Consequences for my difficult child who doesnt' care?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Crazy-Steph, May 9, 2007.

  1. Crazy-Steph

    Crazy-Steph New Member

    My son does not care about anything. How do you provide concequences for this? If we ground him, he plays inside. If we don't let him watch TV, he draws. We have tried going the reward route, and it works for about a week and then he quits trying. After nine years, we have yet to find anything that he cares about. He has no motivation to do anything. When we tell him to help around the house, he will, but it will be with minimal effort. We are so frustrated.
  2. oceans

    oceans New Member

    Is he depressed? You are telling me the symptoms of my difficult child when he was in a state of depression. He seems to be at the other extreme that his ADHD diagnoses would lead someone to belive. Mine did not get his motivation back until he was put on medication that worked. Does he have any interests at all?
  3. Crazy-Steph

    Crazy-Steph New Member

    I'm not sure if he is depressed. He has been diagnosed with ADHD. He is not currently on any medication due to our lack of insurance and funds. We have been trying to manage this ourselves, but this year has been a complete failure. He does not have any interests that we can see. Yet, he never has. This is not a new development. What are the symptoms of depression in children?
  4. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    in my humble opinion maybe he does care not to be controlled or manipulated by extrinsic motivation. The question is also does he feel for himself , if he does not care what happens to him , it is difficult to empathize with others and here I agree that depression could play a role. I would leave consequences out of the picture and try and reach out to him through dialog questioning and listening to him. Even idf consequences do motivate for most kids its short term and have to be in place all the time

    Some claim that ADHD kids lack intrinsic motivation and need medications and behavior mod to compensate. My problem with behavior mod is that current reseach says it undermines intrinsic motivation. I hope you solve the financial side and can get your child medical treatment

  5. OpenWindow

    OpenWindow Active Member

    For my difficult child, consequences have never seemed to work to stop the behaviors. If it's something he really likes (like video games) he will be upset when he doesn't get to play them, but it doesn't prevent the behaviors from happening again or in the first place - even when he knows it will lead to a bad consequence.

    When it comes to house cleaning, my difficult child would rather be grounded from everything. He refuses to do it. We could threaten to ground him for 2 years and it still wouldn't get him to clean his room.

    Rewards seem to work better for difficult child, but lately that doesn't even work regularly.

    I have started to empty his room out when he won't clean it. I have an old box about dishwasher size full of things from his room - including his gamecube and and xbox. His favorite books are in there. He wants the stuff back and sometimes gets mad about it, but it doesn't motivate him enough to even start to clean his room.

    Every once in a while it will work - we just try to enjoy those times while they last.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    What is he doing that you don't want him to do? Or what is he not doing that you do want him to do?
    Personally, I like the part where you say he draws if you make him stay inside. :smile:
    But I suspect you want him to do homework...
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Have you taken him to an Fetal Alcohol Syndrome clinic because, if he is on the fetal alcohol spectrum (I adopted four kids, so I've read a lot about it) these kids have organic brain damage and do not respond to or learn from consequences. Most need monitoring all their lives so they can stay in control and not do anything to, say, break the law. They do not understand consequences, but it's not their faults--it's a real disorder. There is a lot of help out there now that wasn't available years ago. Nobody can tell you HERE why he doesn't respond, but I'd want to have neuropsychologist testing and visit a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Clinic. We adopted our son at two, and took him to a great Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) Clinic in Chicago. It was VERY helpful because he had been exposed to stuff in utero. He had some dysmorphic features too. The results of the testing point to him NOT having alcohol effects because he does understand right from wrong and respond to consequences and he does remember things from one day to the next (no Swiss Cheese thinking), but who knows if his Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified was caused by birthmother's drug use (and if she didn't say "no" to drugs, you know she didn't say "no" to booze). These drug affected kids are complicated, but if you can get a handle on what exactly is going on there is a lot of hope. My little guy is now almost fourteen and he is doing phenomenally well. It took a lot of digging to figure out what was wrong. Just do the best parenting you can and don't expect him to respond as a "regular" kid would, especially if drugs could have altered his brain chemistry. Just try to find professionals who had solid advice on how to handle him, what to expect, what is wrong, etc. Hugs and good luck.
  8. Crazy-Steph

    Crazy-Steph New Member

    Well, specifically, I could give you a long list of things that he doesn't do that he should. When asked to clean the kitchen, he will load a couple of things in the dishwasher and then just leave the rest. As far as homework (or classwork) he just doesn't bring it home. Or if he brings it home, he doesn't turn it in. I mean even things they do in class. He will argue with his brother and sister and then blame it on them. We will see him hit one of them and then he will lie to our faces about it. I have caught myself questioning my sight before! :smile:

    He does know right from wrong. When we ask him why he is trouble he can tell you. But it doesn't stop him from doing it again.

    Yes, we don't mind that he is drawing, but this in in place of anything else. I think the lying is the biggest problem right now. I cannot tolerate lies. But he doesn't seem to care. Then he gets mad at us for not believing him.

