Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Portland, OR
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I may not be one to talk here, something jumped out at me from your post.
You said you didnt want to undermine the THEREPISTS authority. But to your son, YOU are the authority. You trump everyone in his eyes. So it might have been really confusing for him to be asking for your help, while you are right there, and he wasn't getting it. (Im trying to be as gentle as I can here because I cant immagine the trauma you yourself are weeding through right now)
IMO (which doesnt mean squat) you need to rebuild trust with your son again by NEVER taking him to tha ttherepist again. She humilated him. She tramatized him. I honestly think you should tell him that what she did to him was WRONG, and that your sorry she did that to you. And that she will NEVER be able to do that to her again.
Then I would write the therepist telling her the fit is no longer working with her, and you will no longer be requiring her services. And find another therepist.
I forget, did you ever say whether or not you had your sons lead levels tested?
OMG, I feel so bad mama. I cant immagine enduring any of that. Im so sorry. I dont know what else to say. It just doesnt seem fair that a good, hardworking mother and sweet little boy should have to endure such trauma their entire lives. Sending you a million virtual hugs.
|Right. If kids who are "paddled" act out, they are just "paddled" more. Is that what you would suggest?|
|You are being extremely judgmental, and I think there's a big difference between offering a perspective or opinion and making judgments about how I am parenting or not parenting. Without knowing me and seeing how I parent my child in person, you really can't make judgments about whether I am imposing consequences or not.|
DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).
Originally Posted by Bisou
She was shocked at his inability to calm down
I don't know why everyone expects that if a person isn't calming down that it is a choice, and that if you heap enough consequences upon it they will choose to make the other choice to calm down.
Looking at myself and my own DS, that is not the case. Saying "if you calm down you can have X" or "if you don't calm down Y will happen to you" is irrelevant, and often adds to the emotion by coming across as patronizing and arbitrary. Rather than addressing the issue, it creates a new battle that has to be fought in addition to the original one you are fighting with internally. And it is all the more frustrating when the person who is supposed to be on your side is the one adding more battles when you are already dealing with something.
Anyway, I don't see how anything the therapist did had the potential to teach him to be in control of his emotions. I see a lot of ways it was intended to teach him to submit to authority. And I see what some of the others are saying -- if you learn to to what you are told well, then life is easier and you have fewer conflicts to deal with. But is that the route to better mental health for him? Or is that just permanently resigning himself to forever being in the power of others who are stronger than him?
Rereading Edna's posts, I see that she is entirely coming from a place that assumes that it was all in his control. And based on that premise her posts make sense. But I can't believe that premise.
I know that a lot of my friends have toddlers whose tantrums are completely in their control. They can start and stop them at will, and use them manipulatively. But my 3yo is clearly not like that. His tantrums are when he is overwhelmed past the point of being able to cope rationally. He cannot stop them just because it would be in his best interest to do so. He is not choosing to tantrum. Rather he is in a place where he cannot find any course of action that he can choose that is within his ability to handle it emotionally.
If your DS was not able to stop his tantrum to get the offered rewards, I would think he is probably similar to my DS in this way. (And I know I am like that too, with crying, though DH always assumes I cry to manipulate him, not because my emotions are overwhelmed. But I know that it is not a tool I am choosing.)
And I would say that if he knew of a way to get a handle on his emotions before they got so out of hand, he would probably love to do that. I think that is what the focus should be on. Learning to the point of habit some techniques for stopping the process of getting worked up before it gets that bad, and then having some sort of systematic procedure to work himself back down when it does happen. Most of the people I know with unhealthy coping mechanisms (like alcoholism) turn to that mechanism because at the time they become emotionally desperate, they do not know what else to do. They need an active process that promises results, and something they can make routine so they can do it without thinking much. Something physical and sensory often works for people. (Think of Sherlock Holmes playing his violin when something is disturbing him.)
|Your son, THE WHOLE TIME, had the option of calming down, apologizing, and going to the bathroom.
