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Explosive teenager

maise posted 10/28/2020 16:58 PM

Anyone have experience with an explosive child? I’ve been maneuvering my son’s temper tantrums and loud screaming and banging when he’s upset for a while now. When he was little I thought it was something he’d outgrow, but this actually seems to be his go to when he’s feeling emotionally upset. I know it’s because he doesn’t know how to process any other way. I don’t get upset with him or explode with him in any way. I try to remove things he may hurt himself with and leave him be on his own until he calms. There’s no talking to someone when they’re that angry.

Usually once he’s settled I’ll go in there and have a very conversation with him. He tries to negotiate his loss of privileges, tried to excuse his behavior, in the past this may have worked out of guilt on my part. Not this time though. I calmly told him his privileges could not be negotiated. I sat with him and empathized for how upset he is. Discussed the choices he made and attempted to have him see he could have made better choices. Once he realized he couldn’t negotiate he exploded again, so I left him on his own yet again. Will go talk to him once again when he’s not upset to this degree.

Anyway, I know I’m improving on my end but, any pointers? This process is exhausting and tricky to maneuver.

I’ve checked on my other child and talked to her too. Sigh...

[This message edited by maise at 5:01 PM, October 28th (Wednesday)]

Poppy704 posted 10/28/2020 17:21 PM

My son had a similar issue. It got to a point where once he was calm I flat out told him that home is a safe space but if he tried this anywhere else he’d be arrested, and if he exploded with a girl this way, he’d never see her again,so he better get it out of his system before he went to jail.

EvenKeel posted 10/29/2020 07:54 AM

Oh maise…hugs!

How old is your DS?

When he was younger, my DS was tested because they suspected ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). His teacher keep saying he didn't have that - she had children with it and DS's issues were different.

She was right, he has MPD (Multiple Processing Disorder). Anything requiring a lot of steps (which is most things) he couldn't process. When he got overwhelmed, he would meltdown (or explode outward).

I would encourage seeking some help and testing if you have not done so already. We tried it all but he was too stubborn (?) to talk with the IC.

I honestly didn't think we were going to make it through his youth Many nights of both of us crying.

My house still shows the scars (holes in walls, etc). Dr Phil always said not to give in but the firmer I got during that explosion, the bigger the explosion. It was better to leave him alone until he could see/hear-straight again before you could even go there. If you tried during that explosion, he was literally unable to comprehend and it would just be like adding more fuel.

While this is probably little help now, the older he got; the better he could navigate.

I remember reading a book called something like "The Spirited Child". One thing I remember from it is a lot of traits in what we deem a 'difficult' child are positives in an adult. Meaning 'stubborn' child becames a 'driven' adult.

Lionne posted 10/29/2020 08:02 AM

I had a difficult kid. Oppositional only with me. Teachers loved him, he was very good at manipulating his dad. I despaired that I'd never have a close relationship with him.

It seems to me that if he doesn't have a processing issue, and there isn't some underlying trauma, that treating this much as you'd do with a toddler tantrum. Don't give him an audience.

I realize this is simplistic. It worked for me but the behavior got worse before it got better.

My son and I are very close now.

tushnurse posted 10/29/2020 08:37 AM

Raises Hand.

I found the key to preventing the whole explosion was seeing it starting to ramp up and stopping it in it's tracks. My son would get so frustrated with games, be it video or other that he would start to escalate.
If I took him out of the situation It would prevent it from happening.

So for example if we were playing monopoly and he was getting frustrated, I would say hey let's take a break and go make a snack, or let the dogs out, or switch the laundry. I would make the break last at least 10 minutes. I would engage in a different conversation so he wasn't ruminating, either talking about friends, or dinner, or what he wanted for birthday or christmas, something happy and positive. In other words to get that super focused mind on a different track. Often w/ kids with Aspergers, and ADHD (My son) this works.
Interestingly if it were a board game, or some hands on toy like leggos he usually wouldn't feel an urge to go back to it, but those dang video games were his siren song. Still are quite honestly and he is 23. Of course he no longer has outbursts we got through that.

Just remember you DO NOT Negotiate with terrorists. LOL

Consequences are good, and should always and consistently be followed, and reinforced. If you give any ground one time, it will forever be challenged, where as if you stick to your guns a few times, the behavior will stop, or the negotiation, or guilting tactics will.

Overstimulation is another key to preventing the outbursts depending on age. We had some real issues in KG-2nd grade, until he learned that he could ask to remove himself from those situations.

maise posted 10/30/2020 02:54 AM

Thanks for your responses all!

How old is your DS?

He's turning 13 in a little over a week. I tried IC with him also! It was essentially useless. Sigh. He's also in the big brother/big sister program, I thought if he had a big that would help steer him? But nope! When he was in IC, I feel like he just plain ole didn't want to open up emotionally at alllll. He's very closed off. When he does engage everything is a joke? Lately I've tried different methods with him. I used to have in depth talks about how the consequences when he was older would be jail and such but that doesn't seem to make much of a difference. Staying calm when he's losing his s*** is always good...and I usually go in after he's settled and talk to him.

