What do I do?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JodyS88, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted New Member

    I've had it with my 12 year old son! We don't know how to discipline him in the moment of his "behaviors". I don't mean after he's calmed down or before as prevention. We've tried all that.
    I need to do something when he's in the behavior - being disrespectful, rude, and mean. Swearing and telling me he hates me, stealing, hurting siblings, breaking things. His behaviors can't be ignored. He refuses to do what he's told and he does not care about anything!

    He would "love" to go to his room and just go to bed. So we put him on "time - ins" until he "chooses" to change his behavior but this can be hours and hours. We keep him close, but he drives us nuts with trying to pick apart the wall, he yells and makes noise.

    He's starting to refuse "time-ins". There is no video game, toys, sports, activity, etc. that can be taken away to stop his behaviors. He doesn't care what you take away from him.
    What do you do? How do or would you handle your son 's behavior when nothing you've tried so far works? And we know he's capable of behaving because he did before.
    Please help! I appreciate any ideas or things that have worked if you've ever been in a similar situation.
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I wanted to say welcome although I have not dealt with this particular issue with my child, who is now an adult.

    I would just suggest this: if the "time in" is not working, and the "taking away" is not working, I would try to identify alternatives. What comes to mind is giving in. By that I do not mean letting him do what he wants, particularly if he is doing the kinds of hurtful and aggressive things you describe.

    There is a concept in martial arts, which involves strategically letting your opponent's own energy and movement to do him in. It is virtually impossible to defend against, if the move is set up correctly. Because the opponent does it to himself and you get out of the way. A branch of psychology borrowed the concept and it is used in some types of psychotherapies.

    I do not know what exactly would work, but what you are doing seems not to be working. In fact, it seems to be rewarding him, because he is so stubborn, he seems to be empowered by resisting you, no matter how onerous is the punishment.

    If it were me I would do this: I would try to distract him by finding things that use up his energy and distract him by enticing him to immerse himself. Things he likes, like hobbies and sports. I would try hard to not think of this is a reward. What you want is to be on the same side as he is. So that he is less apt to target others or to oppose you. (I very much believe in martial arts for kids and adults too.) Because with this you learn a code of living that is opposed to and channels unnecessary aggression and teaches good conduct and self-control.

    I would also try to determine what is going on with him, and help him dissipate whatever negative emotions he might be harboring. If such a thing is available near you, alternative therapies like art therapy, drama therapy, even dance therapy can be preferable to traditional talk therapy, with kids such as your own.

    I guess what I am suggesting, to some extent, is to take the focus off of the bad behavior and to try to cultivate or encourage good behavior. What are some positive traits of his? What is he good at? What do you love about him? And begin with that.

    I know this is difficult. I am at my wits end with my 30 year old son. This has been going on for a decade and it's not getting better. He has been homeless and now he is back with us, and he will not stop exposing us to his marijuana habit. He does not work. He believes in conspiracy theories.

    I have loved him more than anybody in my life, times 1000. And yet, I have a hard time sometimes being in touch with this love, because of how much pain and disappointment and fear there is.

    Yet, my son is at heart very loving and kind. He is not judgmental of people.

    This is what I mean. There is a kernel of what we love, in our children. It is to try to connect to this in ourselves, and somehow try to step away from all of the frustration, fear, chaos, powerlessness, and in my own case, anger.

    Anyway. There will be others who soon come along. Weekends can be slow. Take care.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  3. One Hurt Mama

    One Hurt Mama New Member

    Wow - what power these couple of sentences have over me, because I can really relate.
  4. Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted New Member

    Thank you so much for your feedback. I'm open to any advice!

    I just cry and feel so alone. But then I read what everyone posts and I know I'm not and I feel a little better, lol
  5. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    Pixie, You aren't alone. I wish I had an answer for you. Sounds like a medical professional may be needed. Could be be depressed, had some drama at school? Or has he always been like this and just progressed to the point of being out of hand? Will he talk to you if you ask him, Whats wrong? Why is he so angry?
  6. Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted New Member

    Thanks Tiredout, we have been to many doctors. My son (Franky) came to us at 15mos and we later adopted him. Unfortunately he was one of the worst cases of neglect/abuse that county had seen.
    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
    Major Depressive Disorder

    Interesting enough this is a new thing for him. Maybe he found his voice? In the past he would occasionally times be sad, cry, or withdrawn. Then 4 months ago his therapist did some trauma therapy with him and EVERYTHING changed with him after that. I wish she wouldn't have done it! He was never mouthy or disrespectful and he sure is now. Always making poor choices and saying very mean things to us. We had done a lot of attachment therapy when he was little. I thought it worked until he just started lashing out and is classic Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).
    Hugs, laughing, snuggles, I love you mom, etc. Then the therapy changed all that. I still catch glimpses of the "old" Franky, lol. And can occasionally distract him or use humor to stop the behavior from becoming full - blown.
    Hugs, snuggles, laughter, I love you 's is what he used to say. Now he won't ever say back I love you too, and rarely wants to be touched, let alone hugged.

