I Think I'm Spinning My Wheels Here

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Bunny, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    So, we just get back from a session with difficult child's therapist and I am totally disheartened. I am trying to explain to the therapist that difficult child is fantastic in school. Straight A student, nice, quiet, polite. School was never our problem, and the therapist knows that. It's the ODD behavior at home that is driving me up the wall and what, I feel, needs to be focused on at this point. He needs behavior modification for the way he behaves at home. He lies, he blames everyone else when he gets into trouble, and he insists that he does not have to listen to husband or myself when we tell him something or punish him for something. We spent the better part of the hour trying to get difficult child to understand that I am the mother and there are times when what I say goes. difficult child just insists that just because I am the mother does not mean that I am always right and that he does not have to listen when he thinks I'm wrong, like when he gets punished. I told the therapist that I feel like I am getting no where and that I am just spinning my wheels here. He insists that is not the case and that we have really come a long way and that difficult child is doing better. He seems to be the only one who sees it because I just don't see it. At least I don't see it tonight.

    I think I am going to have a glass of wine and get ready to watch Monday Night Football. I'm so tired of feeling overwhelmed and like I have no control in my own home. At least everyone here understands. That is the end of my vent for the night. Have a good night, everyone.
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    difficult child is on the cusp of puberty, and this is a dangerous time to push the boundaries.

    Yes, you ARE spinning your wheels. And behaviour modification is needed, but clearly it is not going to work for difficult child.

    You have undoubtedly been doing all the right things, but to no avail. Your discipline methods are probably the way you were raised, and probably would produce a perfect child under any other conditions, but those methods are clearly failing now. It is the definition of insanity to keep doing the same things and expect a different result.

    There is a brilliant book a lot of us here recommend, "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It at first seems a chaotic way to handle a problem kid. We have a kid we struggle with, and the instinctive reaction is to clamp down even tighter on the discipline. But often this is what makes things worse, so we need to relax those methods and find a different way. It requires a change in mind-set.
    Again I say - this does not mean that your methods up til now are bad. They are not. The trouble is, the discipline is a bad fit for this child, that is all.

    Red the book. It basically makes your job easier, once you can take it on board. You can use the same techniques for PCs too. It actually uses the stubbornness of the ODD behaviours to drive the child towards self-discipline, often faster than we as parents thought would be possible.

    But for now, you are the irresistible force meeting the immovable object of your son. When he says he reserves the right to disagree with you if he thinks you are wrong, then nothing in the world os going to put that genie back in the bottle of belief in parental infallibility. Once a child reaches the point of knowing that adult get it wrong sometimes, you can no longer insist on always being right. Instead, you have to find a better way. Such as, "These are my reasons."

    You clearly have a very bright child who has no problems at school. Why is that? Why is he doing well at school but not at home? What is the difference? And why is he able to do so well at school? He must already have a lot of self-discipline, perhaps more than you realise. Maybe you need to shift your relationship with him into a different gear. Give him responsibility, supervise but don't hover. Support, don't drive. Ease back a little and guide. Reduce the number of issues you want to work on, to about three or four. back off from forcing the issue if he's about to melt down, then pick it up again when he is calmer. Use logic, reason.

    This is not about right and wrong. This is about your ultimate aim - to guide him to be a successful, law-abiding, considerate, independent and productive member of society.

  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I hate those moments when difficult child doesn't respect me. I would document each incident. Instead of going into the doctor's office with the general behaviors, record specific times, dates, events and document every part of it - write what everyone around said and did what you see as the trigger and how you see it could have turned out better if each person did something different. In my home, husband does not enter any arguments difficult child or Diva would have with me - it would help so much if he would step in and say, "You will not treat your mom like that" but instead it is, "You two stop fighting" which puts us on the same level and off he goes to hide. Ugh!!!

    I am trying to figure out how best to present this to my difficult child's therapist also and have come to the conclusion that I have to report a specific event not just, "Some times difficult child gets so disrespectful. He thinks he needs to put me in my place. ect, ect, ect."

    Our kids have to learn that they don't get a reason for everything. Sometimes when you start to give reasons, they start to argue with the reason - not good at all making matters so much worse - they must learn to accept the authority as is when you choose not to explain. They may ask politely and respectfully for a reason but if you choose not to share it then they must back down. An example is you may feel uncomfortable with your child walking a certain route to school because you have heard that a certain house has had some legal problems with drug transactions. You want your child to take a different route but you do not want to scare him by telling him about the drug activity so he must change his route without question. Or for a younger child, you don't have time to get him out of the middle of the street while explaining a car can hit him. He best get off the street without a reason!

    My difficult child's therapist is very good about upholding my authority as the parent and will remind difficult child a lot that Mom is in charge. I have also told therapist in difficult child's presence that difficult child does not always get to know why he needs to obey, he just needs to obey. Because Mom says so should be good enough in many situations!

