Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I feel pretty blindsided by what happened tonight.
    I've had a peaceful and pleasant few days with J - no upsets, no tantrums, agreeable, affectionate interactions and conversations. Last night he was very tired at bedtime and I agreed, as I do not usually, that he could go to bed without brushing his teeth. I meant to brush them in the morning and forgot... tonight he was tired again and said he didn't want to brush his teeth, just mildly, kind of trying it on. I said in a pleasant tone that oh no, we must because his teeth must be disgusting by now not having been brushed for two days. And I think it was the use of this word "disgusting", as if I was saying that he was in some way disgusting, though of course I don't know, that set off the strange scene that then ensued. He kind of went ballistic, ranting and sobbing, hitting me (unusual these days), being rude, making provocative remarks - despite my very best intention, I found myself getting annoyed and provoked, my tone of voice rising... then he started on about wanting to see Kenza (his birth mother, about whom he only ever speaks in this sort of situation), that he didn't want me as a mother, that he wanted to see his daddy, my mother... the trying to play people off against each other game he plays sometimes.
    Finally he calmed down, after shouting out "sorry!" a couple of times, and is now in bed asleep, falling asleep two minutes after hitting the pillow, as he usually does.
    I know I shouldn't be amazed and stunned by this irrational performance but in all honesty I am. Just out of nowhere, for no apparent reason... feels lunatic. Don't get me wrong - J still has big temper tantrums and crying/shouting fits, but there's usually a reason behind it.
    Leaves me feeling rather helpless and, as usual, with a vague guilt about not having handled it well.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2012
  2. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Malika, he was so tired. Give yourself a break.
  3. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Oh man, that does not sound fun. Q is super sensitive to any perceived criticism, even if it is just a comment. Recently at school a teacher suggested he shower because he hadn't for a couple of days ...and he sleeps in his clothes. In past he has been obsessed with showering--sometimes doing it multiple times per day--really baths mostly--but lately it is just too much of a bother. He hates being smelly though and was super defensive about it. Now I just asked if he wanted me to wake him up early for a shower or not (a routine question) and he fell apart. I was bullying him and I was mean and a you know what....

    Uggg, I do think some kids...maybe it is related a little to the insecurity in attachment???, are a little more sensitive to any perceived criticism. Add just being an overtired kid who is developmentally very young, I suppose it is a mix for an explosion. Those kinds of intense encounters take me more than a day to recover from emotionally. It may be too that changing the routine for any reason is not a good idea (give an inch they take a mile kind of thing, or just simply hard to deal with routine changes??) I know that is for sure an issue here too.

    Just as usual, it was probably the right combination of things creating the perfect storm. Learn what you can, and brace for the next storm....hoping it will only be a rare thing. sigh.
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Buddy - it's good to have someone understand. Yes, I too feel emotionally bowled over by such a scene.
    Essentially, I realise, I want to avoid them... for J's sake, and also for mine. Such scenes feel pointless and damaging - yet obviously at five years old (i'll only be writing that for another month :)), he cannot control his emotions with any great success. More worryingly, neither can I in these situations. I was very consciously NOT allowing myself to get really provoked but he is very talented, I suppose like all difficult children, at pushing buttons and provoking you in a hurtful way. I think he is clearly insecurely attached, yes, to come out with all this stuff for minimal cause.
    I can see, though, that he DOES have some self-control - he stopped himself from hurting me a couple of times, clearly something he found very difficult but did nonetheless, and his tantrums are always quickly over. This all lasted 10 minutes, at the most. He calms himself and always says sorry at some point. So it could be worse, but as for all of us that's kind of a meaningless statement. We just get to deal with what we've got. As I've said many times, I keep getting lulled into a sense of security, understandably, because when you treat him with affection and respect, J is this delightful, sweet, funny and bright child continually saying amusing and creative things... then this demon appears, quite dark and destructive. I'd like to be better armed in dealing with him...
  5. Malika - That sounded exhausting. I'm so sorry. I agree that it was probably a perfect storm of change in routine, tiredness and whatever else.

    Give yourself a break - you will probably remember this but he will likely forget it ever happened.

