I'm not winning

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ML, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. ML

    ML Guest

    My kid is such a brat. His behavior is awful. No one likes him. Adults just see a spoiled rotten, moody kid who sulks when he doesn't get his way. This summer has not been good for him. Despite the tennis lessons, the day camp, the walks, he is just getting more drawn into his screens and not losing weight. husband wants to do boot camp, he's had it with his attitude and the constant defiance and arguing. I'm just feeling tired and defeated tonight. I don't know what to do or even what I need from you all. Perhaps just a kind word, encouragement or some secret I haven't yet discovered for surviving and doing a better job at this parenting cuz I seem to be losing headway.
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator


    Summer is a boon or a curse, depending on the family. Couple that with the other stresses and a tween headed for puberty and you have a recipe for a difficult time. My advice? Re-read TEC and put the principles back in place. Give Manster as much structure as you can. Limit activities that aren't healthful or educational (make him earn video games, etc). Read with him. Make his world small for awhile and slowly expand it out. {{{Hugs}}}
  3. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hey ML! What type of interventions do you have in place for him? Quite often, depression in children manifests itself as anger, opposition and defiance. I'm thinking that AS is Aspergers (some write AS mean Autistic Spectrum - not that it means a hill o' beans that much!). If it is, he's probably got the self-esteem of a gnat!

    I'd also keep in mind that husband has a lot on his plate right now, so his "supportive side" may not be showing up to the party lately. His level of tolerence is probably way lower than normal so he's not going to be too patient.

    You're not a terrible person for not liking Manster all that much (or husband for that matter - lol!). What medications is he taking right now?

    You ARE doing a great job. Now I'm going to get on your case though. "WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU DID SOMETHING PEACEFUL FOR YOURSELF?" there - I yelled. 50 lashes with a wet noodle!

    Even if you're broke - take a walk alone, window shop, take in a movie - one that you know both of them would LOVE to see...AND THEN DON'T BRING THEM!!! (sorry - that was my evil, spiteful side kicking in for a few minutes). Is there a beauty school nearby? Find out what it costs for a mani/pedi if that's the sort of thing that floats your boat. If none of these appeal to you - I think Star* still has Raoul. If you're nice, she might do a loaner!

    Take a deep breath - you're a wonderful person who loves people that aren't any good at showing you that they hear you!

  4. ML

    ML Guest

    Thanks ladies. TM, great idea about re-reading the basics. Time to start back at raising a difficult child 101. And yes, he does much better with the routine of school.

    Nvts - yes, AS is aspergers. He's on clonidine for tics and generic ritalin (8 hour dose). Also 40 mg zoloft for anxiety. We see psychiatrist in a week or so, so he may tweak things a bit. Thanks for the kind words. I would like Raoul for a bit, Star, any chance we could arrange for that?
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I remember those days. Sending supportive and gentle hugs, and chiming in with the "go do something fun already!"
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hang in there, ML.

    About the gaming - as per TEC, I think you need to let difficult child feel some measure of control here (ie you don't step in and order him off the games NOW) but also discuss with him the amount of time he spends on his games. We have (had) the same issues and we found that despite everyone saying how bad it is, how addictive gaming is (and there could be some truth in this) there is also a lot of benefit for these kids in a lot of subtle ways as well as more obvious ways.

    So we have our own parental ground rules:

    1) I will give my child notice, as much as possible, of the need to change task, especially the need to stop gaming.

    2) I will not shut off the game; that is disrespectful and the only way this kid can learn respect, is if we show him respect first (even when he's being a snot).

    3) I will try to spend some time gaming with him, so I at least know what he is doing.

    4) I will keep in touch with what he is playing and what it is teaching him, in order to ensure that the values he is really taking on board are the values we want him to learn.

    That last rule is one we always followed in the days before computer games. I would always read the same books the kids were reading, so I could discuss the books with the kids. For example when the girls were into Babysitters Club etc, I read them all. And Christopher Pike. I would then discuss the message of the book with the kids. What did you understand the moral of the story to be? What did you think about Karen's behaviour?
    And now - difficult child 3 is playing games like Grand Theft Auto, at a fairly sophisticated programming level. It is very violent, gang-related, has drug and sexual references and involves, among other things, shooting people, stealing cars and driving wildly. He was banned from having this game or playing it, until he was able to legally acquire it himself. When difficult child 1 had a copy of the game he was forbidden to play it when difficult child 3 was in the room. Perhaps that was a mistake - it made the game more attractive for difficult child 3. However, difficult child 3's extreme law-abidingness meant that he was nervous about being in the room with any game rated above his age.

    So now he plays GTA. A lot. So he & I talk. He also talks to husband about it. There are a lot of references in the game that he doesn't get (cultural differences, plus his lack of social skills) and he will come and ask me about a 'conversation' in the game with a pimp or a drug dealer. "What did he mean by that remark?" difficult child 3 will ask. So we still talk about it. He knows I don't like the darkness in the game, the nastiness. But he has said to me, "It's OK, Mum, I know the difference between right and wrong. I know a lot of this stuff is illegal, what they do in the game, and I do know what is real and what is game."

    The interesting thing - difficult child 3 has had his Learner's Permit (driving a car) for a few months now (in Australia you can't get your Ls until you're at least 16). And his previous experience 'driving' was playing GTA! And ya know? When difficult child 3 is behind the wheel, he's a darn good driver. Sometimes he will say to me, "That situation with the side street and giving way was like a scenario in GTA, and I had to remember how to look carefully in case someone hurtled out of where he shouldn't."

