do you talk to your difficult child about their diagnosis or symptoms?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ksm, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    difficult child has been really difficult the last couple of days. I see certain behaviors and when I ask her about them she just says "I don't know why". I really wanted to show her some info about bipolar, thinking maybe a little light bulb would go off and she would think... "ahh... maybe that is why I do such and such" But no luck. I have told her that I don't know if she is bipolar or not... but some of her symptoms led the ARNP in that direction.

    difficult child thinks that her meltdowns, outbursts, irritability,anger, rage, irrational thought patterns... and just plain meanness is all just being a 13 year old girl. At least that is what she tells me. Maybe she is trying to convince herself... but I don't hear the other moms talking about behavior on this level. I thought that maybe if she would consider that possibly her symptoms might be bipolar, she wouldn't be so hard on herself. After her outbursts, she does seem to show some remorse. But lately, even that is getting rarer. Tonight she told me that "You never raised a girl before, so how do you know how they act?" Well, I know this isn't in the normal range. She has made us promise to wake her up at 6am each morning this week so she can exercise. She thinks she is fat. Her size zero skinny jeans are too tight. But each morning, she stays in bed until 7:25 and then rushes off to school.

    Today, the school called and said that she said she had thrown up in the bathroom. Of course, no one saw this. So husband picked her up and brought her home. There was about 2 hours of school left. Our rule is that if you miss school because of sickness, then you don't get to go out and play for the rest of the day. She was furious when 5pm rolled around and she wanted to ride her bike, go for a walk, etc. Kept saying how stupid I was because it was a stupid rule and she didn't feel sick any longer so why couldn't she run around the neighborhood??? Tried to explain about life lessons - when you call in sick from a job, you had better not be seen having a good time out and about. Still stupid comparison...

    She sees the new therapist in two weeks. I am hoping we will make some headway with the new person. And tomorrow, husband and I see our new therapist. I need help to try to keep having compassion for her. Her anger at me is starting to wear me down and I just can't hardly tolerate her and her attitude. Hope I learn how to cope better. KSM
  2. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    We are very open about diagnosis in our family. My feeling is they will know (or their peers will know) something isn't right. I would rather them think "I have a hard time making friends because I'm different" than "I have a hard time making friends because I'm bad". Its not like I dump all the info I've got at them all at once. Just as things come up I point it out that this is a symptom of the diagnosis. Or, if things come up with a sibling I point out 'difficult child 2 does that because its part of his diagnosis. He isn't trying to annoy you on purpose.' Besides sometime they are going to have to advocate for themselves.

    At the same time I don't accept the diagnosis as an excuse. (I mostly get this from husband. The kids aren't there yet.) A diagnosis means its harder for you. No, its not fair. But there are also some positives things that come with the diagnosis that other people don't get.

    good luck with her.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Yes - with caution.
    Things that are easier for people in general to comprehend, we tend to give more details to the kid also - learning disabilities, auditory issues, motor skills... It provides a label that they can use to advocate for themselves, even as they learn to work around the issue.
    We were less open about mental health labels - partly because in our case we knew they would not be long-term - they were all secondary, generated by other problems not being dealt with. So - not the same case as yours.

    But I do know that, sharing the dxes with the kids helped them immensely. Sometimes, just knowing there was a label - the validation of their own gut feel that "something isn't working right" - had a big impact.

    And yes - its not an excuse. Again, its a fine line... some things are unreasonable enough that extra accommodations are warranted, other things not so much.
  4. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Instead of talking about a diagnosis and describing what it looks like = symptoms which in Dr Ross Greene's opinion has very little value , I would focus on her actual lagging skills and the context or conditions they compromise her ability to act in a flexible and adaptive way. Go through the lagging skills and unsolved problems checklist . A kid does not display his difficulties every moment of the day - they usually express themselves under certain circumstances and conditions. Once kids become part of the solution and work with caregivers in solving problems and aquiring skills things happen.