He CHOSE not to.
|You feel bad for him. Not the therapist that made a simple, human request that he stop threatening, and then peed on her?|
|No, I don't know how you parent on a daily basis.
I do know that what you describe here is a litany of abuse and victimization, rarely of him overcoming obstacles. You see him continually traumatized by obstacles.
|I would argue that this is LESS respectful of him as a person than to treat him as a survivor and look at this from a perspective that he is going to have a lot more problems and obstacles, if he does not learn to respect others.
I'm not talking "minding" adults.
I'm talking about respecting other people.
He peed on your therapist because he refused to calm down and apologize, after trashing part of her room and going at her physically. And you feel bad for HIM?!?!
If my child did that, I would be horrified at my child, or at the very least, sad about HER CHOICE.
I don't know why everyone expects that if a person isn't calming down that it is a choice, and that if you heap enough consequences upon it they will choose to make the other choice to calm down.
|Looking at myself and my own DS, that is not the case. Saying "if you calm down you can have X" or "if you don't calm down Y will happen to you" is irrelevant, and often adds to the emotion by coming across as patronizing and arbitrary. Rather than addressing the issue, it creates a new battle that has to be fought in addition to the original one you are fighting with internally. And it is all the more frustrating when the person who is supposed to be on your side is the one adding more battles when you are already dealing with something.|
|I know that a lot of my friends have toddlers whose tantrums are completely in their control. They can start and stop them at will, and use them manipulatively. But my 3yo is clearly not like that. His tantrums are when he is overwhelmed past the point of being able to cope rationally. He cannot stop them just because it would be in his best interest to do so. He is not choosing to tantrum. Rather he is in a place where he cannot find any course of action that he can choose that is within his ability to handle it emotionally.|
|If your DS was not able to stop his tantrum to get the offered rewards, I would think he is probably similar to my DS in this way.|
|And I would say that if he knew of a way to get a handle on his emotions before they got so out of hand, he would probably love to do that. I think that is what the focus should be on. Learning to the point of habit some techniques for stopping the process of getting worked up before it gets that bad, and then having some sort of systematic procedure to work himself back down when it does happen. Most of the people I know with unhealthy coping mechanisms (like alcoholism) turn to that mechanism because at the time they become emotionally desperate, they do not know what else to do. They need an active process that promises results, and something they can make routine so they can do it without thinking much. Something physical and sensory often works for people. (Think of Sherlock Holmes playing his violin when something is disturbing him.)|
I agree. I have a child who has intense, violent tantrums, and is unable to calm herself down even for a really fantastic reward. Considering that OP's child is already in therapy for similar issues, I think the assumption that he *can* calm himself and is choosing not to is deeply flawed. For many children, that would be true, but from everything OP has said, and everything I have observed in my own child, it does not appear to be in this case.
|ETA: It really sounds like the therapist came at this from a faulty perspective too, and ended up just setting him up to fail. It also sounds like she acknowledged that and is able and willing to try a different approach in the future. Bisou, if your son is willing to go back, I think it could be a valuable lesson for all.|
|I don't see why you are attacking me so much for this.|
|it was said after he made repeated requests and in a voice of complete desperation, like "PLEASE LET ME GO TO THE BATHROOM OR I AM GOING TO HAVE AN ACCIDENT!!!!"|
|I agree. I have a child who has intense, violent tantrums, and is unable to calm herself down even for a really fantastic reward. Considering that OP's child is already in therapy for similar issues, I think the assumption that he *can* calm himself and is choosing not to is deeply flawed.|
|ou choose to disregard these points, to just ignore them, and instead insist that he was able to control himself.|
And IIRC--was not the abuse of holding him down etc. occurring about three-four years ago? As far as I remember, there was physical abuse when he was about two, a break in, and those were the two major things, is that right?
If he could not control himself, there was no way the therapist could safely let him go pee.
Sorry. You can't have it both ways--"Oh, if she'd have let go, he'd have gone pee, come back, and dealt," AND "he was so out of control, he couldn't calm down or apologize".
