We are tired here...behavioral plans harder than the behavior!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by llamafarm, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. llamafarm

    llamafarm Member

    We are frustrated. Today I really am. difficult child argues and love/hates to. Now he is disagreeing and arguing with what he has earned and spent with his points(token economy). We have tried behavior plans on and off for years. After the first couple years on one token economy when he was 5, a doctor finally said "if it is not working stop". We did and were relieved. We have tried various plans, schedules, recommended techniques for years for long periods of time. We need something else. I just feel things are just out of reach. I almost think I almost have him figured out, but I don't. I just wish I could parent naturally, that the wonderful parenting I learned from my parents and my husband's parents would work with difficult child. Any thoughts? Ideas? New theories you have found success with?
  2. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Read up on Ross Greene ("The Explosive Child")and maybe check out some books by Alfie Kohn ("Punished By Rewards").
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Our sticker charts didn't work ... well, at least, not for more than 3 days. difficult child would just have a meltdown, regardless of the stickers. Or, he'd try to negotiate by doing extra chores, then exaggerating the chores, and argue that he had saved up a mo's worth of points in one day. Argue, argue, argue.
    I hear you!
    One thing that helped was just to keep him occupied, so he wouldn't obsess about the chart. That was really hard when I needed to sit and pay bills or even check my email.
    Wish I had some better ideas.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Skip the neuro-typical-oriented behavioral interventions.
    If they were going to work they would be working already.

    He's on the spectrum, right? or somewhere towards that, by the sounds of things...

    We had to re-write our lives.
    Schedule, plan... and stick to it. Even when nobody on the face of the earth understood.
    Cut back on activities and whatever else, until he is stable.
    Then add back ONE activity. And stop there.
    He probably needs extreme routine, including planned shut-down time (and no, the computer and TV don't count).

    Another book to try is "Be Different", by John Elder Robinson.
  5. TeDo

    TeDo CD Hall of Fame

    One thing that works well for difficult child 1 is immediate rewards. The idea of working toward a big reward was too much and losing points or tokens was a personal blow to his ego. Set realistic and specific things that HAVE to be done and reward immediately withagreed upon things: 20 minutes computer time, 20 minutes video game time, rent a movie HE wants, something "special" (not food). We have used money with specific amounts tied to specific activities or chores. We made a list of things he wanted (that I was not going to buy) and how much they were. The key was to NEVER take money away for "wrong" things. Also, if the reward was tied to behavior, it had to be specific behavior for specific time periods or events to earn the reward. Say, going to the store without asking for something not on the list or brushing teeth without a single complaint of any kind. Simple, short-term, specific things. It was a place to start. When difficult child 1 started getting bored with one "reward" or didn't want that any more, we (he and I) would agree on another kind of reward.

    Have you looked at medications possibly causing the behavior? My difficult child 1 did not do well at all on 2 different medications from two different classes at 2 different times, one over a period of 4 months. Just a thought.
  6. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    My kids also have to have immediate rewards. And very good routines posted through out the house.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Is he getting any interventions for the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? in my opinion that will work a lot better than the type of behavioral therapy that may work for typically wired children. Our kids are different and don't normally respond to things like behavior charts. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids need a special sort of parenting that in my opinion behavioral therapists don't understand or offer. Is he receiving help in school or the community? It should be free. Do you feel the medications are doing any good? A lot of ASDers are highly sensitive to medication...some do better without it.
  8. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry. I can understand your frustration. He sounds a lot like my difficult child. (((hugs)))
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I absolutely do NOT believe in token economies. They may work for neurotypical kids, but were the stuff of nightmares for us. WHen Wiz was young they were supposedly the BEST thing for dealing with Aspergers. There was some book written by a young man with Asperger's in Ireland. It was about five years old when we were introduced to it. It was only about a month later I found an article about the young man as a teen. His family was stuck in a token economy they could not get out of. They had to pay him to even get out of bed, to do almost ANYTHING other than play video games. His mother said it seemed like a good idea, but in reality it gave him the impression that he should be paid for every basic act of living and she had caregivers from the national health plan who did all of the basic things with him because she just couldn't see any good in it and wouldn't do it. She was very frustrated, and ready to just walk away from him and the situation, and she couldn't get the health care system to see the problems with this token economy.

    At the same time, we had HUGE issues with Wiz hurting jess. This was the time period when if I was alone with the kids, I took J with me into the bathroom if I had to go. If I didn't, she was hurt by the time I got back. The therapist student we were workign with wanted me to give Wiz a token every time he did anything remotely nice to Jess. Ten tokens would equal a five dollar book. He had NO idea why I totally refused to do this. I spoke with the therapist supervising him (he was doing postdoctoral studies under an awesome therapist) and she was dumbfounded that he would suggest this. WHy? What message would it send to J if we had to PAY her brother to be not mean to her? What damage would that do to her self esteem? When I asked the student therapist, he was confused. Why would he worry about the effect on her? She wasn't the patient, so she wasn't part of the equation. He actually said this while the awesome therapist was supervising and we never saw him again. He got terminated from the program a semester before finishing it because he just couldn't/wouldn't see the effect on the other children in the home. They strongly recommended he stick to adults because with kids you must treat the entire family.

