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More on Violence

525 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  octobermom
My son is very angry. It is hard to determine the cause of the problem, so we have tried to address 2 issues. The first is that he is upset because his dad has to leave every other 3 weeks for 3 weeks, and perhaps he feels hurt. We have considered that he may not understand why he has to leave, and may think that it's my fault. We have spoken to him about this issue, and I try to be very supportive when his dad leaves. The second is that he may be jealous when his baby sister (1 year) is getting attention. This problem may be amplified when there is not a second parent around to spend time with him while I am nursing, changing diapers etc.
In any case he is very violent. All the info. I can find online about how to deal with violence doesn't seem to fit because it almost becomes a game for him. I can see that he is still very angry, but he is laughing while he is trying to hurt us. I hold him facing away from me and talk into his ear until he has seemingly calmed down, and when I let go he laughs and immediately tries to hurt me. He usually loses control when I am trying to discipline (with time outs) some other action, like pushing his sister over. This means that before the whole ordeal is over we have to get through a time out. It can go on for hours, and I am finding it so difficult to keep my temper in check.
Basically it goes like this:
ds pushes over dd, and gets a time out. I physically put him in the chair when he refuses to go by himself. I set the timer for 4 minutes, and he gets up after 30 seconds to try to hurt me. I hold him facing outward until he seems calm, let go and he tries to hurt me again. Finally, he controls himself long enough to be placed back in the chair, but jumps out again when I head for the timer. When I come back he jumps out, I put him in, he jumps out , I put him in (5-10) mins of this). He laughs the whole time, and it is infuriating. Often he will start clawing at me in the process, this is when I have to hold him again, and finally I put him in his room and hold the door closed. He starts throwing things at the door. Eventually he will give up, and do his time out, but this can be up to 3 hours later.
I worry that he is getting exactly what he wants. If he wants the attention to be taken away from dd, then he is succeeding! Not to mention the fact that the whole thing really upsets her. My dh has suggested that we give him one chance to sit the time out, and when the game starts we should strap him in. This goes against what I feel is right, but perhaps if I sit close to the chair so he knows I am there for support...
The logic is that we will all be spared the drawn out trauma, everyone will be protected from the violence, and he will still be disciplined for the original offence. Is this the best decision? Is it okay to hold the door closed on his room? He will open it and lunge out at us if I do not hold it closed. Any input will be appreciated.
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Wow, that's a lot of energy spent in trying to keep him in time out...I have to say at this point I think that it's just fueling the fire.

I also think you're right about him gettign the attention any way he can.

I havne't had to deal with this (yet), since I only have one (until June), but I've read enough of these kinds of threads to have a couple ideas for you.

First, I owuld spend your energy after DD ahs been pushed on DD, NOT on DS. I would comfort her and make sure she's "OK", and then do something really low key, like, "DS, it is NOT OK to push your sister." And then DROP IT. That's about as minimal a reaction as you can give him, and maybe if he sees he's not going to get the big power struggle or big reaction, maybe it will drop off.

I know it sounds totally crazy, and that you're lettign him "get away with it". But you're not. You're:
- Telling him every time it's not OK
- Not giving him MORE attention when he does it
- Giving SISTER more attention, which is exactly what he does NOT want

I GUARANTEE you if you strap him into a chair, or keep holding his door shut while he keeps throwing things at it, it's just going to stay the same, or more likely get worse as he gets bigger and stronger.

Try to suck the "fun" out of the attention he gets from you when he pushes or hits his sis. It probably will escalate for a day or two, so just make DD velcroed to you to try to minimize it as much as possible. You'll probably have to do it for a while, but I would have to say that if he's getting a rush out of all the extra attention, then once that goes away, the pushing should, decrease significantly.

In the meantime, spend the time you'd usually be restrainig him or having him in the room cconnecting with him reading stories, drawing, running around, jumping, whatever.

I'm sure some other mamas here will have some great ideas, too, but I didn't want to read and not reply.
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It sounds to me like this has become a power struggle between you and your son. When that happens, it's easy to loose sight of the goal of discipline. The focus shifts from the original problem to the struggle to win the battle. You want to help your son learn how to deal with his emotions and frustrations in a healthy way-- this is the goal I would focus on.
It could be anger due to the things you said. But it also could be his age. Both my children went through rather violent phases at around 4.5 yo.

I would completely ditch any effort at enforcing a time-out. It is clearly making things much worse. Do not strap him to the chair. IMO -- this crosses the line into abusive and will only serve to fuel his anger.

Here is what I did, fwiw:

1) The holding that you are doing , I found was necessary to keep them from hurting themselves or others. I would speak in his ear, "I will let go as soon as you agree to stop hurting people."

2) Give him space to calm down.

3) Talk about the problem that triggered his outburst. Talk about how to solve problems like that. "Does hurting people fix the problem? Does it make the problem worse? What are some things you can do instead?" Let him generate as many answers as he can.

4) Roll play one alternate and acceptable method for solving a problem. Often, this will simply be, "asking mama for help." This step is *very* important. If he has actually practised the words out loud, then they will come more easily to his mind in the heat of the moment.

5) As him to think about the person. Point out that he created a "problem" between himself and that person who he hurt. Help him decide if he needs to "check in" and help him find appropriate words for "checking in" if he decides to do that. Can be, "I'm sorry." Can also be, "Are you okay?" Or, "I wish I hadn't done that to you." Etc. If he refuses to check in, then YOU check in with the victim on his behalf.

