Tag Archives: bad kid

Seeing “Lilo and Stitch” again 11 years later… Through a new set of eyes.

The other day, my husband was scrolling through movies looking for a good family film.  He chose Disney’s Lilo and Stitch. When this movie first came out I remember a coworker saying: “Disney created a character (Lilo) who was mean, nasty and completely unlikable.  A ‘bad’ kid– so he could not enjoy the movie because he disliked her so much.

I saw the movie a few weeks later, and the writer in me recognized that “bad kid” but watched her development into a “better kid” (not a good kid… a better kid)

Watching the movie eleven years and three kids later, I was dumbstruck. The character of Lilo immediately grabbed my attention as so much more than a bad kid.

Lilo was probably one of best-researched Disney characters I have ever seen.

Watching her mouth off at her sister, fighting physically with other kids trying to defend what’s right, having trouble keeping friends, trying desperately to stick to routines, and not listening among a myriad of other traits. Wow.

Lilo has ADHD

She was a classic textbook case of ADHD, and almost everything that happened I could mirror in my own family life.  (Except for the house exploding, thank goodness)  I watched shaking my head, and really feeling for her sister/guardian, Noni as she tried to control the uncontrollable. As she gave in at times just to keep the peace, as she struggled to stop things from happening that she knew were a “trigger”, and as she treasured the few special moments a day when Lilo showed affection.

I found myself wondering if one of the writers had a kid with ADHD to have NAILED the condition so well.  I did a little research, but could not find a mention of the condition in relation to the film.  I found this sad.  Maybe it is because ADHD was not as much in the forefront of pediatric medicine in 2002 as it is nowadays.

What I found encouraging, though, was the very real way the story played out.  (Not the aliens, silly)

Lilo, a kid struggling with her behavior—knowing she is bad but not understanding why—takes  this other “little kid” (Stitch, the alien, who is programmed to do nothing but destroy) under her wing, and tries to help him be a better “person”.

This is so like an ADHD kid.  My “Littlest Dude”, despite his challenges, will always pick out the person “in need” in a crowd, and help to the best of his ability.

Just the other day, he was outside teaching a kid twice his age how to ride a bike.  They were out there for HOURS.  He would not be daunted. Whatever it took, he was going to get that (much older) girl riding her bike.

When I’m sick, he is the child I can trust to be there… to drop everything and take care of me. (Not that the other two don’t help, in case they read this) But the littlest takes the whole situation to heart.

ADHD kids are not monsters.

They may appear that way.

They may destroy things (when they are mad)*

They may punch you in the face (but you probably provoked it)*

They may scream at you (because something is wrong and they feel mistreated)*

But deep inside, they are the cute, cuddly, fluffy version of Stitch.

They don’t want to act out.  They want to help, create,  make friends,  play,  be happy, and be loved by their family like any other kid.

They just need someone to believe in them, and help them control their triggers so they can make the correct choices.

Any kid can be the cute, cuddly version of Stitch.

You just have to believe in them and show them the way.

*Note* ADHD kids truly DO NOT KNOW why they act the way they do.  If you have a kid with behavioral problems, speak to your doctor or look into programs to help control their triggers. Getting help was the best thing I ever did for my family.

 _JenniFer____EatoN

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The upturn – Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our Journey with the Total Transformation #12

The funniest thing happened this week.  Littlest Dude was preparing to spend the day at a friend’s house.  We sat together and reviewed the lesson on how to not get angry, and what to do if he feels something’s unfair.  We practiced the anger relief method the “help line” coach suggested.  I kissed him on the head, and sent him on his way.

After Daddy picked him up quite a few hours later, they both walked in the door laughing.  Apparently, Littlest Dude’s friend got mad at his sister, and started beating her up and pulling her hair.

Littlest Dude intervened and made him stop.

Did you get that?  Littlest Dude did not jump on the bandwagon with his BEST FRIEND.  He made the right choice, and helped someone, even though it might not make him popular with his friend.

The little boy had to go to his room for a time out, and Littlest Dude played with the sister for a while.

Oh!  I love hearing wonderful things (Less than a month ago he was thrown out of a friend’s house by the father for acting out) What a wonderful change!

*

Last night while I was reading a funny book before bedtime, Littlest Dude got a little excited and kicked me in the kidney.  OUCH.  It knocked the wind right out of me.

