A thorn in the dog

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    We are at home today and this afternoon went for a walk with the dog. On the way back, I turned around and saw the dog standing stock still, cowering into the ground. J said she had something stuck in her - I looked and saw it was a cactus thorn that had been pushed right into her back. It must have been hurting. I pulled it out and asked J how it had got in there, although the most probable explanation was obviously that he had pushed it in. Instantly and totally fluently, he told me that she had rubbed herself against the plant - when I asked if he was telling the truth, he looked convincingly injured and insisted he was telling the truth. He was so plausible that although it was odd - how had she rubbed the middle of her back?? - I almost believed him. When we got back home, he wanted to run off and see neighbours of ours (a family who have taken him under their wing a little bit) but before he did so, I insisted he tell me the truth about what happened. I told him I would not be cross but it was important just to tell the truth... he instantly said that, yes, he had put the thorn into the dog. He didn't seem in any way guilty or regretful. When I asked him why, he said it was because she had not wanted to go in the puddle with him (but this could have just been the first thought that came into his head).
    It's worrying. Lying, being cruel to the dog, no remorse of any kind... Is this just going to be the way of the future???
     
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Wow- you're going to need to keep a very watchful eye and make sure this sort of thing doesn't become natural to him and that the dog isn't being abused. I guess that's saying the obvious. Would it help to let J know that you cannot keep the dog if he's going to treat it like that?
     
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    It's the first time he has been deliberately cruel to the dog (to my knowledge). I have talked about it to him again and this time he seemed to understand a bit more that it wasn't good - I asked him to say sorry to the dog and kiss her, which he did (very sweetly). But then that's J - at times, a sweet, innocent young boy and at others this tough, aggressive, rather unpleasant and defiant alter ego...
     
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Did you ask him how he would feel if the dog bit him - if the dog "fought back" because she doesn't like being hurt?

    Dogs are not people. You can't "explain it away" later.
     
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Not going to get into it...but this is more serious than the other stuff. And it is not typical kid. It is deliberately hurting an animal because he didn't like what the doggy did.

    I wouldn't leave him alone with the dog again. Lack of remorse is worrying.

    We did adopt a child who hurt animals, even killed hem. It is impossible to guess your boy's future, but I do think he needs to get early help now before it escalates. Any therapists around?
     
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, I didn't say that, but I did ask him how he would like being pricked with a cactus thorn. Reading back what I wrote, I realise it sounded more serious than it was - it was a miniscule little thorn that had been pushed into the dog's skin maybe an eighth of a centimetre. If it did hurt, I don't suppose it was very painful. But that for me is not the point - the point is that he did do something cruel to her and then lied about it.
    I just have this feeling all the time that J has this big potential for good and for bad and that it could go either way...
     
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    MWM, I appreciate why you have this concern based on your past experience. I don't think the boy you adopted and J are in the same league. But J does have worrying traits. And I am worried about this. We talked about it again, as I said, and he did seem sorry. I wouldn't at this stage feel unable to leave them alone together (they rarely if ever are, anyway) but I shall be watchful for any repeat incidents.
    It is possibly partly a developmental thing. In some ways, J is so intelligent, sophisticated and independent - and in others he seems like a younger child. I honestly don't know if he understood that putting the thorn in Pup hurt her, like a three year old might not understand. I don't think he is a cruel boy towards animals, generally, as he has all his life been tender and affectionate towards them... I am more worried, perhaps, by the without-a-blink lying about it. He didn't learn that from me or from anyone that has been in his environment... it just comes with him.
     
  8. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Let me advance the idea that he said he did it because you told him you would not be cross. He was in a hurry to get it over with and wanted to see his friends. When I was about 11 y.o., I was asked to babysit a neighbor's 7 y.o. daughter. Before the mom left she warned me to stay away from her expensive Sèvres collection. Our play got out of hand and I broke some cups. I said that she was the guilty one. To my shock, she said she had thrown something at me because I was standing in front of the TV!!! I still feel guilty about that day and about letting the adults believe the lie.

    Are these the type of cacti that produce "figues de Barbarie"? My cousin Christian and I used to throw each other into them. Rough child's play, but just a game to us.
     
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, that's interesting - and to me interesting that you were 11 and J is 5. We usually associate deliberate lying with older children. As I have often read here on the forum, J kind of lies without skipping a beat and is very plausible. And this is odd to see in such a young child. Not pleasant - the wrong kind of intelligence... I too can remember an occasion on which I picked up a friend's purse, meaning the thing you put money in, (aged 8 or 9) after she dropped it without realising and saying nothing for two days. Then, wracked by conscience, I gave it back to her, making up some story or other. Children do lie. Maybe what is more significant is whether they feel guilty about lying... like you, I certainly did.

