The patience of a saint

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, May 13, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    My son would try the patience of a saint (a British English expression - do you say that in the States?) and I am not blessed with such patience... I can go with the flow of events and behaving acceptingly and compassionately when there is clearly some external reason beyond his "control" for his meltdowns or contrariness - hunger, exhaustion - but his plain bolshie-ness and difficultness REALLY pushes my buttons. Almost anything I want to do becomes a drama and crisis with him protesting and objecting, shouting and crying... It wears me out, it really does, and I have got so tired of it... We are just about to go out for example and where we are going the dog can't come so I said that on the way we will stop and take the dog for a walk. Oh no, that doesn't suit His Lordship! Shouting, crying, he doesn't want to do that, he wants to go riding on his bike - okay, I say, getting annoyed (saintly patience not having flown to my aid), we will take your bike in the car and I will walk the dog on the path while you ride. Oh no, oh no! He doesnt want to ride his bike with a grown up, he wants to ride it with another child and he wants to call on the boy in the village he sometimes plays with so he can come too... At which point I lost it and just shouted at him. I don't even know if I regret it. It's impossible! No hunger at play - he had an enormous and nutritious lunch - and no tiredness. He just sometimes has to be difficult for the sake of it, it seems, and oh boy does it irritate me!! He then started crying because I was angry at him and wanted to sit on my lap - okay, fine, he sits on my lap, I talk nicely to him, he then says he wants to take the dog for a walk around the village which he does.
    I HATE these scenes, even though in a sense I co-create them I think because I just can't accept catering to his every whim and engaging in endless negotiations about EVERY decision or action we take. He explodes and I get angry and I am sure it is not healthy. But would it be any healthier to do what he wants all the time? Of course not.
    Remind you of your own experiences? Any insights?
  2. Giulia

    Giulia New Member

    Malika, I feel for you and for my mom who was the same before you with me.

    Did you read The Explosive Child, from Ross Greene ?
    It's also available in Kindle format.

    It will give you plenty of ideas on how to deal with such a situation.
    It won't solve every problem overnight, but with the time, you will find solutions you didn't think about right now.

    by the way, I use these strategies even with my 58yo father and his very difficult child behavior (more than mine). Even if my father is not a child any more LOL.
    It brought some peace in our relationships, even if I cannot say that he is not a difficult child at all....

    I urge you to buy it, read it and implement it. It will be your life saver :)
    (mom implemented it by instinct, without any book to read and often, against the other people's opinion)
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You are very good with J. When we signed up for parenthood, none of us knew it could be difficult, but in my opinion you do a great job with very little help. Most of us lose our patience at times.

    Take care and try to be good to yourself.
  4. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    It is a whim for J. Everyone request that you talked about J making today, sounds like he was creating his day as the thought came to him. He was successful at shaping the scene, unbeknownst to him that you were increasingly upset with each request and acquiescence. When you had finally reached your breaking point, it sounds like it was quite a shock to him because things had been going so swimmingly from his perspective. My only advice would be to start verbalizing your frustration to him (in a calm, teaching way) as soon as you are frustrated, instead of trying to be 'saintly' and then exploding and expecting J to understand why.

    As always, I am saying this only as an 'observer', not because I am able to act in this manner 100% of the time. :)
  5. keista

    keista New Member

    Malika, you're being way too hard on yourself. where is it written that we are never to get angry at our children? Who says that we should never raise our voices to them? Who says we should always let them get their way to keep the peace?

