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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, this is going to be long...I am looking for help and support, so if you cannot provide that, then please withhold your judgments.

I have wanted to be a mother for a long time. But a number factors prevented me from having a child until 2006. My DS will be three soon and he is a very bright and creative little boy. I love him more than anything, but he also frustrates me almost to the point of rage, multiple times each day.

Some background: My DS was a very high needs infant, sick with GERD and repeated ear infections. For the first year, I NEVER slept! No really, I mean it. If I got 2 hours of sleep in 15 minute increments out of each 24 hour period, I considered myself lucky. So parenting my DS has been difficult from the start. Add to the exhaustion pretty much ceaseless crying and constant needing to be held/slinged and I thought was going to loose my mind.

Things were starting to get better just before my DS's first birthday, but then my father dropped dead out of the blue. I thought my world was going to end...I sought support groups and counseling, and in the nearly two years since my father's death, I have done a lot of healing.

My son was getting to be a lot of fun to be around last year. I really enjoyed the 1.5 to 2.5 age. But it still was never easy. My DS is very willful. Also, last year he was in daycare 46 hours each week, because I was working full time.

I recently lost my job (2 months ago) and I am now home with him again. We decided to keep him in preschool one day each week, because he enjoys the social aspects. I was really looking forward to spending more time with my son again, especially now that he is at the age where we can do more things together. I let him choose which museum, zoo, or free even/attraction he wants to visit each day, and I try to fit in an activity each day because staying home makes us both crazy.

But DS's willfulness often gets in the way of having fun. He does exactly the opposite of what I ask, in a purposeful way. He refuses to listen to simple commands, like "hold my hand in the busy parking lot". Instead he will run away from me as fast as he can or throw himself on the ground screaming. It's so exhausting when his willfulness turns into aggression and disobedience. He yells and screams when he doesn't get what he wants. Sometimes he hits or scratches at me. When he gets like this, it's all I can do not to join him in his rage...I just can't handle it. I don't know why, but his anger triggers anger in me.

If I try to walk away and "cool off" he follows me and continues yelling. Likewise, trying to calm him down is pointless and I just end up getting hurt. I've tried all of the following strategies: ignoring him, soothing him, yelling back at him, giving him time out, and I'm sure there is more I can't think of at the moment - nothing works. And the more he yells, the angrier I get. Even my ultra-mellow DH is exasperated by our son. I hate that we waste so much energy and time everyday with these mega tantrums. I just don't know what to do.

I'm sure it "just a phase" or whatever you want to call it, but my DS is just so dang intense and much more willful than other children. All my friend's girls are so well behaved...I sometimes feel sort of judged by them and by strangers - which feeds into my negative feelings even more. I just feel like I'm struggling right now and I don't want to be angry any more. Please help.
 

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I will not judge you.

I wish I knew you so I could watch your little guy for a few hours---you need a break.

You are doing nothing wrong. Children's temperments are different. It sounds like your child has been VERY challenging since day one. I can kind of understand and empathize b/c having experienced years of infertility myself, being on bedrest almost my entire pregnancy, and then having a colicky/reflux baby nearly sent me to the crazy ward. I remember feeling like there were certain people I just wanted to shake and scream, "no my baby doesn't have colic b/c I am a first time mom. no my anxiety is not rubbing off on my baby and making her cry. YES I hold her and rock her and breastfeed her non-stop and yes she is still crying. NO my husband doesn't help me as much as you think he does. YES your baby is super super easy compared to mine". In the end, now that I am through (knock on wood) a lot of the hard periods, I think it has made me a better mom and a better person. I am so much more understanding and non-judgemental of others now. I know that you are in an extremely rough spot and the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away.
It will get better. I promise.

You mentioned your son likes to be social. Are there any ways you can expose him socially that are free? Is there a moms group in your area with play groups? sunday school classes (even if you aren't religious--it would be a structured class). mall play areas? playgrounds? maybe you could find some people on line that would host playgroups on their own (meaning, you each take a time at your house and let the other moms go do their own thing while you have the kids. so you each get a break once in awhile). I know all of this is easier said than done.

I finally posted an add at our local college to get a babysitter once in awhile. I was extremely nervous to leaver her with someone I didn't know. However, I think b/c the economy is bad and there are so few jobs, I had SO many responses. I interviewed 13 people (and they were EXTREMELY qualified) and I found someone that could give me a few hour break once in awhile. Money might be tight but let me tell you....IT IS WORTH EVERY PENNY.

You are doing great with the challenges that have been handed to you. What you are dealing with doesn't sound easy. It is normal to rage and get mad....like I said, it is not easy. Take it day by day and try to get yourself a break once in awhile.
HUGS.
 

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Oh my dear, I feel your pain.

My dd was super high needs and it was sooo hard for a long time. Then I got pregnant with twins and thought, oh they will have to be easier babies than dd. Well, I'm not sure why the Lord does what he does, but I have been past my breaking point many times in the past 2 years. I tell you this only because sometimes it helps to hear you're not alone. And I know it's really hard when everyone around you seems to have "easy" babies.

Yes, getting time away will help, but it sounds like you need more help for dealing with your ds when you're together. First of all, is it possible for your ds to have food allergies or food sensitivites? Might be worth checking out. It's hard to act properly when you don't feel well most of the time.

And if that's not the case, perhaps some better ways to deal with his defiance. Reminding or letting him know what you expect of him prior to the experience is a really good idea. For example, you pull into the parking lot of some attraction and before you get out of the car let him know that you expect him to hold your hand in the parking lot and that it is for safety reasons and you don't want him to get hurt. And tell him that if he doesn't hold your hand you will get right back in the car. But if he does hold your hand, you will be able to go and see ______ (whatever your plans are). And then stick to it. If he won't hold your hand, then you take him back to the car, kicking and screaming if that's the case. Tell him you will sit in the car until everyone is cooled down and give him one more try. Tell him if he still won't hold your hand then you will go back home and try it another day. And then stick to it. And yes, it will suck if he still doesn't listen and you do have to go home, but don't give in. The next time you go somewhere, do the same thing (may have to schedule more time to get there.) He will learn that if he wants to go anywhere fun, he has to play by the rules. And make sure that if and when he does do what you ask, lots and lots of praise!!

The hitting and scratching is hard, I know. You probably already do this, but make sure to get down to his level the next time he does it and say very strongly that it is not ok to hit and it hurts momma.

Also, this age is such a struggle to have independance. In those instances where he just won't listen, is there a way to get around it that makes him feel like he has a choice, but you still get what you need? For example, in the holding hands case, would he hold hands with a teddy bear that you held on to the other hand? Then he would feel like he's not being forced into holding your hand, and you still feel like he is kept a safe distance from you.

Feel free to pm me if want! Good luck! It gets easier, I promise.
 

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wow I have times where i'm overwhelmed with my 3 and I have help. Today after way too many days not going swimming or anything because dd's sick, the 2 ds's and I got to go while DD napped at home with my mom. YAY. Getting out was FABULOUS.

I second the bear trick. I have a 4 1/2 year old who thinks he is a big boy and should be allowed to go ahead alone. I also have a 2 1/2 year old who is happy to hold my hand. And he is happy to hold her other hand. Works every time.


I also second the consistent "if you _____then we get to ______ if you don't we will get back in the car. Along with the second chance.
I am going to use that idea with mine. What may stink is one might ruin it for both the older ones....but....I've got to do SOMETHING. I'm not happy with the fact that there are places I feel I can't take them.
That might get the point across real quick.
 

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Quote:
But DS's willfulness often gets in the way of having fun. He does exactly the opposite of what I ask, in a purposeful way. He refuses to listen to simple commands, like "hold my hand in the busy parking lot". Instead he will run away from me as fast as he can or throw himself on the ground screaming. It's so exhausting when his willfulness turns into aggression and disobedience. He yells and screams when he doesn't get what he wants. Sometimes he hits or scratches at me. When he gets like this, it's all I can do not to join him in his rage...I just can't handle it. I don't know why, but his anger triggers anger in me.
Oh, you are not alone.