    And he feels more anger and lashing out with me than his father. Therapist says that's actually good because he feels "safe" with me. IT SURE DOESN'T FEEL GOOD! :brokemyheart:

    We have asked him why he's so angry and he responds with "cuz you guys have the stupidest rules, or anywhere in the world would be better than living here, or you don't love me!" Says he has always hated it here.

    I feel like I'm desperate. Like I need to somehow bring him back or "rescue" him before he's too far gone. Maybe is too late?
  7. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    Hi Pixie,

    We have a member here who adopted a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). She may be along later to share her story.

    What I know from my own experience is that Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is very serious, and generally not responsive to treatment.

    Unfortunately, he may not be able to function normally in a family setting. He may need a residential setting where he can be monitored, receive therapy and hopefully become a happier, more emotionally healthy person in time.

    I wish I could be more positive and optimistic. If your son doesn't currently work with a therapist who is an expert in working with children having Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), I might suggest locating a therapist with this expertise. I don't think his current therapist is correct in suggesting that it's "good" that you are your son's emotional punching bag.

    I wonder, from what you write, if this therapist may have done your son and family more harm than good.

    Do you have other children or pets in the home? Is he kind to them?
  8. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I sent her a PM when she first posted.
  9. Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted New Member

    I tried to reply to you but it said I was spam...
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am an older adult but I have experience with trauma therapy. I have been working with a trauma therapist for 6 months. After 3 months I asked my live in boyfriend to move out. I found my voice, too. There is no comparison between a young child and an old woman, but maybe there is a parallel of a sort.

    I never felt strong enough with my birth family to take a stand for myself, neither as a child nor as an adult. I had had trauma as an infant. I wish my parents had known to take me to a trauma therapist so many years ago. That you gave your child this, is a great gift.

    Today M and I were working on hanging pictures which is extremely stressful for us. He said I was aggressive all day long. What a victory for both of us. That I could be aggressive and that he would stay in the ring with me tolerating it, and not squashing me like a bug.

    I know how hard it is when your child after being loving and close, turns on you with hostility and mouthiness. That is what happened with my son in his late teens. After a relationship that was extra-close it was extremely painful for me to lose this.

    This is very helpful for me to read your posts, because I would want my child to connect to his true feelings, to have his voice and power, even if for a time he would direct this against me, as he has. The mistake I made with my son is taking personally his need to distance himself, through hostility. It was not personal. I don't want to be hypocritical here. So I will say again how hard this has been for me.

    In my case I depended on my son for the love I did not feel from my family of origin. I can see that it was entirely right of him to assert himself and push away from me.

    You see, my son had a life before he had me. How could this life not affect who he is, as much as what I gave him. He was in an orphanage until he was 22 months old. However much I had the fantasy I could counteract all of this history with love, this does not go away.

    Personally, I think that many of us can have attachment issues, that there is a spectrum here just as on the autism spectrum. I think that your child is showing strength, rather than deficit by his recent behavior. But this does not make it easy or fun, not one bit.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
  11. Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted New Member

    Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately we do know how serious Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is. And we fired that therapist right away cuz I agree that she likely did more harm than good. Today was a good day, he came to me for a hug and did what he was told without arguing.

    Good or bad we have had many children in the home. We also adopted his younger brother who is 10. We have bio daughter who is also 12 as son is. We have 4 older children that no longer live at home. 27, 25, 23, 21. He was our first foster care placement. In the last 12 years we have had almost 60 children come through our home. Most were infants, none older than 7yo, and mostly short-term. TWe took breaks after a child(ren) left to give us time with our kids at home. But when these "behaviors" started showing with Franky we did have them remove the infant we had at that time and won't take on any foster children while he's struggling.

    The 21 year old son comes back from the Army at the end of the month. He is the only male of the older 4. But he is also the one that Franky is most attached to. Oldest son is ADHD and was the one who opened our eyes to the beautiful world of mental illness. He carved a good path for the many children that came after him.

    21 year old calls home a lot and talks to the kids, mostly Franky. He is funny and tells me "just wait until I get home mom, I'll fix him cuz I know where is head is".

