64,000 dollar question

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    This is (to me) another 64,000 dollar question. How far is my son's behaviour due to his brain malfunctioning, how much to my supposed lack of authority and the fact that I am on my own with him?
    As I have said, France is a country in which children are highly disciplined and regulated - they are constantly being told what to do, or to stop doing. Some people would say this is a very good thing. I think it's good as far as it goes (which is perhaps not all that far) - much emphasis is placed on becoming socially accepted, for example, but little on becoming a kind, compassionate, tolerant human being. Anyway, in this society, J sticks out like a sore thumb - everywhere we go, people think he is wild and badly brought up. I have also mentioned a recent "disagreement" with a friend (and I am not sure she is still a friend) over the fact that her 9 year old got very upset and angry with Jacob because J called him names and then later had a tantrum in which J spoke to me very disrespectfully and would not listen to me. I do understand why this would upset a child - shakes all his notions of boundaries and what is acceptable. And afterwards the friend again repeated what she and others have said to me, that I am not "strict" enough with J - the implication being that because I am not, he is the way he is...
    It is something that has me confused. J acts up far worse with me than he does with others - this, I am told, is "normal". He listens to others more than he listens to me... and obviously it is not for want of trying. I do not LIKE or approve of the way he speaks to me and certainly he is ruder to me than to other adults - he would not dare talk to his "maitresse" (teacher) like that, for example. When we go to see the doctor, the doctor speaks to him in a very firm, tough voice and J does what he says (briefly anyway - sitting still on the chair, for example...).
    And so... I'd like to know what you think and what your own experiences are. Would J be a better behaved, more "normal" child if I somehow managed to exert greater authority on him?? Is it partly my "fault"??
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    That's hard to say. How does he behave w hen you discipline him and how do you do it? When I put Sonic in a time out chair, I had to hold him down while he hit and kicked me and even tried to bite me. Then when I laughingly couldn't handle holding him down anymore and said, "Stay there until you can be calm" and tried to walk away, he picked up the chair, like Superman, and threw it.

    With some of our kids perhaps heavy disciplining would help. But my son is on the autism spectrum and it didn't change his behavior at all. My opinion is that it isn't your fault. Don't blame yourself. Sounds like a very rigid society with no room for children's differences, HOWEVER not everyone here is tolerant either. I've had my share of nasty looks.
  3. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    At your son's age it is really hard to know what's normal kid's stuff and what's due to his difference. In his case, he also has to deal with the exposure to different cultures (yours and France). Also try to keep in mind that there is no single parenting technique that works with every kids. You might not be naturally super authoritarian but, on its own, it does not make you a lousy parent. If you feel your son might benefit a little bit more stricter rules (and I'm talking about what YOU think, not everyone else), maybe try for a month or so. You can explain the change in simple words to him "rules are going to change a bit because Mommy is trying to make our family life more peaceful" or something you believe he can understand. You might have to work on it and put a lot of thought in it since it is not your natural technique. Myself, as a typical french parent I suppose, I tend to be very strict, which works great for my oldest but sometimes not so much for difficult child. I sometimes have to "relax" my expectation. What makes you a great parent is that you're ready to reflect on your action and, if necessary, make adjustment. That's very good, but don't forget that sometimes you just have to ignore people's comments. They are not walking in your shoes and simply have no clue.
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I notice that you are not using medications for him. Have you considered them? With some children, they need the medications like a diabetic needs insulin. The breaking point for us was that no one wanted to play with an unmedicated Tigger because he was too hyper.
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    What happens when you put your foot down? I'm guessing it depends upon the situation and how much sleep he's gotten. I put my foot down in regard to the car seat and seat belt. Can't tell you how many pulled muscles I got when difficult child was little! Now, he's the best kid in regard to seatbelts. It's automatic. He even points it out on other people.
    In regard to eating, sometimes I'll put half of a green bean on his dinner plate and tell him he can't leave the table until he eats it. Some nights, we'd sit there for 2 hrs. Now, he just eats half a green bean and leaves. He's understanding expediency. :) And learning to taste new foods.
    In regard to swearing, he does it under his breath and knows he cannot, absolutely cannot do it in public, and MUST respect his teachers. He's gotten a bit better with-me, but yrs ago, we had scenes where he was so rude to me, I thought husband would kill him. Broken plaster on the walls, doors off hinges, you name it.
    Other days, if he swears at me, I know he's off his medications so I walk away. I'll give him his medications, wait a cpl hrs, then go back and ask for an apology.
    As others here asked, have you considered putting your difficult child on something ... maybe Adderall? Have you changed his diet?
    It's not just about discipline, it's about creative parenting, sleep, diet, etc.
    Only you can answer the discipline question ... but I'm wondering, if he is rude to other kids, you tell him that's not acceptable, right? I mean, you don't have to make a scene, but you still have to make it clear that it's not socially acceptable. With these kids, it's repeat, repeat, repeat, until they're 21 and out of the house.
    Gosh, I'm rambling ...
  6. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    What do you do/say when he does speak to you rudely? Do you point out that he did it and that you won't tolerate it or do you ignore it and walk away? Do YOU think you let things slide too much? Even "normal" kids are called on their behavior but discipline for the behaviors vary from person to person. I realize he is just a young boy but his inappropriate behavior should still be pointed out to him immediately so he learns what is acceptable and what is not. There is no such thing as "boys will be boys". I get much criticism from my family about the way I discipline difficult child. Because he is on the spectrum, I find I spend more time teaching than punishing. Punishment is saved for more severe situations.

