How do you handle defiance/refusal to do things?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jules71, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Argghhhhh! I am exhausted and sick and tired of this constant battle! Everyday it is something. There is NO peace in this house - well actually this last weekend there was peace when difficult child and husband went on a weekend outing (that is rare). That was the first real taste of normal I have had since I had children. But aside from me moving out - I need some advice.

    How do you handle the day to day defiance and refusal of your difficult child to do what they are told? Million dollar question there. Simple things too - like getting dressed, brushing teeth, washing face, combing hair - oh and then homework - and anything else we ask of him or expect him to do. NOTHING comes easy with this kid. Everything is a battle. Even getting him to participate in activities he says he wants to (sports, etc.).

    I guess instead of wondering how to get him to do what we ask and end the power struggle - how do I cope with the reality of the situation and not blow my top? How do I take care of me and my health so I do not have a heart attack or cause an aneurism? My body feels like it is in a constant war zone. I clench my jaw so hard at night, I am surprised I still have teeth. My body hurts from never feeling relaxed. My health is deteriorating. This constant **** is killing me. I get 2.5 hours, 4x per week to myself - and guess what needs to be done during that time? Everything!! Because I can't get stuff done any other time. I have NO time for me. My husband and I constantly argue about who has it worse and who needs a break more. I feel like he gets a break just by getting out of the house and going to work for 9 hours per day. I am the one who gets the calls from the principal and teachers, and has to deal with the IEP meetings and doctor's appointments. I just want a NORMAL life.

    The sad part is, I know difficult child wants a normal life too - and I feel like I have flipped out and screamed too many times - I just can't take it. I love him more than anything, but I am so tired, and sad, and feel hopeless. :( Oh and by the way, things were going really well for quite awhile - and then bam! it all starts up again. Nothing I can see that would have set it off either. No rhyme or reason.

    Sorry for the vent.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I understand. You're right--a huge part of it is accepting it for what it is. It will get better, but it will never go away.

    You are very right to be concerned about your health. Do you do yoga or go for walks every day? You've got to do something physical to let off steam and stress. I would also have a dental appliance made for grinding. The money spent will be money saved in the long run, because having teeth pulled and replaced costs lots of money.

    Are you on any medications for stress? Zoloft, lexapro, xanax? It may sound like you're giving in, but it's actually a lifesaver in many ways. Talk to your dr and ask his or her opinion and feedback. And tell them you are also seeing a dentist for the appliance so you can work as a team. (doctors love to hear that, and it helps in their notetaking so it doesn't look like they are totally drug pushers. ;))

    I am going to say what many others here say: choose your battles. Sometimes it will be okay for difficult child to go to a movie wearing his Pjs and no socks, and dress shoes. WTH. Sometimes he'll only use mouthwash but at least he stood at the sink and did *something*. But you've got to have some hard and fast rules and a way to back them up. For example, violence, weapons, drug use. NO use. NO exceptions.

    My difficult child is using the XBox live for 20 min. He has done 2 tiny chores, and then we're going to plant a tree and do laundry and he will take a full shower. None of this wet-the-towel stuff. A real shower today.

    You've got to have something to take away from him so you can give it back. Sometimes, that's all difficult child's understand. :(
    But if you repeat the demands and make them routine--tooth brushing, for ex--they will eventually sink in. It's always at first that he will balk.
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi Jules. So sorry you are going through this heartache and profound frustration. I understand, some of it anyway.
    Because of my own experience, I feel more geared to optimism than pessimism in these situations. But I honestly don't know (of course) if our situations are comparable. They may be, or may not be. Also you have a partner and other child in the mix, which really does change things. My son is also five and yours nine - mine is therefore more malleable and probably easier to reach and change. But in the hope that it may possibly be of some help, I'll share my experience.
    About a year ago, when my son was four, I was about feeling in the same place as you - desperate, stressed out, unable to cope much longer with my son's constant defiance and refusal to do things I asked or complete simple tasks like brush his teeth. I had little knowledge of how to deal with difficult children then and I just used to get so cross and frustrated. We had scenes like my son in his bedroom where I had tried to put him for a timeout, shrieking and kicking the door hard, calling me names, throwing his toys hard everywhere, my screaming at him, him getting hysterical... I often felt like I hated him and then immediately felt guilty, until the feeling returned after the next bout of "impossible" behaviour.
    Okay, year later, we still have scenes but the way I deal with most of the time is different. I have really worked on the relationship, on being warm and showing warmth, on giving positive encouragement rather than negative criticism, spending more time together and, perhaps above all, on attempting to stay calm and friendly in the face of his crises. Of course I screw up on a fairly regular basis and still get stressed and frustrated, but in the main the balance of our relationship has really shifted. I would say about 80 per cent of our interactions are now positive and pleasant. He is way more co-operative and eager to please. Things are far from "perfect" but I feel like things are manageable, we have a real relationship rather than a horrific war zone in which we hate and dread each other.
    Also I REALLY agree about choosing your battles (not that I can always manage that either...)
    A year ago I wouldn't have believed this was possible. So, for whatever it is worth, I share this.

    Oh, PS - from having an almighty battle over teeth brushing where he would flat out refuse to do it and I would practically hold his mouth open and force him (yes, I know... not good), he now goes meekly off every night and by himself brushes his teeth. No power struggle, no battle, he now feels good about himself with me... he does it without a struggle.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    First, the obvious, IF it works...: DO NOT "TELL" HIM. Use some other method to get the message across. Examples: send a text message to his phone, pile the recycling up around his plate or put a clean garbage bag beside his plate (recycling or garbage need to be dealt with before supper)... My difficult child absolutely HATES being "told" what to do... and double or triple that for nagging... but... "visual clues" get typical teen rolled-eye reactions, rather than rages. And if you don't over-do the txt msgs, it's easier for a kid to take than voice.

    And then... I'm assuming you've started the process of getting a comprehensive evaluation? Because that ODD diagnosis is... usually a flag for "something else/more/new going on".
  5. llamafarm

    llamafarm Member

    Okay, I am facing other issues at this time, perhaps it could be called defiance to the extreme. But I find that when I can just state things that have to be done offhandedly, like... take a bath, put your clothes in the hamper, get a shirt on, I get a better response. At least not an explosion. I can relate with the incredible defiance, like if I talk to him at all he will argue or complain, "the sun is out" I could say. "no it isn't" he would come back with. Or even better "yeah and it is all your fault!" that is a favorite of my difficult child.

    Taking the power struggle away is key. asking for very little, picking your battles as they say. Baths around here are successful if he goes in the bathroom and turns on the bath. Toothbrushing ended a while ago, it will begin to be a priority again when I can talk with him about anything without a fight. Right now in our lives it is a battle over everything. We figure that if we can keep him safe we are doing a good job. Dirty is just something we end up dealing with.

    Good luck. Life can be exhausting. We are right there with you!