we all forget once we get older that transition questions - the type of things we adults ask each other to move a discussion along - are not things that kids use. You were expecting "No, he wasn't. Man, I'm bummed, Mom, what else can I do today". You tried to start a conversation to help him NOT be disappointed, right - you were trying to express sympathy?

    But kids don't do that. Telling an adult "Hey sleepyhead, did the bed fall in?" will get you a laugh and a "Oh man, I was so tired. What's for breakfast?". Telling that to a teen or a difficult child might get you killed. :tongue: All they hear is, "You slept in way too long, you've wasted half your day, thank god you're finally awake, you lazy bum".

    All of that said - this whole incident is not on YOU. His response to your words might have been understandable from a frustrated difficult child kid point of view, but his ACTIONS and response AFTER that were inexcusable. My sis would have kicked the doors and tried to hit Mom with the fridge door, too. Calling friends ending in failure was ALWAYS one of her bigger triggers, too. You've already gotten some great advice from others on how to deal with the "after" - I just wanted to let you know you're not alone. Mega-been there, done-that. :D
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
  9. humbleyourheart

    humbleyourheart New Member

    Thanks for all the input. You've definitely given me a different point of view on how he sees things. It's just that his disrespect is so constant these days I begin to think he is just a brat and not a difficult child who has trouble thinking things through. Lately he's often angry a good portion of the day and there seems to be no time to actually use what's happened as a teaching tool. Sometimes he is angry and name calling and battling right up to bedtime. If I let him outside to play with friends he is fine, but as soon as he's asked to do something he doesn't want to (like come eat dinner or move his bike out of the driveway) he gets mean. He knows he should not call his parents names and say they are dumb and stupid, but he keeps right on doing it.

    For the incident that happened yesterday I totally see now that I should not have given consequences in the middle of his raging because it did only make it worse. But are you saying not to give a consequence even later when he is calm? Is so, that is going to be a really hard one for me. Don't they still need some accountability for their behavior?

    Midwest Mom - I have no idea if his diagnosis is correct. We are still trying to sort that out. I don't really understand the difference btn biplar and Intermittent Explosive Disorder. We had a neuro psychiatric evaluation done a month or so ago. They were very helpful in ruling things out and after meeting with her to go over all the test results I do have to agree with her findings. She was able to rule out ADHD, Learning Disability (LD) and Aspergers which I never thought he had. She did see the anxiety and the obsessive components we knew were there. She was not able to diagnose bipolar, but she said all of his symptoms most likely fit a bipolar diagnosis and that she would leave that up to the psychiatrist.
  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just want to send understanding hugs your way.
  11. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Just wanted to say hi, and boy have I been there. We still go there every so often, but I check out when he starts his verbal vomit. None of this is easy.
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's quite common for them to have much more trouble holding things together at the end of the day. Everyone's tired, they've been trying to behave all day (even if they haven't been successful) and often the accumulated frustrations of the day make their fuse shorter and shorter. Also we as parents find the same thing, so our tolerance for difficult kids is increasingly short, as the evening wears on.

    A big part of the problem is task-changing. If the child is doing something he is engrossed in, sometimes even homework, they don't cope well with being asked to stop it and do something else. It's a common "light blue touch paper, stand well back" situation. Often asking the child to do homework is a trigger. It certainly was for us. Added to the problem with homework - the kids were on medications for ADHD and as medications wore off their ability to do schoolwork would go out the window. PLus after a mentally taxing day, to have to come home and face more schoolwork was often just too much.

    But back to task-changing - I'll give you examples from difficult child 3. He LOVES to play computer games. We learnt (with his older brother) that they get really anxious at even the thought that they will lose data from a game, or that all their 'hard work' getting to a certain level could be lost if we insist on compliance NOW without giving them time to save the game and quit. So we learned to work with the game requirements and make the child decide how to control the gaming and also meet our requirements too.

    Scenario - difficult child 3 is gaming but it's evening and time to get on with other tasks.

    Mum: difficult child 3, it's time for dinner soon. You need to get your game to a SAVE point as soon as you can.

    difficult child 3: yeah Mum, sure... in a minute.

    Mum: (five minutes later) difficult child 3, dinner is on the table. Come and eat.

    difficult child 3: But you never told me! I'm not ready!

    Mum: difficult child 3, you have choices. You can pause your game while you eat, or you can shut it off while you come and eat. Or you can keep playing and let your dinner get cold, then eat it alone. But we're eating our dinner now.

    Now, this isn't very satisfactory. There ARE consequences - dinner will get cold if he won't come and eat when it's ready. Not a huge consequence, when it can be easily reheated. But it's a realistic consequence.

