Explosive child – trying plan B

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    • #141484

      My 7 year old isn’t yet diagnosed but has all the hallmarks. I’m trying a new tactic – really listening and trying to understand the reason for such explosive upsetting situations at home. The problem is I am trying to understand but my son is so unreasonable in his thinking. I’ve realised that when he screams I am not listening to him ( I truly am) he actually means I’m not agreeing- and this is what he wants. I can say I understand his point of view but I cant agree or decide i wont respond to him swearing at me as an example. When the discussion becomes futile and he escalates I just have to get away from him. I agreed I won’t shut his door anymore ( he follows me shouting, crying, pleading). I however have tried multiple times to say I want time out and need it so leave and get followed. It is very difficult for me to deal with this as I cannot escape and it goes on for a long time. I feel now all I can do is shut myself away in my room or the toilet. It feels so wrong- like being terrorised by a 7 year old.
      How on earth can I disengage when he does this.
      How does anyone try reason and agree how to meet the needs of both child and parent ( as per the explosive child) when the child is an unreasonable,and extreme ‘victim’like character.
      Finally, I feel very strong feelings of dislike the more this continues. It is difficult to offer kind warmth consistently in the face of this.

    • #141585
      Penny Williams

      It sounds like his brain is getting flooded with emotion, which physically cuts off access to the thinking/rational part of the brain, the frontal lobe. Many call this amygdala hijack. Once he’s flooded, nothing you can say will extinguish the intensity. In fact, it will only escalate and prolong it. The brian needs time to calm and recover. Some need someone to sit with them quietly for this. Others want to be completely alone. He clearly needs your presence, but just not to engage until he’s calm. Sending him to his room and shutting the door feels like you don’t want him.

      As for using Ross Greene’s CPS model, it’s important that everyone is calm or it just won’t be successful. Always have that conversation when everyone is calm. Otherwise, let him know that you want to help but you both need to take a break to calm down first.

      Time for Plan B? 10 Tips for Dealing with the Explosive Child

      Be very careful of the language you use when talking to him. As parents, we tend to use accusatory and judgmental language with our kids without even realizing it. You used words like “unreasonable,” “extreme victim,” …

      Also, make sure the conversations are truly collaborative. Yes, boundaries still matter, but it must feel like give and take to keep a child engaged and for the process to be successful.

      My mantra in the tough times is “Your child isn’t giving you a hard time, your child is having a hard time.”

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

      • #141660

        Thanks Penny, sending my son to his room is only something that has intensified recently as he has been so explosive I’m desperately trying to contain it. I’ve sought advice through my own counselling and realise this is very rejecting. I’m keen to diffuse things asap as we live with my parents. ( this is necessary as I need the help).
        I’m pretty good at remaining calm yet my body is flooded with cortisol in the face of a tall, aggressive 7 year old. I have tried disengaging but my son will follow pleading, screaming and shouting until you agree; and I won’t. I will simply say I understand what you’re saying and hear how angry and upset you are. I will say we both need time out but get followed and this continues. I cannot just leave it and pretend someone isn’t there screaming and shouting at me. If it dissipated quickly, I could but it goes on. I’m loathed to do it but feel locking myself in the toilet will be my only option next. Im sure he will try boot the door in.
        I just want a little niceness and kindness sometimes to help offset the negativity. It is intensifying and my feelings are a natural human response. I will and do keep trying.

    • #141640

      My heart goes out to you. I too have a son similar to yours – Lots of anger and aggression mixed in with his ADHD. I love my son and would give my life for him but I didn’t like him very much in those moments.

      Something that would help me get through the tough minutes/hours/days with him (because that’s how we count it, right? How much more time until he goes to bed? How many days until the weekend when I might get a little help from my husband) was to remember how hard this is for him. Again, I totally get the lack of compassion. I’ve been there and it wears you down! In those moments I would try to imagine how chaotic it must be in his head. Something he can’t quite understand, he just knows it makes him feel awful. If he could choose, he wouldn’t choose this. I never found trying to rationalize with him in these moments to be effective. If anything I feel like it ignited the situation and prolonged it. As hard as it was, I would let him know I was there when he was ready to calm down and ignore it. Mine’s a follower too. I would find something to distract me – read the news on my computer, do the laundry, whatever to take myself out of it just a little bit.

      I don’t know your stance on medication and it’s a personal choice within your family. My son was evaluated just a few weeks ago and was definitively diagnosed with ADHD. He has been on medication for just about 2 weeks now and our lives have significantly improved. The second day taking his medication he said “mommy, my new vitamin makes me feel so much better.” Two Months ago, I would have described us as a family in crisis. Everything we did or didn’t do depended on my son and how he was that day. Now, I feel like we are finding a new and better normal. He’s still a little boy that gets into trouble and gets a little crazy at times but it’s so much more controllable. There’s also still some anger stuff but nothing like it was before. I felt so hopeless but now I feel like we are on a good path. I know there will be bumps and adjustments but I’m willing to do whatever it takes.

      Happy to chat anytime if you just need someone to commiserate with. That, in and of itself is a huge help. Do you have a support system?

      • #141661

        Thanks Annette. Yes, this sounds like me. Often counting the minutes and hours down. I have so much compassion inside as I keep persisting with love and kindness yet after hours and hours of extreme moodiness, unkindness and then these explosive aggressive fits of rage I feel hopeless, angry and desperately sad. I have alot of health problems and for someone like me it is difficult to manage the constant tension and stress. Ultimately I do feel very sorry for my son. I know this must be awful and who wants to be that way; no one. I’m scheduled for an adhd assessment in 6 weeks. I hate the thought of medication but realise things as they are are so terrible.
        Yes it would be really nice to chat. I will see if there is a messaging option in here 🙂

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