Saturday, January 9, 2010

Out of Ideas

My parental well of ideas has been tapped dry. I have tried tough love, I have tried paying him special attention, I have tried a mix of the two, all to no avail.

If you would have told me two years ago, that the child stressing me out would be Jordan and not Noah, I would have laughed like a loon.

Jordan is perfectly behaved at school and 99% of the time, he is perfect out in public. At home? Is another story completely. He is a bully to his little brother, has temper tantrums, and cries at the drop of a hat. None of these behaviors is acceptable for an almost seven year old.

My first instinct is to break bad, and no I don't mean spankings (though we have on rare occasions spanked). By break bad, I mean zero tolerance, privileges and possessions taken away for breaking rules. This plan seemed to back fire, it caused him to cry more and not just about the thing taken away, but for hours, about everything.

I ranted on twitter the other day about whimpy parents, afraid to discipline for fear it hurts their kids feelings. This is different. Because Noah needs more attention with his special needs and people naturally pay more attention to Isaiah, because he is the baby, I worry Jordan genuinely feels unloved.

I have tried talking to him, paying special attention to him, even coddling him. Thinking he just needs to know he IS loved. And while he does suck it up, there is no change in the other behaviors.

Right now, we are working on a combo of the two, but he still cries and has tantrums. When I say we have tried something, I am talking about months at time, not switching up on him on a daily basis. I know how important consistency is.

Is this normal for his age? Even though I have a nine year old, he hasn't gone through the usual milestones.

In his defense, there are a few reasons for him to be more emotional than the average seven year old boy. #1 He has been on an almost continuous flow of steroids since he was eight months old, because of his asthma. I was on steroids for a week, when I had the swine flu, and thought I was going to go bat shit crazy. #2 There is an weird dynamic in our house, Jordan is the middle child in age, but the oldest in maturity because of Noah's Autism. He has more responsibility than all of his friends(like keeping an eye on Noah in the lunch room, helping him wait in car line, talking for Noah in situations where he freezes, ect). These are all things no one asked him to do, he does them on his own, but feels like he has too. While I understand this struggle for him, it's the lot our family was given and in the long run? I think it will make him a better person.

So that leads us to now. Me banging my head in frustration, him crying. AGAIN.

Has anyone else dealt with an extremely emotional, higher tempered child?

Is this a phase? Please God, tell me it will end.


Woo222 said...

Hmmm...this situation is a little bit tricky..Often when I see bullying behavior, I give the bully more responsibility to try to turn the bullying into leadership, but I dunno if that would help at all because it sounds like you give him responsibilities. Maybe he's overwhelmed? I have no idea. I cried a lot when I was a kid..maybe he needs to learn how to self-soothe? When I worked at the daycare, I used to have a kid in my class who wouldn't stop crying once he started having a tantrum. I had him go to an area where he could be alone until he was done with his tantrum..he knew as soon as he was done with his tantrum he could rejoin us and that way no one accidentally reinforced his tantrum behavior. His tantrums got shorter and shorter and he learned to calm himself down. I dunno if that would help w/ your situation or not. Maybe helping him learn appropriate ways to cope would help with the crying and with the bullying..if he bullies when he feels bad about himself. I dunno. I have lots of experience working with kids, but I'm not a parent, so I don't know how helpful I am. Keep us posted. Hopefully someone else with have some good ideas :) ~Susan

mom2nji said...

Thanks Susan, I know all about the self soothing, we have worked really hard at that with Noah.

The hard part is Jordan seems to WANT to be miserable.

As I type this we have just had yet another tantrum. The 3rd of the day and its not yet 2. Sigh.

PrincessJenn said...

I can only imagine how stressful this must be for you already having your hands full with Noah.

What about creating a sort of thought box. If he's upset, angry, feels like he's not getting enough attention, whatever, he can write it out on a slip of paper and put it in this box. At the end of the day, before he goes to bed, you can sit with him and go through the paper(s) and talk about why he was feeling that way and solutions to over come or change those feelings.

This might give him a different outlet to express his frustrations and give you a way to redirect the tantrum ('go write what you're feeling and what's making you upset and put it in the box so we can talk about it')

I have no idea if this would work at all for your situation, but it's the only thing I can think of.

Lots of (hugs)

mom2nji said...

oh that is a brilliant idea Jenn!! Thanks!!

fidget said...

have you thought about trying one of the after school programs they have? Like Karate? i think it works out to be about 7.50 a class. He might need an outlet all his own, something to focus on and work at while burning off some anger and frustration.

You might be able to get a scholarship to do it through the Y

Sarah R said...

Hey Jenni. You know I'm going to tell you my advice, 1) out of love for you and your family and 2) out of my own experience.

It should NOT be Jordan's job to watch over Noah at school. Period. Not at lunch, not in the car line, nothing. Jordan is a child, and a young one at that.

With Grant and Liam, I specifically stated at all IEP meetings, with both of their teachers, with principal and all support staff, that NO ONE was to call Grant to help with Liam. Period. They were to use their resources, or call me. Grant is a child. It is hard enough to attend the same school and be identified as "the retard's brother" (and no, I'm not making that up, that is what happened to us) without being his caretaker and spokesperson.

By taking away half of the responsibility that Jordan clearly feels right now, I think...hopefully...that a good portion of Jordan's drama could end.

That's my someone who really has been there and done that. xoxoxo

mom2nji said...

No one has ever told Jordan to look out for Noah. He does on his own. They eat lunch at the same time and go to specials at the same time, because Noah is integrated into the same grade as Jordan. They are not allowed to even sit together.
It REALLY bothers me that anyone would see him as his "retard brother". Noah is actually fairly popular, though most kids know he is different. I differ from a lot of people including most of my friends about "protecting" Noah's siblings from his special needs. I refuse to hide it from them. Jordan is very sensitive and feels a sense of loyalty to Noah. I don't see that as a problem. As for the car line, it is the schools policy that siblings be together, the only difference is the younger sibling looks after the older in our case, but yes there is an aide.
My point was that Jordan gets confused about his "place" the middle child, but he is much more mature than his brother.