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#1 of 21 Old 05-25-2009, 11:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This could go in so many different forums- gentle discipline, special needs, single parenting, homeschooling..... so I thought I'd try here. For this is a parenting concern. I'm sorry if this is long, I just have to get this out.

I feel so lost tonight. Some background- ds was recently evaluated for adhd, though the dev. pedi and psychologist don't believe he meets the criteria. They do believe anxiety is causing adhd-like symptoms as well as insomnia and other issues. I question this, I do believe anxiety is an issue, but I think ADHD is still a possibility. I guess that's another thread for another time though.....

Ds (6 in 2 weeks) came home from Dad's and melted down. Part of it was hunger, for he hadn't had dinner and it was nearly bedtime, and part of it was it had been a long weekend away from home. I was so happy to see him, and he was initially happy to see me, but when I had to tell him no (he wanted to stay up past bedtime to play basketball, then it was he wanted to watch a movie) he raged.

I was brief and nonreactive in my explanations for telling him no, and did try to phrase things positively, but this was no help. I tried disengaging, something I have not been very good at in the past, and he whirled around the room kicking things, screaming "You are the worst Mommy ever! I want Daddy! You hate me! You think I'm stupid!" He crashed into me, he crashed into walls, he tried running outside screaming at the top of his lungs. He repeated that I hated him over and over. He thrashed on the floor shrieking. This lasted for 30 minutes or so.

I tried to calmly mention that I was here for him and that I'd read to him or run bath water for him when he was ready, but even looking at him set him off into further hysterics. Any sort of discussion with him at this point was out of the question. He was face to face with me, screaming with veins popping out of his neck. I removed myself, but he followed.

It's at that point that I usually react, and in a not so gentle manner. (yelling) I'm working on this, and it's hard when he gets physical. I was able to stay 100 percent calm this time though, and eventually called my Mom and had a conversation with her for him to purposefully observe. I talked to my Mom about popsicles, her new candy that she has at her house, basically anything that might catch his interset. It worked- he slowly came out of his trance like fit. I read him a few books, and he went to sleep.

I am not so fine though. I feel emotionally bankrupt. This was so intense and I have to question my ability to parent. Sometimes I just don't know what to do with him, how to help him. We tried counseling, but the counselor just made him feel worse about himself, so we stopped going. (Really, really bad match) The developmental pedi suggested cognitive behavioral therapy for the anxiety/ OCD-ish issues, so we are going to try this through our Children's Hospital. I also plan on checking out parenting books concentrating on anxiety that have been recommended to me.

I have to wonder if it's me sometimes though. He doesn't treat *anyone* else like this. I do have more limits at my house than Dad does (tv, junk food, etc), but even if Dad does limit something, he never has these tantrums there. I don't think the motivation of the tantrums is manipulation- I don't give in. What is it then?

I'm homeschooling next year- school has been hard on him. There have been some physical boundary issues crossed at school that none of the teachers were aware of ("friends" continually hitting him in the penis), plus a lot of other violence in his classroom (one child stabbing another with a pencil) Meltdowns on a lesser scale are common afterschool daily and I just don't think that this school is good for him. Private isn't an option right now, plus I want to homeschool, but at times like this I think- am I crazy? If he acts this way with me now am I just going to make things worse?

Someone please tell me I'm making the right choice... or if I'm not, what am I doing wrong? My heart feels like it's breaking right now.
My boy can be so happy and full of life, but a good chunk of the time he's miserable and out of control.
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#2 of 21 Old 05-25-2009, 11:35 PM
 
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Don't have much wisdom, was just wondering if maybe he has these reactions with you because it's a safe space for him to do so. My daughter in certain situations she finds stressful won't react there, but when she comes home, she just releases all that emotion.
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#3 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 12:26 AM
 
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My DS is very similar -- those rages always knock me for a loop for a few days. I hate it. Be kind to yourself mama. s

And yes, you are the safest person to let those hard feelings out with. I know its easier to feel "what did I do wrong" but really its about what you are doing right -- if he didn't know that you would love him anyway, he wouldn't do it! You are safe, mama, and that is a wonderful thing for him. Not so great for you, sometimes, I know, but try to hold on to that knowledge.

