Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nightmares & Revelations - by Roxie
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, February 18, 2013

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

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PUC (just for fun)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, February 17, 2013

This is an excerpt from Prairie Home Companion that aired 2-16-13. Click read more to listen. Turn your volume up.

Click here to listen to audio.

Prairie Home Companion Link

Click To hear segment five (that includes the PUC story) from the original page (better audio) with opportunity to donate to Prairie Home Companion. (set counter to 101:50)

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Is One Child's Behavior Ruining It for Everyone?
Posted by:Brigitte--Thursday, February 07, 2013

The following article addresses the effects of oppositional behavior on families and contains many useful PSSTisms often used in our role plays.
I think Number 4 was written for me; I tend to lecture until my kids are nearly comatose.
by Kim Abraham LMSW and Marney Studaker-Cordner LMSW
How many times has this gone through your head? Your “difficult” child—the defiant one who’s constantly acting out and upsetting everyone—has just done it again. Maybe he’s called his little sister a foul name, smashed your favorite framed family photo, or screamed in your face. In a moment of defeat, you think, “What if there’s no hope? What if he’s just a ‘bad seed’—the bad apple of the family?”

While many parents have “gone there” at one point or another, understand that this really is a false statement, because all children are inherently born good. They come out innocent, but simply have different personalities. At times, it can appear that everything your child is doing is negative: his attitude, the way he treats you and others, and the way he handles his problems. That’s when those negative thoughts get stuck in our heads. As parents, these thoughts can get us into trouble because we can unconsciously begin to reinforce, through our own behavior, the idea that our child is a bad person. But that’s not the case. Remember, it’s not your child who “turns bad,” it’s his behavior that is inappropriate.
If your child was born with a moody or impulsive temperament, and a tendency to take risks, he has characteristics that lead him down paths that are more difficult than other kids might take. Know that when you have a child who’s impulsive, who is a risk-taker, who gets bored and frustrated very easily, he has a lot of work ahead of him. He will simply need more practice and help in learning how to problem solve and cope when things don’t go his way or when he’s bored.

What motivates kids to misbehave, act out and be defiant?
Power and control
Revenge: “You hurt me; I’m going to hurt you.”
They’ve given up: “I just want to give up and be lazy. I don’t want to do homework. I don’t want to do chores.”
They want you to give up: “Please stop caring if I’m going to be successful. I’m going to wear you down so you’ll stop giving me consequences and holding me accountable.”

We understand how hard it can be to parent all your kids when one of them seems to influence the others to misbehave, tries to grab the power from you and take control all the time, or simply makes everyone in the family miserable with their behavior. It does not have to be that way.

1. Don’t make an example of your child. Don’t ever make an example of a child by saying things like, “Don’t ever act like your sister!” Along the same vein, don’t ask your defiant kid, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” Avoid those comparisons and any of these types of comments altogether. Comparisons only breed discontent. After all, your child can’t turn himself inside out and be his sibling; it’s not fair to ask it of him and will only make him feel frustrated and hopeless. Instead, build on each child’s good qualities individually.
2. “It’s not fair!” Prevent trouble by maintaining the mindset that rules are established for everyone, and no one is exempt. With defiant kids, it’s often hard to set limits and give consequences, because they react so strongly and try to wear you down by negotiating, screaming, or refusing to comply. As a result, some parents will give up and stop trying, which will cause the other kids to say, “That’s not fair! Why doesn’t Michael get his phone taken away when he stays out past curfew?” Just remember, the limits should be the same for everyone. You may find that you’re spending more time responding to and enforcing limits with that acting out or ODD kid, especially at first. But rules are for everyone and no one is exempt. Make it real simple on yourself.

The reason for doing this is simple: If you give your defiant child exemptions to the rules and consequences, you will perpetuate the myth that they are entitled and that they are unique and above the law—and that’s exactly what criminals believe. Don’t stop setting those limits and holding them accountable. It’s very, very important to let your child know that rules and boundaries pertain to everyone.

3. Parroting bad behavior. Another reason to stay the course with your acting-out child? If your other kids see she’s getting away with breaking all the rules, sometimes they will start copying. Here’s the bottom line: There should never be motivation for a sibling to copy another sibling’s bad behavior. Period. If there is motivation, then you really need to take a good look at that and figure out why.

Here’s an example: Let’s say there’s a thief in your town that robs a bank, gets caught and goes to jail. Others hear about it and say, “I’m not going to try that.” They know if they get caught, they’re going to go to jail. Now let’s say the bank robber got away with it. The police caught him, but they let him off and said, “We don’t know where you hid the money so we give up.” Some people might be tempted to go rob the same bank if it was that easy, right? There’s no consequence and he got away with all that money. The same goes for your kids. So there should be no motivation for any sibling to want to copy bad behavior.

If you’re doing your job as a parent and your child is given a consequence, your other kids look at that and say, “Every time my brother misbehaves he loses all his privileges to the electronics in the house. I don’t want that to happen to me.”

