Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Sickntired, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. Sickntired

    Sickntired New Member

    Yea for me. Right after I posted about needing thick skin, my difficult child came home. He had been at a friend's house. This one is kind of my fault, because I know how he "looses" things, or forgets where he puts them, and so on. But, I let him take my cell phone with him. His grandad picked him up and I told him to be sure and have him bring the cell phone back. Well, they came in and my husband was livid because difficult child didn't know where the cell phone was. I thought okay, okay, it's only a phone, let's see how we can handle this. I told him it was okay, that I sometimes lost it in my purse. I asked him if he remembered where he had it last and the attitude and self defense came up and he started firing away at me. I asked him if he would call his friend and have him go look out back, which is were he finally THOUGHT it was. They were out in a field and he thought he laid it on the ground. No, he wasn't going to call him. If I wanted the phone, I could call him. He didn't like my stupid old cell phone anyway. He didn't care if he ever used it again, and if it was lost, then I couldn't use it either. So I calmly said while biting my tongue that it was okay, if we couldn't find it, I had insurance on it and we could get it replaced. I got a bit of silence and a strange stare from him and I told him if he didn't feel like calling his friend that I would go ahead and call him. So I dialed his number and was talking to him and he grabbed the phone from me and said I was a dumb*** and to stupid to talk to his friend, that I would get it all mixed up and he would take care of it. I simply said okay. He told me it was my fault that he had lost the phone (whatever sense that makes) and that he didn't like it anyway because it was black and didn't take good pictures!!. That's a good one. He helped pick it out!! Any way, I just let it slide. So I told him I was going to drive over to his friend's and go out in his back yard and find the phone and while I was gone, I had made spaghetti and dad would warm some up for him and then he would be ready to take his bath by the time I got back. He looked at me strangly and said, oh, you'll have dad fix me dinner but you wont' because you are to worried about your phone. I told him no, I knew he must be hungry (could have really cared less if he ate or not at that point) and I also needed to get the phone before it got to late, so I thought maybe dad could warm his dinner for him and give him his medicine and then he would be ready for his bath by the time I got back. He said "don't count on me taking my medicine cause I'm not". Instead of ranting and raving about how he needs to take his medicine and how important it is, I just said okay, we'll deal with that later and turned and walked out. He kept saying mom, mom, (he was wanting me to argue with him) and I said I love you and I'll be back in a minute. I turned around and looked at him and he almost looked shocked. He was ACTUALLY SPEECHLESS!!!!!!! When I got home, I went into his room and asked him if he had eaten and he said no, would you warm me up some and I told him yes. He kept staring at me. I never mentioned the phone again. He was actually nice to me. He said thank you when I warmed his meal up. It was a win-win. I didn't argue, didn't let his mean comments get to me, or at least show it, and I won, I got my phone back!!! I beat him at his own game!!!!! He didn't get an argument and make me break down in tears. It's a good day!! :woohoo:
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Oh, boy! It sounds to me like he is really dependent on you- moreso than you might think- or want! I started seeing stuff in my difficult child like this when I realized he couldn't go in a store and pick up- buy- one thing, while I wait in the car. Anxiety (they say not), shyness, extreme sensitivuty, I don't know- my difficult child can go through a cashier's line fine when I'm in front or behind him, but no way he'll go by himself. And God forbid he should ever need to call a friend and say he lost, forgot, can't find something. And God forbid I don't check on him each night! Yep, you're the MOM!!! Feel priviledged??

    EDITED: by the way- In case I sounded to light-hearted about it- I think you did great!
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Oh, well done! It's not easy, but by not engaging in it AT ALL, you totally turned the tables.

    For long-term reference - as you think he can handle it, you do need to still stay cool but make it clear you're not owning any negative stuff. And again, you drop it if it's setting him off at the mouth again. But any positive stuff - thank him. You show him how you want to be treated, by treating him that way (as if he is a forgetful elderly aunt staying with you).

    Sometimes the problems are not about blame. Sounds like he is too focussed on blame, sometimes because we teach them - parents and teachers teach, I mean - to see things only from a blame point of view. What I've been doing, especially lately with easy child 2/difficult child 2 getting defensive by blaming, is I say, "This isn't about blame, it's about 'what do we do now?'" It totally shuts her off, without forcing her to shut up. She shuts herself up, if you can see the difference I mean.

    I loved the bit where he grabbed the phone from you - very revealing. And also very productive, because it meant that he was doing something about the missing phone.