    And what about the "You never told me"?
    He isn't lying when he says this. When I told him, he was simply too distracted and although his mouth moved and replied, his brain wasn't engaged. He really doesn't remember.
    So we developed the trick of using Post-It notes. When I tell difficult child 3 that dinner will soon be ready and to get ready to finish his game, I write it on a Post-It note. I write the task required ("eat dinner") and the time at which he was told. I also write the time at which he must come and do the task.
    I stick the Post-It note somewhere that he can see it but not right in his way. The corner of the video screen is good - I use fluorescent paper, too. That way when he says, "You never told me!" I can simply point to the note.

    The initial reaction is one of disbelief. Surely the parent is lying to him? But the note is clear evidence; if you somehow snuck in and put the note there, then why did he not notice? The logic is irrefutable - if he didn't see you put the note there, then maybe he also didn't hear you give him the time warning.

    A child who loves playing computer games, gets REALLY anxious at the possibility of someone else interfering with his gaming. The anxiety can make him seem aggressive. So I do my best to hose down the anxiety and be seen to work WITH the child to help him feel less anxious. Instead of seeming to be the mean mum whose sole pleasure in life is to make my child miserable and interfere with his fun, I am in fact being seen as a support to the gaming, while still getting the other tasks done (such as eating dinner, having a bath, getting ready for bed).

    The thing is, kids like this want to finish what they're playing with, even if it can wait. I've had my kids refuse to go have a bath because the'yre in the middle of watching a movie - even though it's DVD which can easily be paused. A kid dancing around with a full bladder, not wanting to go to the toilet for fear of missing a bit of the movie - when simply pressing "pause" will make the trip possible without missing anything!

    We as parents need to be the helper here, to help them realise that it's OK, the game will be safe and the movie will wait, until they've dealt with the urgent tasks.

    Now, a firm disciplinarian will be thinking, "This is ridiculous! I'm being held hostage to a spoilt brat!"

    It does seem like this, but from experience - this works, and little else does. There are also other aspects you can bring in which add to the effectiveness. A routine is ideal, especially for evenings when kids need to get into habits that work almost automatically. If you can, try to use the same routine for every day of the week.

    We wrote our routine down, it was on a blackboard so difficult child 3 could check it and even tick off what he had achieved. We did it as a timetable and we also set it up in agreement with him. By doing it in agreement with him, it gave him ownership and control, he felt that because he was involved in the decisions then he could be more cooperative. It was himself he was agreeing with.

    Example - when playing with friends, it stops (friends/difficult child 3 back home) by 5 pm. Tasks - feed/water the hens (before sunset, for preference).
    Do homework (if there is any).
    Have bath (before 8.30 pm).
    Have dinner (before 8.30 pm).
    Get into pyjamas (by 9.30 pm).

    If it's all done (apart from teeth cleaning by 8.30 pm, then difficult child 3 may play games until 9.30 pm. After 8.30 pm the games must be non-combative, not too stimulating.
    Into bed at 9.30 pm. difficult child 3 may read abook or do a puzzle until lights out at 10 pm.

    OK, that is our routine. We vary it a little now, especially if we've been out (such as to drama class). But that's after we've had it established and difficult child 3 has shown he can handle the adaptation.

    But we had to start simple, and to acertain extent let the routine develop itself. If difficult child 3 didn't like a particular time he could come to us and discuss it, so we could come to a consensus over what to do.
    Consensus" = compromise, which means he and we have to both adapt to one another's wishes. It does not mean "give in to difficult child 3 at all times".

    If you think about it, the aim is to help the child grow to be a happy, contributing, productive and independent member of society. We take our child through stages we feel are necessary rto this process but sometimes our child needs more stages and sometimes less. We have to watch and learn, adapting to what our child seems to need. Ignore the child's age and "he should be able to do this at his age" because for a difficult child, the calendar just doesn't match.

    If you really need to, you CAN give a consequence later when he is calm. But involve him in the decision. Often all you need to do, is talk to him about it. And kids often would prefer a smack, to being talked to about it! (not that I suggest you smack - espwecially a difficult child, it just teaches them that force is the way).

    For example, in your case you could say (later on) - "difficult child, I was really hurt when you shouted at me. I was only trying to be sympathetic and you didn't even wait to find out, but yelled at me that I didn't have a brain. Then you slammed the fridge door into me and it bruised me. That wasn't the right thing to do, was it?"

    In "The Explosive Child" there are some good guidelines on how to handle these discussions, how to get the best outcomes from these with your chhild, in order to have the best chance of changing the child's behaviour.