    It never hurts to rethink what we are doing and evaluate whether it's working or not. It's called trial and error and we all do it. There is no "right" way to do it. Don't be too hard on yourself but maybe rethink what you are doing. If what you're doing is working to improve J's behavior, then you're doing fine. If what you're doing isn't making anything better, maybe it's time to try something else.
  7. keista

    keista New Member

    I agree with Ktlc. If you are questioning your methods, then change them up a bit. I am constantly adjusting with all 3 of my kids. I'll be patient to a fault knowing that their "issues" are causing a behavior, but then it seems that I'm being WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYY too indulgent, because sometimes it's not the issue, so I pull back the reigns, and they come back into line.

    However, with a 4y/o its is VERY difficult to judge what part is 'normal' and what part is the 'issue'. It is definitely worth a try to change things up, but like Ktlc said you need to feel comfortable with it since it's not your natural technique. You might want to make a change with just one behavior or one aspect. For me it would be the disrespectful language. He's allowed to get angry, and he's allowed to express it, but he is NOT allowed to use disrespectful language. If he does, he will have some sort of consequence. (even a useless one like a "time out")
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your answers and thoughts.
    Okay, here's the first thing... OF COURSE I tell him when his behaviour is unacceptable - again and again. When he speaks to me rudely, other people rudely, throws stones, won't share, etc, etc. The thing I'm toughest about is the tantrums, really - most of the time I don't "let" him have a tantrum (which may not mean for me what it means for some people; what it means for me is that he starts crying loudly and protesting/shouting). I just say in a really loud voice, louder than his "No! You are not having a tantrum! Just stop it! NOW!" and most of the time it does nip it in the bud. He does stop. This goes against most of my liberal thoughts about letting a child express emotions, etc - to me, though, it's just like a spoilt brat demonstration.
    But does my telling him make a difference to the other unacceptable behaviours? Not really. Very minimally. What happens when he transcends the boundary? Well, nothing... the reason for this is because, from bitter experience, trying to impose a "consequence" or punishment rapidly becomes a hideous farce. When I tried to put him in his room for a time out he would shout, scream, kick the door, throw things, rage, refuse to stay in. He would get really hysterical - any kind of punitive tone (from me) or measure gets him hysterical. He seems to learn nothing from it, it seems to change nothing and just lead to an all-out, exhausting war between us. It makes him into a complete difficult child. I suspect that lesser souls than I would drop the whole idea, as I have done.
    What DOES work, to some degree, is rewards, positive reinforcement, all the standard stuff you read about for ADHD. As for medications, he is FOUR. In France, no doctor or psychiatrist will prescribe medications before the age of six or seven unless the child is so completely disturbed and out of control that they cannot function in a school environment, for example. This is not J's case. I have recently opened up more to the idea of medications - that I would be OPEN to the notion of using them IF THEY HELP HIM when the time is right, age six or so.
    Some/all of this is about testing. J is testing boundaries all the time - and only a really strong, gutsy, natural authoritarian (preferably male) would succeed in imposing boundaries on him by methods of fire, as it were. It simply isn't my style (alas) and it ain't going to happen. Basically what happens is that J does not listen to me a lot of the time... I ask him to do something and he ignores it. I cannot impose consequences because he totally rebels against it. So some of his behaviour remains socially unacceptable and I simply don't know how to change this situation for the better. There, in a nutshell, is the problem...
  9. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    I notice from your signature that he is adopted. Do you know anything about his background?