    An example of how I deflect the blame stuff - we just were shopping; me, mother in law & difficult child 3. I had told difficult child 3 to go buy his pizza, then meet us either back at the car, or outside the chocolate shop where mother in law was waiting. I did my bit of shopping, went to the chocolate shop where mother in law was sitting on the bench and from there we walked back to the car. My mobile phone rang just as we got to the car - it was difficult child 3. "Where are you? I've been to the car, been to the chocolate hoop - you're not in either place! Why are you never where you say you will be?"
    I replied calmly that we had gone straight back to the car from the shop; he must have just missed us in the crowd. He began to bluster about how we were the ones not paying attention, I just said, "It's not important, it's nobody's fault, these things just happen sometimes, you know where we are now so come on back. It's OK."

    A big part of the panicked angry response is fear and anxiety. Sometimes it's fear of being blamed, so they attack and accuse to try and deflect blame (and attention). That's a habit that you need to break urgently, in whoever is doing it. He will not be the only one, he is getting it from somewhere. You might even need to write up a big sign, "Sometimes it's nobody's fault." Or "Blame is not the issue."
    And sometimes they just get angry, as does a parent whose kid has got lost in the woods. The kid is found and the first thing you do is hug them; the second thing you do is spank them for making you so anxious!

    A kid who has learned to attack as a deflection, is one whose coping skills have been derailed and who is using derailing as a coping skill. Inappropriate, and will lead to further inappropriate behaviour later in life - in his own relationships, in the workplace - anywhere.

    Some teachers do this. I remember when my best friend's son found some pills of mine, they had dropped out of my bag while I was teaching remedial reading to a classmate of his. My pills were in a bottle with my name on it, so he knew they were mine. He picked them up, saw my name and put them in his pocket. He said he intended to drop them in to me after school, and I have no doubt whatsoever that this is exactly what he intended to do.
    But someone told his teacher, who accused him of stealing them and then of lying, being sneaky and a lot of other things. He was dumbstruck - he thought he was doing a good deed.
    Of course he SHOULD have handed them in or reported the find, but he was only 11 years old, it was a dumb mistake. The teacher should have checked carefully before accusing him, and used it to teach him what to do next time.
    I got a phone call from the school to collect my pills. My friend got a phone call from the school that her son was a thief of other people's drugs and a liar about it too. We listened to her son, pieced together what happened and went to confront the teacher.
    Her response: "Before you get too annoyed with me, I need to tell you - your son has been difficult all year. He is not a team player, he has been sneaky, I can't trust him at all; and now this. it was just the last straw. I was going to call you in for a meeting about him anyway, so I'm glad you've used this opportunity to see me about him."
    My friend was totally floored - it seemed the incident had brought another problem to light only just in time.
    My friend had been neatly deflected; her anger at the teacher was now fury with her son; she had been embarrassed, gone to his defence and found that he was not worthy of defending, he had been a problem all year. The wind had been taken out of her sails and she stormed home to tear strips off the boy, dragging me in tow. I was very embarrassed; if I had not accidentally dropped my pills, none of this would have happened.
    The boy was expecting his mother to reassure him when she walked in the door; instead, his mother tore into him. They had a blazing row, he got grounded, I went home feeling terrible.
    Two days later my friend called. "I've been looking at my son's school report," she began. "The one that this same teacher wrote only a month ago. She describes him as cooperative, thoughtful, intelligent, honest, a model citizen, works well with others." My friend just looked at me. "And she said all those horrible things about him, said he had been a problem like that all year - but she didn't think that a month ago."

    So if an adult, a teacher, can attack one of her own students with character assassination in a desperate attempt to deflect blame from herself, then you can see how a child can easily get into the same sort of bad habit. And they do it, because IT WORKS. My friend had been totally deflected, her son got a sharp lesson in "Never do a good deed; never expect your mother to stick up for you with the teacher." A great pity.

    So you've made a good start with your son and got a big positive payoff for your troubles. Hang in there, be on the lookout for him to try to find another way to rattle you. But hopefully he will be more inclined to listen first and not try to assign blame so quickly.

  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Once again, Marge, you hit it right on the head. I've seen the fear and anxiety response in difficult child 1 and easy child time and again when they think they're going to get blamed for something! They DO counterattack! And I KNOW who they get this from (husband). Thanks Sickntired for bring this up and Marge for making it so clear. I know what I need to do...
  5. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hahahaha! Don't you love turning the tables on 'em!

    Great job!