    Don't misinterpret that I am a rigid person in discipline - I am not. I do lead difficult child a lot with explaining why I am asking him to do most everything. I would have much more trouble with him if I did not, it is just those few time that I choose not to give an explanation that he becomes disrespectful and as an authority figure I should not have to explain my actions to him.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2010
  4. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I can't really add much more than what Marg and Andy said. I second the book recommendation. Sometimes change has to begin with US, the parents. Otherwise, you get stuck in a tug of war and you end up spinning your wheels, as you've said. Perhaps you could meet with the therapist privately to discuss ways in which you could change your approach without difficult child around at all - take the full hour. I've done that in the past with my difficult child and it was helpful, even if all I did was vent or at least try to understand where the therapist was coming from, understand?

    Sending support and hugs~
  5. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    Thanks, everyone. I am going to get the book today. difficult child's psychiatrist just recommended it to me, so I think that will be a good place to start.

    Please don't think that I think everything has to be my way just because I am the mom. I am more than willing to bend with difficult child because, white frankly, some things are just not worth arguing with him about. But, like Andy said, there are times when things just have to be my way because that I am the mother and I make the rules. And he thinks he can pick and choose which rules he will obey and which ones he wants to toss out the window because he doesn't feel like dealing with them. If he can't learn now that he has to do what other people tell him at times, what is he going to be like when he's an adult and working for a cruddy boss?

    Anyway, thanks for the input. Like I said, I am going to get the book today. At least he had a really good morning this morning. That always makes the day start better.

    Have a good one, everyone!
  6. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    You are absolutely correct! He does need to learn that you're willing to compromise on some things and not on others. And I agree that there are times when, "Tough Noogies, what I say goes!" whether he likes it or not! I think that's where we get into trouble because they get confused and begin to think that every point is negotiable. We did have to work on this with difficult child in counseling for a bit because she too argued and tried to negotiate every single thing and couldn't understand why there were some things we were willing to discuss and bend on and others we just would not (like her boyfriend driving our car, or no curfew, etc, lol).

    difficult child needs to know that while you're willing to negotiate some things, you ultimately (as the parent) have the final say and that there are certain rules that are non-negotiable. In my house it's the curfew thing. I don't care how old someone is, if they live here, I need it quiet by 11PM, no later because I need to get my rest. If a friend stays over, same thing - tv's off and quiet time after 11PM. Both of my kids fought me on this gradually throughout their teens and into young adulthood; they really gave me a hard time about it. Finally, I showed them the door and said, "If you want to be up all hours or coming in disrupting someone's home, go find your own" and walked away. They got with the program and they follow it. Of course, your son is likely too young for such arguments, but they run along the same lines - about setting a rule. Sometimes you can compromise, sometimes not and it takes them some time to figure it out, even if you're very consistent. And moving into adolescence adds a challenge.

    You learn how to prioritize your battles, which are: very important, somewhat important and not really that important (or, Basket A, B, C). Best of luck and hugs~

  7. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    are there certain non-negotiables that he routinely challenges?

    maybe it would help to make a written list of "house rules" and see if that helps him---something more concrete and visual might help. obviously, it would be impossible to list everything he challenges, lol...i'd lean more toward the big stuff, and areas in which there is the most difficulty. sounds pretty basic, i know, but lots of kids need to see it in writing to really have it hit home, and lots of kids need that absolute consistency and anticipation of what needs to happen.

    that being said, tread carefully on things that *might* have a variable, like bedtime, if you are say, flexible on sat night. if so, that would be two distinct "rules"

    1.) bedtime on sunday-friday is at 9pm with lights out/electronics off (or whatever)
    2) bedtime on sat is at 10pm with extra time earned for good behavior (bad wording, but you get the idea--and its more to give you some flexibility if something comes up, like you are out later than usual and cant get him to bed at exactly 9pm).

    could be very basic, could be elaborate--i'd lean toward pretty basic to start, and then add/adjust accordingly.

    it will also help to take *YOU* out of the equation--you can just point and say, but the rule is (whatever).
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    One thing that should help is to teach him how to negotiate appropriately for things he feels are unfair or wrong. He needs to learn to express himself (again, appropriately) and HE also needs to learn when to not argue but just accept. Often once they know tat the door is open for them to discuss if they really feel strongly, they are more willing to let smaller issues go and accept.

