World war 3 (about a helmet)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, it's Sunday again and that means... that J will have a big tantrum about something, start being oppositional, rude and defiant, I will get angry at a certain moment after trying to keep my cool, there will be tears, screams, shouts, lots of dramatic running up and down stairs (and that's just me, lol).
    Monday to Friday we have a routine and constant activities that seem to mean there is no room for drama and upset. Saturday, because I have so much work at the moment, J goes to the childminder. Sunday we spend together and... things go haywire. At a certain moment.
    Today it was about his bike helmet. He always wears it and usually there's no problem. However, a little boy who is occasionally in the village (his parents are divorced) has started calling for him to go riding their bikes together. This boy, unusually, doesn't wear a helmet... So today J started making a big fuss and drama about wearing his helmet, with all sorts of impassioned dramatic statements ("I want to do what I want to do and you just bother me with making me do things I don't want!) along classic difficult child lines, I would imagine. I try talking about it, negotiating, being reasonable - doesn't work. He gets rude and insulting, which is always what really presses my buttons because I just don't, in the moment, find it acceptable for a small child to speak like this to anyone. I ended up shaking him today... and then of course feel guilty and annoyed at myself. And also got really cross and spoke to him very fiercely, which in a way I don't regret.
    As soon as I get really annoyed like this, he backs down, starts crying sadly rather than storming and saying pathetic things like he wants his daddy, he wants Oma (my mother). I feel it is unconsciously manipulative in some sense but it does work because of course then I just feel like hugging him and making him feel better... Then he calmed down, eventually, and we had a cuddle and a story, went outside to do some gardening together. And then the friend called and he put his helmet on without a murmur...
    I wish there was a way round all this stuff without the drama and histrionics. There probably isn't. This is probably what it means to be very spirited, or a difficult child, or whatever one wants to call it. But try as I might (and perhaps I don't try very hard), I can't find it acceptable or normal for a child to be insolent and rude like that, whatever their "diagnosis"....
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yep, that was our rule - no helmet, no bike - now it's second nature. Issues of safety are no negotiation items. State the option - no helmet, no bike riding - don't engage further, walk away....

  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Since Sunday is normally the day you spend together, have you considered setting up a schedule for Sunday and writing it down? With meals at the same time as on weekdays at hsi school, bedtime the saem on Fri and Sat nights instead of letting him stay up late (if you do that, most parents that I know will let kids stay up later if htey don't have school the next day), and some sort of routine so he knows what is going on when?

    LDM is right about just saying "no helmet, no bike riding" and walking away from him. When he pulls the tearful I want my daddy I want my grandma stuff, it is better to say that it is okay to want them and when he is calm he can put on his helmet and go riding rather than to stop and cuddle him. The cuddles and soothing are doing 2 things here. First is to reinforce taht if mommy is mad then I should cry and all will be well and I will get nice things. It is also NOT teaching him that he CAN calm hmself down. that is such an important skill. It is a secondary thing in this situation, but it does play into things.

    When you go all comforting and cuddling, you are teachng him that he CAN be that rude to you and if you are upset at his rudeness it doesn't really matter. Because ALL he has to do is play the "I miss my whomever" card with the tear card and it is all good and wonderful and he gets a treat.

    What time of day do the meltdowns/arguments/whatever generally happen? If it at the same time roughly? How long before the meltdown/rudeness/upset was his last meal/snack that had protein and not a lot of sugar/starch stuff? With my kids, the boys esp, if they went more than about 3 hours since they had some protein then the rudeness/problems came out. Esp if our routine was off that day. It was even worse if they had junk food, esp sugary stuff or sugary drinks as the last thing they ate. The sugar doesn't make them hyper, but when the blood sugar crashes about 30 min-1 hr after eating a sugary snack it is a great recipe for problem behaviors.