    And, yes, they were indeed Barbary figs...
     
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Lots of kids do mean things to animals impulsively. It is the big picture like you said Malika, just watching out because of the lying (which any kid is gonna do because they dont want to be in trouble, but that shows he knows it is wrong to do) and it speaks to his low frustration tolerance... Q got upset with our cat all the time because he wouldn't come to him like he came to me and if he was making a "mean face" at Q...which for a cat was a nice calm relaxed closing eyes/squinting kind of face. He LOVED that cat, slept on him like a pillow and the cat licked him and went to him all the time, still there were moments he got frustrated and I did supervise and take the cat with me if I was in a different room (he was my buddy anyway, just my best pet ever...a dog in a cat body). Since you have concerns about attachment (low end, just some issues ) and his impulse stuff, anger etc... I think you are right to watch it closely. I know that feeling of oh gosh, is this a one time yuck thing and he will learn his lesson or is this a new huge issue??? I hope it will be just a naughty episode and not a pattern of cruelty to animals. hugs to you.... Buddy
     
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Buddy.
    I should perhaps point out, in the interests of honesty, that I have been quite short-tempered with J today, because he has been very "rude", inappropriately insolent. I was quite tough and he didn't like it. This may well have had some relationship with the thorn pushing - anger against me??
    Again, I've read this here before... if I don't challenge J head on, don't get annoyed with him for his behaviour, etc, he will be quite pleasant and co-operative. If I try to discipline him... all the defiant aggression comes out.
    I actually think there is quite a significant attachment issue between us. There is not, of course, anyone here who could help with that specifically.
     
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Yeah, even here, that is hard to come by, very specialized. But at least there are some kinds of things you can do on your own. RDI therapy really was developed more in response to fill in the short comings of ABA for kids with autism, but it is based on building the intrinsic rewards of interacting and relationships with others. Now principals with The Explosive child, RDI and such methods are being combined more and more by some.

    It usedto be you could use the website to figure out activities to do with your child to work on interactions and with his not really needing the skills as much as the activities to develop positive feelings and relationship with mommy, it could be a good resource for you...the books are not expensive (or used to not be) if they dont have it on the website.....
    I was thinking they could be useful activities used with a therapy idea called TheraPlay.... it is not play therapy.... it is a specific Attachment Disorder therapy.


    Q and I did this in the actual formal way they do it with video cameras, two therapists etc. It was really good for us... So, they have a book ...

    Some of it seems obvious, but of course until we do it systematically it is hard to really know how it can impact us... He loves attention so would probably like this. When Q was pretty low verbal and did not understand hurts, one activity we did was looking on each others arms and legs and if we found a mosquito bite or bruise, we put lotion on it, rubbed it, put bandaids on etc... used nice words etc. all in practice for how to use nice words and also it just gave us a game to play together at his level and good moments together. Other simple things like swing games, holding the swing and his needing to say some silly thing then a joint laugh or whatever... each depending on the kid. AS he got older we did older things. Could be interesting to see if you can get any ideas with this.
     
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks again, Buddy... woman of wisdom :)
    I would imagine, not having gone into the subject in depth, that attachment is a complex area, with many different ways in which problems can manifest. I don't think we really have problems of physical bonding or showing affection to each other. J is very kissy-cuddly and I have always given him a lot of physical affection, for example. I find it hard to put my finger exactly on where the problem lies... I think it comes as much from me as from him. I have some difficulty really visualising and attaching to him as my child rather than as a child who has come into my life for me to look after. J will certainly pick up on this, bringing his own fractured attachments to our relationship. I think sometimes - just sometimes - I lack a certain natural warmth and lovingness with him. I am seeing a therapist at the moment to deal with my own unresolved grief of the past and I am sure it is important that I do this work. I believe that J is very sensitive to this sense of distance from me at times and it makes his behaviour worse... he gets angry and defiant because of it. Or the anger and defiance he naturally has are exacerbated.
    Like I say, it's complex...
     
  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    HMMM, just check it out, I think the physical activities just are a bridge to work on those deeper things. Q is a hugger and we are close physically too...but this was different. Required perspective taking, use of different words, etc. May not be appropriate but it is one way to work on relationship building that is different than talk therapy and holding time (which some people still do really support....for some it is a miracle but it has to be done right, in a loving and safe way)
     
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Okay, I will!
     
