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gaming_momma in big_kids

When is punishment too harsh?

My son who is about to be 8 in a couple of weeks, has been getting in a lot of trouble. He is about to be kicked from the bus for the remainder of the year, which will require him switching schools because I can't drive him. He just got a write up today for acting out in class. I can't get him to listen to me at home half the time. I have tried everything. Spanking, time out, screaming, talking, taking away special items, grounding from xbox and computer, extra chores, even grounding to his room. Its not like he is bored at school. He goes to a school for academically gifted children. He has been a problem child since day 1 and this is just too much. We are considering canceling his birthday. No gift from us. No cake. Family can do what they please. But I feel like giving him a cake and gift will be like rewarding him. And his behavior has been anything but deserving. We have tried rewarding him for good behavior as well. And that doesn't work. Please Help!! Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.


At this point, some counseling. Also, are you remaining consistent in all the punishments? Like *every* time he does X, you do Y? Or is it you did Y the first time, and that didn't work, so you tried Z the next time, and then something else again the third time it happened?
we try the same punishment for awhile to see how it goes. maybe a month or two at a time. This school year I was working with his teacher using positive reinforcement. He was allowed to play xbox after school if he got good notes or stickers from his teacher. Each thing we try works for a few weeks then he doesn't care anymore.
oh and I have suggested counseling to his school. the counselor always says he is a normal well adjusted kid. I think he is just that good at lying to people. He is currently participating in a group therapy at school involving conflict resolution.
Have you sought outside counseling? Like from a psychologist/psychiatrist.
Second the psychiatrist thing. You are doing all the right things - if they're not working, he may have an underlying issue that is not the fault of the environment, but how he is wired or as noted below, an allergy. Medication, therapy and special diets may help. Big hugs.

We have a teenager with high functioning autism whose anger and anxiety issues cause a lot of issues in our home and at school. It is taking a while but we think we might have found medication that is helping. Good luck!
Have you tried to investigate the cause for all his behavior? Punishment/reward systems don't work if the underlying causes don't ever get addressed.
yes. I cant think what it would be and I have talked to him but its hard to feelings out of a boy that age. His father and I have always been together. His sister behaves well. We are not abusive and neither is anyone in his life. He is very much like my brother as a child. And my mom could never figure it out. even with counseling and ritalin for ADD. Now he has been in prison off and on since 14 yrs old. I am trying to put a stop to this before its too late. I cant think what else to do besides be extreme to get my point across.
It happens - and from the womb - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002504/

It is more than just "acting out" or being naughty.
ODD is usually a comorbid condition with another central diagnosis.

To the OP: I would certainly move on to get him evaluated, preferably by a neuropsychologist or pediatric neurologist. Knowing what is at the heart of the issue can make all the difference. It will give you options for how best to deal with his behavior, specific to any condition he has.
Does he care about getting kicked off the bus or out of school?
Does he care about any of the punishments?

Typically, when a kid's acting out, it's a whole family issue (both helping to cause the acting out, or needing to deal with the acting out). Are you all in family counseling?
he does care about the bus. He told me a few times he "does not not not not not want to go to Taft" which is the other school. He is worried right now about losing privilege for a field trip. He gets upset about losing time on the xbox and PC. When I grounded him to his room he was very upset that he lost out on spending time with me and watching tv with the family after dinner.
I agree with this. Some things in life you should get just because you exist, not because you earned them, and it's probably very important to him to know that he is unconditionally loved.

He might be acting out to test to see if there's a point where you won't love him, and if so it's important that he never reach that point.

He's done some serious stuff here and disrupting the family; I would go for the counseling.
I agree with this. His birthday is something to celebrate -- regardless of his behavior recently, he IS turning a year older, and it's a rite of passage to some extent, and he your son and you love him and are glad he was born and is a year older. He will never turn 8 again, and I fear that you will regret it if you don't celebrate. It's not a reward. Kids don't get b'day parties or cakes because they were good. They get them because it's a family tradition, etc.

Be clear, though, that this celebration is about loving him and being glad he's been your son for 8 years, etc. Don't connect it in any way to his recent behavior, meaning don't say things like "Even though you are misbehaving on the bus, and we're really mad about that, we're doing this party anyway, so think about how luck you are, and blah blah" -- that's just a guilt trip.

(I'm not intending to imply that you'd do any of that, but it's a natural reaction, I think, but I strongly believe it can do more damage than good.)

Good luck!
thank you. That's what I was wondering.
You haven't mentioned what research and testing you have done with him. Often school districts have programs that can help get the testing. If the schools don't, often the states do if money/insurance is an issue.