    Those won't help today, but they might be things you could start to watch for future Sundays.
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, it happened just before lunch (he had not yet eaten) and it had been about two and a half hours since he had had breakfast (clocks went forward here last night so timings a bit out) of apple juice, wholemeal bread and chocolate spread and an apple... I did have some kind of instinct the hunger/lack of sustenance was something to do with things. I suspect you are right about the not cuddling him - I should explain that I don't actually do this, I just feel like it but my voice becomes kinder and gentler...
    Part of the problem here is that I hate the tantrums. Hating them, I enter into negotiation in an attempt to circumvent them... because I know that if I just say "that's the way it is, no helmet, no bike", a huge tantrum will be unleashed, in a bid to get me to change my mind and because in certain moods and at certain times (it's not always like that), a simple "no" will be totally unacceptable to him. Also, I know it sounds ridiculous but it is also part of the truth, my neighbours hear everything that goes on in our house (and I in theirs, lucky me). I do not want them to hear J having tantrums all the time, fuelling their image of him as a bad, unruly kid...
    But none of this changes the fact that really that is what it comes down to, I am just saying this isn't something that can be negotiated and I guess I need to let J ride out all his high drama and tantrum antics without engaging. It is hard!
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You have to remember...."normal" child vs. difficult child. Even a typical child will sometimes be rude, but they don't tend to repeat it too much after there is a consequence (until those teen years). It is a good idea to have different expectations of your child. Every time you get too angry over it, it is an exercise in futility and minutes of your own life that you can't get back. Growing up in the US, where, in many homes, kids do talk back and get rude (and it happened in our house), I just kind of roll my eyes and walk away from that sort of talk. The kids get no rise out of me and no attention for that (when they are little). Consider this a practice for those teenage years :) Trust me, you can not shake them or stop them when they are fifteen and arguing over whether they can go out with their friends or not! If engaging him doesn't work, why waste your time? Why not try ignoring him, no matter how much he jumps up and down. will he stay in his room if you put him there? That's good too. Usually they get tired of being there and calm down on their own.

    I have never been Miss Perfect Parent, but one thing I was able to do was to stay calm while my kids were throwing tantrums. Sonic was especially challening. He would BITE me! To the best of my ability, I would carry him, kicking, screaming, trying to bite me, acting like I was killing his room. After throwing his pillow at the door a few times (we had all his heavy items removed), he would calm down. He seemed to need time alone to calm down...
  6. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    We have these types of issues EVERY time he is hungry and I can count on a few days of this EVERY time the clocks change. Both of these are a given and I know to expect them. NOT a good combination.
    It might not be the "no" part. It sounds like it goes deeper than that. Both of my kids get like this whenever things don't go the way they expect them to. They also have a hard time understanding MY logic. Theirs is so different that they just do not see any other possibility but their own.

    Have you tried Plan B? I am assuming if you'd asked J why he didn't want to wear his helmet, he'd have told you about friend not having to wear one. If that's the case, then I would (and have) said something along the lines of "It's my job as a parent to keep you safe. I take my job very seriously because I love you and care about you so much. I'm sorry friend's mom doesn't feel her son's safety is very important. That makes me sad but I'm glad you will be safe." I have used that kind of logic with difficult child 1 when he plays the "but so-and-so can" card. Because it's a consistent explanation of all things safety, I am hoping some day it will get through to him.

    As for the guilt about losing it, I have so been there done that. . . . A little more often than I like. It IS hard to maintain our cool 100% of the time when we are bombarded with the behaviors we are dealing with. But keep in mind, we are ONLY human and we WILL makes mistakes and we do have FEELINGS and beliefs of our own and ..... Need I say more?!? Go easy on yourself. You're doing the best you can, by yourself, with what you have. That is all anyone can ask or expect. Do something nice for yourself today.
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Ah, yes, MWM, words of wisdom! :) I am sure you are right. Why waste my time??
    The thing is, though... this is what is confusing... quite a lot of the time, J is like a "normal" child - a spirited, more active than usual one, but co-operative, helpful, friendly and polite. So this sets me up, again and again, for thinking "oh, okay then...." and not giving him special considerations or treatment. I keep getting lulled into this false sense of things (as one would, I suppose). It is odd. I don't understand why he is sometimes so easy child-ish and then suddenly this difficult child will come roaring out again.
    And I did, yes, think exactly this today - I can pull some kind of authority over him now but it won't be like this when he is 15. Oh lord, can we just jump to 21, please :)
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks TeDo, I appreciate the supportive words :)
    I did try talking to J about why I wanted him to wear the helmet, because I did not want him to hurt himself but he just covered his ears with his hands at that point, said "I'm not listening!" and started singing very loudly...
    I have my own need for order, calm and stability. That may seem selfish but it is absolutely part of my reality in being a parent to this particular child; I could wish it different, but it isn't. When J's gfgness suddenly appears (with a vengeance) out of left field, having lain in abeyance for some time, it triggers a particular stress reaction in me. I honestly think for my own sanity and peace of mind, let alone his (though they are connected) I need to walk away and not engage with the unreasonableness of a five year old being difficult and oppositional.
    Interestingly, he did say himself today several times after our ding-dong that he wanted to "be by himself" and did go up to his room at one point. I need to have strategies in place to calm things before they get to that dangerous and destructive point for us both.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  9. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I completely understand. difficult child 2 has always been a responsible, mature child. But lately, he's becoming more difficult child-ish and it is frustrating. I don't know how many times I've told him "Can I please just have my old difficult child 2 back? PLEASE". As for difficult child 1, there are times when he acts so "normal" that yes, I mourn what sometimes is but have to remind myself that I should cherish these "normal" times but not expect them. It IS really hard sometimes not to get wrapped up in the "you did it yesterday, why can't you do it today" thinking.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Is that a fairly typical breakfast for him? When you take a look at the meal you listed, which was apple juice, wholemeal bread, chocolate spread and an apple, where is the protein? The entire meal is VERY high in sugar. Apple juice has 19 grams of sugar in a 6 ounce serving (170 gramm serving size), wholemeal bread has 2 gram sugar and 4 gram protein for 1 commercially made slice of bread. An apple that weighs approx 223 grams (3 1/4 inch size apple) has 23 grams of sugar. Nutella (the only chocolate spread that comes to mind) has 21gram sugar and 3 gram protein. This means that using these approximate measurements of his breakfast and assuming he ate 2 slices of bread, difficult child had a whopping 67 grams of sugar and only 11 grams of protein for breakfast.