    What we found - we initially had to bend on everything, then work back to being rigid on things we feel MUST be done our way. But according to Explosive Child, the things we won't bend on, are Basket A. And the only things that should be Basket A are school attendance and immediate safety. So a kid running outside into the snow not wearing a coat - it's Basket B (unless temperatures are so dangerously low that a few seconds without a coat is lethal). Because the kid will himself realise that it is cold. Or instead of standing in the doorway blocking it and saying, "You MUST wear your coat!" you try, "Do you want your blue coat or your red one?"
    Giving the child a choice is a good START with this. With choice, they have a responsibility to themselves and they have to step up and learn how to make choices. Part of being able to manage with a difficult boss in years yo come, will be already knowing how to negotiate and when not to waste your breath. This is taught often laboriously and at times painfully, but if they learn how to do it appropriately, they will be better equipped. I know - because we started "Explosive Child" techniques mostly on difficult child 3 but also on the older siblings, who at that time were in their late teens. Since then both our girls have had serious employer issues. easy child walked away (after having filed letters with her boss's superiors, letters which at the time were dismissed) and walked away with her reputation in tatters. She was later vindicated. easy child 2/difficult child 2 fought legally (having followed all the guidelines I set out for her) and eventually settled out of court with them. But the techniques she was taught by us helped her handle the workplace bullying situation the best way she could have.
    We allowed out kids to argue with us, as long as they argued fairly and logically. Again, the older generation and even some of our friends thought we were nuts to allow it, but we have set our kids up to better manage their relationships in adult life, with partners, employers, colleagues and friends.

    husband & I argue the same way. We do not fight. But we often discuss and we do disagree at times. But we generally agree to disagree - this is important to teach your kids. "Son, I know you want to go skating with your mates but at this point I have to step in and say no, you are not to go today. My reasons are - yo have an assignment due tomorrow and I don't think skating now, will leave you enough time to finish. If you get your work done now, you might be able to go later. You should be able to go tomorrow if you get your work done now." I will also add, "You can choose to go skating now, but if you do, I will not sit up late and help you type your assignment when your hands get tired. I am going to bed early tonight. So if you make the wrong choice now, you have to wear the consequences."
    I rarely forbid anything, especially in the early stages. But I would make it clear that the wrong choice would bring natural consequences which could involve failing at school.
    Sometimes what a kid wants, relies on a parent being cooperative. And you can always choose to not cooperate, as long as you obviously have other things to do. My parents did this to me, however, when they clearly did not have to. To me, even looking back now, I believe they were choosing to be obstructive. We were spending the day at my sister's and in the evening our church youth group were going on a bus trip to the beach. My parents didn't want me to go but had no logical reason (I realise now, they did not want me out with a group including boys after dark, even supervised by responsible adults as we would have been. I was 16 at the time.) My parents dealt with this by simply refusing to leave my sister's until it was too late for me to go. I knew they were stalling; we'd been at my sister's since mid-morning and I needed to be at the church hall for pick-up at 5 pm. But my parents were really, really over-protective to a ridiculous level. I say that now, looking back. My siblings say the same thing. They also say I had it a lot easier than they did (!!??!). I believe them.
    There were other times when my parents were obstructive "for your own good" when I was not allowed to discuss at all (I had to learn to argue with husband after we married - I had no experience). One time which still burns me, I had been chosen (with another friend) to represent the school at public speaking. I had been telling my parents about this for several weeks, my friend's father was going to drive both of us girls to the school where we were to compete. I just had to get to their house. My father was late home from work that night and said he was too tired to drive me. My brother in law next door even offered to drive; my parents refused, said I had to be punished for failing to remind them of the event. I knew I had told them - my mother had been listening to me all week rehearsing my speech. They had not realised how important it was. Next day at school, my failure to even show up, despite my explanation, was seen as my having badly let down the school. It id a lot of damage to my reputation. I still feel that the main reason this happened, was because my parents had backed themselves into a corner and had resorted to "I said no, and I am the parent, my word is final!" purely to shut off debate.
    It's a topic I am understandably very sensitive about, since the memory of the damage it did is still painful.

    So yes, you are the parent and have final veto. But do not exercise it without really careful consideration. NEVER exercise that veto, especially with a very bright child who will KNOW, if you're simply fed up with debating the issue.
    I still see tis happen with friends and their kids, when the friends say, "That's it! Stop nagging! I'm busy with the dog, I don't want to talk about it now, so you're not going."

    What we do in such a situation - "I can't talk about it now, I'm concentrating on this task. I will be done in fifteen minutes, we will talk about it then."
    We talk about it. If we have to write it all down to weigh up the pros and cons, we do so. But if a request cannot be granted until certain requirements have been met, then the child has a list of those requirements and the reasons. For example, "I can't take you because there is no fuel in the car. The spare drum of fuel is empty. I have no money to buy more fuel." If the child can make fuel materialise, or alternate transport, that objection is dealt with. If there are no other objections then the child should be allowed to go. But the other objections could be, "I know you say Johnno can give you a lift, but he has had his licence suspended. You are not going with an unlicensed driver." It is possible for a new objection to be raised, especially if it's an obvious breach of house rules.

    So yes, you are the parent. You do have ultimate say. Just go gently with it. It actually is worth far more if you use it less.