“I am such an idiot,” he said, but not at the loud decibel that he normally would have… almost like it was a pre-programmed saying that popped out on his mouth.  He then jumped up and ran out of the room, and came back with an ice pack.

Pretty good problem solving, huh?  Instead of yelling about what he’d done, he found a way to “fix it.”

I used the ice, and continued the story.  Everyone won.

*

The last lesson:  The Workshop DVD.

I must say that I realize we are at a critical juncture right now.  I’m not getting friction from my kid, I’m getting resistance to continue from my husband.  My fear is that if we stop focusing on the program, that everything will slip back to the way it was.  I cannot cave in and allow us to slip up now.

Despite pre-arranging time to do the DVD, and my husband agreeing to do it at an exact time… He forgot and started planning all these other things he wanted to do.  Now watching the DVD was “in the way” of getting things done, and we had a fight about it.  He got really angry when I used the lessons against him “I’m sorry that you made other plans, but this is what we agreed on.”

I must admit, that I fell into my “negotiator” role and agreed to only do part of it, since it was 1.5 hours long.  We watched only the first two lessons.

(And if you read this dear, I love you and I understand that you have so many other responsibilities and you are totally right that there is not enough time in the day to do everything that we need to do… but this is working, right?  Aren’t you glad we kept going?) 

To be honest, the DVD isn’t all that great.  It would not make me want to go to one of the live seminars.  What we both agreed was good about it though, is that it reviewed the lessons in a very high-level way.  What we got the most out of was when we stopped the DVD and said “I tried that and this happened” or “That really worked for me” or “That didn’t work for me”.

I found out that he had been using the program a lot more than I had realized, and where I had trouble with some things, he had success– so we discussed that.  I highly doubt we will finish the DVD this week, but even if we keep our once a week slot and discuss things, I think it will keep us on track.

The Struggle Continues – Putting the plans into action – Our Journey with the Total Transformation #10

Last week I tried something new to get my youngest and middle child to sleep.  My 9 year old went to bed right away.  My youngest, literally seconds after agreeing to the new incentive, started screaming about it.  I did what I needed to do.  I gave the “good” mark to the older child, and wrote “No” next to my younger child’s name.  The next morning, I received a call at work from my husband… My youngest had checked the chart and saw “no” next to his name.  I explained that this was the “First Time Club” and in order to win, you needed to go to bed the first time asked, no exception.  (This is what he agreed to seconds before flipping out when I let them know it was bedtime)  He was not happy, but the really good thing is he DID NOT FLIP OUT.

Over the weekend, when they would have received the “reward”, there was friction.

“But I was good last night”.

Oh!  It’s so hard when they throw the truth at you.  Deep breath.  “Yes, you were good last night, but you need to go to bed five nights in a row to earn the reward of slumber parties on the weekend.”

Again, the negotiator in me wanted to give in, because he was good… but I stuck to my guns… and neither of us was happy.  Hopefully though, what I just taught him is that I will NOT negotiate and give in if he’s only good one day.  He needs to be good all the time… Let’s see how it goes.

Follow-up;  We received a note from school last night that Littlest Dude has the “opportunity” for remedial reading instruction after school a few days a week.  I’m okay with it.  I’m just sad because I thought he was getting better.  How can a kid that gets 100% on his spelling tests need remedial reading?  I guess I need to find time at night to read to him more. ERGH.  So hard to find enough time to do everything you need to do.

Follow-up#2: Littlest Dude has to sit at the detention table for the rest of the week at lunch because they asked him to sit down three times.  Ugh.  How can you coach your kid when you are not there to use the program with him? (And his teacher is not at lunch either) His Dad did the eight step with him when he got home.  I hope Little Dude understands.

Lesson 7:  How to stop it before it starts:  Yes PLEASE!  I need some wisdom here!

This gives a set of steps and actions to help your child to NOT have a problem.  The scary thing is, this is something I can teach him, and then he has to do it on his own.  I am not always going to be there when a friend is mean to him.  I am not always going to be there when he wants to run in the cafeteria.  This part is HIS.

He was excited to sit down and do this, but by the second question he was over it, and started to act out a bit.  I decided to make it more fun by acting out his most recent “problem” the way it happened first, and then we worked on how he could have managed it better.  We ended up giggling about it, and practicing the “right way” again.  Hopefully, it will work.

It’s up to you now, Littlest Dude.

