Last Night's therapist Appointment

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Bunny, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    A while ago difficult child told the therapist that he "chooses" to behave at school and not at home because at school he feels liked and respected, and at home he feels like no one loves him. Okay, so we (well, mostly I) have been trying to spend more time with him and the whole "no one loves me" issues has lessened. Now he just says it when he doesn't get his way ("You won't let me do this and this why I feel like you don't love me." Tears, falling on the floor, on top of me begging to be hugged. Whatever).

    Last night he tells the therapist that he "chooses" (again, his word) to behave at school because if he has a screaming temper tantrum at school he will embaress himself in front of his teachers and other kids, while at home that is not an issue. It doesn't matter to him what we think of him. The therapist tried to talk to him about how he behaves at home, towards his family, is just as important as how he behaves at school because his family are the ones who have to deal with him more and that how he treats the people who are closest to him is a big indication of his character. He told difficult child to think about that and that they would talk about it more next time we go there.

    This morning he was being really rude to me (again) and he reminded him what the therapist had told him last night. His response was, "It doesn't matter how I treat you because you're my mother and you told me that you would alway love me not matter what I do."

    Clearly, he does not get that I might always love him (and there are days when I think that even that is stretching the truth a bit), but that I certainly don't have to like him.
  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    He sounds like such a literal thinker. Yes, it may be manipulative but he really sounds like he knows certain "rules" or statements and he interprets them based on???? his mood??? the situation????

    It is so hard to be around our kids when they are stuck in the negative so much. Wears me out anyway. So, the next direct teaching moment is to learn about like vs. love? poor you.
  3. StressedM0mma

    StressedM0mma Active Member

    Bunny my difficult child daughter behaves EXACTLY the same way. She has always held it together until she got home and then we would receive the brunt of it. At least he is talking to his therapist. That is huge.(At least for us) I always hope that as they mature they will understand more of what the do/did. And I totally get the I will always love you, but not like you. Lately I have been questioning the love with difficult child's behavior lately.
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Bunny, I do think we are ALL like this. Unfortunately. Everyone lets it "all hang out" with their nearest and dearest and keeps up a certain social face in other situations. I have found myself talking to my child in a way I would NEVER talk to a friend's child (without condoning that)... Buddy says he sounds literal. I think he sounds immature also. He hasn't yet begun to see that he can love as well as be loved and that his behaviour matters. This is, in my humble opinion, like a younger child.
  5. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    English being my second language, the love vs like concept is not an easy one. In French, love is love, there is only one word. You love potatoes just like you love your husband! lol. I suppose I get the idea but would have a hard time explaining it.
    Maybe, you could you love vs respect. Love is your natural birth right (although it does not always happen that way): your parents will love you no matter what. Respect is not a right, it is something you earn. If you care about yourself and others, you want to be loved AND respected by your parents. Your son does understand the notion of respect since he chooses to behave at school: he wants to be respected by his peers. Now, maybe, you need to explain the benefits of being respected by his family.
    Not easy, but might be angle you can explore.
  6. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    Buddy, yes he is a VERY literal thinker. There is no gray area with him. It's either black or white. With difficult child, there can be no in between. It's exhausting!

    Malika, he is both very mature and immature at the same time, if that makes any sense at all. He was mature enough to be able to come and talk to me about his first "girl problem" and he listened to what I had to say and actually put what I said into practice. Very mature for a 12 year old difficult child. Even the therapist thought so. However, he is in many ways quite immature. If he wants me, he calls and calls and screams for me because he's very much like a little kid and I have to go to him. There are alot of time when I tell him that if he wants to talk to me that much he can come to me. Sometimes he does, sometimes that makes him just scream more.

    We have tried telling him that if he expects his to respect him then he has to earn it and show us respect as well. He seems to equate love and respect as the same thing. He says that we "have" to respect him because we're his parents and that is what parents do. He seems to be confusing respect with love.
  7. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    I would reframe The therapist's words on character like this - the question we need to ask ourselves is what type of person do we want to be ?