    Hugs to you for a better weekend.
  6. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    My son does that sometimes. One minute you're having what you think in a pleasant conversation, and before you know it he's ranting and raving and sceaming every word in the book at me. Yes, it's exhausing. I'm sorry that it happened. Try not to feel guilty about how you handled it. Sometimes we get, like you said, blindsided and we don't always handle their tantrums in the best way that we should, and that is because we are human.
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks WTWE. One thing is for sure - J will remember it all, in detail! He has a phenonemonal memory for what he experiences, remembering things down to fine details that I have long since forgotten... Being five, though, he bears no grudges and will be once more blissfully in the present tomorrow.
  8. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    It is hard when it comes out of nowhere. Almost startling, shocking to us parents. Kind of leaves us feeling as if we were in a car wreck.
    He, on the other hand, probably had this building, and building, and it just exploded.
    That happens with our kids, especially if they have trouble processing or communicating things in the moment.
    So sorry :(
  9. julierose24

    julierose24 New Member

    It sounds like I could have written this. My daughter is 6 -and brushing teeth has been an issue here as well. My daughter also has an amazing memory, and there have been plenty of times that I lost my cool. I wish I had all the answers. just know you aren't alone.
  10. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Unless brushing teeth has been a struggle before, then I would say this is clearly about the "changing of RULES". Every other night teeth brushing is an absolute rule and for a reason you thought was valid, you were allowed to choose whether this absolute rule could now be changed. I think there are definitely a subset of children for whom rules give security in a very dramatic way. It sounds like Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) children are affected dramatically. I know children on the autism spectrum are affected dramatically. My own temperment as a child always had me asking WHY and when the answers to why were not consistent or seemed capricious, this made me mistrust those who handed down these 'sometimes' rules. I believe you did not do anything wrong, Malika. J needs to learn some skills before he understands and can be more flexible when rules change or have exceptions.
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I hear you! That sounds so familiar.
    Reading your note, the only thing I can figure out (and with a lot of help from the other comments) is that he was overtired and overly sensitive to perceived criticism and what we would perceive as a minor change in routine. It is soooo hard to figure it all out! If I could go back in time, I would be much more alert to my son's issues, but then we don't know until it's over with ... life is not fair.
    The good thing is that you said he is very forgiving so all should be well tomorrow.
    When he next brushes his teeth (not in the morning, but later this week), after you've congratulated him on how clean his teeth are and how fresh his breath smells, and ask him if you said something that hurt him to cause a meltdown. He will probably tell you.
    Don't pester him about it, just let him say it quickly and then move on to another topic.

    In the meantime, I agree with-the others here, do not beat up on yourself. These things happen.
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks all. It wasn't the change in routine - it's not the very first time J has gone to bed without brushing his teeth. When he's been supertired before, on a couple of occasions, I've let him brush them in the morning. My intuition (something we should trust more than we do :)) at the time of the incident was that it was my use of the word "disgusting" that set him off, doubtless exacerbated by his tiredness. Brushing teeth used to be a really big issue and battle - now he always protests mildly and is not keen but always does it without more fuss than that.
    I think there is an attachment issue between us. It's certainly not on the level of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but it's an insecurity in attachment nonetheless. I think this has been created or worsened by my frequent irritation at his difficult behaviour in the past - I am REALLY working on this and I am more patient and understanding of his difficulties now. This is not really beating myself up but rather taking the bull by the horns!
    I have sometimes wished I could take a film of J as he is most of the time with me - he is just so sweet, affectionate and funny. I was thinking yesterday... gosh, he's a great kid and I don't know that I've accurately conveyed this to him. I do make positive remarks to him often but on balance I've probably given him more of a negative impression of himself, just because of the difficulty of the behaviours at times. I NEVER make a directly negative remark to him along the lines of "You are naughty", "You are difficult", etc, but my stress and irritation conveys that message.
    Don't get me wrong... I am just human... the behaviour has sometimes been deeply aggravating... my own behaviour is understandable... but with J it won't wash. He does have special needs and parenting him has to take account of that. Which involves a particular work for me, dealing with my own reactions. Which is true for ALL parents, of course, but more so in our cases, I think.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Yes, Malika... every parent has to "look in the mirror" and figure out what to change in themselves, as part of parenting... but most parents don't have to live in front of the mirror... unless they happen to be parenting one or more difficult child kids.
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Strangely in my family I found that I tended to give too many positive comments instead of just expecting and accepting positive behaviors. In retrospect, and as the other children came along, I toned down the positive and found that the kids seemed to feel more self confident just "knowing" that they were making good choices and not needing affirmation. Of course all of us know in our gut when we are making poor choices as well...and feel guilty on our own. It's a tightrope walk. Sigh. DDD

