Why is he doing this?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by sunxstone, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. sunxstone

    sunxstone New Member

    I found half a sub sandwich in difficult child's floor today - well.. half on the floor, and a part of the bun squished under his mattress. There's also an apple core tossed in a corner of his room on the floor.

    I've tried natural consequences - him cleaning it up. It hasn't phased him at all. I take away computer time for the day - the only thing that *ever* phases him, but it doesn't stick, and causes a huge day long tantrum. I've told him absolutely no eating in his room, but as soon as my back is turned..

    What will work here? Any ideas? I am so frustrated with this behavior! I'm constantly finding food in his room - hidden, hoarded, half eaten, or just tossed in the floor.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I'm standing by with bated breath, because I, too, would love the answer to this one. I'm in the same boat. :(
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  3. sunxstone

    sunxstone New Member

    He's home now. I told him no computer time today. He is throwing a tantrum, screaming, threatening, kicking and hitting things, and upping his computer time for tomorrow because he's being deprived of today's time. Tomorrow he says he gets "three hours" and "four hours"

    He doesn't connect "I lost computer time because I left food in the floor."

    He connects "I lost computer time because mom found food in my floor. Its *her* fault."
  4. sunxstone

    sunxstone New Member

    *hugs* I'm glad I'm not the only one, but sorry you're going through it too!
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sorry you must endure the tantrum. Can you make him take it outside? Sing show tunes until he goes off to tantrum elsewhere?

    It is so frustrating when they don't make the appropriate connections.

    I never did find a solution to this, so I don't have helpful hints. Sorry.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    So don't do this again. If something doesn't work, even if you haven't got anything to replace it, don't do it again. Each time you use an unsuccessful discipline method, you actually go backwards. Doing nothing, does less damage.

    As for what you can do - whatever you do, it needs to be related to the "crime". Computer time is not connected to what he did wrong, so he won't make the connection. A better punishment, which really is more of a preventive anyway, is to clean his room out until any hidden food would be immediately obvious. Make it easy to spot the problem fast, and you have a multiple solution.

    Of course cleaning out the room probably won't be easy, but it is a direct consequence and probably will make life easier long-term anyway. Plus how much harder can it be, than the current tantrums you're getting trying to reduce his computer time?

    Either he cleans out his room, or you do. Do it "life on the lawn" style if you must. Try to not do it with an air of "I'm punishing you" - this is not a punishment, it is a consequence. It is life, it is a solution, a way to help him learn self-control. Don't say all these things, just keep it in your own mind while it's happening. You need to have the "I'm helping you, darling" mindset while this all happens. And really believe it. Not easy. I sometimes call this "changing your mindset" and I have in the past been flamed for putting it this way, but it's not meant in any way to criticise you. It's just that kids like ours do not respond well to the more traditional "I am the parent, you are the child" mindset that is what we grew up with. I've found we get a lot more actual lessons learned, by becoming the child's facilitator and stepping away from being the disciplinarian.

    I hope this can help.

  7. SJB

    SJB Guest

    Oh boy does this sound familiar!
  8. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I took out Miss KT's bed frame because of finding food underneath. Removed the desk because of a half-eaten PBJ hidden in a drawer. Offered to remove the dressers, too, but she seemed to catch a clue. I also went through her room completely once a month, when she had her weekend visits with her father, moved furniture, tossed junk, etc.

    Still haven't returned the bed frame. Or the door, which she tore off the hinges and threw at me about five years ago.
  9. sunxstone

    sunxstone New Member

    Yeah, difficult child's room has been stripped for about a year. He's got a mattress on the floor, a table with a tv on it and a fan. The toys he has left are in the closet. He urinated in his dresser along with hoarding food in with his clothes. He also urinated on most of his books/toys.. so those went too.. Now it's like he's not even trying to hide it. I found half the bun under the mattress, but the sandwich was just tossed in the middle of the floor. After three really nice, calm days where we talked and played, it's like he *wanted* to get in trouble.

    So I said I'd take the computer away for the day.. but yeah it doesn't work.. he wanted on this morning and he still had an apple core in his bedroom floor, so made him pick that up, and he also passive aggressively will not put poopy pants in his hamper. He leaves them in the floor, and when I ask him to pick them up and put them in the hamper he balls them up and drops them back in the floor.. well last night he balled them up and *rubbed them down the wall*.

