Newbie at breaking point...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mercurybebe, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. mercurybebe

    mercurybebe New Member

    Hi Everyone! First I must say I am *very* grateful that I found this site today. We are reaching our limits dealing with our difficult child and discovering this forum has given me hope for the first time in a long time... :D

    A brief intro:

    My partner J and I are co-moms to 2 pretty awesome 10 year old kids: our easy child Avis who is my biological daughter and our difficult child Buddy who is J's biological son. Our kids were born 4 days apart, have always known each other and have been living as siblings under the same roof since they were 6. We try to involve J's DEX "FB" in creating consistency for Buddy but it is a struggle.

    Buddy was diagnosed with ADHD at age 6 when in 1st grade and was started on stimulant medications in the summer before 2nd grade. He responded well to the medications and his classroom behavior and grades improved drastically.

    Over the past year Buddy has developed severe anger issues and it became pretty clear that to us and his pediatrician that he has ODD in addition to the ADHD.

    Buddy has always had a difficult relationship with his father, and that has been causing him more and more problems as he gets older, especially due to the inconsistencies in parenting from our house to his father's house.

    For example: We do not allow Buddy to play video games of any kind or use the computer and we limit his TV watching to 30 minutes per day if he behaves. He is with his father for 2 and a half weekends per month and it is a free-for-all where Buddy has his own laptop, plays tons of video games and watches as much TV as he wants to...unsupervised.

    The impact of this inconsistency has shown its face more and more recently, with Buddy finally saying that he wants to live with his father full-time, something his father would never do, and obviously we don't want to happen.

    Since 5th grade started, Buddy has been totally wild. :faint:
    He starts fights with us over anything, lies about the smallest things even when he is clearly caught, sneaks junk food and toys, has lied to his teacher (new) and shoved a kid at school (new), he talks back, breaks things in anger and just doesn't seem to care at all about losing his toys, being grounded, missing soccer, or any other consequence that we come up with.

    There is a blow-up or fight over something every single day and I am exhausted and at the end of my rope. There is no peace in my house and Avis suffers for it as she often has to stay in her room alone just to get away from Buddy and all the arguing. When she does interact, Buddy is quick to lash out at her and blame her for every problem under the sun.

    We are desperate for help at this point. I am an educational psychologist and work as a behavioral specialist but cannot seem to cope with/manage/figure my own son out. :ashamed:

    I look forward to learning from all of you and hopefully helping as much as I think this forum will help me. :D
  2. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Many here will recomend a neuropsychologist evaluation (If I did not have to drive 4 hours one way and pay out of pocked I would have done one years ago) but at the very least has he been evaled by a child psychiatrist?

    What about family history? Mental health issues, substance abuse issues? How were his early developmental milestones?

    A few books to look into would be the explosive child, love and logic parenting.

    in my humble opinion, you may be looking at more than ADHD. ADHD is the label that many of our kids recieved first, and then moved on to more appropriate lables.

    Hopefully others who coparent with ex's will pipe in soon, my husband and I are still married but he is often not consistent.
  3. mercurybebe

    mercurybebe New Member

    I just looked up the name of a neuropsychologist in our town to see if we can have Buddy seen ASAP.

    My partner J has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), bi-polar and depression which are all managed by medications, so we are not surprised that Buddy has problems. On his father's side there is ADHD but not mental illness that we know about.

    He has seen the school psychologist and pediatrician so far because his father (who has joint legal custody and visitation) hasn't wanted him to be evaluated for mental illness. Now things have gotten so bad that I think he finally understands that Buddy needs help.

    Our hope is to get him into therapy asap, and to have him evaluated by psychiatrist and psychneuro. It is clear he has ODD, but not sure if there is also depression or bi-polar. :confused:
  4. TPaul

    TPaul Idecor8

    First of all, welcome to the site. I am pretty new here myself.