We are so there. I was just thinking today- I have to END the rage. And mine was an easy baby! But she grew into a stubborn donkey toddler.

And now I have two.

I have found that, even though it sounds cheesy, deep breathing helps. Ayurvedic breaths. When she is just saying no just for the heck of it, presumably because she enjoys hearing a newborn infant scream in misery because mommy must attend to a toddler at that moment because toddler is endangering someone's health in the long or short term, I just shut my eyes and breathe. Into the stomach, lungs, throat, wait, then exhale.

It kind of freaks her out but I'm beyond caring about her feelings at that point. I just need not to be angry, you know?

Tonight, she finally picked up on it (I've been breathing for a few days now) and she said, "Don't breathe, mommy! I'll do it! See? I'm brushing!"

Adventures in Gentle Discipline has been an invaluable resource for me. Much better than the theory-based books so often touted here. Possibly because the moms in AGD were real, got angry, and the kids were just as ridiculous as mine were.

(Oh, and I can tell you what, sometimes people look at me, but you know what? They can take a flying f*** at a rolling doughnut for all I care. But probably, they are thinking, "Gee, I wonder if I should help, or tell her that the exact same thing happened with me last week." Really. NONE of us is immune.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks to all the mamas that responded, for the supporting words and advice. I know I'm not alone, but I don't have a good support network IRL right now. Maybe we should start our own "Parenting a willful, high needs child" support thread.


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Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post

I have found that, even though it sounds cheesy, deep breathing helps. Ayurvedic breaths. When she is just saying no just for the heck of it, presumably because she enjoys hearing a newborn infant scream in misery because mommy must attend to a toddler at that moment because toddler is endangering someone's health in the long or short term, I just shut my eyes and breathe. Into the stomach, lungs, throat, wait, then exhale.

Adventures in Gentle Discipline has been an invaluable resource for me. Much better than the theory-based books so often touted here. Possibly because the moms in AGD were real, got angry, and the kids were just as ridiculous as mine were.
I have tried breathing exercises, it helps, but only to a point. The book you recommended sounds good. I will definitely check it out. Thanks.


Quote:

Originally Posted by BoGiBoBo View Post
Yes, getting time away will help, but it sounds like you need more help for dealing with your ds when you're together. First of all, is it possible for your ds to have food allergies or food sensitivites? Might be worth checking out. It's hard to act properly when you don't feel well most of the time.

And if that's not the case, perhaps some better ways to deal with his defiance. Reminding or letting him know what you expect of him prior to the experience is a really good idea. For example, you pull into the parking lot of some attraction and before you get out of the car let him know that you expect him to hold your hand in the parking lot and that it is for safety reasons and you don't want him to get hurt. And tell him that if he doesn't hold your hand you will get right back in the car. But if he does hold your hand, you will be able to go and see ______ (whatever your plans are). And then stick to it. If he won't hold your hand, then you take him back to the car, kicking and screaming if that's the case. Tell him you will sit in the car until everyone is cooled down and give him one more try. Tell him if he still won't hold your hand then you will go back home and try it another day. And then stick to it. And yes, it will suck if he still doesn't listen and you do have to go home, but don't give in. The next time you go somewhere, do the same thing (may have to schedule more time to get there.) He will learn that if he wants to go anywhere fun, he has to play by the rules. And make sure that if and when he does do what you ask, lots and lots of praise!!

The hitting and scratching is hard, I know. You probably already do this, but make sure to get down to his level the next time he does it and say very strongly that it is not ok to hit and it hurts momma.
I wish I could get away more. My DH is great, but is stressed with work right now and is clueless about my plight. When I try to get away for a little bit in the evening, within a matter of minutes DH sends DS to look for me and then my peace is all over. The only way I get any time to myself (which is always spent working or doing chores) is to stay up very late. As DS goes to bed at 9pm or later and ALWAYS gets up by 6am. He's never been a good sleeper...nap times are a joke lately, but I won't even get into that!

