difficult child's Respond To Tough Parents?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Wonderful Family, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. I've been reading the board for sometime, but never posted - I actually came across it back in the late 90's/2000 time frame, when we were first trying to figure out why our toddler/preschooler was so mad all the time.

    I am thrilled with all the wonderful pieces of information I've picked up - truly helpful to me and my family. I'm always learning something new.

    We have the kid in which even the baskets have never worked - until just a little very recently - and most docs just shook their head over the years!

    My son just made an interesting comment the other day that I've been thinking a lot about - he likes it when people (adults) are stronger and tougher than him - and really likes it that I have more strength than he has. Not necessarily authoritarian, but not cowed by him either. He's managed to run over 99% of most adults in schools and other places over the years. We gave up telling him what to do when he was 2! So, it's not that. But believe it or not - he's a good kid??

    If this seems somewhat accurate, how do we translate or communicate this so that teachers and others can relate?

    I'm just wondering if this might be a little nugget that might help him and others a bit?

    Now that I've gotten up the courage to post - I'll probably have a ton of questions. Especially since so much headway has been made in the last several months (finally!).

    Me - 40 something

    husband of 23 years, great dad and husband

    difficult child Big Bear-Son: 12, BiPolar (BP)/not otherwise specified/Mood Disorder/not otherwise specified, ADHD, Anxiety, ODD - medications lamictal 150mg, geodon 60mg, omega 3

    easy child Prince Charming - Son: 8 ADHD - Concerta 18mg, Omega 3
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Wonderful!

    When I read the title of your post, I was a little worried!

    Intersting that your difficult child responds more to the "authoritarian" style than the "understanding" style. My difficult child is the total opposite. He could/will totally shut down he feels talked down to or subjegated.

    I think we need to stop and listen/talk to our difficult children. Sometimes they can share those insights into themselves than can really help.

    Glad you have made so much headway with difficult child and decided to join us. I look forward to hearing more!

  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator


    Maybe your difficult child is saying that the strength of the adults around him makes him feel more secure and less anxious. I actually think that's a common feeling that many children, PCs and difficult children alike, share.

    I'm curious: If Ross Greene's "Baskets" approach hasn't worked for your difficult child, what has worked? And how did he turn out to be a good kid?

    I'm glad you came out of lurkdom and decided to join us. Again, welcome.
  4. Thanks for the quick response. I saw the typo - but it was too late! Sorry. I just saw the spell check.

    I totally agree with listening to our kids - it's the only way to reach my son. Which is why I was curious about how he phrased his comment to me, and how to turn it around to him in a way that he would understand and perhaps help others communicate with him better.

    It's never authority over him, he freaks out over this and will shut down immeidately or lash out - more of who's ultimately responsible for things, sort of a big fence surrounding him.

    What works? medications - semi-stability and maturity on our part and his?? I tried to write this - but nothing sounds right and I start sounding like I'm writing a book and a know it all or no clue (which is true) or I'm lecturing! He has a very structured and rigid life - probably too much, but when we lighten up even a little - he goes off immediately.

    So much is driven by fear - which leads to anxiety - which leads to the varius meltdowns/aggression/violence. He essentially lives in this fright/fight mode. As he is learning to be responsible for just a few basic things, the things that are just bad habits have slowed down a lot.

    The easiest way to say it is putting responsibility for his reactions on him(not necessarily actions - usually he has consequences enough without us adding more). If he can focus on that - it seems to give him the control he needs maybe and perhaps put some level of responsibility back on the adults versus him - security?? (where it should be)

    Having to live with the unintended consequences from really stupid things now are motivating him to change - a tiny little bit - but that's what makes the big difference. Mind you - it was and is things that make no sense - only in his head; and why we keep pushing forward. How can this perfectly evil acting and sounding child still show up at home on time and apologize for coming in 15 minutes late?

