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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 10 yo ds had a meltdown at the store today... we were rushed, I agreed to buy each of the kids a snack and they both grabbed something, we paid for it, and were out the door, headed to dd's dance class. I noticed what ds had picked, a liquid candy that I was pretty sure would have red dye- which he is allergic to. I pulled it from the bag, read the label and said, "Oh man, I'm sorry buddy but this had Red 40 in it." He FLIPPED. He threw it on the ground, head butted me in the stomach, and started crying.

We were all tired and cranky, I tried talking to him, explaining that I was sorry but we just didn't have time to go back into the store right now or his sister would be late for her class. I was about to make suggestions for things we could do but he ran at me again, grabbed and pulled my shirt, scratched at my arms and threw the candy out in front of a car. I was angry and embarrassed. I didn't raise my voice but I wasn't nice either. In the car I started to lecture him about controlling his emotions (he is working on anger issues linked to his ADHD and the depression induced by the meds he took before we homeschooled). I KNOW he is improving, I KNOW he acts without thinking but much less than he used to but I was so ANGRY. I get tired of being his punching bag and not knowing what to do about it. I also know that my reaction had to do with the fact that I was also tired and cranky but he HIT me.

In my lecture I asked him how he would feel if I treated him this way, asked him why he does these things, told him he must learn to control himself, on and on and on. I was to angry to even drive. We were just sitting in the parking lot and I could see by the look on his face that my lecture had crossed a line, he was feeling pretty bad about himself and I could see that he wasn't just thinking his ACTIONS were bad but that HE was bad. I was choking back tears as I apologized, took a deep breath, told him I love him and that we would discuss then when we were both more calm.

But we didn't talk about it because there is nothing to say. He is immediately sorry when he does these things but that doesn't make it okay. Abusers are always sorry and I have a real fear that this is the road he's headed down if he doesn't learn to manage his emotions better when he is disappointed. These things always happen when he is disappointed or something doesn't go exactly as he thought it would. When he is calm we talk about better ways to handle it but if I am not practically pshycic in predicting when this will happen, if I am not at my absolute best when I anticipate it then he has a meltdown. He has to learn to manage these things without me, especially because I am not perfect and I fail to help him. I am pretty good at being a parent in the present but these tantrums from a TEN yo make me worry about his future.

Consequences, even natural consequences like not getting to go to the store because you threw a fit, do not work in the heat of the moment. In fact the only thing I have found that does work in the heat of the moment, once he has reached that lockdown mode, is punitive which I hate. If I tell him I will "fine" him 50 cents unless he stops he will stop, but I HATE myself for resorting to this.

I should also mention that my naturally quiet and easygoing dd stands by soaking this all in and I'm not sure what she is thinking, I try talking to her about it but I know she is frightened when he gets like this and especially when she sees me fighting to retain my composure.

So, how do we stop this, how do I help him get this under control? And how do I respond when this happens in a public place where I can't walk away from him when I'm angry?
 

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Has he learned any techniques for calming down? I had a very bad temper when I from about 10 till 12. I wasn't violent toward others. I mainly broke my own stuff or clenched my fists till my hands bled, and threw up after being so angry or upset. I learned to do deep breathing exercises and a few in the heat of the moment things (like saying the Greek alphabet in my head). There were noticeable signs when I was becoming too upset. Muscle spasms were one. I would start trying to calm down as soon as I noticed physical signs I was about to lose it. You could talk to him about how he feels right before he gets too angry to be himself. Talk about some things he could do to help stay calmer. By age 12 I had learned to use meditation techniques to release the negative energy. I was still angry after calming down sometimes, just calm and in control. It's scary being controlled by really strong emotions, especially at that age. He can't control his emotions when he isn't in control at all. What he can learn to control is how he responds to his emotions. I learned the techniques I used on my own. It would have been easier to have taken classes that involved meditation, self awareness and anger management techniques.
 

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When my son was that age he was the same way.

Quote:
Consequences, even natural consequences like not getting to go to the store because you threw a fit, do not work in the heat of the moment. In fact the only thing I have found that does work in the heat of the moment, once he has reached that lockdown mode, is punitive which I hate. If I tell him I will "fine" him 50 cents unless he stops he will stop, but I HATE myself for resorting to this.
What about a delayed approach? Meaning wait until the next time he asks for something and say no honey, you hit me and hurt me. I'm not going to do xyz for you this time. I'm sure I'll feel differently later, I love you. Gentle, calm, to the point, and boundary setting.

Sure he'll be mad, but at some point you have to help him see when he treats people this way they aren't going to want to do things with him. I think ten is definitely old enough to make that connection. You mentioned the word abuser...if he the connection he is getting from 'I hurt mom' is that he can apologize and it's all ok to do it again, then yeah...that's setting the stage for him to think that's acceptable. I think if you shift gears a bit and just say honey, when you hurt me I don't feel like being around you a whole lot right now. I'm sure I'll feel differently soon, I love you. Then he'll make that connection too that you can't treat people like that. I'm not saying ignore him for the day or anything, and I hear you about the punitive fining...we tried that too if it helps any...but you want the cycle to be 'I hurt mom, mom doesn't like it and won't do xyz with me, I don't like that result'.

Gentle parenting doesn't mean allowing your boundaries to be trampled on!

HTH
 

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Great suggestions! Something I would add is exercise. Having a Lab is a lot like having a 10 yo with ADD. If you keep the dog in the house all the day and just let it out to potty you are going to have a dog with a lot of problems and a torn up house. If you let the dog out in the yard the dog will tear up the yard but be a little better in the house. If the dog gets to go for long walks on a leash (and has to be good and heel) things will be better. If you take the dog to the dog park until he drops you will have a well behaved dog. If you take the dog to a big off leash park you will have a very well behaved dog.

