Growing up

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, May 23, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Over the past week or so, J seems to have grown up a little. His speech has become clearer and more accurate and he seems in little ways - don't want to exaggerate! - more mature. This morning, for example, he just went off to play with his fire engines in his bedroom by himself, quite contentedly, where normally he wants to be with me all the time in the morning before school. Then, when I went outside to bring the washing in, he didn't start crying anxiously, saying "Mummy, where are you?" as he usually does but just asked me calmly when I came back in: "Where did you go?"
    Maybe that day will come before too long when I will be able to reason with him?! Or am I just being too optimistic, do you think... :)
  2. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Those are VERY good signs. I would tell you to not underestimate them. It proves he is capable of such behaviors. Try to think of what allowed him to behave like that so you can replicate it (ie. good night sleep, quiet previous day, fun previous day, left doors open...?).
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I figured it was because he is getting older... his brain developing. But who knows? Yesterday we had a quiet day at home together. We played some games, I read him a few stories, he played for a bit with some other kids around the village, watched some DVDs and in the afternoon we went for a short walk in the countryside that is on our doorstep. We both enjoy this - looking for insects and other wildlife! So I guess he was relaxed this morning? Certainly he was very well behaved before he went to school.
    Or could it be that iron supplement that I've been giving him for about five weeks now?!
    Of course it'll be "famous last words" and tonight he'll be arguing about this and that and shrieking when I don't do what he wants... :)
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yup, I needn't have worried - J has not suddenly transformed into a wunderkind! Tonight, sure enough he was in full "difficult child" mode. As a treat, I had bought him some Bakugans (a word that meant nothing to me a week ago but then we were at a friend's house and J fell in love with her son's Bakugan collection). They are quite fiddly to close and open, and as I was making supper, J wanted me to come and open one of them. I told him I was busy and he would have to wait a minute... at which point he started shouting and crying, insisting I come "now". He really cannot handle frustration. I didn't give in - partly on principle, partly because I really was tied up making a rice pudding (or whatever you call it over there :) ) and eventually he calmed down. Eventually he always calms down but we have to go through all this shouting and screaming first. Then he got very upset later when I told him that tomorrow evening he was going to N's, the childminder, as I am going out (nothing too exciting, just my meditation group :)) He has taken against N because last time he was there she really told him off for telling a lie and he got very upset - like most of the French, she is very punitive and strict with children. Anyway, J started roaring "I AM NOT GOING - IF YOU SAY ME TO GO, I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL ANY MORE"... When he roars like that, I swear he sounds exactly like an angry teenager, not a 4 year old boy. Then there were more angry, loud tears. Again, I tried talking about it to him, just repeating that I was sorry but he did have to go, and eventually he calmed down. Sometimes I just am not in the mood to be understanding and sweetly reasonable, all the rest of it - later on when he was in the bath, I just announced, "J, I know you don't want to go to N's but you are going to go and that's the end of it." I did the same again at bedtime - because otherwise we will have more tears and protests tomorrow, which could involve him physically hanging on to me or the doorway, refusing to go into N's accompanied by dramatic crying... And he said, eventually, "okay, Mummy".
    All this may not sound that big a deal, I don't know, but I swear that when J is in this mood he has this extraordinary (and quite negative!) force and power and intensity with this huge strong voice and commanding words that make me wonder what on earth he is going to be like when he really IS a teenager... And then other times he is this sweet, innocent little chap who you just want to pick up and cuddle.
  5. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Sorry it was such a rough evening.

    You won't read too many stories of instant transformations into wonderkids here. Actually if you're reading the other forums you probably won't read too many of the success stories either, because those parents tend to fade away as their need for support and information gradually decreases.

    If you follow the threads what you will find are a lot of parents whose kids are making progress, but not usually in a linear fashion. Occasionally kids will make a leap in handling their challenges, but more often than not they slide into it and we just wake up and notice it one day. Sometimes they conquer one issue, only to have another take its place. Often issues ebb and flow, coming and going with the stressors in their lives, maybe looking the same each time, or may be slightly different. In time you get used to it and notice it less, but when they're so young and you're seeking answers, you're watching everything so closely that you see every little thing.
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, that makes sense.
    Okay, so here's a 64,000 dollar question, another one: what, if anything, can one do at the earliest ages to foster a future adult who is functioning, socially aware, happy and well-adjusted? (What every parent wants for their child.) Throwing up one's hands and saying, "my child has this, that or the other syndrome, there's nothing I can do," is not a realistic option in my view. Everything is up for grabs, there is always room for manoeuvre (you spell it some other way, sorry :) )
    I consider that my son is a difficult child with easy child potential or easy child capabilities. How can I encourage and develop that potential? That is a real question to me right now and what I have been working to answer.
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    You will NEVER read here on this board that getting a diagnosis for a particular disorder equates to throwing up one's hands, or meaning that nothing can be done about it. That's not what we're about here at

