I'm new... and need help!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by PennyS, May 7, 2011.

  1. PennyS

    PennyS New Member

    Hi I am new to this site, but it looks like it might be my saving grace!

    I am a mum of 3 boys age 8, 4, 2 and another one (unplanned) on the way (also a boy) who is due in September. I swear the 8 year old has led me to have mental health problems and is on the verge of giving me a breakdown...I am about to crack. :eek:(

    I am at my wits end (again) with my 8 year old son, he has always been a difficult and awquard child, from a baby infact, and no one seems to understand my problems with him! My parents have him a lot as I really struggle with him and he is fab 1-1, but because of this they don't see the extent of the problems I have with him, and I never get 1-1 with him and so we get the worsed out of each other.

    He is perfect at school, doing well in maths and science but does get picked up on being unable to focus and concentrate and is falling behind with reading and reading comprehension. Apart from that school cannot see my problem either. I have begged the GP for help since he was 4, have always thought he has ADHD and some type of autism or behavioural disorder, but get nowhere. He is also absolutely outstanding at all sport, is on all the school teams and wins pretty much everything to do with sport, always being picked out for his outstanding abilities.

    Because there is only a problem at home I tend to blame myself as our relationship is volatile to say the least and I am at the point now where I feel like a ticking time bomb... waiting to explode, and he is the same. It is awful and I cannot live like this any more :0(

    My other two children are suffering because I am always in a bad mood and snappy and can spend no time with them, and also because my oldest is generally vile to them, he is so oversensitive to everything, cannot leave them alone and is just constantly taking things off them , policing them, hurting them if they do something that annoys him, yelling at them, he seems to think it is his job to monitor their every move.

    I feel awful as I now believe I have a mental health problem (manic depression runs in the family), and also blame him for triggering it. I am fine when he is not around me, but as soon as he is near me I am on edge, full of anxiety and waiting for the next argument, time he hurts his brothers etc... etc... IT really wears me down, and I dread waking up in the morning to have to face another day of hell. I want to escape from it all, as I am totally out of control of him and also my emotions and reactions towards him. I am just glad I am not a violent person or I would have hurt him by now as he just pushes me and pushes me and pushes me until I break. At this point I usually shout and say things I don't mean and regret after (like you are vile and horrible) and then that spirals my mood even further down as I feel so awful for being such a horrible nasty person, and am sure I am damaging him when I loose my temper like this.

    My husband is good in that he accepts things as they are, and supports me in a lot of ways... he is mentally level, but very negative... which also drags me down as I try to be positive a lot of the time. He does all the physical stuff when I am having bad days such as washing, washing up, cleaning etc... and never moans, but there is no two way conversation as he just listens (which is good in one way) but never feeds back any ideas as to how to deal with the situation, he leaves it to me and just sayd 'it is how it is'.

    I am really terrified about the 4th baby being on the way, and am feeling quite negative about it as I cannot cope with the 3 children I have (well one of them) and cannot seem to control or cope with my emotions either. I had PND after baby no 2 really badly and completely rejected no 1 due to his behaviour. I was just getting better and ended up pregnant with no 3.. but stayed on medication until he was 6 months old. I have nothing now, and want to avoid it, but feel like I am seriously about to snap.

    Please help!!!
  2. Hi, welcome. I get it, the hate to get up in the morning to start another stress filled day, ugh!! I am like that most mornings, dreading when my difficult child (problem child) wakes up, expecting the worst and usually getting it.

    I am so sorry about the PND, that must be horrible. I have a friend who went thru it and I just wish I had done more to help her.

    I am sure there will be others by soon to offer their experiences and I am sure they will have lots of questions for you. Be sure to look around here and read read read! There are tons of great posts on here with info that just might help.

    Hugs of welcome, Vickie
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member


    From what you describe, the problem is no longer just at home. it's just that it was at home that you FIRST noticed things were not right.

    We are dealing with similar stuff and have also lived through the process. I think you are probably on the money with ADHD plus probably Asperger's. Depending on how autism and Asperger's are defined in your area, if there was no history of language delay the label would be Asperger's rather than autism. However, increasingly Asperger's is being labelled as high-functoning autism. The labels are once again shifting, I was told that the new DSM criteria will not even mention Asperger's.

