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-   -   Dealing with out of control kid without losing my temper (http://www.mothering.com/forum/36-gentle-discipline/1426985-dealing-out-control-kid-without-losing-my-temper.html)

junipermuse 06-27-2014 02:13 PM

Dealing with out of control kid without losing my temper
 
I just totally lost my temper with dd(7) and I'm playing it over in my mind and can't figure out how deal with situations like this in the future, so i don't end up going to that awful angry mama place.

She woke up grumpy and fighting with dh this morning. But when I got up I cuddled with her, and then we had a nice morning. I made her a special breakfast. Then we read together on the back porch, while her brother (almost 5) drew with chalk on the patio. I think it was probably frustrating that he kept interrupting to tell us about his drawings, but I tried to keep his interruptions short and stay focused on her. After, she decided to go inside to read in her bedroom, while I cleaned the kitchen (which will probably take me all day because we spent all day at the park yesterday and so now I'm way behind).

At some point she came out to read in the livingroom and then ds decided he wanted to build a fort with the couch cushions. She started getting really upset with him because she didn't like seeing all the crumbs and stuff left on the couch when ds took the cushions off. She started to yell at him, so I came out of the kitchen to see what was happening. She got mean and started telling him he didn't even know how to make a fort and so he shouldn't even be doing it. I told her that he was allowed to make a fort and assured ds that I knew he'd be able to figure it out. I also suggested that she could read in another room if she didn't want to watch him build the fort, and that if she was going to continue to be mean to her brother she would have to go to her room and take a break. She started getting really angry and yelling at me and her brother, so I started walking her to her room. She continued to yell at me telling me I was ruining everyone's whole day and that if I just left her alone she'd be nice. Though from past experience, I know that once she starts getting worked up, if you just let it go, she doesn't calm down, but goes right back to being mean and angry.

I brought her book with her and would have stayed with her to help her calm down, but she started clawing at me as she got more angry. She continued to tell me that I was ruining what could have been a nice day. I told her that since she was hurting me she'd have to stay in her room alone until she calmed down. She tried to stop me from closing the door, saying she wasn't done talking to me, but I told her it would have to wait until she was done with her time out. I sat down on the outside of the door holding it shut. She is very strong and was pushing very hard on door. When that didn't work, she picked up a toy table (that fits her american girl dolls) and started banging it against the door. (I honestly thought she might break the door down). This is when I lost my temper. The fear of the door breaking, and thought that she was willing to break an expensive toy both really upset me. I went back in and gave her a few swats on the bum. I also yelled at her and put her back on the bed and walked out. She was so shocked she stayed on the bed and began to cry.

I feel really horrible, I don't ever want to hit my children. I absolutely don't believe in spanking, or any corporeal punishment. But I'm at a loss of how to defuse the situation. How do I make her see that she can't be mean and criticize other people in the family, without getting into the kind of power struggle that leads to us both losing our temper. I want her to see that if someone's innocent or innocuous behavior bothers her, that she's the one that needs to leave the situation or change her behavior, rather than taking her anger out on them. If it were just the two of us I would give myself a timeout when I felt myself getting to that point, but in this case I felt she needed to be removed from the situation so she couldn't hurt ds, so I couldn't just walk away from the situation to cool down. I hope some one has some ideas or insight that can help. Thanks

tadamsmar 06-28-2014 03:04 PM

Find positive ways to redirect her. Touch, get close, and use a calm voice when you prompt.

In that situation for instance, say "I am glad you noticed the crumbs under the cushions." Get close and touch and say "Please help me clean them up" or (if you need an additional incentive) "If you will help clean them up, we can do something fun after".

Try a few prompts, don't repeat them more than 3 times, keep calm, don't raise your voice.

Learn about the Patterson Coercive Cycle, and use the recommended practices to avoid it:

In general, focus on the behavior you want. Catch he doing good and give her positive attention when she is kind to her brother. When giving positive attention: do it immediately when or right after the behavior occurs, get close, touch, be enthusiastic (scale the enthusiasm to the kid, some like a lot - others not so much), don't caboose criticism on the end, do it often at first (lots of reinforced practice at first is the key).

Use a Kindness Chart.

You don't have to use praise, all types of attention are reinforcing. Show her you noticed by saying what you saw, do a running commentary when you like what you see her doing, show interest by asking questions, show gratitude, show admiration. If you use praise, use specific praise that describes the praiseworthy behavior, not generic praise like "good job".

As you are finding, out time-out can be difficult to use. Tend toward sending the both away for 5 minutes if there is a dispute rather than blaming one (but that might not be appropriate in all cases). Only use time-out for aggression and try other options first. Never threaten time-out, just start it when appropriate, be calm, don't talk much when getting it started,

You can train time-out with pretend time-outs where you give positive attention or points on a reward chart for a well executed time-out. Start with short time-outs and build to one-minute per year. Time-out will work as well, even if you give social or tangible reinforcment for a well-executed time-out. Use this approach to avoid defiance of time-out.

Getting time-out to not be counter-productive with a defiant kid is a pretty elaborate process.

Most of these ideas are from the book Kazdin Method. Learn more and use other methods for that book.

Use collaborative methods from the book Incredible Years, never give up on collaborative methods even if they don't work at first. Use them instead of rewards and punishment when you can. They are key to a good longer-term relationship with your kids.

