Is he just being a "Pre-teen"?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by AmyH, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. AmyH

    AmyH New Member

    I am having some real power struggles with difficult child right now. Let's just run down lastnight. I got home at 4:30 and I called the boys to come home from my sisters (she watches them during the summer). difficult child got home and was so excited that he got a dollar for being good. He went back outside to play. Then I hear my neice screaming I go out and difficult child is throwing a baby frog in the air. I tell him to stop that and he says in a dumb founded way "What? I'm not doing anything!" I explain for the millionth time we don't treat frogs this way and especially in front of cousin (she is an avid animal lover, all kinds). He argues, so I tell him to come in.

    We go in and talk, he then gets rude with me "it is my right to play with frogs". I see that I am getting no where so I send him to his room. The then starts jumping on the bed. I have had it so I go pop him on the bottom and tell him to stop that. He then started crying and yelling that that was his bed and he had the right to jump on it if he wanted and that he did not deserve to get in trouble for it. He even started hitting himself. This lasted for about 40 min. then he came in the livingroom and I let him go out again.

    About 20 min later he came in and told me he had scratched my car with his bike. (We tell him and brother everyday, "Do not ride your bikes between the cars") So I told him for doing it he could use his allowance to fix the scratch. He started again how this was not fair and we were unreasonable. Afterall, "It was not his fault."

    About an hour later he went over to my sisters (across the street) and was telling her husband something and got frustrated and said "I'm not even going to waist my breath on you!" My sister explained that you can't talk to adults this way.

    Hubby and I let the kids stay up late because sis wanted them to sleep late today. So we all laid down and 10pm and I kid you not he came in our room 5 different times upset over something or another.

    This is a typical day. Bear in mind that he has recently been diagnosed Aspie after several tests. He is also diagnosis with severe anxiety disorder and has Bipolar tendencies.

    I am just so confused because I don't know what is the norm for a "pre-teen" as he reminds me daily that he is. Or what is the result of him being a difficult child!

  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    WHat you describe sounds very normal for an Aspie. Especially what he said to his uncle - for Aspies, everybody is an equal, so he is simply saying to his uncle what other people (probably other adults) will say to him (difficult child) in similar circumstances. And if you chide him for it, he will claim it's unfair, because from his point of view it IS unfair. There are different standards of behaviour for him, and for others. That is the definition of unfair.

    He's not being rude (not by his definition) when he talks to people like that. And it's one of the most difficult lessons to try to teach them, to discriminate in how they talk to people. It's much better to encourage polite responses from him to everybody, but this requires everybody to use the same polite responses to him even when frustrated. Not easy, and it is galling to have to do so.

    But it works.

    You describe the problems as power struggles - that is not good. The older he gets the more likely you are to lose such a power struggle. It's best to learn to deflect, or deviate, than to clash head on.

    There are other ways. Again, referring to "The Explosive Child" can help such a great deal, especially in understanding how to get what you want from the kid, while not asking him to do anything he isn't capable of.

    A lot of what you describe was difficult child testing boundaries (that's also pre-teen). He says, "I'm not doing anything," and yet he clearly is. And he knows it. What he was doing was tormenting a frog; jumping on the bed and risking damage; taking a risk with his bike and your car. Pushing boundaries, testing limits, trying to see how you would handle it. I'm also wondering if he was bored - if he's possible Aspie, chances are he's bright and was looking for mental stimulation. If he was doing something he enjoyed at your sister's and you made him come home, he might have been a bit resentful at having to stop.

    With the frog incident, I would have sat him down and asked him what the frog thought of his game. Explain to him how frogs around the world are dying out and that we need frogs because they eat the insects that would otherwise really annoy us during summer. A good thing to do for frogs is to build a small pond for them so they have somewhere to live and to breed. Maybe difficult child could do some research into what he would need to build a frog habitat, and then set one up.

    About the bed - it's NOT his bed, it's yours. I would take him under the bed and make him look at how it is constructed. Show him the weak points, where it can break. Discuss with him what he would do if his bed broke - where would he sleep that night? How long would he have to sleep with his mattress on the floor? What does it smell like, to be so close to the floor? What about cockroaches in the night, now within reach of his face if he's sleeping on the floor?

