Need help fine tuning some behavior

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Farmwife, May 2, 2010.

  1. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. Things have been a bit less chaotic around here. difficult child's medications have gone a long way to take the edge off of him. Things aren't perfect but the level of hostility and beligerence has certainly eased up a bit. Our medications are as good as they are going to get after many combinations. Some symptoms are just here to stay because if we tweak it too much he goes manic.

    I'm running into a bit of a snag though.

    difficult child is hard to motivate and depressed. We do our best to have positive reinforcement so that he earns rewards rather than being constantly punished. Punishment is not effective on any level so not even worth discussing. The problem I see is that even when making very easy to earn rewards he fails to do so. He just can't do the right thing to save his life.

    Okay, no earning reward, no reward gievn seems simple enough. The trouble is that difficult child is so unmotivated and so depressive that he is in a constant state of never earning anything and isolating himself. For instance, he FINALLY had a friend invite him for a sleep over. He NEVER socilaizes outside of school not even over the phone. This invite was miraculous and he really wanted to go.

    The glitch was he never set up a way for me to talk to his friends parents. It didn't have to be formal I just wanted to make sure they weren't psycho before I let him spend the night. No biggie. He just couldn't do it. He is almost 16 so me doing it for him seems a bit over the top. Maybe he needs nudges but I am not sure if that would make him look even more socially awkward. Then he goes and sabotages himself with his school work, again.

    Then it comes down to a painful choice for me.

    I have to follow through on consistant rules and expectations as any parent should. I have to remind him he did not earn the privilige due to lack of planning and bad choices at school. Bad choices including not doing homework and dropping grades down...staying home would seem perfectly reasonable if you forget about the part where difficult child is a depressed kid with no firends.


    I try to be gentle to his mentally ill side. I do my best to give him positive experiences because he has so little that makes him happy. I avoid my own anguish by easing some of his but it comes at the expense of his behavior toward me. If I cave and treat him kindly when he hasn't earned it, it is without a doubt a free ticket for him to feel entitled, lazy and later on mean again. When I am nice he becomes abusive but I hate to be strict because he isolates even more. Then he truly is alone in the world, locked in his room and sleeping his life away.

    I'm just feeling very sad by the fact that in order to be a good parent I have to accept and facilitate his unhappiness. Although it is nice to think that if he makes bad choices he should be responsible for that, easy to say that with an average kid. The problem is that with difficult child issues you cannot extract the child and clear thinking from the disorder and the damage it does. difficult child is as much a victim of his chaos as the rest of the family is. The disorder is very ugly but underneath that I still have a child who is suffering and whose choices are absolutely impacted by a disorder he cannot control. Those choices just make his suffering worse.

    It's a bitter cycle that I don't know how to guide him out of. He just isn't capable of using the tools he needs effectively. He is his own worst enemy and obstacle to success. Watching him like a slow train wreck is heart breaking in ways I cannot find words to describe.

    I just want him to be okay and find some happiness in life. I'm not sure that is possible unless I plan to churn out a barely functioning and irresponsible adult. Of course that may be the case no matter how hard I try.

    I just feel lost and feel so deeply sorry for my difficult child who has to live the nightmare first hand. His sadness is so overwhelming for me to witness. Treatment is just a bandaide, there is no cure. Accepting that as he approcahes adulthood scares the heck out of me.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It is a tough situation for us Moms, isn't it? Esp because we so much want our kids to be happy.

    I see from your sig that he is on lexapro and risperdal. If he is still this depressed then the doctor needs to tweak his medications. Has he been on the lexapro for at least 6 weeks at the current dose? If so, then you see the full effect of it or pretty close. It really sounds like he may need a different antidpressant or a second one. Wiz has horrible depression. He takes on AD for adhd, one to help him sleep and one for depression. Remove any one of these medications? He sinks back down into depression. (Strattera, luvox and trazodone - respectively)

    Sometimes we have to let school deal with the school problems. If we have consequences set up for school and performance at school is such that the difficult child is NEVER out from under a consequence, well, it can be an ugly and unproductive cycle. Are the things you do to get him to get decent grades working? Or are they just piling up on top of each other and not changing difficult child's behavior? We had to look at the situation and decide that school could give detention, F's, whatever, but we were NOT piling punishments on top of that at home. It TOTALLY went against everything I grew up with. But it DID let us have a better home life and let difficult child feel a bit more hope.

