Would you punish your child for sending you to the ER? UPDATE POST #19 - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
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I have 5 stitches in my head courtesy of my DS, aged 4.5, who threw a D battery at me when I asked him to give it back. It was an accident; he was contrite, although he is typically a very active and rough child who needs a lot of help with controlling himself and monitoring his movements around others. He is not clumsy; far from it; he is large and very strong for his age and I think his motor skills are ahead of his maturity.

Anyway, DH was out of town when this happened. He called to check in this a.m. and when he heard the story, was very angry and said he "hoped there would be a consequence". I said there was; DS was contrite, was upset that I had to leave him with friends to go to the ER; etc. I also will not allow him to play with the flashlight anymore, since he took it apart and that is why the batteries were out of it.

DH thinks something else should occur, like a loss of privileges or something, since injuring others (not this severely and not usually on purpose) happens a lot with DS.

Thoughts?
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#2 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 01:09 PM
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I'm not sure 'punishment' is the way to handle it, given that he was contrite and given that he is still quite young. But given your concerns (that he frequently injures others), I would definitely address the situation.
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#3 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm not sure 'punishment' is the way to handle it, given that he was contrite and given that he is still quite young. But given your concerns (that he frequently injures others), I would definitely address the situation.
Do you have any suggestions?
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#4 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 01:41 PM
 
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That is a tough one.

I think that you are on the right track so far...and it is quite possible that he already understands that it was not okay to do that since he saw how hurt you got.

I don't think loss of privileges (besides maybe battery operated things) will help. But man would I be tempted!!

So sorry that this happened. I really don't know what I would do exactly, but I bet this will be a great thread to watch.
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#5 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 01:47 PM
 
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I think he probably feels bad enough already. If he had specifically tried to hurt you - it would be different, but it sound like he was just being a little thoughtless. Seeing that something you did hurt your parent enough to require stitches in scary!
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#6 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 01:54 PM
 
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He saw his mother hurt and bleeding, had to either wait in a boring ER or be separated from you (and probably worry) while you went to ER.

I think the natural consequences in a case like this are more than enough punishment. Especially if he felt bad and realised his part. I think imposing artificial, random consequences after the fact will send the message to him that feeling bad is not enough (or not important) and reduce his natural empathy.


(btw - I'm not totally against artificial consequences in some situations, but in this one I think natural consequences were plenty)

nothing more to say I guess :
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#7 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 01:57 PM
 
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I'm sorry that happened. Is it going to leave a visible scar?

I think what has already happened is enough. That and the sneaky little mean things you can do this weekend.. LMAO

Like when he wants to go somewhere, you say "No, sorry hon, my head reallllly hurts"

And, get LOTS of rest, watch lots of movies, and ask him to "please be quiet, Mommy's head hurts". LOL.

Other than milking the injury, and not letting him have the flashlight, I would think it should be over. I assume he feels kind of bad anyway.

But, from this day on, throwing ANYTHING should be outlawed in your home. He is almost five, and he can think of better ways to show he is angry.
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#8 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 02:06 PM
 
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ITA with NextCommercial
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#9 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 02:19 PM
 
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I've been thinking about your post since it reminded me of my *husband* when you said 'injuring others (not this severely and not usually on purpose) happens a lot.' DH is big, strong and for whatever reason, well, hurts people. He doesn't set out to do it, as you described with your son, but it does get more likely to happen when he is upset and somehow the lack of care approaches intentionally hurting at times. I've often joked that DH has some undiagnosed sensory integration problem manifesting in his inability to be gentle.

If I had a child like this, I would not punish. I think I would work very hard to address *carefulness* around other people. For some it may come naturally but I think there are those (like your son and my husband) who need to really work at it consciously.

I think an ongoing discussion about taking care around people, some role playing or other ways to remember what happens when he becomes physically uncontrolled, and a dialogue about how this kind of carelessness or even recklessness affects others are my best ideas. On this last one, this actually helps my husband. The affect on others of being the big bull in the china shop who bumps, bruises, knocks over and otherwise injures goes beyond just the injury. For one, people will avoid you and not want to be around, but the one that really hits home with DH is that people get the impression that he doesn't care if they get hurt. He does care, as it seems your son does, too, but part of expressing to others that we care is to take care not to hurt them, both emotionally and physically.

