Friday, November 6, 2009

Lines and Circles

Oh me. Oh my. What a day.....

It starts last night with:

Taz tells me he has a 15 minute detention after school because a sub thought he was annoying....I'm afraid to ask.
Bear walks out while Taz is telling me this and says that he had an office referral because a teacher thinks he called her a name.
This morning the phone rings and it is the assistant principal. Bear is suspended for the day for calling the teacher the B word. I receive an email from the teacher and it really was an afternoon of H-E Double hockey sticks for her with his behavior.
I have homework due Monday. A big midterm on Weds. Taz has a swim meet on Saturday. I have company coming for the day on Sunday. Nooooo problem. Clean house, make menu, do homework, study for exam, deal with Bear all day.

Normally if one of the boys is suspended I send them to pull weeds or rake leaves all day. I have so much to do I just do not have time to deal. So I have been making him sit on his bed. I did clean out the fridge and the Tupperware was mighty stinky so he is downstairs washing it by hand as we "speak".

We learned some things in Marriage & Family I have put to good use with him. He has what is called Linear Thinking.

Like when the child rolls the ball, he feels other people actions cause his reaction. End of story. "They make me mad and when they make me mad I explode." This makes complete sense to him.

Our interactions with people are actually circular. They act. We react. They react. We react. So when he argues, they give a consequence. He thinks the consequence is unfair so he yells. They feel frustrated so try so come up with a new consequence. It goes in a circle with each leading to a reaction from the other.

This gives the picture that he has power. He is very much victimized in his thinking. He reacts as though life just happens to him. Circular thinking shows that it is all interactions. He effects others. They effect him. How he reacts then effects them again.

Telling him this story once will not change things. Talking it through and what the circle that he just experienced looked like and that he has power to change may.


Life's Mom said...

This is such a hard concept to teach! Since we deal with this daily, I have tried and tried to teach this concept. One time I took "Life" outside with a tennis ball. I had her throw the ball against the house. She moved to keep it from hitting her. Then I asked her "did the house just hit you with a ball." She really didn't know the answer to that - she wanted to say yes. I followed up with - or did you start a reaction. Your throw bounced off and hit you. So really, you just hit yourself with a tennis ball. You started the process. I went on to follow up with how relationships work that way too.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1

Brenda - I am so sorry everything it hitting at once! Know that you are in my prayers.

Life's Mom said...

Ok - Brenda - you have to laugh a little. Did you ever think you would use the phrase "Normally if one of the boys is suspended ..."

I caught myself saying "today was a great day - you didn't even go to ISS today." (In School Suspension)

Brenda said...

LOL! I do laugh. I say a lot of things like that I never would have thought would be part of my vacabulary. What if you sat down on the ground with Life and rolled a ball back and forth but before she could roll it she had to say how she would react. She could sometimes be herself, sometimes mom, sometimes the teacher. Sort of like this

You be her and say "Tessa wouldn't let me play with her so I hit her" roll the ball to her
she says (she is Tessa) "I was angry so called her a name"
roll it
"I ran and hid"
Roll it
"I ran and told the teacher"
Roll it....something like that. Would that be too hard for her? If so you could just start simple. She plays herself and you play yourself.

Becky said...

HI! I've been a lurker for a while and have gotten a lot from your blog.

This concept really hit home. My 9 yr old son (recently adopted aflter 2.5 yrs of foster care with me) has not been officially diagnosed with RAD but he has many of the same behaviors/issues you write about dealing with.

This is perhaps one fo the most obvious ones. He refuses to accept responsibility for the fact that his actions affect others and have consequences. When he teases the dog into biting him it has NOTHING to do with the teasing. It's simply the dog being mean. If he breaks a rule or is rude or mean and I get hurt or angry and give a consequence I am just a mother f. if you know what I mean. It's ME being abusive/mean NEVER the result of something he did. I'm trying to teach him this and empathy but I'm not sure how. Any references or thoughts?

I'd REALLY appreciate it.

Brenda said...


So nice to meet you! Great question. Showing him empathy through loving eye contact, gentle touch and saying back to him his feelings shows you care. Not that you agree, but that you care such as "You must haven been scared when the dog bit you. Let's back up a little more because I think maybe you were afraid when you teased the dog." I certainly can't tell you if your child has RAD but getting at the feelings behind the actions is always important. He may say "I'm not scared." Let it go. He heard you and he is thinking whether he admits it or not.

Tara - SanitySrchr said...

I learn so much from you (and your subsequent readers)! Thank you!

Brenda said...


On behalf of the readers and myself, thank you. And it is nice to meet you : )

Mom 4 Kids said...

Were you peaking at us at the park today? It's like you were there! Wow good stuff here Brenda thanks!

Brenda said...


Yes. You caught me! : ) and thanks,

Sanity Srchr,

Just a note on your name. If you find sanity can you let the rest of us know?