  6. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member


    Just be prepared -- he will escalate once his initial shock has worn off. He's conditioned himself to need the chaos, drama and pain caused by his words. It may take a long time, like a year or two, but he can change. He'll just change cursing, kicking and screaming the whole way. But hang in there. It can work and do what you need to do to de-personalize his words.

  7. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    :bravo: You did good. Baby steps forward. You start to learn how to do this over and over.
    I try to not lose it unless it is a big Basket A. There is enough tension in our life and I'm doing everything to deflate it.
    Good for you.
  8. Calista

    Calista New Member


    So proud of YOU! But beware, it will get worse before it gets better. He will do everything in his power to evoke the standard, predictable response he is looking for.
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Wonderful post that illustrates how really really difficult it is
    to cope with difficult children distorted thinking. I have never been a real
    screamer type Mom...but...five or six years ago I just could not
    control myself as difficult children behaviors were so just so "illogical" and
    "inflamatory" and and and. I had used up my tank of patience.
    Even in my sixties I had to fall back and regroup in order to help him get more in sync with the world.

    Many of our newer CD Family members are like my GFGmom. They
    really think that since THEY are the MOM that the CHILD can and
    must do as they are TOLD. Learning to prioritize (baskets) and
    modulate your voice and aim for a win/win is beyond hard.

    You've "found the groove" and I'm delighted it worked. For me it
    is helpful if I anticipate/preplan for the next round. If difficult child
    does this=I can do 1, 2 or 2. If XYZ happens=my response can be
    a, b or c. I do not deal well with spontaneous chaos. In fact I
    don't deal well with chaos but especially unexpected chaos. So
    when I am on an even keel (in the car or doing dishes or or) I
    preplan. I think of it as emergency preparedness. Good luck.
  10. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    I am learning this method and trying my hardest not to react, but here is my question - What happened if the phoone was gone and you had no insurance. I'm understanibg the whole "turn the tables thing" but is there to be consequence? If there is a consequence it will stir my difficult child to be angry and looking to argue etc.It seems like there is such a fine line and i never really know where to put my feet?! When do you walk away and when is there to be a consequence? I wish they came with a rule book! Any suggestions or comments? This seems to be my biggest area of confusion at the moment and I'm just wondering if there is some kind of guideline? If not it meens I'm supposed to just shut my mouth and let her rule the roost? HELP!!!!!
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Woo hoo! Way To Go!
    And LOL about the look on his face, and the way it all turned around. You totally changed the dynamics.
    We're still doing that sort of thing with-our difficult child ... weird, how he'll instantly yell "NO!" no matter what we say, and 99% of the time, he'll do just what we asked.
    I think they just love to argue.
    And yes, I agree, they're always getting blamed for something so their defenses are always up.

    Keep it up. It's hard but it works--and it can work long-term.

    Oh, and I'm glad you got your phone back. :smile:
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Daralex, you asked, "What happened if the phoone was gone and you had no insurance"

    If the phone is gone, it's too late now. Any punishment imposed seems too much like you "paying him out" purely out of anger and your own frustration, and this actually teaches them to respond that way too. Not good.

    But there can still be natural consequences. I can see several:

    1) Finances will be tight for the family until Mum has bought a new phone. This means fewer luxuries for everybody, more budget meals, etc. No outings that cost money.

    2) When Mum finally gets the new phone, she will not be lending it to difficult child. This is going to restrict his movements and freedom, but it is not punishment, just natural consequences. He must earn that trust back by learning to be more responsible. "I love you, son, but I can't risk losing another phone, especially not so soon."

    3) difficult child could speed up this earning back of trust and period of family deprivation, by helping to raise money to buy a replacement phone. But he has to put in a lot of the drive for this himself, he shouldn't be forced into it or he will be learning nothing.

    When you are looking at consequences, you need to look at how the child will perceive it. If there will be nothing positive learned, then don't waste your time and energy, especially if there can be some very useful natural consequences. If the whole family has been inconvenienced by difficult child's actions, others in the family will put their own pressure on difficult child, so it won't be all coming from you.

    What you need to change - you need to stop any sense in difficult child that it is you vs him. He needs to come round to realising that you are trying to help him, not be an obstacle. This requires turning years of wrong thinking on its head. You have made a good start.

  13. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    BRAVO - Babysteps forward - and one babystep in your dreams that says NO MORE PHONE, GET YOUR OWN DINNER, and IF YOU EVER CALL ME A DUMB@$$ again I'm going to rip your tongue out and wipe my tires clean with it.

    - You obviously have been practicing on how to do the UH HUH - and move on Mom thing - I obviously need some Yoga.