First, I don't appreciate the sarcasm, because I have repeatedly expressed my sympathy here. I was trying to point something out here that you obviously aren't ready to hear, but that doesn't mean I was trying to "win"--I was trying to get my point across, but you repeatedly came back to the same script.
You seem really, really disturbed and upset at the idea that your son could be even partly responsible for such dire consequences. I am sorry for putting that out there because it's obviously too much to consider at this point.
I am really sorry for all you are going through, but I don't think it's unsupportive to suggest an alternative interpretation of the situation.
|I think it's pretty clear that most people here feel that he does not have the ability to calm down when his SPD is triggered.|
|The same way that if one of us was crying uncontrollably from a serious trauma, we couldn't just stop crying on a dime even if someone offered us a million dollars.
From all your posts (and I've read them all over the year) it seems that he responds better to a time away than a restraint hold. So, like you believe, the trip to the bathroom may have just been enough to help him pull himself together.
|Have you worked on some breathing techniques to help him calm down? Have him look at you and you both breathe slowly and say In through the nose out through the mouth. It's simplistic, but can be very effective for everyone.|
Restraint holds usually seem to REALLY escalate him. When I was using restraint holds consistently at the advice of my son's therapists, sometimes I would have him in restraint for hours and hours on end because he was just completely unable to calm down. It did not help him calm down. It did not teach him that there were consequences or change his behavior, even though I did it consistently EVERY time he was out of control. It really made things worse. It was only when I decided to try another approach that he showed any signs of improvement.
I think for my son, the idea that he was not going to be allowed to go to the bathroom just sent him further over the edge. I think having a moment to get away from the restraint hold and go to the bathroom so he no longer had that panicked "I am going to wet my pants!" feeling would have helped calm the situation. I think the point to teach him to calm down, not that "when you do something wrong, you will be punished no matter what you do, what you say, or what you need, or no matter how scared or upset you are"? We want him to act reasonably, and I think that being overly harsh teaches him to be unbending in return. When he feels he is listened to and respected, and I DON'T mean getting out of consequences for bad behavior, but when he feels like his voice is heard, I have found him to be much more compliant, less aggressive, and more stable.
I totally get what you are saying about me being worried about undermining the therapist's authority, and I even had that thought when I was writing the post. I guess what I was thinking is that I try not to contradict another adult and authority figure (grandparents, therapist, teacher) in front of my son because I don't want my son to think that the other person is the "bad guy" and doesn't need to be listened to, just as they say you shouldn't contradict the other parent during a discipline situation.
However, I DO feel like I should have said, "I think I need to take my son to the bathroom and we will come back and finish the time out." It just all happened so fast that as I was thinking it through and thinking, "I need to take him; I should say something now," he peed his pants.
You said very strongly that I shouldn't take my son back to the therapist. This is how I initially felt, but I was torn because she's been a very good support system for me until now, and we've seen her for about 2 years.
If you can, read my posting about the phone conversation I had with my son's therapist, and let me know if you still feel the same way. She has admitted that she didn't handle it as well as she could have and wishes she had let him go to the bathroom. She has promised to always let him go to the bathroom in the future. She wants to apologize to my son.
I guess I feel like maybe I should give it at least one more try to at least allow my son to hear her apology and see if we can work through this. I do want to talk to her further about whether we can modify her approach, as several people have mentioned (and I agree) that it seems odd to start a session in the same bad place that we were in at the end of a previous session after an entire week has passed. She has also agreed that we won't start in a time out next time, and this is something I wouldn't have allowed. I wouldn't have brought him back an entire week later to be put into time out.
I have not had my son's lead levels tested. I don't think we've been in a place where he is really exposed to lead, as we don't live in an older home and never have. Do you think that would still be relevant?
You've always been such a good support person for me on MDC, and thank you for that.
