Your Opinions, Please

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Bunny, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    About a week or so ago GFFG was having a melt down. I can't remember what it was about at this point, but it was on a weekend so husband was home to see it. husband decided to pretend to turn on the video recorder (the batter wasn't charged, but difficult child didn't know that) and pointed it at difficult child and said that he wanted the therapist and psychiatrist to see exactly what we are talking about when we describe how he behaves, because for the most part in their offiices he puts on his "I'm a little aggel" act. Anyway, the minute that difficult child saw what husband was doing he completely stopped the tantrum and acted so sweet. I remember him telling easy child that he was sorry (again, I can't rememer what it was about, but it had something to do with easy child).

    I keep having people tell me that if he truly had anxiety and ODD he would display those behaviors across the board; both at home and at school. That he would be unable to control himself in all areas of his life. He does not do that. At school he's a saint. When I tell the teachers what life is like at home they look at me like I am from Mars and have two heads.

    If he really had issues with self control would he have been able to stop the tantrum immediately when he saw husband with the video camera? And then start it again when he thought that husband put it down? This makes no sense to me.

    I don't know what the think anymore.

  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Sadly....this was our experience, too.

    We believe that when difficult child was younger, she truly was unable to control her meltdowns - but somewhere along the line she discovered that her meltdowns gave her a lot of "power". She could avoid chores, get a lot of attention and basically dominate the household. So evidently, she learned to use these outburts to her advantage.

    In fact, this past summer - difficult child was having a HUGE meltdown....running around the block SCREAMING and crying and putting on a great show about how we were abusing her...claiming we were denying her water and food and everything. husband warned her that she needed to calm herself down...but she continued. We finally called for police assistance.

    Well, the moment difficult child saw a squad car in front of her house - she was instantaneously fine. She sat and talked with the officer in the most reasonable tones imaginable and explained that it was all just a misunderstanding but everything was fine now.

    I was hurt and furious!

    To think of all the years of therapy - all the meetings with teachers - all the "running interference" I had done for this child....

    And she was FAKING IT??????

    From then on - I determined I was NOT putting up with any more meltdowns. I told her the next time I see her get out of control like that - she is going straight to the ER.

    And guess what? It's been MONTHS!!!
  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I think that some difficult child's are able to control in school and public but let it out in what they perceive as their safe zone "home". My difficult child (and even Diva) are much the same. They are well behaved in school and public places like the doctor's office and then meltdown at home. They don't want others outside of home to see them at their worst.

    I would get Diva to go to school by telling her that SHE can call her teacher to tell him why SHE did not want to go to school. SHE wasn't about to let her teacher know how she was misbehaving so she went to school.

    I also think that the stronger the meltdown the longer they have been holding it in. My difficult child does have true deep anxiety but has learned to control it outside his safe zone (home) and actually is doing great at controlling it at home also.

    Anxiety does not always present in meltdown and rages - you can still have true and deep anxiety without them. You as a parent are learning to pick up on his cues. You know when the anxiety is there when others may not recognize it.
  4. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    My daughter was a classic example of ODD at home. At school, she was fine and people wouldn't have believed me if I told them what went on in our house. Or they would have thought that clearly our parenting style was at fault.

    Then, we changed her diet to girlfriend/CF and that behaviour at home went away. We did not change our parenting style, except that eventually we were able to have higher expectations for her without the problems.

    I guess you could say she could control it, if she was controlling it at school. But clearly something was going on inside to make her act that way at home that was corrected by her diet.

    If you think about times that you are in a bad mood or sick, you might go out and act like you're not, but when you get back home, that feeling hasn't gone away.

    I do the same diet she does, and before I did, I was always feeling irritable inside. When I was home, I had a tone in my voice that reflected that irritation. The first day that I took Lexapro, I remember being in the kitchen, making dinner, with 3 people all trying to talk to me at the same time. For the first time, I was not irritated by this and was able to tell them I could only hear one person at a time, in a nice way. Something inside me changed from that Lexapro, so I wasn't feeling irritated. Now, I get that same effect by changing my diet, but it is clearly a biochemical thing, for me, even though I could control it out in public.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I have no experience in this area but it surely is interesting. Sometimes I think that difficult children who are perfect away from home and explode with the family may (emphasis on may) not be able to cope with the reduced struture. A friend of mine kept a journal of home activity and discovered there were patterns that became evident. Transitioning stress was the biggest issue for her family. She copied the idea of consistency and structure and had some positive results. Using the A,B,C baskets they are getting along much better than before. Two of the big areas for their household was eliminating the unexpected deviations of shopping trips, unexpected company, set snack and meal times...and for them the temporary removal of homework enforcement.

    Sorry I have no wisdom to share but wanted you to know that I have read your post and sending caring thoughts your way. DDD
  6. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    DDD, actually, what you said about the home environment being less structured than the school day is something that the therapist has been saying for a while, and while I do agree with him that difficult child really likes the structure of the school day that doesn't answer why he was able to turn off the tanrum when he thought husband was filming him on the video camera.