    WHat you describe with school performance fits Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). Being able to do well in concrete subjects is typical. In difficult child 3's case he also was/is hyperlexic, his fascination/obsession with the written word and with numbers also meant he learned spelling and grammar very early. He could skim a piece of writing and do a comprehension exercise at a basic level. "What did John say to his mother?" was easy. But as he got older, he "hit the wall" as I call it, and suddenly began to fail rather surprisingly and spectacularly, in some small areas only. A glitch, the school thought. An off day. But I could see it was because the work had become more abstract and challenging. "Why do you think John told his mother about the dog?"
    Then as he moved into middle school and higher, the questions became even more challenging. "When Jack punched Fred, what did he think Fred had done?"
    That last question is a classic "theory of mind" problem. difficult child 3, at 17, does understand theory of mind intellectually, but at an instinctive level he falls back on egocentricity. The mental effort to keep up is extreme.

    We are now having problems with difficult child 3 and executive function. Increasing his ADHD medications has improved his functioning, but not a vast amount. This is our current urgent problem.

    Now to behaviour. Your son is trying to cope academically at school, and being able to do well at least in some areas provides some comfort and some standing for him. But he is beginning to struggle, and this will be knocking his confidence. He can't lash out at school; he has to guard himself there as best he can. But he can't control himself too tightly for too long. So at home, where he feels safest and most secure, is where you see the real person and his struggle.

    I suspect you may also need to change your own parenting style when it comes to how you relate to him. I'm not saying you're a bad parent or a slack disciplinarian; chances are, you're too good. Because what usually works well for most kids, the 'normal' kids, can be disastrous and lead to much greater discipline problems with a kid on the spectrum. The reason is, we tend to assume a certain capability of social understanding in our discipline methods, and these kids, especially if they're bright, are good at copying other people's behaviour. They slide under the radar because they imitate, almost instinctively. And part of what they copy, is your behaviour as a disciplinarian. So you need to change tack - become a model for the behaviour you want from him. In every interaction with him, you need to help him understand that HE has to make the choices. You can help him by laying out the range of choices for him. If you try to stand your ground, you will teach him how to be stubborn. But if you work to compromise, you will teach him how to compromise also, and to give way appropriately.

    You do not have to become a doormat - far from it. But you probably do need to get into his head, think the way he thinks, and work from there. Reduce the number of things you want to "fix" about him, and let the rest go for now.

    A book that will help - "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Read up on it, we have a sticky in Early Childhood forum that can give you some pointers. If your diagnosis is right, this book will help a lot. It could help a lot anyway, but I found that it produced a major improvement in difficult child 3. He's still a long way from perfect, I still run a lot of interference for him, but he is now able himself to see where he needs to go socially.

    I would strongly recommend requesting a neuropsychologist referral. If the GP says there's no point, there's nothing wrong, use the following arguments:

    1) He's doing so well in some subjects, but beginning to struggle in others. I would like to determine if we have a gifted child here, even if he is only talented in some areas. It would be a shame to not give him every opportunity to excel. Similarly, if there is a problem we have not been able to identify, and we do not offer him a little support in the areas he is beginning to have trouble with, it will prevent him being able to fully exploit his talent areas. We need to do this sooner rather than later, in order to be able to give him as much run-up time as possible.

    2) I am concerned that there may be some underlying problem we have not been able to identify, perhaps partially masked because as an apparently bright child (and we won't know without an assessment) can mask it for a while to a certain extent. I think he has been doing that and now the mask is beginning to slip. I do not want him to fall too far behind, I would like to get some answers fast. You do not think there is anything wrong - I accept that, but I still feel concerned. I would feel greatly reassured to know you are proved right by an independent neuropsychologist assessment Can you please refer him to someone who can administer a neurospych assessment on him, hopefully to reassure me that there is no problem? Because if you are right and there IS no underlying problem, that also will be valuable information we can use to put some management strategies in place, to help him lift his game in the subjects he now is suddenly having trouble with.

    In summary - your first argument is, he's been doing well in school across the board and now has problems that seem inconsistent with past great progress. We need to eliminate a previously masked learning difficulty. And the second argument - you could be right that there is nothing wrong, doctor. Let's prove it.

    I used both these arguments on a particularly recalcitrant GP that used to be in our area. The doctor wrote me the referral fully expecting to be supported by his colleague and proved right. At that point, we had already had speech pathology assessments and a psychologist's report that indicated autism. All we needed was the last piece of the puzzle - the third required specialist to confirm. When the report came back that confirmed difficult child 3's autism, the GP never even read it. When I turned up next with a difficult child 3 with croup (and the doctor wouldn't even listen there - difficult child 3 ended up in hospital a few hours later) and the doctor said there was no point checking his tonsils etc because "if he has a sore throat, he will tell you," (not if he's non-verbal as he was at the time and also doesn't notice pain), I said that difficult child 3 had a diagnosis ofautism and also of language delay; he could not tell me. The GP then shouted at me, in front of a waiting room full of patients, to "stop trying to find things wrong with your child."
    It was VERY satisfying to be able to tell him that I didn't diagnose my child, the specialist HE referred us to had given the diagnosis. Argue with the specialist.