    J's son and my son sound almost identical! Levi had the same issues that Buddy seems to have. About 2 weeks ago I took him to a psychiatrist who started him on ambilify and prozac.

    My wife is bipolar and on the list of medications shown on my siggy.

    I would get him evaluated and on some kind of medications as soon as possible. I knew that Levi was bipolar too in my heart, but hated to think about putting him on medications at such a young age. Now though, I wish we had did so much sooner. It has been like night and day. I feel like I have my son back now. He has mellowed out completely. No problems in school since starting the medications, no blow ups, etc.. I can even play around and such with him now and he responds positively and enjoys it. Where before there was no getting in his space or involving him unless he clearly wanted to.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Again welcome to you and J.
  5. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Many here believe that ODD is not a helpful diagnosis, that it is a description of a set of behaviors with an underlying cause. When the underlying cause is identified and treated, the oppositional behaviors typically subside and improve. For example, depression and/or bipolar could be fueling ODD behaviors.

    So . . . it is in the child's best interest to have a full evaluation and to get into treatment. That's why we recommend seeing a child psychiatrist plus a neuropsychologist to cover your bases for mood issues.

    As CM mentioned, The Explosive Child by Ross Greene has helped many of us here parent our extra-challenging children.

    Welcome! I hope you find a lot of support here.
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    As smallworld mentioned, most of us feel ODD is a waste of perfectly good letters when it is applied as a diagnosis (diagnosis). ODD describes behaviors that can be caused by almost anything.

    Some here have seen "ODD" behavior disappear if the child is on a certain diet! But not all have seen that. Same for most anything. If it helps the condition causing the ODD behaviors then they go away with-o specific treatment of the ODD.

    Cause there is no specific treatment for ODD.

    Further testing is highly recommended. One thing to be aware of is that most, if not all, of our difficult children are first diagnosed with ADHD. Most of us seem to start there. After that other diagnosis's are given but not until we fight for testing or further evaluations. It is more the beginning of the road than the end of it.

    It would be very helpful for you to fill out a Parent Input and Assessment Report. It is an outline some parents here came up with to help you keep info about your difficult child organized and to help you present that info to the various doctors and therapists you will work with. Here is the link:

    It is NOT something you send to us - you keep it and take it to docs/therapists, etc... You give them ONLY the things you want them to have. Be wary of the info you give to the school.

    I am so glad you found us. Sending many welcoming hugs for you, your partner, and the entire family.
  7. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Wanted to add my welcome...
  8. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just adding in my welcome, you've found a great place of support!
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, being here can help.

    Read the book - it also has been invaluable for us. You may find that a lot of your past professional experience needs to be chucked out the window, because until you actually live with it, you do't realise just how devastating this can be at a personal level. It is very different as a parent.

    I also strongly recommend you get your partner to lurk here/read here. You won't be the only two-mother family here, either. But frankly, gender of parent figures simply doesn't matter, what is far more important is how effectively you work togetherand communicate with one another. And even if you think your communication is perfect now (as husband & I did) you will find that reading each other's posts here can make it even better.

    I'm also with the others on ODD - from what I've seen, it's a reaction to a parenting technique which SHOULD work (and does for many kids) but in some cases just makes things worse. The inconsistency with bio-dad won't be helping. But the book can make a big difference and could even help you take on board the inconsistency he's dealing with.

  10. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Hi there from California, where it was temporarily legal to get married last year and so we did. Coming up on our first "official" anniversary - HALLOWEEN!!! Actually the 17th anniversary of our first date :)

    She was a cowgirl and I a fair renaissance maid...sigh.

    Anyway, welcome and glad you found the board. I am fairly new here but not new to difficult child's. Our oldest one is 26 and difficult child 2, our current challenging one, is coming up on 14 at Christmas. He has a twin sister who flips in and out of easy child/gfgness - mostly it's the good twin/bad twin thing happening I think. difficult child 1 is my partners child, the twins are mine.