    I think, in part, that some of his behavior is learned. He thinks that if he throws a fit about something he will get his way. I don't know why he thinks that because not only does he not get what he wants, but he loses everything else as well. You would think that by the age of 11 1/2 he would have learned that it doesn't work. But he just keeps pushing and pushing.

    He's so rude and nasty to everyone. Case in point: this morning he was sitting at the kitchen table and asked me to pour him some orange juice. I was making lunches for husband and easy child and told him that either he could do it himself or he would have to wait until I was done doing the things I needed to do. I walked out of the kitchen to get something and all of a sudden I hear, "WHAT ABOUT MY JUICE!!!!????" Again, I quietly told him that I was doing something and that either he could pour it himself or wait until I was done. He waited until I was done with what I was doing, but does he need to be so nasty when it's something that he's just too darn lazy to do himself? He thinks that he asked me to do something and that I should jump up the minute he wants something. It doesn't work that way and if he doesn't learn that he's going to be in for a very difficult life when he's an adult out in the working world.

    I'm rambling. Sorry. Some days I just feel like it's a hopeless case.

  7. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I have never tried this with difficult child but might have to. I can see two different plausible reasons for the results of the "experiment" because I can see my difficult child doing the same thing. 1) difficult child feels safe at home to let his "true colors" show or 2) his tantrums at home have given him some sort of reward, even one that WE don't see as a reward. I would look into that second one some more.
  8. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    My difficult child is also perfect at school, and I also get the "Your from Mars", confused look when I ask teachers about his behavior. This is difficult child we are talking about of course his behavior is perfect, why would you even ask? Yet at home! Our Dr. stated that just because he could hold it together at school did not mean he could hold it together at home. That the pressure inside needed to blow somewhere. He did say it was a positive sign for the future, that it was a starting place on his developing the skills needed to live in this world. We found that feeding him small pieces of very dark chocolate (70% or higher) did help calm him down, but did not last very long.

    He has improved 10 fold this last year. This week he has been very very rude and selfish, but no major explosions. The more pressure his is under at school the more he is likely to yell or blame husband and I. Where I do NOT believe our parenting technique is to blame, learning additional skills has helped. Learning how to reflect what he is saying, staying calm and not reacting to his out burst help. One tremendous life saver has been that he joined a sports team. They work him hard, and require good grades. When he comes home he is to tired to fight, he just does his homework and goes to bed. (I love this!)

    About two years ago we also got a lot of the manipulating parents and authority issues. He deliberately cut his hand, and told the therapist he did it because he wanted to die. She said to take him to the emergency room, he ran away. 30 policemen, one helicopter and two blood hounds later he was on his way to the emergency department. Since he did not want to be admitted when the Dr. came in he started talking and explained in detail all the strategies he was employing and all the reasons he said and did what he did. They were all related to manipulating mom and dad. He ended up spending one week at an outpatient day facility. (worthless place, he only learned about illegal drugs, how to obtain them and very little about anger management. They had no diagnoses, lost his release papers, and never followed up) But he did stop using suicide as a manipulation technique. He replaced it with other strategies. But like yourself we eventually figured it out and they became less effective. Which is what you really need to do. Make sure the manipulation techniques don't work. Put the cameras in place, invited others over. I always give one of his team mates a ride home. The team mate's parents think I do it because I am nice. They don't know I really do it because difficult child is always better behaved when the team mate is in the car.
  9. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I think odd is a kinda of vague diagnosis of any child. it's a way of saying well we cant' find any true biochemical problems, or any real thing that meets the criteria mental illness so we'll slap on odd.

    anxiety is true oh man a rough one. i strongly believe that as many have said our kids can keep it together during the day and than at home let their hair down and be who they truly are. showing the world who they are is a scary thing that's why only us at home get to view their true selves. i think it takes alot of work for them to keep it together during the day and than yes at home their that much worse becasue they held it in all day long. the fear of letting others see who they really are superceeds the behaviors that want to come out.

    with yours id' think that whole video camera thing does show extreme self control. if he hasnt' been diagnosis with bipolar i'd say yea he has the ability to control it. now i'm not saying the anxiety he can at all. yet his fear of oh no someone will see how i really am came out bigtime and he was able to shut down. how about getting video camer'as the cheap ones installed in parts of the home? since that seemed to control him somewhat. i'm not saying everywhere yet maybe in hot spots and say i'm diong this because i can't be everywhere at one time and i have to ensure you will both be safe.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Pam, it's not that unusual and it's not that 'wrong' for this to happen. It's OK, he's not necessarily the major and total manipulator you fear. The answer is more complex and yet more simple.

