Need advice on two things

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ryzgal, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. ryzgal

    ryzgal Guest

    1) my difficult child 1 feels anything we ask him to do is annoying (chores, going to dinner or movie, play with sister etc) and becomes "enraged" because he feels we are disrespectful of him (please tell me that you warrior parents understand what I am talking about, and I am not sounding like a fruit loop) So, I am wondering if anyone has some ideas? Our counselor suggested for chores, writing a list rather than telling him verbally. My difficult child 1 agreed that he feels better about a list rather than being told what to do. We don't have a suggestion yet on how to help with his rage regarding being asked to do family outings etc.

    2) my difficult child 1 turns everything into a irrational debate, to the point in which I feel crazy. He manipulates the convo, changes wording, tries to find "loopholes" (his favorite thing to do as it proves how smart he is), and is relentless in getting me to wear down and agree with what he is demanding. It's like being stuck in a carnival funhouse of mirrors (yeah, not so fun though). He has admitted in counseling that when I am not reacting (angrily) that it infuriates him more, and that he feels like a drug addict must feel. He doesn't want me upset, but his brain is telling him to get me mad to feed a fix in him (I can't tell you how absolutely crushing that was to hear him admit! I am happy he can admit it and be honest, but hearing it is so awful!) So, my problem is I try to stay calm and rational, but my feelings are hurt, and it comes out, I lose Jesus and start yelling and the occasional cussing like a truck driver. Then he gets to be satisfied and say "see, look how awful you are yelling and overreacting, no wonder I am the way I am." or my favorite, "look how messed up you are. how can I get better when you can't even help yourself!" (I finally called a counselor for myself, my own Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety, and bipolar--a HUGE step for me) By the end of the argument/discussion/debate/yelling match, I am left guilt ridden, angry, hurt, ashamed etc.

    Even typing this I feel very apprehensive and nervous, putting this out there for people to judge me and my child. But I am going to his post, and trust that God brought me to this site for a reason! (I mean no disprespect for anyone who is not a christian, just expressing my own opinion!)

    Thanks in advance

  2. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    I sure get it. My difficult child does much better when I tell him the chore list for the next day and then leave a list. He just doesn't do well with spur of the moment jobs. It throws him out of his own rhythm.
    There are very few family outings that were mandatory. If he didn't want to go, I didn't force him. It gave him some control and made it easier for us to enjoy ourselves with out the scowl of a miserable teen.

    I wouldn't go back to those teen years for anything. Everything was magnified from 11 to 15. You have my sympathy.
  3. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Oh our sons sound very familiar!!! I totally get it and totally sympathize.

    I would suggest calmly creating a list of chores he needs to do and having some consequence if they don't get done... such as computer time or tv doesn't happen until they are done etc. It will make him mad.... so be sure to have your emotional armor on and just be calm. I find if I stay calm in situations like this things go much much better.

    And I don't always stay calm. That is always my goal but one that I blew a LOT. I did start therapy and that helped me immensely. The thing is when you lose your cool then they can blame you for their bad behavior and it takes the focus off them. So it is just plain more effective to keep your cool. When you are about to lose it, walk away until you can calm down. And therapy helps in this.

    I speak somewhat in the past tense because my difficult child is now out of the house. We kicked him out, as he is now 18 and was flagrantly violating any and all rules and threatened us. But when he was 14 he was doing just what you describe.

    So you are not a fruit loop or crazy.... just trying to manage a defiant rebellious kid and it is just plain hard.
  4. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    LOL, Stac. You are most definitely *not* a fruit loop. Your kid sounds like mine, from about age 1-1/2 until... I dunno, I don't think it's over yet.;) We are absolutely not going to judge you - we all deal/have dealt with some pretty Twilight Zone stuff.

    I was much more successful dealing with- your second problem. What it boils down to, and what I think your difficult child has admitted to in counseling, is power. The power to control the conversation, to push your buttons, to be in control while sending you completely over the edge. been there done that. I wasn't born with- the most even of temperaments, and by the time difficult child hit 6, I had turned into a lunatic screamer. When I finally figured out that he wasn't arguing grass was purple because he believed it, but because he knew it would frustrate me no end and cause me to completely lose any sanity I had left, I got it. The trick is to not engage, no matter how much he tries to escalate things. Suz calls it the bobble-head, and I can't think of a better description. Grass is purple? Yes, dear, un-hunh. Sky is orange? Yep, okay. I'm very competitive by nature and I had to rewire my thinking so that what became most important was maintaining my own self-control, not getting him to admit that his behavior and/or statements were ridiculous. It took a lot of practice and I occasionally slipped, but I don't think I've had a screaming mimi fit since he was 13. And the last one? Was over something really stupid and I did feel bad that I lost it, but we also have to cut ourselves some slack sometimes too. It's really challenging living with- a kid who gets such incredible reinforcement when we lose control. Torture, in my humble opinion.