I;m rambling and perhaps sounding ridiculous...I think there is a lesson to be learned here about the true meaning of 'care-full' and I think for my experience with DH (a very caring man) that it doesn't come easily to everyone. I don't think punitive measures will teach the most important lesson to be learned here.
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#10 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 02:31 PM
 
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Also to add a note on the possibility of this being a sensory thing...I don't know much about that kind of thing but I really think I see it in DH. He not only hurts others and breaks things, he also hurts himself more frequently than most people I know (mostly bruises and busted knuckles, just minor things but there nonetheless), and just can't get in it him to be more gentle. He's not clumsy at all, he's just...forceful?

It reminds me of a kid that talks loud all the time and just can't seem to bring himself to whisper or lower his voice. You can remind him and he may do it once, but then defaults right back to *loud* with the next thing out of his mouth.

Maybe looking into appropriate avenues to get the 'roughness' out of his system would help? I'm not one to advise on this at all but I read that kind of suggestion on the forum and wanted to put it out there.
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#11 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 02:47 PM
 
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I think he probably feels bad enough already. If he had specifically tried to hurt you - it would be different, but it sound like he was just being a little thoughtless. Seeing that something you did hurt your parent enough to require stitches in scary!
:

If this were me, I really cannot imagine punishing my DD further because I know for a fact that seeing what she did to me would already be such serious consequences that I think in fact, I might have to try and see how I can console her lol! I really believe that most 4.5 year olds would be really mortified and guilty and feeling REALLY horrible for what they did, especially since this is an accident. So yeah, definitely NO punishments for us!
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#12 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 05:37 PM
 
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You said it was an accident and your son was upset that it happened. He has trouble monitoring his own gross motor movements. End of story.

I can't understand why your husband thinks he needs to be punished.

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#13 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 05:41 PM
 
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Also to add a note on the possibility of this being a sensory thing...I don't know much about that kind of thing but I really think I see it in DH. He not only hurts others and breaks things, he also hurts himself more frequently than most people I know (mostly bruises and busted knuckles, just minor things but there nonetheless), and just can't get in it him to be more gentle. He's not clumsy at all, he's just...forceful?
You might want to try "the out of sync child" or "Sensational Kids" -- one of the markers for a sensory issue is that they have trouble self-regulating. So, a 4, almost 5 year old who throws things when angry isn't out of the ordinary, but if hurting people is common, I'd look at how good a sense of his own body he has. There's a difference between being coordinated and knowing what's going to happen when you throw/push, etc.

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#14 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 05:53 PM
 
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You said it was an accident and your son was upset that it happened. He has trouble monitoring his own gross motor movements. End of story.
ITA.

Though I understand the worry and frustration that likely causes your dh wo want *something* done, I would probably leave it alone.

And milk it, as pp said.

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#15 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 05:58 PM
 
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He saw his mother hurt and bleeding, had to either wait in a boring ER or be separated from you (and probably worry) while you went to ER.

I think the natural consequences in a case like this are more than enough punishment. Especially if he felt bad and realised his part. I think imposing artificial, random consequences after the fact will send the message to him that feeling bad is not enough (or not important) and reduce his natural empathy.


(btw - I'm not totally against artificial consequences in some situations, but in this one I think natural consequences were plenty)
I agree with this.

Similar situation last summer: DS was jumping from couch to coffee table even though he had been told NOT to jump on the furniture. He did it anyway, the glass coffee table shattered, and he ended up with 8 stitches.

Natural consequences were much more of an impact than any kind of discipline would have been. Scold him? Send him to his room? What? He got his foot sliced and diced and then sewn back together. I think that'll do it.

Your ds saw mom bleeding and possibly crying then couldn't be with her (during your ER trip). I'm sure he was plenty broken up over it, too. I wouldn't heap more punishment on him.

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#16 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 06:01 PM
 
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You said it was an accident and your son was upset that it happened. He has trouble monitoring his own gross motor movements. End of story.

I can't understand why your husband thinks he needs to be punished.

Her dh might be of the school of thought that my dh is from -- kid misbehaves (by an adult's perception), kid must be disciplined. Thankfully, my dh listens to me when I remind him that the kids are not short adults.

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#17 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 07:00 PM
 
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Personally, I'm not against consquences/punishments per se but I wouldn't see the need for anything further in this case.