    What you describe is VERY common. What we often forget with a child who has a diagnosis of ADHD or similar, is that they do have some control over their own actions. The amount of control is on a sliding scale from none to almost normal. That scale shifts and changes as they get older and according to the social situation they happen to be in at the time. Other factors are how tired they are; how mentally exhausted (worn out/burned out) they are; how frustrated they are; how safe they feel. Ironically, ther safer they feel, the more likely they are to let a meltdown happen in full. Sometimes when they're just about at the end of their tether, or it's been a bad day, these kids are far more likely to let loose, especially at home where they know they are loved unconditionally.

    Your child was safely at home. But ten you brought a stranger into the picture, in the form of the doctor (via the videotape). You added one very strong controlling over-ride, and it was enough for him to pull himself together.

    But they can't hold it together all the time. So they hold it together where it is most important for them to do so.

    Think about the average man of the house going out to work. Think about all the old "Blondie" comics you may have seen over the years (I know, I'm showing my age). Dagwood at work is a different person to Dagwood at home. At work he has to take a lot of crud from Mr Dithers, which he wouldn't take form his son Alexander at home. Or his neighbour Herb. At home Dagwood sits in his armchair reading a paper, or lies on the couch. At work, there is no couch and I suspect reading the newspaper would not go down well.

    Think about you and how you behave at home (kids permitting). At work you dress neatly, you ensure your appearance is professional, hair tidy, good shoes on, nice suit. At home - old tracksuit maybe, hair a mess but you don't care because you feel more relaxed.
    Well, we relax mentally too.

    Think about yourself or another adult coming home form work. You held it together all day while your boss or your colleagues made stupid decisions and then tried to palm some of the responsibility your way. Or perhaps their mistakes made more work for you. Or perhaps the new whiz kid showed you up. At work you held it together, you gritted your teeth a bit harder maybe but you knew that the price of blowing your stack would be too high and would not achieve anything good.
    But as soon as you walk in the door and drop your briefcase, you just want to scream. You rip off your coat, throw your hat onto the hat stand and maybe you do let loose with "AARGH! What a day I've had!" and go pour yourself a stiff drink or find someone to dump on.

    Our kids can't do this. They try, but often we are too rigid about letting them vent when they really need to. Or maybe the kid doesn't know how to vent, he just comes home from a stressful day where with superhuman effort he held it together, and just falls apart in a meltdown.

    Another factor to consider - medications. As ADHD medications wear off, you can get rebound issues This would complicate the picture for a kid who is having difficulty holding it together. If you leave him off medications over the weekend, he would have more difficulty. But again - if he was on medications, but is in the habit of letting himself melt down more readily at home, he may have been better equipped (during the day on a weekend) to snap himself out of it with enough of an impetus (the video). It may have surprised him that he could do it after all - he's got into baf habits having meltdowns at home.

    My suggestion - when he comes home from school each day ask him about his day and encourage him to vent. Get him to explore how he felt in a situation. If he calls people names (such as calling the teacher a jerk or worse) don't scold. At least, not yet. Let him get it off his chest, then maybe discuss. But it's Basket B - if your trying to discuss it with him is pushing him closer to meltdown, pull back. The angle to take is, "How did you feel? Now, how do you think the teacher felt? Why did he do what he did to you? How do you think he was feeling at the time? Can you think of a better way the teacher could have handled it? Let's explore that idea. If it's a good enough idea, maybe we can suggest it to him."

    Your son pulled himself together when he had to. That is praiseworthy. Instead, you feel angry. I can understand that, because you are basing this on your assumptions of his behaviour. I think you are correct, your assumptions were wrong. Or to be more precise, they were not quite correct. But you were close, and you risk totally reversing your assumptions into something far more wrong, which is the idea that he is choosing to meltdown, choosing to be manipulative. I don't think this is the case. But perhaps he is more able to control himself tan even he realised. He now has a better idea of his own abilities, as do you.

    A point to make to your son, and to also hold in your own mind - no person believes themselves to be all bad (except perhaps for a difficult child with appalling self-esteem). Perhaps a better way of phrasing this - nobody delights in choosing to be an evil person. If you think about the bad people in the world (the ones we think are bad people) - they each of them can justify their own actions to themselves. They had sound reasons for what they did, and believe they were right to do so. Or if they made a bad call and realised it later, they would still say they did not intend to do harm, or that perhaps any harm they did was for a greater good.

    In the same way, a child is very unlikely to be spending his day in full control of his abilities and instead of being effective, praised and appreciated, putting his abilities and self-control into "how bad can I be today?"

    Your child probably still has less impulse control than other kids, less ability to focus and concentrate. But he does not have zero ability, plus his abilities are improving all the time. A lot of this is maturity; a lot of it is his own efforts. A lot of it is the example and help you and his teachers give him. It all works. But it takes time for it to percolate through.

    Home is where the heart is, home is where we feel safe to let our hair down, and home is where we know we are loved and can relax. Let it all hang out. Break wind. Swear. Not have to continue to hold that brick over your head that you've been carrying all day!

    Pam, it's OK. He's a normal kid. What you describe is classic and I don't see a manipulative kid in that at all. No more than normal, anyway. And I speak from experience!