I've tried the same strategy you've outlined to no avail. There is no reasoning with DS and he doesn't seem to have any grasp of consequences. I always tell him what I expect before we even leave the house. He WILL NOT BACK DOWN, once he's made up his mind to do something...even if he knows it will cause him to miss out on something he wants to do. Perhaps I am not consistent enough or repetitive enough, but it's exhausting to tell him the same thing 50 times each day, seven days a week, without any improvement in his behavior.
:

Both DH and I discipline him for hitting, multiple times a day. I always get low, look in his face and use a stern voice to tell him that under no circumstances do we use violence against people, animals, or things. But the hitting, scratching, and throwing doesn't stop. Ugh.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
BTW: I had to add that the only reason we don't have another kiddo yet, is because DH is pretty much mortified with how difficult DS has been. I really want more children, but I have to admit that I feel pretty reluctant to take on another challenge of this magnitude.
 

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Oh yeah, one more thing- everyone I've met who has a strong-willed kid has said that day care and/or pre-school has been great for the child's behavior. There are several threads here on this. Sometimes it seems they just need to see that it's not them vs. you, that you are actually trying to help them, and that these are GENERAL rules, not your personal opinion.

I should be filling in my daughter's paperwork for pre-school right now, actually!
 

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My first dd is super mellow, sweet natured and even tempered. My second dd...OMG, just like your ds. I can't even count the number of times in a day that she cries or screams or hits or kicks her sister, or runs away from me, or deliberately does what I ask her not to do. I'm having a particularly hard day today, because she is sick with a cold and so am I, and it's day two of AF for me, so my patience is a thin as a human hair. I finally got her down for a nap and logged on to MDC and I saw your post. And I just wanted to say, that I am right there with you, mama. I wish I knew what to say besides, hopefully, they will grow out of this soon so we can go on to live normal liveds again.
 

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Just read a fantastic book about discipline. Just reading it makes me feel calmer, it gives me a plan as to how to be the kind of mom I thought I'd be before I actually had a child. Its called When No Gets You Nowhere, by Mark L. Brenner. Its a very quick read and filled with practical ways to get over those seemingly minor conflicts of interest that snow ball into a ruined day. I hope you get a break soon!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by slsurface View Post
Perhaps I am not consistent enough or repetitive enough, but it's exhausting to tell him the same thing 50 times each day, seven days a week, without any improvement in his behavior.
:
I wonder if there is something in this (although I'm sure it is not the only issue by any means). If your son has learned that *sometimes* he can act out and still get to do the planned activity then he will try to make that happen every time. There is no real incentive for good behaviour if he can have both. Everything I have read suggests that you really do have to be 100% consistent or the kids will learn very quickly that just pushing that little bit further each time might get them what they want. *Much* easier said than done though, I'm sure
 

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I can also, really really relate. I am so glad to know that I am not alone!

A bit of background on my DD: she is now 19 months. Up until 10 months of age, she spit up at least 10 times after each feeding (so, 100 times per day) which resulted in a huge mess. i am talking massive amts of spit up all over everything and everyone....creating tons of laundry and cleaning and pretty much limiting our ability to go places bc i would be forever apologizing to my friends and family for my DD spitting up tons of milk all over everything. she didnt gain wt well (i wonder why!), i had massive bf supply issues (and that resulted in ppd) and i am self employed so i had to rush back to work without ever feeling i had a grasp of what was going on with DD.

In addition to this, DD is NOT a good sleeper. To this day, the longest stretch of sleep i have had is 3.5 hours. We do cosleep, which helps.

