Is it possible to help a difficult child too much??

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Loving Abbey 2, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. Loving Abbey 2

    Loving Abbey 2 Not really a Newbie

    The psychiatrist and SW at the psychiatric hospital say that I help difficult child to much...specifically that all of the structure and support that has been built into difficult child's life at home and at school has resulted in her having limited coping skills.

    Now, while this is happening, I can hear difficult child in the "quiet" room screaming. So I was very upset and was not exactly as nice as I could be. But I felt like they had not idea of how far we have come. Aside from the recent weeks, difficult child had been doing okay on my system of flexible structure with choices, empathy, and clear rules and expectations. It's just the way I live, it's not like I say "boy I'm so tired from providing her with structure". It makes my life so much easier. They do not see that. Theyjust say that it couldn't have worked too much since she is there and minimize the effects of the medication change. It's very frustrating. And I know neither of them have children, because when I asked I got the "well what difference does it make if we have children?" and they never answered the question.

    I know that with all this support I have provided to difficult child, she has been able to have as much "normalcy" as possible. I know that she feels loved, cared for, and understood. I know that she has the secure base of acceptance that she needs to be able to feel safe in the world and try new things with some confidence.

    I am, however, wondering if it is possible that my providing lots of support to difficult child has left her with minimal coping skills.

    Honesty please....
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Yes. The sooner you start letting her make her own decisions - start with the small ones - and deal with the natural consequences of them, the better.
  3. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    I don't know. I think if having structure etc allows the child to be successful and feel good about herself, then I don't think its a bad thing. A lot depends on whether the child can learn from natural consequences. Not all children are capable of learning. I have a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) child for example that has a very hard time learning from natural consequences. I guess the challenge for all of us to figure out what they can learn from and push them to take little baby steps towards independence all the time. But setting a child up for repeated failure is clearly not good. Let's face it, some of our children are going to need a lot more structure in their life than other children. For me the challenge is getting them through adolescence in one piece with enough maturity hopefully that they can manage their lives.

    Now I make my children earn money for the things they want. I don't give in to whatever they want. but that is very different than providing structure--my youngest has a lot of tutoring because he needs the structure to do his homework and remain current with his class. I could let him fail, but what good would that do? I know he isn't capable of dealing with cause and effect in any kind of long term way.

    good luck. It is a good thing to think about. But sometimes this all seems so easy for the professionals. They should try being parents to one of our kids.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think it all depends on the child. SHe's very young with both bipolar AND Aspergers...she is not going to be at age level emotionally. If it were me, I'd give her the supports she needs and slowly remove them as she matures, which may be much later than other kids. So I would say it's very individual to the child. Do they have a good treatment plan for her? While she isn't stable, I don't think it's a good time to start pulling supports. To me that makes no sense.
  5. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    This is a topic that is almost always on my mind and I know I've talked about it on here before.

    There is a fine line between helping and hindering. Only you can decide where that line is with your child. When I find myself doing things because it's just easier for me right now but really isn't helping difficult child in the long run, I check myself. Or if I find myself trying to 'fix' things for difficult child that really aren't mine to fix because it hurts me to watch her struggle. That struggle is where the growth and learning comes in. At that point, I have to change from fixing to supporting.

    As far as support, all children need to know they have a place where they are safe...their own soft place to land.
  6. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    This is my take on it: Your daughter ended up in the psychiatric hospital because medication changes destabilized her. Period.

    Providing structure and support is what any good parent does for her child, difficult child or not. Did the psychiatrist and SW specifically say what structure and support you shouldn't provide for her?
  7. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    It appears from your post that you are supportive but not indulgent. I believe that if you really listen to your heart you will know if you do too much for difficult child. I too have been accused of doing too much for my difficult child. I listened honestly and then thought through if he could/should do it himself or was my assistance needed. In all cases but two i felt I was doing the right thing. He was just NOT ready to do it himself. The two things I did for him (picking out clothes in the morning and cleaning up after him) I was doing to make my life easier not to teach him how to grow up. The others I am slowly giving him more and more and some times he succeeds and others he doesn't so I step back in as give assitance and guidance as needed.

    NO ONE understands unless they have walked in our shoes...NO ONE! It is very easy for someone to give advice...but a lot of time the advice doesn't apply to our difficult children..

    I hope you and your difficult child and doing better. I am sending you my best thoughts.
  8. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    The tweedles have huge supports in place; supports that were hard fought for & hard won. I had some who said that I was doing kt & wm a huge disservice by gathering this level of help.

    I knew in my heart, that if my children didn't have this level of help we would never see an increase in their emotional stability, their academics, their life skills - we would never see a maturity of any sort. So for the last 5 years we have had huge structure, supports & lots of one on one help for the tweedles.

    Now, as maturity is setting in, we are bit by bit removing the supports. Very slowly. Making, kt especially, start to make choices & accept the resulting consequences for those choices. And husband & I are seeing big steps & baby steps forward. Forward!

    This would not have happened if we had just let these kids slide. If we hadn't sought & put help in place for kt or wm. So I would have told psychiatrist & anyone else at that hospital that they are welcome to your difficult child for a week with-o the supports/help in place & see how they manage. I've offered the tweedles to various psychiatrists, tdocs & SWs on many an occasion - guess what? No takers. Go figure.

    It's all so very individual - almost like medications. What works for one child will not work for another. We know kt has worked hard & utilized, taken in all that has been offered to her. She is making strides, that frankly, surprise husband & myself. Her twin, wm, on the other hand, is making far fewer steps forward - continues to flounder. But not to the extent he was before placement in group home, his one on one, & day treatment. So we see baby steps with wm.

    I never take what a hospital psychiatrist has to say very seriously unless that psychiatrist is ready to go to the mat for my children. I only met one psychiatrist who was willing to fight for a decent treatment plan - talk with the tweedles outpatient psychiatrist & therapist to work out a discharge plan. That is a man I will listen to - that is the one psychiatrist who didn't criticize what I had put in place for kt or wm. Didn't question the need.

    If your child needs it - get them the help. As they mature, grow start pulling slowly back. Our job as parents is to raise our children to function at the highest level possible with whatever means available to help them.
  9. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Hi Abbey,
    being a mom who has not probably not provided enough structure and support, it is hard to imagine that you have provided to much to a 9 yr old with so many problems. I'm sorry the psychiatrist and sw were critical and yes, their not having children does make a difference--they have no idea!
  10. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    oops--meant to say I was a mom who probably has not provided enough structure and support--got too many "nots" in my sentence!
  11. Baffled

    Baffled New Member

    You're her mom and I think you know what's best for her. I agree-support her. Withdraw as she matures and does better. I've been told the same things about my son. Our mothering instincts kick in when we see our children in need. My son was also in a psychiatric hospital when he was 9. He is growing and maturing and learning coping skills. Boy is he learning from natural consequences now, too! I can tell you stories! But I don't regret giving him structure and support then or now. Try not to beat yourself up over their comments. Unfortunately, I haven't quite learned to do that well yet. Sometimes I suffer for days after some of their comments. But they truly do not know. Just the other day, my psychiatrist told me that I didn't realize how serious the situation with my son was. The truth was out of the four years she's been seeing him, she only just realized it in December when he pulled a stunt. I realized it 4 years ago when I made that first appointment with her! We go to a new psychiatrist next week.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The best advice I can give is to follow your mommy instincts. They are there to show you how to help your child be a self sufficient person. The ideas on are very good with this issue.

    Why does it matter if they have children? Well, many people with-o kids have lots of ideas how to handle kids. The reality is very different. I find that we don't go back to experts who don't have kids. They just don't have much to offer.
  13. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Something that Fran once said here has stuck with me: nudge them along when they are emotionally ready. Give them needed supports to get them there.
  14. Loving Abbey 2

    Loving Abbey 2 Not really a Newbie

    thanks everyone for your support on this one. I know Abbey needs support and structure and she does well with that. We meet again tomorrow, I hope it goes better. They basically want me to provide less structure and support so that when things do not go as planned difficult child can tolerate it without additional reassuring, support, ect. She's just not ready for that yet. When she has been told what is going to happen, she accepts it and moves through the plan. When you suddenly take out a peice of the plan, she has a hard time, so I reassure her and we talk about the change so she is prepared and has time to process it. She has time to switch gears mentally. And then she does and we go along and it's okay. This system works.

    I'm sticking to my guns on this one.
  15. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Very generally speaking, I think it depends on the diagnosis of the child and the age of the child. However, it really is a tough call because all individuals, regardless of their circumstances need to understand that they are fully responsible for their choices and actions. I think sometimes if we help too much, they lose sight of this and this is extremely detrimental for them. So, holding them accountable for inappropriate behavior is very important. Helping a child, especially a young child, who greatly struggles due to special needs to me seems like a worthwhile thing to do since I have concerns that they will miss out on a proper education and learning socially. But, as they mature, it is vital that they also learn to accept their differences and even if their struggle is greater than others that they know, they will have to make their own path in life. It can get very complicated when adult children do things that are dangerous to themselves and others. Bottom line, I do think it is possible to help too much. It is a fine line. Teaching a child personal reponsibility is vitally important.

    p.s. Susie...looking forward to exploring the Love and Logic link...Thank you.