    I think you've become over-aware and over-analytical of this relationship. Even PCs will not always do what parents want them to do. That is the job of parenting. Parents use many tool to get kids to comply, and one of them is a raised scolding voice.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Yes, this sounds very familiar.
    Sometimes I have to cancel everything, if my difficult child is having a complete meltdown.
    But more often, I can work around it. The example of putting the bike in the car is a good idea. The fact that he kept shooting down your ideas showed that he was being narrow in his thinking and you could have told him "That's enough. No more arguing. You either get the bike in the car or no bike at all. No negotiation."
    Don't yell it. Just say it firmly.
    Sometimes, I just burst out laughing, because the situation gets so absurd. I mean, some of the specifics that these kids request is ridiculous. And sometimes laughing will lighten up the situation and sometimes it will send him into orbit.
    "No, silly, we can't take the bike in the car. It won't fit in my lap. Let's go!"
  7. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    If I reach my breaking point, and it does become inevitable with us all at some point that we will, I I've learned from the past that if I see it headed that way I will try to stop it. For example with the back and forth banter/barter type negotiation tactics especially if I know something really isn't negotiable, I will simply say "end of discussion". I won't say another word. It is a sign to myself to just stop talking as much as it is to them because I would engage still at times. It doesn't happen over night. It was a learned technique but it does work, for me, for them. 99% of the time now. They might have a few words more they want to say and do after I say that but it won't matter because they know "I" won't be responding anymore.
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I have not said, and do not believe, that one should never get angry with children or scold them or that doing so is some kind of "failure". That really isn't my point! My point is that J is extraordinarily difficult and obstructive, at times, seemingly for the sake of it and that this would try the patience of a saint. In other words I am talking about the difficulty of dealing with a difficult child, not the general difficulty of being a parent. But I think you hit the nail on the head, whatamess, and it was interesting to look at it in a way that had not actually occurred to me - that's it, I think it is all a whim that doesn't actually mean very much at all on J's side, and I am getting "hooked" into it and giving it energy by getting angry at his apparent difficultness. Being light is the way out of this, as it so often is with J (and maybe all kids?) and the way to keep us both out of the red zone :)
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    One thing that REALLY helps our kids in life is to learn to roll with the changes, to go with the flow, so to speak. this means that they cannot always know what will happen and they do have to adjust. How many times in a day or project do you have to adjust and you do so without thinking and certainly without a fuss or meltdown.

    In her thread about spending time in the closet with a blanket and the cell phone, Terry talked about spending days running errands all over town with her difficult child until he had a meltdown. then she talked him through the meltdown or let it wear out, and did the errand and went home. she did this for days and days in a row. Each time she triggered the meltdown ON PURPOSE. Yes, many see this as somehow being 'mean'. While I can see the softhearted view that says it is mean, in my opinion it is far kinder to the child in the long run. Life will not follow the plans our kids make just because they make them. Someone once told me that we make plans and God laughs. It makes sense to me.

    The point of doing errands out of turn or changing plans repeatedly and triggering the meltdown is to show the child that the world doesn't end and bad things don't happen just because the plans change. It teaches a child to learn to work through a meltdown and helps them learn to not have them when plans change. Different kids need different coping tools for this, but it is effective. It is harder than almost anything else on a parent, but it is quite an important thing for the child. We have had this same advice come from a parents' group for adhd kids and from a group for parents of kids with ASDs of all kinds.

    learning to adapt to change is a CRUCIAL life skill and those who don't work with this early, even when the child has meltdowns and is hard to manage and it is embarrassing in public, isn't helping the child. The earlier they learn this, the easier it is to teach them. Imagine if j was twice his size and weight and had ths meltdown How would you cope then/ but if he learns NOW that he can cope, it will be far easier when he is older. Especially easier on HIM.

    We ALL lose patience iwth our kids. sometimes I think we have too much patience and too many things slide. I know more than a few kids who are neurotypical and could have been 100% easy child but instead are difficult children and struggle hugely and it is because their parents had too much patience and focused on not 'stifling' the child's ntellect and curiousity. Sometimes a little stifling and some impatience benefit our kids - they learn it cannot be their way all the time, or even most of the time.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Building on what Susiestar said... I think if you're going to tackle it head on, though, you have to have a PLAN. Not just... the sudden day-to-day shifts in plan, where you get caught off-guard a bit first, and then he goes off... but a PLAN of exposure, of making these things happen when you actually have time to deal with the melt-down etc.