    You CAN beat these guys at their game. You just have to play by the same rules and speak their language.

    Joining this site will give you information, encouragement and support. Without this site I never would have kicked as many rear ends as I have, and with such success. We now are in a good place, despite the current executive function problems.

    Welcome, and let us know how you get on.

  4. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Hello PennyS, and welcome. Given your description of how the children have come and the stress you have been under, it sounds like his behavior might also be attention getting. Kids, and this doubles if he does have ADHD or a spectrum disorder,will get their needs met any way they can. At eight he has no idea what is happening. It sounds like the rift between you started when he was pretty young. My kids are spread out so far, I have not had to deal with this, however my mother did. I was the oldest and my sister came 12 months after me! My sister and I have always had rather alouf relationship. My mom tells me I was jealous and continually nasty to her when I was young. What I remember most from my youth is not getting any time with my mom because there were 2 others that came along later. I was expected to behave more grown up than my age. Siblings fight-but you do have to protect the younger ones as he is much older.

    At school (managing 31 kids gives me some clout!) when I have a children who are acting out constantly (usually they have ADHD or some diagnosis), my first line of defence is an offensive-I always call them to me in the AM and ask about their night and give them a heads up about the day.( Build a relationship by interacting around as 2 people would) I often use these kids as my assitants because it gives them a sense that they are needed and valued. I am diligent about not getting in a negative feedback loop with them because, when that happens it becomes a power struggle. He may be holding it together at school because most of us teachers run our classes pretty predictable and structured. This is soothing to kids. If he is on the spectrum-this is double important! It prevents a lot of things when they know how the day will go and what is expected.

    I think you should see a psychiatrist at the least and maybe you will end up with a referral to the neuropsychologist. Peace of mind and proactive.

    One last idea-have your husband look after the 2 little ones for a 1/2 hour every day and spend it with your older boy. It may be hard at first as he is use to a volitile relation with you. Let him know you want things to be different. Do something you both will enjoy-a game,read to him, throw a ball whatever.

    If you feel as if something is wrong with your own mental health (could this be stress and pregnancy???)-go talk to a counselor. They will let you know if you need an evaluation. We have all been "nuts" raising our difficult children at some point. But dont ignore this as it will make things worse. If BiPolar (BP) disorder runs in the family you should look into it-by the way any chance your boy could have early onset of this??

    Hugs to you. Keep coming here and reading-your tool bag will fill up and you will feel more in control.
  5. Jena

    Jena New Member

    Hi and welcome.......... sorry you had to find us, yet glad you did. alot of supportive helpful parents here. it's a good place to vent or just read posts helps to know you aren't alone, or the watercoooler is a good forum as well for non difficult child (gift from god) we refer to our kids in here as issues.

    soooo wow your right i'd be a bit edgy too with the 4th baby on the way. You stated you asked your gp for help and didn't recieve any?? What type of help were you hoping to get from him? is your insurance the type whereas you need referrals to go to specialists etc.??

    Why don't you just start by looking up a child therapist in your area and bringing him once a week. It'll give you the opportunity to sit down with someone one on one explain the behaviors at home, etc. and get some help on your side. As you said especially with the baby on the way. None of us can diagnosis a child obviously....... yet we can make guesses. I'd say start there, it'll give you solace in knowing he's talking to someone and you can also work with the therapist on different approaches at home etc. they might feel may help the situation.

    In time the therapist might suggest a pyschiatrist evaluation for him.

    I hope you get some peace. One thing i try to remember is forget giving my kid a time out I give myself a time out. When i get that way, the exact way you described i literally leave the situation and go into my room for a few minutes just to destress. i know it's hard you do have your hands full, yet each day do something even small for you to keep your cup filled up also.