I agree with you, it sounds like your son was really very scared. I have PTSD. Sometimes, in trying to set limits or help me, my therapist inadvertently does something that REALLY triggers me. When that happens, I cant calm down or act reasonably because of the terror. That doesn't mean he stops trying to set the limit, but it does mean that once I calm down some, and he backs off, that we talk about other ways to reach the same goal that aren't so absolutely terrifying. Usually we come up with something and the issue is resolved. It isn't that I dont want to get better, its that sometimes we need to take a different approach.
I'm also a bit embarrassed to admit, that I have a nervous bladder. When I'm anxious or nervous, I have to pee, alot, about every 5 minutes. And if I get extremely scared, sometimes I wet my pants, even as an adult. Sometimes I realize its going to happen shortly before it does, but a bathroom is just not accessible for whatever reason (for instance, when I'm 30 ft up a tree, or in the middle of a haunted house). I think its entirely plausible and likely that your son really couldn't control it.
I'm relieved to hear your therapist has thought about it and wants to apologize. I think thats good for him to learn, that adults are sometimes wrong, and that they apologize.
I'm worried that she wants to start with the toys all over again. I think after a session like that, its probably best just to back off and try a new solution. What if she started the session by asking your son what would help with the toy problem? He's old enough to have some ideas, it would give him some ownership over the solution, and maybe it would solve the toy issue. And it might end the power struggle they're stuck in. I would also brain storm other solutions with her. I would assume its not practical to say he cant play with whatever toy are on the floor when he leaves next session, because she probably has lots of toys, and other kids need to use them in between. Plus, a week is a long time for a consequence. I like the special reward idea. It could be immediate (like a sticker) or long term, like keeping a chart and if he does it 5 sessions in a row, he'll get to do something cool. Bringing his own toys also seems like a fair idea. Or maybe limit his play to a small number of toys, until he proves he can pick them up, and then he gets to play with a few more. I'm sure there are many other solutions. As an adult, if I failed to do something, like picking up toys, I'd still be pretty po'd if I came back the next week and that person had strewn toys on the floor and was now insisting I pick them. I think someone else said, its now how adults have respectful relationships with each other, and I don't think its a good example for a child either. She's there to help him, hopefully compassionately. Not as an all powerful you must obey dictator.
The other thing that I think needs to be addressed is what other methods can be used to handle your son's outbursts? Obviously being restrained re-enacts the original traumas. If he's flashing back or experiencing terror due to that, a therapeutic hold is NOT going to help him calm down, and will only escalate things. I would look for other ways, ask your son, ask your therapist, and see what everyone can come up with. Has he ever acted out in public before? What did you do then? If he does it in session again, would leaving help? I'm really not sure what to suggest, but I think the therapeutic hold is probably re-traumatizing. Would he stay in a time out? What works at home? It sounds like, you don't use holds at home, and you're only agreeing to try holding him yourself because you think it would be less traumatic than her doing it- sort of like, she thinks a hold is the way to go, and instead of saying, at home, xyz works, you're just going along with her authority? I might be wrong. I just think a better plan would be to come up with inteventions that de-escalate the situation and keep him safe without triggering his PTSD.
I guess, I'd talk to her about those two issues before bringing your son back, and make sure they are resolved and you are on the same page as far as how to handle them. I think, if you start the session the same way the last (very bad) session started, your son is likely to balk. She's saying she's sorry for her reaction, but not trying to help him with whatever set hm off in the first place.
|That would have been the case with my ds! He was a handful at 4, and progressively better ever since. He probably would have been diagnosed with ODD because he could not deal with anyone being at all authoritarian or manipulative, no matter how subtly. He was very sensitive to people trying to control him.
With the peeing thing, no way could my ds have been cooperative if he needed to urinate. And he would not have realized that he needed to until too late when it seems like a manipulative thing when it is just an awful realization from his perspective.
|What always worked for me when ds was in attack mode was to make a beeline away from him. He'd follow me, of course, but his attention would go from trying to hit me to trying to be with me. I wouldn't say anything beyond something like "I'm going to walk over here." All the talk had been talked and he knew whatever I could say, just couldn't calm himself down, and saying things he knew tended to make him more frustrated.
