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My Challenge, My Love - Page 37

post #721 of 913
Welcome newcomers... I don't know how you could read this whole thread. I tried to print it once for a training I was doing and it was over 100 pages. So... just jump in... if your kid fits, you fit here.

Nate lost his job and is fighting with his girlfriend so he has taken to hiding in his room and sleeping for 14 hours a day... and I suspect as he hasn't been able to return my calls, that those 14 hours are day hours. I am working on trusting that this is just a little depression and not a big one. He has such great coping skills now that I am sure he will never be in the kind of trouble he was in the past.

Part of the problem is that I am reading Bebe Moore Cambell's novel called 72 Hour Hold... which is about her own experience of having a bipolar daughter. Her story reminds me so much of Nate's worst years that I am having all sorts of unexpected feelings. I'm not sure I can recommend the book to this group- you all don't need to think about teenagers right now, and just because they are having rough years now means nothing about the future. Her daughter didn't become bipolar until 17, Nate didn't show serious symptoms until 8 and was pretty normal by 17.

I had an exercise to do for my Landmark work where I interviewed Nate about my strengths and weaknesses and it was so wonderful to get his honest opinion about me. He is so perceptive. One thing he said is that most of the things that make him crazy about me are really his shortcomings, not mine. (My husband should think about that!) He did talk about how weird it is that I am so relaxed and laid back when he is so anxious.

The funniest thing and the thing that I am really thinking about is that he said it wasn't really a shortcoming but just a real difference between us but he thinks it is so interesting that I make decisions about my life based on logic and what is right and he makes so many decisions based on what is artistic or his feelings. That has me thinking about how I interact with so many people in my life. I just figure that people act "rationally" and of course so many people are ruled by passions and emotions and that is ok, just not something I completely understand. Don't know, just a thought.

Hope all is well with people, it has been a hell of a year hasn't it?

post #722 of 913
Maureen, wanted to let you know I've been thinking of you and Nate. I hope he's feeling better soon, and that things turn around for him. I hope you're doing okay too. Your talk with him sounds like it was interesting and intimate and just so nice. He sounds like a really great, perceptive, intelligent young man.
post #723 of 913
Maureen, I hope all is working out and thank you for your insights and work on this thread. sledg, I caught your post in TAO, didn't have time to respond, but have been thinking of you.
We are still having good days and bad days around here, or rather, each day has bits of everything. Like Opera, I guess, highs and lows, though the music and costumes are a little lacking
The thing I struggle with the most is the absolute bat guano hyper wild moods that ds has at times. he is wildly giggling and out of his body, and wild! IT is like he isn't there and can't hear me at all. It is this time, often when someone gets hurt, often him.
Arrrgh! I have more to say, but both children are needing something. . .
post #724 of 913
Thanks, dalai. I have calmed down considerably since then, and have begun taking some reasonable and rational precautions. At this point, it's sort of a quiet background thought most of the time, but I am finding that I'm more anxious than usual in a sort of "general anxiety" kind of way. Life is certainly an adventure.

I hate those hyper moods too. I love that phrase-"bat guano hyper." I will be using that for sure! I hope today's opera is a good one for you.

Today I let my parents take the kids into the Big City (I am so not a city person, I like my smallish town) to go to the aquarium and a couple of other places. I'm feeling very nervous about it, even though they've taken them there before. Then I did the whole "what's the rule? Stay with Grandma and Grandpa. What do you do if you can't see them? Stay where you are, ask a woman with kids to help you" Gavin DeBecker thing. (which we've done before) This resulted in my oldest becoming completely whiny and nudgy, which in turn made me realize that at least today the problem is anxiety. So another clue as to how to deal with her in the future, or at least another way to understand her. (First thing to do: don't let my anxiety ooze out all over my kids and scare them.)
post #725 of 913
Originally Posted by sledg
(First thing to do: don't let my anxiety ooze out all over my kids and scare them.)
No time to respond right now... wanted to add- teach her to be brave! There is absolutely nothing wrong with fear... just don't let it stop you.

Life is great right now.

post #726 of 913
Thanks, Maureen. We do talk a lot about being brave. I even talked with dh right in front of the kids about how I was nervous to let them go but was going to let them go anyway because they will have a great time. We talk a lot about being nervous and afraid, and that's okay and we don't have to let those feelings stop us from trying new things. And when she was nervous/acting out this morning we talked about that and I helped her get dressed and out the door (big clinging and separation anxiety), and by the time she got in the car she had a big smile on. And incidentally, you, Maureen, are the reason we talk about bravery so much and the reason I encourage my kids to go ahead and try things even when they're scared. You posted something great about bravery a long time ago. I don't think I could begin to find it.

