Thoughts from vacation...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Ok, i've tried to stay calm and relatively brainless the past 6 days since I tend to over-think things many times. But I actually did have a couple of thoughts that I'd like to share as reminders, since many here remind me of these things at some critical times with difficult child.

    When difficult child first started having problems and exhibiting less-than-desirable behaviors, of course, I punished him- so did school, law, etc. It took over a year before he started saying things to me like "sometimes XXX is going on with me", "sometimes I fell like YYY", "I can't help it, but sometimes ZZZ". Of course, I listened and discussed the importance of letting psychiatrist know these things, which we did, then asked my biggest question "WHY didn't you tell me or psychiatrist or someone before now". difficult child just looked at me oddly and I remembered how much he had been punished while either I or someone at school or the judge had said things about him not focusing, not being quiet and listening when he should, not sitting down and behaving. We talked about it, but it was more than clear- first, the kid didn't know what was going on with him when things first went awry, much less know how to communicate it. Secondly, and more importantly, as long as he was getting punished for talking out of turn or snapping off with a frustrated and angry tone, etc., he was not about to tell anyone that he couldn't help it. I might not be conveying this in the best way, but something reminded me of it on vacation. My difficult child simply will not feel comfortable revealing that he had "no control" over an emotion, urge, etc., if he's been getting punished for the resulting behavior and given ultimatums and been made to fear what will happen if he doesn't control that behavior. IOW- as long as all he heard was that he better stop it or else, he was scared to death to tell anyone that he wasn't in control of it. I don't think he really understood the concept about getting help yet. Once I realized that, I knew that punishment was not the way to teach him how to manage that behaviior.

    Of course, he still needs and get punished sometimes- but his willingness to tell what is/was going on with him is invaluable in his treatment. He can't help it that he has this problem- he can learn to deal with it better- but he won't learn that through punishment alone.

    He had one bad "period" this vaacation and that was the first half of yesterday. He got in my purse and took the cell phone out without permission and got snotty when I asked him why (there were no calls or text messages sent or received). Then- he was caught sneaking with a bottle of antibacterial windex- now who does that and WHY?? I asked him what he was doing with it - he said "NOTHING" which drives me nuts. What does a 13yo boy want with it and why would he sneak it?? So, he lost his opportunity to go to the beach one more time before coming home for this attitude about things and for sneaking to begin with.

    Anyway- those were the bad moments- everything else was great. We shared many laughs that I will remember and I have the reminders of why I fight for my son, Know what I mean??? So, when we got home I asked him what was going on with him yesterday. I said it light-heartedly because all in all, it was successful. He told me that he "mal-functioned". I said "HUH"? He said "you know, Mom, when a robot's batteries are wearing down, the robot starts mal-functioning. I was tired- I was wearing down- I mal-functioned like I do sometimes". I told him "ok- fair enough".

    I worry-and I wonder- does the future hold a long-term confinement for him, or will some of my hopes and dreams for him be realized? And, I know at his age, now he needs to start thinking about his future and taking more responsibility for preparing for it or suffering the consequences if he blows opportunities. I'm not sure how to help put that weight on his shoulders. I don't want to just stress him out and make anxiety and pressure worse, but on the other hand, I don't want to just convey that his future is all a bowl of cherries without him understanding that this will take a conviction and work from him.

    Sorry- I guess I'm off on rambling now!!
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2008
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I think I understand where you are going with the punishment insight. When the focus is always on the consequence, the need may not be being met. Along with the consequences must come learning and we can not teach the lesson if we do not have the right materials. The materials will be the "why". When the answer is, "I don't know", then, "Well, this is the consequence and we need to figure out what made you do this so you can prevent it from happening again."

    If the answer is, "I can't help myself" than that needs to be addressed.

    So, let the consequences fall where it may but be sure to get the entire story - all view points - to figure out the proper consequence and make it a learning situation whenever possible.
  3. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    I can completely relate with you worries for the future. Both of my difficult child's have me feeling that way right now.

    Glad you had a good vacation and also that you've been gaining ground with difficult child
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    difficult child was telling me that his body didn't always feel normal (that he went long periods of time where pain didn't feel "right") and that there were times when he really could not quit talking or sit still or control his anger, etc. He had been punished many times for these things, but months afterwards he told me this in a conversations that had nothing to do with him being in previous trouble. I don't think any amount of punishment could stop what he was going thru- I do think punishment is warranted at times and that he needs to learn ways of dealing with these "urges" (with the help of medications as necessary) but I don't think the cause of it was a discipline problem.

    I happened to be thinking of these things on vacation- then, when I was reading thru recent posts with several kids being diagnosis'd with ODD and parents doing everything they can to find the right punishment to get their kids out of this "habit", I thought I would bring it up.

    But, the bigger point I was trying to make was that with my difficult child, I wouldn't have even known about those things until he quit feeling like he would get punished for it- once I put myself in his shoes, I realized that if I got punished every time I showed a glimmer of something, I sure wouldn't admit to anyone that that was a whole lot more inside. But- there is no way we can help them if we don't know what is inside. Sorry- I'm tired- I don't think I'm wording this very well.
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Good points, Klmno.
    We're working on that cause-and-effect issue on our end, too. Our son is finally at an age where he can communicate with-words rather than just screaming and it makes a huge difference.
    No one knows what the future holds. Some days I think he'll go to college, and other days I wonder if he'll make it through HS with-o landing in jail. I have to learn to take it one day at a time.
  6. ML

    ML Guest

    Yes, we do all have these worries. I go from thinking Manster will be an engineer and just a little odd and sensitive to thinking he might need a group home (or maybe just a controlling wife lol).

    I think you're on the right track. I would focus more on teaching skills and positive reinforcement. Of course this is coming from someone who says I pick my battles and occasionally lets too much go. I'm trying to find balance with that.

    For our kids, 13 is still young maturitywise. I think the fact that you are questionning this in terms of are they working or not is so great. Sounds like you are doing the best you can. That's what I strive for :) ML