    Part of the challenge right now might be that the melt-down comes in the middle of your plans, and so you are both put out by the whole situation?
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    In this case... it's not so much J being unable to cope with a change of plan (though of course that happens too and I take the points you make about that, susiestar and IC) as me getting angry because whatever I suggest in the moment he disagrees with - being cussed just for the sake of it, as it were. For example... On Saturday, it was a fine afternoon and we had some hours to "kill" before I took him to a travelling show for children with snakes, a scorpion and small crocodile :))) that was in the region. I wanted to take the bike and go to the woods - J wanted to cycle around the village (which is surrounded by and set in nature on all sides). Ok, I agreed, we could cycle around the village - not a battle worth fighting. But then every direction I wanted to go, he started objecting, cycling off by himself in the other direction and I just started to get... really irritated. It was as though he was disagreeing for the sake of it and I was being to feel like a puppet on a string. So I got cross with him. Then, we exhausted the village and I wanted to take a track that leads out into woods so the dog could get a walk. J of course started objecting and refusing, saying the bumpy road "hurts my bottom"... but this is just a pretext because he often rides his bike on the bumpy road in the woods we sometimes go to and has never complained about that. He refused and I just felt "Expletive deleted! I am not catering to this child's whims all the time - this is ridiculous and the dog needs a walk!" So I insisted on going that way, and of course he carried on, screaming and crying and making an enormous performance.... for what? Just refusal to comply with someone's else's wishes. Anyway, I shouted back very angrily, saying he was to come and I just walked on and I'm afraid also said some not very nice things in the heat of the moment that of course I subsequently regretted and did apologise for. But I do find these scenes enervating and absurd and I have little or no patience for them. Trouble is a minor incident ends up becoming an explosion because I demonstrate my lack of patience quite vividly, which of course gets J into his own crescendo of emotion.
    This is absolutely not over-analysing in my book. It is a very real problem that I feel essentially baffled by - why on earth does he systematically do this? Is it about control, need to control (granted that I may have my own need to control also :)) Any illuminations... gratefully received!
  12. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Malika, from what you describe I do think it is about control. But it does not mean he does it in a malicious way. People and kids want to exercise control for a variey of reasons (anxiety, fear are a couple that are not malicious).
    V will get in those moods where everything is "no" no matter what is offered. I can only tell you what has worked for us:
    If I want to deal with the situation in a non explosive way, I need to slow down. Really take the time to address his request. I bent over to his level, repeats what he wants (to assure I understood correctly) and then explain as simply as possible why we are going to do it my way. I use a slow tone and do not elevate my voice. I then ask him to rephrase what I said.
    I'll give you an example (I have millions of example but I don't try to remember every single one, it would not be healthy! lol):
    We were getting out of the pool heading to our truck. My husband was with us and the 3 kids. husband gave me the keys and just said "you drive...." looking real tired. V started shouting "NO!!! Daddy drives" I want Daddy to drive" and on and on and on. I really wanted to shout back and basically tell him to shut his mouth. Instead, I went on my needs and slowly explained that I needed to drive, that Dad drives all week and is very tired from it, it is Mommy's turn. V's answer: "oh...." and that was it.
    But I'll have to admit, sometimes I really don't feel like dealing with it... I just want him to go with the flow. So I get angry. Like you said: we are not Saints and we will not have this kind of patience every time.
    I find that V becomes oppositional when he is NOT in a happy place (like lately), when he feels too many events are forced on him.
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Ktllc. I think you get to the heart of the matter here... that is, that probably a child like J needs often to be parented "therapeutically" - and I am not necessarily geared up for that all the time because of my own limitations and experiences and temperament, etc. Which is why I titled the thread "patience of a saint" - truly it would be good to have that, and truly it is doubtless what J needs because you are right, it is not malicious, and how could it really be malicious at five years old? But I am saying that I am very human and that also, I think, this is where it's so hard doing it alone, even though I don't usually want to play the "single parent pity card". If you have emotional support yourself, it's just easier to be emotionally supportive of a difficult child. Although dealing with a partner who is not on the same wavelength is also very draining and difficult... I ended up being hurtful towards J and upsetting him a lot through my anger - which with a typical child would not perhaps be the end of the world (but then with a typical child we would not have got to that point so...). Of course he doesn't understand himself why he is so contrary and difficult at times. All I know is that it really is all but impossible for me to be a good parent for J all the time because sometimes I am thrown up against my own shortcomings and cannot get beyond them. This is nothing to do with being hard on myself, I hope it will be clear - it is just about seeing things as they are, or trying to. I didn't know or even, naively no doubt, even consider that in adopting J I was taking on way more than I imagined at the time... And I guess that goes for all or most of us here?
  14. Giulia

    Giulia New Member

    Malika, the more you know and practice the skills, the easier it will become for you.

