Old Habits

Today my youngest son was playing with his RAD friend, and they both had NERF guns. They were not any toys of mine, we haven’t got any guns. RAD friend fired a bullet and they both raced for it. My son won and his RAD friend was trying to grab the bullet as my son tried to load his gun with it. His RAD friend reached around both sides of my son, grabbing with both hands, until my son was caught in a wrestling hold.

At that point I yelled over to him to drop the gun and the bullet and put his hands up and go in the house.

He did. I followed.

But he went back out a few minutes later. I should have run after him.

I did run outside when I heard him hysterically crying, not long after. Not long at all. His RAD friend, calm and collected, came to tell me that my son had hit him. He showed me the spot, there was no mark. He was not hurt, I did ask him.

I went to my son and he told me that his RAD friend had hit him. The bystanders told me no, and I do not know if they were there or not when it all went down. My son told me his RAD friend had taken his bike, and had grabbed his toy back that my son wanted to use. I yelled at him, in public. I told him to come to me if he had a problem, to give his friends toys back when they ask, and never to hit. Then I yelled at him to go home. I hope he remembers the consequences of his action. He has been crying over the loss of privileges. I feel sorry for him, but he knows the rules, too.

I don’t usually yell at him in public. I decided to try it, because the last time I did so, he paid very good attention and did not repeat the violation. The psychologist has told me to react very noticeably to violence, because I normally do not react to it at all. I am so accustomed to it.

He and his RAD friend had been going at it for weeks, sometimes friends and sometimes fighting. His RAD friend is older than my son. He now knows all the right buttons to use with my son, and he knows how to upset him or keep him calm. Our RAD friend is brilliant, so I know he knows.

It is beyond important to me that I teach my son other ways to deal with extreme frustration. It does not matter if he were pushed to his limit or if he reached it by himself. Whatever brought him to hitting is not as important as the necessity of him choosing NOT to hit.

We have some new rules, which are actually old rules, reinstated. He is not allowed to play with his RAD friend. I will miss his friend at dinner and I will miss him playing at our house, he is one of my favorite children. But I see no other way around it. My son has to be supervised while outside, no more playing in the yard. He has to ask my express permission to go outside and then wait to be accompanied. He cannot leave my sight. These are the things I did in years past to protect him from abusive children in the shelter and to keep him from getting into trouble. I am sure he will miss his freedom but I know he will also appreciate the peace and quiet of being inside until the hour after dinner. School starts Monday, anyway, and homework will require his immediate attention before all else. So the change will not be immediately apparent, with the altered schedule.

I just keep seeing him crying, uncontrollably. While his friend was calm. It is only this friend that he has any problem with.

I wish I could fix it. I wish I had called him back in right away. I wish he were not so hurt inside by all of this.

I ought to start having house meetings with the children again. I think I will follow the formula of the 3 Minute Mother, setting goals and etc. I want them to look forward to a bright future, and to see their own progress, to KNOW that they can make changes and set things in motion. I want to give them more power, so they can gain more confidence.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Old Habits

    • Ah, his friend has Reactive Attachment Disorder. It is a confounding disorder. Children who have it are often very manipulative and not affectionate or empathetic. This child has a mild case, perhaps helped by his high intelligence.

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