Thursday, September 04, 2008

Consequences

As parents, we are always being told that the best way to discipline a child is through consequences and staying consistent, and for positive behavior, give praise and rewards. But face it, behavioral management is tough and challenging no matter how many books we read or how many specialist or experts we follow or listen to, or when in our sane moments how we can rationalize, analyze and/or intellectualize why they do what they do (neurological, didn't get their meds, they are immature, tired, hungry, ___)

They also say - stand behind your threat. Do not threaten your child with a consequence that is unreasonable, unrealistic, or something that you don't plan on following through. We are suppose to think clearly and realistically, always be a few steps ahead of the game. For example, if you and your child is in the store for an hour and all they have are their crayons and paper, don't threatened that if they misbehave you will take away their crayons and paper - why - because now you are stuck with a child with absolutely nothing to do for the rest of that hour and that will perpetuate the boredom and add to more bad behavior. And who loses here - the parent.

We're supposed to not punish them with something that will allow them to continue getting rewards such as "go to your room". What happens if we send them to their room - are they really being punished? No. We are supposed to give out consequences that we know will really have an impact on them - something that they really cherish and will miss. For my daughter, I am the prize. I am the reward and the consequence. Nothing else works! NOTHING ELSE WORKS!!!

I am at my wits end because she will continue with the behavior until I get really, really angry. I can calmly but firmly tell her that if her behavior continues she will lose a privilege or a favorite poster, etc. and that does not stop her. I can try to reason with her by pointing out the value of what she is losing compared to her desire to be in control or in the right is not worth it; that she would rather lose something so precious than to actually stop and follow my directions and yet she will acknowledge it and this does not stop her. She will keep at it, pushing the envelop, nagging, having a tantrum, ignoring my requests despite the consequences.

When I do step in and follow through, she gets really upset, begs for me not to do whatever it is that I said I would do, that she will never do it again or she will stop the behavior, anything for me to not follow through. But I do and because she is mad now, she will continue with a new tantrum with slamming doors or doing whatever she thinks will get my attention. So now I go back to her and give her another consequence - and again, the cycle continues but gets worse because now the oppositional behavior is escalating and when I try once more with another consequence its almost a joke to her. Nothing matters - its all about the control.

I am trying very hard to not allow myself to get out of control with my temper when it get to this point but as I mentioned previously, it's the only thing that really works withher. It truly takes me to lose my control for her to finally wake up and stop. So, I need advice as to what really works - what consequences should I use to have it work, because the whole praise, positive reinforcements and consequence are not?

Now mind you, it's different when she is on her medicine. Almost all these negative behaviors she exibits are only there when her hyperactivity is set loose (not to say they are always in the open, they aren't but when they do come out, she's truly unable to manage it or noticed the difference in her personality.)

It makes sense to ask why don't I just continously keep her medicated? It's because I feel bad AND she must learn to manage her behavior, to recognize the differences in her personality and body language, and to take responsibility for her actions. I feel cruel and it's extremely frustrating for me (and I guess for her as well) to purposely let her spiral into this other person. But what are my options? How is she supposed to truly learn and begin to internalize the approprate behaviors when in a hyper state if she is on her meds? Truly, after she takes her medicine, this whole different person comes out - a person who seems to have already internalize these values and recognizes some actions and changes in her behavior/emotions (though not quite everything - still have problems with the owning up to her actions).

What consequences can I give her that REALLY mean anything to her? She's definitely the type to wait until the very last second of a count (1, 2, .....3) before she stops. Again, testing the limits, pushing the envelope, I have memories of her doing this as early as 18 months (oh those terrible 2's and 3's were a nightmare).

So advice? I need some!!!

3 comments:

cruisin-mom said...

Firstly, I would want to consult a therapist about how her medication should be used. That being said...I will offer this up: the goal of misbehavior is ATTENTION...that is always true. So if you can look at her behavior in that context it might be helpful. She has figured out how to get your attention by misbehaving. So, perhaps she has to learn that your attention comes when her behavior is positive. Every time your anger flares, guess what? She wins, she gets exactly what she's looking for.
So, since I don't like to tell other parents how to raise their kids, perhaps looking at this through that one concept (that the goal of misbehavior is attention)...might help you approach things differently.

triLcat said...

There is some anecdotal evidence that hyperactivity can be the result of missing trace minerals, particularly magnesium and calcium.

I would look into that.

The other thing I'd suggest is to find an online or local support group for parents of children with ADHD. What works for other kids with ADHD may work for your kid better than what works for non-ADHD kids.

jaime said...

Tricat - actually you are correct about the magnesium. We use a product called Calm, that is basically magnesium in a powder form that we mix with juice/water. The kids will usually drink this at night mostly because it helps them whenever they get leg cramps (which for my son is often). I never thought about it for the use of hyperactivity. Something to look into. Thanks for the suggestion.