I need ideas: Creative discipline for sassing

Devious Britches
Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 12:24 am
just a quicky has anyone heard of 123 magic? I just today took the 3 year old to a behaviouralist and he mentioned 123 magic as some thing we may try on the 3 year old then he changed his mind cause he didn't think it would work on him. Never telling me what it was so now I'm kind of curious. I should of asked him but I just wanted to go home. As a foster parent I have to take kids to these kinds of people and not sure if it helps but they have some good points every now and then. anyhow I guess i can just look it up online but wanted to mention it to you incase you have not heard of it either. k later and I know it's hard just take some time to breath. in and out in and out smile.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 01:40 am
Thank you for those compliments, osso. They make my day so much brighter. Very Happy

dlowan wrote:
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.

I just wanted to highlight what dlowan said because it's great advice. Definitely let Mo know that you'll be there for him, whether it's today, or in a week or a month, that you won't leave him. However, try not to voice long term promises (as in, I'll never leave you for anything) until you're absolutely certain that you can adopt him.

And, keep in mind that even though he may seem like a brat now, he's already attached to you in ways you can't even see.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 07:05 am
Ahhhh morning. Things always look better from here. I swear, by the end of the day I'm feeling positively shell-shocked.

No, I don't really think he was hatching some plot to be mean to me. But the whole thing is just so weird.

We had this calm phase where he would play happily and I didn't have to be in sight 24/7. I was getting a lot done and having a lot of creative energy and still spending a lot of time doing things and being with Mo. And we were having a lot more fun doing things together.

Then, BAM, the muttering and sassing and sniping started. Not only did I have to be within sight, he had to be right on top of me, sitting in my lap, telling me he hates me.

I know my withdrawl is not the proper reaction but I'm only human.

I think you are very right in saying that he wants to control my time and movements. I don't do everything/get everything he asks for, or even most of it. But he hears "NO" so much that it is nice to say "Yes" once in a while.

And I could be very wrong in giving him time and pointing out the consequences of his decisions instead of immediatley showing him the consequence.

I surely need to work on these things.

(Everyone is starting to wake up -- I'll have to post in periodic chunks for a bit...)
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 07:23 am
I can totally relate J_B - Mo likes me to go to the bathroom with him or to "Stay right there" while he goes. I usually tell him that I may have to move around a little bit. He likes to know where I am.

DB, I was encouraged to react BIG by a counselor that we saw. I should add that I save BIG for things that are mean or dangerous -- picking on the dogs, climbing the fence to get in the front yard, breaking glass things (a really weird phase that thankfully lasted a short time), running from me -- that sort of thing.

Food is a big issue with Mo. No single plan or course of action works -- I have to constantly alter and update our food strategy.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 07:43 am
dlowan (man she's smart) referred to this and I think it's come up before too, that it seems like "good" phases kind of free up some sort of lingering issues that he then gets to work on in his own Mo way.

Like, if things were still awful/ neglectful for him, he wouldn't be freed to deal, he'd just keep building up more issues that would resolve themselves in problematic ways later on.

But it's like, the safer and more secure he feels, the more the underlying stuff is able to bubble up and out -- which is a good thing, I think, even though it surely doesn't feel like it.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 08:18 am
boomerang wrote:
-- picking on the dogs, climbing the fence to get in the front yard, breaking glass things (a really weird phase that thankfully lasted a short time), running from me -- that sort of thing.

Hahaha, sorry to laugh, boomerang, but that just unexpectedly brought about the memory of chasing a runaway (who had generously left his bike behind him) before he reached a very busy street that I KNEW he would run into without thinking. So I hopped on his little tyke bike and sped after him, eventually coming upon his side just inches before he made it onto asphalt and leaping off towards him in a tackle worthy of NFL fame. I can only imagine what the gawkers were thinking that day when they saw me riding a little blue kiddie bike that was decorated with rainbow stickers at full speed towards the street only to lunge out and tackle a defenseless six-year-old. I sure know what I was thinking: HAHA, that'll teach the little sucker!

I'm sure you can already tell that there's comedy to be found in anything -- even the severe actions taken to ensure the safety of a child. You just have to take a little time away from yourself to recognize it. I think that once you find something funny in your particular situation, you'll be able to draw energy from it and keep on going stronger than ever; and if that's not the case, then you always have insanity to fall back on. Very Happy
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 08:28 am
That's a very good idea, DrewDad, about putting words to his emotions. I do that somewhat but perhaps a bit more nuance is in order.

We do spend a lot of time snuggling and cuddling and tickling and touching. Usually when his emotions rage out of control I can calm it down -- we go into his room (which I keep pretty spartan) and lay down and whisper.

With this current situation though, it almost seems like rewarding his hateful behavior I certainly don't want him to begin associating his meaness with receiving affection and attention.