I don't know your son but I do know that if my daughter had hurt someone like that, regardless of how it happened, she'd be absolutely guilt ridden and horrified. There couldn't be any punishment worse than how she'd already be feeling.
I would have a talk with him about how you know he didn't mean to hurt you but that in fact it did hurt you. That you know it is difficult to have self control when feeling angry but remind him of the results of throwing things.
I also agree with the loss of the flashlight as well.

Good luck, I hope you are feeling better.
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#18 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 07:46 PM
 
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Her dh might be of the school of thought that my dh is from -- kid misbehaves (by an adult's perception), kid must be disciplined. Thankfully, my dh listens to me when I remind him that the kids are not short adults.
I'm guessing it was more, that his wife was injured, and Dad wasn't there. I would react kinda like that (knee jerk) if my child split my husband's head open.

I think saying "well, we need to punish him" sounds better than "Well, honey, he probably didn't mean to hurt you". Even if we don't WANT to punish him, we want to know our husbands want to defend us.(even agains pre-schoolers LOL) It just makes ya feel a little better.
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#19 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 10:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all the responses. First off, yes, I will have a scar but that's okay. It's on the eyebrow so the doc said it would not show much. I don't really care, I'm just glad my eye wasn't injured! A half inch down and I might be One-Eyed Rainbowbird! Scary thought!

Today was not a very good day. DH came home and talked to DS and then DH began to cry, he was so upset. DH was then grumpy all day and I asked him to PLEASE try to improve his mood for the sake of all of us....we need some peace and harmony here, and while I understand his reaction it just really wasn't helping.

DS had a pretty bad day, too. He was grumpy, all over his sister, and generally uncooperative. I think he was tired, feeling bad about the whole thing, and tired from not getting to bed on time last night. I ended up taking him and his sister to the farmer's market separately because he just couldn't keep his hands off her! He was very upset that I left with her first. Then I came back and walked the mile up with him, figuring the exercise would do him good. We had a nice time and found acorns and fallen leaves along the way. I didn't bring up the incident again, I just tried to bond with him a bit. But I did talk to him at bedtime, telling him I wasn't angry at him, that I knew it was a mistake, and that he would do better in the future.

I showed DH all your responses and he agreed that we need to look into helping him to self-regulate, not punish him more. DH just keeps saying he is worried that DS is going to grow up to be a criminal or something! My response is: if you would read at least A BOOK on child development you wouldn't have these worries. BTW DS' preschool teacher and pediatrician have no concerns about his development, and I have asked them both point-blank about his active and sometimes aggressive behavior. They categorize him within the realm of normal, albeit challenging.

I have gotten DH to agree (again) to have sanctioned wrestling times with DS where he teaches him how to touch others and how to stop when he is too rough. We have agreed to this before but somehow Dh never gets around to it!

I am also going to buy DS a sleeping bag to play in when he needs stimuli. Someone here suggested that a long time ago but I never followed up. :

Thank you all again. you give such great advice and I am happy to have my feelings all validated, of course
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#20 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 11:04 PM
 
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OK, this is probably not in line with other people's idea of "gentle discipline" but in my household violence against other people is not tolerated, and frankly throwing heavy objects at peoples heads falls into that category.

In this circumstance I'd probably assume that seeing you bleeding, being dragged to the emergency room etc. . . was enough consequence. However, if he had thrown and missed I probably would have reacted with some kind of consequence.

In my experience, being allowed to hurt people that they love (or attempt to hurt them) is a very scary thing for young children. Just like it's hard for a child who is spanked to understand that it's truly not OK for them to hit, I think it's hard for a child who is allowed to hurt people he loves to feel safe that it's not going to happen to him. So, in my house, while we practice gentle discipline for pretty much everything else, physical aggression is something that deserves a consequence -- whether it's a time out, or Mommy walking out of the room, or being aske to make amends through an extra task or whatever.
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#21 of 41 Old 09-22-2007, 11:30 PM
 
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, Rainbowbird. What a rough weekend!
It sounds like your response to this has been great, and I love your plan for the future.

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#22 of 41 Old 09-23-2007, 12:10 AM
 
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I'm guessing it was more, that his wife was injured, and Dad wasn't there. I would react kinda like that (knee jerk) if my child split my husband's head open.