    The problem with the approach is the focus is on behavior and not on problem solving , so the kid will either not want to talk about his behavior or come up with explanations that blame some one else.

    If we focus first on his concerns, let him feel understood then we have a good chance that he will at least hear our concerns

    in my humble opinion the therapist could be helping to facilitate cps

    Unconditional love - yes - you can try and behave in a way so I won't love you , that won't work . The Bible says ' Love your neighbor as yourself - in order to love your neighbor , you must love yourself - I love myself so I am going to do my best to help you be successful and have a good relationship , and I am certainly not going to be in place not good for me

    Rudeness - he has a problem , symptom of missing skills etc - focus on the problem , his concerns , not behavior . When we focus on behavior , it becomes our problem

    It is not easy

    Parenting is Learning
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Either your difficult child is extremely insightful about his own behaviors....


    He is trying to diminish his poor behavior by explaining that he "chooses" to behave for folks that "respect" him....thus making the bad behavior all your fault.

    So which is it? Is he really insightful?

    or is it just easier to manipulate folks at school without resorting to temper tantrums? Little lie here, an evasion there...nobody is looking so difficult child gets away with it.
  9. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    Daisy, actually I think that it's a little bit of both. The therapist feels that difficult child is extremely insighful about his behavioral decisions. He was saying last night that for a 12 year old to come to this conclusion on his own is really good. I've been saying this (that the way he behaves is a choice) for years, but I guess until difficult child realizes it on his own my saying that his behaviors are a choice really doesn't mean a whole lot. It's sort of like the alcoholic. I can tell someone that they have a drinking problem, but until that person realizes on their own that they need help my saying it means nothing. Does that make sense?

    I also feel that in some ways he is trying to diminish his behavioral choices by saying that he behaves at school because he is liked and respected there, like you said, making the bad behavior all my fault. He has done that for years. It's always someone else's fault that he got into trouble. It's easy child's fault because easy child was bothering him. It's my fault because I'm just a mean old mom and that if I gave him everything that he wanted he would not have to behave the way that he does. It's husband's fault for siding with me and not giving in to his demands. It's almost like he feels that he doesn't have to put the effort into his behavior at home because we're his family and we're supposed to love him no matter what, so we need to just suck it up and put up with it.
  10. soapbox

    soapbox Member


    Mind if I come at this from a different perspective?
    Because I think there's a whole lot more going on here, than what anybody sees yet.

    His words about "choosing" to behave that way? May in fact just be echoing what he's been told at school for so many years that he's actually come to believe it is true - not because it IS true.

    Behaving at school and not at home... is a classical survival technique. He "has" to behave at school - or be in major trouble with his peers (who matter more than the teachers). It is also a sign of burn-out, anxiety, and fatigue. He has to pour so much effort into school just to "tread water", that there IS nothing left for at home. And the huge anxiety about what the day is going to hold is enough to generate behavior issues at the start of the day.

    He's 12. Starting from about age 9 or so, it is NOT at all uncommon for kids who have been "hanging on by their nails", to start falling of the edge. The work load is increasing at an ever-faster pace. Prior gaps in skills are showing up. Poor coping skills are coming back to haunt him. He's in trouble, and he knows it.

    BUT... he doesn't really know it. Because he's been told that he "can" do better if he just tries harder, and he's bought into it... but in reality, he CAN'T do it. You haven't caught this, so haven't done anything to fix it (or, as often happens, you HAVE tried but nothing made any positive difference). Therefore, he has concluded that YOU are the problem. This can lead to issues with attachment. Not that he would be Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or anything remotely close... but rather, insecurely attached, which doesn't provide the base he needs given his challenges.

    Next... the burnout/anxiety/fatigue issue.

