What Do We Do About The Christmas Tree?

Hey Gang! I’m coming directly to you to try to get some advice to help Stephen and I out with a situation that we have. You see, Angela has a problem with touching other people’s things. Mostly things like Pens, Pencils, Markers, Papers, Empty Boxes or Full boxes…just boxes. It’s so annoying and absolutely drives us mad when she does this. She knows she’s going to get into “trouble” when she does this, yet she still does them. She’s good for a few days, and even 2 weeks tops. However, she almost can’t help herself when she knows the out come.

She does have some sort of OCD “tick”. Her brain is trained to rip paper up into a million little pieces. I don’t even know how she does it. But literally, a million little pieces. We understand that she can not control herself with this aspect of her neurological disorder, so we make sure she has lots of blank pieces of paper, scrap paper, old mail, sales flyers, coloring books galore, and even sometimes an occasional box.

About 5 or 6 months ago, we finally had enough. We are very big on her owning up to her mistakes and learning how to fix them, and that there are consequences when she does “bad” things. So, we moved her bed upstairs into our dining room area. We told her that we couldn’t trust her, and this would be the outcome. It took her a while, and a few huge meltdowns, but she almost got used to staying up here. We wanted to make sure she know that we wanted to keep an eye her so she wouldn’t make that mistake again. The main final straw was when she took our Nephew’s art project he was working on (personal…not school related) and his big pad of coloring books….and she ripped them up, and hid the rest.

Fast forward to December. December 3rd to be exact….her birthday. We decided that it was finally time for her to go back downstairs to her bedroom area. She had finally earned our trust back after touching nobody’s things for over 1 1/2 weeks. We applauded her and encouraged her; however, this came with a stipulation: We wrote it down in a note that she is note to touch other people’s things and stay on the right path. If she did, we would have to pull her bed back upstairs to the dining room area and we wouldn’t be able to put up our Christmas Tree. Yes. Our Christmas Tree is still not up…and I am a little dismayed by it. In the note, we stated about the bed coming up, the tree (if it was up) would have to come down, and that we would write a letter to Santa Claus to explain to him what had happened.

Since she has been downstairs, she has touched other people’s property (small things of paper, boxes, etc.) 3 times – the 3rd time being today.

We don’t know what to do. We are at a loss. We seriously area. We want to make sure that she is held accountable for her actions, but at the same time we want our Christmas Tree up to have Christmas. She keeps saying that she promises she won’t do it again. She wants Santa to come. She wants the presents. But she won’t stop…and we don’t know we to do with this situation.

Do we follow through and pull her bed back upstairs and not put the tree up?

Do we take away 3 baby dolls that she loves? I say 3 because she touched things 3 different times.

What should we do? I would love your insight and suggestions. How do we hold her accountable for this without ruining Christmas for everyone? Even her. Our hearts are definitely broken, and we don’t want to have to make this decision…but we will if that’s what it takes for her to understand that she is being held accountable for her actions.

This will send her into an extreme super meltdown. No matter how calmly we talk about things, her brain will be done. We will have to suffer the repercussions once we do this. So we are so confused.

Thank you for any help and suggestions! You know how much we love you all.

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  1. First I’m sorry that you guys are going through this. Parenting it tough. I think given Angela’s quirks, words may not be the solution.

    I think she needs more than just words to get the point across you can’t touch other people’s things. Yes, take her 3 babies she did this 3 times. Each time she does it, you take one item of hers she loves. Maybe by doing something physical she can see will work more than words. Words she can forget about easily, however when she goes to love on her babies and any loved item and it’s not there, that may work. Just keep in mind of course there will be meltdowns as you take her beloved items.

  2. Your idea of her giving up a few of her possessions for a set time is solid. She is smart, and she knows how to avoid this behavior. Set a guideline of which possessions are to be “given up” and a timeline. Have everyone affected provide input and assurance to her that she is loved….goes without saying but repeating may soften her reaction.

  3. Sometimes, adults who have the mindset of a child, act out for attention, whether it be positive or negative attention. It might be time to get a filing cabinet with a lock to keep important things away from her. As for boxes, start a recycle box specifically for paper of all sorts, then let her see it. Let her decorate it and make it hers. Tell her that if she does not touch yours or Stephen’s papers/items, you will continue to fill her box. Every single time she touches, takes, and/or hides items not belonging to her, take her box away and lock it in the trunk of your car.

    Continue with positive reinforcement, by what you said. Take away her favorite dolls and toys. She will eventually learn to stop her negative behavior.

    Go ahead and put up your tree, sans decorations. Each day she has a good day, allow her to put on two or three ornaments. Each day she does bad, take 1 ornament away. I hope this helps you.

  4. I love Michelle’s suggestion about the recycling box. My thoughts while reading I was to lock up important things in a file cabinet. Although they are heavy and you might not have space. Maybe a small lock box file cabinet the size of a box that you can slide under the bed.

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