    ((hugs)) welcome again
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hugs to you... sounds like you are paddling valiantly in stormy waters! :)
    As everyone has said, you clearly need some outside, specialist assessments and help. No one can diagnose here - your son may have ADHD and/or other disorders but really you need to have this evaluated over time by experts who can observe him. And sounds like you are definitely in a negative cycle of communication with your boy - one I understand and recognise! Although in my case I think things are easier because I don't have other children. J is often one to one with me and like that he is largely fine, as you say.
    I know this sounds counter-intuitive but might your relationship be helped by your spending some time alone with your son each week, real quality time? This also might be a way back into rediscovering his strengths and qualities. But this may not be feasible in your situation, I don't know. You mention over-sensitivity... it is likely that your son is actually feeling very hurt by the fragmented relationship between you and is using his provocation and aggressiveness as a childish, maladaptive way of expressing that upset. What I have absolutely seen with my son - who likely does have ADHD - is that his behaviour improves enormously when he feels loved and secure, liked and appreciated. Welcomed, as it were... When he does not, all the demons start flying around, doing their worst.
    Just a few thoughts. Sounds like something really needs to give in your situation and I hope you can get the respite and help that are vital.
    Last edited: May 8, 2011
  7. cubsgirl

    cubsgirl Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to pop in and say "Welcome!". I think you'll find a ton of support here.

  8. P-nut2004

    P-nut2004 New Member

    Penny, first Welcome & you have definitely come to the right place!

    I can totally relate to the feeling of walking on eggshells and your mood souring as soon as your difficult child is around. I often send L (my difficult child) off with husband to have a break, which is great (as is the time she is in school) but the moment she comes in the door I'm on edge. This is something I am working on, I have had various dxs over the years and think my most recent diagnosis of BiPolar with PTSD is correct & the medications I have started are helping. I also had PPD (postpartum-depression here) after Ls birth and I know how hard that is. I am so glad L is my youngest because I deal with alot of the same behaviors you do & its got to be way harder with younger kids to care for too.

    We also had problems getting the GP to refer us to a psychiatrist (psychiatrist) or therapist(therapist), for me getting stern & demanding got me my referral but you should be able to find a way around GP if he wont refer you. Once you get to a psychiatrist I would also suggest a neuropsychologist visit, we have a much better understanding of Ls behavior & how to deal with it/treat it now that we have a full picture of her dxs. You should definitely look into a psychiatrist or atleast therapist for yourself as well. If you are bi-polar(manic depressive) it is possible that your difficult child is experiencing early symptoms of this. L was diagnosed with Temper Dysregulation Disorder which is what they have replaced 'childhood/early onset bi-polar' with. I was told by her psychiatrist that she will most likely receive a diagnosis of Bi-Polar later on.

    The best thing you can do is try to inform yourself as much as possible on how to deal with difficult child behaviors, they really have to be parented differently & it is hard with easy child ('normal') kids in the house too. You are headed the right direction, just don't give up! Get some help for yourself so you can be strong to deal with difficult children issues & find whatever route you can to get him some testing and help.. It's not easy but it is possible & you will find ways to make life better. The suggestion others have made of scheduling one on one time with difficult child is also a great idea, I have found that this helps L feel more important & cuts down on some of the attention seeking behaviors. We also recently posted an hour by hour schedule on the fridge and we have stuck to it, it has helped Ls anxiety alot as she knows what to expect & I actually get more done because things aren't so chaotic. Just a couple ideas, others will be by with tons more advice & suggestions!

    P.S. It will also help if you make a signature to give everyone a better idea of your situation & then you dont have to repeat yourself :) There are instructions for creating one in the Site Help forum.

    ((HUGS)) :Grouphug:
  9. PennyS

    PennyS New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I really am overwhelmed by the amount of support and interest I have received here. I realised after posting that this appears to be a US (??) site? I am in the UK, which explains the time difference. I used to work as a moderator on a PND website once I recovered myself from the illness, and never found so much positivity and support as I have here already. I hope people will not mind that I am from the UK.

    It has already made me feel like I am not living through these hard times as a parent on my own... none of my other friends or family realy understand what it is like, and also don't support me in thinking we need a diagnosis (me and my son), neither does my GP... I think because I am very academic and he is also very bright... we both get overlooked as we are both very articulate. So it is really refreshing to be listened to, understood and supported by you lovely people. Thank you. And I absolutely love that you call these 'problem' children Gifts from God, it is a really positive way of thinking about them, and one I will most certainly adopt as from now.

