Friday, October 12, 2012

What To Do When a Child Refuses To Obey

Well, Stubborn was determined and worked his way back up the chart in 4 days; he did not eat much during those 4 days because he did not like his food choices. He also had a minor melt down at the end of each day when he had not yet gotten back on the chart.

Stubborn has since had his appointment with the psychologist, I'll call her Dr. P. Dr. P was amazed at the level of disrespect and defiance Stubborn was showing; she has been seeing him for over a year now, and he was not acting like this until the past few months.

She said:
  • it is normal for oppositional kids to really ramp it up right around 10 years old.
  • he seems quite proud of his making it 82 off the chart and getting back on in 4 days and thinks he won that battle. (I guess I shouldn't have been so accommodating in checking the work he was doing to move back up.)
  • one of the concerns about his behavior is that the younger children are watching him and may decide it is okay to act like this.
  • Husband and I need to talk privately and decide what the consequences will be for the children who are disrespectful/defiant towards me while he's at work. (We have not yet figured out what the consequence will be, sigh. It is a little tricky since Husband is only home for about two hours before the kids go to bed.)
  • then we need to sit down with all of the children, and Husband needs to explain to them, in a STERN, SERIOUS voice, that it is not acceptable for them to be rude, disrespectful, and disobedient towards me, and this is what the consequence will be when that happens.
  • then we need to meet privately with Stubborn, and Husband is supposed to tell him that the next time he has a fit like the one he had last week, we will be packing up everything in his room and taking it out, and he will have to earn all of his belongings back with good behavior. (For the most part, I expect Stubborn to act like he doesn't care, but there are one or two precious things he is going to miss.)
  • I should wait until Husband gets home to do the packing up of the bedroom, just in case someone tries to attack me while I'm doing it.
  • Stubborn is supposed to stay in his bare room until he is ready to behave appropriately.
Having recently experienced Stubborn refusing the consequences he had earned, I was on top of things enough to think to ask her:
  • What do I do if he refuses to stay in his room?
    • I am supposed to make sure he stays there by returning him to his room whenever he comes out. (Very similar to returning Baby to the time-out rug every time he gets off of it before he is supposed to.)
    • Husband is responsible for keeping him from sneaking out at night. (I'm thinking this will be accomplished by Husband sleeping in front of his door.)
  • What do I do if he uses his window to run away?
    • I am supposed to call the police and report that he has run away.
I fully expect that it will be necessary to pack up everything in his room sometime during the next few weeks, and I am very much NOT looking forward to that, especially since I am still working so hard to get things moved around and the rooms organized. Obviously, there is no good place to put the contents of an entire bedroom, so I think I will be moving most of it to the garage, and I will need to park on the driveway. I'm thinking that His roommate will likely need to be moved to another room temporarily too.

I cannot tell you how heartbroken and weary I am about this. This child has always been so sweet and loving, and I just cannot understand what happened to cause this change. I have asked and asked and ASKED him if there's something wrong, if something happened that has made him feel bad, if something is bothering him, and he continues to say no.

I spent roughly TEN YEARS engaged in a constant battle of wills with Ian, and I was so very grateful and relieved when that was finished. It never occurred to me that I would have this experience with any of the others, but now I can see that I am going to have it again, at least 2, and likely 3, more times.

Excuse me while I go sit in the corner and weep...


Slim said...

Oh, honey. I've got nothing helpful here, unless you count empathy, because WOW does parenting require a lot of loin-girding.

It's tedious and frustrating and depressing.

meanliving said...


PinkieBling said...

Oh, DMB, I am so sorry. You are such a wonderful mom, I wish those kids of yours would cut you some slack from time to time at least!! Hugs.

Cara said...

I don't know what to say except *HUGS*.

liz said...

I have three questions:

1) Have you taken him to the pediatrician to rule out a hidden infection or allergies? A severe change like this makes me want to look at a physical cause.

2) Have you considered out-of-home-schooling for him? (I ask this while considering home-schooling my out-of-home-schooled son). It may take some of the pressure off of you as constant disciplinarian of him.

3) Was there any other large change in your lives at the time that Stubborn started acting...stubborn?

Doing My Best said...

1) I haven't taken him to the pediatrician recently; he hasn't complained of feeling ill. He has been previously tested for allergies and come up negative.
2) He hated out-of-schooling worse than home-schooling: he had to be carried to the car screaming many mornings, he refused to do certain things at school also and had to be carried to the principal's office, and we still had a battle of wills with him over his homework once he got home.
3) There haven't been any big changes in our lives for quite some time.

