Sunday, May 17, 2009

Help Me, Obi-wan, You're My Only Hope

"Kill the pig! Slit 'his' throat! Bash 'him' in!"

Ah, Lord of the Flies. It was mildly entertaining in high school, but when I wake up every day to my four year old chanting it beside my bed it loses its charm. Our little angel, our polite, smiling, laughing little bundle of pure happiness has developed the hair trigger temper of David Banner.


All kidding aside, it's become a problem. When he gets upset about something, he goes completely off the deep end and lashes out with whatever is at hand. While I admire his adaptability, it's starting to effect home and school.

Liam has a friend in pre-school named Jack, and if he doesn't get to play with Jack, either because Jack is off sick or he doesn't get to be Jack's partner while they are walking to the gym he loses it. Like throws his lunch, yells and screams, kicking/punching/threatening his teachers loses it. We've got 'that boy.' We're so proud. Unlike his older brother, Liam loves going to school and we don't want anything getting in the way of that, but we can't seem to get it through his little block head that he can't act like that while he's there. Terrorizing his family is one thing, but we'd like to keep the illusion up to our neighbours that we know what we're doing.

When Connor was at this age we could work with him. It got to the point where I could just give him a look and he'd put himself in time out. Liam is his polar opposite. The yin to his yang, Jekyll to his Hyde, the Data to his Lorn and we don't know how to deal with him. Time outs and being sent to his room do not work. After screaming burning epithets at us for a few minutes, he'll just make up a game to entertain himself with. One exasperating day I asked him what he thought mommy and daddy should do to make him understand. He suggested taking away all of his toys. Reasoning, punishment, goals, bribery, yelling, screaming and swats to the ass have zero effect. He doesn't care.

Now, that said, when he isn't being the poster boy for anarchy (which is only a small amount of the time)he's still a little angel who wants to snuggle, who will remember to say please and thank you and genuinely appreciates what you do for him. Friday afternoon we took him to the doctor's because we think he has allergies. The doctor confirmed that he does and that his ears are plugged up. While talking about it we realized that his change in attitude corresponded roughly to when he started his snot-capade. The doctor recommended giving him antihistamine daily for the next two months to see how it helps and hopefully being able to breathe and hear properly will turn things around for him. Unfortunately since he's already started down this prickly path he'll still need some reprogramming.

Any suggestions? Seriously. We need some help here.

57 comments:

  1. Okay.. so first, I'd give him about a week on the antihistamines and see if things improve (maybe even two..). Then? If things haven't sorted themselves out, hog-tie him and throw him in the river.. but not until you make a life size cardboard likeness of him.. you don't need people coming after you for those sorts of things. ;)

    Seriously though.. I'd be happy to give you some tips and such. We've gotten pretty good at creative discipline over the years and being someone who grew up in a home with a brother who was bogged down by multiple allergies and depression and had a violent temper, I can imagine what you're dealing with. ;)

    Email me.. IM me.. have your people call my people.. ciao.

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  2. did y'all see that?? i was so first just then.

    i win.

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  3. I'd feel pompass giving you any advice since I didn't grow up with any brothers and don't have any sons. My girls dealt with things in a different way. If they were upset or sick it was more tears than anything. And you did seem to try a lot of things to correct his behavior. I'm not sure if I could think of anything else. The only common sense thing I can think of is to try the medicine for a week or two and see if it works. If not, talk to his doctor and see if he can recommend anything. I can see you have kept your sense of humor. Love the photo.

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  4. I kind of wish I could blame my son's behavior at that age on allergies. Unfortunately, it was just being three. Time-outs never worked for him. He would just scream louder.

    What did somewhat work was sitting him in a chair in a part of a room with nothing else in it that he could play with and setting a timer for how long he had to be there. And once the timer was up - talking to him about why he was there.

    But honestly, it only worked part of the time - so I don't know how much help that will be. And now that I have written the epic comment, I guess I'm saying - give the meds a chance to work - not hearing can really F with a kid.

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  5. I really wish I had some advice to offer, but we have a three year old child of satan ourselves. No amount of consequences or punishments seem to help. And like with your situation, our older kid is so easy to redirect or discipline. I just have to start counting to 10 and she snaps to. But Avery is headstrong, though cute and lovable. I'm just hoping that she'll mellow out before we kill her. It's exhausting, isn't it? Parenting, I mean.