    I just sighed and left it there and made him clean it up this morning before he logged on. He's just making more work for himself.. I mean.. I *make* him clean it up when he does this stuff, losing easy child is just the extra "ok what you did was wrong".. but you're right, its not a natural consequence so he's not connecting it at all. But the extra work of "come back here and do this the way you should have in the first place" isn't either. He hates being interrupted to clean up whatever mess he's made, but he keeps making the messes.
  10. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I had to lock up any sort of "portable" food from difficult child 1 for several years because he would either do this, hoard anything uneaten, or eat the whole thing in 1 sitting. It just became much easier to not have access to anything that was easily portable. The trunk of the car or in my laundry hamper were the best hiding spots I found.
  11. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Maybe he needs to just forgo the computer for a while and allow him to earn it back for X number of days with compliance (you'll have to decide what that is -- no food left in room, soiled clothing appropriately managed and what a reasonable amount of time is for him to sustain these behaviors). You could start small and say he gets 30 minutes of computer time the day after he goes a full day without leaving food in his room and keeping his clothes picked up. If he can go three days in a row with compliance, then he gets a full hour of computer time on day four. Some of our kids need very structured and tangible goal/reward systems. It's a lot of work on your part to manage it, but it might be more effective in the long run.

    My difficult child 1 has the food-in-his-room issues, too.
  12. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    We've approached this problem as though we were dealing with a toddler....

    Obviously, one wouldn't expect a "punishment" or a stern warning to stop a toddler from putting small objects in their mouth--you have to "baby-proof' the home.

    In this case, you must "difficult child-Proof" your home. We keep all kitchen food out of reach by limiting difficult child's access to the kitchen and her bedroom is frequently searched for food items that may come home from school.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Sunxstone, are you sure my son didn't move into your house?!!!!

    I see Marg's point, but I tend to do both. IOW, "Pick up all the dirty wrappers from your floor, throw them in the trash, scrub the melted chocolate off the floor, and you will get a little bit of computer time back."

    And yes, my son's room, like many of the others here, has also been stripped. Now he actually likes his mattress on the floor because he doesn't have to reach as far to drop his books, food or anything else he's using onto the floor next to him.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    A couple of ideas, then.

    First, I suspect he may have task-changing problems. So when you need to, don't say "Stop the game now," but say, "I need your attention in 15 minutes, or sooner when you are ready." You might need to stick a note on the computer screen confirming you have asked him to stop by a certain time. This is how we taught difficult child 3 to transition (although he still has problems, but now he understands he has problems).

    Second - he obviously at times wants something from you - transport somewhere? A meal? He can't survive on half a sandwich left on the floor. Clean clothes maybe?
    But NOTHING is available until his floor is food-free and urine-soaked-clothing-free.
    The only problem with this, is teen males tend to get very NOW about food, often getting aggressive simply because their blood sugar level is low.

    I think Terry has a point about using computer time as a reward, but to do this, you need to be able to control computer time in the first place.

    Controlling access to food is another way to try to regain control here. If all food has to be obtained through you, then you are also in a position to stay and supervise the ingestion of that food under appropriate social conditions - eat at the table, take all you want but eat all you take, cover leftovers and put them in the fridge (which Mom locks up again).
    If you lock food away, don't use a padlock and hasp because it's too easy to get a screwdriver and take off the hasp. And then put it back on again, to try to cover tracks. I remember doing this myself when I was a kid.

    I had kids who used to wipe fecal matter on the walls. They were handed a scrubbing brush and made to clean it off. It didn't matter that they found scrubbing the walls to be a fun task - the thing is, they got the message that it's not right to have ..it on the walls.

    All we can do, is to keep doing what we can. We can't make our kids instantly perfect, and over time they will get the message. Maybe by the time he's 20... I know difficult child 1, 27 and married now, doesn't do this any more. I know his wife would really take it out on him if she did.

  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Second - he obviously at times wants something from you - transport somewhere? A meal? He can't survive on half a sandwich left on the floor. Clean clothes maybe?
    But NOTHING is available until his floor is food-free and urine-soaked-clothing-free.

