has your difficult child learned perspective taking skills/abilities?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by rlsnights, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    difficult child 2's psychiatrist saw him for an hour yesterday. Today she and I met for 30 min and talked.

    I brought up the juvie psychiatrist's "he's just a spoiled brat" diagnosis and asked her about that.

    The psychiatrist said that she realizes that's how difficult child 2 comes across at first. But she said if you spend time with him you come to realize that he has almost no ability to take another persons' perspective and that's what is really going on.

    I told her I felt so guilty - like somehow this was my fault, that we had been bad parents who had not taught him limits, etc.

    She said no, it's because that's the way his brain has developed.

    If you have a difficult child who has this issue, has your difficult child learned the skills needed to cope successfully? What worked best?


  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cory is very limited in this department. I think it is related to one of the personality disorders. I dont know though because I am extremely empathetic. I can see other people's perspectives but maybe that is something I have learned over time. I cannot remember if I was able to do it in my teen years or not. It is quite hard to go back and look back at yourself that way.

    Several examples with Cory: When he stole my money, he did it because he was ticked off and he wanted money then. He knew I had just received a lump sum award from disability, he knew I had made some purchases and I had actually paid his brother off on a car that we had allowed him to sell to Cory but that Cory never paid for but Jamie had to keep paying for. Cory actually wrecked the car and it was junked. So here was Jamie still paying for a car that was crushed and I paid the loan off. That irritated Cory that Jamie "got" money and he didnt when really, Jamie wasnt getting the money, the bank was. Cory just couldnt see it that way. So while I was up helping Jamie with his new baby, Cory stole checks and forged my name and took some money from me.

    Another example...this time current. Cory walked into my bedroom today and said something about living conditions or some such topic. I told him well at least you arent in Japan. He was like huh? What does Japan have to do with anything. He hadnt heard anything about Japan at all. He obviously doesnt watch the news at all or listen to anything other than rap music. Obviously they dont even break in with a news story! I cant figure out how you can miss what has happened in Japan unless you are in a coma myself but he has. So I explained it to him. He could not have cared less.

    He was all like...what does that have to do with me? I tried to explain global economies and whatnot and even the fact that people should give a darn about the suffering of people outside of one's circle of home boy's. That went over like a lead balloon. He didnt get it a bit. I might as well have been talking to my dog.
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    That is sad, Janet. I can imagine a little of your sorrow and frustration. And probably many other feelings besides... I am sorry that you have to face this pain.
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Interesting question because I was listening to "Doctor Radio" on Sirus yesterday afternoon (did some thai chili/jalapeno spicy jelly canning and needed a diversion while I was on my feet cooking for a couple hours!) and the topic was kinda centered on the tiger mom issue. But one sidebar was a question from a listener, "can you teach your child empathy?" The doctor, a pediatric psychologist said, in her opinion, no. She said that you can teach awareness of others but not empathy. In her opinion, empathy is a trait you are born with. But, if you are raising a child who has no empathy, you have to work harder to teach them "awareness".

    Now, add into the mix that we have difficult children........all bets are off.

    I do think that this issue is individual though. I don't believe all difficult children are not empathetic just as I don't believe all easy child's are.

    I know for me, from a very early age, I have tried my best to teach my children that there are others in the world besides themselves. We have worked feeding and housing the homeless through our church, do the Salvation Army Angel Tree every Christmas, do outreach through youth programs at local nursing facilities, etc. But more than anything else, I have done my best to teach my children that everyone deserves the same respect - from the homeless man with no teeth, to the man you interview with for a job. They are humans who have the same basic needs. I have also tried to always stress you do for others because how it makes them feel, not how it makes you feel.

    I am fortunate that our church has always had a very vital outreach (especially given it's an inner city church) program for youth and, as the Sunday School teacher for teenaged, I always include local outreach as part of the curriculum.

    I say all this because I do believe that, as with most things, repetition often becomes part of your life. Given that my kids have been so exposed to helping others, I would like to think it's a tiny bit of who they are. Perhaps that is what the doctor was talking about when she said "awareness".

  5. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Janet, that is amazing that he hasn't heard about Tokyo! At work no one is talking about it, he hasn't heard it on the radio, he and his girlfriend haven't talked about it?? That is incredible to me. Sorry.

  6. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I think it is not a parent's " regular job" to teach a child empathy. Just as it is not part of the job to teach 'imagination'. These are traits that most folks are born with. They are usually natural abilities.

    But when it comes to difficult children, the natural abilities are sometimes missing...and THAT's when we need to find a way to teach them these things.

    My difficult child has a terrible sense of others. She assumes that everyone "knows" what she is thinking at any moment. She assumes that certain people are "out to get her". She assumes that she can force people to do what she wants using certain techniques...

    And because her sense of others is so wrong....she gets herself into a lot of trouble.

    The therapist has been trying to work with her to get her to see things from another point of view - but many times, it's like arguing with a wall. The therapist was recently trying to convince difficult child that it is NOT okay to insult other people. difficult child could not believe that her comments about another's appearance would be perceived as an insult, because she cannot believe that the other person does not see themselves exactly the same way that difficult child does. IOW - if difficult child thinks you are ugly, then you must think you are ugly, too. Therefore, when she discusses your horrible appearance, she expects you to agree.

    So....we are working on it.