Why are our difficult child's so good at self sabotage?


Active Member
I am getting so frustrated with difficult child. No matter how early I wake her up, she cannot get herself ready in time for school. I know some of it is her anxiety, but dang. I feel like I need to sit behind her with a cattle prod to keep her moving. I had to actually tell her, do not pluck your eyebrows. Yesterday she received a detention for having so many tardies. And, she is 2 tardies away from an inschool suspension. I woke her up at 6 because she was going to shower. Of course that didn't happen. I could care less if she smells. So I had her out of bed at 6:25. We need to leave no later than 7:10. At 6:56 she is no where near ready. Sigh. She just makes my anxiety go through the roof.


Well-Known Member
My difficult child is the master of shooting himself in the foot. All suggestions that might help him are immediatly disregarded. That's why he is locked up at the moment.


I don't understand why they do it, either. It makes no sense. They know that doing something will get them into trouble, but they do it anyway. Just to see what would happen? It makes me crazy.


Well-Known Member
I think their internal fears and confusion is/are stronger than any bit of reason. That's all I can figure out. It makes me crazy.


Well-Known Member
I think it's a combination of anxiety, executive function difficulties and sensory issues. It's not just a matter of being stubborn, it's a combination of factors. Add in the stress of the morning when everyone else is rushing around, difficult children can pick up on your anxiety and then the wheels come off.

One strategy we implemented with our difficult child was that he has a shower before bed rather than in the morning. He's still bathing, but the rush element has been taken out of it. There's no hard deadline, so there's far less stress involved.

Are you able to do something like that? If you're not worried about being late for work yourself, you will probably have much more energy to fight the shower battle. And if your difficult child knows that after the shower she can curl up in her warm safe bed, rather than having to face the ravages of school, it might be less of a battle on her side as well.

Hope this helps. Sometimes I've found that changing the battleground also gets rid of the battle.


Our mornings are the same way. Me begging him to get up, then to come downstairs, then to put on his shoes ... and on and on. I pack his back pack, make him a roll and put everything outside on the step. Then I corral him out the door. Sometimes I have to put his shoes out there too. The three younger girls can ask for nothing from me until I get him out the door.

I like that this website lets us know we are not alone in our efforts!


Well-Known Member
Anxiety is a very powerful emotion - and very disabling. It slows us down, makes us hyper-cautious, clouds our thinking... and muddies our sleep.

And with older kids, the anxieties are more complex, so harder to guess at and work around...

We had stuff that worked when the kids were young, but... they wouldn't work with a teenager.


Active Member
Trinity, difficult child was supposed to bathe the night before. That is when she normally does. But this was one of those "I promise I will get up and do it in the morning" nights. And, when she refused, I said fine. I could care less if you smell. Not my problem. I won't be around you. She did manage to get it together and be on time for school. But, geez. And, I am very lucky that I do not work, so all of the stress is of her own making. easy child is out of the house, in college, so in the morning is is just the 2 of us. (husband is at the gym), and I do not shower or anything until after I drop her off. And, while I know that she is anxious, I think she exaggerates it a good bit too.


Roll With It
What kind of things can you do to wake her up more effectively? Ice water worked on my gfgbro, and he is notorious for sleeping through everything AND waking up swinging his fist. It was a reflex more or less and done with-o him being awake. By high school he had decided to hate beds and he slept on an old couch instead. That made it easier to pour ice water on him and not get hurt when he swung. My mom did the ice water first, and then when it was the ONLY thing that worked, gfgbro paid me $5 to pour it on him each morning to get him up and moving. I kept a bottle of water in the fridge and added ice to it in the morning before I woke him up.

Yes, it makes her MISERABLE and ANGRY in the morning, but isn't that how she is making you feel? Sometimes a taste of their own actions is needed.

they also have alarm clocks that you have to get up and get to shut them up. I bought a knocked of the one with wheels on either side that literally would run across the room from you. It was loud and it got louder the longer it was on before you stopped it. I have also seen some that are helicopters that fly around getting ever louder until you catch them. I think that wouldn't last very long.

You may have to get firm and put some negative consequences in place, such as if you don't get up and moving the first time I tell you to, then I pour ice water on you. It won't take much, or you could just rub an ice cube on her, Either way, right not most of the stress is on you, and more needs to be on her, in my opinion.