Thursday, October 11, 2007

In which Andrew looses his temper

Andrew just went down to the rec room and saw Frankie being frustrated with a game. Frankie either actually threw a controller on the ground or was about to. [Editted to add: Frankie was playing with a controller that had a joy stick. He was banging at it roughly and with frustration. Andrew's reaction was born at least in half by weeks of seeing Frankie treating the electronics roughly and asking him repeatedly to be more careful.]

Andrew yelled (loudly), "STOP THAT!"

Frankie yelled something back, something that included "DON'T YELL AT ME!"

Andrew yelled, "IF YOU TREAT THE CONTROLLERS THAT WAY YOU CANNOT USE THEM. I AM GOING TO PUT IT IN MY ROOM."

Frankie yelled, "DON'T YELL AT ME. IF YOU YELL AT ME I WILL YELL AT YOU!" And then he went into his room and slammed the door.

I got down there right about then.

I went to the door and said, "Frankie?"

"NO! I WON'T COME OUT. I WON'T TALK IN A NICE VOICE. IF YOU CAN'T TALK TO ME IN A POLITE TONE, THEN I WON'T TALK TO YOU IN A POLITE TONE."

Interesting response given that all I said was "Frankie?"

I said, "I am talking to you in a nice tone."

"I'M NOT COMING OUT. I DON'T LIKE TO BE YELLED AT. YOU PEOPLE ALWAYS YELL AT ME AND I DON'T LIKE IT."

Now, I'm pretty sure this is the first time that anyone, well anyone other than Brian, has yelled at him, so I said, "Okay. You can stay in your room as long as you need to. When you are ready to talk to me I will be upstairs."

"I DON'T LIKE BEING YELLED AT!"

"I know, dear."

And then I went upstairs to talk to Andrew who told me what happenned. I talked to him about what ways were more or less effective in dealing with Frankie, although I understood how difficult what I was discribing was. In a while I said, "Think of it like dog training. If you praise the dog when it stops doing what it was doing and starts what doing what you want, it just works better."

And it is true. You may still be furious that your shoe is torn up, but if you keep yelling at the puppy after he has given it up to you, the puppy is just mystified.

Of course Frankie is smarter than a puppy, but I still think that what he is most likely to remember is that Andrew yelled at him, not that he mishandled a game controller.

And Andrew is another kid in the house, not a trained therapist. My expectations need to be reasonable for him too.

And Frankie needs to learn that people here can get angry and he is still safe.

And I am glad that you are all out there so that I can run to my blog and write this all down and finish de-escalating myself, because I wanted to yell at his door, "You come out of that room right now!" I wanted to tell Andrew and Frankie to sit down and tell me what all the shouting was about. I wanted to make them settle the fight and then apologize and promise never to do it again.

But this is better. Frankie was wise to lock himself up in his room. His instinct to separate himself from a situation he cannot handle is a good one. Letting him stay there until he is ready to come out is also good.

2 comments:

  1. Once again, brilliant Yondalla handles it just the way she should.

    But really, I wonder if perhaps Frankie simply shouldn't be playing video games...

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  2. Our kids have to treat the equipment with respect or else they go on an "equipment break." Happened to Bubba for throwing the controller and to Bug for dumping soda on the computer keyboard. Maybe Frankie needs a little break.

    But yeah, I find that doing nothing and letting them sit for awhile is often a very good thing.

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