    It also let us send difficult child to do things with friends with-o being inconsistent and/or setting ourselves up for abuse from him. We didn't look "weak" in his eyes so he didn't keep us in his sights.
  3. helpme

    helpme New Member

    I remember these situations alright. I tried to make difficult child feel comfortable.
    I'd let him forget his phone in the car, then take it to the door and talk to
    the parents. He figured it out soon enough, and used it a few more times
    in the future.

    Keep up the good work :)
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    A couple thoughts, which you can use or disregard.

    First of all, he sounds like a very poor communicator, possibly he KNOWS what to do but is AFRAID to do it. Yes, even to ask his friend how to reach his parent...and even at sixteen. Is he perhaps maybe on the autism spectrum, like an Aspie? My son is and he has a very flat demeanor and is exttremely shy, however he is NOT depressed in spite of his demeaner. It's just part of Aspergers. He has gone to many counselors and always insists he is "not happy, not sad, just average." His speaks mostly in a monotone and, although he knows how to ask for stuff from others or call people, he is very reluctant to do it (this is getting a bit better). Maybe it's not so much that he is self-sabataging as he is too afraid to do that simple thing. HIs social skills may be THAT poor. Not all sixteen year olds are emotionally sixteen. They can be ten. Just an idea. My son doesn't socialize much outside of school either. That's often the way it is for an Aspie (not saying yours is one, but maybe you should read up on it to see if it fits). Regardless, it sounds less like depression to me and more like fear. I used to suffer severe depression and, although it hurt my motivation in school, if I wanted to go out with my friends I definitely called them. However, we all manifest differently...

    Another thought: I get the phone number and call my daughter's friend's parents. I do it on my own because she gets embarassed when I all and tries to find ways to skip giving me the number. If you know the last name, you can try to get the number, that way he wouldn't miss out on the socialization and it sounds like he really needs it. Sounds like his social skills are way behind his age and if you want him to have friends you may have to pretend he's ten years old and do it that way. He may not mature until he is twenty-five (at least we were given that age). I don't expect my son to be a functional adult at eighteen, like my other kids were (kinda, sorta). We are giving him more time because he needs it. In the end, he may need special services, but we are hoping he is just delayed in the social skills department and will one day learn to compensate. We go year by year. He does make progress every year, though not at the rate of, say, my daughter. But I stopped comparing my son to other kids and their timetables and social norms long ago and just let him be him.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  5. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    When wm was this unmotivated & depressed I dropped any reward/consequence issues & dealt with his level of sadness & his inability to motivate himself.

    To me this was the most important thing as wm, at the tender age of 9, was threatening suicide. in my humble opinion, please address your difficult children depression. medications may need tweaking, therapy, etc.

    The reward system may just be too much for him. With the tweedles it became a joke behind my back as well as the schools. And when they were rewarded for every little thing there was little motivation to move forward. This became a very fine tuned balancing act. As part of the family kt & wm are expected to do such & such; school work as well. Each have an allowance each week ~ based on add'l out of the ordinary chores assigned. Mowing the lawn, weeding, help with grocery shopping, etc.

    Just a few thoughts for you this morning.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I feel your frustration. been there done that!
    Your difficult child seems way more depressed than mine, but mine is very unmotivated.
    Motivation seems to be the key to everything.
    I am so glad that the medications have taken the edge off. But you are right ... it does sound like they need tweaking. In addition, is he still doing talk therapy? Doesn't that dr have some ideas?
    I waffle between being nice, or firm, or hard. Mostly, it is a matter of the info sinking in, which can take several tries. It is exhausting.