    Me - 40 something

    husband of 23 years, great dad and husband

    difficult child Big Bear-Son: 12, BiPolar (BP)/not otherwise specified/Mood Disorder/not otherwise specified, ADHD, Anxiety, ODD - medications lamictal 150mg, geodon 60mg, omega 3

    easy child Prince Charming - Son: 8 ADHD - Concerta 18mg, Omega 3
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Late last Summer and through the fall when my difficult child was battling his worst part of whatever he is going through, he would mention that he felt evil inside. He was afraid that he would hurt someone.

    Then about a month ago in a counceling session, something was said to the effect that I am afraid of what will happen to him in the future when I am unable to stop his bad behavior. That really scared him and I needed to explain that I was not talking about physically stopping him but when will he stop listening to me? What will happen when he decides he is tired of trying to be a good person and is just going to do what the moment brings? That he really needs to be in control of himself and know what he can and can not do.

    So, I think our young difficult child's feel safe when they are around strong people. And I don't think they only look for physical strength. They also are looking for role models, people who are cool because they are making strong decisions to do the right thing.

    My difficult child has so many leadership qualities in him as I bet most difficult child's do. They really do want things done justly and fairly and are learning how to do so. It's just that some things they are just not "getting" - when it is o.k. to forgive someone (why do we expect everyone else to be so perfect?) - when things don't have to go as scheduled - when we can follow Plan B and have it be o.k. and fun - why we don't have to own everything under the sun - etc.

    difficult child's do feel some strength and are learning from us how to use it. They feel some power within and want us to show them how to use it the proper way - ways in not to hurt others but still make it feel good. They think if there was no one holding back that power at times, they can hurt someone. Their saving grace is they really are kind hearted. They really do want to be at peace where everyone is safe and happy. They just don't get how that can happen. They just don't get their part in it.
  6. A strong person is a good description - and fits my meaning well.

    So much for having all these bright ideas; he had a major meltdown this afternoon and ended up breaking his cell phone - along with tons of screaming and kicking the floor for a good 30 minutes- etc. At least he can calm down now and not completely exhaust himself and turn back into a human being again - probably for most of the evening (huge improvement versus the past).

    The meltdown tonight was due to my asking him to give me his cell phone for an hour since he was calling me names (reason?? no clue what actually set him off - I laughed the wrong way or something similar??). Hopefully he'll be lurking outside my office asking how he can earn additional money so that he can replace it shortly.

  7. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome! I edited your title from 'touch' to 'tough'.

    Do you mean he does better if you don't tell him what to do, but stand firm in holding him to what he knows he should do?

    Maybe I am confused.

  8. Thanks for the edit; your question/comment is correct. We have to stand firm on the really important stuff - but it can't be direct. You have to just state what you want done and leave it at that - regardless of how long he screams and yells. For really big stuff, I do now (and only in the last few months) have enough "authority" that he seems to have a little concern about getting into trouble - this was a huge step forward. I about cheered the first time the school told me that he was afraid for them to call me about 2 months ago, because he didn't want to get into trouble!

    This has only really started working in the last few months. Up until now, it has really been survival mode. When he was small, we simply didn't go out much because he was so wild much of the time. There was nothing we could do most of the time. When we did go out, it was to very select places that were difficult child approved (e.g., right number and color of crayons if we went out to eat).

    Me - 40 something

    husband of 23 years, great dad and husband

    difficult child Big Bear-Son: 12, BiPolar (BP)/not otherwise specified/Mood Disorder/not otherwise specified, ADHD, Anxiety, ODD - medications lamictal 150mg, geodon 60mg, omega 3

    easy child Prince Charming - Son: 8 ADHD - Concerta 18mg, Omega 3
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Do his medications make a difference?

    Did you type your signature on each post? You can set it up once in the 'Quick Links' - 'Edit Signature' section.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Wonderful.
    Wow, that's a long time to lurk!
    My son has a very strong personality, too, and leadership skills. I agree that's probably typically difficult child. We keep telling one another he will be a lawyer when he grows up. He just never gives up.
    He had a wussy teacher in 2nd gr. He ran her ragged. She noticed that he was different from the other kids, and we had lots of mtngs with-her, but she never, ever had any ideas, and neither she nor the prinicpal backed up their rules. It was a rough, frustrating yr.
    We moved him to another school. Wow, what a diff! This yr's teacher was young, energetic and upbeat, and she never backed down from anything. A true Happy Warrior. It's really hard to find people like that, much less teachers like that.
    And it makes a huge diff.
    Take care.
  11. I think I got the signature fiured out.