    I ask, because one thing you might want to consider is that he might have had some fetal alcohol exposure. If so, he may definitely be hardwired for having a very difficult time regulating himself. It is not your fault.
    But you still have to find the best way of dealing with it.

    The hard part is, whatever the diagnosis, to realize that he is not doing what he is doing on purpose. Being stricter with him won't change him and might create so much tension and conflict that he will come to feel like a bad person. At the same time, that doesn't mean that there are not limits and that you don't work to help him grow. I have to remember with one of my kids that developmentally he is many many years behind his peers even though he appears normal.

    It is hard enough in the US to deal with disapproving culture. Having spent some time in France, I know what you are faced with. That is really tough. Are there any french support groups for ADHD children? That might be an interesting place to start.
  10. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Malika, your son sounds much like me when it comes to being rebelious to discipline. What our therapist suggested is a cool down spot when he gets in that mood. It is NOT a punishment, but a nice comfy place where he will learn to relax, calm down and reflect on things. We are just in the process of teaching him but I like the idea. I do not force him to go but suggest it frequently when I feel he needs it. Does your son goes to therapy? If he does not, it might worth trying. You and him could learn different techniques.
    As far as consequences, I changed a little bit: if he does not eat what's being served there is no desert. I don't fuss about it, simply tell him it his choice "eat and have desert or don't eat and get off the table and go play". The key is to stay calm yourself (I'm still working on that). Consequences can be "natural" and not punitive: he makes a mess, he then needs to clean up (at age 4, more like make a good effort at cleaning) and just stay calm.
    If he use inappropriate language, could you remove him from the sitaution when you are in public? Maybe, end the play date and explain he needs to cool down?
    The therapist also suggested the "no, yes, yes" technique: no you can't do x but yes you can do y and z. Maybe you could apply that technique to his language and give him som alternate words he could use to express himself.
    I'm sure others will come up with different idea.
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks pepperidge and ktllc. As for exposure to alcohol in the womb... that's the great unknown. I have no idea. And I know very little about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). What I can say about J is that he is often remarkably dominating in his behaviour, always has been... He always has to have the last word, hates being told what to do, has remarkable confidence and self-assurance when it comes to knowing what he wants and trying to get it. Any refusal of what he wants leads immediately to shouts of protest and cries of rage... or occasionally pitiful crying. He has to have what he wants! Not having what he wants is (still) a major crisis in his world.
    The technique I use often that has some success is tickling - sounds absurd, perhaps. When he is getting worked up into one of those intense outbursts because I am not giving him what he wants, I tickle him.... the outrage is replaced by fits of giggles and eventually he has forgotten what he wants and his upset over not having it. Whether this is "teaching" him anything about having to let go, accept, tolerate frustration,etc, I don't know...
    Thanks for your tips ktllc. Yes, "getting to yes" is definitely important with these kids. The having a place to relax is an interesting idea.. I will try it but it may not work. J gets SO worked up and intense about his objective, the last thing he wants to hear about or accept in that moment is relaxing or calming down... trying to suggest it just makes him more incensed and "fixed". He has an extraordinariily strong will - seriously the strongest I have ever encountered in any person, adult or child. So it's just not easy from the off...
    As for the societal thing, to be honest I really don't know how much longer we are going to last here. The whole rationale was for J to learn French, that's what it's all about - I'm very attached to the advantages of bilingual/trilingual children (he has Arabic in the mix as well). But I find myself honestly longing for England, for the greater tolerance and humanity (in my humble opinion, no offense to anyone intended :)) we would find there, the more latitude for a different child like J... Or even a return to Morocco. So I think at a certain point I may just stop fighting the stress of living in this very rational, regulated society...
  12. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I know it was not exactly the original topic, but let me give my 2 cents as far as culture difference! :)
    You don't seem very happy in France, it seems like a big clash of culture differences. I would not blame you nor the French culture (I'm seriously not taking that personally lol). I have lived in differents countries myself, and I have never felt at home in Germany. Kind of a culture clash that is hard to explain to someone that has never experienced it. But, you, Malika... I'm sure you understand! Germany was never meant to be for me. Whereas I feel home in the US. Is there a culture difference? Yes! Most certainly, but not one that bothers me. More like something that completes me.
    I understand the value that you put in teaching your son languages (myself being trilingual and teaching my kiddos), but that should not be at the expense of your guys' sanity!
    I might be wrong, but when I read your posts, it seems that a good part of your issues are due to culture and not just behavior/mental issues.
  13. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Also (not sure if it's been mentioned yet) a number of kids push their parents further because they know the parents will still love them regardless. You have to go with what you find works for your kid and be willing to tell the neighbors where to put their criticism (perhaps in very colorful and/or simple to understand phrases). They're not raising him, living with him, or being responsible for him.
  14. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Ah, Haozi, your sentiments are those of an anglo-saxon (in the broadest sense), tolerant mindset... individuals having the "right" and the necessity to live as they see fit. The French cultural mindset is a little different - we live in the shade of our neighbours (literally in my case!) and must follow their social codes...
    If all this is sounding very anti-French, I should point out that for all my adult life I have been a serious francophile. My mother is French and alone among my siblings I have always felt this connection with France and (above all) its language... I even have French nationality! But I think having J has pushed things to the boundary - it has brought out all for me that is most difficult in French culture. If I were here by myself, I would not be offending or shocking anyone (I think :)) With J, I am constantly pushing at the boundaries of what people find normal/acceptable and the result is quite painful. So, ktllc, I think you are right, this isn't a good culture fit, but it's more on the level of educating a small child and a small child with differences. There are all sorts of things to moan about in regard to Britain :) But what is easier there is a greater sense of personal freedom to live and be as one sees fit...
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Indirectly, yes - you're teaching him to replace a negative stressor (whatever is causing the problem) with a positive stressor (tickling). Some mild, calm intervention might have zero effect, because he's already too intense - so, instead of trying to put the fire out, you're "fighting fire with fire". And for some kids, it works. So go with it. As he gets older, you might have to try other high-intensity interventions (but I don't have any to suggest right now).
  16. "With J, I am constantly pushing at the boundaries of what people find normal/acceptable and the result is quite painful."

