I think I got it



After years and years of doctors and counselors telling me difficult child needs to feel in control... I never quite understood. I was thinking more of control of himself, which I guess it is. It was one of your posts that made it sink in. difficult child has a lot of anxiety. Always has. Looking back now, I can go back to when he was 3 or 4. All the kids would gather at a neighbors house. He would come home because they didn't want to play HIS game, or by HIS rules. School, he was always just the class clown. Was told teachers couldn't teach because he had the attention of the class. As he got older, he would mouth off and get in trouble, become very angry. I think I finally get it. Anxiety causes him the need to feel in control. Therefore, if they don't play bey his rules, or do what he wants he does not have control of that situation. Trying to control me, gets us into arguments which I always feel I lose. School, he just now refuses to do work, has been refusing to go to class, refuses to dress for gym. It is his way of taking control. If he say's I'm not doing it, he is in control.
OK..makes sense. What do I do? Tried anxiety medications and totally set him off. I tried talking to him telling him that he can have control over some things, his thoughts, his feelings, his actions, but there are some things that are constant and there is no bending, no exceptions. Those things just must be done. Those rules that are constant cannot be bent, or broken. Like, you cannot run into the road when a car is comming. (he's like dah!!) but just an example. Don't think he cared for my talk.
On his testing he scored 92% and 99% higher than other kids his age. OK. so he is at the level he should be, Now he just needs to DO the work. How can we work that out?
IEP is Monday, and I feel so intimidated already.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
This may come out sounding weird. If it does I'm sorry ahead of time.

Needing to control is part of anxiety. BUT difficult child NEEDS to learn that something bad is not going to happen just because he isn't in control of the situation. To learn that he has to be made to do even the things that cause him great anxiety to retrain his brain. Anxiety is the flight or fight respond stuck in a groove like a broken record.

I don't mean you simply toss him to the wolves. lol But baby steps lead to bigger steps.

And yeah, I thought my own psychiatrist was bonkers when he told me this. But I was desperate and decided to try it. It worked. I still have anxiety but I can function on pretty much a normal level. Anxiety medications and just forcing myself to do things that triggered my anxiety (to teach my brain nothing horrible would happen) did the trick.

N doesn't take anxiety medications but she has awful anxiety. I have always forced her to face it head on. And yeah she's had a few meltdowns over it. But it teaches her that the world does not end and it really wasn't all that horrible. I've seen marked improvement over the years.

I think if it were my child I'd try to come up with a plan to take baby steps with difficult child both at school and at home. He may feel the need to control his surroundings, but he also needs to understand that you can't control the whole world. Some things you just have to do cuz that's part of life.

At home I'd pick things difficult child can take charge of like what he'll wear, cleaning his room, picking something for dinner one night a week..... age appropriate things that can help him feel more control over what goes on in his life. Routine helps TONS with anxiety. It's comforting to know what will be happening from one moment to the next.

As far as homework is concerned, I've always let natural concequences take their course. If he doesn't pass, he doesn't pass. (I've had better luck keeping school issues at school)

I know he's a boy, but does he ever verbalize what some of his anxiety triggers are? If he can pinpoint some of them you and he can thing of ways to deal with them. Do any of his teachers see a pattern to his behavior that might point out some areas of anxiety?? Is there anything difficult child really likes to do that you can use as a carrot to help motivate him? Any activities he might be interested in that can build his self confidence?

Sorry this ended up long. lol



Active Member
My response is similar to the above, and is something told to me by a therapist many years ago- which may or may not be appropraite for your difficult child.

When people feel like they have no control over their own life, they try to find ways to control things/people around them, to fill the void/anxiety that they feel within. This is where the serenity prayer comes into play- the solution is to accept that you can only control yourself, which comes with taking responsibility for yourself (baby step by baby step). As you realize that future consequences vary depending on what you have or have not done, you feel more in control, feel better about yourself, anxiety lesssens, and the desire, attention, and energy to control other people decreases.

The suggestions in the post above sound like good ones to me-

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
The art to difficult children who feel the need to control each & every situation, of which the tweedles are pros - give them choices. Choices that you can handle, but choices none the less.

Example - bath or shower tonight. Milk or juice. Popcorn or graham crackers for snack. Cereal or toast for breakfast. You see where I'm going with this, don't you? The choices aren't overwhelming because you're only offering 2, but difficult child has control over the situation.

This gives our difficult children control & you are offering the choices so you can guide difficult child.


Ditto, ditto, ditto. Understanding where it's coming from is half the battle.