We had such a beautiful little period of calm right before all of this started that I'm thinking he was just plotting the whole thing out.
My mom handled it just like Individuals did -- it doesn't work with Mo. Actually, that seems to be how the whole thing starts boiling out of control.
And squinney's right -- you ignore Mo at your own peril.
The stupid thing about this is that it leads to this very unproductive circle of behavior between us. He starts with the sass, or sometimes just muttering at me and I feel myself shutting down. (I imagine it's a similar response one would have to anyone who is being verbally absuive.) The more I withdraw, the worse it gets. He continues to provoke until he gets a response. I hate to confess that my usual response it to wordlessly yank him up and put him in time out.
I KNOW I'm not handling this well.
And there doesn't seem to be any particular thing that triggers this stuff in him.
Just since I've started typing this response:
He comes in and starts muttering:
"You're a big stinking bully."
This is out of nowhere - we've been having fun all morning -- planning how to build a little fence in the yard to keep the dogs away from the tomatos, getting our tools together, that kind of stuff. We came in so that he could have breakfast before we got started. I was checking my mail and A2K while he ate.
Usually though, it happens when he's been reprimanded for something.... anything.... even just being asked why he did something... things that aren't that big a deal...
Here's like a typical situation:
Mo, you need to pick up those toys.
NO! You pick them up yourself.
Okay, if I pick them up you don't get them back.
Yes I do get them back! They're mine!
If you want to keep them, you need to pick them up
Don't you threaten me. You'll go to time out blah blah blah blah blah.....
Mo never whines or cries for things, he demands things:
Come outside with me.
Okay, Mo, it's going to be just a minute....
No. It's going to be a minute.
NOW! <muttering> You'd better stop it... I'm telling you..... you're not supposed to do that.
His responses and comments really don't even make sense to the situation.
No, I don't think he's doing it to be cute. He is an excellent mimic and will act out scenes and be characters from his favorite movies and shows. For instance - when when go to the grocery store he always has to wear one of the hand basket things on his head and pretend he is Calky from the Pee-Wee Herman show -- he's got Calky's mechanical stutter down pat. We get some strange looks but it is downright hilarous so we just have fun with it.
Trying to make sense....
Sometimes these kids (remember they feel BAD - and believe, deep down, that you will abandon them, and that getting close hurts and means bad things will happen) get scared with good, intimate times - and will provoke distance (MAKE you go away before you do it anyway - they feel, at least, some agency and control that way). This, I think, explains the bad times after really good times thing. It is usually fairly predictable.
With some kids "wondering" if this is what is going on, or "thinking" (as in "I wonder if you're feeling like we were really close, and then you got worried I might go away" - or just "I won't go away, even if you get mean or angry") can be useful. Or just naming the feeling you see (often these kids haven't learned to recognize and think about their feelings) - "you seem angry/worried/sad", or "you seem to want to push me away after we were so close and had so much fun".
(I don't think he was planning anything, btw! I just think the period of calm was his integrating some stuff, now we have another layer - and, developmentally, he's ready for "sass"!)
You aren't really saying you'll put toys in the trash, are you?
I think "Then, you are choosing not to have these toys for a week" or whatever is, I think, fine. But threatening the trash - no. As you know - don't threaten what you will not follow through on - and throwing them away is way too harsh. And you won't do it.
The anger and shut down you feel is typical with these kids. They evoke horrible emotions. These reflect, or are the mirror image, of what THEY feel. When you have monster feelings, out of synch with the actual situation, this is often your guide that you are experiencing the feelings that Mo is feeling - or that you are experiencing the things he fears you will - shutting down (going away emotionally - I bet his mum was very shut down with him - or very angry), rage, seeing him as more than a child, as PLANNING how he can be mean - these types of feelings are so common with these kids - they can evoke real hatred and feelings that they are almost monstrous, I have seen it in foster carers time and time again. Or just utter helplessness, and that is awful. They can create, expertly, what they fear. They aren't doing it consciously, but they are doing it.
Sass - hmmmmmm.......
Seems you ARE using TO? Even though you disagree with it theoretically for these kids? If you are GONNA use it anyway, then do so much faster, before you are angry. I might re-frame it - "Seems you are needing to be cross and rude - that's ok, we all get cross - but it is my job to help you deal with that, so you don't get hurt, and nobody else does - because in our house we do not hurt anyone. You need to talk to me about how you are feeling, or stop being rude to me, or go to your place where you can be cross." Something like that - if he continues "sassing" (not a word we use!) - boom - straight - and utterly calmly on your behalf - to a brief time out.
"If you keep doing that, this happens"
What is "this"?
Sometimes - if a kid has a favourite tv show, I suggest they lose little bits of time of that show, for every five minutes or whatever they keep the rudeness up. He may be a bit young for that? Mebbe not?
Or, if you keep being rude to me, then we will not do this nice thing that we usually do (preferably a pretty close in time nice thing!)
Any consequences for him that you can think of???
With the "bully" etc stuff - I think you explain that you love him, and it is your job to help him learn to behave properly, that is what parents do - and you will do this even if it makes him angry, because you love him. Once or twice is enough for that explanation. After that, the odd, "I know you are angry with me, but I love you, and I will do what is right" while he rages or does whatever he needs to do - and you follow through calmly with whatever consequence you have decided on.
This is just to start you thinking, btw, I probably sound bossy - I don't mean to be - I am just thinking out loud!!!!
Oh - the over-reaction stuff. Remember, he feels he is bad - also, his neurology is wired for him to get very emotional fast, and find it hard to calm down. I suspect being told off, however gently, triggers stuff for him - as well as him going through a fairly normal "Make me!!" phase.
The demands and the extra inability to wait - again, he's not been socialised normally - and he will be in a greater than normal state of agitation while waiting. This will come very slowly.
I would certainly say he needs to ask nicely, and you won't come until he does.
You can, I think, recognize that waiting is hard for him (as it is for all kids) - "I know it is hard for you to wait, but I WILL come" - and maybe a cuddle or a gentle pat as you say it? Plus - "gee, you are waiting well, almost there" etc as you do whatever you need to do.
He clearly reacts when your attention is withdrawn (and they know, from several yards away, if you get a phone call, or something like that, and come unerringly, and whine!)
One way of trying to handle this is to stop what you are doing pretty frequently and go to him and give him attention, if he is being ok - then withdraw subtly - like , "I'll be back in a few minutes".
I think remembering that they WILL evoke these strong emotions and understanding it can help. The threatening you with TO (which I think is happening?) seems to me to be annoying, but fine - like he is developing a sense of consequences - even if he is applying them to you.
I think you can respond, sometimes, "I know it makes you angry when I help you learn to behave, but I will still do the right thing for us all, because i love you>" - or something like that.
The message is, basically, that you love him, you are in charge, and you will help him through all these storms and you will not hurt him, or let him hurt you. Kind of like the still, calm eye of the storm.
These rhythms of strong arousal, you staying calm and in charge and sticking to it until he is able to calm, or you can soothe him, is the meat of what he needs.
God, hope I don't sound like a bloody pain in the bum!