I'm so confounded by this because the meaness is so directed specifically at me. I think there really needs to be a marked transition from one to the other -- I'm dumbfounded at what that transition should be.

Yeah, Individual! His motivation is so hard to understand. Is it an ernest effort to do as he was told or further manipulation?

Typically, if I start picking things up and he joins in he loses what I have already picked up, they get shelved (not trashed) and he has to earn them back.

He's a lot like CJan's daughter -- he isn't really attached to any toy and losing them is not a big deal.

I think my reaction is very much like your's CJane. I sternly warn immediately -- but that's when everything starts to escalate and I start to withdraw. I know this is not the right response, and time out is not the right response, and just letting it burn out is not the right response and.....

Osso, I would never accuse you of being voyeristic and I thank you for joining the thread. Indirect experience is very valuable as it provides a different perspective.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 09:18 am
I keep coming back and back again, dlowan, to that idea of creating what they fear. Mo IS doing a very good job of that. It isn't easy to admit that I have thought "I've gotta get out of here" several times over the last week.

That is very interesting about the mirror of emotions and I really need to think about that - a lot! I know how horrible and helpless I've been feeling and how guilty I've been feeling about my own behavior. I know my behavior has not been appropriate because I'm really acting out of desparation (with TO, for example, which I know doesn't work but does give me a few minutes to collect myself) and withdrawing and not being able to reassure Mo because I feel so vacant.

And it is really good to know that my response is not so atypical after all.

I need to do some thinking on consequences and I think I really need to amp up my communication level and ability to reassure instead of withdraw.

I need to be that calm eye of the storm.

(BTW your tone is perfect -- I need a bit of bossing on this.)
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 10:01 am
I've never heard of 123 magic and now I'm curious too.

We have tried to get Mo into counseling (I'm a believer that it helps) but our insurance company has other ideas.

You know, I think that I give Mo a great sense of security and stability and it is so hard to understand why he might think otherwise.

Testing. Testing. Testing. I'm ready for breakthrough.

And humor is so important and I try never to discount it. The first time Mo scaled the back fence (7 feet, stockade) I freaked. Everyone else thinks the story is hilarious. It took me a while to "get it" but is pretty funny. Distance and time brings humor in many cases.

dlowan (man she is smart) has been a wonderful and understanding ally for me to have.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 10:36 am
I may be wrong, but I find it significant that YOU feel like you are being manipulated. You have brought up manipulation as his motive, or wondering if it is several time.

I find it significant in that I think you should trust your instincts. You know him better than any of us and know the other surrounding emotions at the time these incidents occur. Trust yourself.

Couple of ideas:

1) If he doesn't care about his toys, what does he care about? What is important to him? A certain program or event or outing? Choose what is considered a "prize" for him or make a list of the things he looks forward to doing this week. Ask him to help you make the list. Include simple things like feeding the ducks at the park, or getting an ice cream cone IF it would be something he would want to do. They don't have to be expensive things, or away from home things. If he has a favorite program, he can earn the right to watch it. Put it on the list.

Make a calendar and use pictures that represent those things on the day you plan to do them. If you plan to go to the zoo next Saturday, put a zoo picture in the square for next Saturday. If you plan to go swimming on Tuesday, put a picture of a boy swimming in the Tuesday square.

Decide how long he can go without talking back / muttering/ saying something hateful to you. He can earn a star for each time he goes that length of time. Let him choose which picture he wants to put a star on. After he has earned X number of stars for that activity, he will be allowed to do it.

The number of stars required needs to be in sync with the bigness of it and how many stars you expect him to be able to earn. If he only "sasses" an average four times a day during 16 hours of wakefulness, he should be able to go 3 to 3 1/2 hours to earn a star.

After explaining what you are doing, and letting him decide what he wants to earn on which day, you shouldn't have to talk it to death. Set a timer so he knows how much longer until he gets a star. During the 3 hours you can bring up things like "It's almost time to put a star on the calendar" or "I can hardly wait to see which activity you want to put your next star on." These are little reminders phrased in a positive way that encourage him to persist.

If he doesn't make it, all you have to do is say "Oh, man. That stinks. I was really hoping you could earn a star so you could go swimming. I know how much you wanted to do that. Well, you can try again." Then, reset the timer.

Phrase things as what HE wants to do. Try to avoid saying we or I, as in "I was looking forward to taking you swimming." That can turn it into a punishment against you in his mind if he decides he would rather sass than earn a star. Keep it focused on being HIS behavior, HIS reward, and HIS decision to earn or not earn a star.

Also, I wouldn't spend a lot of time talking about it. Just start over. Ignore whatever it was he said, since as I said earlier, I don't think it's about his true feelings towards you. A small statement as indicated above and reset the timer and move on.

