difficult child repeated beligerent name calling to parents

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Carolyn9595, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. Carolyn9595

    Carolyn9595 Guest

    difficult child, now age 15 and 6'2 has a very deep and commanding voice and towers over us.
    He carries himself as if he was superior to us. He once told me "obey is a word for slaves." I know I am supposed to ignore junk behavior but even asking him where he set his juice or if he is hungry prompts him to use that drill sargeant voice and yell NO!
    He tells me "Get out of my FACE" "You're annoying me" "Dummy" "Stupid" "I wish you weren't my mom" For awhile he was calling his father "BOY" and I thought flames were going to shoot out of my ears. Our response: 1-just take it and ignore it 2-say an assertive statement to stand up for ourselves "You're not going to talk to me like that" 3-Yell at him because he's done it so often that night we're on edge To me, it's verbal abuse and I feel victimized. I can't control what he says. He talks to his sister and his friends like this too but they take it different and joke with him.
    What should I do? Sometimes I handle it and sometimes I go on the deck and cry.
    Some nights I think we're in some sad theatre production that he is directing. He sets the stage and script and enjoys the drama. He is pleased because he is in control. The fact that our family is torn apart by this and he knows it doesn't matter.
    He went to a counselor who I really have faith in but now he refuses to go anymore.
    I go but he really needs to go. I try but he won't get in the car.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Hi Carolyn. Welcome!

    Is your teen just being a typical teen or has he been diagnosed with any disorder?

    One of my favorite books is Parenting Teens with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. There's a great chapter on disrespect. It has a wonderful story about a mom winning respect from her teens only after she demonstrated respect for herself.
  3. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    Sounds like my difficult child. However it isn't always like that. He can be sweet and hug me. Says he loves me every morning when I drop him off at school, and when I call him (when I am out of town for work)
    But then there are the days when for whatever reason he gets set off, in turn sets me off. I tell him not to talk to me that way, but he does. He later will apologize and tell me that "you know when I get angry I can't control myself, I don't know what to do, I didn't mean it....I'm sorry". But it is the same apology time after time. In addition to this he also punches the doors, walls, side of the house (which know has knuckle marks dented in the siding) and last he puched the refridgerator which now has dents and knuckle marks in the front. His bedroom door is nothing but broken wood. Too many holes to actually have one hole, the entire door is a hole. Holes in the walls.

    psychiatrist said "get over it he was mad, we all say things when we are mad". I am having a difficult time with that. I can't imagine ever speaking to my parents that way and I can't ever imagine telling someone to hurt my mother.

    I need to get that book smallworld suggested. My difficult child does have problems and we are working on the right combination of medication and treatment. Hoping we will find the right combination soon before he gives up again on treatments.

    I know it is difficult. I know it hurts your heart. Is there ever a time when he isn't angry, when you can have a close heart to heart talk? Would he respond respectfully then? It is so scary and frustrating when you have to be walking on egg shells around your own child in fear of what he may or maynot say/do. Hang in there.
  4. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi Carolyn. I think you've got great insight into how your son's mind works - he creates drama/chaos and basks in the result. That's his reinforcement right there. I know it's really hard to ignore this kind of constant garbage - it just wears you down - but every time you react, it's fuel to his fire.

    I'd expect him to increase his attempts to engage you. It will probably get worse before it gets better. If you have to, buy ear plugs (not kidding). My diversion of choice is my MP3 player when the teen/tween around here start crossing the line. I've also been known to go on strike - it's very effective with- my younger 2 kids. I am *not* their servant, I deserve respect, and they know the fastest way to get me to shut down is to cop an attitude.

    You are required to provide food, shelter, bedding, and clothes (of your choice). Period. Do you think he might change his tune if you start removing the good stuff? Does he respond to positive/negative reinforcement?

    Have you talked to his counselor about this? That might be a good resource for you, even if he won't go right now. Do you think offering a carrot (reward) might get him back into the therapist?