    What we have found with gaming - for some kids (and in our family, this happens with the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids especially) gaming seems to act as a calming effect. difficult child 1 voluntarily stopped gaming for a period of time now and then, especially at exam time, and I found he was a lot more stressed. Gaming helped calm him down.
    And we're seeing the same things with difficult child 3 - gaming is a safety valve.

    Some games can be a problem. Sometimes the problem games are not the ones you expect. When difficult child 3 was younger, the better games for him were the educational ones, the strategy ones and the problem-solving ones. The problem games for him, surprisingly, were ones which pushed his imagination in the wrong direction. We have a basic strategy game called Mission Thunderbolt, which is not time-based (while you plan your move, the game patiently waits). difficult child 3 used to have nightmares from playing it, but when he felt he was able to handle playing it he begged for the right to have another go and we let him play (first banning him from playing it after dark) and since then we've seen him discover some novel strategies and become the most skilled player of this game in the entire family.

    It has been shown that kids who game get a lot of mental stimulation, and when bright kids game it gives their brains a regular workout and can boost their performances in other areas. As long as it doesn't take over to such an extent that they aren't getting their academic workload met.

    So what do you do to keep it under control? The best way, is to have the child take personal responsibility for his own gaming. This is a tall order, but following TEC methods, it is still the best one to aim for.

    What has worked for us, is to talk to the child. We discuss the workload, we discuss family responsibilities. We compare with our own activities. We had a battle with difficult child 3 last night, when husband wanted help with the washing up and this involved calling difficult child 3 away from a game where he was talking to other players online. difficult child 3 hated being called away from online real-time conversation and his rage was perhaps boosted by his concern over what his internet playmates would think about this. But we resolved it, we talked calmly and we also pointed out that we, his parents, will stop any recreational activity to come help with domestic issues. It's what we do, when we are in a family. difficult child 3 did calm down and stayed to help. When we were done, he went back to his gaming. That was a success in my book, because a positive lesson was learned and we didn't have to get nasty. It means that next time we are likely to get easier compliance.

    A trick you can use, that worked with both boys for us - I asked the lad to tell me how much game time he wanted each day. That is the question you ask first. "You have certain daily responsibilities which need to be met before you game. You also have responsibilities to yourself, which include getting out into the fresh air and daylight, so you get your daily dose of Vitamin D and melatonin. So given that you can't game 24/7, how much game time do you believe is reasonable for you to have each day?"

    Let the lad answer you. It's almost certain that he is unaware of just how much he is gaming. What happened with both our boys was they stated a number of hours that they anted, almost tentatively, that was actually far less than they actually game. And if you have an especially astute lad who names a figure closer to the (unacceptable) reality, you can fairly easily point out how unhealthy such a large number of ours really is, and negotiate back to a compromise.

    The next step is to get the boy to monitor his game time. Get a notebook and pen in front of him and get him to sign on and off, when he is gaming. This is something he needs to want to do, to prove a point to you. His curiosity needs to be piqued so he wants to know the real answer. If you need to, you may need to keep the log. No hassling over it, no value judgements. Just facts. "You logged on at 10.15 am and then took a break at 1 pm to come have lunch."

    Your next defence is something built in to difficult child 3's current IT course at school - OH&S. You can start to insist that difficult child develop good OH&S habits for computer use. If you can work with the school on this, maybe get them to set an assignment for the kids, on safe computer use (in terms of RSI, regular breaks from the screen, the correct arrangement of the elements of the computer hardware, etc).

    We found that when challenged, our boys grossly underestimated the amount of time a day they spent gaming. The truth (as revealed by the log) horrified them. Not that it stopped it, but it has made it easier for us to suggest, "How about you take a break when you finish that level? I need someone to go to the shop for me anyway, to buy milk. Or perhaps you could drop in and see if your friend is home."

    The type of gaming can also help - getting onto something more physically challenging, such as the Wii, is great for the whole family. You can set aside say, Saturday afternoon, for a family gaming session where you all get up and get exercising. Playing tennis, or ski slalom, is a lot of fun when everyone gets a turn trying to beat one another's scores!

    If you can't beat 'em - join 'em! And make it healthier.

  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    He's at a tough age- for him and you! Hormones are probably just starting to stir around some and self-consciousness is increasing because peer acceptance and approval is becoming more important. I don't have any advice- I apparently didn't do a good job of getting mine thru that phase. All I can do is offer support and tell you to prepare yourself for the next few years. I have heard from MANY parents, both on and off the board, that from about 11-12yo until they are in their mid-teens, boys can pluck the last nerve of any adult. And I'm starting to hear more and more that it might not be so much neurological and psychiatric as it is plain and simple testosterone. ((HUGS))
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Many hugs. I know the feeling.
    I even sat down with-the prinicipal and Special Education coordinator this spring and asked what the point was in keeping difficult child in school .. their school, anywhere. I was exhausted and ready to cry.
    They gave me a pep talk and were very interested in helping him. Sure, they'll make money off of the deal, but I guess I just needed to know I wasn't going it alone.
    These kids can really get you down. I know the feeling.
    Youv'e gotten some great feedback here. I hope the others were able to lift your spirits a bit.
    Hang on.
  9. ryzgal

    ryzgal Guest

    sending warm thoughts and hugs.
    going through a battle with my own difficult child right now and feeling very low.
    still working my way around the various posts here and getting to know everyone and their own stories, insights, tips etc.
    hang in there!

  10. ML

    ML Guest

    Thank you ladies, from the bottom of my heart. I pulled out TEC and manster was going off about it, all in a huff lol. He doesn't understand why we see him that way.

    Marg, thank you for the insightful words about gaming. I am having husband read these posts so we can arm ourselves for the next round. He and I need to get firmly on the same page. You've all given me some solid ideas as well as support.