What do you do when your child is raging?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by agee, Feb 27, 2010.

  1. agee

    agee Guest

    We have a very predictable Saturday morning pattern, and it starts with a massive rage by difficult child.
    He wakes up at the crack of dawn and starts demanding stuff of us - get up! feed me! take me fishing! now! etc. and when we don't do exactly what he says he goes into his screaming, crying, name-calling rage.
    Some days I lock him outside (when weather is decent) so he can scream at the house. Today I did that and he stood next to the kitchen window and screamed at us through the glass, then started banging on the glass. So now he's locked in his room. Usually it takes about 45 minutes for him to settle down, then I let him out/in and we'll have a couple hours rage free. Until the next thing sets him off.
    Locking him places doesn't seem like the best strategy, however - this works NOW, when he's small enough so I can march him to his room - but when he's older I don't see how we can enforce it (of course, my hope is that SOMEDAY we'll find some medications that work for him). But for now I'm not sure what else to do unless it's to do exactly what he says to do, when he says it. Which is not going to happen.
    What do you all do when your kids are in a rage?
    p.s. Abilify didn't work. Now we're on to Depakote. They're talking bipolar.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't worry about the future now.

    I raged as a child (even somewhat into adulthood) and the best thing to do was for nobody to talk to me, interact with me, or even be in the same room with me. I could not calm myself if somebody else was there. I had to be alone. This gets touchy if it's a young child. My son who is on the autism spectrum raged a lot when he was a toddler. We took everything out of his room that he could hurt himself with. He had a bed and stuffed animals. When he raged, we held the doorknob shut, but stayed close to hear what was going on. He would try to open the door while we held it (and he was strong!), but eventually he would calm down. Our door took a beating, but oh, well.

    My son doesn't rage anymore. If he still did, we'd be in trouble. He's 200 lbs! I think sometimes the school interventions help as much or more than medications. I don't think medications alone really stop most raging. medications helped ME tremendously, but I had all sorts of therapy going on too. And my son had no medications at all. He had appropriate interventions so he stopped becoming frustrated.

    Good luck!
  3. agee

    agee Guest

    What do you mean by "school interventions" and "appropriate interventions"?
    Our school does nothing. We are currently working on an IEP so he can at least get some extra help. And his doctors have said that until medication is right therapy won't help - at least not for him. We've tried many different strategies at home but the best thing we've found we can do is stay calm (easier said than done).
    He is frustrated because we don't do exactly what he says when he says it, and he craves the intense attention that goading us into reacting to him creates.
    Please don't read the "Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)" in my signature as somewhere on the autism spectrum. I have asked the doctors about this and he is not on the spectrum. They assigned him that diagnosis. as a way of acknowledging all his behaviors.
  4. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Our behavior consultant a few years back suggested teaching delayed gratification in a series of very tiny steps. He told us to get and carry small candies or something that Wee liked in our pocket to use as tokens. When he asked for something, even if we are right there and can do it right this instant, hand him a candy and say, I will do that for you in 15 seconds. And then, in 15 seconds, do it.

    The hope is the candy will pacify the 15 seconds, and when he starts to handle the 15 seconds, make it 20. Then 30, etc. You increase the length of time gradually after handing him the token, and then eventually start slowly not handing the token.

    we did a version of this in order to take Wee into stores, and it worked well, tho it took a lot of time.
  5. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Rages are/were common in tweedleland. kt &/or wm demanded things incessantly & once they got the "thing of the hour" they immediately lost interest.

    Slowly (too slowly) I learned not to say no - if wm demanded breakfast I would say yes, after you get dressed. A cookie right before dinner - yes, as a snack before bedtime. You see where I'm going here. It took time AND it still works.

    With that the rages in wm, decreased significantly. I also used the comment "are you asking or are you telling me". It would stop kt in her tracks & she would rephrase her request.

    At this stage in your difficult children life you will run into many life skills challenges. You need to utilize creative parenting strategies that aren't the norm but may work for your difficult child.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree with-Shari and Timerlady.
    You've got to train him in small steps.
    Sat a.m., what would happen if you brought him a small glass of his fave juice with-his am. medications in bed? Then let him go back to sleep for a few min until the medications kick in.
    Then when he demands you go fishing, tell him what a GREAT idea that is and that as soon as he gets dressed and makes his bed, (or some small chore) you'll be waiting in the car for him.
    Or does he need help finding his fishing pole?
    My son and daughter used to fight in the a.m. and I would be awakened by screaming, yelling, banging doors and then they would bring it into my bedroom right onto my bed. Arg, what an awful way to wake up!
    We bought a lock for easy child's door and told her to stay completely away from difficult child in the a.m.
    I told both of them that if they started a fight the next a.m., they would BOTH be grounded.