    I think there may be some truth in that...

    So, many docs, therapists, & education for last 12 years. We've tried many different "parenting" styles and/or programs. I would say most are preventive or distraction.

    All these children with every kind of mental illness. And here I am with my own son and I feel so blindsided. I feel we missed a chance with him we could have done more "therapy" with him, but we did not see the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) symptoms since he was a toddler so we thought we were good.

    I find it ironic as well that after all these years im struggling on how to handle his behavior in the moment. But no 2 children are the same and I've never had one that "in the behavior" couldn't be controlled because he cares about NOTHING when he's in that mode.

    Unfortunately I do understand how treatment facilities are sometimes the only way a child can be helped. Especially in the child protection system! It's beyond broke and ruins children!

    I am honestly SO grateful to have found this website. We moved kind of far from extended family 9 years ago and so busy with kids I haven't been able to make any friends here. I am kind of crying because it feels good to just get some of this out! I've tried other support sites, but they were very different.

    From what I see here it feels like you all are not afraid to put it all on the line. Good, bad, raw, and honest. And responses are caring, encouraging, sensitive, sympathetic and understanding. I think that's amazing!
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    That's wonderful!!! I love for you that he did that. He showed you that he's still there.
    In our case the attachment issues didn't rear their head until he was a teenager.
    I think so too. Glad you're here.
  13. Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted New Member

    So very, very true! I am so blessed to have so many other people to love and be loved by. And it may always sting a bit because I just want to drill In his head ("Boy, you have no idea what we've done for you, the amount of love we have for you!") I want to put him in my heart so he can FEEL it, lol
  14. Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted New Member

    I didn't think it was a fantasy, I thought it was impossible! Impossible for him to remember anything that happened before coming to us. He was only 15 months. But when he did the trauma therapy he shared a memory that was very vivid and I know you be true though I've never told him about it. I thought "holy crap, this sh** really works"! You have so many kids and go to so many doctors and therapists and I never know if it helps at all. But this trauma thing was real! I'm a believer!
    And we will continue it, but need to find someone who knows what they are doing! This can be dangerous. And this therapist was as surprised at me and no clue how to go forward...
  15. Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted New Member

    Sorry, not sure how to do multiple quotes.

    I didn't even think of it this way. Thank you for that!
  16. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am going to somebody who practices Somatic Experiencing Therapy. This approach to treating trauma was developed by the Psychologist Peter Levine. He has written several books on his understanding of trauma and his approach. I have nothing but respect and caring for this woman who I see. She is among the kindest and wisest and responsible people I have known in my life. The training in this is 3 years, after one has already achieved a foundational discipline such as psychology or bodywork such as Pilates. There is a website under that name, Somatic Experiencing Therapy and a database with certified providers. That's how I found the woman I see.

    Multiple quotes ar the same as single quotes. Keep adding quotes and they will all show up in the box below to be added as you want.
  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is amazing.
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have a son who behaved very much as your son is. It started about when his little sister became able to move around on her own. He was so sweet with her until then (he is almost 4 yrs older). He is in his mid 20s now and is such an amazing person. He very much has Asperger's (a type of autism spectrum disorder). I often found if I could figure out where the issue was coming from, we could talk through it when he was calm. Very often, it was actually his uber logical thinking and not understanding the complex social rules. Some of his teachers loathed me behind my back because I often stood up for him if his behavior was logical from his perspective.

    At the age of 14, my son was so angry at me for forcing him to do therapy and for not allowing him to hurt his siblings, and for demanding that he behave in a somewhat reasonable manner if he expected to get what he wanted from us. His rage was so explosive and he was incredibly strong. He also had untreated sensory issues until around then. We had to move him out of our house to my parents. He kept trying to seriously harm or kill his sister (not a joke) and he was strong enough to overpower me. We let my parents have a chance to help him before we sent him to a therapeutic Boys Home about an hour away. My father taught jr high for decades and he also has Asperger's. They ended up working a miracle somehow. He has actually worked super hard to repair his relationships with each of us. None of us know quite how they did it. Well, other than my Dad making him do untold hours of yard work every time he got out of line. Plus my Dad out-stubborned him on some things. My mother nagged the social rules into him.

    I would pick your battles and have a clear strategy for dealing with them. You might be helped by the book Parenting with Love and Logic. It won't help for everything, but it can give you some strategies for maybe dealing with a couple of issues at a time.

    One member who was here years ago did something with her son that i thought was really interesting. When her son would act out for attention, she would make sure he had ALLLLLLLLL the attention he could handle. Sometimes making him stay in a room with her and her spouse staring at him for a set period of time. Rather than time away from attention, they would make him sit down and then they would just watch him. If he got upset at this, it lasted longer. I believe she also had times she would make him stay right with her, with a hand on her belt no matter what she had to do (except go to the bathroom, lol). That was NOT fun for him (or her) but it was effective at curbing a specific behavior or two.

    Most of us here have kids that rewards and sticker charts don't work on, and never worked on. We have to share ideas and get creative. My mother has always said, "physical solutions for physical problems". She didn't mean "beat your kids if they mess up". She was QUEEN of creative discipline. Scary logical creative. My older brother had his own room. He insisted on coming out into the den to watch shows that were not allowed (Cinemax night time movies, that sort of thing). Then he would fall asleep in the den, sometimes without any clothing on. My mother was NOT. HAPPY. Asking him not to do it didn't work. Locking the dog in there to fart all night didn't work. Putting strips of duct tape all the way up his legs so they were each covered with them (and I mean ALLLLL the way up his legs) was her final step. It was maybe the 9th or 10th thing she tried. He slept like a rock, so he didn't wake up at all while she put the duct tape on him. Boy was that not a fun morning for him, but he stopped sleeping nude in the den. He also made a huge mess in the kitchen regularly and wouldn't clean it up. After deciding not to do the dishes for him, (after several months of this), she let them sit. For a week. Then she put them in his bed. They were NASTY and she put them inside his pillowcases and under his sheets. He came in late that night and had to stay up to do his bedding. He stopped leaving huge messes after that. She always tried talking to him first, and then insisting he do the chore, and then she got more and more creative the longer he insisted on not doing what she wanted.

    If your son is throwing something, that is a physical problem. If you can, move things out of the way so he cannot damage anything. If something is damaged, teach him how to repair it, or give him chores to earn the money to pay someone else to fix it. Often you have to work WITH them to get the chore done, but it helps.

    It is also super helpful to insist that he do some regular, very physically demanding work or exercise. Wear him out at least a couple of days a week. You can send him out to dig a hole in the backyard, and then have him fill it up and dig another one. Have him trim bushes or mow the lawn. This is a strategy my dad used with MANY of the students with special needs that he taught. When he saw one of them getting upset or riled up, he would ask them to take a box full of books or whatever was heavy to a teacher on the other side of the school. It was always a teacher the student knew, and one who expected this to happen on various occasions. The other teacher would just keep the box until a child in the class got upset and then that child would carry the box back to my dad's classroom. It didn't always stop a meltdown or rage, but often it did. Carrying something heavy can work to help reset things. Why this works? I don't know. But the box had to be heavy (full of old textbooks or even bricks at one point).

    You also might want to examine what is going on in the house when your son gets so angry. Is it loud, or is the house scented by something strong (cooking, air freshener, whatever), is he acting hyper like he needs to keep moving, is something itching him? This can be a sign that he is not responding to sensory input typically. MANY of our kids with special challenges have problems with how their brain processes information from their senses. It can completely overwhelm a person if this happens. If you can figure out a type of sensory stimuli that causes problems, you can work on helping the child cope with that. I am sure another type of therapy is the last thing you were thinking of, but occupational therapists can be a HUGE help with this. I only learned about this when my youngest had major problems and would become almost catatonic if he had too much stimuli. It could take days to get him out of that state. The change the therapy made in even one session was astounding to me. What the therapies do is help rewire the brain, to create new ways for the brain to handle sensory information. The book The Out of Sync Child can be a BIG help in learning about this. It helped us understand that our oldest NEEDED to be at my parents' house. Our house had 2 younger children who had a right to watch the shows they liked (that set our oldest child's every nerve on edge). The younger kids had the same right to be noisy when they wanted, or to have quiet when the needed it, that our oldest had. Our oldest just needed MUCH more quiet than the other 2 kids. My parents had a room on one end of the house for him, away from the noise of anything else going on. It made a huge amount of difference, just having all of the noise and activity of his siblings away from him.

    The one thing I wished I had done was to not worked on so many issues at once. I think it would have been much better for us if I had let all but maybe one or two things be what we worked on at one time. Sadly, there was so much violence aimed at my middle child (my daughter), that I had to focus on most of it at once in order to protect her.

    I hope that some parts of this are useful. I am sorry it is so long. I will say that the parents here are AMAZING! This forum was just an incredible help for my family.
  20. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    OMG, Susiestar. YOU ARE AMAZING.