    Getting an accurate diagnosis is not the end of the road. It's the beginning. It's empowering. It's like having a choice of going on a journey with some general information and directions, or starting off in the dark. (Personally I'd go for a bit of information to help me get headed in the right direction every time!) A diagnosis--or at least a good, reasonable idea of where the child's challenges lie--aids parents in finding information in this big wide world of overwhelming information. in my opinion, the more data about the child you have, the more beneficial information you will find. The diagnosis--whether official or not--aids them in linking up to other parents who are struggling with the same issues, and who can provide encouragement. It aids them in finding helpful professionals when what they're doing on their own isn't getting the job done or is way outside of their areas of expertise. It aids them in getting school services and insurance coverage for appointments, therapies, or medications. Whether the diagnosis is a formal, clinical diagnosis given by a diagnostician or a parent absolutely sure they've found the right condition and refusing a formal diagnosis and label(s)...or whether the parent involves professional therapists or attempts therapeutic measures at home on their own, either way, arriving at that point of recognizing what's going on is empowering.

    So, whether a parent opts for a formal diagnosis and professional help, or opts to go about it another way, all are ultimately after the same thing, which as you say here below is what every parent wants for their child.

    Everyone's journey is different. I'll give you my thoughts and I'm sure others will come along and add theirs.

    1) If you've reached the point of recognizing something may be amiss with your child and it's reached the stage of causing functioning problems for the child and/or family, seek out answers.

    2) The more data you have on a child at an early age, the better you will be equipped to reconize problem areas and address them. By data I mean parent and teacher observations, and formal assessment results.

    Many parents like to take a wait and see approach, for varying reasons. Maybe a spouse is opposed because they aren't seeing it. Maybe it's financial. Maybe they're afraid of the outcome. Maybe it's to avoid labels. Maybe they think they can handle it on their own. Etc.

    There are some areas--such as speech and language, auditory processing, language processing, and motor skills--in which therapies are most effective at young ages. The brain pathways in young children are developing, and narrow down and in some cases close off, at older ages. You can never get a critical developmental window back again once it's passed. I was an extremely observant parent, but there were some speech and Occupational Therapist (OT) issues I didn't see because they were far outside of my area of expertise.

    3) Consider who you are as a parent and person when processing all of this. Sometimes it may have a big impact. A parent with a lot of quirky habits/unusual interests may not see how similar quirks/intersts could be challenging to a child out in the social world. A parent with a very high tolerance for behavioral issues or patience level in dealing with them may not seek out answers, whereas another parent would have years earlier. Some very observant parents will naturally make a lot of changes in a child's environment to help them cope. The child copes better but can't handle the outside world very well and they don't see it because they're doing so well at home.

    Those sorts of things.

    4) Consider any diagnosis to be a working diagnosis, especially in young children. By a working diagnosis, I mean try it on and see how it fits. Most of the time kids aren't textbook cases that have every symptom, but generally does it seem reasonable? Are the strategies, therapies, and/or medications suggested for that disorder effective?

    5) Be willing to disagree with any professional who takes a strong stance about your child that you don't agree with. We've had parents come through here with kids whose diagnosis or recommendations doesn't make any sense based on what they're telling us. Most of the time it was based on incomplete information or someone basing a diagnosis on too little data or very literal interpretations of diagnostic criteria.

    6) Listen to your heart. Take everything else into advisement, but in the end you know your child best.

    7) Face the fact that there are times you will be wrong, and that you need to change course. There might be times when a teacher or therapist sees what you didn't. There will be times you will have to eat your words. "I don't want to..." and "I will never..." may one day become "I'm doing this because my child needs it."

    8) Life is therapy. Baking cookies together can be a natural lesson in language sequencing. A trip to the toy store an outing to help build up confidence for kids with anxiety. Stopping to smell scented candles a way to nudge a sensory adverse child forward.

    9) Identify the hard things in the child's life, and work out adaptations to cope with them. How to handle the trip to the store, the library, a family outing, parting at the school door, getting through a bath, etc?