    ODD my foot. ODD really stands for Only Doorknobs Dummy - that's about the only thing in my world that can be labeled as oppositional besides my thumbs.
    Not to be too quick about it :peaceful: but I'll bet you dollars to donuts your kiddo is bipolar. I wouldn't be surprised if once you find a good child psychiatric, get some mood stabilizer with a dash of anti-psychotic going you may discover the child you know and love shines through. That's assuming the DEX cooperates.

    We've reached the point of officially bestowing the bipolar label on difficult child 2 after the past 3 weeks of melt downs. I shudder to think how it would be if he had to move between two households. It would be hard enough if everything were exactly the same in both places. What you're describing would be enough to make a within normal limits kid wild let alone one with issues.

    Hopefully you don't need to hear from us about 504 plans and IEPs. If you haven't gone that route yet, I would suggest giving the school district a letter requesting an assessment for Special Education tomorrow. It may be your best route for getting at least some basic assessment done that DEX will agree to since you can say it's to help difficult child at school. Everyone wants their kid to do well at school right? I doubt you need me to tell you this but make sure they assess him for everything - just mark all those little boxes YES. You never know when a hidden speech/language problem or other stuff is lurking unsuspected and gumming up the works.

    Therapy for difficult child is nice but therapy for you and your SO and your daughter is perhaps even more important in my humble opinion. Until you get difficult child correctly dxd and stabilized it's going to be tough for him to benefit from therapy. The rest of you will benefit a lot.

    Go as a family, go as a couple, go as individuals - whatever you do just go. If possible find a therapist that has lots of experience with adolescents to work with you and SO because you are going to need as much help as you can get the next few years and having a guide will save you a lot of grief.

    The stimulants that originally helped Buddy may now be sabotaging him without other medications to balance them out. Stimulants often cause increased aggression in kids with mood disorders and must be used carefully in order to avoid making the mood disorder worse. Just a laymom here but you may want to consider discussing the possibility of withdrawing the stimulants with the prescribing doctor and see if that changes anything.

    All of which helps explain why everyone here is singing the same song = get him evaluated to the extent DEX will cooperate and make it clear to DEX that delaying any more will cost your difficult child dearly in the long run.

    If possible get a break from difficult child by farming him out to family or friends for an overnight here and there. do the same for easy child so she gets out of the house sometimes. Also this allows you to spend time alone with each one. At our house the tension goes down about 500% when only one kid is here. Hormones, puberty - ugh.

    For us, what has been the most helpful is to focus on creatively avoiding triggers that lead to major melt downs. with our difficult child 2 the longer he goes without a melt down the longer he will go without a melt down. Don't know if that makes sense to you but it's a clear pattern. We don't abandon all rules in order to reduce conflict but we sometimes really lower the bar when we see that difficult child 2 is struggling or fragile.

    it's a tough line to walk and most easily seen in retrospect. doing low expressed emotion is also really helpful to everyone. it is soooo hard not to feel hurt and take things that your difficult child says personally but it is vital that you and SO do your best to take that step back and detach as much as you can. Otherwise all you see is the tree trunks as they fly past or the branches when they smack you in the face. You need the wider view and can only get that if you can detach at least a little.

    Do you need us to tell you to keep a diary? There are a bunch of different formats for keeping a mood record out there. If you need us to point you at some, just say so. Having a diary of mood, sleep, activity, anxiety will be very helpful when you get to the child psychiatrist. Doesn't matter that DEX won't do it - just do it for when he's home with you and maybe see if you can coordinate to get feedback from school. A notebook going back and forth on Fridays for example.

    I'm trending hypomanic tonight so forgive me if I'm a little disconnected or brash. Take what you can and leave the rest.:jumphappy:

    Best wishes from chilly (for us) California, where most of us 18,000 SSMC's (same sex married couples) are still trying to figure out how to file our income tax forms and a few dense souls are just now figuring out that they have to get a divorce if they want to break up. Cannot believe some of the whining I have heard and seen in print. It makes me want to send them snarky little notes saying "Grow up and shut up. You're making us all look bad when you take the role of village idiot."