I just think I went a little overboard this morning. That's all. But now it seems like no big deal.

Glad to hear life is good.
post #727 of 913
Thread Starter 
Maureen- Just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you & Nate.

sledg & Maureen-Remind me of the bravery piece? I think I remember it, but not sure. Would love to re-read it. We talk about being brave, too. About how bravery isn't the absence of fear, it's about being scared and doing what you have to do anyway.

dalai-We have those bat guano moods A LOT around here. Sometimes DH and I look at each other and say quietly, "Are all children this amped all the time or just ours?". Bears is pretty wild and the little one is a very excited, jazzed on life kinda kid. The combination looks like someone gave them methamphetamines! I'm not really kidding, either.
post #728 of 913
I'm laughing with you, honestly, Bears.
I talked to ds last night about the bat guano moods and he told me he needed more silliness and that he got mad when we didn't get it right away and then he was bat guano (well he didn't use that term ) AND mad.
So, we have this thing called "pickel power" which is a very stupid silly phrase we thow out, so we are trying to remember to do that at the right times. He had a bge (bat guano episode ) today with dh and dh came up the stairs saying "oh, no,!" with ds right at his heels, spitting mad by now and threatening to hit, throw, etc, so, while keeping him from hitting and throwing without words (b/c, really, he *knows* this isn't cool), I got silly with him and he shared his impatience to leave for the park, we laughed a bit and left. Yay!!!!
But, it just takes so much energy to be on like this all the time,my challenge is how to stay energetic with limited time to recharge!
post #729 of 913
Thread Starter 
Oh, dalai-Having the energy to always be on your toes with these kids is sooooo tough. I think many kids require a lot of energy, but our special kids require superhuman emotional & spiritual energy! Your pickle power reminded me of something we do on occasion when things start getting nutty. We make this sound that sounds a bit like, "boingoboingo". One time I got angry with Bears about something and overreacted and then we talked about it after the fact and he said, "Mom, you didn't remember the WORD." Like just saying the word would have made everything better. Which it would have!
post #730 of 913
Alas, I cannot find the bravery piece I'm thinking of. I don't remember specifics, it's more that I remember the idea. It's a tickle in the back of my brain. I don't even remember how long ago it was. I've tried a search, but I haven't found it and have run out of time. I'll post a link if I find it later. Anyway, the important thing I took from it was how important it is to understand what it means to be brave, to discover you can be brave, and to feel your own strength and to grow from that. To not let your fear hold you back, to stretch your comfort zone.

Gotta run. Take care.
post #731 of 913
Thread Starter 
To my Mamas,

On the anniversary of this thread, I needed to post and THANK YOU for the tremendous love & support I've received from this thread over the past year. I really cannot believe that my little cry for help has evolved into this ongoing parenting support spot for so many of us. I truly credit all of you for getting me through this year. For letting me know that I'm not alone in my parenting struggles. And that is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE. So now, even on the dark days, I know that other moms are struggling with their unique kids, too. And you know what? I really think that this thread has become about WAY more than our challenging kids. It really is this amazing space where we can all talk about the REAL challenges of motherhood. I feel safe here, I feel real here. I don't feel that I have to meet any expectations. I can just BE. Besides all the real-deal, specific advice and wisdom to help us all better parent our challenging kids, of course. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
post #732 of 913
Wow! A whole year? Amazing.

Thank you all for helping to create a place where we can find support and understanding.
post #733 of 913

thank you Bears, this thread is useful not only for the insights into how to best parent our challenging loves, but in normalizing the struggles of parenting. I get so much peace out of realizing again and again that every moment is not supposed to be joyful and that the house need not be clean and calm as a measure of my success as the mother of these creatures I love more than any other.
post #734 of 913

I have only read the first few posts, so forgive me if I miss any other details you might have shared. I am going back to read the rest of the posts when I am more conscious. First of all to you mama. And all the other mamas with challenging DC's. What a challenge you have been facing. Happy Anniversary! I don't know how old your DS is, but I have had quite a bit of experience dealing with the "defiant" personality type. I worked in a school for SED kids that have EXTREMELY challenging behaviors. My last class was 7-11 year olds, all boys. Although I haven't read the book you quote from, I did see a lot of that pushing away from my boys. They are prepared to think negatively about EVERYTHING you say or do in reaction to their behavior. They are always looking for a way out, just in case. Many of them can't or won't "own" their behavior. This isn't because you made them that way, it is temperament. My own DD is very strong willed, but has not yet crossed the line into "defiant". I am preparing for it though. Both my brother and my BIL were very bright, but defiant angry young men, and sometimes I see a lot of them in her. These kids do need our love and support more than most. You sound like you are doing a great job coping with this.

