Question - What has helped your family?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lr88, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. lr88

    lr88 New Member

    I just found this community so forgive me if I missed a thread on this subject.

    I'm curious as to what specific strategies or experiences have helped parents with difficult children. I'd like to hear what has helped you both personally (become calmer, less stressed) and with your child (improved communication and relationship).

    Things I have considered include - consult with MHP's, set stronger boundaries with consequences and structure, work on strengthening relationship with partner to send clearer messages, counseling for both parent, child, and together, find time to relax/alone time, try and remain calm, not give up.

    Thank you!
  2. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Families are so different, difficult child's are so different that it's difficult to go in one direction.
    There is no information about your situation and difficult child so it's hard to address this topic.

    In our case, knowing that difficult child wasn't just being willful or lazy helped us to not do the blame game. It wasn't an advesarial type relationship. We didn't have the loss of trust due to difficult child's behavior. He didn't steal or lie or do malicious things.

    -Educating ourselves was probably the No. 1 help to our family.
    -Assuming responsibility for our child regardless of the behavior(no blame game on schools, teachers, health care professionals,family, genetics)
    -Remembering that we loved this child. He wasn't just a bunch of diagnosis' and difficult behaviors. He was a person and he had a soul.
    -Tag team parenting. Realizing when our tolerance was stretched thin, admitting it and getting help.
    -Forgiving myself for making a mistake. Correcting it, after apologizing. Forgiving my husband and/or difficult child for being human and making a mistake.
    -A huge sense of humor was like balm on a burn. It was a survival tool of utmost importance.
    -Allowing myself to step back and separate difficult child;s behavior from me or my family.
    -Throwing shame out the window. No pretending that we were a perfect family. No excuses for being less than perfect.
    -As with any conflict asking myself "who does it serve?"
    -Using problem solving plans, we instituted new steps, evaluated the results then threw out or kept them in place.

    As you can see, over the years what helps us cope changes.
    At 13, there seemed to be nothing more we could do but a merry go round of hospital, home, school, hospital, home school so we sent him to a boarding school. It gave us time to regroup and heal. It stopped difficult child's very quick slide down into a black abyss. It gave us time to parent easy child and to be a family without daily crisis.
    At 25, he still has issues but is a completely decent human being who is trying to find his spot in this world.

    Specifics as far as MHP, boundaries are all individual to families. The level of function is specific for families also.
  3. judi

    judi Active Member

    Fran - what a wonderful post!

    Gotta agree with the above.

    Like Fran, my son is now older...24. Unfortunately, he did do malicious things, we did have an adversarial relationship and for us, things did not turn out well: our son no longer wishes any contact with us an we have not seen/talked with him for well over a year! This is painful beyond belief for us.

    We did all the things you mentioned: we fortunately had the financial and emotional resources to provide our son with the best counselors, hospitals, residential treatment facilities, etc., but it did no good in the end.

    I'm probably one of the more negative members here so please don't take everything I say to heart - lol.

    It is important too that you separate YOU from your CHILD. As they get older, THEIR choices are not a reflection on YOU! Very difficult lesson for me.
  4. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I had a policy that if difficult child messed up, he must be honest from the onset. If he lied about something, his consequences would be much more severe. I worked hard to not "flip out" when he'd mess up. Escalating because my frustration, loss of patience, anger etc always made a situation worse.

    I tried to make logical consequences. I tried to allow schools natural consequences be the result of school problems. I backed the schools consequence. I would only implement further consequences for severe infractions if he was already disciplined at school.

    I worked hard to figure out what worked best to get difficult child to respond to parenting. For my difficult child, it was not treating him like a child. Even if he behaved and thought like one. He was the type that wanted to believe he could be nearly equal, so spoken to with respect and not condescended to. It was what helped him accept more readily when things didn't go his way. It also allowed us to communicate much easier as time went by and he grew older. He is comfortable discussing something. he isn't comfortable feeling preached at by his elders. Doesn't work for every kid, but was a deal breaker if not done with difficult child.

    I always told him, and always followed through, that if I felt he was wronged, i was on his side. That if he was in the wrong, I was there for him to help move past it, but that I wasn't making excuses for him nor would I accept excuses from him. He learned early on that it was the way it would be, I didn't waiver. Therefore, he comes to me now if he feels he is being given short end of the stick. Instead of raging at a teacher or something, he'll come home to vent to me, explain it, knows I'm hearing and listening to him, and will work with him to find a solution that doesn't involve previous patterns he had such as cursing at teachers, throwing chairs in the class room, etc.