    Sorry, mini-rant over. :bag:

    Many hugs and strength for the journey.
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome! Glad you found us, but sorry you had to.
    You've already gotten some great advice here.
    I am so sorry about the inconsistencies with-video games. been there done that. It's a struggle. Perhaps once you get a good diagnosis, you can convince DEX of the need to cut back on that and really do something with-his son ... like go to the part or read or play a game.
    One can always hope.
    One thing that can help with-the anger issues is to watch Buddy and see what happens b4 he gets angry. Does he tap his foot or a pencil? Pace? Does his voice get louder and louder? Does it happen right after school? Once you observe a trigger, it will really help you teach him.
    Best of luck!
  12. Jo_McDonald

    Jo_McDonald New Member

    Hi there, this is J, mercurybebe's partner. Ive read the replies she got on this site and am touched and relieved to finally feel a little less alone.

    I am still learning what all the abbreviations mean, so I will leave that to mercurybebe!!

    Yesterday was mildly better than Sunday, although each and every day there is another issue that leads to upset in the household. Things between us are strained and tense, and our daughter (easy child?) is feeling the stress, as well.

    I feel as though we have all gotten into a bad pattern of behaviors that keeps repeating itself, and am not sure how to break this. The same sort of thing happens, we all react the same way we have been, and it continues to end in a horrific mess. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to break the cycles that bring out the worst in us?
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We mentioned it to mercurybebe, I really want to emphasise - read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene.

    If you don't want to buy a copy, that's OK (because I'm not getting a cent out of promoting it!). There's some helpful discussion on the book in the Early Childhood forum, because the book is more applicable to older kids so in Early CHildhood they/we were discussing how to modify your approach to make it work for much younger kids.

    You can also get the book out of the library. There are several editions. I've read two and found some interesting (and sometimes very different) stuff in both.

    This could well be a useful way to handle the inconsistency your son is exposed to. We found in our family (and I've seen in other people's posts) that where you don't have everyone on board with this method, the person NOT on board suddenly becomes "bad cop" to the child.

    I found it much easier. It's a system of working with the child instead of trying to use Parental Power to get them to do what you want. Our ultimate aim as parents is to get out children to be happy, productive, independent and responsible citizens. As parents we have a process we feel we must go thorough, in order to achieve this. But with some kids, the path may well work better if we go a different route. Independence, for example - with traditional parenting, this has to be earned. But with Explosive Child, it's one of the first things achild learns to use because with indepdnence they have a lot more feeling thta they are in control. This is really important for a kid whose world feels OUT of control and confusing. And there are ways to introduce control to a child that still allow you, the parent, to be really in charge. You give choices where it's not a problem for you to do so; you can even invent choices. Consisntency and honesty are needed, as well as respect. But you have to teach respect to the child by showing respect to the child, even if the child is being rude to you. As andwhen you can handle discussing a problem, you do so. But you back off BEFORE the child goes into meltdown. Choose your battles, limit the number of behaviours you're trying to change at any one time. It puts it back to a more manageable level, for you and for the child.

    Example with a toddler - you don't try to do too much at once. If you want the child to learn to feed himself, but you also want to work on toilet training, you also want to work on the child saying 'please' and 'thank you' - you will find some areas suffer while other tasks are perfected. So with a toddler you should choose ONE of those things to deal with, at a time.

    The most important thing is communicaiton - between yourselves, and between you and the child. Communication plus respect. Lead by your example and always try to work from the child's point of view. Children are egocentric, so if you begin with the child and how the child feels, you can lead back to how you want the child to behave. It is a work in progress. And what you do in your home can be consistent. If other homes are not consistent with your rules that is ThEIR problem. Your secret weapon will be teaching your son respect, by showing him respect.

  14. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Welcome J. I know exactly what you mean about negative patterns seeming to take over.

