Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Evacuation Plan

There I am...

sitting on a curb,

down the street from my home,

locked out of my house.

This is how we started our “fun” friday.

Friday afternoon we tried a new plan to stop my son’s cycle of intimidating behavior. For no reason other than, “school was stressful”, my son decided he wanted to intimidate us. I immediately started with Plan A and called my husband to come home. I was hoping that my son would stop his behavior now that Dad was on his way, but it only escalated the situation because now he was threatening to throw something at my head if I didn’t tell Dad not to come home. So with that, I enacted Plan B: Evacuation. I turned to my middle son (the youngest son was at a play date) and calmly told him, “We’re leaving!”

So quietly we gathered our shoes and headed out the front door. I had no specific plan other than to disengage with my oldest son with hopes of breaking his cycle of behavior. We casually walked to the next street and found an empty house to hang out in front of.

We waited for about 10 minutes before we saw my oldest son running up to us with a plastic pirate sword, announcing, “This is fun!!! I stole your keys and locked you out of the house, now I’m going to create a barricade! With a huge smile on his face he said, it’s like I’m fighting a war!!!”

We sat, maintaining a poker face of, “I don’t care”.

Then my oldest was off again, I suppose to create a barricade.

Next, I hear my car alarm going off. But I held to our psychiatrist’s plan to evacuate and don’t engage.

Since my husband had a 40 minute drive home, I knew we still had a while before he was here so I decided to take my middle son for a walk around the neighborhood. I could tell he was starting to feel anxiety and was running through the list of all his possessions to make sure I would replace his stuff if his older brother was busy destroying it. I promised I would, even if it was his prized DS.

As we walked, I contacted our psychiatrist, thank goodness he carries a pager! He instructed me to send my oldest to his room once Dad was home and to give him a consequence for disrupting the family.

I unfortunately grew tired of walking since I grabbed my high heel boots on my way out, which is a horrible move for an evacuation plan (taking notes for next time). So once we could see our home from down the street, we planted our butts on a curb and waited until Dad got home.

Thankfully the whole event ended smoothly. When we returned home we realized that our oldest was still out running around the neighborhood after catching a glimpse of him smiling over his shoulder as he sprinted away. So we went inside and waited for his return.

About 15 minutes later he grew tired and calmly walked through the front door. My husband told him to go to his room and that he lost the computer for tomorrow. To our surprise he said, “ok” and headed up to his room.

Was this a success?

Well considering that he never went into a rage or hurt anyone, it’s a huge success.

But whether this will break his cycle of behavior or encourage it in the long run because, “This is fun!”—Only time will tell.


  1. I don't know how to respond to this other than offering my condolences. It sounds like a no win situation to me. :(

  2. I feel your pain. I have had to disengage on several occasions, thankfully not any recent ones. It's frustrating to be "banned" from your own home and not knowing what he is destroying, but I do find that not getting involved decreases the duration and intensity of the explosion. Hang in there and keep at it.


    1. Thanks Gina, I am hoping that this method ends everything sooner with less harm to us all.

  3. I have evacuated to my car before. Maybe he was playing but at least it avoided a rage! That's a win in my book. I had to laugh about the DS though, that is my 5 year olds most prized possession! I think you are working with a good technique. We have to start talking behavior mod techniques at our next visit... I can't wait (hahaha)

    1. Good luck with the behavior techniques. We started our new “family plan“ last night and it was very unpleasant to say the least. I think any of these changes will come with a lot of resistance. Not fun, but I hope it pays off in the end.

  4. Good for you! I'd call it a win, although definitely not an easy one for any of you. This is an area we are really trying to work on, too. It's so hard to disengage sometimes!

    1. How do you disengage with Bug?

    2. Well, sometimesI tell her I need to take a timeout because I'm starting to get angry, so I will leave the room (sort of like the evacuation, but I don't leave the house). Or I will say as calmly as I can (when I can) that I understand she's upset, and I really want to help her, but I can't talk to her when she's being disrespectful, yelling, etc. Then I try not to respond when she continues the behavior. Honestly, neither technique works that well. Ignoring her often just gets her more enraged.

      If she's not too worked up, I'll try to redirect her focus by getting her interested in something else, or by trying to do something that will make her laugh. I'm actually thinking of getting into family therapy so we can come up with some better solutions and so my husband and I will be on the same page when it comes to handling these situations

    3. Oooh, I like the mommy timeout idea! And family therapy sounds good too, we hope to do that soon!

    4. I take mommy timeouts too. And walk out of the room. I would be afraid of what would happen if I left the house. (but most of the time when he's spiraling out of control he follows me.) It is so hard to disengage!
      We had one session of family therapy where my son insulted the therapist and left the session. She said she couldn't work with my son. (it had to do with his age, she just doesn't work with pre-teen boys, and the state he was in at that point.)
      But I continued seeing her as my therapist and she has definitely helped me create a behavior plan, and stick with it, and make sure that little sister's needs are being met too.

    5. That's the same challenge I have Heather, when my son is going out of control he tends to follow me so it makes it very difficult to disengage. If I don't react, he turns to his brothers to force a reaction out of me. Tough stuff huh!