    I have finally got an appointment to see a family therapist, in two weeks time in the child and adult mental health clinic, and am also waiting on an apointment with the perinatal psychiatrist (due to my past history of PND and family history of bi-polar). So I hope through one of these routes the balls will start rolling, but I am apprehensive that they will also not take me seriously as I probably come over as coping fine and bright, and out of our home environment so does my son. But I am all set to fight for more support and a diagnosis, seeing as I have fought for 4 long hard years (and more really) to get this far...an appointment with a family therapist!!! I just hope she will refer me for counselling and my difficult child :likeit: for psychiatric assessment. Although I have always wondered about ADHD and possibly aspergers (as definately talented and no language delay... he was talking at 12 months in sentences). Perhaps he is just reacting to me and my hostility and mood swings?! He is like a barometer of my mood for sure. It is hard to know if I respond to him and his behaviour or if it is the other way round sometimes. However all this aside... what I do know is that we cannot continue like this, there is a very negative cycle going on beteween us, which is damaging for us both and our relationship. Plus the added effect on my other children and my relationships with my husband and family.

    As many of you suggested, I definately need to build in one-to-one time with my difficult child (is that how you refer to them?), I need to maintain structure in our day as he does not like not knowing what the plan is for the day/ week, although this is easier said than done. I have always resorted to sticker reward charts, but am very much at fault for being inconsistent with this... once his behaviour improves I find I give up (not porposefully... it just happens) on them, which is wrong of me. I do struggle with consistency myself.. in routine, but this tends to relate to my mood. I never know how I will wake up feeling myself (well usually stressed and depressed most days) and sometimes feel in such a blur I struggle to get up and dressed let alone get all the chores done. I think I am probably also guilty of having an underlying resentment about having to treat difficult child differently mfrom the others and my friends children! The other children just seem to fit in, go with the flow and be easy going. But it feels like constant, relentless hard work with difficult child, no matter how much you give him, it is never enough... for example on holidays, you devote your time to the children and doing things with/ for them, but while you ar doing one thiong (eg swimming) he is constantly asking hat next, can we do this and that etc... even when he has structure (we sometimes write down the plan for the week). You can play football with him for an hour, then stop for a drink and a rest for 1/2 hour... and he is constantly badgering you to do this/ that... more more more! Where the other children will just chill! Even when you warn difficult child... I am going to sit down for 1/2 hour and rest as I need a drink and a break, you need to go and amuse yourself for a while (DVD/ give him a task) he will be back pestering in 5 minutes! I agree it is all about attention, but no matter how much he has it never seems enough.

    The other problem we have is that if we sit down to play a family game for example, or I try to do some baking with all of the children, it is for definate that difficult child will cause trouble... he will find something one of his brothers have done that he feels is not fair and blow up about it. He has so much jealousy.. and I can see why because they generally don't get told off as I don't need to tell them off.. they are pretty easy going and keep out of trouble, you can see them staying oaway from difficult child, and trying their best not to make him errupt, but it never matters what they do.. he will find something to react to and be awful to them.

    Sorry if this post is a all garbled and not flowing.. I am just getting down what goes through my head as it pops up, so I can try to paint a clearer picture of my troubles! I appreciate the help and support here so much, and hope I wil also be able to offer others some support in the future. Especially if anyone suffers with PND on here? I am trained to support families sufering with PND.

    A little about me, which may explain some more about why I have struggled to get one-to-one in with difficult child, I am just at the end of a second degree... this one is in psychology! I was hoping it would help me to understand my own and difficult child's problems! But it hasn't really! It has been full time since Feb last year, and I have a final exam next Monday... hence my increased stress levels presently! I then need to bring in an income, as we are a bit of a sinking ship financially at the moment (more stress), and would love to do some type of parenting support (or support for parents with mental health problems) work in the future (once baby no. 4) is a little older as I think I would have empathy with struggling parents due to my own experiences!

    Thank you all again for listening, I think this site will be a real anchor point for me, and am SO pleased I have found it.

  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The trouble he causes in a family game situation may not be jealousy but simply a need for the rules to be adhered to exactly. Or if one of the other kids teases a little (as kids do normally in play) and difficult child is more intense about the game and misses the joke; all sorts of reasons for this. We went through this A LOT with difficult child 3. WHat helped - find different games, ones which rely on strict rules. And SUPERVISE. The best way to do this is to sit in on the game. Another option is to reduce the number of players, and make the game more complex, so the others have to concentrate more too. We found chess was really good for difficult child 3. Despite his early problems with language, despite his other issues, he was a good chess player very early. He used to play it on the computer (a good way to learn the game - set the computer to two human opponents with illegal move alerts turned on, and let the kid play both players). I remember one time we were on holiday when he was about 6 years old. We had gone to a puzzleworld type of place, the sort of place you take a gifted child or autistic child to. They had a large outdoor maze, inside there were lots of optical illusions, mirror distortions and various special rooms which make you look smaller or larger depending on which doorway you stand in. The kids loved it, they could spend hours in such a place. At lunchtime we sat in the restaurant where the tables had puzzles or game boards painted into the surface. difficult child 3 and difficult child 1 went to a table with a chess board and got the chess pieces from the shop counter. difficult child 3 was already a good player at 6 years old. He might have been even younger, but he had started school so he was at least 5. Imagine the reaction on other diners nearby when this five year old turned round and called across to us. "Dad - how do you castle again?" I watched necks snapping at other tables around the room, at the sound of this little kid who knew enough about chess to even know about castling!