He's very impulsive and doesn't seem to want to put in any effort to not only think things through, but to even try to problem solve or fix anything. Perhaps its not that he doesn't want to but maybe doesn't know how? I recently read The Explosive Child and it did mention that as an issue. It was very informative, I may re-read a few more items in there and work through them. Some of the things it mentioned I had tried prior to reading the book and they did make a difference. It's just...yeesh! Those days man...when he's lost his poop!

He manipulates and lies and then when faced with consequences there's excuses, and minimizing and blaming. He tries to negotiate and when I hold my ground it's BOOM! The day I posted this it was an explosion about school. We had been back and forth with teachers and his assignments. It's been E X H A U S T I N G! For us as his parents, and I'm sure for his teachers too. We are trying and trying and he's just not caring. He lies to us, to them, and keeps failing. Turning in blank work just so that it shows its "turned in". He told his teacher he didn't have a functional mic and video (not true). We have been chasing our tails trying to stay on top of him and his grades.

I grounded him for the weekend. Took away the precious video game. I had had many conversations in the past with him about school and losing his privileges if he doesn't do well that week. Once I said those words, he exploded. Went to his room screaming, hitting things, crying loudly, the works. It reminds me of a toddler only more concerning bc he's big.

I removed dangerous things, let him calm down and went to talk to him. Once he realized I wouldn't negotiate he went back at it. Screaming, hitting things, throwing himself to the ground, crying excessively (and loudly). I tried talking to him again when he calmed but who really knows if it'll make a difference for future references.

I found the key to preventing the whole explosion was seeing it starting to ramp up and stopping it in it's tracks.

Maybe in the future I could think ahead, realize it's coming before it comes and approach him differently when I remove privileges. Instead of saying, "You're grounded for the weekend because of XYZ." Say, "DS, based on the choices you've made to lie, and how you've handled your school assignments, I'm taking your video games away for the weekend. As a rule, we have discussed that if you do not do well in school you do not get your privileges, and this loss gets added more time when you are dishonest."

I wonder if this approach will settle this particular type of explosion? I could see him thinking this approach means there is room for negotiation though. He will go to his usual....excuses, minimizing, blaming, avoiding, playing the victim...I will hold my ground, and then the explosion may still come. Would I just be prolonging the inevitable? I guess I can try anyway...

I can see how stopping to map things out and realizing it before it comes could help. The book mentioned something like that too.

Just remember you DO NOT Negotiate with terrorists. LOL
LOL YES. I definitely do not give into my guilt anymore. After starting IC and my individual work (after D-day) I noticed a lot of ways I was enabling some of this by giving into guilt!

Parenting...hardest job i'll ever have!
I want to help him be the best version of himself, especially when he's grown and released into the world on his own. The thought makes me so nervous when he goes to these negative copes! I have trust in myself that I can keep at it and potentially reverse them though. *insert strong arm emoji here*

On a positive note! I was recently discussing misogyny with him and he actually showed emotion about it! I mean, you could tell it really hit him! He went to his sister (whom he often picks on) afterward and said: "sister, I'm so sorry for all the times I say mean things, and tell you you're ugly. I don't mean it. You're beautiful, and you're great just the way you are. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise and if they do, they don't deserve you and you get them out of your life! I won't say mean things to you anymore." *happy tear*

tushnurse posted 10/30/2020 08:05 AM

Don't know your feelings or your thoughts or what has been done, but has he been worked up for ADHD?
It sounds a lot like he is dealing w/ some of the issues with it.
Personally as an adult w/ ADHD, and mom of a child with ADHD. I personally have seen the benefit of medications along w/ behavioral modification techniques go a long way to stopping these behaviors. He is getting too big to be doing this, and will not only destroy your home, but could end up hurting you. That's not cool.

If you he has not been worked up for ADHD I would encourage you to go down that path, if you are against meds, I would encourage you to reconsider. They do work, and often have a very positive outcome.

BOth myself and my son were off meds by adulthood, me before middle school, my son by high school. You learn the techniques that allow you to function with that brain that is always going a million miles an hour. This is also why we love video games it stimulates you at the level you need to stay interested. Moving both hands and brain to make it work. Because of that level of stimulation and making you feel like you are firing on all cylinders , it becomes an obsession. Use the video games as a reward for completing the tasks he should be doing.

EvenKeel posted 10/30/2020 10:57 AM

Oh gurl…I am back just to add another hug. You are bringing back so many memories!

I had had many conversations in the past with him about school and losing his privileges if he doesn't do well that week
Does taking privileges work? I ask because my DS never had anything that he cared enough about to make a difference. Even when he was little, I could take away a toy and put it up. It could stay up there forever for all he cared.

I can relate with the IC too. That was the most disheartening day for me. We were trying IC for a good while and finally the IC took me aside and said "Look, you have a very big problem here (duh), but he will not talk to me or open up. I feel like I am stealing by taking your money for nothing so I am not going to see him anymore...." I remember walking out and just wanting to cry. I mean when the IC won't help you...what do you do???!!

Like TushN said, I would recommend thorough testing if you haven't. My DS also has the highest level of colorblindness there is. We didn't know! Since a lot of things in school and on computers are color coded, this was a huge source of frustration/meltdowns because he didn't understand why he couldn't see something (think blue font on blue background....looks like a blank page to him).