The inevitable downturn (Ugh) – Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our Journey with the Total Transformation #9

Oh, this has not all been a pleasant journey this week.  I sat with my husband for over an hour and a half last night as he vented his frustrations.  This was one of those times where you sit like a good little wife and listen.  Speaking was just not a good idea. He needed to vent.

Where Hubbs agrees that Littlest Dude is leaps and bounds better, things are not perfect yet.  He is still struggling with homework.  Unfortunately, that part is done before I get home, and I don’t want to teach my kids to play first and do homework when Mommy gets home.  We both just believe that doing homework as soon as you get home is a good idea.  But my husband is struggling (rightfully so) with a full time job, and helping the kids with homework, too… so when the kids get home… well, it would be easier if littlest dude would just sit down and do his homework.

The good news is that the fights between the kids have gotten better (at least at night when I am home – Hubbs still moderates a few during the day)  and Littlest Dude always seems excited and energetic about the homework that he sets aside to do with me.

Last night I tried something new that was suggested.  I called the help-line and we modified it together to fit our situation (Problems going to bed)  My youngest said “sure” and he was excited, even drew a picture… but as soon as the picture was done and it was time for bed, the screaming started.  One thing they always stress is that you will experience resistance, and not to give up.

***Small steps.***

I’m honestly just happy that I’m not afraid for myself or my other kids getting physically hurt anymore.

My youngest’s most common saying this week:  “Can I give you a hug/kiss?” (Although I must admit, it is frequently used to get an extra few seconds out of us before going to bed)

Lesson Six: What to do after your child lashes out (Ha!  I wish I had this last night! Boy do we need this one)

At the end of this lesson are cards to cut out to have on hand to help you through the eight step process to follow after a “breakdown”.  I usually skip things like this, but my husband, to my surprise, wanted them.  It ended up being a pretty good idea, because when tempers and emotions are flaring, it’s hard to keep focus.  These cards list the eight steps to get through the problem, and my husband even used it once, and was really glad to have them.  We’ll see how it goes.

Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our Journey with the Total Transformation #6

Deep breath.  It’s going to be a bumpy week.  This week is an overview of concepts of behavior management.

My Son’s most common saying:  “It’s too hard”

OMIGOSH.  I just found out something that I think I already knew.  My kid is super-smart.  It makes sense.  His brothers are super smart.  So what’s the problem?  His brain works faster than he can “compute”  Ugh…. I wish I could explain it, but it took me an hour to understand myself.

So… something gets him angry.  His brain gets that anger trigger so quickly that it can’t hop the hurdle to “I should calm down before I do something dumb and get in trouble”  Instead, he just lashes out.  He doesn’t have the “problem solving skills” to get past the anger.  No, that still doesn’t explain it…

Let’s try another way.  He sits down to do his homework.  He argues with us for 30 minutes because he doesn’t want to do it.  When we actually do it, it only takes ten minutes.  He doesn’t understand what a normal person understands… that you do the homework – just get through it– and then you can do the fun stuff.  His mind just hits a road block.  He doesn’t have the problem solving skills to get from point A to point B.

This is also the reason he’s had trouble learning to read.  Learning to read is a problem.  You get past the problem with practice.  He couldn’t process the idea of “practice.”  He couldn’t get past the point of “I can’t read”

So what do you do about it?  We need to stop coddling him.  “I’m sorry that you don’t like homework, but that is what we need to do now.”  Period.  End of conversation.  No arguments.

This is a biggie that my husband and I need to deal with.  Don’t invite an argument.  It’s hard.  Really hard.  As a parent, I want to explain myself.  I can’t with him.

It feels mean when I do this, and it has to be done properly (they explain how in the program and workbook)

I feel a little like a loaded weapon.  The program says to expect resistance, and after the first night I dang well got resisted.  They said to stick with it.  Change will happen fast.  I can only hope.  There was a whole lot of screaming when they went to bed tonight (At the correct time, without negotiating.)

I feel like a totalitarian dictator, really I do.  But this is the hard part I expected — the time when the parents take back the household.  It’s kind of like war, isn’t it?

This is not easy.  But each step to “understanding” I believe is helping me to cope with how to solve issues as they arise.

swish swivel squiggle

Our Journey with the Total Transformation:

Week One post #1

Week Two Post #2 and Post #3

Week Three Post #4

Week Four Post #5

Week Five (This week) Post #6

Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our Journey with the Total Transformation #3

If you’d like to be filled in on our journey thus far, please see post #1 and Post #2.  I’m not going to go over this stuff again here. and here is Post #3

Continued from Monday …

Dang guys, once again I am overwhelmed by the support, and all the personal emails–many of which made me cry.  Part of writing these posts is self-motivation to FORCE me to keep going, because I have committed myself.  I really appreciate all the good wishes.