Some things that work for me:

restraint -- I usually wrap DS up "like a burrito" in a large blanket, like swaddling a baby -- it keeps him from being able to hurt me or himself and the strong sensory feedback he gets is great for calming -- he fights it initially but he calms down faster if I do it. We have talked about it when he is calm and I have his permission to force him into it when he is out of control. His therapist taught me restraint holds to use in a pinch, too, which I say not entirely jokingly is the best parenting advice I ever got.

humor -- if I can get him laughing that can often short circuit the rage -- I do a lot of joking about baby burritos while I am wrapping him, or I will accidentally-on-purpose make a mess of myself, or just totally change the topic to something that might strike him as funny ... anything to lighten the mood. Sometimes it works, sometimes he's too far gone...

like you said, trying very hard to not get emotionally reactive myself -- the more I can control myself and just repeat my boundary/rule when needed the faster he gets over it. If I lose it he just spirals ever farther downward

just figuring out when to push and when to let go -- this is the hardest part as you know.

If you come over to special needs and search for my post called "rages how do you cope" or something like that you will get lots of good info from the mamas there -- lots of us with ADHD/raging/challenging kids.

Hang in there. It sounds like you are doing a great job recognizing what he needs and giving it to him -- make sure you take care of yourself too.
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#4 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 01:04 AM
 
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My son's behavior and attitude have improved dramatically since we pulled him out of a toxic school environment. The stress of his current daily environment may be part of the problems he's having.
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#5 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 01:15 AM
 
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My 7 yr old dd has similar meltdowns like that. Homeschooling her was definitely the best option. She still freaks out sometimes, but it's not nearly as often and far less intense.

You handled it well.


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#6 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 01:16 AM
 
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today i had to physically restrain my 3 yo to keep him from seriously hurting his little brother or me. he wailed and thrashed and bit me and broke my heart, but i held on for what seemed like an eternity, and then he fell asleep, all sweaty and tearstained. it was sheer hell.
i have no idea. sometimes parenting is beyond me. but the best we can do is the best we can do, and we just need to hope that it's good enough.
best of luck and hugs to you, mama.
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#7 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 01:32 AM
 
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After a long weekend of junk food and too much TV, it would be strange if he didn't have a melt down. It's also perfectly normal for kids to save up their worst behavior for mom.

Did the evaluation include IQ testing? Some of the stuff you describe is common in kids with high IQs.

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#8 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 01:43 AM
 
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My kiddo rages too and the only thing that works is doing exactly what you did--talking (not to him directly) about something that mentally engages him. It's like his brain can't do "emotional" and "cognitive" at the same time. I distinctly remember a time when I turned called someone and said "what color was the hat your Ken was wearing yesterday?" And the next thing I knew Andrew who had been raging uncontrollably stopped adruptly and said "it was red!" It was huge. It's not always that dramatic but it's often similarly over quickly when he switches his mind to something cognitive. And it turns out the key here is not engaging directly/being drawn into his spiral in any way but instead seeking to make his mind snap into the cognitive function. That and making sure he's fed frequently.

But the more I try to "help" him in any way when he's like that--talking, offering an alternative, providing sensory stuff, etc.--the worse things get. So I'd say that two things might be going on in terms of why with you. 1. he's comfortable with you..this is key 2. you keep trying to help him/comfort him/support him and that may (like my son) make it worse..your energy is inadvertently feeding or reinforcing his (negative) energy. You can do that better by focusing energy on the times when he is handling things well than engaging in the moment when he's not. I don't know if that made any sense as it's really late here and I'm not thinking clearly. I read a book "All Children Flourishing" by Glasser (His approach is the nurtured heart approach) and it made me see why what I had already noticed about Andrew was true in terms of where the energy was going. And how to put it into a direction that was going to actually help as well. I highly recommend that book to you (and only that one as the approach has been tweaked and the book lays it out much better than previous ones by Glasser). The Nurtured Heart Approach was created for ADHD kids. It works really well with kids like ours generally and is worth a read.

