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urgent helpful ideas please - manipulative behaviour


Melissa in Australia

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HI guys. I am really really hoping that someone has some advice etc for me. 

 

as you know we have a new member

 

 He is using very manipulative behaviour on the twins. Mostly he is trying to break their very close bond ( it is awful one twin was crying most od the day while he was doing the things he had been manipulated into doing like bully his brother). He is also using the behaviour to get things form the twins. He is an expert at these tactics. I am doing very very close supervision. As in less than 5 metres at just about all times ( mostly closer), but there is always those few seconds when my attention is detracted etc. I have started calling him on it- which means that the whole day dissolved very quickly into me calling him on something every few moments ( literally, not an exaggeration), I felt like a prison warden - not a way to develop a constructive relationship at all.

 

I cannot really post any more details or give examples as I probably have given out too much information already

 

 

He knows the manipulative behaviour does not work on DH or I at all.

 

 

A psychologist will be involved in the future ( not for a few months) but I need help now. All case managers are on holidays for at least a week, emergency on-call Foster help was no help. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is he able to articulate why he does it? (I don't know, I've never worked with a RAD kid. I wondered if that would give you anything to work with.) Or articulate what emotion is driving him to do it? 

 

 

:grouphug:

 

 

 

Good point. I haven't asked him why, just desperately trying to deal with the result of him doing it.

 

 

I don't know if he will be able to tell me why, but it is worth a try.

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Good point. I haven't asked him why, just desperately trying to deal with the result of him doing it.

 

 

I don't know if he will be able to tell me why, but it is worth a try.

 

He might not have an emotional vocabulary. 

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:

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These are just crazy suggestions based on zero experience.

 

- Have you read Siblings Without Rivalry?  The example conversations may be something to mimic while trying to get to the root and provide him with the emotional vocabulary he may lack.

 

Can you immediately direct him to dolls for acting out behaviors or writing down what he tells you to write down when this starts?  

 

I'd make the play acting very blunt and clear:  

(with dolls)

"I'm twin A.  I love you twin B.  You're my twin and we are so close!"

"I'm new child.  I am not close to anyone.  I see those twins so close and I want to pull them apart.  Then there is room for me."

 

Because he may not even be aware of WHY he is trying to sabotage them.  

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

 

I would also use "electronic babysitters" with no guilt during this time until you can get ahold of the mental health professionals you need.  

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I would also use "electronic babysitters" with no guilt during this time until you can get ahold of the mental health professionals you need.  

 

Could you feed him David Attenborough vids and help him make a nature journal? (He might not care, but it's something the little boys are too small to do yet and your place is great for nature study.) It'd be something of his own to keep safe. Something to show off to everyone else. Something he could be encouraged to teach them when they are bigger.

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I guess he's the older brother and used to being socially "above" the twins in a way but now not only do they have a bond with each other but also more with you and they also know the ropes of living with you while he is the new kid on the block. It's not surprising that there are some jealous issues going on.

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Tomato stake him with a toy of your choice, like coloring, lego, etc, put him on "voice rest" if he is doing incessant chattering, let the twins play away from him in another room if possible. Take ALL choices away from him because he is trying to be in control of everything. He needs to learn to trust you. It's going to get worse before it gets better. (Hugs)

 

Good luck. I hope your therapist will be trauma trained, specializing in RAD and PTSD/developmental trauma in kids. It's a difficult journey to help heal children with early trauma.

 

One more thing, traditional behavior modification, such as sticker charts, rewards for good behavior, doesn't work for these kiddos.

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:grouphug:

 

The work you are doing is repairing the world, acting as the hands of God.

 

 

I think Ausmom's insight is very valuable -- that from his point of view, the bonds reciprocally between the twins, and between the twins and you and your husband, might well feel very threatening to him.

 

Holding you all in the light.

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Another voice here with zero experience in dealing with kids so traumatized...

 

Is your DH home? Or is there a relative or friend who could come spend the day or at least a few hours with you so that you can focus on the older child--keeping him busy on activities WITH you so that his attention is engaged and his has someone's undivided attention? I'm thinking that he then won't be able to put his energies into going after the twins. At least until you are able to get some professional guidance. Best of luck. You are a very special, loving person to open your home and heart to such troubled little ones. Bless you.

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Things I would try (some of these are just desperate stop gap measures)

 

Immediately remove him to another room when he starts in on a twin

divert him with electronics (whatever workds--apps, videos, audiobooks if he will do that)

pull him away to do a project with you (bake something?)

give him a schedule to keep him occupied

work on mindfulness and other ways to address anxiety--in my experience a lot of controlling behavior has anxiety at its root. He needs to learn, if he can, to recognize his own anxiety and address it directly rather than trying to control those around him as a means of addressing it.

