How to teach difficult child to deal with frustration, disappointment, boredom, etc?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jules71, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    If we manage difficult child’s environment so much as to not allow any disappointing moments or any frustration then we have a mostly content child and no blowups. That would mean not telling him no, not telling him to do anything he doesn’t want to do, buying him poker chips for his online game when he loses all of his, keeping his time occupied with all the things he wants to do, never letting him become bored, buying him everything he wants, etc. That is not one bit realistic! So here is my question…

    What can be done to help him deal with frustration, disappointment, boredom, etc? Those things are going to happen, so what can we do to teach him how to accept it and deal with it? If medication isn’t going to be the answer – then what types of therapy work for this? What is it exactly that he lacks and how do we fix it? We know he has low frustration tolerance. Is it a control thing – like does he feel out of control when those situations occur and so he flips out as a way to try to control it? I just don’t understand. In my logical brain, we need to identify the problems (why he does what he does) and then find a solution. Below are his triggers which usually result in either defiance or verbal/physical aggression. I am not sure what the possible functions of his behavior are - my guess would be maybe avoidance (avoiding the task, avoiding certain feelings / disappointment....?).

    Being told no
    Being told to do something he doesn’t want to do
    Wanting something he can’t have
    Friend leaving / wanting to play with someone else
    Losing his chips on his computer game
    Sense of things being unfair
    Someone else not following the rules

    Does anyone have any ideas?
  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

  3. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Yes, I have it and read it. It's been quite awhile ago, maybe two+ years. I remember at the time thinking it was a lot of work and a lot of talk and negotiating and giving choices etc, but I don't remember specifically the 'techniques for teaching an inflexible child coping skills, as well as helping parents understand the basis for this inflexibility and how best to work through it.' I will go find my copy of the book - is there anywhere specific in there you can direct me to that covers this? Thanks!
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I agree that The Explosive Child techniques will be helpful to you.

    With his sense of things being unfair and anger over others not following the rules, there may be a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) that comes to bear in time. Just because he doesn't meet the full diagnostic criteria for Aspergers doesn't mean that he doesn't have traits and won't get a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified at some point. My own son wasn't diagnosed with mild Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) until last May at the age of 17 (!). If we had had the diagnosis earlier, it sure would have saved us a lot of trouble along our journey.
  5. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Thanks SW! We will get this figured out! I am off to the library to check our their copy of The Explosive Child for a refresher - it's not on the shelf with the other gazillion parenting books I have. Interesting about the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) with- regard to things being unfair and others not following the rules. We used to call him The Enforcer because he would be soooo irritated if other weren't following the rules, but he doesn't follow them himself. He also always thinks others are cheating - he even thinks the computer is cheating. He absolutely hates when for example others are talking in class and then he either tells them to be quiet or starts talking himself and then HE gets in trouble and they do not. He despises when he raises his hand in class and he is not called on but others who did not raise their hand are allowed to answer the question. He has a VERY strong sense of fairness. Also with regards to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), he is pretty literal and doesn't get a lot jokes, sayings, or analogies. For example if you say the bus is leaving - he wants to know what bus.
  6. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    Is there a reason medication is not an option?

    My younger daughter used to have a very low frustration tolerance, a strong sense of fairness, and easily hurt feelings. We are not directly medicating for that, but we have been trying lots of things to stop her 24/7 headache. Somewhere in all of that treatment, all of those symptoms have disappeared. I can't really say what helped her, but I do think all of it was a neurobiological problem that has been solved, at least for now.
  7. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I agree with Hope that some medications can help the symptom complex that I term "emotional reactivity." In the case of my daughters, Lamictal has been very helpful for that. But it could be a different medication or combo of medications for each child.
  8. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    I shouldn't have said medication is not an option - he is taking Concerta now which may be the wrong medication. The psychiatrist may want to try an antidepressant. I would like a more thorough diagnosis to know for sure what all we are dealing with. The problem is none of this is black and white. There is no way to know for sure exactly what is going on - and medications are trial and error. My brain has a hard time working like that. I guess what I want to know is - what is causing him to respond this way to those triggers and what do we do to treat it (medications, therapy, etc.). Is anxiety causing him to react this way to those triggers? If so, medications for anxiety would be an option. Is it Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) like SW suggested - if so, how do you treat that? I just want to know the problem and solve it. Ha! I am finding out it doesn't really work like that.
  9. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Also sounds like my kiddo and I've got the book checked out now but haven't read it yet. She did good on the new medication last week, but had a blow-up at school today. I don't know if she develops tolerance/sensitively too easily or if her diagnosis's are wrong and therefore wrongly medicated. She has appointment with psychiatrist tomorrow and I'm going to have a list of questions.
  10. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Jules, often a combo of both medications AND interventions (like The Explosive Child and Parenting with Love and Logic -- another great book) work best for kiddos like ours. It's not one or the other. And figuring out a diagnosis, unfortunately, can take a while for complicated kiddos.
  11. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Yep, got the Love & Logic books too and have also been to one of their seminars. It seems like we've tried everything and still here we are. Hao - sorry about the blow up at school today. I am crossing my fingers for difficult child to have a good day.