    The medications help - a little; combo now seems to be the best - but still no real strong consistency day to day (or hour to hour) with his moods. The upside is that he tends to calm down faster than ever before and it doesn't always ruin the entire night.

    It helps a lot that he is under almost no pressure at the moment right now; he tends to fall apart a lot at school. We've had many teachers in which he has walked right over; but those that were extremely strict were just as bad - he rages even more over them because they are not fair. However, to be fair - even the "good" teachers still struggle a lot with him and tend not to know what to do - it's just "better".
  12. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just wanting to add my welcome-glad you are here!
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    The thing that popped out at me is that so many of us say how well our kids do in a highly structured environment that keeps them on task and rewards them for their cooperation in the environment. It takes a very strong person to keep our difficult children on task. I wonder if this is what he is perceiving?
  14. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Wonderful Family,

    WEll thank goodness you finally came out of the lurker. Er locker!!! Welcome to the board.

    really we have a spell check? See I learned something. Had no clue. Thanks.

    I don't know who you know and who you do not know - but I have a 17 year old child with a coconut for a head, and beautiful heart, but terribly short fuse. As he's matured it's gotten better. IT just didn't happen - he's been in Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s, on medications, in psychiatric hospitals, had dozens of therapists, I have read a bogus amount of books thanks to OH we think he has THIS - disorder of the month club. My card is punched full. I should get a free ride or air miles or something.

    We too tried everything there was - I have advocated for this child until I couldn't do it any longer not because I can't - but because I won't. It's a tough call to say that he responded to one thing or another because about the time we felt something was working - he'd change up and we'd start all over again and again to the point of me having a stroke due to stress. My health has taken quite the nose dive. A lot of the damage not fixable.

    When I exhausted all of my known avenues, like MRI's for chemical imbalance, and EEG's and blood tests, and heavy metal tests, and on and on and everything came back negative - it became apparent to us that if we didn't start tough love sometime - we really may loose him. I've been fortunate that Dude has never done drugs. I'm iffy on the alcohol, but only once if ever. He currently is living in a therapeutic foster home, going to get his GED, trying to find a job, and awaiting a court date that may sentence him to 15 years for a crime he was accused of but did not do. Reputation of his group home preceded him.

    I continue to advocate for him but from afar. I've tried my best through therapy to butt out, and let life give him his lumps. The hardest part about that was in knowing when I did - MY LIFE would ultimately be harder. Like If I allowed him to go to jail - I would have to go to court, I would have to find an attorney etc - OR let him hang on his own - WE let him hang on his own. It really was a dose of reality.

    When he left home - I gave him birth certificate, Medicaid, and SS - he has lost ALL but the birthcertificate - when he called asking me to get new ones I gave him the numbers to the places and told him HE had to do it. When he called and said he had lost his only pair of shoes - I said he better find someone with a loaner pair. When he called and said he was depressed I said BEtter call the psychiatrist. Stuff like that - NOT just totally throwing him to the wolves.....he is in a foster home, and only there because he does NOT do drugs. His behavior is WAY out there and has been for years.

    But ---he's made arrangements for new cards, he's made his own therapy appointements, he goes to school, he's trying to work but thats never really going to pan out in my humble opinion - he's not able to stay anywhere for longer than 10 minutes and if he had to handle customers he'd be fired pronto - he can't take direction because NOT EVERYONE is going to know EFFECTIVE Communication - which I feel is KEY in being able to communicate with difficult child's -

    I did a study course called Effective comm. It was worth it's weight in gold. But the best BOOK I have ever read a lovely lady bought for me - and it is called How to speak so your kids will listen and HOW to listen so your kids will speak.