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#9 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 02:27 AM
 
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Many, many hugs to you. Your post really struck me as I've been there with my ds and I know how hard it is. You described the same things I used to deal with and it always left me feeling so alone and helpless. It will get better. I know that may be hard to believe, especially mid-rage, but there are answers. Finding those answers can be tricky, but that's why we have MDC, right?

So I will share some of my experience in the hope that it may help, I'll try to make it short. My ds, Sage, will be eight next month. His dad and I divorced three years ago. I always dreaded him coming home after a visit with his dad because I knew that a meltdown of epic proportions would follow and not end until he finally went to sleep. At the time Sage was in public school. I wanted to hs, but it just wasn't an option then. For a long time we just did the best we could, but everyone was miserable.

Finally Sage's dad and I patched things up and I was in a position to be able to hs. It was a phenomenally great decision. It helped tremendously but there were still some behavior issues that had to be addressed. Sage's dad is bi-polar and has severe ADHD. I'm pretty sure I have ADD. Sage displays some ADD-like behavior, but I didn't think he met the criteria exactly and medicating is strictly a last resort. He began having some other health issues and I kicked into research mode to try to figure out what was happening to him. Our doctor and therapist were at a loss. From the time he was a baby he was moody, and there have been some things about him that just didn't feel right to me (he is the youngest of 3 kids, the other two were just, well, different). Long story short, I finally figured out that he has a wheat allergy.

I do not exaggerate when I say I feel like I have a different kid now that I've changed his diet. No more bizarre tantrums, he is present and focused. The best thing is that now he is so much more affectionate. For the longest time he was resistant to physical contact which made calming him so difficult. I think he felt crappy and didn't know how to articulate it. Now he hugs me and wants to cuddle. I feel like I have my child back but it has been a long, hard road.

Anyway, I'm super tired right now so I hope I'm making some sense and not just rambling. So my point is keep trying and hang in there! And it will be okay.
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#10 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 02:32 AM
 
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Wolfe in one of his parenting books talks about the "baby self" and how kids will act different around people where they can feel they can "let go." so it sounds like your son feels "safe" with you and can let go of all this anger, anxiety and such with you there, knowing that it is a safe environment. and the timing seems right on after coming back from his father's. plus, i bet the junk food doens't help...

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#11 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 04:04 AM
 
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I know that my kids often had a very hard time transitioning back here after spending time with their daddy when they were that age: it sounds like he's showing it more intensely.

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#12 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you Mamas for the responses. I'm sorry to hear that others have experienced this, but also relieved to not feel so alone, and hopeful that we can work on things.

storychick- At times I can use humor, usually before a rage begins, but times like last night I think he would explode even more. I am seriously thinking about the wrapping like a burrito. I want to talk to him about this, explaining that it might help him and getting his permission to try it if this happens again soon. Either that or I might wrap myself up and hide (kidding... I think.) Like another poster mentioned though I am afraid it will feed into his energy. I used to try to hold him when he was littler and did this- I just ended up getting hit/scratched/etc. If it becomes a safety issue though I think I'll have to. I will also look up your post about rages.

Eepster- we did have IQ testing. He tested in the average range, though higher average. His working memory and processing speed scores were lower than his other scores though, a good 14 point difference, so this might have brought down his overall score. (Which I read can be common in ADHD, yet the professionals didn't mention this after evaluations- just that this could be triggering his frustration)

sbgrace- I'm going to look up these books on my local Library web site to check out, thank you for the recommendations. It's funny you mention the emotional/cognitive switch. My Mom observed this as I was talking to her. She heard him in the background highly emotional and when he had a thought about something I had said to her and made a comment dropping the emotion- in a totally different tone of voice/mood. She said "It's like night and day." Really, it was like someone was changing channels in his brain.

MaShroom- I so wish that we could do IGG or IGE testing for food in tolerances. Even removing high fructose corn syrup and dyes was like pulling teeth for ex, and it didn't last. I know dairy messes ds up, so I want to try another elimination diet, but I couldn't get everybody on board for it (ex, grandmas, etc) I talked a little about this to the developmental pedi and she thought about referring us to allergy or GI if ds's tummy issues weren't better, so I think I will really push for this.


Thanks again all who responded. I needed to hear that others are going through it and doing okay. It's hard not to feel at fault when it happens with me, and ex acts perplexed, or thinks that it's because I'm "too easy" or "soft" or what not. I don't think he's used those words exactly, so maybe I am projecting my own fears, but he has said that ds doesn't act that way with him because he won't allow it. *sigh* I'll just try to remain calm and remind myself that he feels safe enough to let it go at home. And school is out at the end of the week, so I really, really hope that helps. I can't wait to be done with that place!

I am off work for the day, as I work 6-7 days a week, but only a few hours a day, so I am going to most likely read some more posts, take a hot bath, and maybe a nap so I will be energized for this afternoon with ds. I guess I'm pumping myself up, telling myself today will be better!
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#13 of 21 Old 05-26-2009, 01:09 PM
 
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Don't have much wisdom, was just wondering if maybe he has these reactions with you because it's a safe space for him to do so. My daughter in certain situations she finds stressful won't react there, but when she comes home, she just releases all that emotion.
I was going to suggest this too. I have no experience with kids, but I thought he may react like that because he felt safe, and knew that he could react like that.

Have you thought about trying music or art therapy? It might be a more constructive way for him to get all that energy out, and get him the help he needs.
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#14 of 21 Old 05-27-2009, 07:43 PM
 
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I just wanted to say a few words about anxiety since I myself suffered anxiety as a child (and still do). One thing that really sets off an anxious person is change and transitions. If he truly has issues with anxiety the transition of going back to mom's house from dad's house (where routines and rules differ) probably can set him off very easily. Also anxiety can cause irritability and anger/rage. If you think he suffers from anxiety I would suggest that you talk to his doctor and try to get him some counseling. Untreated anxiety can lead to lifelong emotional and mental handicaps.

When he returns from his dads where his expectations and routines are probably much different than at your home, he likely will be anxious and uptight and he probably desperately needs some "settling in" time in order to make the transition more easily. Perhaps a favorite meal, game, or movie with you when he returns, and also having him return earlier in the day so there's more time for him to transition would likely be helpful.

As for homeschooling, my feeling is that you are going to have to work on his behavior anyway, so why not homeschool and remove him from the negativity of his current school environment. You will have more influence on him if he's home with you. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you want to homeschool, don't let his behavior discourage you.

Lastly, I'd strongly consider his diet and try to get dad and others on board with you. Many kids react negatively to sugar/white flour, food dyes and additives, and even wheat. Just a few thoughts to consider.
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#15 of 21 Old 05-27-2009, 10:56 PM
 
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Don't have much wisdom, was just wondering if maybe he has these reactions with you because it's a safe space for him to do so. My daughter in certain situations she finds stressful won't react there, but when she comes home, she just releases all that emotion.
This is what I was thinking. You are the one he feels safe enough to do this with.
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#16 of 21 Old 05-28-2009, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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teale- we are actually looking into dramakinetics classes. http://www.dramakinetics.org/

It is really supposed to help a lot of things, including self-esteem, which I am worried about in regards to ds. I first discovered the website about a year ago, but do to finances never really looked further into it. I am working more hours during the summer, so I'm hoping to be able to do this!

sahmmie- I'm sorry to hear about your struggles with anxiety. I too suffered as a child from it, though I wasn't diagnosed until I was a teenager. We are going to try cognitive behavioral therapy for ds and work as a family at it as well. I am going to give it another go too. I've never really found a good match in a counselor, but I owe it to myself and ds to give it another shot. My anxiety could definitely be influencing his, though I try hard not to let it. I know he senses it though.

Reading really relaxes ds, so I thought reading would help ease transitions, but it didn't. I'll try the idea of a game, he loves card and board games. It just needs to be a non-competitive one. If ds loses a lot of the time another meltdown starts.

Coming home earlier isn't an option on some days- work until 7:30 a couple days a week. But that will change soon at least, as my work hours adjust in the summer.

We did try to remove some foods/additives for a period, but ex wasn't happy with it and ds was still getting the foods sometimes/ and I was pretty much seen as the bad guy. I think if ex would take this more seriously he might try more food elimination tests, but I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm either overreacting, or causing the problem because ds doesn't meltdown at his house. The counselor ds saw previously added to this, as she told us she thinks I'm too lenient in my approach, since ds acts out towards me and not his Dad. That's why I'm hoping to get a referral to allergy or GI, hoping they might recommend tests or elimination diets. Ex will more likely listen to an MD than me.


Thanks Mamas for the comments. Yesterday was another rough day, but not as bad as the might of the original post. He has Olympics at school yesterday and was out in the heat for 2 hours. Then he went with me to play at the house of one of the children I work with for an hour. By the end of it he was exhausted and over scheduled. I'll need to plan better next time!
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#17 of 21 Old 05-28-2009, 01:21 PM
 
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You might also look at the book "The Explosive Child".

I find that my kids do a lot better with lots of really intense sensory input (trampoline jumping) and lots of large motor time.

I have to say, that the stress of the weekend, combined with being tired and hungry are almost guaranteed to make most kids go off the deep end like that. I think that when it happens, you just have to stand back and wait it out. You did a magnificent job of that. It's soo hard to remain calm.

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#18 of 21 Old 05-28-2009, 03:54 PM
 
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OH gracious momma, I'm so sorry. Just reading about your son brought back some memories of my late brother as a child. Such a difficult situation. No one had any idea of what to do for him.

I know you've had a hard time getting everyone on the same foot with the diet, but I would not be surprised to hear that probably plays a strong role in your son's anxiety. I'm sure it's not the only factor though. Stick around here for lots of support though, these women can really help.

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#19 of 21 Old 05-28-2009, 06:41 PM
 
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You mentioned that his birthday is in a few weeks--that makes him a Gemini. Geminis are mutable air signs, which means they tend to "live in their heads" and their moods often change at the drop of a hat. Also, nearly every Gemini I've ever known has control issues, much like what your son seems to be going through at times. Since they often live in their heads this makes it difficult for them to feel grounded. Thus, this often makes their only means for control something they desire "out there"...like a TV show, mom's lap, a soft blanket, a special place they like to go, etc. Since they don't feel grounded inside themselves, in other words, they have to look elsewhere for that sense of security. If this sounds like it rings true for your son, then I suggest helping him figure out how to feel more grounded. Taking him out in nature, enrolling him in a martial arts class, teaching him yoga, and de-sensitizing his home environment as much as possible will help with this.

Also, you may find this interesting:
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#20 of 21 Old 05-28-2009, 11:30 PM
 
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You've described my son--ESPECIALLY if he hasn't eaten for 2 hours. And mine is sensitive to multiple foods. You can pretty much bank on what you're describing if we've been lax with our diet and allowed any irritants in. Hoping you find an MD that actually believes in elimination diets vs. blood/RAST testing.

I'm actually going to read the Glasser book sbgrace mentioned since mine does that switch, too.

And btw... pulling ours out of the school environment was the best thing we ever did. Granted, it was preschool--but school none-the-less. And I'm now SUPER cautious about what he attends, for how long and under whose supervision. He was keenly aware of being "the bad kid" even if he didn't understand what he was doing to make him that kid... kwim? It's been a year and he's a different child.

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#21 of 21 Old 05-28-2009, 11:54 PM
 
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You've described my son--ESPECIALLY if he hasn't eaten for 2 hours. And mine is sensitive to multiple foods. You can pretty much bank on what you're describing if we've been lax with our diet and allowed any irritants in. Hoping you find an MD that actually believes in elimination diets vs. blood/RAST testing.
If it happens when he has not eaten for a couple of hours, then I would be more likely to suspect bloodsugar issues than sensitivities. Have you noticed a difference between when he eats carbs (especially simple sugars) versus protiens?

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