    Well, my first suggestion is that you and your partner or each individually, start working with a therapist who has a few years under the belt, preferably dealing with adolescents or children with serious mental illness. In my experience, that may be the best resource to help you identify and break or at least modify the way the adults in the house are reacting to problem behaviors in your child/ren.

    You can do it yourselves but it takes stepping back and evaluating your situation without attaching your customary attributions to everything that happens. In plain English, you've got to give up your ideas about how things should be and accept the situation for what it is. Once you've done that you can move on to choosing appropriate goals and expectations for your son (and everyone else) based on present reality.

    In my own life, I have found that a lot of the negative interactions that happen in our home arise because my/our expectations do not fit our reality. It may not be reasonable to expect the same things from your difficult child that you would expect from a within normal limits (within normal limits) 10 year old. As long as you resist that reality you will have a lot of conflict. That's not to say that you shouldn't hold expectations, just that you need to examine those expectations and adjust them in a realistic way.

    For example, you wouldn't expect a child without sight to read a regular book or even to read braille without a lot of instruction. In a similar way, it may not be appropriate to expect your difficult child to behave in certain ways under certain conditions. Why should he care about his toys when he has more at his dad's perhaps? Maybe he feels helpless to change his behavior and everyone around him seems controlled by his behavior - creating as nasty a trap as a 10 year old can find for himself. As the adults you must find a way to step back and stay in control. Much easier said than done but it is possible.

    You don't say whether difficult child is having these problems at DEX's house. Most of what I have to say next applies if he's having at least some problems in both places or also at school (sounds like he is) that suggest that he is struggling with something more than ADHD. It may at first look like he's doing fine at DEX's but upon closer examination you may find that there are problems there too - just not as in your face as at your house.

    If you truly think he is just trying to get his way by being an obnoxious delinquent then some of this stuff will still hold true because you still have to create some emotional distance before you can effectively design interventions. I would be pretty cautious about assigning this meaning to the behavior you're seeing given his genetic heritage. It may just be that he feels safe at your house and so you get to see him at his worst.

    At lot of times, defiance in kids with mood issues is really hypomania/mania. It's a kid's version of grandiosity. They're as important as the adults. They can control your behavior with their own. They are immune to any punishment you give them because they are above it all. Do you see how this can be symptomatic of grandiosity and impaired reality testing?

    With my difficult child 2 anxiety is often the real culprit, hiding behind the lies and anger. If I can figure out what he is afraid will or won't happen - whether it's losing face or a playdate or having to spend time doing chores - I can then address the real issue. He is rarely able to say or even sense what it is that he's really upset about. That is one of the expectations we had to give up - that our 13 year old should be able to tell us what he's upset about. He can't most of the time and we've learned to work with him given that assumption and over time he is gradually learning to figure it out and say what is up.

    It's nearly impossible to do the kind of analysis I'm talking about in the heat of the moment. You have to take time when it's peaceful to think about this stuff. Sometimes writing it all down can be very helpful. Write down all your disappointments, your complaints, your frustrations, your dreams and hopes for him. Then sleep on it. Go back and read it all again. Take a highlighter and highlight any "shoulds" or "if only" or "why can't he" - you get the idea. These phrases will give you clues to your agenda or expectations for him. Once those are in the open you can examine them and do some reality testing of your own.

    Are your expectations appropriate given what your son has to work with in terms of emotional stability, intelligence and maturity? If you think they are appropriate and he cannot consistently meet those expectations, then you may have mis-calculated and need to develop some different expectations or smaller goals for him.

    All this assumes that he has been thoroughly assessed and is in treatment for what sounds to me (having a difficult child with very similar issues) like at least a mood disorder if not bipolar. Expecting stability from him right now may be one of those unreasonable "shoulds" you have to give up for now. You may have to meet him where's he's at and accept that where's he at may change with every passing moment.