I can offer you some tips I picked up while teaching Special Ed to these kids. I use a lot of the strategies in my own parenting. Most are pretty common sense: A sense of humor is key, as is a sense of timing. I play the, "I am crazier than you" card all the time. It helps diffuse a tense situation, but you don't want to belittle the child either. Choosing your battles is always hard, but you know you have to do it. Also refusing to raise your tone of voice above a normal speaking voice can be very effective. I learned that proximity was key to discipline. Move in close, but respect personal space, and use the quietest most deadly serious voice to get attention. If you are normally a yeller like I am, this change of tactic may work really well. That ends the cyle of escalatiing behavior for both of you.Also calm in the face of the storm is very useful.
If you and DH are organized enough to have nightly parenting pow wows (you rock BTW. I can't find the time for this more than weekly) than get organized enough to write your ideas down and use them more effectively. With your DS present, generate a list of 3-5 things you want to work on with DS. Make them very concrete, specific, and with no room for interpretation by you or him. Also make them do-able. Don't pick the hardest to control bevior to pin all the rewards on. Break that behavior up into smaller steps. Agree that you will focus on THOSE items and let the other things go for now. Then generate a list of consequences that will be leveled if DS violates the agreement. These can all be based on gentle discipine, or can be as hard as you feel you need to make them. Whatever works for you. Everyone signs it. (If you think your parenting behavior needs work you and DH should do the same for yourselves. I would not include DS in THAT discussion. Don't put your issues on him.) I would also generate a list of rewards the DS can earn for good behavior. Again, make them specific, and attractive to him. Listen to his ideas and negotiate. When he masters one set of behaviors, step it up and make a new list.
Have you tried a behavioral charting system with DS at home or school? They can be useful if they address the behvior in the right way. The way we kept track of progress in my class was by using a level system. Amateur, minor league, pro, and superstar. A violation of the behavior agreement would result in a loss of points. Lose too many and you go down the ranks. Very good behavior could earn you bonus points above and beyond the points you got for following the rules. Each level lasted for a number of days, not just one.
For instance if a child hit someone else thay automatically dropped down to amateur. Hitting is never acceptable. It would then take them 3 days to improve on their own behvior and move back up to minor league. During those 3 days they had extra duties in the classroom, extra work at home, and no privelages. We also used a time out room at the school, and the child would be sent there for cooling off periods if they needed them. Again, not punitive. I tried not to wait that long. Make it proactive as in, " I see you need some space to think/cool off. Why don't you go chill in the other room for now, and I will finish the dishes. We can talk in a couple of minutes" Until they earned their way back up life was a little rough. They were not treated in a punitive way while they were there. It was just hard living until they moved up on their own. It might be different if a child used a disrespectful tone, refused to follow a direction, or cursed. They would lose points, but maybe not drop a whole level. Unless they did it repeatedly.
Each of the other levels took a few more days than the one before. They show that the child is learning to internalize the right behvior and is beginning to do it without constant correction. Each level has more privelages than the one before. I found the level system more supportive than a simplistic sticker chart. It has more direct ties to the specific behvaiors you want to see. All four levels could be accomplished in about a month if the child never dropped.

Keep up the good work everyone. I am so glad I found this discussion. I appreciate all that you all are sharing. I am sorry this is so long. I hope some of it helps. If you like any of it and have questions, PM me and I'll give you more details. Good luck to you and your family.
post #735 of 913
Thank you, Bearsmama for having the courage to start this thread and to share your struggles so honestly and openly. And thank you to all the moms here for sharing so honestly and openly your struggles as well, and for making this such a safe, wonderful place to be and to share.

Originally Posted by the dalai mama
this thread is useful not only for the insights into how to best parent our challenging loves, but in normalizing the struggles of parenting. I get so much peace out of realizing again and again that every moment is not supposed to be joyful and that the house need not be clean and calm as a measure of my success as the mother of these creatures I love more than any other.

Originally Posted by Bearsmama
It really is this amazing space where we can all talk about the REAL challenges of motherhood. I feel safe here, I feel real here. I don't feel that I have to meet any expectations. I can just BE.

post #736 of 913

That's my birthday party for us... I just love throwing parties.

I am on a list serve for AP parenting in my area and there are so many moms who are hung up on doing it "right" and end up being very judgemental. There are a few of us moms trying to balance their voices. They are the ones that when someone says "I really need a break from my kid. What do you think about me leaving them with their dad for an overnight?" You know, something like that... they come back with all this never, never, never would I leave my child... Not enough- "this is what works for us" lots of "this is the AP way!"