    I don't say you will be like that all the time, but it will come easier for you.
    You first need to acquire the skills. It won't be perfect right away, it will need practice, but you will improve.

    And even if it does not sole everything, it will get better.
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I do have to say, though... I don't think playing the single-parent card is a pity party.
    Having no partner is better than a bad partner - but there's no way I could have gone through the last 10 years without husband behind and beside me... even if he didn't see all of it at the time, he went with what I was finding out, and we worked it together. The ability to get a break from difficult child is huge. And it is at least 10x harder if you're a single parent and don't have family close by that can fill that role either...
  16. keista

    keista New Member

    Really? That sounds exactly like what you are repeatedly saying.

    Really? You don't think PCs ever go into tantrums? You don't think PCs ever push their parents to loose their tempers?

    Malika the way you write makes it seem like you've got this "Norman Rockwell" image of what child rearing should be and it it very far off from reality.
  17. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Keista, I do not appreciate your unsupportive comments. You seem not to understand what I am saying or why, so perhaps it would be better if you refrained from commenting at all, do you think? I would from my side make the comment that you seem from what you say not to appreciate the difference between parenting a difficult child and parenting a neuro-typical child.
  18. keista

    keista New Member

    My first post on this thread was supportive, and you shot me down saying that you're not talking about parenting "failures" and then continue to post of such? I'm really confused.

    As far as knowing the difference of parenting a difficult child vs a easy child, I have two difficult children and one easy child. At least I think and hope she is a easy child. And I can tell you with 100% certainty that she has pushed my buttons more than once. I also have friends with PCs and they are more than capable of pushing those parental buttons. Making a statement as you did, saying that with a easy child it probably wouldn't go that far, indicates that you have very romanticized view of what parenting should be.
  19. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Malika, your posts, I sense, often hit on a very sensitive and even controversial nerve. That is, while you are learning to accept J's differences you are also striving to understand how to best parent him. You are hard on yourself, you are reflective, you seem to know you will have the most profound effect on J's future and therefore you are struggling to alter your approach. Most often, it seems, parents are told and believe it is the child who needs to change. It is not widely accepted that the actions and reactions of the parent can have a profound impact. Perhaps your striving for the right actions and reactions makes others reflect on their responsibility to change and reflect. **This post is not directed any one person. I myself fluctuate between trying to attain 'sainthood' by shaping myself and getting my difficult child to 'deal' with the real word by trying to shape him. Although I am far from my ideal, my core belief is that I need to handle myself in the right way in order for my son to even have a chance to function/be productive. It's a process and during the most difficult times it falls on us, not our children, to know how to guide them down the right path.**
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Keista, if you think your first post on this thread was supportive, then I can tell you we also have very different definitions of what is supportive! I felt it was judgemental, quite aggressive and critical. Anyway, look, I really don't know what all this is about, I have no problem with you and I don't come here to pick fights or exchange unpleasant words! But I do wish to point out to you that your posts to me do not come across as you intend if you actually intend them to be friendly and sympathetic. Something you may perhaps also not appreciate - why should you? - is that we are talking from very different cultural contexts. Here, children do not have tantrums at the age of five or argue with their parents at the age of five. You would doubtless describe the behaviour of French children as Norman Rockwell and unreal... well, all things are a matter of perspective and doubtless children here are too rigidly disciplined. We are all very social creatures and I have learnt to take the French standard as the one to which J continually does not match up... I am sure that in the States or elsewhere, we would have an easier time of it. But no, I can quite categorically tell you, if I was out for a bike ride/walk with a French easy child, things would never get that far...
    whatamess, thanks for your reflective post. It's amazing, really, isn't it, that we don't consider the parents' huge impact on children because it seems so obvious. I may be hard on myself, but in a way that doesn't seem to me the relevant point... what seems relevant is that J truly is a very challenging (and at times delightful, as I have often described) child to parent and I KNOW I'm screwing up with him quite a lot... that's understandable, human, all the rest of it. But I don't want to do him harm, maybe it comes down to that, and I feel with a sense of despair sometimes that it is beyond me to deal with his oppositionality and defiance in a way that leaves him unscathed... Because of who I am, which I also do not judge... Does that make any sense?