How to Fight with your FASER


This is the wise response from Eva Carner, mother to Rick, a young adult with FAE, to the mother of a teenage daughter with FAE who just had a "big old fight" with her daughter and asked for advice.

I have been through scenes like you describe many, many times with Rick in the past. And I've felt the same emotions you feel. It just feels wrong to "let them get away" with assaultive behavior. If we back down in the face of physical threats it feels like we're rewarding them for being aggressive and bullying. That's the LAST thing we want to do. We certainly don't want to encourage our child to become more aggressive and violent. Sometimes we feel like we're teetering on the edge of raising a psychopath and we feel desperate to stop it. What I found out is the opposite is true. When I would physically intervene with Rick, snatch at the remote, unplug the phone, grab his arm to direct him, etc., when he was non-compliant and try to force him to comply, the situation would escalate. As he grew it became impossible for me to physically control the escalation and the situation became very dangerous for both of us. I'm not telling you this because I think that describes your situation in the fight you mentioned or any other fight with your daughter. I don't think it does. I'm just telling you why I was FORCED to change how I disciplined Rick. I was forced to stop trying to physically control him and to use other methods instead. And miracle of miracles the other methods worked! They worked better! They worked faster! And they caused real, permanent changes in his behavior and personality. He became gentler, calmer and much more compliant.

The things I changed were so simple. Basically I stopped being in control of his choices. I gave him time to calm down before requiring him to make a choice. Then I allowed him to make it. I just made sure that he had consequences for his choices and he knew what they were. If he continued to make the wrong choices the consequences increased. If he escalated I refused to interact with him until he calmed and the process began again.

For example: He won't turn the TV off and go to sleep. I let him know ahead of time that a transition is coming and empathize with the difficulty of the decision. I will discuss the reasons for the transition at this time, up to a point. When the transition time is up I command him calmly to comply. "Do it now." I remind him what the consequence would be if he chooses not to comply. I give him a very short time to comply, a minute or two. I inform him that he chose the consequence (removal of the remote). I command him to comply with the consequence. (put the remote in my room) I remind him of the further consequence if he chooses not to comply. I give him a very short time to comply. I inform him that he chose the consequence (removal of TV) I command him to comply with the consequence. (put the TV in my closet) short time to comply. apply consequence (longer time with TV removed from room)

After the second or third episode of non-compliance for the same event or any time he becomes verbally abusive I assume he is in a rage, out of control of himself and is unable to make sane, rational decisions. At that point it makes no sense to apply consequences or remind him what he is losing. He is incapable of understanding. Then I switch to my "out of control / time out" mode. I inform him he is having a temper tantrum or out of control and needs a time out. I tell him I will not discuss the event with him until he spends time alone, calming himself. I either tell him to let me know when he's calm or give him a specific period of time to be alone. I will not speak to him or make eye contact during that time but the consequences will continue to accrue. (If he's in a real rage I fudge this a little and don't let the consequences accrue during the rage) Physical threats or violence earn the harshest consequences. I would suggest you call for the police and ask for a 5150 to the local mental facility emergency room.

When he's calm I praise him for calming himself. We discuss and role play appropriate ways for him to get what he needs or make an appointment to discuss it later if it's inappropriate to discuss it at that time. I command him to comply with the consequences, empathize with his loss and express confidence he will make better choices next time. I always praise him for complying.

I know this is all stuff you're probably already doing. Hope I don't sound too preachy. I know how disrespected and insulted it can feel. The really important thing I wanted to say is that it will get better. Rick didn't get to be a bigger bully when I refused to intervene physically and make him comply or when I walked away from physical aggression (to make the call usually). By waiting Rick out and applying the consequences when he was calm, he quickly become more compliant and the aggression disappeared. I'm not trying to say I don't lose my temper with him. Now when I do, he tells me I'm not being appropriate, that I sould calm down and take some time out. LOL

Eva

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The person with FAS/ARND will always need
an external brain. Key words: "always" and
"external." --Susan Doctor
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FAS Community Resource Center
www.come-over.to/FASCRC