Help and advice for a newbie

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Gemma77, May 26, 2010.

  1. Gemma77

    Gemma77 Guest

    Hi everyone,

    I have stumbled upon this site looking for parent support as I have a goregous, clever and loving little boy who I think needs more help than his dad and me can give alone...

    Adam is 6 and there has been challenging behaviour since as far back as I can recall. He went to a day nursery as a toddler and would bite and pinch children every day from the age of 1 until 3. The nursery were really supportive but did tell me that they had never had a child who had bit as much as Adam did. At 3 he finally stopped biting but moved on to hitting and pushing, including nursery staff. Nursery told us that he needed the structure of school and that school would probably settle him.

    So Adam started school at nearly 5 and we had more of the same behaviour. The school were concerned with how angry and impulsive he could be We worked closely with the school and were sent to parenting classes for children with ADHD (although Adam has never been diagnosed). These were really helpful but most of what we learnt we were already doing. I must have read every parenting book going in an attempt to help my son!

    Adam is now in year 1 and still he is challenging. He has to sit on his own because he doesnt focus on his work and distracts other children. He is doing well academically with his maths and reading but refuses to concentrate on writing which is now going backwards. He punched a girl between the legs yesterday and so we now how a meeting with the school today to 'discuss other options'.. I am pretty sure this means having some assessments done as they have hinted at this in the past at parents evenings.

    At home, Adam's behavious is equally as challenging. He is prone to temper tantrums, aggressive outbursts, he is defiant and constantly pushes boundaries. He will hit and throw things and whilst he doesnt swear he does shout and scream too.

    We work very hard at being calm and structured at home. We ignore behaviour where we can, use consequences, loss of privaleges and time out for bad behaviour and try and find as good behaviour to praise and reward as we can. We have sticker charts, family play time, have a good routine, eat healthy and generally very close relationships. We dont smack him but do insist on him doing chores as a punishment if his behaviour warrents it.

    Adam nows what is right and wrong. He knows the right thing to do and is remorseful when he has behaved badley (once he has calmed down). Its just that consequences and punishments dont seem to work.. it's like he doesnt have time to stop and think before he acts. He is impulsive at home and at school.

    We are good parents, we work closely with his school and are firm but fair and loving at home. I know this sounds selfish, but I can't help thinking how unfair this son should be doing so well given how hard we work at parenting. I see parents in the playground swearing, smacking and speaking to their kids like they hate them, yet it is my little boy who is causing problems in the classroom and in the playground. It is my little boy who has to sit on his own in class, my little boy who has to report to the head teacher every day...

    Do you think it's possible that there is a medical reason behind this? Is there anything else we can do to help him?

    In my heart I know something is not right. My son is a good boy and I am so scared that he is going to be labled a 'bad child' and what this is doing to his self-esteem.

    Thanks for reading

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome to the board.

    Unfortunately, I don't know much about how you get assessments in the UK, but I was wondering how his social skills are (with his same age peers). Does he know how to play appropriately with toys? Does he know how to interact with his classmates appropriately? Can he hold a give-and-take conversation or does he mainly talk AT people about obsessive interests? Does he HAVE an obsessive interest? Is he sensitive to noise, light, crowded places, new textures, some food textures? How does he eat and sleep? Can he transition from one activity to another or does that usually cause ragings? Any psychiatric or neurological disorders on either side of the family tree?
    Sounds like many of our kids who are wired differently and don't respond to normal parenting methods. It's not you or your hub. It's the way he is hardwired. You will probably have to go outside-the-box to think of ways to help him, and the first thing you need to do in my opinion is to get an evaluation. If you lived in the US, I'd tell you to go to a neuropsychologist. I love them. But I don't know about your options there.

    Others will come along. Welcome again :)
  3. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Hugs. You have found a good place. I too wish I knew more about the medical system in England, but if they are offerering to do an evaluation, what does that entail? It may be a good thing, and may find things to help your son. Hang in there. He is a good boy, he just needs help
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Yes. And yes.

    Your instincts are a good guide. You're already doing a lot of the right things.

    For more help, and help right now - get your hands on "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It helps a lot of us here. It's not a cure, but it can open eyes and make life a bit easier.

    Also - get a neuropsychologist assessment lined up ASAP. Also on the list of who to get him in to see - a speech pathologist, and an occupational therapist.

    Some words to Google - hyperlexia. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). splinter skills. savant skills.