  16. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    You're probably onto something, M, about there being an underlying problem in this area. Not that it's your fault- it's just good that you picked up on it and see that somehow, it probably is effecting your son. You are a great person to seek help in that area for yourself and for the benefit of your son. I wish you much perserverance and good luck thru that journey! We bio-moms struggle with things like that so I really have to say I admire you for being able to see how your own characteristics effect your relationship with your son, being willing to admit that, and being willing to do something to try to improve it. Like I say, that is hard even for us bio-parents. And it isn't just you- I think most, if not all of us, have our own past burdens and of course they effect us presently, our characteristics, then ultimately, the type of parent we are with our kids. Kudos to you for asking and seeking what you can do instead of just laying all J's problems at the blame of someone else. It's so easy to blame bio-moms or other parents but as I said before, we ALL have our pasts contributing to who we are today and there is no such thing as a perfect parent. The GOOD parents are the ones who hang in there and do the best they can and strive to always do what is in the child's best interest. in my humble opinion, the bad ones are the ones who walk and say they can't do anything to help it because it was "the other parent's" fault.

    Also, I get the fact that you don't know which side (good or bad, for lack of better term) is going to win out in your son but right now, he's exhibiting both and is still very young and struggling. For those reasons, I think I'd be very cautious and aware where the pet is concerned. Not paranoid- but on top of it.
     
  17. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Wee would injure animals at different times when he was younger. We haven't seen the behavior in quite some time. He will occasionally tease now, but nothing out of the norm of what other kids do (not that I like teasing, period, but...)
    He, too, carries a diagnosis of disordered attachment.
    Please do keep a close eye on it. For a time, we had to not have animals in close proximity to Wee. Doesn't sound like this is the case for you, but you are good to watch.
    For now, we have hope that the behavior for Wee is history... but we will probably always be on the lookout for it.
     
  18. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your comments.
    I think Buddy hits the nail on the head - I think it's about impulse control and very low frustration tolerance. A frequent occurence is J wailing or screaming when he wants something: "I can't wait! I want it now!" It is as though having to wait causes him agonising pain.
    And then... I really don't think his thinking about how his actions affects others is developmentally normal. Although he will be empathetic and caring if he sees me or anyone else hurting or in need of help, in general his own view and needs take absolute precedence over everyone else's and justify in his mind his actions... Talking about the dog incident with him yesterday, he again said that he had put the thorn in her because she didn't want to go in the water with him and he said it in a way that implied that his response to this unbearable provocation was only right and natural... It's like him getting angry when someone does not do what he wants or give him what he wants. While all 5 year olds are of course naturally egocentric, he is... more than most, I think. He is often quarrelsome with his friends, with other children - because he is always fighting for what he perceives as his interests and endlessly on the defensive against being belittled or denied in any way... With, also, a generous and helpful outlook when he chooses.
    His situation does not help, as the only child of a single woman. He is totally used to having attention focused on himself and not having to share things with others at home or be just "one of the family". He wants to be the only one, the special one, and yet I also think this does not help him at all...
     
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Malika, there are some really GREAT books that you can order from Amazon on attachment, along with tips for helping the bonding process. Let me get a link for you:

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=stripbooks&field-keywords=attachmen

    Some people like Nancy Thomas. I don't know if her books came up on this list, but you can put her name in there and her books should come up. Where was J. before he came to you? Was he in an orphanage? Nothing says "disordered attachment" like an orphanage! Some foster homes aren't the greatest either and, of course, some biological parents don't pick up and cuddle their babies either and that's just as bad. Babies need to be tended to, cuddled, touched and interacted with when they are very young. If they attach well to one caregiver, they can usually attach to the next one. Adoption does not automatically mean attachment problems.

    J. doesn't sound THAT bad. I'll bet the two of you could make fantastic progress even doing it by self-help.
     
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks MWM. J came to live with us at three months old and before that was in a creche in Marrakesh - rows of beautifully neat cots in which the babies were left alone to cry for hours on end... I first "met" him when he was one week old and went to visit him once or twice a day after that until he came home (in fact the director of the creche let me take him two months before he was legally adopted, but that's another story...) but I don't think he significantly bonded with me as a result of these short visits. When he first came to live with me, he seemed very disturbed... screamed non-stop, literally for hours, for about a month.
    So doubtless there was some impact. I was also working all the time from the time he was a baby and although I was always in the house, popping in and out, he was mainly cared for by Moroccan girls who worked for us. My ex-husband was pretty feckless financially and I had to work. No choice in the matter.
    And then... he is a difficult child, hard to manage and extremely consuming of energy, not least because of the hyperactivity, and I suppose if I am honest I have been grateful for the respite I have received from childminders, school, etc. I think partly I flee from engaging with J for long periods of time because it is often very stressful and hard and I feel aware of my own limitations in dealing with him. I feel as if we do better with short, quality periods of time together. So I think he is used to having various sources of care and I would be willing to acknowledge that that is a probably also a source of insecure attachment.
     
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