    I don't have a lot of experience with the first problem because my kid has been out of the house for so long. I think the list idea sounds good. I know my kid just bristled when I made any request at all. I once asked him to brush his teeth, and he turned around and took a heck of a swing at me. Had he connected, I'm sure I would have been down for the count. But it was something about me making any request at all that really set him off. Major trigger.

    The family outing stuff ... again, not much experience with- that, at least with- a difficult child. But I know that my youngest son (15) is not real happy when we try to initiate a family outing or family time together. He's really very much a easy child, but isn't crazy about spending a whole lot of time with- us. He'll do it, but is kinda cranky about it. I think it's probably typical teen (typical teen) kind of stuff.

    Hang in there.
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I have also had my days of this behavior. It certainly is a manipulation to change the subject and he knows your emotions is the hot button to push. Try you best to keep the focus on the issue at hand. For example, if you had just asked him to clean his room it may start with, "difficult child, today I would like you to clean your room". He may start slow, "I don't have to do what you say," "difficult child, today you will clean your room". "You can't make me", "difficult child, today you will clean your room", "You are stupid", "Today you will clean your room". "Why do you make me so mad?" "Today you will clean your room", "If you didn't make me so mad all the time, I would be a better person!" "Today you will clean your room" .........................

    See where this is going? It will be your focus point to keep him from turning the subject into how crazy he wants you to think you are. You can walk away each time you say, "Today you will clean your room" and just repeat and turn your back while the raging goes on. It will be horrid but you will come out more composed and he will be bewildered why he couldn't get you to that angry point that he is looking for. He is old enough for you to leave the house - take a walk in the neighborhood.

    This may take a long time (up to an hour or more) while he goes through every manipulation trick to get you off the subject of what he is suppose to do and onto the subject of what a terrible mom he wants you to think he is. Stay strong. It is very good that HE has figured out what is going on. That often times really does help in the controlling of the behavior. Even though it is super hard to hear, it will also give you strength to hold back as long as you can. You now know what his end goal is and you can do the best you can from helping him reach it.
  6. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh - I have so been there done that! I literally thought I was crazy she convinced me so many times that I had not told her something when in fact I had.....She was REALLY good at this one. In fact, today if she tells me I did not tell her something, I secretly wonder if I did or not. Sometimes I just don't know. Now my answer is, "OK - I am telling you now." It really does not matter if I told her before or not.

    Your difficult child is good, too! Telling you that your reaction is why he is messed up!! - He is good! Don't let him get to you.

    Oh - on the #1 - can you write down family outings at the bottom of the chore list? Since he feels like it is such a chore - that might be the perfect place for it ;) !!
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Loopholes... Maybe suggest he become a lawyer? Onyxx is spectacular at this. And it makes her ***CRAZY*** when we don't engage (working on this still!)...

    Her latest favorite thing to do is tell my friend H that she should be allowed to do whatever she wants, like an adult because she has had the responsibility of an adult for so long (took care of both younger siblings while with BM). H got her good. Adults are not allowed to do whatever they want. Onyxx argued that, though - till H looked her in the eye and said, "I don't know why you're asking me for help if you won't listen when I try," and walked off. (I was within hearing distance... I was amused...)

    But, like your son, there's an argument for everything. Logic and reason do NOT prevail. If we refuse to argue, it's because ...we know she's right...; if we do argue, she escalates. So now? I do my best to say, "If that's how you feel, sweetheart," and walk away.

    As for chores - our list gets ignored. Same chores, day in and out. Same schedule. Still gets ignored. So... For Onyxx... I can't DO anything for her, because chores aren't done... Jett is driven by his allowance, though he does not see it (it's virtual, thanks to his sister stealing it repeatedly - even when his bank was IN MY DRESSER) - so when he asked how much he had last, I told him - NOTHING - because you have not been doing your chores - and what you saved up went to pay the people that DID do them (that would be ME and husband). Having a list may help your son, but it's just another thing on the fridge at our house.
  8. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    1. Respect is a two way street! I am old fashioned in this way though and told my difficult child that he didn't have to like me, it isn't my job to be liked. He does however HAVE to show respect. That was a work in progress though. My difficult child was just like yours in so many ways so there is hope. Some maturity after the hormones level off makes a difference.

