How do I get him to open up? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 08-22-2014, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How do I get him to open up?

DS has never been good at talking about his feelings/things that are bothering him. He is 6 1/2, and only just recently told me he's afraid of the dark! I've suspected all along, of course, but he'd never said it.

Now he's having some trouble with behavior, nothing huge, but annoying and possibly ADHD if you trust the online quizzes. I'm working on getting him an eval but it's a long process. We had a very rough day yesterday and I lost it I was so frustrated with his antics, which went from wild behavior to total meltdown when a consequence came along to punching his brother for not much of a reason beyond frustration. I got angry, sent him to his room, but we couldn't reset the rollercoaster. I finally calmed down and went to talk to him, but he couldn't or wouldn't tell me what was bothering him. I let him know that even though I was frustrated with the behavior I wanted to help him feel better but he just won't talk.

How do I help him identify what he needs so he can ask for it?
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#2 of 11 Old 08-29-2014, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't be the only one here with a child like this, can I?? Is it totally abnormal?
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#3 of 11 Old 08-29-2014, 05:37 PM
 
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I have a seven year-old boy who is not a fan of talking about feelings. The more I poke at it, though, the worse it gets. If he feels like I'm itching to take a can opener to his head to figure out what he's feeling, that there is the end of everything.

It is extremely rare that I can get my son to fill me in on the emotional details of a current crisis. He hates this kind of conversation. If I want to be able to guess what's going on, I have to keep up in between crises. My son hates to be asked questions, but he'll open up fairly nicely if I take him hiking, or take him to play pool, and just let him unspool at his own speed. It's really important to go with the flow on these outings. If he feels like I'm interrogating him, he'll clam right up, but if I'm willing to be patient and pretend that I am just all about bank shots and fireflies, he eventually brings the conversation around to the things that matter most to him. Also, I have to be really tolerant about Pokemon and Kim Possible.

Usually, I find that screens impede communication, but I've had fairly good luck with letting my son watch things that are questionable for his age (the occasional episode of Bones, Kitchen Nightmares) with me. He feels special and impressed because I'm letting him watch shows with murders and swearing, and the things we watch have really high emotional content that we discuss. Because the emotions involved belong to other people, he feels more comfortable discussing them.
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#4 of 11 Old 08-30-2014, 08:36 AM
 
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I totally agree about talking in the course of another activity, and letting it happen, more than making it happen. My favorite time is while driving - no eye contact, just enough distraction, and the kid is pretty much a captive audience


Another suggestion is the book, The Explosive Child, unfortunately titled. It isn't only about explosions; more about the lagging skills that keep kids from expressing their needs and getting those needs met. This book won't really help with your original question, How to get him to talk? as much as your perspective and perhaps a strategy for problem solving.


Best wishes to you and your family - I know this isn't easy.

Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#5 of 11 Old 08-30-2014, 08:38 AM
 
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I don't know why this did a double post...

Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#6 of 11 Old 08-30-2014, 10:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post
DS has never been good at talking about his feelings/things that are bothering him. He is 6 1/2, and only just recently told me he's afraid of the dark! I've suspected all along, of course, but he'd never said it.

Now he's having some trouble with behavior, nothing huge, but annoying and possibly ADHD if you trust the online quizzes. I'm working on getting him an eval but it's a long process. We had a very rough day yesterday and I lost it I was so frustrated with his antics, which went from wild behavior to total meltdown when a consequence came along to punching his brother for not much of a reason beyond frustration. I got angry, sent him to his room, but we couldn't reset the rollercoaster. I finally calmed down and went to talk to him, but he couldn't or wouldn't tell me what was bothering him. I let him know that even though I was frustrated with the behavior I wanted to help him feel better but he just won't talk.