This is what I have learned thus far from disk #1.  My son doesn’t think the way normal people do.  I can’t expect him to be logical.  I can’t expect him to react rationally.  I cannot expect him to act “normal” when he is upset.  He does not have the ability.  In other words… I CANNOT PARENT HIM THE WAY I PARENTED HIS OLDER SIBLINGS.

Is there something wrong with him?  Well, only in that he doesn’t THINK the way most people do.

*** He doesn’t think the way most people do ***

Sounds scary, doesn’t it?  My job is to help him work around this.  I can teach him to be a normal, thinking adult, but if I don’t act now, the chances of it becoming worse are far too high.

Now, I don’t know how to do this yet.  Herein lies our frustration.  Following the course by the letter, we need to do our workbook and let this all sink in before going to lesson two.  BUT WE WANT HELP NOW.

I’m turning again to the CD of “10 things to help you right now” and I am listening to it again.

***Putting the Plan into action***

Last night, my 6 year old punched my 9 year old in the face because it was bedtime.  I called the “help line” and they walked me through what to do.  What I needed to do sounded incredibly stupid.  What I wanted to do was what my parents did – beat me senseless—but I have to realize that my 6 year old is not me.  Returning the anger and spanking will not work with this child. So I sat down and told him everything they said… and he went to bed.

***Problems with the older kids***

Now here is a new problem.  “Mom, you’re just letting him get away with that?”

The older kids felt like I’d done nothing.  I called them aside, and explained “The Total Transformation” to them.  They complained that this isn’t going to be fair to them… that they would be punished for things and their lives would have to change because of the youngest.

I said, “Yes, things will change, but this is what we need to do to get our lives back.”

They were not happy.  They groan when they start acting up and I hit them with one of the “ten things to help you right now” tips… of course, they then immediately cave and do what I want. Crap – if anything I have to say this stuff works with the older kids without a hitch.  The youngest?  He can still tirade through it.

But it’s a new day in the Eaton household.  I’m not really sure what that means.  But I’m convicted to making that true.  Now that I am a little more “educated” and understand more about my son’s challenges, and our challenges as parents to a behaviorally challenged child, at least I am ready to move forward.

At the moment, though… after week one… chaos still ensues.  And something upstairs just broke… and yep, there’s the screaming.  Bedtime is always such a joy… until next time!

Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our Journey with the Total Transformation #2

Last week I opened up with some really personal information, and I was encouraged by the outpouring of well-wishes, and emboldened by the number of you who contacted me both publicly and privately about your own personal battles.

Click here to see last week’s post. This is where we are.

My son’s most common phrase:  “I hate you.”

It doesn’t even hurt anymore.  I’ve managed to turn off my emotions.  I wish the rest of the family could.  It’s so hard, and my handling things without emotion just leads to fights between me and my husband, which escalate and draw in the rest of the family in one way or another.  Like I said last week, this is as close to Hell as I ever want to come.

We need to *****

Sorry, I had to mediate the screaming session going on upstairs. (again) and I completely lost my thoughts.

Anyway… We’ve now listened to lesson one “Why is my kid like this?”

Our frustration level with the program is pretty high right now.  We want help, but the first disk is really informational.  I’m trying to be as positive as I can.  I’m trying to keep my husband from throwing it against the wall.

Thinking it over, and remembering a comment from someone last week, the first disk seems a lot like a first professional session with parents.  It is all about assuring the parents that this is not our fault, which was a big concern.  Did we slip on the last one? Was he exposed to too much from his older siblings? Are we too easy on him? Too hard on him?  Why is our parenting working on the older kids and not him?

This is my situation.  I have a 9 year old and a 12 year old who are both off the charts smart.  They come home, throttle through their homework, and anything less than an “A” on a report card is a surprise (That we discuss in a manner of “how can we help with this” rather than being judgmental… we want school to be fun.)

Then we have our youngest, who acts out in school, has seen a counselor for anger, and his recent report card rated him at mid-kindergarten level across the board, and he is in the middle of first grade. I quietly contacted the teacher and asked if he was going to be left back.  This is when our lines of communication opened with her and his reading teacher.  I told them what we were doing, and they were excited and asked how they could help. Hey, I’ll take all the help I can get.