    Your aim is NOT to punish your child, or to set up a "crime then consequences" pattern, because you end up spending your time watching your child to catch him out and then use these as opportunities to puish and therefore teach.

    it's more complex than that, and also more simple.

    Instead, your aim is to use LIFE as a teaching tool, in positive ways as much as possible.

    In the above 'talk' example, you may find that the child is contrite and realises he reacted badly. He may even apologise spontaneously.
    Now, an apology doesn't fix it. Pain occurred, bruises happened and an apology doesn't make the bruises vanish. They take time to heal.
    Punishment doesn't have to matcdh the damage, either. The measure of what to do, is best guided by "how best can I get the message across to my child?"

    If the child simply isn't yet ready to learn this lesson, then punishing is going to achieve exactly zero. Maybe less than zero. UNtil the child is ready to learn, your best option is prevention.

    One last thing - you're not going to get it right all the time. Not even most of the time. Just do the best you can and don't sweat it when the wheels fall off.

    In time, you do see improvement.

    On the diagnosis topic - keep an open mind. Bipolar used to be called "manic depression" and involves mood swings, among other things. It can get misdiagnosed as other things, just as other things can get misdiagnosed as bipolar. Hence the caution to keep an open mind.
    We went through this with difficult child 1 - when he was 6 we were told he had ADHD. Then when he was 14 he was diagnosed as Asperger's. Now he's 25 a lot of people say, "He can't be Aspie!" because he has adapted so well. He's about to see a new specialist who may very well change his diagnosis. Who knows?

    But the label - it doesn't change the kid. He is who he is, still does the same annoying things regardless of whatever we're told he has.

    Hang in there. Keep us posted on how you get on. You have a difficult job, but so many of us have been where you are now, we can help guide you through.

  13. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    Yes - at least sometimes or not a significant consequence handed out by you. Natural consequences are good. And, yes it is very frustrating and difficult for me to do as well.

    The reason our difficult children are difficult children is because many of them react differently to "typical" parenting. Supper nanny's approaches are wonderful, but they don't work for a difficult child. Also you need to remember that each difficult child is a difficult child for a different reason and what works for mine might not work for yours. Thus with this board take everything as a suggestion or idea. Think about how it would work with your child, life, beliefs before using any.

    The concept of not providing a reward/penalty systems is a controversial one and is described in "The Explosive Child" book. Many authors on other books for managing ODD children strongly disagree with this approach and state that everything can be used as a privilege. Down to the foods they eat and the cloths they wear. So there is a lot of experts supporting the idea of consequences for bad behavior.

    For my son, the reward/penalty systems only increased the level of fighting. He would fight with no regard for consequence for a reward he had not earned, and hook in hard against the parent inflicted consequence. The reward/penalty system only made things worse. "The Explosive Child" takes the approach that the child is already motivated to do good, they just don't have the ability to manage the frustrations in their frontal lobes. That a better approach is to teach the skills needed to deal with the frustrations. As an engineer I then want to see a catalog of the skills needed and detailed instructions and activities I can use to teach them. Alas the skills catalog does not exist.

    If you saw Desperate Housewives last Friday you know that they did not put Dave in prison for trying to kill innocent people, they put him in a mental hospital. No one would argue that is the proper place for him to go. A punishment might be appropriate response for an action, but I argue that it might not be the best way to get a particular child to improve.

    Natural consequences are effective, and it is also difficult not to protect him from them. Example: If you don't come into eat when I call, your food will be cold. (No re-heating, and don't prepare something new). "The Explosive Child" had a good discussion on how to decide if it is worth allowing the natural consequences or not.

    Our house has several holes in the walls from various explosions. We are not going to fix them until difficult child is grown and gone. Each day difficult child looks at them and I believe feels a little guilty (a natural consequence). On days when difficult child has been particularly nasty to me, instead of reacting, I will do something kind. When I do this he pulls out of it much faster. I believe this approach has helped him improve faster. It is not perfect by any measure. There are times when I feel quite abused. It is hard not to react when he is rude, and still teach easy child and difficult child in training not to be rude.

    Another problem parents of difficult children often have to deal with is the perceptions out side of the home. Everything gets blamed on the parenting skills, and that is just not so. Reducing the consequence also draws additional criticism. My in-laws will look at the holes and explain what they would have done. But I can't worry about their opinion, I need to worry about what works best for my son. And this approach seems to bring him around so much faster and works so much better. It has been over six months since the holes were created, and difficult child has stated that he will not create anymore. So far he has held up to that promise. This year has not been the fun loving family life I always imagined, but it has been a whole lot better then last year.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) sounds like bipolar to me whenever I read about it. I don't know why they don't just treat it as bipolar myself. Don't get that.