difficult child is good in outside world, but horrible at home.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Hanging-On, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. Hanging-On

    Hanging-On New Member

    Need thoughts on all of this, please.

    If you remember difficult child came home from Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in June’10. It was a horrible start. He was not stable on medications, which at present we have worked on and I think are doing so much better. His behavior at school and after school with his BMS providers is GREAT. BUT at home he treats us like dirt. He cuses me out almost everyday, calls me f’g b several times a week (which is better, since it was several times a day), orders me around, throws a 2yr old tantrum when he doesn’t get his way, throws things at me (mostly my face and head), punches & kicks me, and tries to kick my knees in backwards to break them, is harmful to easy child, and basically makes our lives a living hell. easy child has told me he doesn’t want difficult child at home, and that he cries and is sad the way difficult child hurts me all the time.

    I have been told by his providers that it’s good that he is behaving so well outside the home. It shows that what I’ve been teaching him he is using outside the home, and that his support services are working. But that the problem is in the home. I am pleased that he is using his skills outside the home, but I’m devastated beyond words that he doesn’t use any skills at home. I’m not only tired of them telling me this and not helping me resolve it, but I’m exhausted, depressed, sad beyond words to tears, and basically living the life of the battered wife syndrome just to not have it worse at home. I have mentally and emotionally shut down in regards to difficult child, and provide his care as a robot. When he throws a tantrum I just walk away and remove all things that are mine and easy child's that he would destroy. My bedroom is now a pile of stuff, literally. My stress level is flooding me with cortisol with the result of gaining back 20 lbs since he’s been home, all of which I lost while he was gone.

    I just don’t know what to do. My mom says he has to go because he’s destroying our lives, and my business and any hope of earning a living; which is 100% true. But he’s my son, and I have to raise him. There’s no one else. So, I live in hopelessness and despair, and grieve over what easy child has to live with.

    I know a lot of you would say put him in another Residential Treatment Center (RTC), hospital or foster care. But these things are only temporary solutions, and we would be right back where we are now. I need a permanent solution to how he is at home.

    Thanks for listening.
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Have you tried the CPS methods described in "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene? Sometimes we have to change direction and I have seen that especially with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), the CPS approach seems to work a lot better. Go to the Early Childhood forum and look at the sticky there on how to adapt "Explosive Child" to younger children. See if there is something there. because clearly, what you're doing now is not working FOR YOU. It is working for him, but you need more, and I think you do need a change.

    The CPS methods I found were actually easier for me, oncer I got into the habit and changed my mindset. But otherwise, a lot of what yo are already doing is right. But there is something in there that is setting him off, and you need to think and try to identify what it is. It is not necessarily a wrong thing, but still needs to be identified. You ten make your own quiet list on what you feel MUST be addressed (and it sounds to me like respect for you needs to be higher on that list) and then focus on that one area and let the rest go hang. For now.

    With Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) especially, to teach respect you have to show respect, even if he is not respecting you first. Someone has to go first and it should be the adult, especially the adult who doesn't have a disorder. But he will model his behaviour on how you behave to him. These kids work by "do as I do" and NOT by "do as I say", simply because what you do always sends a far stronger message that they can much more easily understand. it's like having traffic signals at the crossroads where the word "stop" is written on the light in small print, but the light shows green. What do you do? Do you even see the word? Or just respond to the green light? If you were taught to respond to both the green light, and the word, you would be confused by the mixed message perhaps, but still be more likely to respond to the bigger, more obvious signal and choose that option.

    It's very much like this for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids, for whom some signals are far stronger than others. And their mimicry is incredible. They will do as you do, say as you say, right down to the hand gestures, the tone of voice and all. For example, husband has a way of speaking when he gets angry, which I (after years of living with him) understand and accept in my own way. But it really triggers difficult child 3, and he then dishes the same stuff back, only it's the same stuff tempered with difficult child 3's misplaced sense of outrage and lack of understanding (plus overblown sense of personal entitlement). A nasty combination. difficult child 3 is trying to be like his father, but in the wrong way. husband does what he does, because it is how HE was taught, and what worked on him when he was a kid. And it has worked for him, in general. Until now.

    I want to make it clear - husband is a good dad, he really is. But he was raised to be strict, to be strong, and to stand firm. And with these kids, it then can become the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. These kids have an amazing capacity for self-control, but if they sense that we are trying to control them, all that inner strength of their (which they also inherited from us as well as learned form us) gets targeted right at us and our attempts to control. So we do better when we focus on teaching self-control. For parents who have always felt that their place is to be in control, this is very difficult. But believe it or not, you are still not necessarily relinquishing control. Just moving the goal posts.

    We try, we work on how we talk to difficult child 3, we grit our teeth over some things and recognise that once he gets angry, his chance of learning appropriate behaviour has just gone south. It becomes almost "anti-learning". We get better results (although often too slowly for our satisfaction) if we ease back and work with him when he is calmer. If he begins to escalate, we ease back. Then pick up again when he is calmer.

    It can be frustrating, but as you see progress it can make it easier. They do get there. But it can take longer than you expect. But then - there can also be other surprises along the way.

  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Marg has excellent points, but in this situation she is completely off the mark. The ONE thing that we can absolutely NOT tolerate, compromise on, or allow to continue is any kind of physical violence. I don't care how old he is, he simply cannot stay in your home if he hits, punches, and otherwise batters you.


    It isn't popular to address the idea of a child abusing a parent. People don't want to talk about it because they don't want to admit it could happen to them. I would make a couple of appointments. First, get an intake appointment for couselling at a domestic violence center. If nothing else they can help you work through your emotions. Contact his psychiatrist to discuss hospitalization and placement out of the home until such time as he can be SAFE while living in your home. You are going to have to be SO STRONG and SO ADAMANT or they will pat you on the head and ignore both you AND your son.

    You also need to get social services to be involved. You may have to file a petition with the court to get him into a group home, Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or therapeutic foster home. The first thing should be the psychiatric hospital so that anything that can be done is done. That is where it will get tough because they will want to send him home after a couple of days. And you will miss him (but not the abuse he gives you). You MUST tell the people at the psychiatric hospital that he cannot come home until he has PROVEN that he can make safe choices while living in a home.

    There are a bunch of reasons for this. Regardless of what people say, you don't do this to punish your child, or out of hate, anger, bitterness or vindictiveness. You do it in the hopes that you can have a safe, loving bond with your child at some point in the future. You also work to teach him to make SAFE choices so that when he is an adult he won't live his life in a prison or jail.

    The biggest reason to do it? To SAVE your son from a lifetime of guilt and remorse and regret. If your son manages to hurt you seriously, or to kill you, he will NEVER RECOVER. It will be an enormous tragedy and a giant waste. NO loving paarent wants their child to shoulder that burden, and it is what WILL happen if you don't work NOW to stop your son from being violent and hurting you. Wiz was violent - esp to Jess and I. He actively wanted us to die. He was 11 or 12 when he managed to cause some nerve damage in my left hand as he tried to go through me to get to Jessica. Wiz is 19 now, 20 very soon. Every time we are together I hide it if I feel any pain or weakness in that hand. He will hold it, rub it, even kiss it to try to make it better - and he HATES to touch people, esp their hands and other than this he has only actually kissed me a handful of times in the last 5 years. I DON"T remind him, and do all I can to help him not remember it. He worked hard to change and there is no reason for him to feel guilt, not in my eyes.

    If the worst happens, it will be SO HARD for anyone to convince your son you love him regardless. I know it is NOT what you want for your son. PLEASE work to get him into a placement where he will be unable to hurt you or anyone else. He NEEDS to learn to make safe choices, and while you are being abused this way you simply cannot change the dynamic enough without a boatload of help, the kind that are there 24/7 to make sure that everyone is safe.

    Just because he is young does NOT mean he won't do things that have permanent consequences. one of our jobs as parents is to protect our kids from things that have consequences that they won't understand or be able to handle but would hurt them for years and years to come. Stopping this cycle of abuse is one of those things.

    I am so sorry. I have lived this, and I cannot see ANY way that you can create that loving bond that your son needs with you until he is able to make safe choices. There is time to work on other things like respect once no one is being hurt. Violence cannot be tolerated. it just can't.

  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sorry, I don't know why I missed the physical aspects. I was focussing on the verbal abuse.

    There is still a problem for me on the domestic violence stuff, however. He is not only just an 8 year old kid, he is likely to be a very immature one. And I went through the physical abuse at the hands of my babies too. At some level they learn it is not appropriate, but some kids don't learn the usual way. And therein lies the problem.

    However, Susie is right, in that you do have to consider your own safety and that of others also. It is difficult and you should be getting the help you have been asking for. I don't know why they have not stepped in to help you be safe.

  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    HangingOn, he's got a lot of issues for an 8-yr-old. He's already been at Residential Treatment Center (RTC), which is a big step for a little kid, and he's on a lot of medications. I can see why you are so torn.
    I agree with-Marg, that you've got to try something different (and I understand that he can by physical).
    It is interesting that you say he called you f-ing B a few times a wk now, which is less than he used to do, several times a day. That means he has improved. (Hard to see from your perspective but true.) He knows your buttons and you let him push them. Do NOT buy into it.
    You have to pretend you're a robot. Whatever you decide to do when he says that, for example, must be automatic and calm and consistent. Maybe cut out 10 min of TV time, or send him to be early (if he will go!).
    One thing I do is literally walk away when my son starts to argue. I can all too easily be drawn into it with-him. He is so clever that way.
    I would suggest working on just one behavior at a time.
    I would pick the violence first ... but is the swearing and belittling tied into the physical violence? I mean, does he escalate? Or are these separate issues?
    What starts him off? Can you tell if it's jealousy, dietary, lack of sleep, inability to transition, something genetic, or all of the above? Once you identify one or two triggers, you can work around them.
    I need a little more information.

    What do you do when he kicks your knees? When he throws things at your head?
    Do you ever take time to play with-him outside, for example, if he want to throw a ball at your head, you could catch it and throw it back, and you could see if that helps him get it out of his system or if it makes it worse. Sometimes these kids can't tell the difference between a game and real life.

    When he cut up the card that his brother gave him, it gave me an indication that he may be on the autism spectrum, partly because these kids love to cut or shred paper to relieve stress, and partly because he had no social clue or cue that he was supposed to keep the card intact and display it.

    Like I said, I need more information.

    Best of luck!
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    P.S. Can you get away for a weekend? Have a sister or someone take your kids for a bit? I know the feeling of feeling battered and it really helps to take a break.
  7. Hanging-On

    Hanging-On New Member

    Thanks everyone. First off he's 11 yrs old. No I can't get anytime off, no family within 2,000 miles. Friends has left us too, due to behavior and that we have to live far out in the country. I have to read ya'lls replies again to digest it all, because I've had the flu all week and my head is still out of sorts right now.

    One thing that I'm fighting us that he's in an awesome Special Education class with an incredible teacher. This is the only reason why I haven't acted on removing him.

    I know Suzie's right, but I'm wondering if what Terry said would help. Changing one thing. I do walk away when he goes off, I too don't want to be dragged into his drama. Which is easy to do cuz it ****** me off so much.

    I'm already walking away, and to me this just allows him to be in charge. He gets away with so much cuz I'm choosing my battles. I just am confused. And the flu isn't helping.

  8. Jena

    Jena New Member


    i'm so sorry you sound wiped out totally and being sick doesn't help much. you have to get you better first before you'll be able to re work him and the household. are you taking medications?? hes' young, 11 is still young. when your better you have to sit down read the responses get a pen and paper and almost handle this like a job, remove emotion out of it. sounds crazy but you have to. you and your easy child shouldnt' go thru this. yea great he's using his coping skills outside the home, yet when he gets home he becomes him again.

    i'd have a medication check done as well. that much aggression verbally and physically? what's the point of the medications? you know what i mean? maybe it's time for a switch also. i have a few ideas of how to get his aggression out safer though. update when you can and i hope you feel better.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Whatever battles you choose, you have to win. And walking away means no battle, so he has not won, no matter how much it seems otherwise. And you can't engage them all and you can't win them all. Choose one thing to change and leave the rest. For now.