He has always been strong-willed, but he has not always been rude and defiant =(.

Mommy Daisy said...

Wow, sweetie, I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with this.

The approach to helping him reminds me of the approach I read about in "The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline That Really Works" by John Rosemond. I have used a few tactics, though fortunately we haven't had to deal with major issues like this year. I highly recommend his book though. It's a good read and some good practical ideas.

twisterfish said...

Sending more hugs.

Kenner said...

Oh my! I'm sending you guys good thoughts, and I hope you have some CDPs stored away! I'm so sorry for all your chaos and stress (and when you mentioned having to remove everything from the room, the first thing I thought was, "But she just set all that up!" So I hope it's easy to redo!) Good luck!!

Jessica said...

This sounds horrible. I'm so sorry.

Lippy said...

Goodness, you are such a patient person. I am afraid I would have lost my mind. Hopefully everything resolves soon.

Sam said...

Ugh. I noticed a pride in the response from Stubborn when I asked about the chart. I hope this gets better for you.

Essie said...

Hi! Essie over here. I'm new to your blog, send over via Sam. I recognize this behavior, unfortunately. It was by our choice, not suggestion of therapist, that we made daughter's (15 now) bedroom bare when she was acting out last year. She herself had to help taking down all decorations and such.

She had 1. sneaked into my bedroom and taken incense 2. burned said incense but tossed it still burning in her plastic trash can when she was about to get caught 3. I found out by finding her trash can glued to her carpet from incense burning a whole through trash can onto carpet. She then lied about how it happened, lied about the taking of incense and so on.

Around the same time she also had stuck a metal pin through an electrical cord to keep it in place. AKA both dangerous behaviors that are not ok!

The same Summer she decided to run away from her dad's home, without a phone and knowing where to go. Niiice! More than once.... She said what inspired her to do so was a question on the questionnaire at the psychiatrist (have you even ran away from home). She never got far but it created quite some stress, I can assure you.

We made it through that Summer and she hasn't repeated those behaviors. But there is always something new. I've found that being on the same line as your partner is key. Especially with the disrespect part.

In the end it is just as your very appropriate for the situation blog name: we're doing just doing our best...

Gina said...

You know if nothing else, thank you for blogging about it because it helps those of us who also have challenging children to feel more normal.

My oldest is about to turn six and the worst thing about his behavior is the rudeness and disrespect. I fear for the upcoming years of that front. I think part of what is challenging for me is that I was such a perfect child. I don't say that as a brag, my obsession with perfection was not healthy. But I NEVER got in trouble. My husband was much the same way. My parents were also very strict (two former therapists have used the word "repressive") and used discipline that we don't (spanking). I think it is really hard for me to figure out how to parent my son sometimes because I have absolutely no model of how to parent him in the way I want to: strict but with listening, validation of his feelings, and empathy. I find it SO CHALLENGING to figure out how to let him express himself yet teach him how to do it in a respectful manner. Sigh.

FYI: we've been using a modified version of your chart now for a few months and it really does help. Thank you so much for putting that up here. Someday I shall blog about it.

Val said...

Very late commenting - but WHAT the WHAT?!?!?
I guess I don't understand why HUBBY has to tell S not to be rude & disrespectful to YOU???
May I suggest a large dog kennel for sleeping quarters? Easy to secure at least ;-)

Mouse said...

Oh my goodness. I just read this post and the previous one, and I'm exhausted for you. My favorite Grams used to say, "it's just a phase...just hope the next one isn't worse". Sorry. I have nothing to offer by way of help or advice, as I have no children or experience in this area, but I do send you thoughts of strength to endure this period. ACK!

Doing My Best said...

Val-I understand why she wanted Husband to talk to Stubborn. A good man can have a lot of influence over a boy, especially if that man is the boy's father, and the boy knows that his father loves him.

I think it was good for all of my children to hear their father say, "Your mother is MY WIFE, and she is precious to me, and you WILL NOT treat her this way without getting yourself in trouble with ME!" I was really surprised that his words had such an immediate effect on the behavior of all of the children.

I've noticed that boys seem to have the "pack" mentality, like dogs and wolves; they scuffle around a little bit trying to determine who is where in the pecking order of things, but once it has been made clear who the person in charge is, they settle into their place in the pack pretty well. Who knew?

Mouse-Thank you! I'll take all of the strengthening thoughts I can get!