I think saying "well, we need to punish him" sounds better than "Well, honey, he probably didn't mean to hurt you". Even if we don't WANT to punish him, we want to know our husbands want to defend us.(even agains pre-schoolers LOL) It just makes ya feel a little better.
Good point and you're probably right! We need to watch out for those pre-schoolers! They're a dangerous bunch!

OP, I'm glad things are smoothing out. My dh has scheduled tickle and wrestle time w/ our ds, also. He has Asperger's syndrome & Sensory Processing Disorder so being able to get the hard pressure he needs for his senses really works out well for him. (I'm going to take the advice you mentioned about the sleeping bag! I didn't even think of that.)

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#23 of 41 Old 09-23-2007, 01:30 AM - Thread Starter
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OK, this is probably not in line with other people's idea of "gentle discipline" but in my household violence against other people is not tolerated, and frankly throwing heavy objects at peoples heads falls into that category.
Well, ya know, I'm glad you brought this up, because we do need to figure out what to do in the future. Throwing things has never been "tolerated" in this house...we have done time-outs in the past for this. Today I reiterated again to him that he can NEVER throw anything in this house. Well, he got mad at us for something minor (we were folding up the futon that our friends had used last night and he didn't want us to) so he grabbed an empty tea canister (lightweight cardboard) and threw it across the room when it was explained to him that we could not leave the futon unfolded all day as it takes up too much space. He didn't throw it at anyone, but still, given last night's issue, we sent him straight to his room.

Actually, I took him to his room and spent about 15 min. on his bed talking to him. I then left for about 10 min. and he stayed up there playing until he came down himself.

I mean, WTF? We don't know if he is testing us, has anger issues, sensory, or all of the above.

But I do not want any sort of violence in our home. I COULD have lost an eye last night, whether he meant to hurt me or not. Can you imagine having to deal with that? Not just my eye, but teaching a 4 year old to live with the knowledge that he inadvertantly caused his mother's vision to be impaired? I mean, it is horrifying to even contemplate. And it scares me. I am up at 11:30 here b/c I couldn't sleep from the pain, had to take Tylenol. This is not fun.

I guess that is why DH has been such a mess today, he just is freaked that our beloved son hurt his beloved wife and he doesn't know what to do. Part of him wants to punish him but to me it seems a little like revenge, kwim? I just want to be sure this behavior doesn't continue. I want to do it gently though, in a way that will teach him empathy and caring, and be sure not to create other problems.

Are their any other opinions here on what we should do if DS continues to throw objects in the home? Time out? Loss of privilege? I am not talking about punishing for last night; I am talking about future incidents.

Thanks all. You are great!
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#24 of 41 Old 09-23-2007, 01:32 AM - Thread Starter
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, Rainbowbird. What a rough weekend!
It sounds like your response to this has been great, and I love your plan for the future.
Thanks. My head hurts like a mother though, no pun intended! I hope tomorrow is a better day for all of us.
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#25 of 41 Old 09-23-2007, 01:37 AM - Thread Starter
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You said it was an accident and your son was upset that it happened. He has trouble monitoring his own gross motor movements. End of story.

I can't understand why your husband thinks he needs to be punished.
It's because DS has a history of physical space/boundary issues...always touching/tackling others, just doesn't respect space or listen to directions to stop. Very hard to redirect.

I know, all very normal at times for a 4 year old. But DH is frustrated. he is not as up as I am on GD, he learns from me...gradually I have gotten him to agree we will never spank, it has been an uphill battle. He was raised with a very strict, spanking, not-so-nuturing mother. I think he is also thinking he has to "come to my rescue" or something..he is angry that I was hurt.

Which I can appreciate, but I am not in a mode to make DS feel worse about this.

BTW we did not punish him. It's all the emotional fallout we are dealing with. It makes my head hurt even more!
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#26 of 41 Old 09-23-2007, 10:17 AM
 
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no throwing anything!:
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#27 of 41 Old 09-23-2007, 10:26 AM
 
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Are their any other opinions here on what we should do if DS continues to throw objects in the home? Time out? Loss of privilege? I am not talking about punishing for last night; I am talking about future incidents.

Thanks all. You are great!

I don't know if you are still following this or taking a break to rest your poor head:

But the first thing that came to mind was the Second Step program. It is used in preschools and early elementary schools and it is an anger management/anti bullying program for kids. One of the sections is all on how to deal with anger & giving kids "tools" to deal with their anger appropriately.

