Thank you so much to everyone yesterday who helped me out. I really appreciated the thoughts and advice, and implemented some of your suggestions. A few people have asked for an update, so here goes:
When I wrote my post yesterday I had an angry kid banging around the house yelling, and I didn’t know how to get him to eat or take his meds, let alone get dressed and go to school, without causing things to escalate, and I was feeling really overwhelmed.
I told his parents what happened, and called the school to let them know what was up. After a discussion with the parents and therapists, I implemented the strategies they advised, which were: If he is unwilling to comply with a reasonable request, all attention and activity stops (besides meals). I just leave him alone until he calms down and decides to comply, but nothing fun happens. The thing he wants most in the world is computer access. So when he realized that not going to school meant no computer access, he was really angry. But I told him no computer unless he went to school, as did his parents via phone, and eventually he figured it out. At lunch time he decided he was ready to go to school, so he got ready and we went. I called the school therapist and let her know we were coming so she could check in with him, and met with her alone when I dropped him off to give her an update.
After school he was anxious to get home and get on the computer. Some how he had fixated on the idea that I had broken his computer (I just removed some vital cords per his parent’s instructions), and so we had a few melt downs related to that, because I wouldn’t give him the cords until he had a snack and did his homework. I just left him alone, and eventually he turned it around and got those tasks out of the way, and I gave him back the cords. I did feel weird about giving them back, because there should be consequences for his behavior, but as many of you advised that is not my battle to fight, so in the interest of showing that cooperation gets rewards, I gave them back.
The night was pretty good. He mostly stayed on the computer, which was fine. He got off to eat dinner, and even stayed and chatted with the rest of the family for a while, which was nice. His sister helped out with bed time, so that went pretty well, but as it got later and later he couldn’t settle down and kept getting up to bug his brother or get back on the computer. So, the computer was disabled again, and we had another rage incident, in which he refused to go to bed until I put the computer back together, and was lashing out at his siblings who were also trying to get him in bed. I had asked his parents to call before his bedtime if they got the message (bedtime here was very early morning where they were, so I wasn’t sure if they would wake up and see the message in time), but they called mid rage incident, and that worked really well to calm him down before it got out of control.
This morning, the kid was great. It was like a completely different person. He got up, did what he was supposed to, got some computer time and lots of praise as a reward, and went to school. So maybe yesterday was just a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. It certainly was for me.
I know many of you advised that I demand that the parents come home, but I just didn’t feel I could do that. I am well aware that they have made a number of bad decisions related to this whole thing, but right now I just need to focus on getting through the week. The strategies are helping, and I feel like I know how to avoid that kind of situation again. Boyjangles and I had some serious discussion as well. He apologized profusely to me, and said that when he saw my head snap back when the kid head butted me in the lip he just lost it and didn’t know what to do, which is fair. Thinking back on it, his response was similar to when you are dealing with an aggressive dog, which is the highest level being he’s ever had to provide care for. He acted fast, showed dominance, and pinned the kid until he submitted. We talked about what was wrong with his response, and how there are so many things that could have gone really, really wrong, and why I was so scared, and talked through the current recommended approach and how to implement it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is off getting a vasectomy right now.