One_Girl 06-28-2014 03:51 PM

I think sitting down with her and having a conversation about her ideas for managing her temper or walking away herself would be a good idea. She mentioned she wanted to be left alone so ask her how she wants your support in being left alone and what she wants you to do instead of forcing her to go to her room. Maybe you could have a three minute grace period after you point something out then bring her to her room. This way she gets time to self manage but there is also a deadline. Writing the plan down, perhaps with living room rules and calm down tips, may help her manage herself.

I think you should also consider reaching out to a good child psychologist or counselor for her. Not because of this one incident but because I think that anytime anger gets so extreme that you have to physically hold a door closed to protect yourself the problem is too big to solve alone. It sounds like she has a lot of anger and a counselor can help processing things differently so she doesn't get triggered by a sibling speaking to you or the presence of crumbs.

I don't think you should beat yourself up about your meltdown, we all have moments we regret as parents. It sounds like she is possibly a high needs child and finding something to do by yourself that refreshes you may give you the energy to meet those needs more effectively in the future.

tadamsmar 06-28-2014 07:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tadamsmar (Post 17738434)
In general, focus on the behavior you want. Catch he doing good and give her positive attention when she is kind to her brother. When giving positive attention: do it immediately when or right after the behavior occurs, get close, touch, be enthusiastic (scale the enthusiasm to the kid, some like a lot - others not so much), don't caboose criticism on the end, do it often at first (lots of reinforced practice at first is the key).

Give positive attention for the smallest acts of kindness or tolerance and for the smallest improvements. Be attentive to details when catching good behavior to encourage. Don't wait for perfection. When you get this started in a small way, it will tend to snowball in a good direction.

You should see noticeable improvements in two weeks.

Getting and using advice from a child psychologists is a good idea. particularly if you don't see improvement soon.

Viola P 06-28-2014 08:58 PM

I agree with she who suggested getting some kind of counselling. She sounds really miffed at the world and maybe her parents aren't the people she needs to get through whatever it is. When I was 14 I was assaulted but I couldn't tell my parents - *nothing* they said or did would have made me tell. But I became super angry. Really this worries me and I think she should see a counsellor.

tadamsmar 06-29-2014 06:15 PM

Quote:

She got mean and started telling him he didn't even know how to make a fort and so he shouldn't even be doing it. I told her that he was allowed to make a fort and assured ds that I knew he'd be able to figure it out. I also suggested that she could read in another room if she didn't want to watch him build the fort, and that if she was going to continue to be mean to her brother she would have to go to her room and take a break.
Keep is shorter and focused on what you want, for instance: "You can stay in this room if you are kind to your brother and let him to learn how." Avoid criticism ("mean" in this case). Avoid a direct threat ("if...you will have to go"), instead make an offer ("You can stay in this room if..."). Remember to get close to her and touch when you are prompting.

And, if she complies initially, make sure she gets positive attention. Come back soon, maybe in less than a minute, and give her positive attention for being kind, showing self-control and maturity (or find your own words) if she has not been mean and bossy for that short period.

tadamsmar 06-29-2014 06:31 PM

Quote:

She continued to yell at me telling me I was ruining everyone's whole day and that if I just left her alone she'd be nice. Though from past experience, I know that once she starts getting worked up, if you just let it go, she doesn't calm down, but goes right back to being mean and angry.
If she offers to be nice again, take her up on the offer. You say that she goes right back to being mean and angry. But maybe she was nice (or will be nice) for a short period, maybe you missed this detail. If you take her up on the offer to be nice, and she complies for even a short period, it gives you a chance to "catch her being good" (nice and cooperative wityou, in this case) and react with positive attention. The idea is to set her up for small successes by setting a low bar at first and provide positive attention for that small act of being nice and cooperative for a short time.

Avoid battles of will. Use the strategies for breaking the coercion cycle.

tadamsmar 06-30-2014 05:06 AM

Quote:

She continued to yell at me telling me I was ruining everyone's whole day and that if I just left her alone she'd be nice. Though from past experience, I know that once she starts getting worked up, if you just let it go, she doesn't calm down, but goes right back to being mean and angry.
An offer to be nice is a behavior that you want. Do not ignore or punish behaviors that you want. Instead, reinforce them with sort of positive attention I described earlier. I see that you did not like the outcome when you failed to ignore this wanted behavior in the past, but perhaps you overlooked a short period of being nice that could have been reinforced. Also, your child's behavior will change when you change your behavior, so the past is not a good predictor of what will happen. If you are concerned that she will fail to be nice because she is too worked up, the you could make a counter-offer like allowing her to stay in the room if she will sit and watch for one minute. Sit and watch is a alternative to time-out that might work as a calm down period for her. One minute is a little short (5 minutes would be better), but at this point you want to sit her up for success by making small requests, getting compliance, and reinforcing with positive attention, and then build on that.

lauren 07-05-2014 08:16 PM

Tadamsmar has great suggestions. The only thing I would add is to take a hard look at how/why she triggers you. Many of the things described may have turned out differently if you had shifted your perception of them, and not let fear take over. I would also suggest to never hold a child in a room against his/her will by force. That has got to be exceptionally frightening and would cause a lot of anxiety for a child, especially an out of control child. Better to hold the child herself and stay connected than to forcefully put a door between you. Your own stress and anxiety about the situation may be fueling things more than you've given attention to.


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