Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Room Wrecker

My son has always been fairly well behaved and sweet. He sailed through his third year commonly
known as “the terrible two’s” with nary a tantrum to be found. I braced myself for the worst when I brought
my daughter home from the hospital.  He
was 2 and a half and very comfortable being the center of attention. He surprised us all with his immediate love
for his sister and lack of any sign of sibling rivalry. I was filled with pride and
self-satisfaction knowing that I had successfully bypassed “the terrible

Shortly after my son’s third birthday things began to
change. He started to throw tantrums
when he did not get what he wanted, complete with jumping up and down and
screaming. I was shocked. It was as if turning three had flipped a
switch in his head. We are now ten
months into his fourth year and I am hoping to get off of this behavior roller
coaster soon. I’m tired, nauseous and
sweaty and I've been strapped in this seat for entirely too long.

This past week, we hit G-force for the first time when we
discovered that our son is a room-wrecker. We generally send him to his room for a 3-minute time-out and close the
door. For a very long time, he would
obediently walk to his room and shut the door when he received a time-out. That has all changed. Lately, we have been forced to drag him to his room
kicking and screaming. He kicks, bites,
hits, yells, and behaves as if we are sentencing him to life without chocolate
milk. We have to put him in his room,
shut the door and hold it shut (there is no lock on the outside). His time-out does not start until he can
calm himself down. This can take a VERY
long time.

Yesterday he was put in time-out four times for minor
offenses. Each time, the same chain of
events occurred with one shocking addition. When we would put him into his room, he started throwing things. He threw all of the books off of his shelf
(we have hundreds). He threw his
trashcan against the door over and over again. He picked up his quilt rack and threw it against the door. He got his father’s belt, which was hanging
on the door, down and started swinging it around and around so that the metal
buckle hit the door continuously. I was
on the outside of the door the entire time crying and wondering what had
happened. When did my son become so
violent? What had I done to contribute

I ran upstairs and grabbed my favorite discipline manual, 1-2-3
by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph. D., and scanned through the table of contents
to see if I could find some words of wisdom. I did. There is an entire
section devoted to room wreckers. Phew. I found great comfort in knowing that I was
not alone.

I am putting Dr. Phelan’s plan into effect and bracing
myself for some commando parenting. It
will be a difficult week but it will be worthwhile. My son is a wonderful little boy and I will not let him spiral
out of control. He deserves more than


  1. Wow, Julianne. My heart goes out to you both. My mom has told me similar stories about my older (by 13 months) brother. She said they finally had to take the door knob off his door b/c he refused to stay in his room for time outs. They would stand outside his door while he continuously threw himself against it. (I'll have to ask her if he wrecked his room, too.) Mom says he was a very meladramatic child. Now he's a fine, upstanding citizen (albeit very moody at times). And very a very successful computer technician in Nashville (married with an 11 month old son). He's also extremly intelligent. Maybe that was his "problem."
    I'll have to get my hands on that book you are talking about. I'm sure I'll eventually need it with my little diva daughter.

  2. Ashlie-
    Thanks for the info. That makes me feel SO much better. The fact that your brother is a relatively normal person give me great comfort.

  3. For anyone who is interested, yesterday was a much better day. My son went into time-out twice and fought me both times but calmed down immediately upon entering his room. Maybe the G-force portion of the ride will be over soon.

  4. Although I don't have a "room wreaker" I have had a sweet child replaced with demon child when he did not get his way. Paul and I have just sat there looking at each other with looks of shock and amazement. We have laughed and cried and we try to race for the door and see who can escape first ( I usually win seeing as how paul has a gimp leg). Point being I feel your pain! Just give him a good beating it won't make things better, but at least you will feel better!

  5. Sounds like he inherited Uncle Carni's genes! If so, eventually, he'll put a hole right through the door!

  6. Spaz-
    That's great news. Was Uncle Carni a room wrecker?

  7. Um... Carni wrecked more than just rooms!

  8. Julianne- I have been there done that, but I have 2 rotten boys ;) so Austin has taught me alot! Have you tried instead of putting him in his room, sitting him in a corner somewhere, where there are no things to be thrown?...Think about it, he does something wrong/bad, he gets punished to his room, so of course he's angry, so then that's when he starts "wrecking" things, some people scream, some throw things, and heck some do both! If you're going to do the time out thing, my advice is do it somewhere where he doesn't have the ability to toss things around, cause if you are like I was, you're the one left cleaning up the majority of your sons mess, even if you did tell yourself that you wouldn't and that he was on his own.

  9. Sorry I haven't read blog for awhile. Spaz is right, I was a room wrecker and would throw tantrums. I kicked holes in 2 door, yanked a towel rack off the wall, and kicked a hole in my bedroom wall. I'm very a very non-violent person now and have been since my teens. I don't know why I was so angry growing up. Must have been that "tough love" I recieved from Mom and her wooden cooking spoons.

  10. Uncle Carni-
    I have to say that it comforts me that you were a room wrecker because you turned out so well. There is hope for my little guy.