    Has he ever had a comprehensive evaluation? A really thorough one? Like, have they actually (recently - not 5 years ago) ruled out everything on the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) spectrum? and ruled out from ADHD? and learning disabilities?
    While we're at it, has he ever been tested for APDs, especially auditory figure ground (where they can hear fine, and process language fine, but can't pick up spoken language in a noisy environment... and modern classrooms are notoriously noisy)?
    How about sleep issues... not just quantity of sleep, but also quality. If he's off even by a bit (due to staying up too late on the computer, for example), it adds up fast.

    I do not trust the whole ODD label. I think I've run into a total of ONE case that was probably accurate... all the others were either mis-labelled, or done on purpose as a placeholder diagnosis until the proper source(s) of the problem could be found. Have you ruled out every single other possibility on the planet? If not... I'd be trying.
  11. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Or does he not want to admit he does not have control. Mine does that and I have read tons of articles, recently one about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) where kids have become so used to being asked why they do what they do. They have learned they need to come up with an answer...but the truth is they just dont have the impulse control or the skills to do better. If they could, most would. Many would rather you think they just wanted to do it,... instead of admitting they are different, disabled, out of control etc. They may not even realize they are doing it because they have been so conditioned to answer the big "why" question. I never ask mine why anymore. He just picks the thing that in his mind at the moment.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Good point, Buddy!
  13. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    Soapbox, I appreciate anyone's perspective. Thank you.

    He was actually evaluated in August of 2010, so it's been just over a year. I asked that he be tested for all of these things and everything came back as okay. He is pretty good about going to sleep. In our house, bed time is bed time, no if, ands, or buts. He falls asleep fairly quickly, but he is a VERY light sleeper. There are nights when he tells me that he woke up in the middle of the night for some reason (he can't seem to tell me exactly what woke him up) and that some of those times he has trouble falling back to sleep, so that might be something to think about and bring up to the therapist.

    I do understand that he has spent a great deal of energy holding himself together all day long and that when he comes home he is wound up tight like a rubber band. He doesn't want to be different from the other kids (even though I think that he realizes that he is in some ways) and he doesn't want the teachers to know what he's like at home (too late! Several of them have been told) so he tried hard to be like everybody else. Since home is his "soft place to land" (I am really beginning to HATE that phrase) when he walks through the door it's safe for him to unwind, so to speak, and I get the brunt of the bad behavior.

    "He's 12. Starting from about age 9 or so, it is NOT at all uncommon for kids who have been "hanging on by their nails", to start falling of the edge. The work load is increasing at an ever-faster pace. Prior gaps in skills are showing up. Poor coping skills are coming back to haunt him. He's in trouble, and he knows it. "

    This is something that I would agree with, but he's been like this since he was a toddler. He was in first grade (6 years old) and I went to the school district literally begging for help with him. Unfortunately, because he was no trouble in school they basically told me that he was not their problem and to go figure it out on my own. Their advice was to be a better disciplinarian. That was not really the answer. Obviously, as he has gotten older he's gotten worse than he was when he was a toddler.

    "BUT... he doesn't really know it. Because he's been told that he "can" do better if he just tries harder, and he's bought into it... but in reality, he CAN'T do it. You haven't caught this, so haven't done anything to fix it (or, as often happens, you HAVE tried but nothing made any positive difference). Therefore, he has concluded that YOU are the problem. This can lead to issues with attachment. Not that he would be Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or anything remotely close... but rather, insecurely attached, which doesn't provide the base he needs given his challenges."

    I totally agree with you here, because he does lay the blame for all of his issues squarely at my feet and has gone on recently about how no ones loves him and he does not feel loves like easy child is loved. I think that part of the reason he feels this way is because he says that easy child is treated better than he is, but I have said that the reason it looks that way to him is that easy child behaves better. easy child does what is asked of him with very little complaint (most of the time). difficult child, on the other hand, tantrums over the littlest request sometimes and then can't understand why we're angry with him. So, he figures that easy child is loved more than he is. But he either can't or won't see that our reactions towards him are based on his rudeness and disrespect towards us. When he is polite to us, he is treated with love and respect, but he can't seem to make that correlation.
  14. soapbox

    soapbox Member

    This is counter-intuitive... but see if you can wrap your brain around it.
    The relationship is more important than the behavior.
    The child is more than the behavior.
    Somehow, you have to find ways to bring those two things to the forefront.
    Unless he feels secure, his actions and reactions will continue to add fuel to the fire.