    Among your partner's list of issues was his lack of response to consequences. Our easy child/difficult child 3 has passive aggressive down to a science. It's a very successful approach because it's really hard to combat and it gives a deep sense of satisfaction and control when successful.

    One thing that we've found helpful is taking the door off her room so she cannot easily isolate herself. Another thing you could try is stripping his room of everything and asking him to earn things back one by one. I mean everything except two or three changes of clothes (take away all his favorites) and a comforter for his bed. Some folks I've talked to even take the bed away and make their difficult child sleep on the floor for a while.

    We took away all of easy child/difficult child 3's clothes except for one pair of jeans, her underwear and 2 shirts (including all of her new school clothes) and made her earn them back one piece/day after she went ballistic on us and did damage to the house. Worked like a charm. But she is not dangerously unstable due to bipolar. And we did this from the perspective of positive engagement instead of from a place of anger and punishment. If it's punishment then your difficult child is likely to feel that he is still in charge because you are reacting to his behavior emotionally.

    You and your partner must sit down together and agree on a set of absolute basic safety rules that apply to everyone in the house. Carefully consider what other rules you feel are worth battling over with difficult child. It should be a pretty short list.

    Then comes the hard part. You have to develop a plan that says what's going to happen if those rules are violated. It would be very helpful if difficult child knew exactly what those rules are AND that those rules applied in both households with consequences given in one place that apply in the other. If he loses his door he loses both doors. If he loses everything but a handful of clothes - same deal at dad's. I understand that DEX isn't on the same page with you. But if he really doesn't want difficult child coming to live with him full time, he out to be willing to at least give some stuff a try.

    Ask DEX if he really wants to wait until difficult child turns 18 to find out what happens when he shoves people at work because he's mad or tells lies to his boss. If he says well difficult child is only 10 you say, right. So you're saying he should be 11? 12? 13? 15? what? at what age do we start to teach him this stuff? Why not now?

    Then pick one rule that's really important to you and ask him to apply just that one rule. I don't mean rules like no video games. I mean rules like not being honest or breaking things.

    I hope this is helpful and that you find a way to break the patterns. It is a great first step to have recognized that you are stuck and need to make big changes.

    Got to go fix dinner. Best wishes.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's not just in hypomania. In difficult child 3 (and also to a lesser extent in easy child 2/difficult child 2 when she was younger) there was a lack of recognition that people are different. It's the ultimate in equality - difficult child 3 would see everyone as his equal - equal in capability, in understanding, in status.

    He would talk to a baby as if that baby was his mental equivalent. He was reading a book to a baby, asked the baby for feedback ("Is Spot hiding under the table?") when the baby was only six monthe old and simply enjoying someone making eye contact and talking.

    Similarly, I would hear my own words and gesturs coming back at me when (in the mind of the child) I nedded to be "told" because I was not giving the responses the child wanted. A very young easy child 2/difficult child 2 standing in the kitchen, hands on hips when I had just poured a glass of milk, saying firmly, "I said I wanted JUICE! Why don't you ever pay attention?"

    It's not always hypomania. These kids are on the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) scale in our house, the problem is a lack of social relativity. But it can sure LOOK like hypomania at times! However, it responds really well to the right 'touch', and that is - we SHOW them by our behaviour, what we require of them. Just as my juice-demanding daughter had clearly learned her posture and language from me, I had to change my ways and model what I wanted from the kids, in order to eventually get it from them.

    Punishments never worked. Taking stuff away only triggered the most appalling tantrums and never taught anything. We took the approach (eventually) that if the discipline method wasn't working, then why persist with it?

    And a word about the bio-dad's environment - that may be working well for the boy (while he's there) because dad is exerting absolutely zero control. So the boy gets into his own self-developed routine. I bet if Dad said to him one day, "While you're here I made arrqangesments for us to go to the museum, I know you like museums," there would be an almightly rage (even if the boy DOES like museums) because Dad just moved the goalposts.