 

I have a child who is constantly criticizing and trying to control a particular younger sibling. I have not yet found a really successful way of addressing it, I keep trying. I do think anxiety in the older child is the root cause.

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I wrote a longer post, but our internet went out and I lost it. I would definitely keep the boys too tired these hi-jinks anyway. It sounds like you have plenty of property. I'd wear them out, as much as I could, then try to get the older one interested in a good book he could read himself. 

 

I do agree that there would be no shame in using electronics to keep him occupied while you get some down time. I would also make sure that electronics were not encouraging violent tendencies. For instance, games about racing would be better than games with fighting. 

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I would focus on removing any issue I possibly could.  During times of stress, the basics can slip a little. So, be sure he is eating good food, getting good exercise, etc.  Maybe a multi-vitamin or vitamin d, and some probiotics.  Plenty of protein.  Just all those little things that we all know can add up in ourselves that make us edgy and difficult.  Set him up for success physically.  I know that's the tip of the ice berg, but maybe it will take a tiny edge off.  

 

As far as my own family, maybe someone will cook a few meals for you?  Take your laundry?  Can you pay one of your older children to do some of the routine tasks you do so you are more free to work with the boys?

 

Maybe you can help the younger ones understand what is going on.  Maybe giving them tools to see through his manipulation will help them become impervious to it.  New ds is going to struggle for a long time, and doesn't have the tools to grow much yet, so maybe putting the focus on helping everyone else learn to live around him, instead of fixing him, would help?

 

*Edited for clarity.

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Could you feed him David Attenborough vids and help him make a nature journal? (He might not care, but it's something the little boys are too small to do yet and your place is great for nature study.) It'd be something of his own to keep safe. Something to show off to everyone else. Something he could be encouraged to teach them when they are bigger.

 

We are trying exactly this. The problem is that he harms animals. All animals especially insects (beacause they are the only animals he can get his hands on without it being so obvious).

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Tomato stake him with a toy of your choice, like coloring, lego, etc, put him on "voice rest" if he is doing incessant chattering, let the twins play away from him in another room if possible. Take ALL choices away from him because he is trying to be in control of everything. He needs to learn to trust you. It's going to get worse before it gets better. (Hugs)

 

Good luck. I hope your therapist will be trauma trained, specializing in RAD and PTSD/developmental trauma in kids. It's a difficult journey to help heal children with early trauma.

 

One more thing, traditional behavior modification, such as sticker charts, rewards for good behavior, doesn't work for these kiddos.

This is what we are doing exactly, but I have to have twins within view just because of their needs as well. It is very difficult to stay within a metre or two of 3 children, one who is not use to it. I would say just about impossible to do it for 12 hours a day. Dh relieves me for 30 minutes every 2 hours. But there are essential tasks that dh has to do. We have tried dh taking new arrival to assist in some of the tasks but the second dh turns his head new arrival is gone and can be found attempting to get at animals.

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Another voice here with zero experience in dealing with kids so traumatized...

 

Is your DH home? Or is there a relative or friend who could come spend the day or at least a few hours with you so that you can focus on the older child--keeping him busy on activities WITH you so that his attention is engaged and his has someone's undivided attention? I'm thinking that he then won't be able to put his energies into going after the twins. At least until you are able to get some professional guidance. Best of luck. You are a very special, loving person to open your home and heart to such troubled little ones. Bless you.

 

We try this..

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I'm not as aware of the circumstances as others might be so forgive me if this is a dumb comment.

 

Do you have to take this placement?  This seems awfully unfair to the twins which I think you've been making progress with, right?  Even more importantly, this sounds like an impossible task for you.  You are not a superhero.

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Things I would try (some of these are just desperate stop gap measures)

 

Immediately remove him to another room when he starts in on a twin

divert him with electronics (whatever workds--apps, videos, audiobooks if he will do that)

pull him away to do a project with you (bake something?)

give him a schedule to keep him occupied

work on mindfulness and other ways to address anxiety--in my experience a lot of controlling behavior has anxiety at its root. He needs to learn, if he can, to recognize his own anxiety and address it directly rather than trying to control those around him as a means of addressing it.

 

I have a child who is constantly criticizing and trying to control a particular younger sibling. I have not yet found a really successful way of addressing it, I keep trying. I do think anxiety in the older child is the root cause.

B

Putting him in another room would mean he would be in another room completely for the whole day. Which is not possible. the manipulative behaviour is happening constantly without a let up for 12 solid hours.

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I wrote a longer post, but our internet went out and I lost it. I would definitely keep the boys too tired these hi-jinks anyway. It sounds like you have plenty of property. I'd wear them out, as much as I could, then try to get the older one interested in a good book he could read himself.