    It is so exhausting. by the way, we used Adderall in the a.m. and still us it. It's a miracle. How did the dr come to the Bipolar diagnosis? Have you tried stimulants? What happened?
  7. agee

    agee Guest

    Thanks for all the advice. I especially like the advice to say YES instead of no. We tried this this morning and it worked pretty well. The big problem is when we can't just spend the day doing whatever he wants to do. His dad and I both work and Saturday and Sundays aren't just days spent having fun. We have errands, etc.
    And yes, we have tried all the stimulants. And risperdal and abilify. He takes a low dose vyvanse to get through school. He runs through it quickly but it does help keep him on task. We aren't dosing in the afternoon since it keeps him awake all night. Plus they feel that alternative medications. will do better for him...eventually.
    The bipolar diagnosis. is not official, but since we're trying depakote now I asked if they're leaning that way and they said that they see what the medications. show them.
    We're only on day 2 of depakote, so we don't see anything yet.
  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I completely understand. husband and I work full time, as well, and this was a tremendous effort to do, but the payoff was huge. I was not even able to so much as get a gallon of milk with difficult child in tow until we did this. And now, I can actually go grocery shopping with him if I have to.

    My life is not at all how I pictured it to be at this point in time. My house is cluttered, we eat far more take out than I like these days, etc, but we are functioning.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I get this, but we do need to keep in mind that time spent with our children is an investment in them.

    But of course, you have other responsibilities, so you have to compromise. he has to learn that compromise, but it's something he's just not able to understand yet.

    I'm wondering - he sounds like he's craving stimulation. What activity can you set up for him to do, that will keep his brain occupied?
    Something we did with difficult child 3 (especially one time when we were on holidays, and he would wake us each morning wanting our undivided attention) was we invested in puzzle games. things like "Stormy Seas", "River Crossing", "Tipover" are great single-player mind workers. We bought various puzzles and similar, make sure that bits don't get lost (even if we have to make a small labelled cloth bag for each of these). Another thing we bought on holidays once that has been a godsend, was the 20Q game. It turned out to be very useful for helping difficult child 3's brain pathways to dig in deeper, with language connections. But the thing with these games - they keep him occupied. Jigsaw puzzles are good, so are mazes, Sudoku or similar. Crosswords. Start him at a level he can handle, begin by working with him a bit. Also play these yourself and challenge him to see how fast he/you can work through the levels (so he will try and stay ahead of you!)

    I remember when we bought "Stormy Seas" for difficult child 3 while we were on holidays, we would get up and find he had been up for hours but quiet, working through the puzzles. We bought these things from "brain teaser" type of stores.

    An electronics kit can be good. Or a Meccano set or similar. The rules are - if you spread it everywhere, you have to pick up the pieces or risk them getting gone forever up the vacuum cleaner. Or you can make a play mat by getting a circle of heavy fabric (corduroy, or a cotton blanket) and putting eyelets around the edge. Thread a cord trough the eyelets, then store the toys etc in the bag this makes when you pull up the cord. To play, he just puts it on the floor, opens it up and spreads the mat out flat. To pick it up in a hurry, just grab the cord. But it is better with these special toys, to carefully collect the bits up first and put them away in the box.

    You find what works, then set it up with him ahead of time. he may forget first thing in the morning, so you get him into a habit. Maybe write out a list of things to do (like a morning routine) so it begins with, "Get yourself some cereal. Then get dressed. Play games - here is a list of what you may play. When Dad or I come out, we will be able to do X with you for 15 minutes."

    Leave off that last one if you have to hit the ground running and get to work. But at some stage in your day, you have to make time to just lay with him. Set it up in 15 minute blocks and you can even use those 15 minute blocks of time as rewards for his behaviour. Again - this worked for us with difficult child 3. The reward isn't the play, it's the play WITH YOU. It's also getting away from materialism, and back to spending time together, as the reward.

    I posted in more length on your other thread.