4. Keep it short. When giving your child a consequence, be swift, consistent, and use as few words as possible. One of the things that we try to tell parents is “Do less talk and do more action.” We use the police as an example: If you get pulled over for speeding, how many words does he say to you? Usually three: “License and registration.”

What would you do if he stood there and gave you a half hour lecture? Would you respect him? Would you even really listen? Would you care what he was saying? Chances are you wouldn’t want to hear what he had to say, you would not respect him, and you’d want to get away from him. The only thing that means anything to you is the fact that you were delivered an action—the consequence of the ticket. That is how your child feels about you. Just deliver the consequence the way a police officer would a ticket.

Will your child say, “Okay, you caught me—you’re right. Sorry.” Probably not! We also remind parents about what we as adults do when a policeman stops us. We make excuses, we lie, we pretend like we didn’t know we were speeding, we cry, we negotiate. We do all this ourselves, yet we get mad at our kids when they do it with us—but remember, it’s human nature. Just be businesslike and objective, and deliver that ticket. This gives you that detachment and objectivity that you really need, because otherwise you can get sucked into the arguments or the excuses.

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Relapse Is Always An Option
Posted by:Brigitte--Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Written by Ralph

It has been a while since I have written an article for the PSST blog. As things settle down, it is easier for the parents of our teens to cope, and for me I haven't needed to express my feelings in a story. However, I wanted to write about an issue for some of the parents that are over the hump, but still living with on-going survival. Jessica Rabbit's recent story about Herman coming home for a couple hours of advice reminded me of this and Ed's relapse last summer.

Understand that Ed and Alice and I are in a much better place now than before. Ed seems to be reliving some of the mid-teen years that he missed. He works on his recovery, but in his own way and with people his own age. (We can't want it more than he does!) Of course, he does this within the bounds of our contract, which is very specialized and tough on specific areas. Life is going smoothly at the Kramden home thanks to recovery and PSST.

Ed doesn't want to be a drug user or use alcohol, but his experience tells his mind that he does and he still fights that all the time. You wouldn't know that to see him, nor does he talk about it, but it's still there.

But that's why relapse is still a dark knight, flying over our children, wanting them to go back to the old ways. The Bible/Torah book of Proverbs (Proverbs 26:11) graphically warns that foolish people will return to their folly. It is no different for our teens who are battling former substance abuse.
Late last spring, Ed was doing great at following our rules and being accountable. He was also asking for more freedom, and we assumed, more responsibility. Alice and I agreed to give him a lot more rope. He had earned it, we believed. A family friend also found Ed a summer job making good wages. It required much more independence on Ed's part. Needless to say, you have probably heard the story at a PSST meeting of how his summer ended -- it didn't end well, and it was only July. Ed ended up skipping work, hanging out with old and bad friends while telling us he was at work, drinking alcohol, and finally "running away" again. I call it running away, but it was really being a county away from where he said he was, after being fired from the job for not showing up. It was a great opportunity to let the dark knight in.
As is bound to happen, Alice and I found out about this when one of his old friends left his car on the road dead and the police called to have it removed. Ed was once again hiding in Weedville, and it only took me about 20 minutes to find where he was hiding. For two or three more days, he hid and then ran from us when we approached him to discuss coming home. Alice and I were much more angry than frightened. We had experience with Ed running before.
On Sunday morning, when Ed knew we would be in church, he came back. To his credit, he didn't break in when he found all the doors locked. Our neighbor, who had been clued in that Ed was on the lamb again, called at the end of church services and we rushed home to have a talk with him. He admitted that he had relapsed on alcohol, but had not done any drugs. He saw this as a good thing, and Alice and I were PSST enough to not argue about it. His relapse was real, but his recovery had kept him from the worst possible outcomes and brought him home very humble. It also helped a lot that Alice and I had run through the scenarios of his return for the last two days and knew our bottom lines and consequences. We discussed our thoughts with Ed calmly, outside on the back porch. My body language told him that we weren't going in to the house and neither was he, in a kind and gently fashion, until the actions and feelings were talked out or at least put on the table for future discussion. After an hour or so, with Alice getting us lemonades and sandwiches at one point, Ed was put on parental house arrest, but welcomed home.
House arrest isn't fun for anyone, though, and it drove Alice up the wall -- when the teen can't leave the house without a parent or relative, then the parents don't have much freedom either. We had to adjust schedules and Alice and Ed were both going stir crazy. But, we didn't give in, and didn't want to get caught giving a consequence that we couldn't live with. Alice and I were putting on our strong fronts, no matter how crazy we felt. Ed knew that he had to earn trust again, so even though he didn't like it, he was accepting of it all. Eventually, Ed earned enough trust back to leave the house on his own again and then made it to his adult contract at 18.

Now to the moral of this story: Relapse often does happen and can happen even when a teen is being good and has lots of clean time. Ed had over two years of clean time when he relapsed. He still likes to count his clean time from his drug use dates, but I'll give him this: Ed now has a clean date and a sober date -- the sober date is just much newer. Your son or daughter will probably relapse, too, so be calm and be prepared, and most of all, be really, really PSST!

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