scared for the future - long, sorry...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Forgive me, this is going to be a bit of a rant... or some cathartic exercise...
    After a day like today, I do feel somewhat scared of the future for J. For J and with J...
    Today he was in "difficult child" mode. Some days you couldn't tell the difference from a easy child, but today not even the most optimistic of observers could have put him in that category. The only factor I can think of that may have been at play was that he was tired from the start. Went to bed later and woke up earlier than usual. From then on it has been all downhill! He was just awful in the morning, in that mode that I really dislike and find unaccaptable - like a 4 year old hoodlum, talking back, putting his tongue out at me, swearing with his playground swear words (screamed out) when I told him off (do you say that in the States? = scolded) He's like a kind of swaggering, know-it-all toughie who behaves with defiant insolence when asked to do anything he doesn't want - and it's not very pleasant.
    We had a treat planned for the afternoon - going to the circus, a real one with tigers, elephant, Italian clowns, etc. I took along his childminder's two children, aged 6 and 7. In the circus he was REALLY hyper (he always is but this was really manic) - sitting still for the events but racing around, jumping off the benches, breaking one (by accident), screaming.... etc, etc. I felt myself getting stressed with this as I always do in public (though I'm better than I once was) and increasingly annoyed with him as he could have hurt himself and others. Ended up just grabbing hold of him and making him sit on my lap and of course he screamed...
    We stayed at the childminder's for half an hour or so, where he kind of careered round rather manically again; there was a toy that was the subject of some dispute between all three children and J wanted to take it home, which is something he almost always does when we go to another child's house. I said he couldn't (as usual) but that it would be there next time he came. Anyway, just as we were leaving, I saw he had something in his pocket. I asked him if he had the toy - no, he said, it was a stone... Filled with something of foreboding, I checked - it was the toy. He had lied without skipping a beat, with total self-assurance... We then had a tough-it-out showdown (in which I was not prepared to be the loser, for the sake of a boundary that I was not prepared to let him exceed) during which we sat outside their apartment and he howled and screamed until finally, 20 minutes later, he agreed to give the toy back, me saying that we simply had no right to take it because it belonged to the little boy and he had not given his permission for J to take it.
    In the car on the way home he started saying he did not want to stay with me, he did not want a mummy who was cross all the time, he wanted to go and live with Kenza (his birth mother but her name is all we know all about her). And in a way I understood him... when he is really difficult I DO get cross and just cannot keep it in mind that he is not "choosing" to be so difficult... Because I am not a saint. And sometimes, on days like today, I feel like sainthood is required to be the loving mother of a child whose behaviour is so unlovely sometimes... And I am quite sure that you have all felt that, all know what that feeling is...
    Tomorrow is school again, and structure, and J will doubtless be his "other" self, the sweet, loving, reasonably compliant little boy... We will survive another day, doubtless. But I do have some fear for the future, for his never learning that it is wrong and unacceptable to lie and to steal...
  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I wonder if the excitement of the circus was simply too much. Did he know about it ahead of time?
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, knew about it ahead of time. If we hadn't have gone to it, he would have napped, on the other hand...
    To be honest, though, I'm more worried about the infant crime stuff, not the being hyper in public.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2011
  4. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    The toy in his pocket? He's already wound up, so I'd expect him to be more impulsive. Impulsive acts are a common hallmark of ADHD, many kids lie to try to cover. Do you think he went in there with the intent to steal it? I doubt it.
  5. keista

    keista New Member

    (((((HUGS))))) Such a rough day, but it sounds like you got through it OK.

    I'm not a dr, but a mom who knows lots of kids with lots of different issues, and in my opinion this does not sound like a typical ADHD day. ADHD certainly may have a role in it, but this just sounds ......... more.

    One of my BFFs has adopted kids and struggles with the "you're not my real mommy" and similar rants. Mostly from her difficult child - 9 Her son is 3 and so far a easy child. I know it's heartbreaking so extra ((((HUGS))))

    The only advice I can give is to reflect on the day when you get the chance. Was there anything even slightly different about his environments - different music playing than you usually have on, new plates, different laundry detergent, put on the left shoe first instead of the right shoe etc. These of course are just examples of seemingly innocuos things that can set off a difficult child, but I hope you get the idea. I feel like I'm going through this process CONSTANTLY. I'm getting better and faster at it. It's a good parental process to get used to even with a easy child - it's how I discovered son was allergic to processed apple juice (took me two years!) If you find possible triggers, you can try 'adjusting' them.