Mid-teenage years I stepped back from 'parenting' his schoolwork because he had to learn to take responsibility for it himself. That is HARD to do. When my DS applied himself, he got honor-roll grades....but he preferred to squeak by.

Like you, I also have a DD and he always gave her a really hard time.

I want to help him be the best version of himself, especially when he's grown and released into the world on his own. The thought makes me so nervous when he goes to these negative copes!
Amen. Just keep at it - reading, researching, etc. My DS is now 24 and a functioning member of society (EMT/Firefighter). I can't really tell you when the 'explosions' stopped but they did. You might be thinking Hooray. But most adults deal with their demons other ways. I know my DS still struggles within himself. I live in constant fear of it manifesting into alcoholism (family history), etc. I know my DS has sought IC as an adult on his own as well (yeah!!!!). So in one way the explosion are good because you are able to see they are struggling and are calling out.

My friend, just keep on trying all you can and hang in there. You are the strongest person in his court!

WhatsRight posted 10/30/2020 19:02 PM

Reading closely here. My youngest is 24 and lies and steals compulsively. (That word “compulsively” is intended as an adjective not a diagnosis).

He just got through blowing up me and cursing me and standing up and puffing his chest out.

I’m going to keep reading this thread and see if there’s anything that I can use with him.

I wish you luck. You’re so smart to try to get a handle on it now.

leafields posted 10/30/2020 20:12 PM

Since he's 13, do you have a written list of consequences? That way, he knows that if he doesn't do A, then B will occur. Sometimes knowing in advance can help with the frustration level.

Two of my DSs have ADHD, and oppositional defiance can be part of the symptoms.

One issue that they had was transitioning from one thing to another. I began saying things like in 30 minutes, we have to do whatever, and count down the time in 10 minute increments. I noticed my grandson becoming frustrated in a similar manner, and started doing the same thing. It really cut down on his frustration, too. It's like the advance notice helped them process rather than having to change track at the last minute.

maise posted 11/11/2020 10:17 AM

Thank you all so much for your responses! I really appreciate the encouragement and wisdom. The list of consequences seemed to help in the past, along with routine. There was one time that he hit his sister with her iPad bc she wouldn’t do what he wanted. He gashed the side of her face. I was LIVID. My first response was immediate intense anger.

I had him stay in his room and had my daughter go to a separate location to nurse her wound and try to console her. Then I tried my damnedest to calm myself down and opened up the Internet tabs. Ended up finding an article that said basically that I was dealing with two hurt children, and had to love them both through it. Attend to the physically hurt child first, and then go attend to the explosively hurt child second (after my own calming down).

When I went in there he had been hurting himself as “repercussion for hurting his sister”. I went to him, made sure he was ok, helped him gather himself and sat with him to talk. I told him he didn’t deserve to hurt himself. Then I empathized with how he was feeling, and we discussed the events that occurred. After attending to his feelings, he opened up to listening and empathizing with his sister. For the first time ever he apologized to his sister and you could see he meant it. She was even caught off guard.

I had another situation occur recently that had positive results too. He has a lot of friends here in the neighborhood and always has had access to playing with others his age. My daughter never has had anyone in the neighborhood to play with so she’s often on her own. When he has company, she doesn’t usually mingle with them and lets them have boy time.

On her birthday (10/30) she had two friends come over. She hasn’t been able to see her friends in months due to covid. My son decided to play with them and take over what they were playing and attempted to control everyone (per usual). In the past I would try to get him to let them have their time and tried to reason with him by explaining why, and also telling him he could play with them sometimes but to also allow them their time. He would fuss and pout and make it generally unpleasant for everyone. This time, I changed my approach.

He was fussing as usual, and had a slight tantrum as we sang his sister happy birthday (he refused to participate and I didn’t make him). When he calmed down he went to eat his cupcake at the dining table on his own. I looked over and saw he had calmed from his tantrum. I took that as an opportunity to talk. Instead of just approaching with reasoning, I approached him with empathy. I said, “I’m so sorry you’re feeling left out right now. It really isn’t my intention to cause you to feel that way.” Then I said, “you know how sometimes you have your friends over? I’m sure that you wouldn’t really like it if your sister was there hanging around you guys all of the time right? Sometimes you just want it to be you and your friends. Having your sister hanging there changes how you engage with them.” He agreed and said, “you’re right. If she was around all the time I wouldn’t be able to talk to them like I usually do. It would change things.”

He then seemed to understand why I asked him to give them time. He realized it wasn’t because I wanted to exclude him or to cause him hurt feelings. It took for me to acknowledge those feelings though to get him to open up. In all honesty I take full accountability in my failure to see this sooner and acknowledge it. Sometimes I over estimate how he’s processing things and feel he emotionally understands more than he actually does. I begin to think he processes similarly to the ways that I do and fail to see the areas where there may need to be more from me. It’s a big thing I’ve been working to stop with everyone in my life. Another factor to this has been to make sure to wait until he’s calm, and make sure I’m calm too.

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