  10. agee

    agee Guest

    Thank you for this. And believe me, I know he needs stimulation and we provide many, many ways to help him get it. The stimulation he most craves is interaction, particularly impassioned interaction (with us). And he will stop at nothing to get it.
    I don't just wake up and say - leave me alone. I am woken up at 5:45 and told to get out of bed, make breakfast, do this, do that. We make many suggestions of alternate activities: jump on trampoline, climb a tree, make me a picture, do your coloring books, legos, cars, etc. and everything is NO. He is 7 going on 8 but he can't do puzzles or games yet. With us or without us. This is not a skill he has. I've tried giving him chores so he can help us and make a little money but he won't do it. We've tried to prepare for the weekend by buying a special toy or bringing something out of the attic or making plans ahead of time and it really all seems to end the same.
    But I'll take this under advisement.
    And I have given notice at my job. So we'll have a whole lot less money but I will not have to spend much time on the weekend doing things other than focusing on him.
    This was a good weekend for the rest of the family. There was very little yelling and we all seemed happy. But his rages were worse. This is how it goes with us. He works hard to get us to engage and when we don't he is infuriated double time.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Getting you angry with him is also him successfully engaging you, so he is getting a positive pay-off even then. I think you are suspecting this already.

    He sounds to me like he is feeling insecure when it's only him up in the morning (I agree, ridiculously early!). His idea of "normal" is having you on deck meeting his every need. You in your place in his world. And you in bed in the pre-dawn, is not what he feels safe with!

    We used to get difficult child 3 to wait until 6 am. It took time, but what could work for you - show him a clock face (draw one that matches the main clock he looks at) and tell him that when the clock looks like the one you've drawn, then you will get up IMMEDIATELY and be available to him. But until then, you are entitled to be in bed asleep and not getting woken up early.
    Then make sure that when that time comes round, you DO get up immediately. That's part of the follow-through. As he learns that you will follow through on this sort of promise, he should begin relaxing a bit about being so desperate to have you up. But the more insecure he is feeling, the longer this takes. You simply say, "I will get up when the clock looks like that one," and insist on staying there.

    YOu may need to compromise to begin with, and get up earlier than you would prefer. But over time, you should be able to move the time back to one more acceptable to you.

    Also when he is raging at you for not getting up and looking after him, you won't be able to go back to sleep because he will have got you too riled. Doesn't matter - follow through. Stay calm (outwardly, at least) and be true to your word. Don't react when you do get up, simply say, "I'm here now." Think of your child as being like an impatient puppy that is howling in the laundry all night. You can't gain anything by scolding the puppy; all you can do is reassure the puppy when you do go in, that everything is alright and always was.

    Don't sweat about money. It's your time he wants and there are many free ways of giving him your time. Keep telling yourself, it is an investment in him. Read books to him/with him. I used to take turns with difficult child 3, we would read a book as if it were a play script. When he couldn't handle the vocal emotion in the dialogue, I got him to read the rest of the text while I did the dialogue and read them with as much character as possible. Then when we swapped (difficult child 3 asked to) he copied how I had read the dialogue and read with amazing expression, doing different voices. This actually helped him link various kinds of vocal expression with the stated emotion ("... he said angrily")

    Watching movies is another thing - does he watch the same scenes over and over? If he does, let him. These kids use techniques like this to teach themselves social skills. difficult child 3 watches TV and movies with subtitles on, even though his hearing is perfectly fine. But he understands what he reads, a lot better than he understands if he doesn't have text up. And he would rewind certain scenes to play over and over. His autistic friend did the same thing, too, when he as younger. It really is a coping skill they develop for themselves.

    Somewhere in there, you have a reasonable, loving, obedient child. He just is having problems with the world because for him it is far more terrifying, unpredictable and obstructive than it ever was for you or me. If you can see his behaviour in that light, you can see that on his terms, he is being reasonable. But unless you're in his head, it just seems loud and disruptive.

  12. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This sounds so much like my son at that age and even now to a large extent. Hugs.
  13. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    ANother thought that just occurred to me that the in-home had us use a lot was behavior modeling. (Lego's reminded me of this...)

    When we wanted Wee to do something (why don't you play your lego's until I'm finished.....) he had us make the request, and then just plop down and do it. Most of the time, Wee would follow suit, and once he was into playing Lego's (or whatever), you could quietly excuse yourself.

    difficult child 1 was the master of this technique.