    We had him on a reward system earning puzzle pieces for every thing good that he did for the day. 5 pieces earned him TV. I noticed that every time Lost came on (his favorite show) he earned more than enough. (I mean a piece for having his binder; a piece for having homework; a piece for putting the dog in the kennel in the morning--very very basic things). I asked him why he had enough on Wed. but no other day. He said there was nothing he wanted on the other days. Since I raised the price of TV to 10 pieces, he has not earned more than two pieces a day since. Once he had to put effort into it, he lost interest. These are deliberate acts. Aarg!
  9. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I would lower the tv reward back down to 5 pieces. That was something your difficult child could accomplish and he may feel like trying to earn 10 is overwhelming and a lot of difficult child's shut down when they are feeling overwhelmed. The thinking might be, I'm never going to be able to earn 10 pieces so why bother at all.

    One trick we use here for housework (because difficult child would rather lose her right arm than have to clean): Write the chores individually on a pieces of paper, fold them up and put them in a bowl. So one slip of paper would read, empty the trash cans and another would read, load the dishwasher, etc. We each draw from the bowl, set a timer for 5 minutes and work on that chore. Once the timer goes off, stop what you are working on. If the chore has been completed, throw the paper away. If it's not been completed, it goes back in the bowl and we all draw again. It makes it into a game and noone is doing any one chore that they hate for very long. It also feels like more of a team effort. difficult child loves it when we do this and we all end up having a good time. Also, my difficult child seems to have trouble putting dishes in the sink or dishwasher, so I bought paper plates for her to use for snacks. She seems to be able to get it into the garbage better than getting a dish into the sink. Don't ask me why. lol It just works.

    As for the homework, kids with ADHD generally have trouble with organization. Does he have an IEP in place at school? Even if he doesn't, I would talk to the teacher for some back up support on this. Request the teacher ask your son directly for his homework rather than just having him turn it in with the rest of the class. Maybe the teacher can check his agenda (all students in our school district are given an agenda to keep track of homework and they are all checked by the teacher's until high school) to make sure he's recorded homework assignments and can check in with him to make sure he's bringing the work home to be completed.

    It's a lot of trial and error. We have to get creative with our kids. Hang in there.
  10. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Just out of curiosity - is your difficult child functioning at age level? If you're looking at a child who is 11 y/o physically but is functioning at the level of a 7 year old you may need to lower your expectations a bit.

    Having said that, we have a lot more success with kt because we have recognized her developmental/functioning age. (More around 4 or 5 years of age) Our expectations therefore are of a 5 year old, however we gently nudge daily. Sometimes we see very age appropriate choices & behaviors; other days we have a toddler on our hands. Either way - this is kt & we are flexible. The same can be said for wm.

    husband & I have taken a long time to realize that the tweedles are most likely never going to be able to "function" independently - will always need help. Our goal is to see that they reach the highest level they can reach.

    Something to consider.
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Ahhh, I see.
    Everyone has posted good ideas here.
    I agree with-them.
    You have to break the tasks into tiny pieces. My difficult child is the same way. Incl. the rewards.
    He just gives up.
    It has taken me upteen gazillion yrs to figure this out!
    You have to follow him every step of the way, but maybe turn your back and pretend you're reading a magazine or something so he doesn't feel like you're shadowing him. Then you lacadasically say, "Did I hear all those pieces of silverware go into the dishwasher? Just wondering."
    I used to say, "Hey! You didn't finish!" and he'd blow up.
    (easy child, on the other hand, would say, "Oh," and come back and do it.)
    We also have him do homework at school, right after school, with-some of his peers in a classroom. The daycare ladies let the kids play games after they've done homework for about 20 min. (and they eat a snack) That really cuts a huge chunk out of the homework, and difficult child figured out that if he finishes all of it at school, he gets to play immediately when he gets home.
    Also, I've learned to cut his homework into chunks when he gets home. (If he still has any.) I used to have him to math, take a break, then English, etc. But now I have him do half his math, then the other half, then half his English, etc. I kept doing smaller chunks, which drove me nuts, because it was an all afternoon/evening thing, but it stopped the meltdowns so that was worth it right there.
    Kids like that just don't understand the expediency of doing it all at once and getting it over with. (And maybe they don't have the attention span, either. That begs the developmental testing question.)
    You've got to keep giving him the puzzle pieces, and trying new rewards and taking away privileges until you find his triggers. What you're doing now is only partially working because you haven't gotten into his head.
    Does that make sense?
  12. kris

    kris New Member

    i strongly recommend, since you mentioned Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), that you get him evaluated for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)/Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). it can get special accomodations in his IEP. does he have one, by the way? if you haven't already start reading up on this syndrome. it' like no other, truly. here are some links from google: Alcohol Effects (FAE)&btnG=Google+Search

    here are book suggestions from B&N: (FAS)/Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)&z=y

    i agree with-those who suggested reduced expectations. give him a level he can meet. then you can slowly raise the expectations.