I'd have had no concerns about safety letting him go when he needed to urinate because I wouldn't have sat or stood still but walked briskly to the bathroom. Trying to restrain or put a child like this in time out just feeds their anger and makes the relationship confrontational. Treating them respectfully, taking them seriously when they say something like they have to use the bathroom, builds trust. It makes them feel safe and eventually they don't get as much of a fight or flight reaction during common setbacks that don't phase other kids.
|I am so sorry for all that you and your little boy have been through. I feel fairly certain I would have cracked long ago.
I really liked Oubliette8's post and I would think coming up with a way for him to calm down when he cannot go to his room would be extremely important and something that would be the focus of the next session.
Also, and I feel uncomfortable saying this because you said you feel like EdnaMarie is attacking you and I don't want you to think that I am too, but I can see the perspective she is talking about. I am not talking about the past abuse that your son endured but this incidence with the therapist. It sounds like you are calling this another situation where your son was abused and he was the victim.
|I guess that I think for your sons sake it would be better for him to know that he was hurting his therapist and her office and she needed to keep herself safe and that is why she was holding him. It was terrifying for him and you all need to come up with a way to keep that from happening again but she was not abusing him. You keep coming back to the fact that even serial killers in prison can go to the bathroom when they need too and I don't think that is a healthy or reasonable comparison to me making.|
|Lastly, I don't know how you manage this without support and I understand needing to talk to someone after the session but I think calling your mother was a mistake. She blamed you and you took that on. Does she even want your son to be in therapy? I guess I feel from the rest of your dealings with her is that she is not someone I would trust to be at all helpful if I was emotionally fragile.|
|And again I am so sorry for what you all have been through. I am curious if you feel all of his aggressive behavior is due to the abuse or if you think there are underlying causes and he will eventually receive a diagnosis. I have a child in my life who has aspergers and his behavior when he is raging sounds very much like your son's. When he was a toddler there were some subtle signs that he had some issues. I am wondering if you noticed anything before the first abuse incident? His behavior with intervention and age has gotten much better.
I hope things continue to improve for you and your son.
So many hugs mama. Lots of stuff has happened here since the last time I logged on. Im sorry your feeling attacked. Knowing you, its probably adding to your stress levels, becuase you probably take even the smallest amount from every post made to this thread.
I actually would still consider having his lead levels tested. Just as a means to rule that out as a possibility, you know? its easy enough to do. Im actually kind surprised that his Docs have never offered to have it done. I know I should have it done, but for whatever reason we keep forgetting every time the kids have a wbv. We live in a house that has been completly redone, and their daycare has been completly redone twice. But it could end up being in places you just never would have thought of. you know?
And yes, after reading the update about the phone convo you had with the therepist, I feel better. I actually think it is crucial for her to apologize to your son for withholding bathroom rights. VERY important. I also think coming up with a "time out" technique for when hes not at home is also a good idea. Have you ever tried the breathing before? I know its no compariason because my son is only 3 and has never been traumatized as your son has (he also does not have SPD), but its a technique we have used with him when hes mad or frustrated. It seems to work and grabs his attention enough so that he can stop focusing on whats making him so mad in the moment and calm down. LOL, works for ME too.
I am one of those silver lining people (like, even mushroom clouds have em) so I would be trying to focus on what we can take from this experience and LEARN from it. 1.) your therepist will probably never pull the whole bathroom part EVER again, with any child. But also, how can we take from this experience and better our situation. I dont want to fire off stuff, cuz im not there with you.
PS, How is your son? Have you all talked about what happened?
I have been reading this thread over the last day or so, and I have to tell you that I think you are a strong, determined mother who is doing her best for her son. Your son is lucky to have you. Many parents would have effectively given up and burned out. I have no advice for you, but I would like to give you a link to this article http://www.slate.com/id/2273702/ Maybe it will help you find some answers. Good luck and stay strong.