    And yes, being tired from the start can have a HUGE effect on behavior. This was certainly true for DD1 even with bed time at 8 she often would not / could not fall asleep until 11. Once she started taking melatonin, she became happy to go to bed. She wasn't going to be suffering/struggling to fall asleep for 3 hours.

    more ((((HUGS))))
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Keista for your hugs and supportive words... :) In fact, J isn't really that sensitive to things like the order in which we do things, or music, or plates, or detergent... The only thing that was different about this morning than most other mornings (apart from being tired) was that he spent about 3 hours watching DVDs. Sunday is his DVD day - other days he doesn't watch because when we did have TV a long time back he was getting really addicted and it was eating into his life - he stopped wanting to talk to me, play with his toys, etc, So this is the compromise we reached.
    In general, he seems to be "best" when he has a lot of time alone with me - one on one time reading stories, playing games, going for walks, etc - or in the structured environment of school. It is hard to hear him say he wanted to go and live with his birth mother (he doesn't usually say this - usually it's that he wants to go and live with my ex-husband in Morocco...) but like I say I kind of understand it. My voice can get very cross and stressed when he acts up, or is really rude in ways I find unacceptable, and I forget that it's all sinking in, all being registered... He is VERY emotionally sensitive, which I've read is typical of ADHD kids.
    Thanks for reassurance re criminal tendencies, HaoZi :) The smooth lying is worrying to me.
  7. keista

    keista New Member

    So my question is: Did these activities cut into his DVD time, or does he have a set amount of time for DVDs and then you always do some activities?

    If he normally gets DVDs all day Sunday, then that's the change, the disruption in his routine. Doesn't matter that these were fun activities that he would normally like to do. You cut off his "addiction" and as anyone who's been addicted to anything - caffeine, nicotine, food, alcohol, drugs - can tell you, that is a HUGE disruption. If, on the other hand, you have a set routine of DVD time and then activities, and you followed the same routine today, then I'd be more inclined to say that it was a combination of the two. Being more tired than usual and diverting him from his 'addiction', even though you followed the "routine", set off the bad behavior for the day. Being more tired, makes kids/ppl need more of their comfort zone/addictions. This is what I mean by looking for ANY changes.
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, Keista, I agree. It may have had something to do with the DVDs. We don't have a set-in-stone routine for these things. He usually watches 2 or 3 DVDs in succession on Sunday morning and then we do different things depending on the day. Having established this "rule" seems to have weaned him off the addiction somewhat because now he doesn't complain and shout when it is time to turn the DVD player off (there used to be mini-tantrums when I wanted to turn the television off). It's so difficult to tell what makes the difference, isn't it, if anything? Usually he watches his age-appropriate DVDs - programmes made especially for children his age. Yesterday however he watched something a bit different, a film I had got from the mediatheque (like a library with CDs and DVDs) - a film about talking dogs, for all the family but aimed at older kids and maybe adults. Was it this? One could even fantasise about there being some sort of beam radiated from the TV - I don't know!!
    What I do know is that this is the place that is frankly hardest for me and maybe many of us... When his behaviour is really obnoxious and I KNOW that getting cross and stressed just makes it worse and does NOT model the kind of behaviour I want him to learn but... I am suddenly so thrown by the appearance of this know-it-all tough guy who has a kind of streetwise intelligence FAR beyond his years. Somehow I don't recognise it - but I do have to acknowledge that it's as much part of him as the endearing, affectionate, innocent pre-schooler who says all his funny, charming things and is so interested in the world around him... I guess I just don't LIKE this other side to his character or being. And it brings out the worst in me, I think.
    Work in progress...
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I found this bit of advice on a site - seems timely...