She is extremely strong-willed. she is just "difficult" in most respects. i look around and see other moms pushing strollers, happily along the street. NOT my DD! she will not sit in one. she has refused it since she could walk, which was at 8.5 months! she will also not sit in a shopping cart which makes grocery shopping difficult. she insists on walking and like your DS, will run the opposite way from me in a busy parking lot. she does hit me and lately she has started to kick as well. we went for a walk yesterday and she tried to kick our neighbour's dog! i was so embarrassed and upset. i feel like a failure. i too have tried gentle discipline, sternly warning not to do that, time outs, redirecting her....etc. She will not sit in a highchair for meals. she insists on doing everything herself. from the beginning, we have not been able to give her a spoonful of anything. from 6 months when we intro'd solids, she has had to do it all herself. i know this is fine and good for BLW but at the same time, i looked at my friend's kids who'd polish off a jar of babyfood and be content and i would be so jealous. DD would just rather nurse constantly and spit up and refuse solids!

Dont worry. You are not alone. I think you've gotten some good rec's on books and i am going to look into those as well.

I think you are doing great by taking your DS on outings.

I think the amt of stress you have in your life is what is causing you to feel so enraged. it is hard when we have so much going on and issues in our lives, to be patient and empowered as parents.

Hang in there mamma! you are doing a great job!

FWIW, my sister also had a pretty high needs babe the first time around. her second is a super EASY child. she is so shocked bc she had such a hard time the first time around...so you never know! Also, it can not get much harder than it already has been --just tell your DH that!! lol


good luck!
 

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I also second the consistent "if you _____then we get to ______ if you don't we will get back in the car. Along with the second chance.

This strategy is working for a friend of mine. She's currently in therapy over difficulties with her strong-willed child! Her dd is adorable and kind, but definately wants to run the show! My friend's therapist likened it to dangling a carrot. If you do _____ then we can go for a walk, play a game, etc. Dangle the carrot!
Also, some advice I personally rely on with my own kids: Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don't say it mean. I remind myself of this often!
Another suggestion for a cheap break, too. A mother's helper. I have a 13 year old girl come over one day a week. I'm home, but, she takes the kids to the park up the block, plays with them, etc. Very affordable and even though I'm home, too, it is a much needed break.
Hang in there! Once you find some strategies that work w/ your ds, it's bound to get easier.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by slsurface View Post
I've tried the same strategy you've outlined to no avail. There is no reasoning with DS and he doesn't seem to have any grasp of consequences. I always tell him what I expect before we even leave the house. He WILL NOT BACK DOWN, once he's made up his mind to do something...even if he knows it will cause him to miss out on something he wants to do. Perhaps I am not consistent enough or repetitive enough, but it's exhausting to tell him the same thing 50 times each day, seven days a week, without any improvement in his behavior.
:

Both DH and I discipline him for hitting, multiple times a day. I always get low, look in his face and use a stern voice to tell him that under no circumstances do we use violence against people, animals, or things. But the hitting, scratching, and throwing doesn't stop. Ugh.
I am having the same problems with the hitting, throwing, biting. And while it doesn't seem to help to tell them no, I think it helps that you do say no. Does that make sense? To totally ignore it might make them think that it is ok. And who knows, it just may sink it one of these days.

Quote:

Originally Posted by katelove View Post
I wonder if there is something in this (although I'm sure it is not the only issue by any means). If your son has learned that *sometimes* he can act out and still get to do the planned activity then he will try to make that happen every time. There is no real incentive for good behaviour if he can have both. Everything I have read suggests that you really do have to be 100% consistent or the kids will learn very quickly that just pushing that little bit further each time might get them what they want. *Much* easier said than done though, I'm sure

And I agree with this totally!! It may be easier to just pick one or two things that you are 100% consistent about. But then, yes, be 100% consistent. Every time. And yes, it is totally tiring and makes you want to scream when you've said something for the 100th time in a day, but that is being consistent. Example: My boys, around 14 months or so, learned the joy of climbing on the kitchen table. They would stand up and dance, the two of them. Or spill whatever was up there. Well, I've seen threads where people tie the chairs under the table, or do any number of evasive techniques but I didn't want to go through that hassle. For months, every time they climbed up on the table I took them down and said "no climbing on the table". Sometimes I would sit them down in a chair at the table, but if they climbed up again, I would take them down to the floor. Yes, crying ensued, and yes I did it numerous times a day. And I thought, oh my, they just are not learning. And then, probably about 2-3 months into it, they stopped crawling up on the table. Occasionally they would, but would always get pulled down and told "no". And now they haven't for many months.