 

I do agree that there would be no shame in using electronics to keep him occupied while you get some down time. I would also make sure that electronics were not encouraging violent tendencies. For instance, games about racing would be better than games with fighting.

we try wearing them out, but unfortunately I wear out a lot faster then them
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I'm not as aware of the circumstances as others might be so forgive me if this is a dumb comment.

 

Do you have to take this placement? This seems awfully unfair to the twins which I think you've been making progress with, right? Even more importantly, this sounds like an impossible task for you. You are not a superhero.

 

 

We are trying really hard to make the placement work. We were expecting several months of difficult behaviour. It would be unfair to The child to give up on him after less than 2 weeks

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Such a challenging set of circumstances!

 

One thing I recommend for kids in general, but especially energetic boys, is to do whatever it takes to get them to be very physically active. Organized sports, swimming, martial arts that require discipline, running laps around your property - whatever you believe will best suit your needs - just keep them at it as much as possible and it seems to help with many other things.

 

Bless you, Melissa. I hope the therapist and help come sooner than you seem to expect, it's too big for just you, no matter how huge your heart is.

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This really does sound like an impossible situation and maybe not one that is really workable long term. These three kids all have so many special needs, they really each need the full time dedicated attention of an adult.

 

I imagine you are on summer break now; will the 8 year old be in school once it starts back up?

Do you have some respite options?

 

I wish I had some better suggestions.

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We are trying really hard to make the placement work. We were expecting several months of difficult behaviour. It would be unfair to The child to give up on him after less than 2 weeks

 

I know your intentions are good.  But it was already unfair to take a child with his needs while you still have the twins who still have their very high level of needs.  Otherwise, yes - 2 weeks isn't fair to this new child, but he really should be in a placement where he can get the amount of attention he needs.  Because it sounds like you don't have the attention to give and that isn't fair to him, to the twins, or to you.

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I would focus on removing any issue I possibly could. During times of stress, the basics can slip a little. So, be sure he is eating good food, getting good exercise, etc. Maybe a multi-vitamin or vitamin d, and some probiotics. Plenty of protein. Just all those little things that we all know can add up in ourselves that make us edgy and difficult. Set him up for success physically. I know that's the tip of the ice berg, but maybe it will take a tiny edge off.

 

As far as my own family, maybe someone will cook a few meals for you? Take your laundry? Can you pay one of your older children to do some of the routine tasks you do so you are more free to work with the boys?

 

Maybe you can help the younger ones understand what is going on. Maybe giving them tools to see through his manipulation will help them become impervious to it. New ds is going to struggle for a long time, and doesn't have the tools to grow much yet, so maybe putting the focus on helping everyone else learn to live around him, instead of fixing him, would help?

 

*Edited for clarity.

I already have a house cleaner. ATM I am doing only the very basics. Laundry and meals. I am literally spending every othermi ute of the day with the three younger ones. Playing games, encouraging activities, going for walks etc. we only eat healthy food.

 

We are trying to explain to twins but they are not functioning stage level and mostly work on lower brain. Especially when stresses

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This really does sound like an impossible situation and maybe not one that is really workable long term. These three kids all have so many special needs, they really each need the full time dedicated attention of an adult.

 

I imagine you are on summer break now; will the 8 year old be in school once it starts back up?

Do you have some respite options?

 

I wish I had some better suggestions.

Yes he will be in school 4 days a week. The day he stays home will be the day the twins are in 4 year old preschool. That way I can work on developing a relationship. School starts in just under 6 weeks. As does sporting activities etc.

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I know nothing so ignore me if my advice is terrible.

 

Is the older functioning on a level that you could talk to him and say "I know what you are doing and why you are doing it. I understand that their relationship makes you feel threatened but you are safe and loved here"?

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I know your intentions are good. But it was already unfair to take a child with his needs while you still have the twins who still have their very high level of needs. Otherwise, yes - 2 weeks isn't fair to this new child, but he really should be in a placement where he can get the amount of attention he needs. Because it sounds like you don't have the attention to give and that isn't fair to him, to the twins, or to you.

I'm not sure but I think this child is an actual birth sibling of the twins?

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Because we are a permanent care home respite is not an option.

I hate how our system gives so much less to permanent carers than temporary ones. Surely permanent solutions are better for the kids and doing everything to help the carers make it work would be a far better solution.

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https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/sibling-rivalry

 

I wonder if any of this is helpful? Some of it is not relevant but some could be. If nothing else it could back you up if you are stating that you need to see a psychologist sooner rather than later though it sounds like they haven't been helpful to you. Or you could try the parent line number.

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I know nothing so ignore me if my advice is terrible.

 

Is the older functioning on a level that you could talk to him and say "I know what you are doing and why you are doing it. I understand that their relationship makes you feel threatened but you are safe and loved here"?

 

We try. From my very limited experience of fostering they work On emotions and primitive brain ( lower brain) rather through the ability to think logically and be reasoned with

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