    You will never be able to discipline him into being a normally-behaved person. he has to learn this by copying your behaviour, and not by listening to you. You have to demonstrate this in how you live.

    By walking away, you are also teaching him to walk way instead of engage, when he cannot win an engagement. This is a very valuable lesson for him, so even in walking away, you are teaching him well.

    Also consider - natural consequences. If he insults you, is rude to you and then demands food (or some other service) then you can tell him that you will give him his basic needs but anything more is only what you will do when you want to, and if he is kind to you, you will feel more kindly disposed to wards him and be more likely to want to do nice things for him. Or if you are too tired form doing his chores as well, then you won't have the energy to do more for him. If he wants something from you and you are busy, then helping you will mean you will finish your chores faster and be able to then give him what he wants. You scratch my back... Again, valuable lessons.

  10. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I agree with the others that if he is taking all of those different medications and is still behaving in that manner at home than either he is not taking the right medications, or something is missing. You can not continue to live that this. It's unfair to you, to your easy child, and it's really unfair to difficult child. You need to sit down with the psychiatrist and tell him exactly what you have told us. Write it down if you have to, so that you can remember specific dates and incidents. Make sure that they understand the level of concern you have for your own safety and for the safety of your children. Not only could he hurt you, but he could hurt himself as well. Make that absolutely clear and make sure they understand it. Like someone else said, if you are not forecful they will pat you on your head and send you on your way. I've had it happen to me and it took two more years before I was able to start down the road of getting help for my difficult child.

    I have to say that I know exactly how you feel. My difficult child is fabulous at school, but at home he can be beastly. In the past when teachers have asked me how he behaves at home and I describe it to them they look at me like I'm crazy. They just can't imagine that the sweet, quiet, respectful child that sits in their classroom and never speaks out of turn is the disrespectful, rude bully child that I describe to them when he is at home. I understand the frustration, the depression (I just started taking Wellbutrin to help with that), the anxiety, and the anger. And I totally understand how your easy child feels (mine feels the same way at times). Don't give up!! We are here to help you.

    Try the Ross Green book. I came from a family of yellers and smackers so when I had kids that was all I knew. I quickly learned that those methods didn't work for difficult child so I needed to fine another way. It took years. I'm still trying to impelement CPS here in the house, but then I can do it I find that it is a pretty successful method of problem solving.

  11. Hanging-On

    Hanging-On New Member

    Ok, now I see why everyone knows old information. My signature. When I come on and log-in I never see my bouncing avatar or signature. But this time I just came on to read, and didn't log-in, and saw them. I've tried editing them but the system wont let me.

    I just thought ya'll had wonderful memories....LOL.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    At eleven the violence is even more serious than it was at age 8. If he is anything like many of our difficult children, he is very, very strong, and more so when he is in a rage. That makes the probablility that you will get really hurt by him much greater.

    Walking away is a very good thing to do. Does he chase you if you walk away, or try to corner you or not let you leave the area where he is? That alone is another form of abuse. I know exactly how awful that feels because my gfgbro, now over 40yo, still does that to husband, the kids and I. No one else, but it is a terrifying and horrible feeling.

    One thing you can do is be sure to keep your cell phone on you at all times. It is a way to call for help even if that has to be 911 for emergency transport to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation.

    What is his diet like? While there are studies that say that sugar, preservatives and food colorings/additives. do not create problems, there are many who know that it isn't true. My gfgbro used to be a nasty drunk (thank God he is now a recovering alcoholic!) but he was even nastier and more vicious and violent if he had a candy bar or other big serving of sugar on an empty stomach. Didn't matter if it was from fruit, it made him just awful. At least as a drunk someone will call the cops if he did it in public.

    This may sound strange, but check out the Zone Diet. It advocates eating a diet where meals are balanced with 40% carb, 30% fat and 30% protein. The important thing with this is the protein. Esp early in the morning and any time you have gone more than a couple of hours with-o protein. I have fibromyalgia and eating this way really helps with the mental fog and other problems, as well as with the irritable feeling that is part of it for me. I have found that it makes a big difference with all of my kids too. My mother has an autoimmune liver disease that isn't supposed to get better once problems started. They could stop getting worse, but were thought to not be able to get better. She used this Zone diet for a couple of years along with really working to manage her stress. Her docs were AMAZED and are now doing some research because the biopsies showed improvement in the damage. ALL she did other than take the medications was the diet really. The stress she had been doing for several years before that when there was no improvement.