I've done the same thing for running out in the road. We have a crack at the end of the driveway that they can not go past. I've spent many days, just standing at the end of the driveway, pulling them back across the line, pointing out the line and that they can not go in the road. And now we're pretty good. I don't trust them 100% and still keep an eye on them, but I'm not worried if I turn my back for a second.

I also think you need to explain to your dh just how stressed out you are and how you need some time to yourself to refill your patience. Usually when I cry while explaining things to my dh, that helps gets the point across.


Good luck my dear.
 

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Hugs mama!

nak...so just a few thoughts...

The holding hands part is so hard for us too. We now do horse or airplane rides (ie, piggyback rides), or dd gets to hang on to my skirt as she pretends to be the caboose and I'm the steam engine pulling her along. We're not holding hands, but at least she is safe holding on to me or riding on my back. (The book "Playful Parenting" was helpful to me in generating fun ideas.)

Dd's Waldorf teacher once told all the moms in the class that it is important to remember that a child's job between 2 and 3 is to actually seek conflict. It doesn't make our jobs as parents any easier, but it is helpful to put the tough behavior in context.

Also, about the rage, I think this actually speaks volumes about your love for your son. You are both clearly karmically and spiritually close if you are so strongly reflecting his emotions in your reaction to him.
 

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try cod liver oil as a supplement. seriously, i'm not a supplement or believer in most anything like that but it is the only think i have ever taken that has a dramatic affect on my anger and frustration.

also, try compromise. like, you tell him, boy, neither of us are happy in this situation, what can we do so we're both happy? how about, i hold your hand until we get to the store and then you get to run? or, how about, instead of holding hands you ride on my back like a cowboy?

my ds, at 4-1/2 now really tries to problem solve with me. it's a great tool.

also, try just acknowledging what's going on. "you really don't want to hold my hand right now." and that's it. don't offer a solution, don't try to get him to do what you want. just listen and acknowledge where he is.

whenever i do that with my ds, it usually involves him saying, "yeah!" crying a bit more and wrapping it up. whenever i try to problem solve _for_ him he just gets more frustrated.

these ideas actually worked quite well for us over the last year and a half and now ds tries really hard to get along with us.
 

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Carrie/PM, have you ever put CLO in a smoothie? I think I might try it but I try to take things as whole as possible... do you think it would affect the taste too much?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by PlayaMama View Post
try cod liver oil as a supplement. seriously, i'm not a supplement or believer in most anything like that but it is the only think i have ever taken that has a dramatic affect on my anger and frustration.
I already take flax oil daily. I won't take the fish oil, so I use a plant-based oil. It has the same omega oils that are beneficial in cod liver oil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
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Originally Posted by PlayaMama View Post
t
try compromise. like, you tell him, boy, neither of us are happy in this situation, what can we do so we're both happy? how about, i hold your hand until we get to the store and then you get to run? or, how about, instead of holding hands you ride on my back like a cowboy?

my ds, at 4-1/2 now really tries to problem solve with me. it's a great tool.
I like this suggestion. In my mind I feel like I already compromise a lot, but I like the way you worded it. I will give it a try.

I've already tried your second idea of acknowledging his anger or frustration. That doesn't work at all for my ds. He usually escalates his screaming so fast and so loud that he doesn't care it I acknowledge him. I sometimes think he doesn't even know why he's screaming, he's just stuck in it and refuses to be soothed in any way...which is my biggest problem. Most "solutions" put out there to parents assume that you can reason with your child and that the will respond to you. But my DS's melt-downs are like atomic blasts that take out everything and everyone in their wake. There is no reasoning with him.
 
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