    10) Recognize the child may not be ready for _____. There are times when you will get all geared up to address and issue only to discover that they aren't there yet. Sometimes you just need to respect that and set it aside until they're ready.

    11) Steal from other camps. A child with ADHD may benefit greatly from a strategy commonly used for kids with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and visa versa. This is especially helpful for kids who don't fall squarely into one diagnosis.

    12) If what you're doing isn't working, find strategies and adaptations that do. Give new things a reasonable timeframe to work. Most parents who've been here any length of time have had to adopt different parenting styles than their friends and families.

    13) Look for simple solutions, and think outside the box. If only I had realized earlier that drawing an arrow along with the word "OFF" above the hot water knob on the bathtub would empower an anxious child and alleviate fears, believe me I would have done it sooner.

    14) Partner with your child's teachers and school. Seek out other parents who have been in your shoes and find out what they've done to effectively work with them. This goes beyond the child and into the school community. I know parents who join the parent-teacher organization as a way to get to know other parent's and develop a relationship with the principal. And I know parents who avoid the parent-teacher organization because of ongoing friction with the principal and that group.

    15) Be willing to disagree with school, if that's what's needed. They won't always be right, just as you won't always be right.

    16) Remember that where you are today isn't where you might be a month from now, or a year from now. At the beginning most parents pass through a time where they won't consider professional help or medications, but some wind up having to go there. Right now a parent might be a mom with an out of control four year old who can barely leave the house because the child can't handle it. Six months from now or six years or sixteen years from now they will be in a different place.

    17) Don't get so caught up in one child and their issues that you lose sight of whoever it is that you are--a person, a parent to other kids, a spouse, a family member, a friend. Take care of yourself because your emotional and physical well-being is critical to be able to care for you challenging little one.

    18) Give your child what every kid needs--loads of love, support, guidance, encouragement. First and foremost, be their parent, their cheerleader, and their champion. Everything else comes after that.
    Last edited: May 24, 2011
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, a lot of good info there, SRL :) Thanks.
    When I referred to throwing up one's hands and saying there is nothing one can do, I was not expressing myself as clearly as I could have... What I meant was thereby accepting that the child was then limited and constrained by this "diagnosis" and our understanding of it... because he or she is X, Y or Z he/she cannot do A, B or C or will manifest behaviours D, E, F... To make an alphabet soup of it. This is the danger of the label. My son is hyperactive (hyper hyperactive, actually...) yet he sits for an hour with the other kids at school doing what they do, concentrating on the little exercises they do. The teacher tells me he is largely autonomous in his "work" now. The teacher doesn't think or know he IS hyperactive. What would have happened if I had turned up on day one saying "My son has ADHD, you have to understand..." He would have just been allowed to roam around the room, perhaps.
    I am NOT trying to say by this that there aren't real handicaps and limitations that come with the territory. But we are ALL limited by what other people think we are capable of, not just the difficult children of the world. And what people see us as, particularly, particularly, as children is what we tend to become...
  9. keista

    keista New Member

    In the simplest terms
    Love them
    Be patient
    Love them
    Be firm
    Love them
    Be supportive
    Love them
    Be positive
    Love them

    I once read that real love is not a feeling, but an action, or more precisely, many actions. It is all those actions that one person does to help another person grow.
  10. keista

    keista New Member

    I largely agree with you on that. Generally the label is useful not when things are going well, but when things start going wrong. It is ENTIRELY possible that with your support alone, your son can get through school without teachers knowing he has a label. But, what happens if he can't? What if he starts getting up and walking around because "he has to" What if he starts acting out because teacher does XYZ but if teacher just did ZYX everything would be fine? Don't advertise the label, but be prepared to pull it out and start educating others if problems do start.

    My son is in High School now, and if you walked into some of his classes, you would be unable to pick him out. Others, he sticks out like a sore thumb - pacing, stimming, back to the whole class facing the corner (his choice) - because there is something about the subject matter, the student make up, decorations in the classroom, etc that just "unnerve" him. If he did not have his label or accommodations, he would be failing and having serious behavior problems. I have been told many times that my son was the first diagnosed Aspie some teachers had. Once having him in their class they thought back to other similar acting students and were sad because, in hindsight, they "knew" that these others also had Asperger's but the struggled and had such difficulties because no one had labeled them. At the time, they figured the kids just weren't "trying hard enough"
  11. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You feel like a diagnosis excuses behavior - I do not believe most people do.