    I'm not saying these will be a perfectfit for him, but it would be interesting for you to read up on these and see what you think, about how close (or not) a fit these may be.

    I have to get to bed, I need my rest. I'll be back on this computer in about 20 hours, hopefully I'll be able to add more then.

    Oh, and in the meantime, if you have time - go to and look for their online Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) test it's not officially diagnostic, but it's worth doing, even if he scores as normal, because it can show the range of problems you may or may not be having, when you hand over the sheets to a health professional. Also keep detailed diary of the issues, of your days (and nights) with him, encourage teachers to also keep the same records. Share your notes with the teachers and vice versa, it can really help you both (school and home) stay on the same page.

    I'll be back.

  5. Gemma77

    Gemma77 Guest

    Thank you all for your help and encouragement.

    The meeting with his teacher was OK. They are going to arrange for CAMS (Children and Adolescents Mental Health Team) to come in to the school and observe him. They will also come to our home and observe Adam there too with the aim of establishing if further tests are needed.

    His teacher has confirmed that their main concern is his explosive behavior on the playground. He is not starting fights but the other kids do not lash out so it is Adam who gets into trouble. In the classroom his behaviour is better but he doesnt focus on his work unless it is something he wants to do. He refuses to do his writing and he now sits on his own (he is too distractive in his group) and the desk is next to the teaching assitant who can prompt Adam to do finish his work. (He often has to bring work home because he doesnt finish) yet academically he is very capable.

    He has some good friends but tends to play with the same few boys. He did have close friendships with a couple of other boys but after a while their mums didnt really want them playing with Adam as he was seen as a 'trouble maker'.

    He can hold a conversation but interupts you before you can finish what you are saying often. He isnt obsessive about anything in particular but has the usual hobbies, football, computer games (not that he gets to play very often at the moment!), etc.

    He eats well - a little fussy with anything 'too spicy' and he is a little unsure about new food at first but nothing that really worries us as he eats lots of fruit and veg.

    He sleeps okay... it takes him a little while to switch off and go to sleep. We normally let him listen to a story on his stereo for 20 minutes as this helps him to relax and go to sleep but normally it takes him 90 minutes to go to sleep. He is an early riser too so is probably averaging 9-10 hours sleep a night. My husband has just been upstairs because he is running up and down the landing and was trying to get into our bed (which is odd - he has never done that before but its been a challenging evening with him!)

    I don't have any close relatives with ADHD but a few male cousins on my mum's side have been diagnosed with ADHD.

    Husband has been really tearful tonight after the meeting with Adam's teacher. He never shows his emotions like that, he is always the strong one. Its the thought that perhaps our little boy isnt normal. Heartbreaking...

    I'll definetly read your weblink and book recommendations. Thank you all once again xx
  6. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    Welcome, Gemma. You have found the right forum. You are right, you are good parents and your little boy is not bad. It is so hard when the everyone around you thinks your child is "bad," but you know in your heart that he is a good kid.

    I don't know how you get an assessment in the UK, but I urge you to do it. My son is 7 and we have had assessments by an occupational therapist, a neuropsychologist, and a psychiatrist, in addition to the assessment done by his school psychologist and school Occupational Therapist (OT). And, still, some of his diagnoses are not firm, but we do feel that we are moving in the right direction and we have made progress (though we are in crisis mode again this week). I have found that teachers and school administrators are much more sympathetic when they find out that you are having an assessment done. Your child suddenly goes from, "That kid who did something bad" to "That poor kid who needs help."

    Good luck.
  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I think Marg is right on when she said your instincts are correct. Certainly there is something going on with your little chap because it is not typical for a young child to have so much anger and angst. "The Explosive Child" is a fabulous book that I would also recommend you reading.

    As others have said, I too am not familiar with the system in the UK but a mental health evaluation at both home and school sound like a good start.

    As far as your husband being saddened, that's normal. Most of us go through the process of the excitement and dreams of pregnancy and the picture of what we think our family will be like. When are dealt the cards of a challenging child there is almost a sort of grief process you go through. The realization that the dream you dreamed is not, and may never, be a reality is a blow.

    But time, educating yourself, and really getting to know what is behind your child's behaviors so you can begin to treat it make a huge difference.

    I can actually remember looking at the little boys in my daughter's private school who were so happy and well adjusted. The mom's could sit and talk for hours while the little boys played. Not me. I had to be right there because I never knew if he was going to pick up a stick or a rock and hit someone.......

