Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I did not get to listen to the Beyond Consquences Online class last week because Fudge had a appointment with the allergist and given that he has 18 month waiting list we do not cancel unless Fudge is on his death bed.

I had a crazy week and so I finally listened to the recording this morning and this weeks topic is Agression ( chapter 9 in volume 1). Heather talks a great deal about the need to realise that with kids like ours the aggression they are exhibiting is due to a much deeper emotion, fear. Aggression is the outwards appearence but the feeling is deep within them and by addressing that deep fear you can often calm the agression. Fear controls and triggers my kids all the time. I see it in the lies, the agression, the defiance, they are afraid of many things but mostly they are afraid of being loved and cared for because they have been hurt so many times. Loving us means that they can and will be hurt again, they fight it all the time.

I know that some of you are not going to agree, I know some of you will think I have fallen off my rocker ( I did a long time ago)  but remembering that Calvin* is scared really helps me to stay calm when he is throwing things at me, telling me he hates me, offers to burn down the house or is hitting me. Remembering that there is frightened little boy in there who feels as though loving me is going to get him into all kinds of trouble makes dealing with his rage easier. It does not that mean that I always remember that, but it does mean that I make an effort and on the days when I stay calm he calms down sooner.

It took months of him hurting us for me to believe it and try it out enough times that I saw that it would work. Before that you name it we tried it, we tried every parenting technique out there to get him to stop raging and there were many times when I restrained him because he was hurting one of us. Restraining him worked in the sense that he did eventually calm down but hold 60 pounds of raging child is not my idea of fun and when it takes 45 minutes for him to calm down it wears you out really fast.

Calvin rages less now, when he does I talk to him the whole time, I give him permission to be angry, I talk about keeping safe and often take him outside so he can be safe and feel free to holler all he wants. I hold him when he is done yelling/throwing things and let him have a good cry. I talk him through making amends ( picking up thrown things, saying sorry if needed etc.) and then we move on with our lives. Not another word is said that day. When he is calm and regulated, (usually the next day) we talk about what happened, what triggered his agression and how we can do things differently next time.

This time last year he raged almost everyday, now we can go months between really angry raging episodes and then we might get a few in a row. I can see them coming and can often talk him through them. Remembering that he is scared really helps.

I think that Heather is right on this one, calm and understanding makes all the difference in the world at our house. What works for you at your house with raging kids?

* Fudge does not rage like Calvin, he just yells at us and gets really sassy, the root cause is the same but it is easier to contain.


GB's Mom said...

We cleared out GB's room, leaving her, bed , a dresser, and a 9 cube storage unit with books, writing pads and paper. That left us room to make her "calm corner". We bought 6 or 7 floor pillow on clearance and a canopy that hands from the ceiling. She made all the choices. Her room is no longer a play place, but when is feeling overwhelmed, she can go to her "calm place". So far, it seems to be helping. We ordered a weighted blanket to finish it. I like it will help even more then. I just started reading the book "Beyond Consequences" as a result of reading your blog. Thanks for sharing!

Dia por Dia said...

I tend(ed) to respond with calm while they raged but restraining was also required in many cases because of the destruction of property and to self/others during rages. I do/did talk calmly throughout the rage saying that it was ok to be angry and maybe suggesting things that would cause the anger but I also named the fear as part of it. Post rage we talked. We also developed a "post-rage" routine that was non-negotiable it involved quiet time under a weighted blanket for 10-20 minutes, then restitution/fixing things, then moving on. The next day we talked about it and had to write about it. Sometimes I did the writing sometimes they did but it involved trying to NAME other feeling and reasons for the raging. Because while fear is the underlying reason for Tortuga it was also jealousy, frustration, anxiety and disappointment. Once we reached the point where he could articulate those other feelings better the rages got shorter and farther apart.

BT said...

I absolutely agree that the anger/agression/rages boil down to fear. Even jealousy and other feels, I think, can have fear of something lying underneath them.

Things we've tried: pretty similar to you; giving permission to feel all their feelings; trying to help them articulate the hard feelings; trying and trying and trying to help them learn and choose to redirect the fear-based energy rush to an acceptable outlet such as running up and down the sidewalk, punching their bed or pillow or our couch, karate chops, writing, etc. We started out having to restrain (I agree with you that that is tiring!), and are now usually able to talk P down from the cliff. He is starting to be able to notice on his own when he is about to have a rage outburst, and I see him taking a deep breath (really slow exhalation) and actively choosing to respond in a better manner. It is amazing to watch such a conscious choice. It reminds me of how conscious I am of my decision when I can tangibly feel myself at the point of choosing between losing it with the kids or not!

Babs said...

You might think this is crazy, but when I started as a new social worker, I was sent to pick a 5 year old girl who NO one could manage. When I got to the meeting place she was running away from people, screaming cussing, etc. I wanted her to get in my car without tearing it all to pieces. I called over to her that she wasn't really throwing her fit right and if she would come talk to me I would show her how to throw a REALLY good fit. She was intrigued. She came over and listened and watched while I laid down in the grass and demonstrated to her how to kick her feet and pound her fist at the same time while laying on her back. She laid down and tried it. Then I said well you have to scream while you do it. So she added screaming. I said okay... do that for like ten minutes. She continued, but wore herself out before ten minutes was over. I said okay... now you have to agree not to tantrum in my car. You can only tantrum on the grass and there isn't any grass in my car. She agreed and we left. What a day. Thank you so much for your understanding of where it all comes from. You're amazing!