    The problems you have on his return, are problably transition issues. These need tolerance and calm understanding. And firm consistency. Be gentle with him but make it clear - your rules are your rtules in your house. You can discuss them with him, but until you all agree on a change, your rules stay.

    Part of the problem also, is his own sens of being out of balance after a bio-dad visit. The wide variation in rules. He just needs to be reassured that those rules have not been changed without his knowing.

  16. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    And if you needed a good reason to get a thorough diagnostic workup, a comparison of my post and Marguerite's should give it to you. We each interpret and see your difficult child's behavior through the lens of our own difficult child's issues and the things our family has found helpful.

    I see a big potential for an underlying mood diagnosis, based largely on your report that one bio parent is bipolar combined with the behaviors you are describing. Marguerite sees the potential for an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis (diagnosis). We could both be right and your kiddo could have features of both but not really fit in either "category". Diagnoses are helpful in guiding treatment and as a short hand among professionals - Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) means issues with communication and social understanding are typical and can be expected with this child. Bipolar means wide variations in mood and executive function problems are what's most likely.

    I described taking things away from our easy child/difficult child 3. This strategy does not work with difficult child 2. As Margeurite described, it would lead to even bigger melt downs and we know it won't work. So we do it with easy child/difficult child 3 but not her twin brother.

    In the end you have to find your own way. You will have to tailor your approach to the unique situation you find yourself in with your difficult child and the family constellation you have. Books like The Explosive Child can and are incredibly helpful in giving you ideas to try and a framework for questioning your assumptions. But I can guarantee that some of the stuff they suggest just won't work with your difficult child. If it was only that simple...

    Some things I think apply no matter what the diagnosis or issue. Things like learning to question your expectations and interpretations of behavior. Margeurite's example of abandoning things that just don't work. These are applicable to all children, difficult child's or within normal limits's.

    But when you have a difficult child there's no wiggle room. You can't just ignore a failed strategy and make your kid do what you want by leveling big consequences. Instead you are forced to evaluate your goals and your beliefs about what's happening and then you have to think outside the box to make things work. And you have to keep faith with that child no matter what. What that means changes as the child grows - when he is older you will have to set limits that are much different than the ones you set now. That is what I mean by keeping faith. You keep your eye on the ball when he can't. You remember that one day he will be an adult but that he's not there yet.

    It sounds like you are worried about your relationship surviving this. Our experience is that this is largely a matter of mutual will. You must be honest with each other when you are troubled and you must be committed to the relationship no matter what happens with your children. If you both want the relationship to survive and even flourish it will. We are living testament to that. If it helps, you may want to see yourselves as refusing to let your difficult child come between you. When he is grown and gone you will still have each other. Your relationship is separate from him and his problems.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. Welcome. OK. Must read "The EXplosive Child" by Ross Greene. Must!!! ;)

    I read everyone else's responses before checking in and I don't have much to add except two things. One is that he may have an emerging mood disorder or high functioning autism (they mimic each other) and I'd take him to a neuropsychologist.

    Another one is that difficult child's do best with consistency across the board, however you can not do anything about how Buddy's hub wants to raise his son. Nothing. So he is basically living two different sets of rules and I'm sure it's confusing him, but there's nothing you can do to change ex or make him think your way is the best way for Buddy. in my opinion, and I say this humbly, it would probably be best if both of you gave in a little bit and thought of a way to raise him that you could both live with. When he's with you, he can't play videogames. When he's with his father, he can.

    I'm personally not on board with being TOO strict unless there is a good reason and videogames make the child violent...we're talking moderation here. :tongue: In the end, there is no way to micro-manage a child's life because they have peers and friends and they do get exposure to everything as they get older...and they can get rebellious about it. Buddy will see life more like it is at Dad's when he visits friends, for example. When he gets to be a teen, he'll be out more.