    Our kids really know how to cut us to the core - easy child or difficult child. We have to develop really thick skin and selective hearing loss some days.

    "Boy"... Oh my goodness, LOL. I just don't know where they come up with- this stuff sometimes.

    Hang in there!
  5. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    O boy, what a headache! I can just picture him sanding over you and yelling....yikes!!!

    My advice would be to ignore him - but in an extreme way. When he yells, calls names, curses, screams...turn on your heel and WALK AWAY.

    If he comes into the room and doesn't speak in a pleasant and/or polite tone of voice - LEAVE.

    Eventually, he'll demand to know what you are doing. You simply explain that you choose not to be around someone who is acting that way (if you can say this in a very calm and pleasant tone of voice - it will be best).

    And he is a big boy. You don't have to serve him meals or bring him drinks. If you are serving dinner and he is acting disrespectfully, you skip his plate. Ask him to leave the table until he can behave himself. He won't? You grab your plate and YOU LEAVE.

    If he gets physically abusive, you can call the police - but words? You don't have to listen to them...
  6. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    I am so sorry. I feel your pain. Mine is 8 and does this also. I would even welcome being called dummy or stupid rather than the words my son uses. It is exhausting for sure. It wears you down. It is verbal abuse. It has to stop. The other members have given you some good advice. When I ignore my son and leave the room he follows me, he gets in my face, he threatens me by putting his hands up like he is going to hit me - actually he does hit and kick me sometimes. Sometimes I do engage him (which I shouldn't) and I get right back in his face and tell him he is NOT going to talk to me like that - but he does. And the look in his eyes when I do that is like he is shocked or something like how can you be so mean to me - what did I do. Sometimes I think he needs to have a full blown melt down with us restraining him for him to get that energy out and then he calms down like nothing happened. It takes along time though - over an hour of him being held. I realize you can't do that considering how big your son is. I really worry about my son getting older/bigger and us not being able to restrain him. Hang in there - you have found a good place with good people to give you support and advice. Welcome to the board!
  7. Hello. I am posting for the first time. My son's school psychologist suggested I join a support group. Apparently she sensed my frustration and desperation. I do agree with earlier posts. Definitely not falling into your child's trap by interacting with them on their negative level. My son tries to maintain a respectful attitude while in mine and my husband's presence, but will curse anyone else out in a heartbeat. He has learned that in order to get my attention he has to lower his voice and change his tone. If he approaches me with respect, then and only then will he get a response from me. My situation is very unique, as I am sure everyone's is. My son is sneaky and minipulative, but his temper is like that of a 2 or 3 year old. Hang in there and stand firm. This too shall pass.
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    The key here (which is much easier with older children) is to LEAVE THE ROOM AND GO SOMEWHERE THEY CANNOT FOLLOW. Lock yourself in your bedroom/office/bathroom if you have to....get in your car and drive around the block....go to a neighbors house.

    The idea is that your very presence is fueling their behavior. They call you a name...they see you get angry - Bingo!=Payoff!!! You engage them? MAJOR payoff! Now they get to be "hurt", the "victim" and "o poor me - Mom is so mean".

    If you are in your bedroom doing something that sounds happy (playing music, for example) they can stand outside your door and scream every bad name in the book - but what good does it do them? And if they need to get that anger out - LET THEM. What do you care? You're not there being abused...
  9. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    It is verbal abuse and is so frustrating that we have to take it from our kids. I vote for #2 but rather then saying, "You're not going to ...", say "we don't ...". It is a little less personal, and you probably will need to repeat it several time. To avoid #3 (which is very hard to do when they keep at it) I must use my "Hal" voice. From the movie 2010, when the computer was taking over the ship and said, "I'm sorry Dave I'm afraid I can't do that." I use the Hal voice because I am so angry that I can not talk calmly with my own voice and I don't want to raise it. I have even said, "I'm sorry difficult child I'm afraid I can't do that." Someday he will see the movie and make the connection, but hopefully not until he is out on his own.

    Start reducing what he gets, no trips, money, nice clothing (or rather clothing he wants), until you get some respect.

    Walk away when needed. With the Hal voice tell him you will be back when he can treat you with respect. I once left difficult child a lone in the house and went to a mid night movie, just because I was going to explode.

    Don't sign any school forms, provide supplies or perform any function that he needs until you get the respect.

    If he should ever threaten you or get violent do not hesitate to call 911. You do not have to take it!

    He enjoys it because he controls it. The less you respond the less power he will have. Take that power away.

    It is OK to cry on the deck, but not if he can see you. laugh, leave and then cry.

    For our difficult child it helped when husband and I went to the counselor without him (he would not go). She was able to teach us different skills which helped us manage him better. Which reminds me, read The explosive child. It helps some.

    Post here when you need to.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Carolyn.
    I hear you!
    You've gotten some great responses.
    I agree with-the others--leave the room. And quit doing him favors. Only talk to him or with him if he can lower his voice and not berate you.
    When is does say something in a normal tone of voice, catch him doing something good and tell him it's good. (That part is hard. It's like they never do anything good ... so you have to search for things.)
    I would definitely take things away (not in front of him; wait until he's at school) and only give them back when he earns them back. He will yell even louder when he discovers it, but that's what ear plugs are for. :)
    Does he have a diagnosis?
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We also walk away if we must. We stay calm, we do not engage, we above all else do not shout back.

    These kids need to be shown respect (even when they don't show you respect - you have to set the example) before they can learn what they should be doing.

    You do not have to accept lack of respect, but not accepting it does not mean throwing it back in their faces. That is disrespectful to them, and 'allows' the child to continue to be disrespectful to you. Instead, quietly remove yourself and also remove your services (other than the necessary basics) until you are shown respect. You may need to work towards the level of respect you want.

    But the phrase we use a lot, and it works for us, is to quietly say, "I am not shouting at you/disrespecting you, please do not do it to me." Then walk away.

  12. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The other book I highly recommend when it comes to parenting teens is "Yes Your Teen is Crazy" by Michael Bradley. It's humorous as well as informative and gives solid advice for handling difficult teen behavior.
  13. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Excellent point Marg! Thanks for pointing this out. I bet my difficult child feels like he is not respected. I've been of the opinion that he doesn't show any to us, why should we show any to him. Now that I think about it and after writing that out - that is pretty childish of us. I know when I was a child, I did not feel heard. I've noticed with my son, he does not express his feelings. I am thinking he needs help putting words/emotions to his feelings. When he is frustrated, he never says 'I'm frustrated because...', he just screams, flips out, gets aggressive, or swears.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I just wrote a very effective reply and forgot to copy before I sent it. Lost the lot. Blast!

    here I go again...

    Jules, you have got my point exactly. Your son is trying to communicate in the only way he knows how. It is immature and childish, but hey - he IS a child! He has an excuse. Use your own memories of childhood and how it felt, to guide you. Also try to work out what is in his head and use this too.

    What you have to do, is model for him the behaviour you want from him. So if you want him to say, "I'm frustrated because..." then YOU have to do this with him.

    When you change your methods you will see change. But you will also cop flak from observers who tell you that you are spoiling your child, you are a slack parent for not disciplining your child as you should (ie as they think you should). Too often, this sort of discipline is interpreted by the child as revenge. They then try to punish you the same way, when they feel you have wronged them. So if you shout at your child, your child will shout at you. If you take something of your child's (confiscation) and it is not directly connected to the "crime", then expect a difficult child to 'steal' from you to punish you, for something they are angry about. For example, your child does not do his chores, so you confiscate his iPod. Your child later on gets angry because you don't give him money to go out with friends, so he takes your favourite jeans. A bad pattern to get into. Prevention is best.