6) Be VERY conscious of RESPONDING to him immediately whenever he uses his words, asks for help, or deals with a problem in a way that is appropriate. EVERYTIME. Give him the knowlege that his words are powerful and bring results.

Respond *consistantly* to every violent outburst. What we saw was that after about 2 weeks, DS would often stop himself and ask for help before he reached the point of violence.
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Originally Posted by donosmommy04
Wow, that's a lot of energy spent in trying to keep him in time out...I have to say at this point I think that it's just fueling the fire.


I know it sounds totally crazy, and that you're lettign him "get away with it". But you're not. You're:
- Telling him every time it's not OK
- Not giving him MORE attention when he does it
- Giving SISTER more attention, which is exactly what he does NOT want
I agree with this. Putting him in, and keeping him in, time out is making things worse because he is getting attention (even though its negative attention) and he really seems to be craving that attention. Maybe he can't stand seeing his sister getting loving attention and will do anything to stop it.

I think you might also look at if there are particular ways that you interact with DD that sets him off. Is it when you sling her, or are nursing her, or are being very loving? Maybe he feels deprived. Maybe he feels you don't love him like you love her. Do you think it would help if you set aside some "playful" time for him where you put him in the sling, carried him around, cooed at him like he was a tiny baby, even let him nurse?


Originally Posted by mamaduck
Be VERY conscious of RESPONDING to him immediately whenever he uses his words, asks for help, or deals with a problem in a way that is appropriate. EVERYTIME. Give him the knowlege that his words are powerful and bring results.
Its harder to catch a child doing something appropriate than it is to catch them doing something problematic, but it will make a big difference in how he sees himself, and how he chooses to act, if he views himself as competent and loveable. I think psychologists recommend at least a ratio of five to one: five positive, confirming, accepting interactions for every one interaction that is negative. Personally, I think the negative interactions should be even less than that. With a bit of thinking, I believe just about every incident can be handled positively.

A note about tying him to a chair: Recently an autistic child was removed from his parents in our state because his parents, out of desperation, tried tying him to his chair. I'm very glad to hear you are exploring alternatives, and encourage you to be very careful to whom you discuss restraint with, for your own protection. Hopefully you will choose not to go that route and can convince DH the same.
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Thankyou for all of the advice.I think I have definately been caught up in the power struggle, and maybe it's time to let it go. There has definately been more negative interaction that possitive around here.
I would like to say that I feel I do try to talk about how to handle emotions, and when he is calm he seems to understand, but then still loses control when he gets mad. We also spend lots of cuddly time together. When dd is on her nap we play with train tracks and read stories for hours. At bedtime we also have another cuddle time together, and when dd is awake he is always included in the activity. I encourage him to snuggle with us while we nurse, and have even offered to nurse him, but he just giggles.
I am thinking that restructuring the day is going to help. Maybe if I commit to only getting online when the kids are both asleep, and making sure that someone else is there to be availabe when I want to have my quiet time. Obviously he is not the kind of kid to play quietly and let me do these things.
I have been letting my dd play on the floor more since she became mobile, and after reading the posts I think maybe it is time to reattach her. I think she would still be happy with this situation for the most part.
One tecenique that has worked in the past is the happy road sad road chart. He doesn't get a reward for more happy faces, but he does seem to hate getting those sad faces. We'll see if it still has an effect, although this seems to be a bit more extreme that any violent phase in the past, and I still can't understand the laughing. Have I not taught him to care about other people?
It's all so frustrating. Hopefully today will go better. Thanks again for the advice.
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IMO he is looking for attention. The struggles you go through gives him the attention he craves. I have a suggestion. Throw away the whole time out and dissipline stuff and focus on the causes. First you think that his dad leaving for 3 weeks at a time has to do with it. Well, perhaps you could make that time special for him and his dad? Maybe the night before his dad leaves the two of them can go to a movie together and make it a ritual so he has something positive to look forward to. It would put a good spin on the situation. Second, make time for just him and you. Is there someone you can leave the baby with for an hour so the two of you can spend some quality time together? What about when his dad comes home? Can his dad spend time with the baby so the two of you can do something special together. That way something good happens when his dad leaves, and something good happens when his dad comes home. What every you do do not threaten to take this away from him as punishment. This would have to be his time no matter what.

You really want to deal with his issues now. I have seen first hand what happens when it's not dealt with right away.
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FTR I'm not totally aginst the idea of a timeout though I prefer more of a time in approach however know that as soom as you have to "make him sit" the focus of I'm herre because I shoved my sister is out the window and the focus is now on Will mommy make me sit. does that make sense? Its one of my main arguments to why punitive methods don't work.
One thing I'd suggest for ever minute hes acting out give him some special one on one time with him. Don't tell him this is what you are doing because it will seem like your rewarding bad behavior, but your be amazed on what some extra personal time can do. (if you can't do one on one give him some time where he can choose the activity ect) When he does hurt his sister have him make ammends. You used your arms and hurt your sister show me how you can use your arms to make her feel better. (hugs arms to make a I'm sorry carm arms to bring her a beloved toy its amazing what a child will come up with) even at 4 kids are very much still in their own world many times the "shove" will be little more than a lack of impluse controll than a delebrite violent act, but they can also quickly forget so its good to bring there attention to it. but help him resolve the situation.

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