    The car - I would get him a tin of polish and a cloth, and see if he could polish the scratch. Or get him to go with you to buy a tin of primer to spray the scratch before the rust gets in. Or maybe a touch-up spray - he would have to sit with you while you research the colour and where to buy it, then go with you while you buy it, then while the job is done.

    None of this is unfair, even by Aspie standards. It is perfectly fair. Even if he really didn't expect his bike to scratch the car (and he DID tell you; he could have kept quiet about it) it doesn't matter - the car got scratched and that means SOMEONE has to repair it.
    Natural consequences.

    Aspies often need to really visualise all the options, all the reasons and all the possibilities, before they "get it".

    He seems very insistent on his rights. He needs to really learn that rights come with responsibilities. Also, we don't always have the rights he seems to think. But this could be the key in for you, to get through to him. He needs logic, he needs calm discussion and explanation.

    Where you will see typical pre-teen behaviour in him is a higher level of arousal and frustration, more aggression and raging and stronger emotional response. This is hormonal. Otherwise - a lot of this is Aspie and to handle it, you need to change your mind-set. Aspies are not typical and sometimes this can be a blessing. Find the right combination, and they take more time but can be a lot easier to handle.

  3. AmyH

    AmyH New Member

    Thank you. For years I have been trying to get through to him. From the time he was 4 I was told it was ADHD and that I needed to be tougher on him. All I feel like that has gotten me is more stress and him more aggreviation.

    He is a wonderful and brilliant kid, he so often fasinates me with the things he knows. But he is also very confused.

    His Bio-dad and I divorced when he was 3 and he now has a half brother who is aspie also. This is where all the testing came into play. Things are different there. Parenting is different.

    He started raging at his dads because his step-mom said someone in walmart stank. Well to him that is rude and uncalled for. He told her that she was wrong to say that and was really mad at her. This went into a rage his dad got mad and said he would slam him against the wall if he didn't stop. Nothing happened but they went to play basketball last wednesday and his dad talked to him about this and reinforced the wall thing. To me this is uncalled for, you don't do that to any child let alone one who doesn't understand why. I told Bio-dad this and of course he doesn't agree with me. He said my dad did it to me and I turned out OK!

    With Bio-dad's little aspie they yell at him alot and never get a real point across. My difficult child is so confused sometimes he feels as if step-mom is just mean to be mean. She has done things in the past that I have gotten really upset about. He hit him with a spoon on the arm and left a mark (just playing???), made him watch the 3 and 5 year old, talks down to him.

    Bio-dad did leave her once partially due to how she treated difficult child. She has since been diagnosis as bipolar and now bio-dad says she is better even though difficult child still comes home upset about how she treats him. I have told him he doesn't have to go but he loves his dad and wants to be with him.

    Asperger's is all new to me and there are a million books out there. I will get the explosive child. Does it deal with situations like this?
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I can only tell you that I've raised five preteens and that is not typical from my experience. They are more apt to be defiant or moody about things like hair, computers, boys/girls etc. Throwing the frog around is in my opinion a big red flag (cruelty to animals).
    I would want him evaluated by a neuropsychologist. His sense of "fairness" and precociousness could mean he has a form of high functioning autism, such as Aspergers. ADHD is usually the first diagnosis. these kids get--they are very much not able to "get it" as far as social norms. Even if he doesn't have it (and he may not), a neuropsychologist is far more apt to get to the root of the problem than any other professional because they test in so much detail and have knowledge of both psychiatric and neurological differences.
  5. AmyH

    AmyH New Member

    He was diagnosis with Aspergers. That is the problem, when he was diagnosis with ADHD through therapy I was taught to parent him one way. Now I know with his diagnosis of Aspergers that won't work. It didn't work in the first place. He has had the neuro evaluation. and That is where the diagnosis of anxiety, aspergers and BiPolar (BP) tendencies came from.

    I know the frog is a red flag. I am just not sure where to turn to learn about this. My family doesn't understand it either and his bio-dad (although he has a younger aspie) has no clue. Me and husband are trying to do what is best for him but not inable him. I should of specified that all this behavior is coming from my 12 yo difficult child. I left that out. Sorry!
  6. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Not typical at all.

    And - being tougher on a kid with ADHD is like telling someone with cancer to **** it up and get over it. Yeah, like - that would work, right?