    SO... find ways to work on the relationship(s), that are not conditional on behavior.
    husband and difficult child doing "guy things" on a Sat, for example.
    Going somewhere for "coffee" with you.
    Anything where interaction is the focus - so, things like a movie don't really count.
    Build a significant quantity of quality time into his life.
    When the focus is the relationship, ignore the unwanted behaviors as much as possible (don't let that ruin the outing) - other than safety factors.
    If you've promised something, deliver... it doesn't work to withhold as punishment for something else.
    Find things he likes to do that are also useful to the family - not just assigned chores... but you might be surprised at what he actually likes...

    Sounds like the sleep issue is worth pursuing... may be medical or psychological or both...
  15. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    Cooking. His favorite thing to do is help me in the kitchen. This weekend we made pumpkin muffins (we had made them already, but he ate them all and wanted more). He likes to help with dinner. I've even had him make dinner on a couple of nights when I had a headache and didn't feel well. He was more than happy to comply with that.

    But even that sometimes becomes an issue. He brought home a cook book from the school library and one Sunday morning I asked him to sit with me so that we could go through it. He wanted to make some things out of it and I wanted to know which onces so that I could make sure that I had what he needed in the house. Nope. He wanted nothing to do with it. Apparently he was trying to "punish" me (his word) because I asked him to go through the book. It's like he wants to have his cake and eat it, too. He wants my attention, but only when it is convenient for him. We were supposed to do something together (I can't even remember what it was) and I told him it was time to do it. "Later!!" was his response. I reminded him that this was the time we said we were going to do it and that I could not do it later because I would be busy. "LATER!!" Fine. I went on with my day. Can you guess what happened? Later (several hours later) when I was busy with something else, that was when he decided that he had to have my attention and when I would not drop what I was doing, it became a screaming fit.

    I do try to do things that he wants, but he wants me to be his beck and call girl and I am just not willing to do that.
  16. soapbox

    soapbox Member

    I think you misunderstood my post.

    The implication was meant to be that husband needs to pick up the ball on this.
    difficult child needs husband more than anybody else in the whole wide world right now.
    difficult child needs to be husband's major focus - building THAT relationship.

    You see... you've been "the problem" in difficult child's eyes for so long, that he's in a rut.
    Somebody else is going to have to get him out.
    It won't be a psychiatrist or a therapist.
    And it won't be a lady.

    Dad, grandpa, favorite uncle, older male cousin... somebody with a vested interest in the kid.
    But its gotta be a MAN.
  17. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    husband? Pick up the ball? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

    Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh there, but I can tell you that that is just not going to happen. The psychiatrist looking right at husband and specifically saying to him "She needs your help with him" didn't seem to do much, so my telling him to spend time with difficult child is going to in one ear and out the other. I love my husband, but he is just unwilling to pull the cart. It's not how he was raised. Mom took care of the kids. Dad worked. Period. End of sentance.

    He has gotten better than he used to be, but he will never be that real hands on dad that I know would do difficult child a world of good.
  18. soapbox

    soapbox Member

    Oh, I wasn't implying that your husband would step up to the plate on this... seem to remember from earlier threads.
    BUT... the point is, this isn't something that "MOM" can fix.
    This is as true for DDs as for DSs... kids hit pre/teen and they need "DAD", or at least an appropriate father-type figure.
    What's your list of alternatives like??
    (if your family is anything like mine, there aren't any alternatives... but had to ask!)