    Yes, this has worked for us. Sometimes it causes an argument and he digs in his heels, but if I stand firm and literally plug my ears, I usually prevail. :)
  16. sunxstone

    sunxstone New Member

    I'm having trouble keeping up with all your replies, thank you for replying!

    We're putting a credit system in place in about a week after our move to California. Here, with difficult child's stepdad and grandmother, I have no support and they will (and have) blow any attempts to straighten him out. So he'll be earning everything.. I just can't get a bead on what he's thinking with this! We had three really nice calm days - and then it was just like a dare with the food out in the middle of his floor. I didn't even have to walk in to see it. I didn't get angry, I just told him calmly that he'd lost computer for the day because he'd left food in his floor. He told me he didn't know he did it. That he didn't know he'd left half the bun under his mattress. How does he not know he lifted the mattress and stashed half a sandwich under there?

    Anything really long term difficult child doesn't grasp. Well, he did and does lose the computer for days at a time. He was kicked off the bus for three days (on a Friday) for fighting, and he didn't get the computer back until he got back on the bus on Thursday. That included the weekend. That he understands. For some reason, leaving food on his floor is not concrete, because.. there are different kinds of food. Is leaving a bowl of cereal under a blanket in his closet the same as leaving an apple core in the corner? Apparently not to him. Asking him to just pick it up, calmly, no emotion, and telling him that he has no priveleges until it's picked up (no outside, no snacks, no computer) doesn't phase him long term. It's not a lesson he's learning, because a day or two later he does it again. And he's getting more 'out there' with it. Where he used to hide / hoard now he's leaving it in the middle of the floor.

    He is casein free - and I check his room every morning after he leaves for school (don't want to send him onto the bus in a tantrum, so I wait). He'll often get candy/snacks from friends and hoard in his room. The pantry, fridge and storage freezer are padlocked with a number combination. He gets the number often from his sister, or if ex leaves the padlock open in view, so we change the combos once a week usually. I never know if he's got the combination until I find food in his room, so yeah, this method doesn't work.

    I've tried everything, it seems. The computer he gets from 5 - 7 M-F *if* he's had a good day at school, and doesn't come home abusive to us, and any time he has to spend cleaning up messes he doesn't get back into his time. I make him take time outs in 15 min increments if he gets nasty or abusive while on the computer. I take away 30 minute increments if he's broken a rule (hitting his sister, kicking the wall, etc). Just none of this stuff is getting through. He's not connecting the consequence to his actions. If he gets in trouble its my fault for catching him, not his for performing the behavior. Taking him off the computer if he's being abusive while on the computer is a natural consequence. Taking it away for hitting his sister is not, but nothing else gets his attention. He lives, breathes, talks, eats and sleeps the computer.

    I used to give him updates on his time left on the computer. 1 hour, 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes. He'd tantrum. Now I just tell him 10 minutes, and stand around when his time is up. Usually, but not always, he'll log himself off. Sometimes without a tantrum that lasts until bedtime, but most often he does tantrum, because I rushed him off, even though he knows he has two hours. If he goes over his two hours I take that time off the next day, doubling it. If he's on 15 minutes after 7, I double that and he doesn't start til 5:30 the next day. That seems to have helped some with him logging off *on time* but not without the tantrum.

    He'll have other options after the move. Wii, playstation, tv will be something he earns, and a lot more social/outside time. We're pretty isolated here where we are now. So more for him to work for so we aren't so centered around this dang computer so much.

    We thought about putting a tarp/drop cloths on his new carpet in the apartment after the move, but the behavior therapist and my boyfriend both suggested that's giving him the idea that peeing/smearing on the carpet is an acceptable behavior. I was just thinking of easier clean up - that *difficult child* would do. It's impossible to get it out of carpet. So we're going to talk to him about respecting the space, being 13.. letting my boyfriend handle that as they don't have that defiant loop built up.. guy to guy.. and hope it works. If he respects his own space, we have no reason to enter it uninvited, which is true. If we don't see or smell poo, pee or food, we have no reason to enter, for his own safety. And I think the peeing thing is strictly to try to keep us out. difficult child admitted that. But I can't stay out if he's putting his and our health at risk and having to clean up after these behaviors.. so.. stuck.