  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I do sort of agree with this. I have very rarely said to J there is something "wrong" with him, though we do talk about him getting angry, frustrated, speaking rudely sometimes, etc. Perhaps he is just too little yet. But the one or two times I have said to him he is hyperactive, it has sounded really wierd, as if I am saying something really crass and untrue, trying to make him sound like a freak. I know that sounds odd and I cannot explain it rationally, but that is just how it has come across each time. So J doesn't know there is anything different about him in terms of a label. We do have a book called "Zak has ADHD" which he likes and sometimes has (it has to compete with the dozens of other books!) and once said "I'm like Zak!" so I guess he knows somewhere... When he is bigger we will perhaps talk about the label.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Yes, I'm very open about it and when problems come up, I try to use that as a teaching moment and help them become more self-aware. With time, it starts to sink in and they understand a lot more now than when they were younger.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We were also very open and when they were small they knew they were wiggly and took wiggle medicine. I will never forget when Cory checked into his last psychiatric hospital and they wanted to put him on lithium and he started questioning them on the side effects and would they make sure he had plenty of water for him to drink at all times and would they make sure his salt intake remained at the same levels once he started the medication and would they do a baseline thyroid check before they put him on it and then again in 3 months. LOL. It was the first time they ever had a 15 year old actually question them so hard about a medication but we had both looked at it previously and really wanted him to try it but we knew what the issues were.
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Wiggly! Yes, that is good - this seems more natural to say to J than "hyperactive". I shall try it. Though I guess I have never made a "problem" of his hyperactivity, even though it is for some people.
  9. MuM_of_OCD_kiddo

    MuM_of_OCD_kiddo New Member

    I'd say that all depends on the age and maturity level. Under tennish, pre-teens, early ages - no, other than the most basic need-to-know stuff. I would continue to work on behavior issues, medications if recommeded, maybe food changes, vitamins - overall healthier, sane-r living.

    Teens is a whole different can of worms, as on top of the actual issues and individual personality - you are dealing with peer pressure, fluffy-between-the-ears stages due to hormones and puberty, stretching wings and becoming independant etc. I would talk with them subject to the maturity level - but definitely on a more grown up level. This is the age where they approach "owning" their problematic behavior and where it can have long term serious side effects caused by problematic behavior [criminal records, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, STDs, etc].

    16 and beyond - absolutely. They are a step or two away from adulthood and need to learn not only to live with their issues, they need to own them and realize that it is on them to make successful changes. In reality - nobody cares as much as you and the immediate family about the wellbeing of your difficult child = and they need to deal with the fact that once they are stepping outside this warm and cozy and protective circle, life will throw them a curveball and they need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to deal with it [or at least begin to learn how to if you want them eventually have a productive life of their own].

    That said - I think the personality is also important when you talk about their issues, some kids have low self esteem, are worrywarts, anxious about the way others perceive them, or can be downright depressed. In that case gentle support and encouragement is probably more appropriate than a more direct approach. You also won't be able to reach them all the time - my son refused to talk about his issues for the most time, or I would often have onesided monologues. Imagine my surprise when out of the blue specks of understanding would pop up, or he'd make an effort to handle situations better [owning his problems] and to try improve the outcome. Somewhere along the time he was listening, he just had to come to that conclusion on his own time. So even if you think you are talking for nothing, chances are s/he hears you but is not yet ready to process or deal with it. So keep on talking, never mind how redundant you think it might be at times...
  10. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I discuss it with Kiddo to a degree, but I never mention a symptom or anything that she hasn't already shown. If you mention extra stuff to Kiddo, the extra stuff will start happening. Ditto medication side effects.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I let the specialist explain it to Sonic while we were in the room. He used great words and didn't say "wrong withyou" and made it seem like Sonic just approaches life in a different way and what that difference MAY manifest as. I would never try to do this myself because I'm afraid me and my big mouth would screw up!!
  12. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    difficult child flatly refuses to discuss or even think she has a problem. In her world, we are all warped and she is the sane one. I got an email two days ago from Sunday school teacher. Unfortunately, because of a 2 year age gap, she and little sis are in the same class for one year. The teacher said one of the other girls told her to stop disrespecting her sister. If I said that, I would be told "You always take her side!" So it isn't just me. Then she made a remark about "being in a gang" when the teacher asked them what they were up to at school. When classmates confronted her on that - she back tracked and said she had a friend who was in a gang. She just doesn't see a problem with her behavior. The fact that we have a problem with her behavior is just our problem. (her quote)