Kids need exercise. Kids with ADD need more exercise than most kids.

How do you stop this behavior. You have to try to prevent it. Lectures, fines, consequences, punishment, ect. after won't work - you know that. You have to read the labels. Don't let the kids have candy. Have veto power on snacks. Don't overschedule your time.

You have to get control over your son before he starts hurting other kids.
 

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Oh mama
s. This must be so difficult and embarrassing for you. And painful too. I know older kids can really hurt us if they hit/ head bunt ect.

You have gotten some good ideas. But I wanted to throw something else out there too. IMO, you need to stop making excuses about his behavior and let him take full responsibility. At 2 or 3 years old, yes, it can be the sugar, the tiredness, the over stimulated, hungry ect and ect but at 10 while it could be a factor it is no reason for him to act like this. I guarnatee that at 10 (unless it is a certain special needs child) he can control himself and learn quickly that he CANNOT EVER act like this. Yell, cry, stamp a foot? MAybe at times. But head-butting you in the stomach, scrathing your arms, hitting you? Totally unacceptable and you should be angry (without being mean or out of control).

You wrote "I could see by the look on his face that my lecture had crossed a line, he was feeling pretty bad about himself and I could see that he wasn't just thinking his ACTIONS were bad but that HE was bad. I was choking back tears as I apologized, took a deep breath, told him I love him and that we would discuss then when we were both more calm."

You think he is so dumb at 10 that a lecture makes him doubt your love for him? You are, IMO, playing the role of the victim. A 10 year old attacks you and YOU are the one in tears apologizing? If you really felt you went to far then a simple "Sorry I said XYZ. I should not have said that. But I am very angry you acted like that. I need to go on a short walk by myself (or with dd) to calm down." I do not think he is an abuser at only 10 but how many battered women are hot by their partner then the woman apologizes like it was her fault? Let him see you are serious and will not tolerate his behavior.

You also said "If I tell him I will "fine" him 50 cents unless he stops he will stop, but I HATE myself for resorting to this." If he can stop in the midst of a tantrum at the threat of losing a measly 50 cents he CAN control himself. He really can and must.

As a read this I realize it can come across as being harsh but I do not mean to be so. It is just an important issue for me because I have seen that children your son's age who hurt their family members like this do not just grow out of it. It could cause him serious problems later on.

HAving a firm even "tough" resolve that this must stop does not mean you have to be mean or punitive. Personally I think you put guilt on yourself whenever you get tough with him. But having zero tolerance for this behavior will not hurt or break him. Rather it is loving. I am sure in most ways he is a loving, thoughtful boy.

I have no formula on how you can correct this. But I would say, stop making excuses and firmly do not tolerate any of this behaviour from him. Once he sees you mean it he will stop because he can. How you do this is up to you, whatever you are comfortable with. You are strong mama! No one said parenting was easy.

Let us know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks to all for the advice. I do really feel as if we are doing a lot of the things some of you have suggested... not over scheduling our time, being careful of his diet, making sure he gets plenty of sleep and exercise, etc. The tantrums have diminished a great deal- this used to be an everyday, sometimes several times a day behavior. The incident at the store this week was the first that I had seen in over a month so all of those preventative measures have helped a lot. However, we can not always control every aspect of our day and he has to learn to be somewhat flexible... the rest of us can't walk around on eggshells believing that we are responsible for controlling everything in his environment to prevent an outburst.

Spirt Dancer, I don't think your comments were harsh at all. This is exactly what I am feeling in this situation; this behavior MUST stop. I am just not sure how to stop it. For now I am choosing to continue instituting the fines in the heat of the moment because money speaks to this child- after he is calm then we can discuss what he was feeling and what led to the outburst but honestly the usual response is "I don't know why I act this way." I'm hopeful that the fines will help him stop at the moment of rage and that talking through it, deep breathing, etc. will help us eventually phase out the fines.

I was feeling guilty about my anger and losing cool about the punitive response but I think sometimes a punitive response is necessary- a child running into the street will be yanked back by a parent. I feel as if my child is running into a metaphorical street and that I have to do what works- what works is fining him so that's what we will do for now along with continuing to communicate and keeping up with all of the preventative steps we've already taken.

Thanks again all, I will definately let you know how all of the suggestions work out for us.
 

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If it works I think it is a good course of action. I personally do not see taking 50 cents away as punitive. I would do something like that.
I am glad to hear that he has greatly improved with all the measures you have taken. That is excellent. If you stick with you will probably look back in a year and think wow, we are over this problem.

Hugs again. I find parenting the most challenging thing I have ever done- but the best.
 

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There is a great book for kids called What To Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kids' Guide to Overcoming Problems With Anger by Dawn Huebner. It's basically an anger management program for kids, focusing on developing alternative skills for dealing with anger and developing alternative ways of thinking about situations in order to prevent anger (it is true that how we think about something affects how we feel about it). It's a very positive book, easy to understand, and meant to be used with the help and support of the adults in a child's life.
 

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You could talk to him and say:
"You know how we've been trying to figure out ways of handling things when you get angry? How about we try using a code word like 'X'. When I say 'X' that means I'm about to tell you something you might not like to hear, but we can talk about solutions instead of using hurtful words and actions."

Also, if you ended up sitting in the parking lot, it seems you could have just gone back in the store anyway. If you know that your son has these allergies but you didn't check his purchase before leaving the store, I kind of think that was your mistake and something you should have made good on.

If your daughter is understanding enough to handle the outbursts, I'm sure she'd be understanding if you said "DD, I forgot to check the ingredients of DS's candy and he's allergic to it, so I'm sorry about that but we need to run back in real quick K?".

Have you looked into having his allergies treated? A friend of mine had hers and her sons treated so he can eat candy and popsicles etc. without the reactions.
 
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