    Being tougher on a kid that can not think like the non-adhd person is not going to work. It is not in his control to think the way a non-adhd person would. So, we can not expect them to.

    We end up trying to think like the adhd kid to help them.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Do you have an Autism Society near you? If so, they can probably direct you to somebody who can help him. These kids don't respond well to regular therapy. They think in such a different way. Interventions have really helped my spectrum child.
  8. AmyH

    AmyH New Member

    Every counselor he has had has told us not to let him run over us. Let me tell you we have been through the gamot. When I say be tougher (at my home) I mean to expect respect and thoughtfulness. That is why we are where we are at. There are two major psy hospitals with docs here and we spent most of his life using one. In the past year we have new insurance and are able to use the other and that is where we started getting "real" help. I don't mean be tougher like expect him to be like others with out adhd. But with the asperger's diagnosis it explains why he seems so disrespectful sometimes. And explains alot of his behaviors, which in the past his last two psychiatrist's told us we needed to discipline him for. That is the reason we changed though because we did not agree in the discipline for his behaviors. We try to do more of what was stated in the above reply. Concequences for actions ie... paying for the scratch on my car. And when I said I poped him for jumping on the bed it was not a hit just a pop with my hand and I said " now come on you know better than that, you are 12 1/2 and you need take care of your bed because this is the only bed you have.

    Bio-dad doesn't think there is a problem at all. He says that he is just a boy and is testing us. But then again when he was first diagnosis with adhd at 4 and given medication he would not give medications. And now he makes difficult child 1 responsible for own medications and on most weekends he forgets a pill or two.

    I feel like such a horrible parent sometimes. These last couple of weeks have been rough because the therapist has been on vacation. We go back on friday. Thank goodness!
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sounds like YOU have Aspergers down to a science...using logic. Forget abstracts with them--they don't "get" it. Appealing to their reason is the way to go. Also, does he NEED medications? My son was put on tons of medications, but, once diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified (which some would call Aspergers as he is very high functioning), we took him off medications with the help of his doctor. He has done much better off medications. Sometimes ADHD medications activate Aspies. Aspergers kids can display ODD behavior DUE TO THE Aspergers. in my opinion it's best to treat the Aspergers first and let everything else fall into place. If you've never read any books by Tony Attwood, I highly recommend all of them. They should be in your library.
  10. The two best things we are found that work (work is a relative word) is loads of structure and using words and language to address behaviors that he does not perceive as an attack (this took time to figure out) and worrying about reactions, not behaviors as much. I also work with him on making sure he really understoods what I said by repeating something important back in his own words. If it comes out verbatim from me, he didn't get it. We just have to live with difficult child having a different perception of reality.

    Besides the usual difficult child stunts, we also know to watch closely if a friend gets in trouble for normal preteen stuff; specifically to see if we will do what we say we will.
  11. AmyH

    AmyH New Member

    I just have a real problem with the difference at dad's. When he goes there things just erupt when he comes home. He will have melt down after melt down. He is constantly getting yelled at because he is rude or acting like a baby.

    He does act younger than his age a great deal of the time. But I have been told this just comes with the territory. He plays better with kids who are 5-6. His best friend is his 6 yo brother with aspergers. My heart breaks for him. Sometimes he seems so sad. This weekend he was swimming and he went to get some dive sticks well my neice saw them and wanted one she is 9 so her dad asked difficult child for one and difficult child was like no, because I went to get them myself. Which he sees as his right. Well after my brother in law wouldn't give it back so he threw the other one and almost hit my neice. I just want to help people understand him.
  12. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    Marg & MWM have said it all pretty well. Until we got our diagnosis for our difficult child he was in trouble a lot, yeah even with husband and I. With the diagnosis and the right therapy and learning how to parent him better, our difficult child has improved leaps. I've found that talking with him and finding ways to explain things in ways he gets it (even if you have to try several different ways) has been the best approach. Our difficult children on the spectrum have a hard time getting the differences in how to treat people. My difficult child would think if adults say things to one another, he could say the same things as well. Took time for him to learn the difference in situations.

    And it takes time and a lot of explanations for even family to understand, and I don't know if they ever really do since they don't live with it all the time.
  13. OpenWindow

    OpenWindow Active Member

    I don't think it's typical pre-teen behavior but it does sound exactly like my 12-yr-old difficult child. I think you're handling it correctly with the natural consequences. I'm glad you got the Asperger's diagnosis. Not only does it help you understand him better, it will help you to get better and more appropriate services.