    We never had even small successes with token economies. We tried them for a few things, as did school at various times. It always degenerated into nonstop arguing over how much for what, what a token was worth, when he could spend it and where/what for, yada yada yada. I don't know if others have had success, but in my opinion they are useless.

    I wish I could tell you what works. I do know that we got more bang for the effort from identifying and working with sensory issues, and using them to help teach anger mgmt. He also learned that even other kids would object to what he did at home while he was in the psychiatric hospital. I know the psychiatric hospital staff was not happy, but I wanted to buy a cake for the kid who punched him in the face during a therapy group. Why? It got through to Wiz that it wasn't just his dad and I who objected to him treating his sister as a punching bag and worse. That was a BIG wakeup call, and it left a lasting message that he was able to build on. It didn't do much for the other boy, and of course I didn't buy him a gift. But I did refuse to press charges, which frustrated staff.

    Look into Occupational Therapist (OT) and auditory issues, and follow your instincts. It was the only way through for us. But the things like stickers and tokens just don't work. Well, they do for kids like Jess, who want to please, but they don't for our difficult children.

    If I had it to do over again, I would establish one comp game or tv show and only remove that for the most extreme things. I would still take all screens away when he was younger, under twelve or so, because I know that he would slip into truly believing that what he saw on tv was real until around then. By about the time he came out of the psychiatric hospital he didn't slip into that again for very long, and being able to lose himself in one specific thing was a way to get out of his head and his own way. If that makes sense.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I do think token economies can work in very specific situations. They need to be highly individualized, for targeted behaviors only, and run in a setting where the frequency of reinforcement can be short enough that there's no frustration
    It had to be done by a team that knows how to do it. No removal of earned tokens, knowing how to select motivating but not too powerful reinforcers, making sure they Do earn rewards, and knowing how to transition the behavior, once learned, to a part of life. Not being rewarded artificially. This is like most behavior methods (ignoring for example ). Unless done in a truly good, residential center so all variables can be controlled and so the schedule for rewards is moved through to being just natural rewards that happen in life.....it doesn't work, in my humble opinion. ( for non neuro-typical kids that is)

    I have seen it work in expensive, caring, expert treatment centers. But who has access to that. There are so few places. Regular treatment centers are not usually experts in this.

    Q does ok with them at school for little things. If used for big rewards like parties and high value things he becomes too stressed. If used to teach skills that are easy to learn it can work. ( like doing his math for X minuted). For stopping high frequency behaviors, it never works because they can't control the variables, each person has different standards, people don't really understand how tiny things can ruin the plan, etc.

    Earning money for a job is similar to token economy......transitioning to this if it matches the behavior being targeted, works well for some. (Once Q learned how to wipe tables he could then be rewarded thru pay for a job. Not for all "good behavior")

    Anyone who suggests it for Q's behavior challenges at home or school gets an earful from me. It never works, there is no tightly trained team and no ability to control the environmental variables (I can ignore, but a neighbor or person in a store will look, comment, and so he feeds off them) ( I could decide he didnt do well enough to get a token, and he would escalate and it would be dangerous or too frustrating because there's no backup...sometimes having to find a way to let him get something...defeating the purpose.)

    I'd never agree to a token economy at home. No way.

    Our home team does not use this. We identify triggers, teach stress management, use cues to make better choices, use logical rewards/consequences like if he worked to earn money, then he can earn a trip to a store to spend his money. Lots of practice and routine. In his private autism program on Saturdays, they use social stories to teach outing expectations, have an hour group to practice what to do once at the destination, then they go and really do it. Visual cues, auditory cues, high fives, feedback, etc are used. Not checkmarks or tokens. Data is kept by staff each week for all skills being taught beyond the specific event. For example using appropriate voice, talking the right amount of time/not interrupting, etc.

    For us this works pretty well ( wow his scores from summer to now are dramatically better). So. There are other options.

    The hardest is home aggression. Having a routine, daily outings, practice using other more appropriate skills, and the right medications have worked best. And, JJ the service dog too, smile.

    It's exhausting and a rollercoaster. I wish you didn't have to suffer through this. It's painful for everyone.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Can you figure out what his payoff is? Everyone does something because it pays off for them. We go to work because we get a pay check. We volunteer because we get a good feeling. Kids are the same way. Do they behave a certain way because they only get attention when they act badly?

    Looking back with my youngest son from what I know now, I think I would have resorted to a form of a behavior chart that used actual money as the reward. I learned as he grew into an older teen that he was extremely motivated by money and I really think I might have been able to reach him if I used the rewards immediately. I had always done the old paying for grades on report cards but that never worked. He couldnt wait. I think if I paid him daily for behaviors I wanted and appropriate grades that day...say a buck a day...and if he got 3 out of 5 bucks the first several weeks/months...he got a bonus on Fridays, I think that would have worked. After all, we kept telling him school was his job. Yeah it would have been a bit expensive but there was another mom on here who paid her kids dimes for doing certain things around the house. Same thing in my book.

    Of course its too late for mine.