    Well, heck, that's life with a difficult child wherever you go! I'm convinced there is a place where difficult child behavior is the norm, but I go to church in hopes that I won't end up there.

    Yes, some places are more tolerant than others; sometimes, even one school or neighborhood is much more tolerant than another. Moving can be a good option. However, I'd vote for going to wherever you think you can best get a good doctor, diagnosis, and treatment plan (medications or not) ... and some support for you.
  17. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I take your point, Running! And obviously thinking about the therapy/treatment angle is important. There's another dimension for me though. J is NOT just hell on legs, a trial and a terror... he's creative, playful, inventive and fun. Affectionate. So I don't want him growing up in a culture where those things are not valued GENERALLY and where his negative side really predominates the picture in terms of people's views of him. If that makes sense.
  18. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    LOL, not so much Anglo (which I'm only part), but the product of growing up in a big town with a very diverse population. A good example of the "Melting Pot" of America.
  19. My son can be the sweetest, most loving, affectionate little boy imaginable. He surprises me sometimes with his plays on words or his drawings. I very much understand your desire to have his positive traits valued. I live in California, which is supposedly a very tolerant place, but whenever difficult child has been, the negative still ends up dominating people's view of him. He doesn't have a diagnosis that gets him any services at school, which is one reason I mentioned voting for whatever place could get you the most help. Support for you is very important, too! Good luck.