    I wish there was some way to get Dad on board... it's always so hard with them (my own husband is very good a denial). I've found that pushing them like that is only asking for trouble, and doesn't teach them a darn thing. Maybe you could get him to agree to try something for a month, just to see if it works. If it doesn't, he can go back to his own way.
  14. babybear

    babybear New Member

    Exactly the same for us. It was only after I read the explosive child and Quit treating difficult child as if she was mis-behaving just to annoy me that we saw some really big changes.
  15. It is so hard when other house rules are involved - so maybe try to think about it differently. Our difficult child has the same issues - regardless of house, locations or people - he can't change himself and no one is going to adapt to him like we do - so what do we do? This is why we went with the idea of focusing in on his reactions and then attempting to come to us to solve the problem; for different people, it will be different things.

    Something else to think about, take a look at the following website. This is focused on adoptive children having very difficult challenges with attachment, but they have an interesting approach that made me look at things just a little bit different; particularly related to severe anxiety. I've read just reviews on the book The Connected Child, but it looks like a good one.

    What works for my ADHD child blows-up in the face of difficult child; but what works for difficult child does work for easy child.
  16. AmyH

    AmyH New Member

    Ok here is another question. Chores? Is it reasonable for these kiddos to have chores? difficult child 1 hates to clean his room. So I caved on it and told him as long as his clothes are put where they need to be then the rest is his, with a few limits (no food, drinks left and so on) But we have him take out the trash and load the dishwasher for allowance. The trash no problem, the dishes he hates it sometimes he will whine and cry for an hour and then fuss when doing them. But he always wants the money. He hates getting his hands dirty doing the dishes, but he will go fishing and get dirty or eat and get dirty and this doesn't bother him.

    What is acceptable to expect from him. Is he capable of doing this?:dont_know:
  17. Assume he can do chores; but give him chores that will not cause him to melt down.
  18. OpenWindow

    OpenWindow Active Member

    My difficult child won't do chores. We've got him putting away the dishes from the dishwasher and he puts his own dishes in the sink when forced to, but that's about the extent of it. He can't do anything until his chore is done. Sometimes it causes a minor meltdown, but less now than when we first started and not anything like when he's faced with a bigger chore. Every once in a while he'll do something to earn some money, but that's not very often.

    His room is a disaster. I'm hoping as he gets older and values things a bit more, and wants money to do things, this will begin to change. But to me it's not worth the meltdowns to make him clean his room, when we have all the other issues we're dealing with. He has to leave the house when the rest of us are cleaning because not only does he refuse to do anything, he sabotages his brother and sister if they are cooperating.

    I'd say if it doesn't cause serious meltdowns, he is capable of doing the chore. It's also helpful to break the job down into separate tasks. Like instead of making him clean his whole room I tell him to pick up all the dirty clothes. After that's done, and he gets a break, I tell him to pick up his books. Break, then he picks up the toys. Last, he picks up the trash. This could take up to a week for everything to get done, because he will often refuse to go to the next step.
  19. AmyH

    AmyH New Member

    Wow, Linda! I feel like I have been living in your house!!!! My son hates to clean his room. And personally I think oh well, it IS his room. As long as it is not a health hazard it is ok. At his dad's however, his room has to be clean. And he does it there. I really think he has to hold it together so much at his dad's that when he gets home he is on sensory overload. It is horrible. He hits the door and goes straight to take a hot bath. He will stay in there for an hour or two. Then he wants to talk. I feel awful for him. I don't know what to do for him.

    My heart just aches for him. He is doing better since summer started. No more bulling. School was brutal. Next year he will be in 6th grade and I have just found out that the district that we are in has a austic program and a specific program for aspies. I am so excited for him. I hope this next year proves to be better.
  20. Another quick thought, I recently started calculating what difficult child is costing me now that he has all of a sudden developed quite the social life in the last month or so. I'm going to keep a list of what we give to him over and above his allowance. $10 here and there - but it adds-up; maybe it can help result in increased cooperation, particularly with chores?

    Chores = allowance is too far apart for him to seem to understand; however, cell phone loss for a short period of time due to nasty remarks he does get.