    The diagnosis is only additional information for helping you figure out how to teach difficult child. It will not be the same way you would teach a easy child. It is a different way to parent. It does not mean you stop parenting completely. You just have to figure out what works best for your child.
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I agree, keista. The label is useful when things are not going well. I use it myself to explain some of J's behaviour when we are in public or in a social setting. Friends, especially, have to understand that the difficult aspects of his behaviour are due to his ADHD - they are not things that I can get him to stop by punishing more or disciplining more. And I do have to educate them, to some degree.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Malika - "to label or not to label" is almost as complex as "to medicate or not to medicate" - but I won't touch the second one on this thread!!!

    There are positives to using the label with professionals - medical and educational - DEPENDING on whether or not the professionals understand the label and what to do with it.

    On this side of the ocean, where ADHD is more widely accepted as a diagnosis, there is SOMETIMES more support given if teachers know the label. In our case, K2 is ADHD (just not a complex case like K1). Teachers don't know she is on medications - but the do know K2 is inattentive-type ADHD. Why? This has two advantages for K2... First, when attention wanders, they know K2 just needs a subtle reminder, and can do this without even triggering the other kids that its been done for K2. Second, when teachers are marking the assignments, they will come to a certain question, look at the anwer, and go "what on earth were you thinking???" and THEN they remember that K2 is ADHD, and if there is ANY way on the planet to misinterpret a question, it will happen. They re-read the question K2's way, and then the answer makes sense. (And then, the GOOD teachers mark accordingly, and THEN explain later what they really meant and why).

    If teachers didn't understand, K2 would be punished for not paying attention, and punished for "wrong" answers when the problem is an unclear question. K2 is so well behaved that teachers normally do NOT believe K2 could possibly be ADHD at all... but we have the diagnosis!

    Your challenge is going to be to find professionals in the school system who know how to support ADHD. You might want to start your school research early...
  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Part 2 - "growing up"

    More and more evidence now points to ADHD being a "developmental disorder"... not pervasive, like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but "developmental" none the less.

    Developmental disorders are usually characterized by delayed and uneven devlopment in a particular area. At any one point in time, this child's skills will be advanced in some areas and behind in others - and can be significantly ahead or behind. Next year, the skill that was "advanced" may have stopped developing (for a while), so it gets "behind" while something else moves ahead. Many ADHD kids are within a plus/minus two year range... e.g. a 10 yr old may range in behavior and comprehension from that of an 8 year old, to that of a 12 year old. BUT, some ADHD kids have a much wider range... there was one period in time when we were certain that one of our kids was "2 going on 22". Literally!

    The good news is... ADHD kids grow out of SOME of the characteristics that make them ADHD, and they learn to manage others... ADHD people are productive members of society, and some are exceptional... just like "normal" people. Its hardest on the kids, because... Other kids can be very cruel, and so can teachers! Its also hard when the kid doesn't understand why s/he is different. And its hard to be the star at X this year, and almost be the dummy two years from now. (For some strange reason, its NEVER a problem to be the dummy at X two years ago and be the star now...!)

    And yes, the change doesn't always take "two years"... as in, you don't see it happen. Kind of like when they put their pants on in the morning and the legs are 2 inches (5cm) too short - when did THAT happen? Overnight? (partly).
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that, Insane. That's exactly it - if I tell J's teacher, she has no idea what the label means or what to do with it. The child psychiatrist gave me some literature to give to the school, suggesting ways of working with an ADHD child, but I think this is not for now, at pre-school level.
    And then... the old phantom raises its head. DOES J even have ADHD???!!! It's just that when I read posts yesterday about how people with ADHD can't filter out other, distracting sensory information when they have to concentrate on a task I feel assailed by doubt again. I have never seen J suffering from this. It is also the reason why the first psychologist in Marrakesh said that she was certain J did not have true ADHD. But then when I read the list of SYMPTOMS of ADHD, J is a perfect fit, apart from a lot of the things on the innatention side. The point is though... the label may be imbued with uncertainty but the problems he manifests are not. Inflexibility, difficulty with change and transition, temper tantrums (well, what I call tantrums, which is an ouburst of bad temper with shouting and tears lasting five minutes or so) when he doesn't get what he wants, low frustration threshold, etc, etc. I'd be happier just talking to people about those things - but then people would all say (as many of them do anyway!!) that all of this is due to my poor parenting and inadequate discipling... The label serves to say "It's not my fault, guys. Honest!"...
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The trick with labels is to remember that it is an inexact science. This is true in any field.