    5. Don’t Abuse, Scold, OR Accuse Him:

    When dealing with the ADHD child, confront him only when necessary. ADHD children are very sensitive. They compare themselves to other children and this may lead to emotional struggles including depression.
    In such case, scolding him, accusing him, verbally abusing him or confronting his lies will only make things worse. Try counseling and discussing rather than blaming him for things he did.
    As you learn how to deal with ADHD in your child and family, these guidelines will greatly improve the situation. Some of them are counterintuitive. However, following them will make coping with ADHD and ADD much easier as you look for long term solutions to what is typically a very difficult situation.
  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I agree with not abusing any child, but I don't agree with the never scolding or accusing part. Certainly if you're early in the journey and don't know the underlying causes or extent of issues and certainly if the child is emotionally fragile. But once you've reached the point of the child making progress and they're emotionally in a stage where they can be nudged forward, sometimes a good old-fashioned mother scolding can be effective with some kids. And I'm definitely going to confront a child's lies, because that would be a basket A for me. I'm going to choose the time and place carefully, but I probably won't let that go.

    As always, take any parenting advice (including mine, no, especially mine :)) with a grain of salt. Kids change, we change, situations change, and we are all coming into this with some different value systems so what works for one parent and child at one point will probably be the exact wrong approach for another.

    Hope today is a good day.
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes... the thing is though, SRL, that while I myself really agree with you - because lies are something I cannot accept, or stealing - and while my instinct is always to scold J when he does something unacceptable, if I am honest, I have never had any positive result from this... It just seems to make him oppositional and seems to be internalised by him in a way that is quite extreme. When I tell him off, he often says "I want to sleep, I feel sleepy, I want to go to bed" almost as though he is depressed. Yesterday, after the "stealing" incident I said to him that stealing was naughty, it was like what burglars did (he is very interested in and vaguely anxious about burglars coming into our house, ever since I explained what they are...); later in the conversation I said he was a good boy. "No, I'm not, I'm not good, I'm a burglar!" he cried, with real force and conviction.
    I just don't know what I'm doing to his self esteem with this scolding... Again, if I am honest, he always responds positively if I talk to him positively, with a lot of affection and no blame. So those are just my pragmatic observations...
  12. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Again, this is where knowing your child well comes into play. If he's not at a point where confronting or an occasional scolding helps, or especially if it is detrimental, it's not a strategy to use. It's so good that you've become aware of these as these are the sorts of observations that can really make a difference.
  13. keista

    keista New Member

    I had to giggle at this. Pictured a little boy saying this and it was just the cutest image - I know that it really is not, yes raises those self esteem flags for me too, BUT the good news is he understands that what he did was wrong. He understands the severity of his infraction. He may never (at least for a few months or years) take anything that doesn't belong to him again. This is a VERY good thing. If we never scold, if we never make our children feel bad about their bad actions, then they will never learn that they are indeed bad. This is a pitfall some parents fall into, and end up CREATING difficult children from pcs. Oh, junior doesn't understand yet, Oh I don't want to squash his sense of exploration, blah blah blah. Next thing you know, Junior is stealing from convenience stores, and setting them on fire. We, as parents, don't ever want our kids to feel "bad", but the reality is that when you correct a child, they will feel "bad". They should feel "bad" The child needs to process that, and learn that if they stop that behavior, they will no longer get scolded, and then no longer feel "bad"

    Your child is already a difficult child. You did not create that, but many parenting concepts are still the same. While a born difficult child may have a harder time understanding and controlling the bad behavior, we still need to deal with it just as strictly and harshly. Judging from his exclamation, I think you did a FABULOUS job of getting the message through to him. If he keeps repeating it, starts obsessing ver the fact that he's 'not good' Then you need to follow up with that he CAN be good as long as he never steals again. Never stealing again will make him good.

    I do want to get back to the DVDs though. The content of that dog DVD, although more suitable for older kids, probably did not have much to do with his behavior, UNLESS it portrayed dogs behaving "badly" and made it funny and excusable with no consequences. So again I'm asking if he got just one DVD or the usual 2-3. From a normal rational, parental perspective, getting 1 DVD should certainly suffice. For a normal child it would certainly suffice, especially if they were going to some really fun activities such as the circus. For a difficult child, if it breaks the routine, then it can very easily trigger that poor behavior. "the devil is in the details" For a child who has difficulty with transitions and changes in routine, a seemingly small change can make a world of difference. This is why I offer up examples that most ppl wouldn't think twice about - plates, laundry detergent, background music. In this particular situation, the change is in the DVDs, whether content or amount.