I’m going to cut this post here and continue it on Wednesday, because on finishing it I realized it was way too long.  I’ll start up right where I left off on Wednesday.

Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our family’s journey with The Total Transformation program

Hello.  My Name in Jennifer Eaton.  And I have a child with behavioral problems.

Whew!  Getting that off my chest is HUGE.  If you have a child with a behavior disorder, be it ADD, ADHD, or any of the myriad of other things out there, just admitting that there is a problem is a pretty big step in the right direction.

Since my youngest was two, he’s always been “a handful”.  We kept waiting for him to get out of the terrible two’s.  I used to joke about him still being in his terrible two’s at five.

At six, when his “bad” behavior started becoming violent… when his siblings began to get hurt, when he would scream at us and break things if he didn’t get his way…  When I was afraid to sit beside him… when I cringed in fear when my son came near … we realized we had a problem.

We tried everything we could think of.  But it just got worse.

I work full time at an office, and my husband works full time from home.  He gets the worst of it.  Near the “end” I would drive up and sit in the garage for a little while, preparing myself for what I would walk into.  Sometimes I cried before even opening the door.

Our lives had become as close to Hell as I EVER wanted to come.  Our family was being torn apart.  We yelled at all of our children, not just the troubled one.  My husband and I started to fight– and quite honestly only our values kept our marriage together.

One day, my husband left (again) just because he had to get away from the house.  I understood.  I don’t know how he keeps sane… but within half an hour my middle son was bleeding from an altercation with my youngest, and I was sprawled on the livingroom floor uncontrollably sobbing, with my oldest son holding me, himself in tears.

This had become my life.  Lost, alone, and hurting with nowhere to turn.

That night, we contacted a child psychiatrist.  I was horrified, because being medicine-phobic, I didn’t want to pump my son full of drugs, but I had to protect my family, both physically and mentally at that point, because my other children were being harmed emotionally now.

The psychiatrist told us he could have us come in for six sessions at $200 a session, and by the end of the sixth session … are you ready for this … “I will be able to tell you if I can help you or not.”

What????? $1200 just to evaluate him?  Six more weeks of sinking further into Dante’s Inferno, and not even knowing if this is the right course of action?

My husband and I stewed over this for a few more horrible weeks.  When one of my husband’s relatives neglected to invite us to a family party, and we found out it was because of our son, my husband lost it.  Our lives were falling apart, and our family was hanging by a thread.

After much prayer and contemplation, and hearing the radio commercial for the Umteenth time (If that was you, God, sorry I didn’t call the number sooner) I contacted “The Total Transformation”.

I’d hesitated before, because my son was only 3, then 4, then 5, now six.  I still was afraid that he was too young, but someone on the website said it worked for their six year old.

The package has arrived, and it is a workbook and a series of DVDs for a seven week program.  For the price of two visits to the shrink, I have a whole program, and for an additional $50 a month, I have live professional help from 9 AM to 10 PM on weekdays (Which I plan on using a lot)

I listened to the first “Quick help” DVD, and tried out one of the solutions on one of my older kids.  It sounded dumb, even coming out of my mouth, but my son blinked, looked at me for a minute, and then did exactly what I asked him to do.

It was a heck of a surprise!

Now, will it work on the problem child?  Only time will tell.  I’m not expecting a miracle, but I need to do something.  I need to get my family back, and I need to save my son.

If you have a problem child, you are not alone.  You may feel that way, but you are not.

We know this is going to be work.  I’m not expecting a miracle overnight change.  The next seven weeks are probably going to be the hardest weeks of our lives, but if we can get our family back… If we can stop walking on eggshells… if we can stop worrying about our children hurting each other, or breaking things, or even hurting US… wow… taking any one of those things out of our lives would be a step in the right direction.

I’m going to let you know how this works for me, because I KNOW there are others out there in situations like this.  And if a stupid set of DVDs can give you your life back, then DERNIT I want to let you know about it.

I will fill you in as we go along.

Take a deep breath, and pray for us.  We’re gonna need it.

Note:  Other than buying this product, I am in no way connected to the Total Transformation, so if it stinks, I will be a fair judge.  My husband and I have agreed to follow it exactly, and not take any shortcuts.  Trust me… we can’t afford to.  We need this to work.

Jennifer___Eaton