    She did get up early today - but now is mad because we won't let her go jogging in the pitch blackness of morning. Yes we are warped that way. KSM
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I only discussed it in relation to the medications. Although as they got older they didn't like taking anything, the idea that the medications kept their individual chemistry on an even keel made it acceptable. Too much reference or explanation I think makes their differences seem like the dominant part of who they actually are. No explanation leaves them thinking they are "bad". It's a delicate balance DDD
  14. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    O is aware she has been diagnosis'd bipolar, but of course the docs are wrong, it's X's fault she can't sleep, or Y's fault she sleeps too much, etc. And medication? Bwahahahahahahaha! Sure.

    BUT... She likes to use the bipolar as an excuse, and will continue to argue that she "can't help it" long after we've closed the subject as nonnegotiable. (She's doing the same with her mother's death... Sigh.)
  15. keista

    keista New Member

    I've always discussed stuff with the kids as differences in they way their brains work. I only told son about his specific diagnosis when he was 11-12. At first he was a bit upset, but then I explained that nothing has changed about HIM. Once he wrapped his head around that, he felt better because he had an easily identifiable explanation for his specific "issues" Now, the diagnosis is always there, but we still discuss the symptoms as symptoms and a difference between him and the "rest of the world"

    With DD1 it was slightly different, but we still focus more on the symptoms, and since her symptoms affect her thought processes, we make a point to separate HER from her symptoms. SHE's not having these bad thoughts, this disease is GIVING her these bad thoughts. Her actions, on the other hand are all on her. SHE needs to learn to control her responses to these thoughts and take responsibility for the results. The older she gets, the more she is held accountable for her actions. IOW, she does get to use her disease as an explanation for her actions (I don't know, I couldn't help it, I was thinking crazy, etc) but it's never an excuse, and we go on from there looking for more coping mechanisms and strategies.
  16. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

  17. Chaosuncontained

    Chaosuncontained New Member

    In basic terms yes. He knows he is different from his classmates. He knows he has to take medicines to help HIM control himself. He knows he is loved even when he has bad days at school... He knows he has a "special" doctor that helps him. If it is determined that he qualifies for IEP he will be invited to part of all the meetings. He needs to be involved in his care. Just at a level he can understand. I have told him the names of his medicines (while giving them to him). It's not necessary for him to KNOW them--but I do tell him. I am not ashamed of him and his condition and I don't want him to be ashamed of himself either...
  18. keista

    keista New Member

    At this point, for you, I think this is a good plan.

    IF you ever get some "normal" from her, as a result of medications working, you can try the logical approach. Starting with an analogy is always good too. Like when she gets a cold. Sometimes medicine helps the symptoms, but the cold is actually still there. Sometimes medicine only helps the symptoms a little bit, so you've got some relief, but still have symptoms. Sometimes the cold can make you vomit (poor behavior). Hopefully you can control it long enough to get to an appropriate location (acceptable expression of that poor behavior). But if you don't, it has to get cleaned up (accepting responsibility for your behavior). You can also use this in reverse. When she actually gets a cold or flu and complains of symptoms, you can refuse to acknowledge them saying that if she can't possibly have a mental illness, then she must be immune to all illnesses. (don't know if it will work, but it's worth a shot.)