Thursday, April 19, 2012

Great Conversations: On RAD Kids and Introverted Tantrums: Trying the Whistle Technique

by John and Diane

The following is part of a conversation that took place on our Facebook page that we all agreed to share on the blog, and repost on Facebook so the conversation could continue (as it started as a response to a link to another article and then we all kind of got off topic!) As the purpose of this blog and Facebook page is to help each other we wanted to make sure our Blog pals got an opportunity to listen in on the conversation and join in if they like…. This is by no means a way to end the conversation, but a way to make it easier to continue it… I have taken the names off (except for our responses) to maintain confidentiality on  the blog…

FPR= Foster Parent Rescue author
Other initials are members/friends

FPR: I was wondering, does your daughter tantrum in an introverted way (like, go to her room and destroy stuff) or in an extroverted way (like, yell at you and call you names etc.) There are different ways of dealing with her depending on which type she is. I am working on a longer article on working with RAD kids right now, but I am wondering if I cant help you, if you have any urgent questions or issues ... maybe I can help or we can all brainstorm for you here.... please let us know....

CJ: Most often introverted. She destroys mostly her own property, but has been known to retaliate by picking a treasured item of mine and destroying it. I have learned not to tell her when something is really special to me for that reason. She has never bothered anything belonging to my husband, though. She does tend to be mean to pets and we understand from communication with her former foster mom that this was a problem at her home, too. She will occasionally throw a wing-dinger of a tantrum, but she tends more to hold her emotions in. I can see when she's about to have a problem because she will start gritting her teeth and grimacing. She also clenches her fists right before she loses her cool. I'm just learning to watch for these signs and really pay attention so I can try to help her cope with whatever the issue is. She is very often a sweet little girl and each time she has an outburst is still shocks me like it did the first time. Do you ever get used to it????? She rarely has any serious problems at school or when she's visiting someone's home, either. In fact, people in our own extended family often think we're exaggerating when we describe some of her behaviors. One of the biggest challenges for me is that no punishment or repercussion we give has any effect whatsoever. We've tried numerous reward systems, grounding, removal of possessions, time out, name it, we've done it. Nothing works at all. She just continues to repeat the same behaviors over and over. She will also look you straight in the eye and just bold-faced lie about anything. Then she gets offended when you don't buy into it. She steals and honestly just doesn't seem to "get" that she can't do that. She steals from friends, from school, from me, etc. We just began seeing a new psychiatrist and I am so hopeful it's going to help! He has a lot of experience with RAD kids. She is also just starting Occupational Therapy and is still undergoing evaluation for that. The reason we initiated a request for OT was for an eating disorder which our pediatrician felt is likely sensory and may well be related to very early, oral abuse. (She denies any memory of this, tho.) Any suggestions, advice or help is GREATLY appreciated. I am definitely not a quitter and am determined to get her thru this and on her way to being a healthy, happy little girl!
CC: Oh just recited my life to a "T". Only this year my child has beagun acting out at school by bullying other children. Most of the time she seems to not realize cause and effect of things or that there are consequences. Or just doesn't care. My family and in laws think that we are overly strict with her and that we exagerrate her behavior. I have 3 soon to be 4 other small children that she gets very rough with instead of pets. We have started the level or step program with her and it is difficult to tell if it works because as you know...nothing seems to. If she breaks a rule of some sort or cannot behave at school she moves down a level until she is at level one..which is no privilages. She of course can earn them back but it is all up to her. This is a great link as well... Good luck. Know that you a never alone...we are all fighting the battle right along with you.

CJ:  How old is your daughter? Mine just turned 7. Since I am really just beginning to learn much about RAD and ODD, I'm wondering if problems seems to increase as the child gets older or is that just dependent on each child?

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So, CJ, Congrats, you definitley have a RAD child! Introverted children like yours are trying to control the situation. When you see her clenching her teeth and making fists etc, you are seeing her reacting to her "triggers." you should write her triggers down. These are important to let the Psychiatrist know so that he or she can purposefully trigger her to help her work through them. Re: your daughter behaving well in other situations and other peoples home.. that is typical too. It just goes to show you that she actually sees you as a caregiver and cares about you in some way.. See how special you are? She only destroys YOUR stuff! lol. I have a fortress of my own stuff as well. The reason she messes up your stuff is to make you mad, that means that she is in control of you, which makes her feel comfortable. To give you some advice: never let her control you. Always act like what she does does not upset you. So, as far as when you need to punish her, simply isolate your attention from her. If you can do Love and Logic first or 123 Magic good (check out the Tantrums and Trust Disorders: Doorways to a Better Relationship blog article) otherwise, ignore her and isolate her from your attention, until she asks you what is wrong, and then calmly explain to her what she did was wrong etc. ( This is when having the house rules also help)

Foster Parent Rescue : Oh, and all RAD kids lie. That's why I have cameras in my house. They lie because they want to be in control. They hate it when i show them themselves on my cameras and confront them with the truth of their behaviors. Those cameras have really helped me out in my house with multiple RAD kids!
Tuesday at 5:54pm · Like ·
Foster Parent Rescue : PS. Just because you have to hold in your emotional response from your RAD child, doesnt mean you dont have to vent it somehow or in someway ... be sure to talk to friends, spouse, or pray.. that is what gets me through it!
 CC ;She is turning 10 in a few weeks. She seems to have gotten a little worse as she ages. The case worker said that about age 10 or closer to puberty usually sets things in motion... and yes all RAD kids lie. Amen to that.