    What I look for is the "butterfly effect" It's a chaos theory principle that the presence of a butterfly flapping it's wings on one side of the planet, can cause a hurricane on the other side. I think this explains many difficult children very well. The tiniest of things can set them off and create, meltdowns, tantrums or rages that are completely disproportionate. If we can find that 'tiny thing' and adjust it, we can avoid that 'hurricane'.
  14. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, I know where you're coming from, Keista, as they say.... This is a complex area - no easy answers. From my perspective, my son hadn't really taken on the message that I wanted - which was not that HE was bad, a "burglar", but that stealing is bad... I feel that's quite an important distinction. I want him to understand that others have rights, just as he does, and that just as he would not want a favourite toy to be taken, another child does not. Also in our society stealing is unacceptable and outside the law and that is also important to take on... But making him feel bad about himself seems to drive him to behave even more badly. I don't have a view about it really as much as that is just my empirical observation, as it were...
  15. april1974

    april1974 New Member

    I'm just learning about adhd, odd, etc and trying to figure out what is counter productive and what isn't, while building a relationship on trust.

    sometimes it's easier to just be direct, short and sweet, make ds return the toy, explain why we can't steal and move on.

    can I share a memory?
    Remember this is back in the 70's where kids had more freedom to roam neighborhoods, going to the store was something all of us kids did back then.
    when I was 6 I asked my mom if I could have the empty pop bottles so I could take them to the corner store get the refund for the glass and buy candy, she said no, I went into her wallet took out a bill and went to the store anyways, the store called my mom, they found it unusual for me to have a bill and not change, my mom came up to the store dragged me home by my ear down the street in front of everyone and proceeded to beat me in my bedroom with a leather purse while my sister stood in the door way crying for her to stop(sister was 10/11) I think I wore my mom down, I will never forget how I felt when she did that, so small and completely terrified of her. I did things that when I look back I think were completely normal, stealing, lieing, have energy, I wasn't bad, I was smart and active, busy and curious. I'm not sure why I'm sharing this story, I just thought I would share the memory of a child who stole something, but I never meant any harm, I just wanted my needs met, and candy was what I wanted in that moment, not to disapoint my mom or be bad. It was impulsive.
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing that, jan. I know... I do feel the inappropriateness of punitive approaches to these kind of incidents with small children while also feeling concerned (of course) that my son learn that stealing is a boundary that should not be crossed, that it is not acceptable.
    These memories from childhood are so haunting, aren't they? And the adults around just don't realise at the time. And the tragedy is we forget...
  17. Confused

    Confused Guest

    Hi Malika,
    How is he doing today? It is hard to tell if that taking the toy was part of his issues or just being a" little kid". But it is good that he realizes what he did was wrong! That is a really good sign! What you found on not to abuse,scold ..oh, forgot the other one already, my mind is on my morning issues with my kids! Sorry, anyway, I agree not to abuse but to scold and the other, we do need to treat our kids as "normal" as possible but of course with modifications depending on their "health issues". When my sister was little, 3/4 years old maybe? , She took some gum from the store after my dad and mom said "no".( I wasnt born yet, but my family loves to tell stories! ) She knew it was wrong, but did it anyways! They made her go back and talk to the manager too! She never did that again! My cousin was just a trouble maker, issues with parents mostly to blame. We tried our best with him but we were frequently stolen merchandise "returners" to a toy store and made him talk to the manager every time! I wish you luck and hang in there!
  18. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I haven't read all the responses.

    But honestly? Taking a fairly typical, especially at that age. So I wouldn't over worry that part at this stage in the game. You handled it well making him take the toy back and explaining WHY you did so. So many parents forget that last part and always assume the child knows why on their own, when usually they don't. If you're consistent with his taking things that don't belong to him the behavior should stop eventually as it just won't pay off.

