Does anyone want to play "difficult child mystery"?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by zba189, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. zba189

    zba189 Guest

    My difficult child is doing well for the most part but we had a very minor incident this AM that if he did it is a red flag that he is struggling and I need to address it quickly before it escalates into something else. The problem is I'm not sure if he did it or not.

    Here's the background. Maybe you can help me come up with a way to get the truth out of him.

    Last night we had a very heavy rain storm. We have a side door in our garage that if it rains hard enough some water with run through the underside of the door. Off to the right of that door, is a box filled with some clothes that I was going to donate. The bottom of the box is now soaked with water, enough that it would have taken quite a bit to soak it. The contents of the box are wet on the bottom but not on the top. Water would have had to come in from the floor. Seems simple right?

    The issue is that there is no water any where else near the box in near the door frame and that is one of difficult child's favorite red flags. It goes something like, "Hey guys I'm angry I'm going to flood something and then wait for you to notice". "If you get mad at me, I'm going to do something else and keep raising the stakes but I'm not going to talk about what my real problem is". "If you don't notice, I'm going to do something else until you do". Such a fun game to play.

    So this AM, I asked him. Did you pour water out into the garage in the box. I got Yes I did it. With a drinking glass last night. His temper flared and we got a mini meltdown. However, he told my easy child (while I was not in the car) that he didn't do it and that he was going to just take the blame anyways so he would have something to be angry about :mad:. easy child told me this in front of difficult child. difficult child did not deny saying this to easy child. I told difficult child, it doesn't make sense to lie about something that you didn't do and either way I wasn't going to be mad. I told him that if he did it, it meant that something was bothering him and I would like to help him. If he didn't do it, why would he want to be angry with himself over something that didn't happen. This is when I got, "I didn't do it Mom, I lied". His logic confounds me.

    So now, I'm not sure what the truth is and what is a lie. Like I said, the whole water in the box thing is not a big deal. It's the fact that if he did do it, I need to figure out what is really bothering him before I have a lot of other "accidents" that become a huge problem.

    I sent him off to school with a discussion of truth and lies and he claims that he lied about doing the deed but he didn't actually do it. Should I pursue this further, let my husband deal with it, or let it go knowing that if he did do it we are in for something else very soon.
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    So what is your plan of attack if you knew he did pour the water on the box?
  3. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I don't think there is any way to know for certain if he tells you the truth later anyway, so I would just wait and see what happens.

    It is probably a red flag that he is struggling anyway, since looking for something to be angry about is a problem by itself.
  4. zba189

    zba189 Guest

    Our usual plan is a chore for the misdeed and a talk about what he is angry or nervous or frustrated or well you get the point about. Right now he is kind of on an emotional vomit mode, so we don't have to press to hard to get him to talk. This morning I got, "I'm nervous about going to school today because I'm worried that I'm going to have to learn something new that I won't be good at" when I asked him why he was stomping down the hall. Yesterday I got, "I don't want to go to church because I think that I should be able to have fun all the time" when I asked him why he tipped over his drinking glass. He's pretty good at being at least somewhat honest about how he is feeling which I think is in part because we are making a huge deal out the fact that he is telling us how he is feeling. He gets a ton of praise for addressing his emotions and he glows in the praises. We are still trying to build trust with him since he trashed my house this summer. Things this summer started the same way, a few minor things here and there until we had full on crisis mode. I'm trying to stay one step ahead of him right now which isn't always possible but in this case necessary.
  5. zba189

    zba189 Guest

    You are right, problem is he's so hard on himself that all of the anger is about his short comings and then directed out. I could spend my whole day digging to find out what he is angry with himself about and still not touch on everything. He has such poor self esteem that it's heart breaking. It doesn't matter how amazing of a person I think he is, it doesn't matter how amazing of a person everyone thinks he is- he can't see it.
  6. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    I have two thoughts:

    1. As a dyslexic, I grew up with very little self esteem, so I can confirm that a child with little self esteem will not believe their parents when they tell them how talented or smart they are. You are the parent, you are supposed to say those things. Where ever you can you need to prove it.
    - Your math score was 85, the average was only 72.
    - Look at the detailed level of your drawing and compare that to the others. See yours has more shape and shading.
    - You could remember 23 different things that happened, Uncle Phil could only remember 12. (Comparing against an adult who can not do as well is always worth more)

    Don't just say, you are smart, talented, quick. State WHY.

    2. One technique we find useful, with getting difficult child to help us understand what is going on, is called, "Reflecting". You verbally repeat what they said, or you state an observation you have made. Example: You say something like, "You are angry because you think the kids a school are going to tease you about ..." . Then difficult child responds something like, "No I am frustrated because ...." (The beauty of reflection is that if you guess wrong they usually correct you. It seems to be easier to correct you then to find the words to say in the first place).

  7. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Instead of asking right out, "Did you do this?" try, "I just discovered that the clothes in the bottom of the box are wet. I am pretty certain I checked them yesterday (or whenever) and they were o.k. at that time. It doesn't appear that we have received enough rain to flood the garage. Does anyone know what might have happened? Was something leaking? Just need to fix something if there is an ongoing problem. And can someone help me hang out the wet clothes or carry them to the dryer?"

    That way you are announcing that you have noticed it but you are not pointing fingers that might get the reaction you do not want.

    It is a challenge to keep things on the "hmmm, this is a mystery - wonder what happened" level instead of questioning everyone around which can lead to unwanted further behaviors. Get him to join in as a fellow detective and help clean it up as you do so.