    I do agree with a chore list, it works great for difficult child. His counselor suggested that we also have a time frame like can be done later or must be done now etc. We actually have a dry erase board that we put the chores on in permanent marker and he can check off his chores with a dry erase marker every day. That puts the burden of keeping track on him so I don't have to chase him. It did take 6 solid months of reminders but he finally is getting the routine down without a fight. (yes, without a fight and he was a beast not that long ago)

    Family outings are a tough one. I know how important it is to spend time but my difficult child would sulk and brood the whole outing anyway and really take the fun out of it for the rest of us. In difficult child's case it was a control issue where he wanted us to beg him to come and tell him we needed him. -or- he would do his best to make sure no one was happy unless he was.

    That was easy to fix, we just stopped asking him to go more than once. We would leave him behind to let him stew in his own juices and miss out. We would come home full of laughter, boxes of yummy left overs and say something like "you missed out". After a handful of times he sort of begrudgingly agreed to go. I told him never mind, he could go another time when he was in a better mood. Then he finally acted like he wanted to go but would be a beast in the car or sullen at a restaraunt. Depending on the situation I would either turn the car around and take him right back home then leave without him so he could work on his mood -or- would not take him the next time as a penalty for ruining the last outing.

    This also took about 6 months of small baby steps and back and forth but he almost always looks forward to outings now. I just had to use some slow methodical reverse psychology. As soon as I took his power away to make us miserable he realized he wanted to join in.

    I'm not going to lie, the effort to outlast his determination was exhaustive but it really did pay off.

    Another thing about chore I nipped that in the bud too. When he was in a less than beastly mood and almost tolerable I used my sense of humor. If he cocked his head and rolled his eyes to grumble an "alright" about a chore I would respond in kind by cocking my head, rolling my eyes and grumbling "thank you" in his exact tone and manner. It almost always made him shake his head at me like I was a dork and half smile but he did get he message about how ridiculous his behavior was.

    What if you went on strike and decided you "don't feel like" cooking meals or shopping for groceries to prove a point? A few days of nothing in the pantry or running out of t.p. ought to drive home the point about how EVERYONE does chores and duties they don't want to. Quit doing everything and see how fast it inconveniences your difficult child. The fun part is where you use the same excuses and tactics by mirroring difficult child's behavior right back at him.

    I like to discipline and teach with a sense of humor. The agony difficult child feels when he knows I have the upper hand and I came up with a creative solution really amuses me and keeps me fighting for what is right.

    2. My difficult child was very manipulative and emotionally abusive too. It does drain the soul. It is completely normal to react to ongoing drama like this. You have to stop beating yourself up. The bi polar has nothing to do with reacting to stress in a normal way. Healthy, okay maybe not but these difficult child's are very good at breaking us down. That doesn't mean you have a problem. you are not the one...

    As for those arguments that wind in circles I had to work real hard at that too. I had to refuse to nibble at his bait and it was hard. difficult child wanted to have long drawn out confusing arguments and I would get sucked in because once I was mad it was hard not to reply to some of the things he said. Problem is that when I replied I just fed into his game. You can actually win by not saying anything. I hated to do that but it worked.

    I would just tell difficult child what he was talking about had nothing to do with what was going on. I would tell him that I wasn't interested in getting "into it" with him and that he was responsible for whatever it is he did wrong and that blame doesn't change his responsibility. Several times I had to cut him off at the pass and remind him that we weren't talking about me we were discussing him.

    The most most most important thing was I kept whatever I said short short short and didn't get into the repeating myself so he would hear me game. The longer and more detailed the discussion the more wiggle room he had. Several times I left the room and would close my door which made him CRAZY. My difficult child wanted to upset me too and when I made sure to not show emotion and to not react to him I took power back from him. What he wanted was 3 hour long screaming matches. What I did was disarm him with brief, unemotional responses and then would not hear a single thing else he had to say.

