Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Be sure to keep your kids straight

Our two foster daughters display extreme ODD behaviors. They will argue about almost anything. Their brains are hard-wired to want to do the opposite of what we ask of them.

That said, one of the best parenting tools you can use is to "prescribe the fit". For example, if MissArguePants is going to get really mad when you tell her it's time to take her bath (because this is what she does every night....even though you prepped her in the afternoon....even though you've counted down....even though she knows it's coming) I will prescribe the nasty behavior that she usually gives me when I tell her it's bath time.

"MissArguePants...I'm going to tell you something. It's going to make you mad. Please be sure to stomp your feet really loud as you go up the stairs. Yell at me a little. Make sure everyone in the house knows how mad you are about it. OK?
MissArguePants, it's time to take your bath.
Now, stomp really loud and argue about it. OK?"

This changes something in her behavior.

She is hard-wired to do the opposite of what I tell her. Therefore, if I go ahead and give her permission to throw a fit, it confuses her in a big way. Most of the time she will be upset, but she won't actually throw the fit. Because, it's no fun to get mad if she's been given permission to do it.

We're getting pretty good with this parenting technique. In fact, if I don't see the fit coming, I'll be sure to give them permission as soon as one starts. Quite often it will diffuse extreme behavior rather quickly. I'm not saying it makes everything all lollipops and rainbows. But the fits aren't as explosive. We've been doing this for about the last four weeks with pretty good success.

But you've got to keep your kids straight.

Cherub 2 likes to throw ginormous fits himself. However, he is neuro-typical and does NOT have ODD. His fits are often diffused by scooping him up and holding him tight. In fact, we've had to restrain him in the past. He is always warned before we restrain him. But he has been known to throw a fit just so we WILL restrain him. It's like he wants the physical touch so bad but doesn't know how to ask for it in the heat of the moment.

The other night Mr. Amazing and I each took two of the kids to help them get ready for bed. He chose the boys and I was going to help the girls. TT was NOT pleased about having to come inside. He did NOT want to stop playing football with the big kids. was bedtime. As he was coming in the house he made it obvious how ticked off he was.

Mr. Amazing helped him up to his bedroom and started to oversee the process of putting on PJs and brushing the teeth. As TT got more and more dysregulated, Mr. Amazing reached into his parenting bag of tricks and "prescribed the fit".

Oh boy oh boy!

Cherub 2's eyes lit up and he said, "OK". He then immediately trashed out his room. Pulled all the blankets off the bed. Threw all the pillows and stuffed animals across the room. Dumped out a huge box of hot wheels. Emptied some baskets that were on his shelves. It was a mess!!!

Mr. Amazing realized his mistake almost immediately. But, rather renege on what TT had been given permission to do, Mr. Amazing let him go for just a minute. (Yes, he trashed his room that bad in under 60 seconds.) Then Mr. Amazing told TT that it was time to calm down.

Thankfully both Mr. Amazing and I were able to laugh about this. We switched places and I helped TT straighten up the bedroom (he did end up calming down quite quickly). Mr. Amazing went out with the girls and sat with them while they read stories to Cherub 3.

So, as wonderful as our new parenting techniques might be, here's some advice: be sure to double check what kid goes with what technique or things might get messy!  :)


jendoop said...

It is hard to remember in the heat of the moment which kid needs what technique! I like your prescribed tantrum, I'll have to remember it.

marythemom said...

Sorry about the multiples! Sometimes my computer freaks out when I'm posting a comment. No idea why.

marythemom said...

Ooh mine do this too! They figure out really quickly that while I may initially use the same techniques with them, their consequences are very different.

For example, if one of my neurotypical children had done this, I probably would have said - "Feel better? Great! Now that that is out of the way it's time to deal with the consequences of your actions. You made a BIG mess. Do you want to clean it up right now, or cuddle with me for a minute before you get started?" While we're cuddling or he's cleaning we would talk about the big feelings that triggered this and probably about some ways he could have handled it differently next time. I'd probably point out that he obviously needed a hug but this wasn't a good way to get it. He would probably also go in the FAIR Club or I'd use some other logical consequence (I don't typically use these for meltdowns with my adopted children because this is not a behavior they can really control).

In other words, I'd handle it a lot like the therapeutic parent that I am, but I'd add some expectations for my neurotypical child to use this as a learning opportunity. I know that my neurotypical kids understand consequences and making better choices.

I can't really blame my neurotypical kids for trying what they see siblings get away with, but I can make sure they don't do it again!

Sometimes though my neurotypical kids have needed restraint and have had massive meltdowns when it wasn't manipulative. I can usually spot the difference and try to see what caused it (they might be sick, overwhelmed, tired... all my kids have had issues with PTSD due to the trauma of living with violence - and meltdowns are definitely scary!). I try to give them a break and be as understanding of these episodes as I would with one of their siblings. There are times when we all just need a hug but can't ask for it.

Glad you and your husband could laugh about it!

Mary in TX

MamaFoster said...

lol, you are "out crazying the crazy" as christine would put it. do you read her blog? something like that