    We don't punish. Instead, we have natural consequences. We also involve the child in setting the consequences. So if difficult child 3 fails to do his work because he's been playing games, we ask him - what stopped you from working? WHat can we do to resolve this? How can we help you get your work done without the distractions?

    Some of the problems we have from others, is their deep belief tat not only do they know better, but we CLEARLY are not listening to them so they will discipline our child when we are out of the room. Their intent is to do our job for us, to present us with a "See? You said traditional methods don't work, but it worked for me!"
    Of course, that is when the sewage hits the air conditioning. We do come into the room at times to hear our kid yelling, or perhaps just sitting sullenly, or perhaps even storming out of the room, with a righteously indignant family member telling us that our son is spoiled and needs a good clip round the ear. If the family member is a respected elder, the temptation is to immediately call your child back to make them apologise. Don't. You should never force an apology from anybody who is still angry. They won't mean it and such an apology will be worthless. Instead, get the story from the family member while difficult child is absent. Let them vent, let them talk. Then tell them, "I will talk to difficult child." Then go find your child and let HIM vent. Let him talk. Not in the presence of the other person.
    After that - discipline is a private thing.

    We have been in the position where we had to tell our child, "What family member did/said was inappropriate, but he/she doesn't know any better. We are teaching you to behave better than that, even where the other person is wrong. Now, you should not have shouted at him/her so I think you should apologise for shouting. But it's up to you. If you do go to apologise, remember that family member is likely to be critical of you and tell you things that may make you feel angry again. Remember, it is up to you to accept what this person says, or to reject it. If you can think about what they say and feel it is wrong, then ignore it. There is not need for you to let wrong information make you angry. In your life, you will often meet people who don't think like you or who have a different opinion. Everybody believes themselves to be right. Some adults want everybody, especially children, to always agree with them. That is not necessarily right. What YOU know to be right, is what is important here. Now, think about that situation. How could you have handled it better?"
    We role play it a little and the end result generally is, our child is better insulated against future meddling, and also has learnt a positive lesson in how to cope.

    I was just 11 years old when I first realised that adults are not only fallible, but sometimes are bullies as well. My school principal was chastising me in front of the class and I know his aim was to have me in tears. But I had compartmentalised my mind and told myself, "He cannot physically harm me. I have not done anything wrong, he just wants me to believe I have. My mother knows what I have done and might frown, but will not scold. All I have to do is wait here, stand here, until he finishes talking."
    The principal was trying that age-old discipline method, "Make the kids cry, especially publicly, then I know I have asserted my authority." My silence in response was classic passive-aggressive. ALso not healthy if it becomes a habit. But it begins as a defence mechanism to the heavy emotional card being played.

    Yelling is another emotional attack. Too often, all it does is teach an emotional response.

    husband used to yell a lot. He is a classic example of do as you were taught. Not that he grew up with a lot of yelling, but he did grow up with a lot of emotional manipulation and being set up in a lose-lose argument. He was slower than me to change tactic (I was the pioneer in the family; there is always one, it's rare to both be working at the same pace). As a result, husband is more a target for difficult child 3's yelling than I am. But husband is doing brilliantly.

    Two nights ago, difficult child 3 was angry about something. We had reached our broadband limit and frankly, it was pretty much difficult child 3's overloading the system. But he was attacking husband and demanding he fix things, when husband intended nothing of the sort (it was due to rollover to the next month's large allowance within hours, anyway - a few hours at slow speed would be a valuable natural consequence). husband kept saying (in the face of difficult child 3's yelling, swearing and direct abuse), "I will not discuss this now. I will discuss it with Mum. If you shout at me again, I will leave. I am not shouting at you; please do not shout at me."
    husband left. Told me later I would have been proud of him. I was.