    PS: I have no idea if this would help but although brushing was the norm I did allow a quick mouth rinse in lieu of brushing when appropriate. Darn near everything had a rule, lol, and at bedtime "something" was done at the bathroom sink to maintain the pattern. The only exception was if they fell assleep before I could get them there.
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Did I say sweet, affectionate and funny? Today has just been hellish with J throwing a massive fit because I refused to allow him any more TV after he had watched for three hours - shouting, screaming, insolent, obnoxious. From this cute, still babyish little face arises all the hostility and aggro and attitude of a defiant teenager. The difference in his two personae is almost incredible. Totally lacking in respect in the way he talks to me, totally unacceptable. I even resorted to phoning my ex-husband who agreed with me that we should be living in Morocco where he would have the presence of a father but also that J needs French or British nationality before we do so. He then spoke to J although, skilfully for him (as he can at times be really lacking in emotional intelligence) he didn't scold him in any way but just had a long, affectionate conversation with him.
    This is the reality of single parenting... ie just not ideal. Later on I even found myself saying to J "And Daddy agrees that you should do X" and realised that it actually carries much more weight and that J actually respects it more. My ex-husband and I could never have made a go of our marriage or of parenting J together but it seems we can make a go of parenting him together-but-apart...
  16. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I have filled out more pshyc forms on my son than I care to think of. On several of the forms, there were questions concerning refusal to brush teeth. I thought it odd at the time. I have always wondered what the connection with brushing teeth and psychological issues could be.

    Praise versus acknowledgement. I took several classes on preschool development that stressed the harm of praising a child. They said that acknowledement let the child know that you are aware of what the child had done, without tacking on the good,wonderful,or the opposite.

    example: a child colors a picture and shows it to you. You say,"How wonderful." kid is thinking "huh, I think it stinks." Instead they wanted us to do the following:
    Look at the picture and then ask "Tell me about your picture." This eliminates the mistake of calling it a cow when he drew a dog. Mention the colors they used. Notice shapes..... The child is supposed to feel empowred and feel good on their own merit rather than by our judgement. Our kids can smell a phoney compliment a mile away.

    This would also be about behavior. Instead of saying they were behaving well because of xyz... you would say something like, "I noticed that you were using your indoor voice today." The hard part is to not tack on "good job".
  17. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, I guess we can only do this according to our own best lights :) I don't give J praise or acknowledgement insincerely, just for the sake of it, but when he has genuinely done something I admire or respect or to point out to him his own qualities (talk to me on another day about what those things are...) Part of the reason for this is that I grew up without this kind of validation and it has been very damaging in my life. I think we need to hear from others what and who we are for us to integrate this into ourselves... Given that J gets so much negative feedback from me and the world in general, it is only redressing the balance a little.
  18. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I was not saying that you or any of us offer praise without being sincere. Kids perception of what adults say can be different than what is intended.
  19. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, you said "our kids can smell a phoney compliment a mile away" :) And I agree, phoney compliments are insulting to the child, ultimately.
    I think what I'm saying is that I need to give J a sense that he is valued and welcomed by me. As all of us here know, this is sometimes exceptionally difficult with a difficult child and, I will go out on a limb and say, for me because J is not my biological child and I do not "feel" him and connect to him in an intuitive way. But biological parents aplenty seem adrift with their children so that may be a red herring.
    I think something went wrong with our attachment. When he was a baby I loved him so much but I was working all the time, the only serious breadwinner with a husband who was then profligate with money as with all other things (he has since undergone something of a transformation). He was cared for during the day by a series of Moroccan nannies. Then we went between England, Morocco, France as my marriage was breaking up. I told him from the beginning about his birth mother, as you have to, and it seems to have fractured his sense of identity and self somewhere. He constantly brings this up, constantly says to me when things are difficult between us "you're not my mummy", "I'm not your little boy". I know biological kids say these things but they don't say them as young or as frequently.
    And then when things are good, they are good... but really, I realise, it's just waiting for the next wave to crash...
  20. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry if I can't get my words quite right. But honestly, do not think too much about not being a biological mother. Do not romanticise biological motherhood. Yeah, there may be some biological mothers somewhere who feel and connect in an intuitive way to their babies (and toddlers, certainly not to their teenagers, I think) and some more who will claim that. But to us others- no, nope, really not. I once thought I had an intuitive connection to easy child as a baby and that it was because of my parenting philosophy (attachment parenting by Sears model and all that) but later I'm quite sure that it was just that easy child just happened to be very easy, flexible and happy baby.

    J is J, his own person. I don't think he would be that much different, if he had stayed with his biological mother (assuming she would had been able to be as good parent as you to him.) He is a smart little boy. He does know that claiming you not to be his mom gets a reaction, even if you are good at hiding it. It's his winning card and he is going to use it. The less you react to it, the better.

    Yes, he will have identity issues, some because of adoption, but more likely bigger ones that come from him being from three different cultures. His mom is a Brit, his dad is a Moroccan and he is a French (mostly and at least in this moment.) That is quite a lot of identities to think through. It will not be bad for him, but he has to give it quite a lot extra thought compared to many of his friends.