    Its all so dang time consuming, I know...but this was another idea that worked for us.
  14. agee

    agee Guest

    This is all very helpful. I really appreciate it. We'll work it out someday, right?
    I'm trying to focus on one thing at a time. This week my focus is to stay calm in the face of name calling and extreme rudeness. I have done this 3 days in a row! Yay me!
    Many days I feel like the only change I can make is in myself.
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Sounds like my son. Until he learned to pour himself a bowl of cereal or make eggs, he'd wake me up by poking me in the shoulder and saying, "I'm hungry."
    One thing I did was tell him to take the dog with him and feed him. That gave him company and something to do.
    After I realized that worked, I made a list of things to do, and only after he completed the list could he wake me up. Do you have pets? Can your son read?
    Just some ideas.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Even if he's not good at reading, using a variation on Compics is one option - draw little pictures. It's a trick we picked up while watching a TV show for adult literacy (difficult child 3 was hooked on tis kind of TV show). They showed (drama-style) various people who were illiterate for all sorts of different reasons - a bloke who as a kid never coped with school and whose parents kept pulling him out; a woman who was never permitted to learn to read by her very restrictive parents; a migrant whose original language had a very complex written language and now has to adapt to English. None of these people were stupid; in fact, the Aussie bloke who couldn't read had developed some interesting strategies to fool people into reading for him. The program showed these tricks and also showed where they do NOT work, and at times why it is so vital to be able to read. But one of the coping skills was to do with a list of instructions, or a shopping list. With shopping, he would write down the name of what he just used, copying it from the empty container. Or he would draw pictures to help him (a drawing of a loaf of bread, or a carton of eggs). Drawing those pictures with the words next to them, can help with learning the association.

    And my suggestion re puzzles etc - they're never too young, there is always a puzzle that a child of any ability can do. We started difficult child 3 on puzzles on the computer, for example, before he was a year old. We had a very primitive program that did simple mazes, he just had to move the mouse (no click and drag involved). Or you can make a "shoelace box" which not only can keep a kid occupied, it can also teach them how to tie their laces. Mind you, even a shoelace box didn't speed up our boys learning to tie their laces! We ended up using velcro until they were in their teens!

    Some good puzzles you can get from newspapers or magazines - Sudoku; crosswords; find-a-word; there are lots of them and most of them are simple. You can often find extra-easy ones in the children's pages of women's magazines and weekend newspapers. The Internet is a good source too. Of course, he may not be interested - don't try and force an interest. But as you go through these possibilities, you might find something he enjoys. My nephew used to play with balls of string, it was all he ever wanted. He would say that with string, he could make anything he wanted anyway, so a ball of string was all he ever asked Santa for.

    He became a car mechanic.

    If he can read, comic books are great because they give social context in their images. Things have swung round from comics being banned when I was at school, to comics now being recommended. ODD kids especially do benefit form reading comics. I found difficult child 3 began wanting to really study comics, to analyse the nature of humour. He will still come to me to read out (or act out) a scene from a comic, and then ask me to explain to him what it means, or why it is (allegedly) funny. Whatever I'm doing, I stop and explain it to him, because difficult child 3 is trying to learn all the time. So I figure it's my job to answer his questions (or direct him to do his own research if I'm busy). His latest research question involves the origin of various slang terms for a bloke who fancies children, and not in a nice way. difficult child 3 used the word last night, husband had stopped to speak to a girl nearby (who from behind looked like someone we know - we realised it wasn't and husband was a bit embarrassed). So we had to explain to difficult child 3 why that word is not to be used in public especially in that situation. By this stage we were in the car driving away, we spent the next ten minutes talking about the social implications of using that word, and also discussed other slang terms, which led into "Where did that term come from?"

    We encouraged ALL our kids to follow up any query, usually when they're younger we would get them to watch while we did the research. Etymology is something very useful for a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) child especially one with any history of language delay - it helps them see connections between words, which can help compensate for the fewer brain connections they have naturally, due to the language delay.

    What you do is find what he is fascinated with, and provide him with more of it. You can also try to encourage a related but diverging interest in something, if it takes his interests in a direction you are happier with. We basically do what we can.

  17. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What if you had a schedule for the day. Perhaps a safe art project he can do when he first wakes up. He can bring it to you to show you when he is done, it delays your wake up time a bit. Then follow the schedule. If he knows what is expected of him (like he does with school days) perhaps the Saturday morning rage will subside.
  18. chichi25

    chichi25 New Member

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011