    But when my difficult child and I began the journey to find out what was going on, I began to garner a better understanding of how difficult it was for him. Like your son, he knew right from wrong and had remorse. His impulses just kicked in before his reason did. He wasn't happy living the way he was. Slowly I realized what a gift this boy was to me. I became more patient, more understanding, more empathetic, more creative, less judgmental......the list goes on. I learned to look at the good in my son and realized there was a while lot of good in there. There was his loving, giving heart. There was his creatively and imagination, his intelligence, his zest for life, his laugh, his shinning eyes, his hugs.....I became a better parent being his mom.

    I can't imagine my difficult child being anyone else other than he is. No, he won't be getting the "Student of the Year Award", or walk up on stage and receive a trophy for outstanding sports team member, but knowing that he can laugh now (which was very hard years ago) at a personal joke, or wax poetic about the military planes of WWII, or lay down and watch a movie with me, or place in the science fair at school, are all the things I take joy in.

    You are taking the right steps for your son. Time will be the judge. Love him like you are, find the right medical attention, and educate yourself about the rights he has as a student in the UK. It may sound like an over-used cliche, but it is always the darkest before the storm.

  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    IF this turns out to be something on the autism spectrum somewhere, and that currently is a big if and would need to be thoroughly checked out, that doesn't mean what it used to mean. Our understanding of autism has changed considerably. I also have learned a great deal and had to change a lot of my ideas on autism.

    If you want to read about it from a positive point of view, look up anything by Tony Attwood on high-functioning autism or on Asperger's Syndrome (one well-known form of high-functioning autism). About the time we were told that autism doesn't just run in our family, it gallops, we were shown a wonderful Tony Attwood article which described the positive qualities of someone with Asperger's.

    Here are some of them:

    1) loyalty. They will often be more loyal than most, sticking to someone like glue.

    2) Loving. Contrary to popular opinion, people with autism generally feel emotions very strongly indeed. They just don't always show their feelings openly, in ways we immediately recognise.

    3) Honesty. Especially as they get older, they learn that honesty is easier and feels better.

    4) Law-abiding. Maybe not always the laws as they are written, but these kids observe the world and work out for themselves what the rules are. They then do their utmost to follow those rules.

    5) Determination. When there is something they are motivated to do, they will do it. By hook or by crook.

    6) Concentration. When it's something they're really interested in, they can focus on it to the exclusion of all else. They can make a career out of this.

    Of course, along with these things we have the problems of impulse control, of high frustration, of raging. We need to help them learn self-control because we can never impose our will onto them in order to assert our will. No, we have to learn to lead them and not sit on them. With kids like this you must NEVER use the "Because I said so and I'm the parent, that's why." It not only won't work, it generally makes the problem far, far worse. So does shouting. In fact, anything the child is likely to perceive as you imposing your will onto the child.

    The plus side of this - you handle it by teaching the child self-control, but such a child is far more able to learn self-control than most. They can accomplish it earlier than you would expect. And frankly, until they DO get self-control, you will need to be there as the facilitator, the helper and the leader (and never the brick wall or obstacle for them).

    One point I want to make on stereotypes in autism - people assume that those with autism in any form are going to avoid other people and be socially withdrawn. But not necessarily. easy child 2/difficult child 2 as a toddler would go off with total strangers, especially men with beards. We don't know why. difficult child 3 would sit and chat in a crowded shopping centre, chatting to whoever was within earshot. He would tell our family's most intimate secrets to total strangers. I tried to explain to him about stranger danger, but it just didn't sink in. Up the road from us lives a family which are a worry in the community, there is a lot of crime there, the suspicion of drug sales, a lot of police call-outs to the place. difficult child 3 took himself for a bike ride and came home telling me about his friends. I said to him, "They are strangers. You do not tell those people about us, I do not want them knowing when we will not be home, for example. They are strangers."
    difficult child 3 replied, "They are not strangers. They know my name."
    I asked, "How do they know your name?"
    He replied, "They asked me and I told them. Then when the man called me by my name, I knew he wasn't a stranger any more."

    difficult child 3 was 10 years old at the time and still couldn't get this. He is a basically honest person and means what he says; so of course he assumes everybody else thinks exactly the same way he does. This is the "theory of mind" aspect of autism, where the person with autism does not understand that there are different perspectives in the world.

    difficult child 3 now understands theory of mind, intellectually. But in moments of crisis or impulse, he 'snaps back' to instinct, and no understanding of different perspectives.

