What should I have done?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JLady, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    I think I've had some sort of breakthrough here. Help me out folks (because you are all so wise).

    Last night at dinner... my son wanted to know what he had to drink. I told him sprite. He said he doesn't like sprite any more. So I took it away from him - mainly to see his reaction. Guess what? He began down the explosive path. First he insisted he needed his drink. "But you said you didn't like sprite - You need to eat anyway. Take 2 more bites of your food and you can have your sprite back". This doesn't work does it? No. It doesn't. He began throwing a fit. I said that isn't going to work. Take 2 bites and you can have your sprite back. At first, I was just trying to get him to eat but suddenly I found myself witnessing what I have been reading in the explosive child and what many of you have been talking about.

    I remained calm. easy child 1 left the table because she was so disgusted with what was happening. I just kept saying eat your two bites and you can have it back. Then he claimed that he had food stuck in his throat and NEEDED the drink. I assured him he did not have food in his throat. Now we approach what I call "battle of the wills". His will to have his drink and my will that he will eat two bites before he gets a drink. He begins yelling and telling me I'm ugly, I'm mean, He hates me.... I calmly say eat your food and you can have your drink back. He starts slamming his fits on the table, kicking, saying mean things, yelling, screaming.... My patience are gone. I begin to yell. He gets worse. I grab the board and swat him once on the rear and tell him to eat. He gets worse. I remove him from the table, take him to his room and shut the door. Kicking, screaming, crying, hitting noises coming from the room.

    I take a deep breath and think... I just did all the things that don't work. (I'm a bit slow some times) I open his door, I give him a hug and say calm down. It's ok. I hold him really close and say shhhh...... I take him back into the dinning room and say just eat your two bites and you get your drink back. He cries and yells the entire time but he is calmer and takes the two bites. Upon the second bite going in his mouth, I give him the drink. The war is over. Nothing ever happened. He is calm and happy again! He doesn't eat another bite of food either.

    Of course all of this happened very quickly and emotions were high! Another dinner meal at our house. Should I have just instantly given the drink back? Obviously, the sequence of events didn't change a thing except my visual of the actual explosive acts happening (which I didn't see until after the fact). Is this actually progress?
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Holidays aren't a great time to be testing the waters or engaging in the battle of the wills. When he announced he didn't like Sprite any longer, I would have just let it go or made some non-challant, impersonal comment about how our tastes in foods do sometimes change. If it started escalating, I wouldn't have put conditions on it such as his eating two bites first. You'd already let him have Sprite with supper to begin with so it's too late to put on new conditions, and certainly not prudent (Explosive Child style) when he was escalating.

    And yes, if you're just getting the hang of TEC I probably would have just let him have the drink back.

    It takes some getting used to but this is exactly the kind of evaluation process you should be doing to find out cause and effect. You're doing fine.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I second SRL- on both parts- 1) it's a sprite you'd already given him, it was already in basket c, turning into a basket a issues after that was futile, and 2) you're evaluating these things as you learn the TEC technique so you are doing the right thing by thinking incidences like this through and deciding how to handle things differently next time
  4. Rotsne

    Rotsne Banned

    Unless some of us are having stomach problems we only have carbonated water in our house. We simply don't want the discussion. Here it is cheaper also and I drink it myself.

    It is the same with alcohol. Now where our 15 year are old using it as it is common in our culture we don't have alcohol in our house unless it is for a reason. She is new in the game and look at us as rolemodels regardless of the fact that she never would admit it.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is all a matter of personal opinion. I don't like wars and won't fight over things with inflexible kids (because I believe it's not their faults and because I want my family to have peace). Unless it's a safety issue, I use Basket C a lot. This would have a big Basket C for me. See all you went through just because of the Sprite? Plus it affected your easy child? I wouldn't have made an issue out of it at all, but that's JMO.
  6. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    Exactly the point.... I shouldn't have made an issue at all; however, this is very typical in our house and I never saw it as creating more issues for difficult child. Not until last night. I feel like I've had a revelation.
  7. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Personally, I don't think it was a battle worth fighting at all. If he didn't want the Sprite, I would have simply said it is all we have unless you want water. If there was some drink that he wanted that you didn't want him to have, I would have simply told him his choices were the Sprite or the water, the other drink is being saved or is mine and I'm not sharing it. There is no way I would have taken the dirnk and then forced him to eat even one bite without some liquid.

    As much as possible, I gave my daughter choices. Having control was and is important to her. She can't always have what she wants but she can choose what is available to her.

    When she was younger and didn't want to eat what I fixed, I gave her a choice: eat the meal or fix herself a sandwich and some fruit.

    You and your son were in a power play. Worse yet, you were a bully. Do it my way or else. Sadly, your son can never win a power play. You're bigger, stronger, smarter and have the power. He knows he can't win but that doesn't mean he won't try. So, the less you use your power, the better chance you have to get him to cooperate. Don't force something that really doesn't matter in the long run.

    Think before you react. It takes practice but the more you do think rather than just react, the easier it becomes. If you feel you overreacted and you were wrong, simply apologize and admit you weren't being fair. It actually does a child good to see parents are human and can make mistakes, that they can behave badly but be adult enough to say they were wrong and get on with their lives. It is a good example for them.
  8. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    Well, I was reading that you understood how the basket method works NOW that you've gone thru this dinner episode. You're eyes are opened to what doesn't work, so now just move on to what could work the next time you're faced with this kind of situation. We're all human and make mistakes. By doing this, now you know what not to do :)

    I just reread Explosive child yesterday at work (it was kinda slow) and so everything is fresh in my mind. one part of the book explaining baskets is very interesting. Write down what things you need difficult child to work on. There are safety issues (basket A), negotiable items (basket B) and pick your battles (non issues, basket C) and then place all your situations in the basket that fits your difficult child the best. Many people start out with- a very full basket C. In this case, i would have also put the Sprite in basket C. I don't think basket C things are parents "giving in".
    *edit: sorry, I didn't realize you were already reading the book! didn't mean to summarize like that.