Foster Parent Rescue : Hope some of this helps you too CC:, I was going to address yours separetely, but now my kids are having issues... lol... gotta run!
CC: You know what...any input helps. I appreciate the open communication line here. If we didn't have a place where we could go and vent without judgement, I am not sure what would happen. It helps to know that other parents are going through the same thing and that I am not alone nor am I the worst parent on the block. : )

      • PG:our kids do both.....but have come a long ways....we have moments instead of all the time.... can't wait to read your article
CJ: All great advice! Thank you! I do try very hard to not lose my own cool in front of her, no matter how upset I am. I think she can sense it, tho even when I don't react. She gets this little smirk on her face, like she knows she got to me. It just amazes me that a child so young is so savvy! When she is having a good day she is very able to express how she's feeling. She openly discusses her anger at her birth parents, as well as at the grandmother who had her for 8 months and then had her taken away from her. All I know to say to her is that it's ok to be mad, she has every right to be and let her know that I would be mad, too. Then I try to help her find a better way to show us how angry she feels. She just doesn't seem to be able to use those tools even tho we've gone thru that each and every time she's had a bad day. Today she called me from school to tell me she misses me and loves me. When she got home, she wrote me a very special and very sweet letter and drew hearts all over it. It's when she does those things that I feel all lit from within and have such high hopes that we're conquering this together and she's going to be ok. Then I read more and everything says that these kids aren't capable of really feeling those emotions and what we see is all her mirroring whats he see's others do, but doesn't really feel herself. Is that really true or do others see real love and genuine affection from their RAD kids? I'm confused and don't really know what to think about it now! I kind of just feel thankful, period that she's showing those emotions, even if all it is really is mirroring. If she's mirroring, she's learning, right? So another question, if you all don't effective is praise for these kids? I try to praise every, single positive thing she does and so does my husband. Does that have an impact for them at all? I have very quickly learned that absolutely NOTHING that I learned while raising my older children works with this one. I apologize for my lengthy posts and my endless questions. I'm just so grateful to have all of you to learn from that I tend to jump in with both feet! LOL
CJ:, Just remember you are like a big lake to her and she love throwing rocks in it to see how big of a splash she can make. So do what I do, never let you be the one who is telling her what she did wrong. I use the house rules for that ( which I am updating on the blog today, by the way) and I always say to them “I’m so sorry that I have to do this I don’t like having to make sure ever one is treated the same, but as your [mother] I have to honey. I love you but you know what the consequences are, so can you just do them I will leave you now and let you figure out what you want to do Love you!” then walk away and go to your room and yell or hit some thing. what ever you have to do before you get down there. Now if she is following the rules good for you, if not I don’t know. If you laid the foundation stones your daughter has probably accepted the consequences. So, if she isn’t accepting the consequences and is argueing with you, you might want to try the Blowing the Whistle technique. (This is a GREAT technique which will stop her from being able to trip your triggers!)

Good luck and I would always ask God for help before I deal with my kids and he has sent me Angels to help me out went I get do any more.

Re: Mirroring, Yes, she is, I call it Parroting. Remember, she is a control freak. I have found it has taken a minimum of up to three years for these kids to actually start becoming attached. You are doing a great job though listening to her stories, and you need to start taking these stories away from her… like I talk about in the blog posting about Tantruming… so, when she starts the story, you cut her off and you finish it for her. Eventually, when she knows you know all the stories, she won’t feel the need to tell them anymore.

Re: Praising. It Does work. But its like dirt on roots of a plant. It is holding the plant solid on the ground. Don’t ever stop praising her, because you are creating a foundation and you will see the outcome eventually.

How long have you had this child? You may be asking too much of yourself for right now!

    • CJ:   I read about the whistle technique yesterday and discussed it with my hubby last night. We're going to get a whistle today and give it a try!


  1. But, what do you do when your RAD child takes delight in hurting your other children. She loves to be friendly and then get a little bit of their trust so she can then hurt them? What do you do when they take delight in pulling your care taking attention from the younger children to themselves? The adopted one at age thirteen pees all over the bathroom floor when I try to tend to the needs of a sick seven year old, desperately trying to be sure that I don't tend to anyone but her. Her bullying and controlling behavior seems so sinister. She has been with us for three years. I finally understood what she was doing, making the other children orphans in my own home with all these tactics. HELP.

    1. You definitely analyzed it correctly. The RAD kid is controlling you and is upset with you. To deal with the situation is to make the 13 year old clean up her own mess when she pees all over the room (see blog post; Why is My Foster or Adopted Kid Urinating in The Closet (in a Jar, Towel, Hamper, Soda Can): The Red (or Yellow in this Case) Flag and How to Deal with It.- June 14th )
      You must also, not in an angry voice, but in a passionate voice, explain to them that you understand what they are doing, and that you accept what they are doing, but that the child is hurting you, so, say, “I understand that you are peeing in the bathroom and are trying to get my attention because you love me and you love my attention, but you are hurting me and you make it so I cant like you when you are doing these things. I am sorry that this has happened to you and you feel cheated and there’s nothing I can do about this, but you can do something about this. You can allow me to love you and like you again by helping Mom and being a helper.” Give her things to do that will make her feel important in the family unit. Lastly, if this doesn’t work, lock the bathroom door, lock the bedroom doors, and make her start asking permission to enter the rooms. This is a tough approach, but the RAD child is already 13 so you are running out of time to make a difference. You have to make her feel important or you run the risk of her harming the younger children.
      Please feel free to message me if I can help in any other way.
      John and Diane = FPR