    For example, say the word "apple"... what do YOU see in your mind's eye? probably NOT the same thing that I see... yours might be bright red, while mine is yellow. Yours may be tart, mine may be sweet... and so on.

    The label "ADHD" describes a RANGE of issues and behaviors. People with ADHD will fall into one or more of several "clusters"... inattentive, hyperactive, executive function issues, etc. For example, K2 would NEVER be called hyperactive (unless you count how much time she spends moving her jaw) - and K1's problem really isn't inattention... but they both have ADHD.

    The label is a diagnosis. It SHOULD provide for accommodations etc. - but its the details that will determine what those accommodations are, not the diagnosis. So, you need both... the diagnosis, and the detailed explanations.
  17. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    It's an inexact science (being the pedantic wordsmith I am, isn't that an oxymoron?!)... okay. But I would LOVE to know more exactly what is happening in J's brain that causes these behavioural manifestations. Lack of dopamine, some people say... I'd love to be able to talk about it with some sense of meaning and reality, rather than this continual stabbing in the dark. Even if the child psychiatrist issues the diagnosis, she isn't really basing it on anything more scientific than her observtions and what me and the teachers say about him.
    I am wondering if there is a book written in layman's language which sets out what ADHD is and how it manifests? I would like something to give to a particular friend of mine to help educate him. He has taken against J, having witnessed several of his best tantrums on a walk once, and is certain that he just needs several good clips round the ear that I am not providing... I have tried to explain. I'm not sure that he really believes me. I find this saddening and difficult to deal with because he has more or less written off J as a horrible brat and has told me he doesn't like J - something about J's testerone-filled mock aggression, talk and behaviour seems to go down very badly with him... Since almost everyone else always says how sweet J can be, it hurts my heart to hear someone dismissing a 4 year old as a bad'un... This man I should point out is single and has never had children.
    J needs to have as much practice with socialising with adults and a mix of people as he can get. Because things are often difficult with him when we are with friends, it is hard to push through this to keep doing it. But it is the only way he will learn, if he gets practice. I am going to see this friend this morning, actually. I would like to talk to him a bit more about ADHD and explosive children and ask him to come on other walks with me and J together... I am going to lend him "The Explosive Child" and ask him to read the first chapter...
  18. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Best book we've found is "Driven to Distraction" - it does a REALLY good job of explaining ADHD. (its too late for me to rummage through the whole house looking for it, to find the author - but if you can't find it, let me know and I'll look it up somehow!)

    "The Explosive Child" comes at things from a little different angle... although, many of the items on the "checklist" of background issues that are the root of the problem... are the result of executive function issues - part of ADHD. I find that "checklist" to be particularly useful in dealing with others.
  19. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks. The author is Edward Hallowell. I have ordered it from Amazon.
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to add, as this thread was originally about small signs of growing maturity, that we had another minuscule (but significant?) breakthrough this morning. Oh the things that are nothing to ordinary parents and so big to us :)
    J started on about wanting a DVD again this morning, whining and crying. I have a firm rule about no DVDs during the week because there is no time for it. Watching DVDs in the morning or evening after school means we do not talk, he does not play with his toys, etc. And if I say yes once, he would want it ALL the time. So no is no (or could have been "yes, certainly, you can have a DVD tomorrow!" if I had read that post in time). I just calmly said this was the way it was, he could only have DVDs at the weekend, and today was Friday. "IT'S NOT FRIDAY!" he roared. But the gods were not listening to small J and Friday it remained... Then he started all the "I don't like you Mummy!" business and hitting me - that is to say, brushing his fists softly against my arms and his feet softly against my legs while sitting on my lap. Hitting without hitting... No pain involved but still not good. I removed him to another part of the room and said I didn't want to talk to him until he had calmed down. And then he did something he's never done before... Went crying and protesting loudly upstairs, went into his room (slamming the door) and I heard him crying inside for about five minutes. Then... he stopped, came out, came downstairs, calm and cheerful, we had a cuddle, I asked if he was feeling better, he said yes and the rest of the morning until school time was fine and dandy!
    Oh wouldn't it be nice to think that this is now the way things are going to be, that he has somehow learnt to handle his emotions by himself... No, I am not quite that optimistic - or naive :) But it's a positive sign anyway.