    I know we sometimes forget we need to modify what our own behaviors are. Believe me, stress and frustration make our brains go into overdrive and meltdown especially now during the holidays. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and let it go. Learn from this and move on to the next step. It's all good.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2008
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It sounds like you have caught on to the concept! It will take trial and error to get it figured out for how you feel and how he reacts on various issues. To see how HE reacts, to see how YOU feel adn how you re-work your reactions.
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Yep- don't beat yourself up over this. When my son was very young, I was in the habit of enforcing things that I felt were important that now I have relaxed some on- partly because he's a little older and partly due to TEC stuff. I understand where you were coming from- when they are little, we need to make sure they eat well-rounded meals, etc. As he gets older, the "battle of wills" becomes a bigger issue even for a easy child- and maybe moreso for a boy, but especially with a difficult child. And, eating all the vegatables every night becomes a little less important.
  11. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    I'm just now getting to the baskets part of the book. I have a steno pad and since we will be spending the next 5 days together (YES!) I will write down the triggers and see where we go from there. I'm actually excited about this. I feel like for once we are going to make some progress.
  12. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Yes, basically you take the most important things you want/need to work on and *Basket C* the rest.
    So we work on the things that are very important for us right now kind of shelve the little things.
    Like if brushing teeth is going to trigger a rage, I will not push it, "Basket C" If a shower is going to ruin the night, "Basket C"
    We are working on things like violence, personal space, appropriate behaviours in situations.
    But the little things are a lot of times "Basket C'd"
    Safety issues are always Basket A.
  13. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JLady - BIG revelation here. It does sometimes take time to see the triggers. With a typical child doing what you did is parenting. It is parenting in the way that you know and can do without thinking about.

    This is why it is so difficult to parent a difficult child. It is not in a comfort zone for us.

    You have to think about your goal. What is it you were trying to accomplish? Was it worth the meltdown? Was it worth upsetting easy child?
    Some things are worth it.

    So next time he says he does not like Sprite, what will you do? Be prepared. Think through the possibilities. Do not react quickly with a difficult child. Think it through. We many times regret a quick reaction. We say things we can not take back and sometimes put ourselves into a corner. It is sometimes the best thing to do - take time to think it through - for both of you.

    Good job!!! I am happy for you to have this revelation.

    Beware of the 'better' parents telling you how to parent your difficult child. YOU KNOW BEST - you are learning it now.
  14. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    What are some of the Basket A things I should be looking for? Besides safety issues. And HOW to you work on the triggers?
  15. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Pick what is important to you and your family. Obviously, safety issues go in Basket A for most people. For me, it became most important to not have the home be a battleground. I did what I needed to in order to stop the battles. That included not worrying about homework for my difficult child. That always turned into a meltdown.
  16. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    So the whole point is that as a parent.... YOU let it go because it isn't that important?
  17. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I think basket A depends on you and your priorities. Maybe it is that for an hour on Friday evening, Mom is going to take time for herself and short of a life-threatening emergency, that is not going to change. (This depends a lot on how stable your difficult child is.) Maybe it is that he is going to take his medications at a certain time every day, or no plying video games until homework or 1/2 chores are done. Justkeep in mind, basket A items can change with time too.

    As far as triggers, for my son with BiPolar (BP), the first thing is to make a list of what I think might be triggers, then try to prevent them, if I can't prevent them, then develop a plan of how to deal with them as they are transpiring in order to minimize negative outcomes, then, try to develop a plan of what to do if it reaches the point of raging or mania anyway. (I don't have this mastered- it is a work in progress!)

    The people here are a good resource when you have a specific issue that you're not sure how to deal with. For instance, once my son was starting to rage while I was making him complete a project for school. I posted, got a few ideas to try and a reminder about the TEC concept. I tried a different approach and my son turned himself around and did his work.

    For me, sometimes the things that start in basket A- like doing school projects, stay important things for me, but the way I go about it changes. IOW, it wasn't so important that the project got completed all at once within 30 mins, just that it got completed before bedtime. So, a talk about doing 1/2 before dinner, then completing it after dinner but before free time might be a good solution. At my son's age, a big goal is to engage him in recognizing what's bugging him and encourgaing him to talk to someone about it rather than just reacting impulsively.

    As you get furthr into this, I think it will become more obvious to you what needs to be worked on first, it will be based on his major issues and what is driving you up the wall and interfering with everyone's daily life the most.
  18. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Think about your objectives and prioritze them. For instance- was the primary objective to have your son eat some dinner or not complain about his drink? If one of your primary goals is to have him eat dinner and using his drink as a means to accomplish that isn't working, then change the method and maybe he will eat his dinner. It wasn't the sprite you were upset about, so let it go.

    This is just an example- as I mentioned before, it's a little easier as you start going thru this and post specific incidences.
  19. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    I think I really am getting the picture. I also think I may need to return this book to the library and just go purchase my own copy so I can underline the key points. I'm in the 3 steps of Plan B right now and that is making a lot more sense (I think lol). We have our work cut out for us don't we? This is an awesome thread filled with so much useful information. thank you all!
  20. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    Just remember, what you put in the baskets will change over time. You may end up having to "let things go" quite often in the beginning. The one phrase I kept reading over and over again is that your child knows you are in charge, that swearing isn't acceptable etc etc even though inflexible-explosive behavior continues.

    It's not about teaching them that lesson. It's learning how they process things so we can keep the peace!