    It isn't best when used as a weight loss diet. It is more a way of living. The various Zone books have some good recipes and ideas to hel p you get tasty, realisticly doable recipes. They also have the meal bars that are made with that balance of fat/carb/protein. My kids like certain flavors and would often choose them over a candy bar because they like the way they feel after they eat one more than the way they feel after a candy bar (they still go for candy too, of course!). With all of my kids I have found that we have vastly better evenings if they eat something with protein right after school or in the early/mid afternoon on a weekend. The mornings are better if they get a good serving of protein before school also. While my mother mixes protein powder with a few ounces of grapefruit juice or coffee, my kids prefer eggs or leftovers from dinner. Some of the Zone books have snacks and meal suggestions that are not something you have to cook specially. Things like 2-3 ounces of lean deli meat or cooked chicken breast with half of a Snickers candy bar, or even an egg mcmuffin from mcdonalds. The eggmcmuffin is high on fat, but has a good serving of protein and carbs according to the book.

    For ideas the books are handy to refer to - the first one is The Zone Diet by Dr. Sears - you can most likely find them used or in the library easily.

    I am not saying that you have to put difficult child on this specific diet, just that the basics of it can make a big difference in irritable aggression for some kids. So using the books for ideas to do this might be helpful. NOT suggesting weight loss or anything for your kids. That is something that their doctors and tdocs need to address if it is needed.

    It really is hard and confusing when it feels like you are letting difficult child take over because you are choosing to address just one or two specific top priority things (Basket A things like the violence). The Explosive child can help, and Dr. Doug Riley now has a book called "What Your Explosive Child IsTrying To Tell You" that might help you find the "why" behind his rages and violence. Not too long ago Dr. Riley posted about the book here. The threads might be interesting and/or helpful for you also.

    I really Do understand how you feel. You are NOT alone.

    PLEASE contact a domestic violence shelter for YOU. NOT to run away to, but to get some counseling and help with this problem. They may say they don't know what to do, but push so that they at least give you individual counselling. It was a great help for me. There are also hotlines you can call when it gets really bad. just to have someone to talk to so that you can hear a live body tell you that you are not crazy and you have a RIGHT to be safe in your home regardless of who is the violent person.

    Hotlines are not a solution to the problem, but they DO make you feel less alone and abandoned and hopeless.


    ps. I wonder what your difficult child would say if you wore kneepads around the house so that when he kicked your knees they were protected? Ditto for shinguards or whatever. NOT as a permanent solution, but to let him know that you will do all you can to protect yourself. It miight make him think?
  13. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    He is probably making a lot of efforts to hold it in at school and literaly unwinds on you. Maybe you could work out with a ' winding down ' ritual to help him settle down.

    I am very passionate about CPS - collaborative problem solving . The way to go in my humble opinion is to focus on ' connecting and bonding with him , entering his world , getting him to speak and you listen. Discuss general stuff like you would with a friend . You can also start prioritizing problems and working on a few of them. The main work in problem solving is hearing the kids concerns, helping feel heard and seeing you as a help. He has to learn to trust you.

    I believe a lot in mentors , buddy tutors , older brothers etc . If you can find someone to take him out for some fun and who will reach out to him so he will confide in him , and talk to him helps a lot.

    I try to share a lot on CPS here and on my blog

  14. troubledheart

    troubledheart New Member

    I completely feel your pain. I was experiencing the same things, and I was homeschooling my difficult child. It got so violent, and I looked everywhere for help, and there weren't many options, but I refused to be attacked physically any longer. This past week he came at me with objects and I was very scared and very bruised up. Unfortunatly, or maybe fortunately, his bio-dad in another state was willing to take him in. He had to go. I miss him like mad and will post the story soon on my own thread, but understand that you have a ton of support here and vent when you need to. BUT YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE PHYSICALLY HARMED BY YOUR CHILD!!!