A week went by and the family was functioning on all levels in a positive way. No slamming doors, throwing things, or cussing.
Then the ball dropped.
Drenda came storming into the house after what I assumed to be a rough day at school. I asked how her day was. Her answers were as rough as her day I supposed. I noted her actions and left her alone for a while to settle in. An hour later, I asked if she wanted to talk about anything because I noticed that she might be upset. “No.” I then asked her to start her homework and walked out of the room.
This is when the ball dropped. The slamming of the door, yelling, and cussing. I heard things being thrown all around the room. I just sat there. I heard a couple of hits to the door and a few choice words I didn’t want to make out. I still sat. It lasted about 45 minutes. I didn’t shake my head and I don’t remember even thinking, “Here we go again!”
So, after waiting for the storm to pass, I got up and went into the kitchen for a snack. About that time, the door came open to Drenda’s bedroom and out walks a beautiful child exhausted and in tears.
I waited a few seconds and offered my snack. She sat down and I moved it over to her. I asked if she had a hard day and she stated, “Yes.”
I asked, “You want to talk about it?”
Drenda told me that a boy she likes started dating another girl and she was very upset about it. She and the boy had been corresponding via notes in class, and he was now talking to another girl. While Drenda was writing notes in class, the teacher caught her, took the letter up and wouldn’t give it back. My daughter was upset and didn’t want to go back to school.
After listening to Drenda and understanding the issues, I started to process with her.
I talked to her about her education, boys, notes, teachers, and growing up. Basically, I told her there are plenty of boys that she would meet throughout her life. She and the boy can be friends, but her education is more important to her future. I explained that she was disrupting the learning of others in the classroom. Then the hard stuff needed to be discussed.
I said, “Drenda, you know you slammed the door, threw stuff all over the room, and were cussing because you were frustrated.” Drenda agreed that had happened. I stated, “Remember, we had a talk about this last week.” She agreed that we had. I asked her to go to the back of her door and read what the standards say. Drenda got up and went to read it as she stated, “I know what it says.”
Drenda returned to the table. I then reminded her that we had made an agreement, “Drenda, based on the standards, if you slam the door, the door comes off your room for one week. If you throw things you must pick them up and place them back where they belong and clean up the area.”
I then asked, “Do you want to take the door off and place it in the garage, or would you like me to?”
Drenda said she would. I then said, “Please do that now, and then clean your room.” When Drenda completed the tasks, I thanked her. I then continued to process with Drenda.
I said, “Drenda, I heard a few words that you should not use when you’re upset. I would like for you to expand your vocabulary. Let’s get a dictionary and look up those words. Then let’s look for words that have the same power but can be used by everyone.”
I got the dictionary out and Drenda wrote the unusable words out and together we looked up new words. Drenda found some great ways of expressing herself through the use of the dictionary. She chose the words to use herself and we both agreed that they were useable. Together we tore the paper up that had the words that were unusable and taped the new words to her mirror along with the standards.
Drenda has since gained her door back. I hear her in the room sometimes using the new words when she’s upset, but she still throws things. The door has never come off again.
What we both learned from this experience: teenagers love their doors; it’s OK to get upset but you have to control your emotions; and there are many words to express yourself with dignity and feeling.
We continue to work towards verbal communication for expression instead of throwing things, and I notice fewer and fewer things being thrown.
As for me, I seem to be doing more talking. And now, our family is running smooth as melted butter.
So, fill that toolbox with resources and tools that can be used at a moment’s notice. And remember, bad behavior is not about you!
For more tips on behavior, go to Behavior Problems with Children with Disabilities on this site