As you see him succeeding, extend the time in half hour increments.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 10:59 am
I said a couple of ideas, so here my other one.


A good one that teaches, not just babysits, and that has a low student to teacher ratio.

I REALLY think it's time for Mo to be mentally challenged, have other adult authority figures, and have some time in a setting with peers to remind him he's a kid and he needs to be a kid while he can.

I think this would serve several purposes:

1) He needs the mental challenge of learning to keep his busy brain on productive and creative things.

2) While he may have some peer interaction already, I think he needs more. He needs time to be a child with other children, and you need time to be an adult with other adults.

3) I think the routine would be good for him. I know how I feel without a set routine or reason for getting up or something to look forward to. Maybe he needs a more set routine than some other kids due to his background. More structure. Known expectations. Something to look forward to.

4) He needs other adult authority figures so he learns to respect adults, and that you are not the only one "bossing him." There would be someone else setting limits on his behavior.

He may qualify for Head Start. Have you checked into that?
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Devious Britches
Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 11:23 am
Hun I just wanna give you a big hug. An adoptive mothers job is a very hard one and stressfull. My Mel is 7 I got her when she was 2 and she has gone through sooo many stages currently the I hate you stage when she is mad. I'm not saying a regular mom's job is any easyer by any means. But I think we go through many stages of rejection and many times it is directed at the mom. You are taking the place of his momy and no matter how horrible she is there is a lil part of them that love them no matter what. It's not your fault or anything that you are doing wrong. He is just gonna go through many greiving stages. And they are the hardest when all you want is to love him and he doesn't show it to you back. Hearing I hate you is so hard to hear. Just know that he does love you and those are just words he is using to express his hurt and anger. Really if you think about it it suxs to be them. They have no choice in what is happening. Many times kids are taken from their home by a stranger (social worker) holding a big black trash bag tossing some of their belongings in and rushing them away to another bunch of strangers. Never telling them why or explaining to them anything about their family. Now I don't know how you came upon Mo but I'm just want ya to know that we re all here and everyone seems to love you and you seem to be doing a great job. From one adoptive mom to another Big hugsss and you can do it. We are a strong breed you and I smile. Just look at all you have gone though already with him. Maybe not now but one day he will tell you himself thank you mom. don't give up just hold on it's a bumpy ride. On and making a situation funny does help at times. maybe not the danger one but like when he says I hate you, put your hands up in a shield type manner and say Poof I use my mommy shield and block that meaness and then tickle him or what ever. some times when you react in a way they are not expecting they kind of go huh? and it changes the mood.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 11:48 am
Testing. Testing. Testing. Testing.

Perhaps Craven will let you join the Hamster Union?

I'm a big one for useful labels and describing the unfortunate behavior, but I don't have much direct experience with sassing and back talk.

Also, I'm not getting the sass on a regular basis--although having lived through my stepsons in their formative years, I know just how draining ugly talk can be.

After deep thought, I think I'd make my word of the week--or the month, however long it takes--"Counterproductive.

"Mo, you want me to stay around--and you're afraid I won't--so you say mean things. This is counterproductive" (really roll out the syllables--knowing the name is having the power).

"Nobody wants to be with someone who makes mean, nasty speeches.

"I love you, but I don't like mean, nasty speeches."

Then...pull the Jewish grandmother act....announce "You made me mad and I need a time out" then go stand in the corner.....

Spell out the behavior, the way it makes you feel and then put him in the position of having to do something next.

Remember, he's a kid searching for limits and knowing you have a snapping point is valuable information.

If he gets into "I don't care" Maurice Sendak has a wonderful book "Pierre". If you read that book with great feeling and expression, even a teenager won't be able to mutter "I don't care" with a straight face.

You can't do anything about the sordid undercurrents and tangles Mo is trying to work out--he has to do that. You're job is to be a loving human being. Human beings have limits. Human beings get their feelings hurt. Human beings are not targets for inarticulate hostility.

Mo is young, but I think he can understand the concept, "counterproductive".

The last thing you want is for Mo to incorporate into his basic being the axiom, "Women are capable of infinite love and therefore are to take any misery that I wish to dish out."

Hold your dominion.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 12:31 pm
Noddy said: "Women are capable of
infinity love". Isn't that the truth!!

boomerang, I know so well how you feel and how frustrated
you get at times. I've been there, and I have all the books here to
prove it. I was reading and reading and absorbing and implementing,
but actually very few things worked with Jane.

Preschool was a big mile stone for us (as squinney also
suggested), and Jane learned certain behavior rules she
vehemently ignored with me, but adopted in Preschool as
she recognized that her peers were in the same boat as
her, and together they were willing to accept the rules.

You have gotten some excellent advise here, and you just
have to find out what works with Mo and what doesn't.
The key is consistency and even though you might not see
any changes for a long time, there will come a day, when
it will work in your favor.

