Minor moan(15 Posts)
We just had our annual social worker visit. Its a social worker we know well and she's lovely. I took the opportunity to talk to her about DS's levels of anxiety and anger management issues thinking there might be some techniques I could practice with him or books/articles I could read.
She has suggested a caterpillar chart where you colour one segment of body everyday that you behave well and at the end of the caterpillar (7 sections) you get a treat.
DS (nearly 8 and very emotionally literate) looked at it (she dropped it through the door so wasn't there at the time), rolled his eyes teenager stylee and pronounced "Thats for babies"
I couldn't disagree with him.
Am I being unreasonable to be a bit disappointed that after our long discussion she failed to grasp that his issues might go a bit beyond a star chart approach.
Back to the drawing board.
Kew, DS is 8 - and does get worked up (into a frenzy sometimes). He goes to karate - normally has a class twice a week and whilst it is non-contact, they can hit and kick pads as hard as they can (safely). We have got him a pad at home and sometimes it is really good if he has a really good go at it. Usually after a burst of anger it turns into a game, and he's usually laughing by the end.
(I do not know how much your son's issues are a result of his original background, so I am coming at this purely from the pov of him being your son and you wanting to help him when the anger builds up)
Has he got some sort of quiet area/safe place he can go when he's feeling angry, maybe with some nice books and activities to help him calm down. Not sure if it would work in a home but we have this at school and it works with some of the children with anger problems.
With the anxiety we give children a kind of diary to write it all down in then go through it at the end of the day
His issues aren;t in school (much) they are always sports related. It's handled pretty well at school and at home.
Can't see after school football getting someone padded up for him to kick!
No quiet/safe area in sport though we are working on him discussing with coach when he's getting angry instead of escalating it. The problem is he doesn;t recognise when he's starting to lose it. If you ask him on a scale of 1-10 how cross/anxious he feels he will ascribe a random number that obviously doesn't fit with how he really feels.
I know thats the first thing to look at - he doesn't think his angry feelings (in the early stages) are a problem he thinks they are righteous indignation and therefore perfectly reasonable!
His anxiety issues are complex and subtle and I think a long term work in progress but the more anxious he is the more he loses his temper (partly becasue he sleeps badly) so I know the two need to be connected.
We found that the anxiety triggered the anger - and when he wasn't happy at school (Yr 1 in particular) his behaviour was abysmal, particularly out of school.
What do you think might be the issues that are resulting in poor sleep - my DS is again significantly worse than normal if he's tired and he now recognises that - to the extent that he has agreed that we will slip away from the school disco early so that he can get to bed less late than last year.
On the surface the issues (this summer) have been:
Syria (fear of a world war and fear of gas masks that he saw on the news)
Germs (getting sick so he started repetitive handwashing)
Burglars (has to know what every sound is)
I'm sure there were others but those are the ones that come to mind.
The reality is of course that they are all outward symptoms of a generally higher level of anxiety than the norm.
The underlying reason (in my opinion and borne out by stories of other adoptive parents) is that he knows the reality that life is not necessarily safe and adults are not necessarily reliable and that bad things happen to good people. Its not something he (or I!) can articulate well but when even a small baby doesn't have continuity of care from one key person for longer than 3 months at a time then I believe they "learn" that life is a bit insecure and risky.
He is improving with age (and proof that I am reliable and safe!) but when he backslides like this summer, it can regress quite significantly.
He does accept that tiredness doesn't help and has agreed to enforce bedtimes more rigidly. Waking up in the middle of the night every night for a couple of months isn't helpful but there are signs that might be improving at the moment (though sadly not last night).
My DS goes to sleep with classical music on. Its on a timer on his clock radio so (when he's remembered to set it) it turns off. But he knows he can turn it back on to get back to sleep if he does wake up. I'm certain that this helps with the 'noises' issue as otherwise he would be up and down wondering what was happening (generally from a nosy, 'what am I missing out on' pov rather than anxiety normally in the evening it must be said).
We get the odd nightpanic - I'm very pleased to say they've dropped off a lot since he was out of Yr1 - on a bad night he can't settle back on his own and ends up in bed with us (even if that means I go into his bed so I have room to sleep)(this does not impress DH).
I've tried music - doesn't make a big difference.
He wakes up every night though he doesn't get in bed with me at night now which is a big improvement.
We also have a 8 year old ds. He has presented some anger issues and is prone to tantrums. We have introduced a Lego jar. He gets a piece of Lego in a jar to reward good behaviour and a piece removed for unwanted behaviour. He gets a small reward for 10 pieces and on filling the jar a trip to Lego land. It is working at the moment as he was part of deciding the award scheme and unlike sticker charts he doesn't think it's baby ish as its linked to one of his interests and he is desperate to go to Lego land. We still have some anger outbursts but if we stay calm and try to find an activity to distract him it's works. We have also noted sugar and additives are a trigger so have to watch what he eats and drinks. Bedtime has never been a problem luckily and I thank his fc for this as she had such a good routine. Good luck Kew hope things calm down soon x
sugar not a problem as he doesn't really have a sweet tooth and I can;t think much that he eats with additives on a normal weekday. Anger outbursts are generally when I'm not there as I'm a master in the art of heading them off! Half his sports coaches are 22 year old lads so hard to explain to them.
As it happens we've had an excellent week with a combination of carrot and stick - I had taken away his rugby session last Friday and he managed to "earn" it back by behaving so well and got a game for his ipod for behaving so well at every sports club this week.
Bedtime itself isn't a problem - he goes to bed relatively well. He just wakes up - last night at about 11 but normally around 12. It isn't a huge problem he just needs reassurance but inevitably it makes him tired as he's an early riser.
Anyway thanks for the advice - my minor moan was really more about the last of decent advice/understanding from a social worker... I should have know that asking MN adopters would be a more productive idea!
I think it was more of a 'you're not on your own' response from me at least - but it is not helpful for you that the person who should be able to help most isn't. Glad that you had a good week.
We're hoping that attending the school disco on Saturday hasn't jinxed everything - we did slink out unobtrusively rather early so that bedtime wasn't delayed as much - although being sick as a result of eating too many sweets didn't help get him into bed as soon as ideal - the silly thing is that he has sweets at home which generally get ignored in favour of savoury snacks - hopefully this will help to stop him overdoing the sweets so much in the future!
I think I might be being unreasonable with SW - I was trying to think through whether they actually have significant experience of living with some of the issues they have to discuss. Also as each child responds so differently they can't possibly have the answers.
I suppose I was just a bit disappointed that she didn't listen to me and respond to what I was trying to say rather than using a stock approach.
On the upside - we only see her once a year and she is lovely. So could be worse.
Swimming and tennis today so fingers crossed!
I have this book - www.amazon.co.uk/What-When-You-Worry-Much/dp/1591473144 - wouldn't say it's great exactly - but some bits are quite helpful. For example, it explains that if you keep worrying about the same thing you help the worry grow bigger. Another idea is to lock your worries away in an imaginary box and only open the box during special 'worry' or 'talk' time with parents or other adults. There are lots of activity sheets there where you need to draw your worries, select physical effects of anxiety you're feeling when you're nervous etc.
The Explosive Child by Ross Greene has been recommended on MN before and I found it really helpful in understanding the processes that lead up to a huge explosion and how to head them off. Not helpful for anxiety issues really though but what Glenshee suggests sounds brilliant.
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