    We don't see the psychiatrist again until next week I think. Wondering what I should ask or how long to trial things and what the next steps are, etc. He meets with the therapist again on Thurs.

    On another note, I have been taking generic Wellbutrin for about a month and a half now (150 mg for first month and now 300 mg), but it gives me HORRIBLE headaches and makes me more irritable and anxious. I think I need something for anxiety more than for depression - tried prozac in the past and that just made me not give a rip. My problem is with all this gfgness going on, I can't relax, can't stop thinking about it, trying to fix it solve it, worry about it - all I do is think and worry. I want my brain to stop for awhile. Any ideas? Uggh.
  12. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    A tricyclic like Amitriptyline or Nortriptyline. Helps a lot with anxiety (and sleep and migraines, if you have those problems).
  13. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Definite headaches and sleep problems. My doctor rx'd xanax or something like that for a short time and it seemed to help a little but she would not renew the rx. She told me to go out with girlfriends, go to the gym, and have sex with my husband more. Huh really?!?! Maybe if I wasn't living in constant chaos and so stressed out all the time. Whatever!
  14. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    A lot of it is just trial and error. Both of my kids are doing better emotionally than they ever have. One of them needs the girlfriend/CF diet to be emotionally stable. I don't know for sure what worked for my other one.

    We stumbled across both of these answers while tracking down something else though. We weren't even really considering a psychiatric issue when we tried them. So you can still make progress, even when you don't know exactly what you are dealing with.
  15. Circetay

    Circetay Guest

    Jules, your son sounds just like my daughter. These are a lot of the things that cause her to explode on a daily basis. I too can't understand why she can't logically/rationally understand things. I try so hard to put myself in her shoes but I can't make heads or tails of it. Good luck with the book, it's theories make sense to me but my difficult child has trouble communicating so I don't see how working Plan B would work with her. Plus she seems to forget everything we talk about as soon as she starts to get frustrated. I just read the chapter in the book where he mentions that a child like her would most likely benefit from medication, if only to allow her to communicate better. I'm nervous that that's the way we're headed and she seems so young to me, to be on medications. :(

    Anyways, I hope you get it sorted out!
  16. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    Jules, I wish I had some words of wisdom but I go through much of what you do. As far as medications for yourself have you tried Buspirone (Buspar) ? It helps with anxiety and stress and it is not habit forming or addictive. When I was at my lowest point and went to my PCP and cried on the examing table and told him my whole life story. This was the only medication I have ever taken other than antibiotics and such. It did help. Infact, I may go see him again and ask for another RX for it. My stress levels are over the moon right now. Ask your PCP and see what he thinks. I find the older my difficult child gets the better handle he has on his negative behaviors. Some days are better than others. Keep your chin up ! Shelly
  17. Circetay

    Circetay Guest

    Hi again :) Just read your post about your personal struggles and thought I would share that I am currently taking a baby dose of Risperdal for similar stuff. I saw my doctor and told him about how I could not stop my brain, that I was thinking constantly, that I just wanted to feel at ease, at peace. That I was constantly on edge, and anxious and that's what he prescribed. While it hasn't stopped it altogether, it has taken the edge off my obsessive thoughts and my extreme moodiness. Just another option.
  18. Jena

    Jena New Member

    it's going to sound really silly yet i take fish oil everyday, the purified one and i also take magnesium when i'm freaking out kinda like you would take xanax. the magnesium does it for me perfectly. if i'm totally anxious over something i get calming within minutes.

    i also take that at night with-calcium if i can't sleep and it works great.

    lately i haven't been remembering to pop any, can you tell by all my posts? LOL
  19. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Jules, you've gotten some great ideas here.
    I'm with-SW and others ... it's both therapy and medications.
    Age 8-10 were hard yrs for us. Imiprimene has helped difficult child a lot. So has his Concerta (Adderal). Honestly, I don't think we could have done it with-o the medications.
    They calm him down enough that he can absorb the info we give him. Otherwise, it's like talking in a tornado.
    When he's off his medications for whatever reason, some of the "training" sticks. Not all of it, but enough that we're all still alive to talk about it. ;)

    I really think there is something missing in our difficult child's brain. Sounds like your difficult child is similar. There are certain things he just doesn't "get," and never will. So I've told him he just has to memorize what we say, no matter how ridiculous it sounds. He doesn't "get" why he should say "No, thank you," for instance, instead of just a harsh, "NO!" We can argue for hrs over something like that. Now we give him a reward for saying it ... sometimes it's verbal praise, sometimes computer time. He has actually learned a lot of things since he was, say, five yrs old. When I'm ready to give up on him, on whether he will deep down learn "why" and "get it," I think back to the way he used to be and realize he has come a long way.

    The hard part is that it takes umpteen gazillion times longer with-these kids. They have a very slow learning curve in regard to frustration tolerance, social skills, etc. I'm not talking about 1 yr behind, I'm talking 5-6 yrs behind. In some areas our difficult child is only 2 yrs behind but I have learned to lower my expectations.

    If any of us figure out a direct answer to your question, we'll win a Nobel in medicine.