For a while I thought I never will see the light at the end
of the tunnel, but I just kept up with what I was doing and it

Today, I actually can relax (until we hit the teenage years).
Jane is polite, well mannered (not always at home), and I truly enjoy being with her. But I shudder to think what my life would be, without discipline and consistency the first couple of years after the adoption.
I remember so vividly how stressed out, discouraged and frustrated
I was, I would have hated to continue that way.

What Devious_Britches said is true: every mother has a
difficult task in raising her children, but we adoptive mothers
have different challenges to overcome, and we are never
sure if it is due to their genetic background, their previous
experiences, or if it is just plain normal for children that age.

One thing is for sure boomerang, no matter what you do,
Mo will always benefit from you, regardless if a behavioral decision is now right or wrong.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 05:50 pm
You know, I have been thinking for a long time about what Mo's trigger might be - what is the thing that not having it, he would miss.

Unless I can find a way to rid the world of sticks and dirt, I'm at a loss. He really isn't attached to things or to events. Honestly, a lot of times, just getting him to leave the house at all is a stuggle.

I can't really say "If..... then you can't come back to the house."

I have been giving a lot of thought to preschool. I know it is mostly for me because I really am not sure that he's ready. I really worry about starting schooling off on a bad foot and end up having him hate it forever.

I might make a few appointments for next week -- check out a couple of schools that I've had my eye on. Talk to them about Mo's behavior and see what they have to say.

DB, I never thought ANY moms job was anything even resembling easy. That's why I never wanted to be a mom. And then Mo came along..... and everything changed.

(The how I came by Mo is a long story. The short version is: I met his mom when she was 11. Her own parents abandoned her and she lived with her grand parents, my neighbors. At 18 she became pregnant and they threw her out. She turned to me for support. My husband and I became Mo's godparents and we helped mom, dad and Mo in any way we could. One night, right before his second birthday, he was here spending the night and they never came back for him. He's been here ever since - two and a half years.)

I love the idea of the Mommy-Shield. I can explain it as a spell. He is familiar with the idea of spells thanks to Soz who suggested that it be the anti-jinx to commercial advertising. (Now he runs in to tell me that "that guy just cast a spell on me to want marshmallow cereal!)

The Mommy Shield. I can use that.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 06:07 pm
Noddy, thats it! I DON'T want him to incorporate this stuff in a bad way. And boy-o-boy does this kid ever incorporate!

It's like squinney said - we are raising furture husbands and wives and what we do matters.

Professing my undying love during a bout of nastiness seems.... um.... conterproductive.

Ugly talk is draining. I think it's the most draining thing I've ever experienced. I have never had any person that I love speak to me like this.

I know I'm 44 and he's only 4... b-b-b-b-b-b-but.... it isn't easy.

<looking around to see where I might have mislaid my dominion....>

CJane, you always seem so together that knowing you survived doubts and dark tunnels really helps.

I really really wish I'd paid more attention to kids before I ended up with one. I read the "par" stuff in books and it never says "scales 7 foot fences" or "learns to lie" or "says I hate you". Being able to long jump and say the ABCs? Ha!

Thank you for the vote of confidence.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 06:27 pm
An interesting thing did happen today:

I work at the studio on Saturdays, usually til about 3:00. When I come home I usually get a "Hi mom".

Today Mo said "You came back!" and he ran to get Mr. B to show him that I came back.

I sat down and explained that I always have come back and I always will come back.

The rest of the day has been very nice. He even helped me pick out some toys and clothes to give to this other kid.

Let me tell you about this other kid:

A young woman who used to work for me called today to see if she could have any of Mo's old stuff. This kid, also four years old, parents walked out a year ago, off on a drug bender.

Kid was living with his grandpa.

Grandpa got arrested and sent to jail.

Kid is now living with his 80 year old great-grandmother.

Kid has clothes on his back. Nothing else. No socks, no underwear, no nothing.

This bullshit is endless.
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 06:41 pm
boomerang wrote:
Today Mo said "You came back!" and he ran to get Mr. B to show him that I came back.

I sat down and explained that I always have come back and I always will come back.

The rest of the day has been very nice. He even helped me pick out some toys and clothes to give to this other kid.

THAT'S EXCELLENT! Aw, my cuteness gland is acting up...
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Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 06:50 pm
They do, indeed, manipulate - cos the world is a scary place, and they think they have to.

You know, I have been wisjhing for some time now that therw was a widget of some kind that had to be turned on for you by a team of genuinely wise, loving, compassionate and utterly fair people before you could have kids.
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Devious Britches
Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2005 07:47 pm
Hehe glad you liked the mommy shield. Mommys have all sorts of powers. Like the 3 year old says I have super ears and can hear even when I'm not in the room. (grin love my baby monitor haha)
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