ADHD, Aspberger's, Bi-polar, Oppositional Defiance Disorder,etc... The list is longer than we often care to think about. I even knew a boy whose major behavior issues were solved by treating a severe but hidden allergy. It might be a relief to your son and yourself to rule out or find out if there is anything else behind his behavior.
he doesn't have social issues as much as acting out against authority. In fact he is a very well liked kid in his school amongst the other children. So I really don't worry about anything like Aspberger's. And as far as ADD or ADHD goes, he is a straight A student who can watch a 3 hour movie or play games for hours without losing attention and focus. In fact he read one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books in about 3 hours, immediately after buying it.

So I have not looked into much. This ODD is something I have talked with a friend about and really it sounds like any stubborn kid.
My daughter has ADHD combined type (which means she has both inattentive and impulsive types) and had extreme behavior issues at home. She is also in the gifted program, gets high grades, can focus on things that interest her and is a rabid reader. (reading way above her grade level)

Don't base the possibilities on stereotypes. ADHD is largely misunderstood and often mishandled by authorities.

We got her evaluated when she was 7 and it made such a difference in our lives. I learned how best to handle her behavior and teach her skills to cope. Shes now nearly 12, in the honors program in middle school, and managing her homework beyond my wildest dreams.
I am basing it off of what I witnessed with my brother growing up. He was in therapy and on ritalin. But he was the opposite of my son in terms of attention and focus. My brother couldn't walk through a room without doing a back flip or making weird noises. So not gong by stereo-type. Does your daughter take meds for her issues? Or do you just use different parenting methods as suggested by a Dr?
My daughter is not on medication. I really wanted to wait until she was through puberty before introducing it - but shes doing so well now that I don't think she will need it.

My son, who is ADHD inattentive type is on medication however. He just cannot manage his homework without it.
your daughter sounds much like my daughter who is older than my son. She is 10. She saw a Dr about ADHD and they wanted her on Ritalin. She was little fidgety in class and hyper at home. Otherwise she is a great kid. And she has since settled down on her own. I am always wary of putting my kids on pills.
My daughter had issues above and beyond fidgeting. She would scream for 30+ minutes, she scratched her legs, she spit, she would pound on her window in an attempt to break it, she held a knife to her throat and threatened to cut herself if we didn't give in to her demands, and a whole lot more.

This was all ADHD. She has difficulty modulating her emotions and would fly out of control and then was unable to stop. Doing a lot of research helped me to understand what was going on in her brain, and develop coping strategies for this very real problem that she couldn't help.

She still has modulation issues and will freak out when she gets frustrated or angry. Shes learned to express herself in less damaging ways, gets over it a whole lot faster, apologizes afterward, and frequently catches the outburst before shes lost within it.

ADHD does have genetic links, so if its in your family - theres a good chance that its involved with your sons behavior. It may not be the whole story, however, so I really encourage you to find a quality assessment. (not a family doctor - and I am not a fan of going to therapists for evals. Most of these conditions are neurological, and are best handled by a neurologist. We found the perfect blend with a neuropsychologist.)
yeah that's a bit extreme. I am dealing with more of a manipulator. There's no anger or frustration or screaming. That's why I am a little WTF when people start talking about neurological disorders and medication. He is sneaky and lies. He has to be told 100 times to sit down and behave on the bus. And when he just keeps doing what he wants they write him up. Same thing at school. He likes to throw things. Not at anyone, just like a pencil in the air. So we are definitely talking about 2 VERY different problems.
Im not trying to diagnose your son. He may still have ADHD, but with different manifestations. My daughters problems were as a result of difficulty modulating her emotions, but theres a whole range of other ways it can show itself.

You seem to take a lot of his behavior personally. I guarantee you that its not something he is doing to piss you off. There is something at play here, and your best bet is to get evaluated so you know exactly whats on the table.
Well I think its a little irrational to suggest to someone you don't know on the internet that their child may need a neurologist. I am sure that if I take him in to a therapy group they can help me from there.
I think that finding out whats at the root of the behavior is the best next step, if you have tried and failed at a variety of discipline models at home. That means getting an evaluation.

The best evaluations are done by neuropsychs or pediatric neurologists.

I have never suggested that your son has any condition at all. I, among several others on this post, have suggested that getting an eval to find out if he does is a smart next move.
I agree on the birthday thing. Perhaps not a huge party if it will stress everyone out and cause mom to feel resentful, but certainly a family celebration is in order.
I think we are going with this plan. Cake, family, gifts... but no taking gifts out of their packaging until he shows more respect and improvement. I think I will cancel him having a friend spend the night but that's it.
A book that has been recommended to me is How to Talk so Kids Will Listen by Faber and Mazlish.
I'll have to take a look. I always second guess how I approach things. I just have issues making it through these help type of books.
get help for his anger issues and as soon as you can, don't cancel his birthday, it's a bit much. Emotional brain training is as just as important as the book'n'wordz.