    With support and remedial assistance (sometimes intensive) in areas where they need help, these kids can rise above the disability aspects and become truly remarkable, amazing contributors to society. It may take them longer to get there, but they are wonderful people with unknown potential.

    It is natural for your husband to grieve the son he thought he had. But he will learn (as we all do) that the son he has is also one to value and be proud of. But the workload is a bit greater and more hands-on. However, the rewards are amazing.

    If you can get him to lurk here or post here, it might help him. It certainly helps my husband who has even joined this site in his own right.

  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    It is not because you are a "bad" parent that you have a problem with your child.

    It is, rather, because you are a "good" parent that you have noticed that your child has a problem. What might have happened to this beautiful little boy if he had a family who was willing to swear, smack and beat him for his troubles? I shudder to think...

    The next step is to try and get an accurate diagnosis...which is easier said than done...but you must try anyway. Until you know what is wrong, you won't know how to give this child the help he needs.

    In the meantime, welcome to our group! Feel free to post and share any time. We'll always try to help if we can...
  10. erbaledge

    erbaledge New Member

    I agree with others, you are doing a GREAT job, and it sounds like you have everything set in place for the best home environment for him. I think this observation the school is going to do will help you, just be patient, it takes time for those evaluations to be completed and thorough, and remember if you do not agree with what they say then go and get a second opinion/evaluation.

    I must say, DO NOT give up! Everything you have in place now (charts/consequences/etc) sound right on target for this special fella. Smile and know that you guys are doing everything that would come normal to parents with special kids and now it seems like it's time to explore other options/ideas to ADD to what you already have in place!

    It did make me smile when you mentioned that he DOES show remorse afterwards - this is GOOD! Sadly my oldest difficult child does not, so count that as a huge blessing!
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I don't get the sense that you feel guilty. Not at all - and you shouldn't feel guilty, as others have pointed out. Sometimes this happens - a child has problems despite his parents doing the best they can, certainly not because of it.

    And you're right - it's not fair. You are good parents; so why should YOU have the problem child?

    Actually, this is a very helpful observation of yours. You can turn this around and keep telling yourselves - we are good parents. So this is NOT our fault.

    But you also need to tell yourselves - this is not our son's fault either. Something is wrong and your instinct has alerted you correctly - it is time to identify the problem so you can begin to help him more specifically.

    In the meantime - although you are doing all the right things according to all the 'rules' on conventional and responsible parenting, clearly they are NOT the right things for your son, at the moment. Again - this is not a matter of fault, or blame. It simply IS. For example, if your child had a severe hearing deficit and you were punishing your child for not answering you or coming when called, then you would be doing the wrong thing, even if you didn't know your child was deaf. And with hearing, sometimes it can be really difficult to identify, especially with a smart child who has self-taught lipreading. Such a child does seem to fully understand when you have eye contact, but not respond when there is no eye contact. And a good parent could still misunderstand this as insolence, when it would be deafness.
    Anyway, that is purely a hypothetical example.

    What I'm saying - your son is different. The usual parenting methods are not working. That said - I strongly suspect that the bad parenting methods you are observing, of parents hitting their kids or shouting at them, would work even less!

    What you need to do here, is recognise that first, you are doing the right things as far as you can. But it's not working. SO you need to find out why, so you can change to something that hopefully can work better.

    You won't get it perfectly. But chances are, you can find something that can improve things.

    "Explosive Child" can help you here. A big clue - try to get inside his head and try to see the world through his eyes. He will ALWAYS have a good reason for everything he does, a reason that makes sense from his point of view.
    I'll give you another example - typical playground push and shove. One boy has a short fuse because he's been on the receiving end of a lot of push and shove previously, and he also tends to push back a bit harder, perhaps because he is a little bigger and stronger. Another boy is either a bit smaller, or a bit more reluctant to physically touch other kids, so he is less likely to shove. But if provoked enough to the point where he gets angry, all the pent-up frustration will break through with this second boy and he will shove much harder.

    First boy is having a bad morning - he had an argument with his mother before he was dropped off at school. He is feeling angry and frustrated; his fuse is shorter than usual. He sees smaller boy and takes his frustration out on the boy who usually doesn't push back. But maybe this time it was the last straw for the second boy; besides, someone has touched HIM, and so he snaps and slams the bigger boy.
    Teachers rush up. What happened? Why? Who is responsible?
    The answer here - both boys, and neither. Getting inside the head of each boy will provide answers which can help de-fuse problems in the future as well as resolve current conflicts. But too often, schools or parents focus on punishing the immediately past event and not really DEALING with the why or how. And with both boys, punishing won't change the short fuse nor will it change the underlying frustrations. But perhaps giving the boys a voice, especially with one another, can help to a greater extent. Getting inside each boy's head can help you find a DIFFERENT way.

