house of cards

New Member
How do you handle it when yopur difficult child mistakes the things people say? Just moments ago he was very nasty to his sister because she asked him if he liked the toy he just got yesterday for his birthday. He screamed at her and said that she wasn't getting it and that saying what she had said meant that she wanted it. Does your kids do this?

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

This is going to take a lot of practice with difficult child. Many times difficult children don't hear what is being said as they are onto the next item on their agenda.

We practice with kt - tell her something & then ask her to tell us what we told her. It's a toss up whether she gets it right or not; and she is getting better. Slowing down to hear us.

The same is happening for wm at group home. wm, though, must stop & look the person in the eye. He's so very busy that the only way we can tell if he is listening if he is done fidgeting.

Just some thoughts for you.


Well-Known Member
That goes hand in hand with the overall social skills deficits
that many of our difficult children have. "Sometimes" I think that with my
difficult child, he is already trying to figure out what he can say in reply
and therefore can't hear what others are saying. on the other hand, there are
times where he just totally misinterprets the conversations, the
intentions, intonations etc. For me it is one of THE most stressful aspects of parenting. I am an excellent communicator
and no matter how hard I try, I have only made baby steps in helping him learn the basic skills! I understand. DDD
Fantastic question. Pixie flips out before the words are all the way out of my mouth, because she has already some up with what she thinks I mean. It breaks my heart, I don't know how to stop it once it starts. If I think of it, I will start by telling her "OK, you really need to listen to what I am telling you" and then I tell her slowly. Many times she tries to finish my sentences for me, and then I gently correct her.

Unfortunately, the entire world is not going to talk to her that way, and yes, she flips out when she thinks she heard something other than what was said.


New Member
Before you read this know that what I tried to do with difficult child became way more elaborate in explaining it to her than I had ever intended...

I have started opening up the possiblity to difficult child that she may not be hearing things the right way. We talked about how she gets into arguements alot with many different people, family, friends, teachers, etc. I talked with her about how if someones eyes do not see quite right they were glasses. Then I talked with her about her third eye, the eye that help you understand what someone means when they are talking to you, and then it tells the voice in your head. But some times that third eye does not see quite right but they don't make glasses for a third eye. Sometimes you need to help your third eye focus so that you understand what other people are trying to say.

At any rate, what I was trying to do was to help her see there are parts of her that may not be interpreting peoples words correctly but she can help to fix it by asking what people mean. I was trying to do this in a way that does not blame her but empowers her. She was so intrigued by the idea of the whole third eye that she has actually been saying "wait I think my third eye might be out of focus", and she make a gesture of focusing her third eye, "do you mean .....?" And then I can say no what I meant was.....

I'm sure there is some better way to get this point across than how I did it. Honestly I was starting to get confused after a while. But the idea was to help her identify, through past experience that she might be interpreting things wrong, without making it her fault, and giving her a way to actively participate in making things better.

Does this make any sense?


Active Member
Kathie, that was a fear reaction, classic "I must protect my space" thing. Yes, it hurts, but he needs to have it explained to him (without getting angry, because fear will over-ride just about all carefully drilled social politenesses) that there was no threat intended to his possessions.

You go over it gently, maybe with easy child out of the room so he knows he is safe. You then explain that while he may have THOUGHT she was about to ask for his toy, she actually was making a polite, interested query with no strings attached. You then rehearse a more appropriate response with him.

If you can get to the next stage, do it. if not, leave it there. But the next stage is, you call easy child back in and ask her to repeat what she asked, in the same tone. Hopefully the rehearsal will work. If not - you tried.

These problems will keep happening, while he continues to be afraid for his possessions. The fears can be intense and unreasonable but they won't go away until he is reassured. And if you punish him by taking away possessions, this will make the fear worse because you have just given it reality. The best punishment is to get him to do it properly and apologise for hurting her feelings over polite conversation. Then you leave it and move on.

Every time you have a success, you help de-fuse the fear. And surely the ultimate aim is to equip him to interact appropriately, and if he needs to feel safe to do this, then so be it.

We can't raise our difficult children with the same rules we were raised - it just doesn't work for them.


house of cards

New Member
Thanks for the wonderful advice. difficult child ran upstairs but returned shortly and I was able to help him see that no harm was meant. He said he understands now but he didn't at that moment. It has passed for now but I love the idea of having it redone with the right response and will use that next time. Yes, I guess I have alot of work to do for a long time.


Active Member
Never forget that what you're dealing with is a basically good kid whose anxiety gets in the way of good manners; this is going to need help to unlearn. There's no common sense to his anxiety, you can't rationalise it away in the height of the moment and punishing will only increase the problem. But after the moment has passed - he will feel bad, remorseful and if you can offer him an easy way to undo and unlearn, it can only lead to eventual improvement.



Well-Known Member
Oh, yes, absolutely, Kathie.
Sometimes I can deal with-it, but the other night I lost it.
It's like a dog that's a fear biter.
Training, training, training.
(I know Allan doesn't like that comparison but it works for me.) :smile: