New - Any advice?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Lalasea, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. Lalasea

    Lalasea New Member

    Hi Everyone:
    I am new here. I have 2 boys. 11 year old who is adhd and 8 year with no clinical diagnosis.
    It's the 8 year old that I'm here for.

    He's always been difficult. He's argumentative, defiant, unhelpful, rude...but of course he can be a real sweetheart too.

    He's in the 2nd grade. He was suspended in the Fall for hitting a girl in the face. In class this year he seems to be doing fine. He has his problems on the playground. We seemed to have a good streak going (at least from what I knew.) But, today we stayed after school to play on the playground. I had my eye on him. He was playing with a group of kids mostly 2nd graders and 5th graders (incluidng my older son). I could tell something was going on with a girl because she was kind of chasing him and it looked like other kids were egging them on.

    I decided it was time to leave. Turns out one of the 5th graders was relaying messages between my 2nd grader and the 2nd grade girl. One of the things he said was that he wanted to rape her, which the 5ht grader passed on.

    I was livid. It also made my stomach hurt and I wanted to cry. I can't get him to understand that things like that are totally unacceptable. I'm sure he doesn't fully understand what rape is, but he's heard older kids say it.

    Our school is full of parents who talk and gossip, so since the incident in the Fall I haven't felt super comfortable at school except around my closer friends. Maybe I'm projecting, but I feel like the moms, and mostly the moms of the girls, avoid me.

    In any case, amazing how a day can go from being great to crappy. I can't until Monday, because I'm sure the girl will tell her parents and my son will be suspended again.

    We've been to a psychologist before. There was no formal clinical diagnosis. I think we may need to see him again.

    Thanks for listening!
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.
    It's slow on weekends sometimes, but people will come around.
    Well, I think most of us understand "the looks" of other parents. I have a few questions to ask you that will help us help you.

    1/Are you satisfied that ADHD is the only problem? in my opinion I think more is going on. Has he EVER been evaluated by a neuropsychologist? Many of us, myself included, feel they go the best evaluations because they actually test, usually from 6-10 hours, and can catch things others miss, even some psychiatrists.

    2/Are there any psychiatric or substance abuse issues on either side of your son's genetic family tree? Even if Dad isn't there or was never there, 50% of his genes lives in your child. Often "issues" are inherited.

    3/How was his early development as far as talking, making strong eye contact, easily socializing with his same age peers, motor skills? Does he have any obsessive interests or strange quirks such as arm flapping, lining up cars, or making strange throat or vocal noises? Does he repeat what he hears? Does he like to cuddle? Does he seem socially clueless and often look/act confused? How does he do at school? Does he ever seem like he is in his own world and then, at other times (perhaps in his own territory) confuse YOU because then he seems perfectly normal?

    Others will be along. Welcome to the board
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    MWM, the 8 yo doesn't have any diagnosis. It's the 11 yo who has the ADD diagnosis.

    Lalasea, when you had your son to the psychologist before, was there any report? Any testing done? Any repots you have, even if they're inconclusive, dig them out.

    I understand your concern about not wanting to wait until Monday, but in some ays you haven't got a lot of choice.

    WHat I suggest you do for now - talk to both boys. Separately. Find out the exact sequence of events, and try to not prompt at all. Ask questions like, "what happened next? Who said it? What did the person say? Who did they say it to? What was happening at that time?"
    Slowly build up a picture of what happened, from each perspective. Try to work out the full sequence of real events and then work from there.

    This is a complex bullying issue, coupled with a LOT of kids being socially inappropriate. The girl - someone needs to apologise to her. Regardless of what she may or may not have done to arouse anger against her to trigger this sort of behaviour towards her, such threats are completely inappropriate. The best option (if possible) is to get your younger son (for a start) to write (compose with your help) a letter of apology to her. Unconditional apology.

    But even before you get to this stage - once you have some idea of what the sequence of events was, you then sit your boys down (separately) and explain what rape is (it's a very nasty act of physical violence towards a person which is degrading, damaging and NEVER something to joke about). A counsellor I knew from Sydney's Rape Crisis Centre said that in her opinion the best way to describe rape (of an adult) was that - everyone likes eating cake. Given the choice, if someone offered us a piece of a delicious-looking cake, we'd reach out and take a piece and say, "Thank you." But rape is like someone attacking us, holding us down and shoving cake in our faces, forcing our mouths open and ramming cake in there. It's an act of violence where control has been taken away.

    Try to not act too horrified (so as not to prompt the "wow! It must be something really shocking, I can use this to effect again if I want to shock people!" response) but certainly, make it clear that this is serious and they have to have a very stern, fast and thorough lesson in what is never to happen again. They need to know that:

    1) Making such a threat is inappropriate and nasty; if such a threat is made to them or they witness someone else making such a threat, even if the person seems to only be joking, they are to report it to the teacher and also to you at the first opportunity.

    2) Passing messages like this, especially clearly inappropriate messages, from older kids to a younger kid, especially from older boys to a younger girl, is just as bad as making the threats themselves. Those present who are merely standing there silent, are complicit in a bullying incident. Those who are actively passing messages on, especially those who are older and should know better, are probably more than complicit, they are possibly instigators. Certainly if you younger son gets suspended over this, so should all the grade 5 boys. Including your older son. Sorry.

    But merely suspending your son over this (even if the other boys are suspended also) is not the answer. There needs to be some deep digging - where did he hear the term? How did he know it was a nasty threat? What is going to be done to educate kids to not behave this way? Because it seems to me that your son is behaving this way in response to having himself been on the receiving end.

    difficult child 3 had a Communication Book operating, in which I and his teacher would write notes to one another about how he was going each day. it was a great substitute for daily classroom-step conferences, which neither of us wanted to do (it made our day unnecessarily longer and more complicated, even though the information was vital, especially getting it immediately).
    One day his teacher sent her note home, "You have to tell difficult child 3 to not call other kids 'f*gg*t retard'. difficult child 3 has a hard enough time making friends, if he calls other kids names like this nobody will want to play with him."
    I was very angry - first, because the teacher knows us, knows our family well and would have known that NO WAY would difficult child 3 ever hear language like that in our home. So where had he heard it? And second, it was obvious to me that a term like that, especially involving the word "retard", was clearly used against difficult child 3, and hurled in a way obvious to even difficult child 3 that it was intended to be hurtful. But the teacher, instead of trying to work out who had first said this to difficult child 3, took the soft option and blamed the Special Needs kid and not the other charming brats in the class (including her own son).

    Kids who use bad words like this, especially when too young (according to a lot of people) to really understand the term, often will recoil from using those words once they understand what it really means.
    With difficult child 3, I had to explain those two words. The homosexual reference - I dealt with that by explaining a little about homosexuality. I said that the bad word was a mean way of calling someone a homosexual, and frankly whether someone was homosexual or not was completely irrelevant. Saying it in a mean way was actually totally pointless. So he may as well give up trying to use it as an insult; and any kid who used the term to try to insult him, clearly was too dumb to fully understand how meaningless it was.

    I then explained the term "retard" and told him that it was used in the past as an abbreviation for "mental retardation" which meant someone who was not as sharp mentally. The term was no longer in medical use, which meant that whoever was using the term was badly out of date and therefore not educated. Also whether someone was very bright, or not so smart, was not a person's fault and therefore should never be used as an insult, that was simply being nasty. And not even very imaginative. It was like trying to insult someone because of the colour of their eyes.
    I then said to difficult child 3, "Are you smart? Or dumb? Think about the things you can do. Think about how clever you are at X, Y and Z. Now think about the kids who use the word retard' to you - is that kid smarter than you at school? I bet not. I think that kid used those insults at you, because he's secretly afraid that HE is the 'retard' and in trying to make you feel bad about yourself, he maybe can not be so far behind you."

    We talked more and I did my best to explain to him (not easy, with autism or Asperger's) that when someone insults you, chances are the insult applies more to the bully than to the person being bullied. We had to role-play it a bit, I had to make it a milk-and-cookies chat and not a lecture (if you can see what I'm trying to say here).

    You need to keep in mind - if your son was using a term that he didn't fully understand, and especially a term that he never had used against him at home, then your son is a victim primarily. However, he has (as a result) now done the same harm to someone else and needs to be made to understand two things:

    1) He never deserved this himself; and

    2) he should never ever again do this to anyone else.

    The most effective way to get this message across, is to help him understand.

    Natural consequences - he needs to make reparation. That little girl needs to once again feel safe. He needs to understand how unsafe she must have felt. Perhaps by asking him how he felt when he had someone say this to him, could help.
    If he says, "But she was horrible to me, she said X," then say to him, "What do you think would be a better way you could have handled this?"
    Try to lead him to the right answer, the appropriate way for a mature kid to handle this. Of course he probably will need a lot of help and you might find his responses shocking as well as sad - I suspect there is a culture of bullying either in your community or in your sons' school, that goes way beyond your kids. It is appalling how much venom a young, bullied child can express.

    Another thing you have already noticed - the other parental reactions to you and your kids. It is sad, but it is very natural. Frankly, parents who behave like that are beneath my contempt. I will be polite to them but I will not work at a relationship with these people because they have chosen to judge me and my kids without a fair trial. I can never trust such people.

    But the problem is - when your child is a difficult child, you have to raise them to behave to a much higher standard. because whenever there is a problem - rightly or wrongly, your child will be punished more severely, will be listened to less and will get a raw deal compared to the golden-haired, blue-eyed treasures.

    I raised difficult child 3 to not hit back. Not ever. There were times of course when he did hit, but we knew that by the time he was 10 (probably a lot younger), he would never be the instigator. Never. So when there were a few incidents when a kid physically attacked difficult child 3, we were able to say with confidence, "difficult child 3 did not start this." and even when his attacker insisted difficult child 3 had started it, we generally found, over time, witnesses coming forward to verify that difficult child 3 had not hit first. difficult child 3 by this time would also be open with us if he did hit back.

    The good thing about this - word finally began to get out that I would take difficult child 3's side (at last) and would no longer merely walk away. Word also got out that difficult child 3 was not aggressive or an instigator, and people were increasingly aware, so to make that claim was no longer getting attackers off the hook.

    Now, to your son's lack of diagnosis - MWM recommended a neuropsychologist evaluation. He may need a multidisciplinary approach, but you can't simply leave this. And something we did that could be worth considering - get both boys seen at the same time. There could be more to the picture, with both of them.

    Sorry you need us, but glad you found us. Welcome!

  4. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    Hi Lalasea,
    Just wondering if you are still reading the board...How was Monday?

    I know what you mean about feeling like the parents of girls are avoiding you...My son developed a reputation last year the the moms of girls acted like I had the plague.