    It can take longer, until you get a good 'feel' for each kid. Sometimes it can be as simple as, "Boy 1, you shouldn't let your anger with one person, such as your mother, be taken out on someone else. Boy 2, maybe you need to find a way to feel safe with friendship."
    It is possible for two such boys to become friends, when they can learn to understand one another. But even if tis doesn't happen, they can learn respect for one another, and each other's situation. Sometimes they need someone to sit with them and make it clear - time to wipe the slate clean and start completely fresh. All past hurts from each other now have to be erased. And the coping strategies for the future - if they can't be friends, then they can be polite to one another but otherwise avoid one another. That, too, is a valid coping strategy.

    Punishment on its own won't teach a lot of these valuable skills, especially at such a young age. If your son is surrounded by kids whose parents yell and hit, then they are likely to be using these techniques themselves (the kids I mean) on your son. This will probably be undermining your own upbringing methods and lessons for your son, by teaching him different lessons.

    Another example, from my youngest - difficult child 3. We taught him - do not hit. It was also a school rule - do not hit. But the teachers were not always present, and his classmates were sons of local bullies. So when the teacher was absent, there would be a lot of pushing and shoving. difficult child 3 would generally be on the end of the line of kids waiting to go into class (I can describe this because I often was also waiting to see the teacher - this would happen in my presence, despite my presence and I was horrified that my presence did absolutely nothing. Perhaps because when I reported what I saw to the teacher, he did absolutely nothing to back me up).
    difficult child 3 would be either at the beginning or the end of the line. And somewhere in the line, a boy would shove, to make the lie fall like dominoes. By the end of the line, the fall gets nasty. The second last and the last boys would get hurt the most, falling onto the ground or onto schoolbags. difficult child 3, with a short fuse, would often get up and hit the second-last boy because he did not realise that the problem was a shove further up the line. Meanwhile the boy who shoved (and his gang - there were about a dozen of these darlings) would be standing there grinning because by this stage there was strife and a fight happening, difficult child 3 in the middle of it. And the original cause was no longer a concern for the teacher.

    I saw these "line shoves" happen countless times. I saw teachers rush in and punish the last kid to fall far too often (even where there was no retaliation). I even heard difficult child 3 getting into trouble from teachers for falling down; they even claimed he was trying to 'act silly' as a distraction. So it was no wonder the boy doing the shoving kept it up - there was a lot of enjoyment in it, and little in the way of consequences for him.

    With a kid with ADHD or any level of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), this can be immensely unjust and therefore highly upsetting. I mentioned the honesty that these kids tend to have - so being accused of lying, or of anything like this, can be very upsetting for them and when they get upset, you can't do a think with them. Mind you, they don't start out honest as a rule. All kids try to lie, to get out of trouble. But Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids are generally so bad at it tat they always get caught. So they learn to be honest. And after some time, when they KNOW they are being honest, being told they are not is what is upsetting to them and you can easily trigger a rage by even a mild suggestion that what they said may not be the whole truth.

    ADHD kids can have a lot of similarity here. Some can lie; some cannot. But they generally all have a short fuse, and generally all get into trouble for a lot more than they are actually responsible for. It's a matter of reputation; deserved, or undeserved.

    So as I was trying to say - conventional good parenting can, with these kids, actually work against you. Finding a way that is better for your child, is something that can help a lot. But never feel guilty for trying to be the best parent you can be. None of us gets it right all the time. But we try - we love our kids. That is what matters. We are prepared to do what we have to, in order to help our kids. That is what makes a good parent.

    Guilt only slows you down.

    As for the regrets and the pain that your child is not what you believed - that is understandable. Never feel guilty for your natural grief. But as soon as you can, roll those shirtsleeves back up and move on. because the child you have now, is the child that needs you.

    Even in this modern day and age, I think it is even harder for fathers when it's their beloved only son who suddenly is not what he expected. The grief is legitimate and necessary, in order for the dad to be able to move on and continue to love the son he has. Please tell your husband this for me.

    And welcome to this forum, both of you.

  12. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just adding in another welcome-glad you found us.