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  6. I've got 5 words for ya
    Auntie Mel's House of Discipline

    I accept all major credit cards, NO CHEQUES!!!!

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  7. Oh yes, I've got one of those here. Why don't kids care about discipline and loss of privileges? It's so annoying.

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  8. I got nothin. If you find the answer, pass it on?

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  9. I don't have much helpful to say.

    "lbalabsdbalbj"

    Seriously though, it wouldn't surprise me f things turned around fairly quickly. The "burning epithets" will hopefully just drop away.

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  10. Love the picture. My son started with the same temper issues at that age. What we do (still even though he's now 7) is ask him to leave the room when he does start getting to the rage stage. We tell him he has to either calm down and stay with us or leave the room. If we have to we physically remove him to the hallway. He has to sit there till he calms down and then we very briefly have a minute chat about behavior.

    I got the idea after reading a book called Parenting With Love. It's about giving a choice (do x and be happy or choose to do z and be unhappy). It's supposed to let the child feel like they are in charge (which is what a lot of struggles are about). My son has other possible issues but it might be helpful for you.

    Good luck. Hopefully just the medicine will clear it up.

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  11. 11th!!

    What?

    Oh ok. Drugs? They work.

    Don't they?

    :)

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  12. Ouch. That's a tough one and not much fun to deal with. I hope the antihistamines work. Beyond that I don't know if you an do anything more than you already are.

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  13. I think CPM and BMA hit it on the head. Give the meds time to work, see if it helps calm things down, then work on the choices route. Wee Lass hasn't had the severity of the fits but the choices approach has worked pretty well in modifying her behavior.

    I thought I sensed a disturbance in the Force...

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  14. Watch Lucky Louie with Louis CK. There was an episode where his wife yelled at him to stop being so hard on their 4 year old daughter. He called the kid a "fucking asshole". When the wife said to stop it, he said, "I'll stop when she stops being a fucking asshole." Just hilarious. We have the same problem with our 6 year old daughter... Whatever.

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  15. I say we harness that energy and use it as a clean burning fuel.

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  16. Two things: A really good chiropractor, and Jim Fay's book, Parenting with Love and Logic. Best ever.

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  17. Loved the picture...so cute, hard to imagine that adorable little boy turning into the Hulk. Sadly, I have no advice since my daughter is only 1 and hasn't hit that stage yet. I hope the med's help him to feel better so he's less likely to lash out.

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  18. Aw, man, I was gonna come here asking you for some assvice since my own kid decided to take an entire grocery store hostage this weekend and my first thought was, What would the Captain say?
    Crap!
    So, um, let me know what works for you. You know, pay it forward and such..

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  19. lets hope the antihistamines work! Give him a few weeks, and check it out!

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  20. I feel for you. My six year old daughter is going through a similar stint. She NEVAH gives anyone but us a hard time. All of a sudden, three days in a row, she's being a little shit for her teacher. She has a BFF like Liam does and alot of it stems from when they are separated. We had to take away things, like the chance to spend the night at a friends, computer time, etc. She's straightened up over the last week, I'm just hoping it lasts. Wish we were still in the sleeping baby crib stage sometimes!

    Good freakin' luck.

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  21. I know exactly what you are going through. With that being said, I don't know if I have any advice to give on the situation. As anytime I am not feeling like a complete loony parenting failure, I am secretly thanking God for the good times. And with THAT said, here is what I do...when one of my children acts out:

    I make my child look me in the eyes, when I am talking to them. They hate this...a lot, and sometimes it is a battle. But it is the only way, that I know they can "hear" me. Sometimes, if the situation calls for it, I have them repeat what I just said. Doing this makes gives them no other option but to pay attention to you and what you are saying. Otherwise they are looking around focusing in on other things, while you are talking at them in the background. There are also punishments, but to get my point across the looking in the eye and repeating, really let things sink in for them. That's it...it's all I got. Sorry

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  22. Aside from Duct Taping him to a wall....?

    I kid, I kid...

    Seriously. I have suffered allergies my entire life. Allergies can Suck It. And keep right on suckin' It.

    Hear that, Allergies? Suck it.

    I'll bet the antihistamine helps. It helps tame my own personal Monsters. Also, if the Allergies are of a Pollen origin, you can try eating some local made Honey. that works too. Not as well as the meds....really, It's just an excuse for me to eat Honey out of the Jar.

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  23. You can't punish him! He is too damn cute! Send him over here and we can watch planes in the back yard!