I think about how committed this group is to staying connected and responsive to children who are challenging and know that we have answers for parents that no one else is offering them... how to do your work, take care of you and be the best you can in a tough situation.

My latest parenting philosophy is that do what ever works that has you yelling the least. I guess I think the measure of successful parenting right now is a day I don't lose it. And my kids aren't even that challenging.

Happy Birthday to all of us. And thank you all for offering me a place to help work out what I do believe about parenting, about Nate and about myself.

post #737 of 913
My posts have been few and far between but I read ALL the time. Put simply it's the most genuine, reliable, honest, inspiring (I could go on!) group I know of. I always come away with something to think 'hmmmmmmm' about - a new skill to try or consider. And I always feel inspired which is so important with challenging children.

I do hope it continues and hopefully I can join in more often. Thank you all - on so many levels. Three women here have inspired me immensely - sledg, maureen and bearsmama. The way you all have thought about your kids/parenting/challenges is inspirational.
post #738 of 913
I just wanted to pop in before we head out on vacation. We're coming back two days before dd starts first grade, I can't believe it's time already, and I'm a little sad already about her going back to school. I was thinking of Cole, emblm, and hoping his transition into school again goes well and that he has a good start to the year.

Hope you ladies and your kids are all doing well. We've had a bumpy summer but overall we're doing okay.
post #739 of 913
Thread Starter 
jody-Thank you. I have to go back and read your post in more detail, but thank you.

dalai, maureen, sledg, justine, emblm-
Much Love, mamas.

Maureen-I am trying to get to the yelling the least amount thing, and sometimes I don't even know what that is. Although for us, it's doing stuff. Too much down time is a killer over here. Killer. Yesterday morning I knew the day was off to a bad start and I got us up and out of the house and to the park before 10:00. We stayed there for literally hours b/c I was having nice adult conversation and the kids are having fun. I'm getting a little better at trying to do something to help us. Sometimes I've had this tendency to just sort of wallow in the chaos or misery. Not getting us up and out of it, YKWIM?

We've had a few Lord of the Flies kinda days this week. And after 4.6 years I've finally REALLY made the connection that transitions and downtime/unstructured time really seems to be a tipping point for Bears. I don't know if it allows some of his wacky behaviors to fester more, or if it's just that he's so uncomfortable not knowing what his day will bring. The summer, for the most part, has been great. Really. DH and I have looked at each other, knocked wood, and looked at Bears, and realized that he's maturing, getting better at handling some minor dissapointments, etc. That said, remember the grand mal tantrum I detailed in mid-June? Well, that was about a week into being out of pre-school, and before his morning camp program started. When camp started, we saw changes, positive ones. Then, camp ended about two weeks ago, and it's like the old Bears is back. Quick to flip out over the really, really minor things, being a bit aggressive with his little brother, and generally being a real challenging kid. Coincidence? No. Now, I'm finally putting the pieces together. It might not make things better, but it helps us to anticipate his reactions better.

Example: Purple Heart was coming this morning. I was walking down the stairs with literally armfuls of clothes to put in bags to donate. And he asked me to do something for him. Well, I said, "As soon as I get these downstairs, I can help you with whatever you need." He couldn't tolerate this at all. Proceeded to hit, scream, cry. No amount of reassurance or talking would help this.

These scenarios have happened multiple times a day over the past week or so. We have another few weeks before he starts preschool again. Wish me luck ladies.

I have more to stay, but I have to go....
post #740 of 913
So I'm not the only dork who JUST NOW realized that downtime and a lack of predictable schedule is a major contributor to their challenging kid's challenging behavior! (uh, no offense meant by the dork comment) I kept trying to figure out why we've been having so many bad days this summer, so sad at all the wasted time (we've had plenty of good days too but I had imagined a blissful summer, with almost no bad days), when it hit me just about a week ago. At least your kid is only 4, Bearsmama. Imagine not realizing it until he was about to turn 7! And what's worse is that I am 35 years old and just now realized how much better *I* do with a routine rather than a whole unstructured day looming ahead of me, and how much better *I* do when we get away from the house to do things regularly.

Of course there have been other factors as well, but the lack of routine is a big deal.

You probably do this, but I've been finding that saying an immediate "yes, I will do that..." before I say "as soon as I get downstairs" actually makes a difference here with both my challenging kiddo and my toddler. I think they really only hear the first couple of words out of my mouth, so I try to choose carefully. After the first couple of words I seem to be talking to myself an awful lot of the time.
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