Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by pepperidge, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    For those of you with kiddos that tend to the depressed end of the spectrum along with some learning issues (e.g. difficult child 1) I am wondering what your thoughts on whether you can teach kids perservance. Is there something in our difficult children that even when they appear to be motivated, they lack the drive or ability to perseverve? Is perservance an inborn thing, how do you teach kids that most things in life you have to work to get?

    Most easy child's I would guess learn that life lesson as they go along. I have a 15 year old who has just flunked his learner's permit test twice because he won't study the book, now he says he is too stupid to learn it, etc etc. He should be pretty motivated, but he doesn't want help, won't study it on his own. We would work every night with him on it if he wanted in small chunks. He had a friend over today who when he heard that difficult child flunked the test again told him straight out that you have to work to get what you want. I almost fell off my chair. Imagine having a kid who thought that about life.

    Sometimes I wonder if because we put so much in basket B in the elementary school ages to not get all the explosions etc that he missed some essential life lesson along the way.

    He will work on some things he is interested in, but he gives up so easily. And if it is mildly unpleasant like school work, I think he thinks he is almost literally being tortured. Some things at school are difficult, but his reading is on grade level, he's now typing etc. School has been very accommodating with his disabilities, but bottom line is that difficult child doesn't believe he should have to do the work. He does it minimally, then flunks the tests. He has done better in classes with lower expectations, small numbers of kids and a teacher who he has forged a relationship with.

    Do you just wait until they have failed enough times in their life, have self esteem in the toilet, finally maybe have some motivation? what can one do as a parent, beyond just not bailing them out or enabling them? We have very few incentives (computer time mostly) to reward work with and we use them to some effect.

    He's not an unpleasant kid (for a 15 year old) to have around, reasonably compliant with basic requests etc. But I feel there is this whole part of him that needs to be developed.

    Any experiences/ideas?

  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think you have made a connection that I learned too late. Or think I made too late. I really cant be totally sure of course. I think I made the mistake of making things too easy on two of my kids.

    I think Cory finally decided to become motivated when he figured out that money was involved. If I had known that money was such a motivator for him I would have never sent him to school and shipped him off to some third world country and let him do child labor. He would probably have been happier and behaved better. Im only half joking. Maybe I should have paid him to behave. Made it his job.

    The other one? Well, I know I have messed up there but its a problem Im trying to fix now.
  3. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Well, depression in and of itself tends to kill motivation. Add a failure to that and you get what you're seeing regarding the learner's permit.

    I think I have made things too easy for difficult child. Her mental/emotional stability has always been so precarious that schoolwork, to me, was not a huge priority. It helps that she is smart and actual learns better on her own than in a school environment. But, with her current emotional state, anything is too much. It takes a lot for her to just get through the day. I guess I tend to empathize maybe too much because I know what that's like.

    Our kids have a lot more 'failures' than others and it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As in...why bother, I'm just going to fail....or I'm stupid...or it won't work. They really need to have as many opportunities for success as possible. I guess in a way that's doing too much, but they go through enough already. If we help them attain some success, the feeling and drive will catch on - that's my hope at least. As long as you help them to understand that it was their effort that allowed the success.

    When difficult child really wants something, she is very motivated and determined to accomplish it. There aren't many of those opportunities, but I make sure to praise her for what she has accomplished.

    I don't know if I've answered your question...just my thoughts.
  4. Usha

    Usha hopethroughunderstanding

    Motivation and perseverence have been huge problems for my difficult child. She routinely gives up when things get tough. Cant fall and pick herself up. The only way she will move forward is with a fresh start. This usually takes the form of changing schools, changing her courses etc. As a complex PTSD her thresholds for stress tolerance are very low. We've been told that we measure things in baby steps, and work to a different time table. So a lot of our life is about waiting....waiting for her to make connections, waiting for her to take charge. We are completely uncertain whether she will graduate high school but yet keep making plans, fall back plans, worst case scenario plans, financial support plans.... and then watch them all unravel. I have read somewhere 'depression' is the inability to construct a future'. Hopefully by us persevering they'll learn to persevere too...some time.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If he was exposed to substances before he was even born, this can and usually does make it harder to learn. This kid started out in the hole. Also, I do think your personality is inborn. As adoptive parents (I adopted many) our children may not inherit our perseverence or our values. It seems funny that values could be inherited, but many times it seems that way. A child of a criminal who never sees the parent still has a higher risk of being a criminal because of personality traits (like impulsiveness) that causes one to break the law.
    I have a good kid too, sixteen, who was born with crack in his system. He is very motivated, but certain things come harder for him. He is on the autism spectrum, which is common for drug exposed kids. Maybe you need to give him a neuropsychologist evaluation to pinpoint more of what is going wrong with him. My guess is that he has low self esteem (often adoption contributes to that) and some real learning issues that make it harder for him to learn than that kid who said "you have to work for the things you get." I'm just glad life is as good for my son as it is because he had such a rough start. Alcohol is actually worse for a developing fetus than other drugs...both can cause brain differences.

    Good luck, whatever you decide ;)
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Pepperidge, I've seen what you describe in my difficult child 1 as well. In some ways it is because we made things too easy for him in the early years. Everything was such a struggle for him that in many ways it was easier just to do things for him, or to let him do only a little bit.

    As with your difficult child, rewards only have limited mileage. I think the pain of doing the work so far outstrips the pleasure of whatever the reward is that he'd rather just do without the reward most times.

    At the recommendation of difficult child 1's psychiatrist, we've been working on trying to externalize things for him. This goes contrary to so much of what we're told as parents, that we need to get our children to internalize proper behaviour, motivation, etc. But in difficult child 1's case, externalizing seems to work much better. It's not about what is "the right thing to do", or how difficult child 1 "should" feel about doing X or Y or Z, it's about the expectations of some external force, whether it's the Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s rules, our rules, or expectations of society in general. We also focus a lot on what's in it for him.

    I don't know if there's anything external that you can use to help motivate your difficult child, but I thought I'd mention it in case.

  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    We struggle with similar issues with difficult child 1. Most things in life he just could care less about and will do a half-hearted job at. If it's something he loves, like a video game or playing lacrosse, he gives it 110%. We've recently added Tegretol to see if that helps with the mood problems he's had, and are also hoping it helps with motivation. Some people have to learn the hard way. And some people are just not motivated by an intangible like a grade. I know my brother was very much like that as a kid. He took one semester of community college and then found out he could make a boatload of money with the computer work he'd been dabbling, so he went to work for himself and never went back. Money was his motivator. Sadly, though, if he ever needed to work for a company, he now lacks the formal education to get the salary he would need to survive. He's pretty much painted himself into a self-employment corner.
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I never really considered it depression, per se, just that he is missing the piece that creates motivation. I know that he is motivated to watch TV and play football and baseball, though, so I'm not sure how it all fits together.
    We haven't found the magic bullet yet. Just pressure, bribes, expectations and rewards.
    Sorry, I'm of absolutely no help at all!
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I'm with Terry--

    Our difficult child is definitely missing that "motivational piece", as well. Wish I knew how to fix it...