    IT's like -(swear) a holy book for reaching your kids - and it reaches other people too -

    I wish you the best -
    Glad you found us
  15. Structure is definitely a necessity and I think part of what he perceives. Thanks for the welcome.
  16. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Hi Wonderful Family and welcome. My daughter also responds very well to a structured... make that rigid.... environment at home. And it falls on me to provide that because she needs it to thrive. She's only seven, but I've seen great strides in her behavior over the last few years because she's been given the strong framework she needs. I've endured taunts from other parents and family members that I'm too rigid, but they aren't here to clean up the mess when she spirals out of control.

    I really think many of our children are born missing the ability to set their own boundaries or learn them easily so they need us to do it for them. Is my child a easy child? Absolutely not. But I think she stands a good chance of being one of our board's success stories as she grows up because she's learning what she needs to get by now.
  17. lynnp

    lynnp New Member

    I'm pretty sure I understand what you mean. In many ways my husband and I have been too easy on my difficult child. Too many choices, too understanding of his rages, too busy trying to find out the WHY rather than hold him accountable for his behavior. It was this vicious cycle of being SO afraid of the rage and violence that we would do what we could to avoid it. Our style of parenting has worked very well with our 7 year old, he's kind and compassionate. With the difficult child it didn't work well or maybe it did, he might be way worse off without us. We'll never really know but are trying so hard to toughen up. He's 13 and, as we trust him more not to be violent, he needs to be held more accountalbe for all the other stuff like disrespect and not contributing to the family. It's hard but you all know that so well! Welcome, I'm also a long-time lurker who pokes her head out every once in a awhile...
  18. Holding our son more accountable is working (mind you - to some degree). We only had any real success once I have up on always trying to figure out the triggers. To some extent, we don't care too much anymore about how he feels - only what his reaction is.

    This doesn't mean we don't change envrionments or watch carefully for triggers still - we definitely do. One of the key things I saw with this approach was helping to identify where the real problems were - not just the bad behavior or habits. We also jump in right away when he says that someone else gets away with things more than he does - and ask him what would be required to get him to have the right actions. He usually says he's more difficult.

    There are real limits with this approach. We took a mini-vacation last week; there was no point in not giving him an "entire" day to do what he wanted (as long as we can make it work for everyone else) - nothing would have changed his focus and he would have made everyone else miserable. Fortunately, it was a small resort town and he wanted to shop, we just had a nice lunch sitting in the sun - no big deal.

    When we aren't home or in normal surroundings, I can count down the days as I watch the behavior get worse as he becomes more uncomfortable.

    However, this approach seems to allow us all to start learning about how to avoid things. Such as - is it worth talking in the car on your cell phone with your little brother in the car for a 2 minute ride - you'll just get mad and blow-up.

    This is just something that is working the last 2 or 3 months; we constantly have to shift techniques around.

    One last comment on The Explosive Child - I recently picked up the new book that is written towards therapists and teachers; it's not terribly technical and actually had some better insights than the original book. It actually gave me several approaches to use beyond just the basket (what to do and how to continue implementing it even when it does not seem to be working).
  19. I wanted to jump back in make sure I don't sounds like a know it all! I'm not - I think his growing up and ability to communicate better is also a big factor; some variation of a medication combo that works is a very big factor. What we can identify now (and this can change tomorrow) is where the real problems like medically - to so speak - it's no so hidden in the nasty stuff.

    When I post these things - I think it sounds like we have it figured out - we don't. My husband and I think our son is worth 6 easy child children - and why we only have 2.
  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome out of lurkdom!! Glad to have you with us.

    I think maybe what he means is that having you stand firm on limits, without being authoritarian or scary, makes him feel safe.

    There was a study done years ago about kids and playgrounds. At one school they had a fence around the playground. The kids played on every inch of that playground.

    Then they took the fence away. The kids stayed huddled in the center of the playground, even though the toys and four square and stuff were NOT in the center.

    It came down to feeling safer with the boundary there, and not feeling safe with out it.

    Our kids, and probably yours, like to know we will not tolerate certain things, and will do whatever is needed to enforce the rules we feel are important.

    Maybe that hleps?