    Now, some people would say that we should have chastised difficult child 3 for such bad behaviour. But what would that achieve? The aim of discipline is to teach. Punishing difficult child 3 (as with a lot of difficult children) only feels like revenge to him, and then justifies him taking revenge on us when he is angry. Instead, we talked to him, but made it clear, this was NOT a scolding. "One day you may be a supervisor and have people working for you. You COULD order them to do what you want, but if you are terse, they will resent you. Or you could ask nicely, and they then will be more willing to do what you want. You get a lot more from people when you work with them and not against them. You need to be good to people to get more of what you want."
    Because by this time he had calmed down, and also because this was not a scolding, he got the message. As a result, the lesson has been learned, but with no need to punish.

    Read "The Explosive Child". And other books. Read other threads here. Read the archives.

    Parenting a difficult child takes a change in mindset. It also takes self-confidence and consistency. You need to stand your ground with critics politely and firmly.

    Immediate benefits to you -

    1) your stress levels should ease, as the behaviour improves, even a little.

    2) As you have changed from mentally notching up resentment at your child's infractions, you will have let go a lot of the emotional pain that builds up. You will feel calmer and happier as a person.

    3) Eventually other people will notice that you are managing better in general, with other people. These methods can have a very broad application. Find the chink in the armour of that stubborn public official and h=you have a better chance of getting under than person's skin.

    You can do this, and you will feel better.

    Now, can I post THIS without losing it?

  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I had to re-read this thread to take my own advice.
    difficult child is a total PITA tonight. Had a hand-held game and sat in the same chair all night. Refused to attend back-to-school night with-me. Refused to discuss teachers or classes when I got home. Refused to take out the dogs, move the sprinkler, empty the dishwasher, then called me "dummy." When I went to his room to see what he was doing--1/2 hr after his bedtime (and by the way, he was up on his sister's computer at midnight last night, having broken her lock again), he told me he was going to strangle me and kill me.
    I'd love to send him away forever just this moment. I have no life.
    All I can say, Carolyn, is that you're in good company.

    P.S. husband is out of town.
    I disabled the computer and hid all the electronic devices I could find. I hid them yesterday but he found them. I'm clearing out his room completely in the a.m., and will probably have to hire someone to do it for me.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Terry, I'm not in your shoes. I have at times had my kids make such threats, but I don't wear it. I do openly give it serious consideration and say to the kid, "Rather than kill me, why not simply ask me to leave home? I'll happily do so, if it comes down to that. Let's see, where would I go? Maybe Disneyland, I would love to spend some time there without having kids hanging on me wanting money. The main reason I haven't left home already is, you need me to feed you, clothe you and pay the bills to keep this roof over your head. But if I'm to be killed then you've obviously got all that covered. That's good. I'll go pack now. If I get driving, I could make it to the next city by tomorrow morning. Oh, I'll need to sell the house to raise funds for myself. But you'll be right, won't you? You've got all that covered, haven't you?"

    Then walk out. I don't think you'll have much time to pack.

  17. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member


    So sorry you're going through this. I've been there done that, and it's not pretty. It really is a form of abuse. Most people can't imagine parents as victims of abuse, but you'll find an understanding group here.

    The others have given lots of good advice. I just want to add that as a result of their brain chemistry disorders, many of our difficult children are way below their age level in terms of emotional maturity. It's as if you're dealing with a 6'2" nine-year-old. My difficult child is three years older than easy child, but less mature in many ways.

    I tell difficult child that I will listen to his concerns as long as he behaves respectfully. When he stops being respectful, he loses the right to be heard. It's really important not to engage with him when he's bullying. Easier said than done, but you've got to stay out of the trenches. It's also better to focus on your reactions. "You're not going to talk to me like that" is perceived as an attempt to control him; "I'm not going to listen when you talk to me like that" invites him to exercise self-control.

    Can you tell us more about his background and diagnosis (diagnosis) if you have one?

  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    It's as if you're dealing with a 6'2" nine-year-old.

    So true.