How much do your difficult children know about being a difficult child?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by firehorsewoman, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. How much does your difficult child know about being a difficult child? Obviously this will be age dependent. As my son gets older this is something that I have thought a lot about. I have never hid anything from him regarding the types of doctors he is seeing neurologist vs psychiatrist vs psychologist but also do not go to great lengths to discuss the differences either. When he was younger he would say, "Is this a 'talking' doctor or a 'checking' doctor?" So, he was figuring out the difference from a young age. I have always been honest with him about his medications in the same regard...being honest with him (as well as easy child) but not making a big deal about it. I take medicine, his sister takes medicine, he takes medicine...all for different conditions obviously but not making his condition seem any worse/different than our conditions and not making a big fuss about it.

    What is provoking my question today is that I checked out a couple of new releases from the library regarding conduct disorders/psychological disorders in children. Both kids see me reading all of the time and always ask what I am reading and why. I usually welcome the discussion since I tend to read non-fiction and can share information with them regarding cool stuff like giant squid, space, hurricanes, etc. But, this is the first time that I am worried that the kids will see me reading these books with titles containing words like Childhood Psychological Disorders and similar. Of course the easy solution is to read the books when the kids are not here or they are asleep. That is what I will do.... but the issue of just how much to tell a difficult child (and when) regarding their disorders came up in my mind again.

    My approach is to be honest but let it flow naturally and not force the info on him. What is your approach? Any advice or regrets?

  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Even though difficult child 1 is a teenager, emotionally he's not yet. I explain things in very simple terms so as not to make him feel bad about himself or that something is "wrong" with him. I put it in terms of things that are "harder" for him and that the doctors have been to help figure out why that is and why he acts the way he does sometimes. He hates the meltdowns and is very hard on himself afterwards. Telling him some of the "symptoms" of his diagnosis and that it's not bad and that now that we know what's really going on, the medications are to help so he doesn't get into trouble all the time (school, law enforcement, etc). I haven't told him his specific diagnosis but rather how there's a reason behind it and that I will always be there to help him with the things he struggles with.

    As for reading the books, I read them in my bed at night after they're sleeping or even when they are busy doing other things and not even realizing I'm reading anything. Those titles would freak difficult child 1 out.
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    An interesting question. My difficult child is 15 and we handled things much the same as you when he was younger. At this age we've told him he has bipolar but when we explain it he still thinks that he isn't that way anymore and that he is making better choices (in his mind the medications don't do anything for him-even though he is very medication compliant right now).
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Our psychiatrist explains to the boys that they have autism which means their brain works differently than most of their friends brains; that some things are harder for them but also, some things are easier for them. She stresses that while she can give medicine to help with some of the hard stuff, they need to work with therapist to process some of the bad stuff and celebrate the great things they can do -- that sometimes it takes a while to find one's talent but that she knows they each have something great inside them.
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Duckie is a pretty intelligent kid so I try not to mince words with her. She knows she has: atypical allergies which put her at an increased risk of anaphylaxsis so she must take her allergy medications and carry her Epipen always or she could have a medical emergency; she has cough variant asthma so she must carry her inhaler and try to avoid upper respiratory infections or she could be very sick very quickly; she has super-sensitive hearing so she must avoid loud places and people or be prepared with ear plugs; and she has sensory integration dysfunction which can make the world a very uncomfortable place so she must keep that in line too or she will be very unhappy.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Right now my son is at the age where he wants to fit in, so he absolutely refuses to learn about or cooperate with anything to do with his neurological differences or mental health.
    typical teen X 100. :(
    I try to talk to him and he blows me off. That's why we go to the therapist and psychiatrist (among other reasons) because he does occasionally listen to them. Plus, they're men, and difficult child seems to not like women as authority figures. (Especially me.)
  7. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I have very good hearing and so does difficult child 1. It would destroy his trust in us if he overheard us talking about him and then when we talked to him we told him something different. We are very honest with him. Even so he doesn't remember a lot of what we tell him and we have to tell him over and over again. Why he has an alarm on his door, why he needs medications, what makes him different, ect.... The most success in talking to him has been his hallucinations. Sometimes we tell him, "difficult child 1 that is not real. Its all in your head." They scare him so it comforts him that they aren't real. We have to be very blunt or he doesn't seem to understand us.
  8. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    At 5 years old, V does not know any of his diagnosis. We talk in terms of "something are hard and we are teaching you, everyone needs to learn different stuff". But despite his young age, he has told me already that he is not like the other kids. He does not know why, but he knows he is different. That was very humbling to hear and I kept it very casual. But I think I need to keep it in mind and always stay honest with him, otherwise it would go against what he intuitively knows.
  9. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My difficult child began having serious issues (prior to that he was hyper, impulsive and a hand full, but manageable) at school in 2nd grade, really serious issues -- almost daily raging to the point where they would have to clear the classroom. Desks flipped, stuff flying through the air, etc.