    Penny, this site is administered in the US, but I live in Australia, There are members around the world, although the bulk of the members are in the US. But they put up with me... and also my husband, who joined the site in his own right rather than keep hijacking my avatar.

    Back to you and your son - I mentioned "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Really. Read it. It will help you in practical ways now, even without a diagnosis.

    Also - if you are intelligent, and he is intelligent, use this to your advantage. I found that if I studied my own child and tried to work to his strengths, we did a lot better. An example is his hyperlexia - I used it to help him learn to communicate. He actually learned to read as a means to learning to talk. We also found that when he had some maths problems to work on, or anything academic to work on, it calmed him down. Chess was good that way but I did find I needed to referee him a fair bit, the social skills side of the game interactions were sometimes a problem.

    I used to reward him with brain teaser puzzles, or those little toys where you need to tip the ball through the hole into a teetering platform which tips it off - you get the drift. He liked certain things, certain shops and LOVES puzzles. They give his brain a workout and for a bright child, this is marvellous.

    One thing we have done which has drawn criticism at times, was to never have the attitude of "He won't be able to do this at this age." As a result I have always been open about explaining to my kids, when very young, about complex concepts such as nuclear physics, chemistry, continental drift etc. Whatever they asked about, I would explain. Or if I didn't know, together we would go look it up.

    difficult child 3 had language delay but learned to deal with it by being proactive. As a result, he developed an early interest in (and capability in) etymology. At an age when other kids were struggling to even look a word up in the dictionary, difficult child 3 was analysing the information in the dictionary entry to understand the origin of the word. He would actively look up a word to find out where it had come from. I taught him to read phonetics so he could also read the pronunciation guide to the word in the dictionary.

    We were told that difficult child 3 would never be able to attend a normal school, that he was going to be uneducable, that he was going to need special schooling and lifelong support. He would never interact, he would always be aloof and apart. But we didn't give up. We had no access to therapy (other than occasional brackets of a weekly one hour speech therapy session, every year or so for a few weeks) so I tried to work it out for myself. We got quite inventive at times. We also took risks - when digital cameras were still new and very expensive, I allowed this 8 year old kid who at times threw some horrendous tantrums, to use the digital camera. As with any interaction between him and technology, he rapidly learned how to use every feature of the camera (including ones we didn't know it had) and has become a very good photographer. It has also helped teach him patience - he wanted to take photos of birds. But as he walked near, the birds would fly away. In order to get the shot he wanted, he had to learn to first watch from a distance to see where the birds were, then go there and sit quietly until the birds got used to him and came back. Then he could take his photo.

    What will work for you and your children is something only you can identify. But the most important thing I learned, was to have courage to break the rules and break the stereotypes. If your child is curious about slime moulds, let him find out more. Go learn about this topic with him. difficult child 3 saw a program on TV one day about mangrove swamps and said, "I'd like to explore a mangrove swamp."
    So we did - that very day. We didn't take long, I let him wander round in it and I talked to him about what I knew about mangroves. We looked at tiny crabs living around the mud ooze, we examined the aerial roots. We looked at the baby plants putting out roots even before they leave the parent tree. We found a couple of large strangler figs a bit further back, and had a good look. When we later had a look at a rainforest, difficult child 3 found more strangler figs but 'behaving' in a different way. He noted the contrast between the hot, salty mangrove swamp and the cool, moist rainforest.

    These kids love to DO. And the time you spend doing this sort of stuff with them, discovering stuff with them, is gold. For them and for you. It also helps you monitor their progress in so many areas.

    Anyway, you can do it for yourself. Have faith in your ability to be the best parent, teacher, stimulus, for your children. Find resources for your kids and have fun exploring it all with them. But push the mental stimulation. It might cool things down a bit for you with the problem behaviour, if he's a bright kid who has too much spare mental capacity and not enough direction.