Finally I am getting a chance to update a little bit on the cut foot front. The surgery went well. They discovered that the tile shard had gone right to the bone and then splintered off from there. They removed several pieces of broken tile and dug out all the infected stuff. They then put a back slab and bandage and we had to stay in hospital for 5 days. By about the third day, my son was starting to feel a little better, but still with discomfort. The combination of these things added to ADHD and ODD mean a cranky little bugger who’s hard to keep still!
In the bed next to my son was a little five year old boy who had broken his thigh bone and was in traction. Traction means he was stuck on his back with his right leg up in the air attached to a series of planks, wires and pulleys. He had been there for 12 days already and was due to have his surgery in the next couple of days to be put in a half body cast for the next six weeks! Poor kid. He was great though. He chatted and was kind and shared his toys and wanted to talk to my son all the time. My son wanted to talk to him too….sometimes.
This sort of thing is where it starts getting hard when you have a kid like mine. On the one hand, he is extremely sociable and loves having a chat. However, this other little boy loved having a chat too, and spoke almost as fast as my son, just not quite as clearly once he got going with some speed. This really bugged my son and he started saying things like,
“I am NOT talking to him any more! He talks way too much and I can’t understand him when he talks so fast! He never lets me have a turn at talking! He’s stupid!”
All that separates six beds in the hospital ward is a series of thin curtains, so pretty much everyone could hear my son going on about it. Then there was the night that the other little boy had a visit from his Aunty and they were playing a very loud game which seemed to involve a lot of clapping and kissing noises and copious amounts of giggling. All of it extremely loud and for a very long time. This made my son really mad as he wasn’t able to join in the fun, being stuck to his bed and on a drip with his own foot up on a pillow. Bring on the return of Mr Cranky Pants.
Eventually the noise from next door died down and everyone got settled down for the night. Unfortunately, my son seemed to think that the noise had been going on all night while he was trying to sleep. The next morning and all of the next day he kept telling anyone who would listen that the boy next door was too noisy and had kept him awake all night. He said some pretty mean things about the kid, and started being quite rude to the nurses. He threw the thermometer back at one of the nurses and accused her of being an idiot for having to check his temperature too often! Sigh…
When you are a very polite and considerate person like myself, this stuff can be pretty hard to deal with. It’s really easy in this situation to embarrass the child and tell him off in front of everyone. Unfortunately when you do that to a kid with ODD and Anxiety Disorder, it only makes him worse. No lesson is learnt about being kind or thoughtful. He can only focus on how he now feels even worse than before. He doesn’t really care about the other people in that moment. Well, actually he does, but he’ll put on an even bigger show of not caring so that no one will know how bad he feels.
So what can you do? Obviously, you can’t just let your kid sit there saying and doing horrible things. Other people’s feelings are also important. These situations have to be handled with delicacy, which is really hard when you’ve been sleeping the last two nights sporadically on a fold out chair beside a hospital bed!
First, I acknowledged my son’s feeling on the matter like this.
“Hey. I know you are tired, and sore, and bored. This is really not fun for you and you are struggling with all this staying still.”
Next, I give the nurse the acknowledgement that she needs so that she will actually want to come back and care for my son and not throw something at him.
“Thank you. Sorry that the thermometer was thrown at you. We’ll have a talk with him about staying calm and let him know that you are here to do a job.” Something like that anyway… I had to say similar things a few times over the five days.
Next, I bring to my son’s attention that he is not the only one who needs patience and consideration in this room. This one is hard because he often feels like I am caring more about the other people than him, no matter what I say to him first.
“You are feeling pretty upset and tired right now aren’t you. I’m sorry you have to be in this situation right now, and I wish we could help you out of it. All the kids in here are bored and hurting and tired. I was so proud of you yesterday when you shared your toys with the little boy in the next bed. That was such a kind and thoughtful thing to do. Even though you are having a hard time now, it’s not OK to say mean things about other people. You need to let the nurses do their job or you will have to stay here even longer to recover. Next time you are feeling like shouting at someone or saying something mean, let me know and we’ll talk about different ways of sorting out those feelings.”
This worked really well for him thank goodness. Although he did lapse every now and then. The good thing for me as well was that a couple of the parents and nurses commented positively about the way I had handled him rather than getting all snooty about the things he was saying. I did have to explain that he has self control problems, but they were all really surprised as they had all thought he was really clever and really good most of the time. That was nice to hear. The Mum of the kid in the next bed even asked me to give her some help in how to be kind and patient with her son while still teaching him the right things because she admired how I was doing it!
The really important thing to remember when you have kids like mine is never to force them to be polite or apologise in the moment just after they’ve said or done something mean like that. It’s a hard thing to do in today’s society as we know that people are expecting us to make our kids do the right thing. The problem is that when you force ODD or anxious kids to do these things they don’t actually learn a positive lesson from it.Their brains are wired different from other kids and what the oppositional part of their brain gets from that type of lesson is to argue and rebel against saying sorry or being polite because they want to do the opposite to what you forced them to do last time! They feel justified in being rude because their own feelings were so strong on the subject at the time.
The anxious part of the child takes a hit to their self esteem when you force them in that way because they just remember that they did something wrong yet again. You teach them that expressing their feelings like that was wrong and that you don’t understand how they felt and aren’t there to support them because you took the side of the other person instead of their side.
We have found that this method is really successful. Ever since I stopped forcing my son to apologise to people, I have found that he has started apologising almost every time completely off his own bat, and that now when he apologises, he actually means it! If I don’t force him to be polite, but I apologise to the person he was rude to and be polite on his behalf then acknowledge his feelings that made him be rude, the next time, he will be polite on his own and I make sure I immediately praise him with a labelled praise such as….
“Wow. That makes me so proud that you can still use your manners even when you are so tired and in pain.”
So we are now at home. He has to keep his plaster on for another week, so we are struggling to keep him entertained. This is an outside running around kid, and we are trying to keep him on a big bean bag inside with his foot up playing video games and watching TV. Not easy. Australia is going through a huge heat wave at the moment too, so we can’t even really take him outside to sit in the garden for long or his plaster will get too hot and itchy and then he gets all upset.
Well…. these things are sent to try us I guess!
Happy New Year too! We kind of missed the transition somewhere there in hospital!