    Just because the sugar is from fruit or juice does NOT make it any healthier. Fructose acts like regular sugar in the body, for the most part. they have the same amount of calories and both are fairly simple sugars. This breakfast could be a contributor to his meltdowns. Breakfast is the meal that should especially have protein because you have not eaten in many hours. There are a lot of ways to add protein, from adding an egg or two to using protein powder or letting him have a more traditionally "dinner" type of food that is high in protein.

    I am NOT saying you are a bad mom. I think many of people would think that was a halfway decent breakfast, but really the amount of sugar is very high. Fruit juice is a HUGE source of sugar in many people's diet and often they are unaware of how much sugar they are consuming even if they buy unsweetened juice. There are 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar, so difficult child had 16.75 teaspoons of sugar at breakfast.

    This does contribute to a blood sugar crash which could have a big impact on difficult child's behavior. The apple is the healthiest source of sugar n his breakfast because it is with a lot of other good things. Apple juice si about as healthy as soda, and nutritionists here are urging people to avoid drinkng it when possible or to treat it like soda when you add it to your diet.

    Please know that I ONLY put all this in writing because seeing the actual numbers can make us ALL realize how many different sources of sugar we are consuming. We can't avoid the big blood sugar crashes if we don't have the facts on how much sugar we are really consuming. This was NOT meant to upset anyone, and I got the nutrition info from the USDA website and from several manufacturer's websites. these are based on rough portion sizes.

    One super helpful thing that made a big difference in the number and degree of the tantrums/rages that Wiz had was when I remembered that there is no point in trying to negotiate or explain the reasons for a decision when the person is raging. A person in a rage or tantrum really needs to be left alone bcause it is futile to try to reason with them. When I started to just not talk about whatever it was until we were both calm, the quantity and ferociousness of the rages and tantrums and hissy fits decreased rapidly. I would just walk away or stay quiet as much as I could, and the episode was over much faster. Then wehn we both were calm agan we could discuss things. You just cannot have any rational or meaningful dialogue or problem solving with a person who is that upset.

    Those are just some thoughts that I had. Of course the situation is more complex than just cutting down on the sugars and not talking to him during an outburst, but I thought the info might help you figure out how to break the cycle of having problems on your only day off.
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Oh I agree, I agree Susiestar! But the problem is that J is just so incredibly picky about food. The vast majority of foodstuffs he will NOT eat. Won't touch milk, most cheeses, most meats, etc, etc. This is about the healthiest combination of foodstuffs that he will agree to eat for breakfast... I do occasionally get him to eat a boiled egg but I didn't attempt that this morning. And J... simply will NOT eat what he does not want. Of course if I had my way he would eat far healthier things... but I give up trying to battle with him about food that he will not eat to the point of making himself vomit if I try to insist...
    So... it's compromise. He can have the chocolate spread he craves, for example, but on wholemeal bread with butter. It's the best I can do.
  12. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I know how hard it is to deal with tantrums. However, the helmet is not negotiable. Here are some of my suggestions -

    Contact friend's mom and say that you are happy they are riding together but it would make you feel more comfortable if her son wore a helmet. She may not even be aware he isn't. If she is receptive, you now have a united front.