When I used this w/ a preK class I taught - I had one shocker...we sat in a circle on the day we started the unit on anger and I asked my students if it was ok to be angry. Now, keep in mind - this was an alternative school, almost all AP parents. The students said - in unison - "NO!!" I was floored!

Needless to say we spent quite awhile on "it's ok to be angry" and what to do about those feelings. I have used some of what I learned teaching the program with dd. She gets very physical with her little brother when she is frustrated & if I hear her getting worked up I remind her to stomp her feet and "let the mad out on the floor" It helps diffuse the situation because there's a physical release and it's slightly silly.

I'm not sure where you would get the program. It is a big box w/ lesson cards - you might be able to borrow some of it from a local school if you know someone. It has great resources of other books (story books) that talk about feelings.

One concrete suggestion that comes to mind is creating a small area (maybe in his room - maybe in family room) with pillows, cushions, and maybe a big stuffed animal that could be his "mad" corner. So when he's feeling mad - not as a time-out or punishment - he has a specific place to go deal with it and let it out. Kick his feet, bang on the pillows, whatever helps him - without hurting himself or anyone else.

hope this helps!
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#28 of 41 Old 09-23-2007, 10:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by easy_goer View Post
On this last one, this actually helps my husband. The affect on others of being the big bull in the china shop who bumps, bruises, knocks over and otherwise injures goes beyond just the injury. For one, people will avoid you and not want to be around, but the one that really hits home with DH is that people get the impression that he doesn't care if they get hurt. He does care, as it seems your son does, too, but part of expressing to others that we care is to take care not to hurt them, both emotionally and physically.
: I so agree with this. This is my son ( and myself) to a T. We have had to work with him, as well. He is 10 yo now, but this is not a new issue. Teaching him to calm himself when he gets so wound up and angry has been very important. He's knocked his sister down stairs, etc...and was horrified that he had done that with his own body. Talking and helping him find the words and not being so explosive with his anger helped a lot. Taking a deep breath, walking away, are all things he now uses. Good luck.
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#29 of 41 Old 09-23-2007, 11:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Rainbowbird View Post
I mean, WTF? We don't know if he is testing us, has anger issues, sensory, or all of the above.

But I do not want any sort of violence in our home. I COULD have lost an eye last night, whether he meant to hurt me or not. Can you imagine having to deal with that? Not just my eye, but teaching a 4 year old to live with the knowledge that he inadvertantly caused his mother's vision to be impaired?
I see where you are coming from-- the general consensus here is that seeing you bloody/going to the ER (I'm so sorry for all of that!) was enough of a consequence. But, was it really? Shortly therafter, he could not keep his hands off of his sister and threw something AGAIN.

I guess what I would want to know is, first and foremost-- can he control this? You could spend $ on therapy to figure it out, or you could use a basic reward system.

I know all about Alfie Kohn, but I think rewards have their place. My brief story: DD had been having awful tantrums (she was 4). Beyond the norm for the age-- they were every 15 minutes some days. I wondered, was something WRONG? People here started throwing out labels like "the explosive child" so I got worried. Finally, I relented to DH's suggestion of a reward system just to see-- was this a real issue (something beyond her control) or was it a matter of us not setting the right boundaries clearly enough? Well, with the reward system, we found she COULD control it (so, no, this was not an issue requiring therapy) and it pretty much solved the problem. We do not have the system in place anymore. We briefly used it and were done. But the tantrums are pretty much gone, save for a few here and there, and limited to when she's very tired.

If he absolutely cannot control this behavior, then I would look into therapy ASAP along with an extensive medical evaluation (to rule out things like allergies/dietary reactions, for example).


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#30 of 41 Old 09-23-2007, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post
I see where you are coming from-- the general consensus here is that seeing you bloody/going to the ER (I'm so sorry for all of that!) was enough of a consequence. But, was it really? Shortly therafter, he could not keep his hands off of his sister and threw something AGAIN.

I guess what I would want to know is, first and foremost-- can he control this? You could spend $ on therapy to figure it out, or you could use a basic reward system.



I've been thinking about this, b/cI used to use reward systems with my sp. ed. students. And they did often work.

Did you use positive reinforcers only? Can you describe the system you used a bit? Just looking for ideas for this age group. I'm thinking a simple chart with stickers that can be traded in for a tangible reward.....
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