    Today, still definitely a difficult child, you wouldn't know such serious behaviors were part of his past -- he's come a long, long way. I believe much of that is attributed to the fact that he knew, as early as 4, that things were "different".

    When he was in preschool, I could tell what kind of day it was at pick up time just by the expression on the teacher's and his face! Four days out of five were difficult, not serious, just challenging....One day I picked him up after hearing the story of uncooperative behavior, etc., from the teacher and I just broke.

    I pulled over to the side of the street and turned around in my seat and basically said, "difficult child, I just don't understand. You know right from wrong. I am always so excited to pick you up ever day at school and almost every day I hear about your behavior from the teacher. I just don't understand."

    In all his 4-year old wisdom (and let me just say quickly that his first words was "plane", he loves airplanes, especially WWII ones) he looked at me with his huge brown eyes and said, "Mommy, it's like I have a propellor inside me; when it goes fast I'm bad and when it goes slow I'm good."

    I just broke down.

    From there he grew in his understanding that it was much more difficult for him to maintain at school than his classmates. As he matured and moved into middle school, he wanted to start fresh. He didn't want anyone there to know the kind of behavior he displayed in elementary school. The kid worked hard. You could tell after school that he was wound tight trying to hold things together.

    I truly believe that my difficult child's "above age level" understanding of his challenges are what helped to move him forward and make progress. It also made talk therapy an effective part of his treatment (and still is albeit not as often as the weekly sessions when he was in elementary school).

  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My younger two knew from the time they were diagnosed. It was hard not to know something was amiss. Even before then we knew they were a handful. Both of them exemplified the word hyper from the get go. Jamie was flipping out of his crib at 5 months and crawling around the apartment. We had to line the area around his crib with laundry baskets so he had a soft place to land when he flipped out and then he could just climb out of there and go. He was on his feet scooting furniture by 7 months and let go at 8...running by the time he was 10 months and there was no keeping up with him after that. Cory was just slightly behind him. He walked at 9. I had my hands full. When I had to take them out together I put them on a two headed dog leash. Boy did I get some stupid comments but at least I didnt lose my

    When Jamie was dxd at 4 and a half we just told him he had problems sitting still to listen to people and paying attention. We didnt put him on medication until Kindergarten started though. He still wasnt very still. Cory was used to Jamie taking pills so when he got diagnosis'd he was like...oh so I have what Jamie has? you get your pills. We called them wiggle pills. They both went to 2 hour therapy class every day during the week but at different times of the day. Being two years apart allowed that.

    All their lives they have known it was something. In the beginning Jamie was ADHD and Cory was ADHD/ODD. Jamie kept his but Cory's changed over time.

  11. Reading your story reminded me of two painful school related memories.

    The first may have been the first time difficult child, his dad and I all faced his problems head on together. He was attending his 3rd preschool. We tried a more conservative, structured PK-8 school. About two weeks in we got a phone call from the principal telling us that they were removing our son from the school's program and to come and pick him up immediately. We met the principal in her office, were given a box with our son's belongs and school supplies and then they brought our son to us. It was a large school and I remember how small (he was four) he looked and how my heart just broke for him. He looked like he had just seen a ghost, ashen and quiet. My ex and I were in the last year of our failing marriage and did not agree on anything at that time but our response to our son was united. We each took one of his tiny hands and walked out of that huge, cold, building with our heads high. We quietly told him as we walked through the parking lot that we would find a school that worked for him. No judgement of the school that just kicked him to the curb, no "you must follow directions" from his dad. I think that day was when difficult child really knew he was different and also the first day that it really hurt him. The good news is that we did find a preschool that he thrived in shortly thereafter.

    The second story is the day I picked him up from kindergarten. It was the second day of school and I was met in the hallway by both the teacher and the principal. This time the teacher looked ashen. It was not a good day. Like you Sharon, I had a bit of a breakdown that day too. By this time, difficult child was fully aware that he was a difficult child.

    thanks to all for sharing all of your stories
  12. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Janet, my difficult child and Jamie sound so much alike as little tykes!!!!!

    FHW, know that things can change. Those 2 stories you shared definitely echo mine! We love these boys so much! I think, at least for me, that I always kept uppermost in my mind that my son was not typical, he would not respond in a typical way, he would not act in a typical way, but he certainly would if he could. Not that I made allowances for him, but I loved him through it. I never allowed myself to go to a place where I blamed him. That would have been counterproductive and not led to investigating why he couldn't give what was typically expected.