Friday, September 20, 2013


We got an email from school the other day. During a field trip, Kai became upset about some change made on his van and he broke his glasses.

Frankly, I am surprised that he hadn’t broken them until now.

Most often, when he is upset at school, he bites his shirt to shreds. I wondered why he never broke his glasses.

On this occasion, we did not learn too much from Kai about the circumstances surrounding this incident. He said that there were some kids on the van that he doesn’t like.

From past experience, we know that in many cases when he complains about another child, it is often because they got the benefit of something he wanted, not because of something they did wrong.

In this case, I am guessing that perhaps they got the first choice of a seat, or maybe the teacher asked them to switch seats.

When I got home from work, my wife and I tried to talk to Kai about how inappropriate this was, and what he could have done instead. He could roll his hands into a ball, he could grit his teeth.

But he should not rip his clothes and he should definitely not break his glasses.

We told him there would be consequences. Mom and I would discuss while he took his bath.

When he came back to the kitchen after his bath, I asked him what he thought an appropriate consequence would be. At first, he kept saying he didn’t know. But when I pressed him on it, he said that maybe he couldn’t use the iPad for one day.

I told him that wasn’t enough.

We gave him a choice. He could lose his iPad privilege for four days, or lose 3,000 points from his Point Store account.

He was very close to earning a new app with his Points, and the app was due to be released the next day. So, he chose to give up his iPad.

But when I explained just how long four days was – no iPad until Monday – he changed his mind. He gave up his Points instead.

And then he got angry.

“Dad is so mean!”

My wife explained that he has to learn not to break things when he is upset. And that it wasn’t my fault – he needed to learn to accept responsibility for his own actions.

Kai spent most of the rest of the evening crying and being mad. We did not have our usual short game-time before bedtime.

At bedtime, he read the book he always reads after he has gotten upset – Angry Octopus – which is the story of an octopus who learns to control his anger through relaxation exercises.

Kai loves that book, but I don’t know that he thinks of its message in the heat of anger.

And just the very next day, yesterday, he ripped up his shirt, the souvenir we got at Mount Rushmore no less, when he was told he had to help clean up the toys he played with at his therapist’s office.

When I got home yesterday evening, the torn shirt was at my place on kitchen table. Kai was on his iPad.

I took away the iPad. But I was able to contain my frustration, (somewhat) calmly telling him that it was just the day before that we had discussed how he should not break things when he is upset.

In a low-key voice, I told him that he would not be able to use the iPad until the weekend.

He wasn’t happy, but he did not say much.

But my wife told me that after he went to bed and I shut off the light and left the room, he told her, “Dad is so strict. He should be a congressman.”

Ha, I don’t know where that came from. A congressman?

I don’t know if harsher punishments will make a difference. When he is angry, he doesn’t think rationally. He doesn’t seem to remember all that we told him.

But we have to try.

This can’t go on.

Let’s see how it goes.


  1. Oh dear...I'm so sorry! I hope he learns his lesson and starts relaxing like that octopus!

    1. Thanks, Betsy. I believe that he really does learn his lesson -- when he is calm -- but has yet to master being able to stay in control when he is upset. I think teaching coping strategies (as his school tries to do) like the Angry Octopus may be more important than the consequences.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...