    I humbly suggest maybe considering a more moderate regiment at home and asking ex to at least moderate with you. Maybe he will????????? I have found that you can pretty much micro-manage a kid's life when he is quite young, but that you can't when they get older (I have raised five kids to adulthood...a few were difficult, fun!)

    At any rate, I hope this doesn't offend you. I don't mean it that way. Just that he is living two separate lives and you can't control the ex. When he comes of age he may just say, "I'm living with dad. He lets me do stuff and you don't." Of course, as your said, ex doesn't WANT him right now, however he may change his mind later on.

    These are just a few thoughts that hit me. Hey, I could be off base here.

    Glad you're here and post often :D
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2009
  18. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My advice is to have a plan for the next time the situation occurs. Plan out how you will both react to his typical reaction. Your plan can be anything as long as it is different. You might find humor works well to lessen the anger in him. And that might work for 6 months and then you have to find something new.

    Think out of the box. Non-traditional parenting seems to have the most effect even if for a short time.
  19. mercurybebe

    mercurybebe New Member

    I am sorry it has taken me so long to get back to the forum....I was knocked out with the flu for a full week and yesterday was my first day back at work...

    I would like to THANK everyone who took the time to write out their advice and support. The fact that you guys were willing to give suggestions and tell me your stories means the world to me. :D

    J and I bought the "Explosive Child" book and I am just about done reading it. I am looking forward to putting the suggestions for plan B into place once J reads the book and hopefully it will help. I am definitely a plan A parent and I see how that isn't working for Buddy at all. :faint:

    J also made appointments to see a therapist that will do individual sessions with both her and Buddy, as well as family sessions with all of us. I know it is going to take time, but we are finally heading in the right direction with that!

    We have also looked into having him see the neuropsychologist (10 minutes away!) for a complete evaluation. We both think that he is bipolar and that in addition to the therapy, he will need medication. J first developed her symptoms around age 8 and that is when we really started seeing things change from just ADHD to something more with Buddy. J didn't get proper help for her disorder until her late teens and does not want to go that route with Buddy!

    Interestingly enough, while reading the Explosive Child, I see a lot of the traits that I had as a child represented and it helps me to understand why Buddy and I clash so much now. He is a lot like me and that doesn't make for a good thing when we are in the midst of one of his episodes. :sick:

    In any case, I am feeling a lot more hopeful than I was when I first found this site and the fact that you guys have welcomed us so warmly has played a huge role in that. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to know that I am not the only mom struggling with such a difficult child...not that I am glad other children are know what I mean!

  20. mercurybebe

    mercurybebe New Member

    Hi everyone...

    I tried to reply yesterday but it didn't show up?

    Anyway, I wanted to THANK ALL OF YOU for your caring, thoughtful made me feel supported, understood and 100% not alone. I can't tell you much that means to me. :D

    I agree that Buddy is likely bi-polar...J started showing signs of it around age 8, and that is when we first noticed that there was more than ADHD going on with Buddy. I just hope that medications help Buddy as much as they've helped J.

    Since last week we've made appointments for both J and Buddy to see the same therapist, both individually and as a family: I will attend the family sessions as well, and I hope Avis will attend in the future.
    Buddy is also scheduled to see his primary care doctor to try and get a referral for a good child psychiatrist and to discuss his ADHD medications. Lastly, we have a call into a neuropsychologist and have been playing phone tag....they are located in our city so we are fortunate!

    We also went out and bought "The Explosive Child" and I am just about finished reading it. I am definitly a plan A parent and Jo is more of a plan C parent: I am looking forward to her reading it so we can discuss how to use plan B to help us. I've made up a "plan B" worksheet to help us through the process with Buddy and to have all of us sign it once we've figured out a solution to the problem. I've also created a consequence worksheet to keep track of when a consequence (such as grounding) is implemented, when it ends and most importantly WHY. I hope that using the 2 sheets together will help us be more consistent.

    Once again, thank you all for the warm welcome...I am looking forward to getting to know everyone :peaceful: