One of the things that we parents are supposed to do in RDI is to provide productive uncertainty. So, yesterday, Dad and I worked out some tactics. First, when Dad left for work, he put his jacket on backwards with the closure in the back. However, Alan didn't even look up from cuddling his dog, Pepper, because Dad had done this before and Alan was onto him.
When Don came home from work, I suggested that we set the table. This is usually Alan's job, but he was on the treadmill still, which he has been doing later and later in the afternoon. Don set the table, with my place in Alan's place. Then Don proceeded to make a newspaper hat and put it on his head.
When Alan came down, he asked Don to take off that silly hat. Dad replied that he liked his hat. Alan tried again and this time, swiped at the hat. Dad successfully dodged and repeated that he wanted to wear his hat. Alan told his Dad that his hat wasn't suitable. Alan managed to grab it after more verbal protest and tore it up!
When he had his corn ready, he came over and tried to get me to go to my usual place at the table. I refused and told him I wanted to sit there today. Alan objected and said we had to go by his rules or he was going to become a demogogue dictator, which he has threatened before. Then he took up a rubber band and shot it in our direction. Dad told him to cut that out and come to the table and sit where his placemat was. Alan refused. Eventually, after much haranguing us, Don told Alan that he could be registered in school if he didn't behave. Or maybe Alan didn't want Pepper to live with us anymore. Finally, Alan stopped shooting rubber bands and came
to sit at the table. I realized he would move back into his usual spot when I was done, so I gave Don the job of sitting in that spot to finish eating. He did that, and then took up the newspaper to occupy himself with until Alan finished eating. We talked with Alan calmly about how he needs to stop with his demogogue dictator response to not getting his way and how it makes us feel when he tells us he is going to do something bad if we don't comply with his ideas of what should be taking place. We are aware that other teens give their parents verbal abuse. In fact, on another list I am on with parents of typically developing teens, parents are complaining about drama and nastiness every bit as bad as what Alan was doing. It is just over other "unfair" changes in their plans parents are making such as requiring them to go to visit grandma or having the child go to church with the family. The moms on this list are commiserating with each other and those of us who have raised reasonable adults and lived through the teen years are telling the moms to stand firm with their requests.
So, we need to find more opportunities to break up static situations. The thing is, we have had years of trying to make Alan comfortable by setting up routines. Now, though, we have to teach him to be flexible and to be part of the family. That means we, the parents, are in charge, and his "schedule" has to include our requirements as well as many changes in routines and plans.
Labels: productive uncertainty #1