    I learned to prioritize certain things. If his behaviours were out of control, getting on his case to clean his pigsty bedroom would escalate into a full blown meltdown. So bedroom mess was in a lower priority basket. I worked at accomplishing a extended period of time without a meltdown. I'd give him opportunities to accomplish things successfully that I knew he would want to do. Always thanking him and praising where needed. Then I'd move into the bedroom cleaning etc. I think it was key for me as a parent, to realize that I didn't need to fix each of his problem areas all at once. Not if some things were seriouslly wrong, like voilent outbursts etc.
  5. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    In the signature below I have updated difficult child to "recovering difficult child", because he has made a promise to do better, is trying very hard and this year has been a 1000 times better then last. Still has his moments (last week he pushed the TV off the stand. cracked case but it still works). But, he is working harder and recovers from explosions quicker, and takes responsibility for them. He is also learning on how to manage his frustrations much better. Although he still has a way to go.

    What got us here?? (I don't know)

    - husband and I have learned how not to respond to the anger. We keep our calm or walk away. I even have gone to the point of leaving the little tyrant in the house alone and went to a move.

    - Calm the voice when mad. Sometimes when I am really angry I use the "Dave" voice. The voice from the movie 2010. Where the computer says, "I am sorry Dave, I am afraid I can't do that." I do this because I am so angry I can't talk normal. If I yell it all escalates. If I talk softly it helps defuse.

    - husband and I have learned a technique called "reflection". Where you repeat or re-phrase what the child has said so that they know you are lessening to them. The technique also includes how to get both sides point of view down on the table so that we can find a solution. "easy child in training" (last year was "difficult child in training") used this technique on the play ground last week. His teachers said, two of his friends were starting to fight. She was about to give both of them a detention, when "easy child in training" got to them first. He asked them questions, reflected their answers, and got them to talk about their issues. They both agreed to stop fighting! The teacher was astonished. The same technique has help me at work.

    - Split up the kids. Even to the level of making arrangement with family and friends to take one for an extended time period.

    - Reward carts and extreme consequences were not useful at all. They just become something additional to argue about.
  6. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Having a teacher who really believed in difficult child and our family. Coming from a very small day school, this teacher knew difficult child and our family since he was a baby (her daughter and Diva went to school at the day school together).

    When difficult child started showing signs of violence, she was not judgmental at all. She was always letting me know that she supported us both and knew that we would get through this. She knew this is not how difficult child wanted to be and that he was trying very hard to keep control. I really think having her as the primary teacher in 5th grade while we were going through our "h-e-double l" went a long way in difficult child's healing

    The entire school staff were great. His math teacher did everything she could to make that subject easier for him to handle. She is an awesome teacher and so creative in finding the style each student needed.

    I did not need an IEP because the teachers and I worked so well together. They recognized difficult child's struggles and I recognized that within those struggles school was still important. As a team, we got him through 5th and 6th grade on track with the rest of the class.

    The other huge help was in having a therapist that difficult child respects. difficult child feels no judgment from this person. While he may get a "lecture" from time to time, it is never a "You did bad......." type lecture but a "I want you to do this because I believe it is good for you." (such as eating more fruit and vegetables). This guy really is good about working with difficult child on his level. Issues are discussed in a matter of fact way. Every session is closed with therapist stating, "difficult child is a good kid. difficult child did well today." There is lots of honest support of "I know you are a good person. I know you can do what is right".

    I really do feel that psychiatrist and therapist and difficult child's teachers the last two years really do believe in him and care about him.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont know what helped our family. I know we tried everything. I dont know if my son would have been any different if we had just not done anything. I know we hung on for the ride.

    Maybe this would be a question better answered by him but he isnt available right now.
  8. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Well, the only thing that really helped for sure was detaching and then making difficult child leave our home when she was 18 and wouldn't live by our rules. She started therapy when she was 7 yrs old and that didn't do any good, she saw a psychiatrist and tried various medications and they didn't really help. We sent her to a top-notch Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in Utah at age 16 and it helped while she was there but she reverted to her old ways and worse when she came home so that didn't help either.

    I don't know that she is actually "better" now but I have a good long distance relationship with her (she lives on the west coast, we live in the east). Right now I am helping her financially because she has mono and a severe case of pharangytis and can't work. She works as a stripper but she does work a lot of hours and tries to support herself and her son (I think).

    I try not to get on the roller coaster with her and I know that I will be asked for financial help at times. When I don't hear from her for several weeks I know things aren't going well and try to prepare myself for a panicky call. Meanwhile I go about my life and don't put it on hold for her or waiting to hear from her, etc.

  9. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    A lot of what the others have said
    For us a huge one has been going with our instinct.
    We have been told so many times to do this or that because it worked for this kid or that... playing the %'s sometimes doesn't feel right.
    Most times we have been right and a few times we were wrong.
    You know your child and you have to be his advocate and fight for him regardless.

    Another thing for us is to not engage- it is very hard but so important.

    The most important thing for my family is love- we are a united front and we are a team. We let each other know we love each and every day, regardless of how much someone is driving the other crazy.
    It may not be until bedtime or it may be first thing in the morning, but we try to slip something kind in each day.