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  24. What works for me is not having a family.

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  25. Your kids are so gonna kill you when they get older and see your blog.

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  26. Ohhh yeah, see, I totally don't have any kids...my mother beat me within an inch of my life, the middle brother was one of those that you could just look at and he would do what he was supposed to and well, the last brother, he is a little shit...mostly because I think Mom and Dad were tired by the time they got to him. See, I was no help at all! YAY!

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  27. lock him up until he's four?

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  28. i thank god everyday i had a kid that would cry if i gave him a dirty look but now im paying for it the teen years help me!

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  29. Milo was that kid. With no allergies or any environmental factor at which to point our bruised fingers.

    Every day of three and most of the days of four, we would occasionally discuss what we'd do when the gypsies took him from the corner where we were going to leave him ANY DAY NOW.

    It blew: He hit. Tantrumed. Threw his scrawny weight around repeatedly. MAJOR emotional meltdowns. And unlike you, we didn't have an older child who demonstrated that not all children were spawns of Satan.

    NOW, Milo is five point five. And for the most part, amazing. Rational. Smart. Funny. Reflective and brave and kind. And when we tell stories (as we do) about how UNBELIEVABLE his tantrums were, he laughs, amazed - AMAZED! - that he ever kicked anybody in the throat or threatened to destroy them with his power of supersonic shrieks.

    I'd say take care of the allergies, and work on strong, rational boundaries. And then you and Supreme Leader pace each other while one of you gets to escape and do some therapeutic drinking.

    Because five? Rocks!

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  30. Yesterday, my best friend's 6 y/o shouted "I curse you, Mom, I curse you!" from the top of the stairs. Let me tell ya, I was pissed and he's not even my kid. I'm glad all y'all who have kids decide to share your stories about them with me so I can be better educated about my choice if/when I decide to have any. Right now, not looking good.

    Good luck with the little stinker. I don't envy you... and I have no advice. Maybe lock him out of the house in the backyard for a few hours? I don't know...

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  31. You kinda make me glad I have dogs.

    You *could* leave him on a street corner with that sign. He might learn his lesson...and bring in some change. Oh, that's not the kinda change you were looking for is it?

    Vodka mom sent me. Great stuff here. ;)

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  32. My first inclinations is to say it's just a stage. I've witnessed it in other kids. I would think man...that kid is nutso! Steer clear...but as they got a little older, they were perfectly fine. Just keep on keepin on with him...I have a feeling he'll outgrow it.

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  33. Memories, like the corners of my
    mind, misty water colour memories
    of the way they were....

    Go back, way back, do you remember
    your brother. His tantrums were
    book of the month club worthy.
    He was sooooo strong too. At 2
    he would rip out the bars of his
    crib and aim for you. He pulled
    your Nana's wooden screen door right off it's hinges. He punched
    a boy 2 years older than himself
    in the nose, because the kid purposely ran over your bare toes
    on his bicycle. That was at 3.

    He was also very loving and cuddling in his ways most of the time.
    By the way, people, said brother
    turned into a upstanding young man
    of the highest quality.

    So, don't despair. Use "Auntie
    MElanies' house of Disipline as
    a scare tactic. It would scare me.

    Serious side, I like the quiet time out with the choices thrown
    in. Quiet time in a his room with
    all the toys is just a different type of play time.

    I made tons of mistakes with you
    guys and you all turned out to
    be pretty remarkable people.

    It's too bad they don't sell parents valium in bulk like they
    used too.

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  34. Go claim your award over on my blog...

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  35. I dunno...I've heard good things about that love and logic book. Have I bought it? No. Why? Because I'm a lazy ass.
    My 8 y/o dtr is kinda the same. Nothing really works for her when she gets that way. She can be so moody, sometimes I think puberty is just around the corner.

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  36. This is what happens when you give a kid a cell phone and the keys to the car. They're growing up so your now.

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  37. I've got one of those. She's 8 now. I have no advice. But I do have lots of sympathy...

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  38. Almost all punishments went unnoticed by my daughter and I found myself taking deep, deep breaths ALL the time! Nothing mattered to her. Material things, smacks on the butt (yeah I did it!), timeouts in the corner. Only when she was much younger, for a very short period of time, was I able to get away with one thing re: behaviour in public: If she was a real tyrant, I would make her hold a quarter against the wall wherever we were with her nose for the number of minutes = to her age. I think this stopped at 7 because she began behaving. I got many dirty looks from people, but my daughter stopped hiding from me in the shopping mall and giving me mild heart attacks after a while!!

    Allergies are nasty and vicious. My ears itch so bad that I could punch myself in the head sometimes. I get so irritated and angry and can't make it stop! And I often can't hear people...again frustrating! Perhaps once he stops feeling this horrrible things in his body, it will calm him.

    Love the pic BTW! Good luck!

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  39. Oh...2 things. I never BEAT her! Just butt smacks in case anybody's about to call social services. Oh. Wait. She's an adult. YES!!! ;)

    And the other: Contracts also worked. Sit him down and write out contract agreements. Then you all sign it. It gives him goals, the control he seems to crave and great for comedic value!!

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  40. I am not a self-help book person. I hate them. They don't help. That being said, the "Love and Logic" books worked really well with our devil-spawn. 10-12 years ago the authors didn't have a website, but they do now. Go Google it. They have great ideas to rock your kid's world so that it makes a difference in yours. (And you get to mess with his head in a positive way...so it's kinda fun...in that he's-making-my-life-hell-so-here's-a-little-back-at-him way.)

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  41. I have nothing for ya. Just here for the cake.

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  42. Umm what's the deal with us both referencing Dr Banner in our posts? I think this means something. It has to.

    I think you might have found an amazing photo series my friend with these little signs your boys hold up. I see some real "cool" potential here. I'll buy it off you for 3 magic beans.

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  43. Too cute! No advice. We homeschool.

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  44. I cant help you with the reprogramming - yet. Gage is an extreme of what you said of Liam and was diagnosed as bipolar. We will be starting NEW meds soon and therapy as well. I will let you know if I learn any handy tricks!

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  45. I have no advice. I'm just here to say that I love the Hulk analogy and that photo is fucking awesome!

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  46. I have no advice. I'm just here to say that I love the Hulk analogy and that photo is fucking awesome!

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  47. Oh and I have heard thaht love and logic works well (not for Gage, he doesnt respond to typical stuff well). If you would like I can send you our copy.

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  48. I see a few have noted the Love and Logic book.. AWESOME book.

    I haven't read it, I haven't taken the classes, but my brother and SIL use it in their home and it practices the same principles that I mentioned in my email. It's about getting over the power struggles by teaching the kids to control their own behavior instead of controlling it for them. ;)

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  49. Liam could have been my youngest at that age. It totally sucked. My advise get his ears fixed quick. It helped us. Now the boy is 23 and a joy.

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  50. You've gotten some good advice. I would try the meds and see if that helps. I know when I feel poorly it's difficult to control my impulses - even worse for the little people.

    "Love and Logic" is worth a shot. I feel your pain. More than you'll ever know... Hang in there, Liam will become civilized again.

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  51. I've come to believe that poor diet is the root of all evil. Take that for what it's worth.

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  52. Hopefully it is related to his allergy issues!! If not...I have been reading a good book, ' a new child by friday'..it has helped me with my 3. AS you already know each child is so different that its like first time parenting each and every time!!!!!! :) good luck...this too shall pass!!

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  53. Since he likes school so much ... tell him you'll pull him out for EVER if he doesn't straighten up and FLY right!!! Doggone it!

    Or just take away his toys.

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  54. I've used the tactic of sending him to his room, telling him that obviously, he is upset and needs to cry. That obviously he needs privacy to get his act together. That obviously he needs a nap. When he feels better, he can come out and join us.

    Tactic #2: Watch his tantrum, see if you can catch his eye, looking puzzled then let him see you put a huge grin on your face, then laugh and laugh, and tell him, boy, you are really good at that.

    I sort of remember it worked, but it was so long ago, in a far away land.

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  55. fifty six. cause i'm special.

    for age three and so far, most of four, i had to tape a huge copy of this poem called 'how to love your child' on the mirror in his bathroom. and read it every day. two three times a day even.
    it didn't do a damn thing to turn on my discipline lightbulb, so i have no advice to pass on, but it helped me stay out of prison.

    actually, now that i think about it, prison might be a nice time out for me. if they let me go to a men's prison, where they serve tequila.

    wait. what?

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  56. Children need a clear definition of acceptable and unacceptable conduct. They feel more secure when they know the borders of permissible action.

    *BluePixo Entertainment - A place for mom and dad to share topics about parenthood*

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Come on, sailor. I love you long time.