    That taught him that if he wanted to be heard he had to approach me without an attitude and in a respectful tone. It took time. For awhile as soon as I would tell him I was ready to listen he would get himself wound up again and I would cut it short. I would tell him that maybe we should finish later when he was ready to speak to me in a more appropriate fashion, then I would walk away.

    There is so much power in walking away even if it feels like losing at first.

    I used to yell and I still do. I have used my fair share of colorful words too. It doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you human. you are a good Mom who just happens to be going through hard times. You aren't supposed to be perfect. I am sure your temporary and well placed frsutrations will not hurt anybody. Just work on staying calm and unemotional. Hide your feelings if you have too. difficult child's use those feelings against us. I don't know how many times I acted icy in front of difficult child and cried in secret. It's hard, it would bring any parent to their knees.

    Guilt and shame are useless emotions. They only hurt you and they don't serve any positive or useful purpose.

    Pray for the strength to start with renewed energy. Pray for the courage to make one last unconquerable stand. You CAN do this.

    I lost hope and it was a very scary, sad and empty feeling. I feared for my sons future. He was worth saving and I did, he is doing so well now. I was you just 6 months to a year ago. I had to really get in there and struggle like never before but it paid off. Looking back I know it was all worth it. Don't give up.

    You found the right path. Have faith in yourself. Take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, straighten your hair and get up again. You can do this.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  9. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Nope, definitely not a froot loop. The circular arguments over nothing drive me nuts as well, and the wall of hostility when you try to take them out in public...oh, yeah, been there done that and still doing it sometimes. I used to tell Miss KT, "If you don't like it here, move out. This is the way it is." But, I am confrontational, and I'm direct, and I have a very low BS tolerance level that has been breached numerous times. Maybe not the best way to make her feel loved and secure, but it's really hard to show a lot of love to someone who's just torn a door off the hinges and thrown it at you.

    Sending you hugs and lots of strength.
  10. Jojara

    Jojara New Member

    You are soooo not a fruit-loop. These things truly make me wonder why Im not the one on the medication sometimes!!!

    For chores I had to lay it out on paper to avoid the fights. I have a chore schedule, and doing chores is the ONLY way he can earn time to play video games (that includes computer/ipod/xbox/etc). There are rules to this though. Such as- the chore listed on the chart has to be done by a certain time, and if I determine it was done well he can have 1 hour of video game time/ he can do additional chores and be compensated in video game time (1/2 hr chores=1/2 hour video games). No more fights about it- even if he chooses not to do his chores, he has a pre-determined consequence by not having any video game time (which he hates).

    Then there is the arguing thing. I had to learn new skills when my difficult child was in residential treatment over 6 months. We still struggle here too, but here is how we do it. I use the Magic 1-2-3 ideology. This means, I explain clearly what I want and then when he argues.....I dont respond except by saying '1'. If he continues to argue...(I have to work really hard to keep my emotions out of it- and not give into his baiting) then he gets a '2'.....if he keeps on- its a '3'. At 3 he is given a 'level drop'. What that means to us is that now he owes me one hour of time- where he has to not participate with the family, no tv, no ANYTHING, he can basically sit in his room and read. The hour doesnt start until he has chilled and is quiet. It sounds so simple, but its really hard sometimes not to engage. It works soooo well for my son. There are other level things, but for arguing this is how we do it.

    Good luck!!! hugs!
  11. ryzgal

    ryzgal Guest

    Oh thank you all!
    I'm sitting here after a crazy evening of all the same stuff I posted and feeling miserable and your posts helped lift me up!
    We tried the chore list with a time limit. Each night has been a steady routine of excuses 'i didn't know THAT had to be done' 'i didn't know you meant EVERYTHING had to be done on time' etc' this happened every night. We've been calm (er) and stuck to our guns and the original consequence despite his elevated temper and verbal abuse. Tonight was a doozy though. He wanted to go out with friends I've never met but I needed to drive. I just started a new medication (topamax) and couldn't drive. Neeedless to say, I'm now the worlds worst mom because I'm lazy and inflexible yada yada yada. I tried explaining I'm more than happy to help him schedule a day with friends another time that works with my schedule and his friends etc. But once he's in delusion mode, there's no reasoning with him! **sigh**
    well, we meet with psychiatrist in the am to discuss new medications and bipolar diagnosis. So I'll update tomorrow!
    Thanks again to everyone!!!
  12. ryzgal

    ryzgal Guest

    I might have just rambled a bit! Sorry- I blame the new medications! Lol