    If she is not, I would talk to J when he's calm and explain that this is a non-negotiable rule. If he wants to ride he needs to wear the helmet. I wouldn't tell him his friend's mommy doesn't care about his safety as much as you do about J's, even if it's true, because J might repeat that... I would say that other families do things differently and this is how we do it.

    Also, my easy child daughter went through this phase. Since she's easy child, I could reason with her. Turned out the problem was she hated her helmet - it was ugly and uncomfortable. We let her pick out a new one and no more problems.

    For my difficult child, it took telling him that where we live, the law mandates helmets for ages 14 and under, which is true. He didn't want to go to jail.

    Many things can be negotiated, this is not one of them.

    Good luck.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    No difficult child is a difficult child all the time. I have a little girl at school who bites. She bites so badly that parents have complained and threatened to pull their kids out of school. But 80% of the time she isn't biting or having a fit. Even difficult children seem "typical" at least half the time, unless they are extremely damaged. My autistic son seemed normal a lot of the time too. The thing is, he WAS wired differently and DID have moments, some unpredictable times and some predictable ones (like when he was under too much stress) when it would all fall apart.
    Some wise person once told me, "The only thing you can guarantee about life is that there are no guarantees." I think this applies very well also to our difficult children. We don't always know what will set them off. We just know that something will. it is always good to plan for these lovely occasions in advance :) Might not even hurt to write it down and refer to notes when tempted to scream at the top of lungs over the difficult child's raging and never ever stop.
  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I can relate to the "picky eater" side... I was one. But... there are ways around it. Not necessarily hassle-free, but it can be done.
    You are right - you CANNOT force him to eat anything. Period. You do more damage even trying.
    But... you are allowed to HIDE stuff he wouldn't normally eat, inside stuff he does eat.

    Here's an un-related example:
    I knew of a kid who went for a couple of years only eating Mac'n'cheese. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now, that isn't too bad for a once-in-a-while meal, but no fiber and no veggies? The mom got a brainwave, and started pureeing cooked cauliflower and blending that into the mac'n'cheese when cooking it, when the girl couldn't see. The girl gladly ate her mac'n'cheese... but was getting "more" than she bargained for.

    Would he eat what we call "french toast"... you won't call it that, there, of course!... Bread, dipped in a mix of beaten egg with a bit of milk, and cooked like pancakes? That adds the protein from the egg, without "eating" an egg...

    Portion sizes can be a problem, too. Eat a WHOLE egg? maybe that's just too much. Would he eat a quarter of a hard-boiled egg and you have the rest? Or maybe he likes the white but not the yoke? or vice-versa? The white has the protein - the yolk has vitamins and minerals... either way, it's a major addition to his diet. When I was a kid, the only way I'd eat eggs was scrambled... I couldn't stand the texture of either whites or yokes, no matter how you cooked them, unless they were mixed together.

    If he doesn't like milk products in general, they may not be agreeing with him. Does he like yogurt? Some people can tolerate yogurt but not other milk products.

    What about hummus or other lentil-based protein sources? For a while, my kids would eat roasted soy beans when they wouldn't touch other proteins.

    If you can't get protein into him for breakfast, then... plan to have a snack 1.5 hours later. Blood sugar crash is usually about 2 hours from eating high-carb meal.

    Just brainstorming...

    About the helmet... what is the law? Here, we have law on our side. Under 18 = helmet required by law. Makes it easier...
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the useful suggestions.
    Funnily enough, IC, I decided to try French toast (that's what the British call it - it doesn't exist in France :)) with J last night for the first time. He sniffed it carefully, as he does with all new foods and then started groaning about it... on my urging, he ate a slice or so, with ketchup, but then no more. This morning he ate a whole boiled egg (he'll eat a whole egg, no problem) with a piece of toast and Marmite. Do any of you know what that is, I wonder?? Great British invention. I am thinking I will get him to eat an egg every morning, make it a new routine. At school they give them something small to eat mid-morning.
    Yes, perhaps I am confused about what it means to be a "difficult child". Maybe I have some preconception that difficult children are difficult almost all the time. When I say that J is a easy child sometimes, though, I don't just mean that he is not raging or being oppositional - I mean that he is often eager to please, helpful, co-operative. So this is what I find confusing. I think it is probably quite right that I have to just get it into my mind that he IS unpredictable and that certain triggers - like being hungry, say - will set him off more than a typical child.
    Getting stressed with his rages just isn't good for either of us. I really do need some plan of action for these kind of occasions.

    PS - no law about helmet wearing here, though the majority of kids seem to wear one.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  16. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    When V is having a meltdown (specially in public), I find it very helpful to simply repeat the same phrase over and over: " you can have x but you will be fine". It allows me to give a reply without feeding into it. One can't always ignore a tantrum (safety, true distress from the child, etc...), so having a simple answer can help both the parent and the child. In the helmet episode, I would probably have said "wearing a helmet is the rule, no helmet no bike" just once, and then reapeat "you don't want your helmet on, but you will be fine".
    At home, like others suggested, I find it helpful to send him to his room and tell him once that he can come back out when he is done screaming. I am lucky that he actually does it despite crying, screaming and kicking.
    As far as the food issue, no advice! I'm still looking for the magic answer. V will also vomit if forced...
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Just me and my musings as usual, but... it seems like J always ends up with trouble:
    1) on a day with less structure (Sunday), or
    2) when something goes against the "rules" - like, if the "rule" is no helmet, no bike, then how come the neighbor boy doesn't have to wear one?
    (plus a few more...)

    Extreme black-and-white thinking? Rules and structure rigidity? Maybe a few Aspie-like traits?? Just wondering...
  18. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    No, I don't think J has Asperger's, for all sorts of reasons that I won't go into here. But he definitely likes structure and routine and transitions and change are difficult for him. They are less difficult than they were, and I think this is related the fact that he is less anxious than he was, also related to the fact that his life is more settled and stable than it was. For quite a long time after we came to live in France (after many moves and changes in his life up to then) I couldn't even take a different route home from somewhere without him freaking out. Now I can make a spontaneous change of route or decide to go somewhere different than planned and he will just comment on it without getting upset.
    What I do think though... is that the sensory stuff really plays into his behaviour much more than I or anyone else around is conscious of. His meltdowns happen, generally, when he is tired or hungry or both. I have got better than I was at trying to be aware of this and taking food when I meet him from school at lunch time or in the evening (a piece of cheese or a few nuts, for example) even though we live two minutes away or trying to make sure he doesn't get overtired or stimulated.
    Another trigger I have definitely noticed is that he gets more "difficult" and oppositional when other kids are around (as on Sunday, for example). Happened tonight, for instance. Picked him up from after-school play and he was fine - polite, amenable. He had supper then we went outside to play with a ball for a bit. He played calmly, enjoying himself but not manic. Then my neighbour came out with her little girl and J started "showing off" - being loud, being a bit silly. Then they went in after a bit and he was suddenly really oppositional and difficult, didn't want to come in for his bath, started shouting about wanting to play with his other friend in the village, etc, etc. Having learnt my lesson from yesterday, I said nothing, didn't rise to the fight, just repeated that it was his bathtime in five minutes and he needed to come in. He did eventually come in, groaning and protesting, but he came in.
  19. buddy

    buddy New Member

    When you say some of these things it reminds me very much of my currently age 13 yr old nephew. He has adhd and has always had some sensory stuff...relatively mild from the outside but I can only imagine from the times I have had a itch that drives me nuts how what others might think is minor could really interfere with everything they do.

    A non-diagnosis thing that comes to mind when you talk about him sometimes is what we call around here... hard headed! He really gets into his idea of how he wants things to go. If you dont have to LIVE with it, it can be kind of funny at times. My nephew used to absolutely not be able to function if he didn't have a drink (I mean we had to pull over on trips of we ran out and it hit him at that moment...usually all of us learned to keep drinks and food in the car for him)..... low on food fuel...forget about it...he could not do anything but melt down. He is much more self reliant now so doesn't get frustrated like that but his adhd is coming out in different ways now... failing classes, getting overwhelmed, not knowing where to start on projects, etc. Anyway, I am rambling but I dont think I ever told you how much you make me think of our Josh when you describe your J. many things he does sounds very familiar. (looking back now... only two of us could even feed him as a baby, had to do it in a quiet place, even with the lights low... ). But in terms of social life and general functioning...he is perfectly fine. It is interesting.
  20. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You're on the right track.
    It's like so many things with difficult children. There's a set of symptoms... and it can mean many things. But you have to get to the cause before you can figure out a good plan of action.