  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Steph, I would agree with Kris and still test for alcohol/drug effects. They can cause all sorts of problems. Let's face it, these birthmothers did not take care of these kids in utero. Our neuropsychologist, who came the closest to nailing it and really helped, said my son may have Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified because of the drugs/alcohol. There are different levels of fetal alcohol syndrome, as it is now called. The kids are repeaters because the rules don't stick. Since your child is dealing with the stuff that happened to him even before he was born, I'd want him tested more intensively than if he had a more normal birth history. My son was very complicated and it took a long time for everyone to figure him out. in my opinion regular consequences and reward charts won't work with him because he's not your "typical" kid. We tried all the approved methods too and none of them worked. Hugs. Good luck.
  14. Luminosity

    Luminosity New Member

    My son doesn't "care" either. He is not adopted, I did not drink or do drugs while pregnant. He doesn't fight the consequences any longer - FINALLY - but he still doesn't care. There is nothing you can take away that will make him more motivated, no reward works. I don't believe in grounding - no offense to those who do - as it punishes me more than him. He does get sent to his room or I attempt to send him to his room for back talking but all he will say is "make me" knowing full well that neither me nor my husband is physically strong enough to move him. Unless difficult child can provoke me to rage then I have the strength of a bull. I do not allow myself to be provoked any longer. I still take things away, send difficult child to his room - when he will go - he still has chores etc... that he is supposed to do. difficult child doesn't rule the roost by any means. I hope you find answers to your questions. difficult child's are confusing at best but still lovable and cherished!

  15. Crazy-Steph

    Crazy-Steph New Member

    We are at a loss. Grounding him doesn't work, but what can we do? Is he supposed to be allowed the privelege of playing outside with his friends when he does nothing (and I mean nothing) at school? Somehow that doesn't seem right either. Why should he have fun when he hasn't earned it? This is soooo hard to deal with. I just can't comprehend not caring about anything. Thank God I found other people who actually understand. I mean, our friends are sympathetic, or possibly grateful it is not them, but they don't truly understand the heartache that goes along with difficult child's.
  16. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    I agree with Chris and Midwestmom about the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)/Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) My difficult child#2 may be this or possibly AS but the behaviors are simular. These kids are a real challenge and they trully need much supervision and intervention. They trully don't "get" consequences and thier lives can become overwhelmingly out of control when they get older. It is important to et his difficulties on record and continued help and support for both him and you is imperative. contact your local Mental health department and ask for programs available to underinsured or non insured children. -RM
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't doubt that some difficult child's don't care due to other reasons, but if this child MAY be alcohol exposed THAT could be the reason that THIS child is the way he is, and he should have that checked out carefully. I had a son with prenatal exposure to drugs/alcohol and that puts these kids at greater risk for many things, including organic brain damage due to alcohol ingestion (yes, alcohol is actually worse than cocaine, although they go together). I'm not saying ALL kids with those symptoms are alcohol exposed. Obviously most kids written about on this board were NOT exposed to prenatal substances. For those were, it is often a big part of the reason and the help is best gotten at a special clinic. Unfortunately, they don't have clinics everywhere, but there are more and more going up every day. Instead of falling through the cracks and ending up confused adults who don't know why they re-offend over and over again and can't "get it" it is a great relief for them to understand that it's not their faults, and to be under care so they can have help with self-control. I just finished reading a book about just this topic (adopted kids mostly who were exposed to alcohol, and are now adults who are talking about it). I wish I could remember the name, but I can't. It was eye opening though.
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I don't believe in grounding - no offense to those who do - as it punishes me more than him.

    That's a good point, one that I have learned the hard way. Now, I qualify my grounding by saying, "You're grounded to being with-me all day, no matter what I do or where I go."
    That can mean running errands, etc.
  19. Crazy-Steph

    Crazy-Steph New Member

    He is probably a little bit behind maturity wise. But it is so hard to tell. We are never sure which Tristan is the real one. One day he will behave like a normal 11 year old and the next day he will act like an 8 year old. He seems to play mind games with us as far as to his true capacities. I remember back in Kindgergarden, he had his teacher convinced he didn't know his colors. When we asked him, he told us he didn't feel like naming them at the time that she asked. He does this with homework-one day he will know his multiplication facts fine, the next he acts like he has never seen a multiplication problem in his life!

    They do have calendars for his classes, and the teachers have been part of the problem. Or I should say his math teacher. She will sign it if he remembers to bring it to her. But she will not remind him. Same with homework-she will let me know if he remembers to turn it in, but will not ask him for it. She says it is up to him to be responsible. Well duh! He can't! If he could, we wouldn't be asking for her help!

    We are about to have insurance through husband's new job, and I think that this summer we need to have a full evaluation done on him. Who do we go to for this? A therapist, his pediatrician? I'm not really sure where to begin.
  20. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    I ask for a referral to a teaching hospital with a neuropsychologist department. A thorough neuro psychiatric exam is a good bet on finding what is going on with difficult child.

    As for teacher at school - is there any way she can email assignments to you? I'm on email almost daily with kt's teacher.

    Just a thought for you.