    Sounds like he thrives on routine and structure. Have you attempted to make home a more routine structured environment for him? If not, you would probably find him easier to deal with if you do. Doesn't have to be time oriented shedule wise......just daily things......try to do them in the same order and as close to the same time as scheduling allows. If something interferes with the routine.....continue to do daily things in order that day. I used to hate doctor appointments ect because they could throw a day way off scheduled routine which could easily send Travis into a tailspin. Say doctor appointment was after lunch and we didn't get home until after "normal" suppertime. I still did supper of course.......then went through the evening routine regardless of the time, even if it meant them getting into bed a tad later than normal. While the appointment often threw him, jumping back into routine when we got home would calm him again.

    Any special event such as circus or holiday whatever and I just plain prepared myself for a rocky ride. It always brought out the difficult child in him. Always.

  19. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your responses. The "stealing" really doesn't worry me as much as the "lying"... but J often lies, it's a frequent issue between us. He really doesn't seem yet to see or accept that there is anything wrong with lyiing - he does it very instinctively. He does know there is something wrong with taking things that are not his, on the other hand. The lying is such a frequent theme with kids who have ADHD/ODD I know.
    Yes, he really does thrive on routine but unfortunately our lifestyles just don't!! And it's no good setting up tight routines because they just get broken - when, for example, we go to Morocco for two months in the sumemr or to England at other times. It's just not realistic to set J up with the expectation that life is always the same for him because it just isn't.
  20. keista

    keista New Member


    Very true, BUT he is only 4. Setting up routines for HIM is not to benefit him, but YOU. I'm pretty sure he does not care what anyone thinks of his behavior. Why? Because he is 4. on the other hand you are very concerned with his behavior. It's your job to be concerned.

    Think back to when you first brought him home. Feeding schedule at 3mos is what? every 3-4 hours? Did that change just because it was inconvenient? No, but if it had to, did he wait patiently or did he start crying at the top of his lungs? At age 4, routines are not much different. Yes, you have extended visits elsewhere, so the routine will not be 100% exactly the same all the time (it isn't now either - weekdays are different from weekends) BUT there are somethings that can always remain the same, you just have to find them. Eating schedule, bed time, story time, etc. There are also routines within the routines, which you should start identifying. Does he have a favorite plate, spoon, cup, fork? If so, always carry them with you, so if you have to change plans and stop to eat somewhere, these familiar items are around. If not, go buy a set he might like (favorite movie character or something) and ALWAYS use them at mealtimes. This brings familiarity to any unusual situation, and gives a visual clue to the 'regular routine'

    My kids are very used to me pouring drinks after everyone has their food. On rare occasions, I pour the drinks first. I get greeted with remarks such as "what? We're getting air for dinner?" They are poking fun because I changed the 'routine'. We spend lots of time in our family finding, creating and perfecting 'routines' that work, so the kids are hyper aware of such things. If they were true difficult children, they wouldn't be joking, they'd probably be getting angry, assuming that all they were getting was a drink. At age 4 son did sometimes get angry at these seemingly insignificant changes - took me a LONG time to figure out what was upsetting him.

    No, the world will not accommodate J, but as his mom, it is your job to teach him that fact - it will not happen at the age of 4 for him. PCs learn this naturally. difficult children have a more difficult time. Setting up good routines to keep him calm at age 4 will not make him expect the same treatment at age 24. As my kids get older, even some of their most ingrained routines start becoming more flexible. Meal times can now vary by as much as an hour in either direction. The more bored they are, the more agitated they get, but they CAN deal. I was PETRIFIED of vacation last year in part due to the meal issue. 3 days of driving I was NOT going to stop and buy 3 meals per day for 4 of us. I stocked up on snacks, both healthy meal substitute snacks and usual junky snacks. I explained that at meal times we would have the healthy meal substitute snacks, and they could have ANY snack once an hour, and then each day we would stop for a full meal for dinner. They handled it quite well. Yes, my kids are older. When they were younger, this adjustment would have been more difficult, and I know that and I would have set it up much 'closer' to the "normal routine"