How do I help him identify what he needs so he can ask for it?
Also keep track of when these episodes happen. Is it between meals? After a meal that doesn't contain enough protein (such as just cereal and milk for breakfast because that's all he ate)? My grandson has lost self control, way over reacting meltdowns when his blood sugar gets out of whack because of what he last ate (too much carbs and not enough protein). So now, if he just has cereal and milk for breakfast, my daughter will suggest he has string cheese along with fruit for his mid morning snack. And offer a similar snack between lunch and dinner. When he was that age (he's now 9), he had no clue why he over reacted in that manner. Now he knows how to interprete his attitude, behavior, and how his body feels so he can head them off by eating a pb&j or cheese and crackers instead of just bread and jam for a snack which used to be his first choice when he felt hungry.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#7 of 11 Old 08-30-2014, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do try to chat in the car and during other activities but he doesn't talk. At night, he can come up with something he wants to talk about but it's usually either a fear he has that he will not acknowledge as a fear or something that has been beaten to death. And unless I put him to bed an hour early, he will never get around to anything real. And even then.... Probably not.

I definitely don't press him, and remind him we will always try to help but I am really not even sure he knows what he's feeling, not just that he's unwilling to share. I share my feelings about certain situations to help him match what he sees to what he may feel himself. Doesn't seem to get through. I know he is still young but I'm terrified that he'll just end up like this at 12 or 20 and then it's too late.

I do think it could be at least partially food related but I don't know how to fix it. He is not consistent with what he is willing to eat from day to day and even says he's hungry for something specific but then doesn't eat it. Very frustrating. Besides cutting out everything artificial and giving protein at every meal/snack, is there anything else I should be more aware of? Protein is hard to get into him at times, but he's been better lately. Maybe it's pure hunger?
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#8 of 11 Old 08-31-2014, 06:11 AM
 
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Some of the behavior you're describing (like choosing a repetitive thing to talk about at bedtime, or choosing to talk about trivia) is totally age appropriate. Seriously, if I want to hear what my son is feeling, I have to listen to a TON of information about Pokemon. There are entire outings where we talk about what he can get with the number of arcade points he has, and nothing else ever crosses the conversational horizon. If I pushed my son to admit that a "dislike" was really a fear, I think he would stop telling me what he disliked. Confidences have to come at the speed the person talking is comfortable with.

On top of that, while my son hates talking about feelings, he expresses them all the time. I got dive bombed with boy hugs this morning because I made waffles, and then he blew his top for about thirty seconds over limits on tv. I don't need him to say everything, because he shows me a lot.

My dad is one of those guys who doesn't talk about his emotions a lot, but he's both sincere and expressive in a variety of ways. He's not closed off. He just doesn't see the point in standing around talking about, say, how he fears his loved ones will be injured in car accidents - he expresses his love by making sure we have good tires, and sometimes when he's up early in the morning, he takes my mother's car for a tune up and an oil change. (Fortunately, my mother knows what's going on there.) There are a lot of ways to live your emotional life, and some of them are less wordy than others.
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#9 of 11 Old 08-31-2014, 07:29 AM
 
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I also think that it could be gender related. My girls talked about feelings and emotions a lot. My son, hardly ever to never. But if I rephrase it and talk about facts and thinking, he is more likely to open up. Instead of asking how he feels about something; ask him what he thinks about it. And then brainstorm ways to solve it. Example, our youngest daughter was afraid of the monster under her bed (thanks to our second daughter ). I made up a bedtime story about how the monster under her bed couldn't come out to play because it was his bedtime as well. And the mommy monster was tucking him into bed and reading him his bedtime story. Fast forward, some 13 years and our son was afraid of the monster in the closet but he didn't put it in those terms. He would keep me in the room with all kinds of requests and things he just had to tel me right then. A lot of what he had to tell me related to his closet--the door was open a crack, his toys and clothes weren't put away, etc. Finally, he admitted that he didn't want the monster to come out of the closet. So we took the closet doors off. You see, monsters don't like closets without doors; they can't hide. But never did he say anything about being afraid, scared, etc. Nothing about what he was feeling. We had to phrase everything in a factual manner in order for him to be comfortable in talking about it.
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Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#10 of 11 Old 09-02-2014, 01:30 PM
 
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My boys never talk. I hear stories of parents of girls, whereby their kids talk 'too much'....not my problem. My 2yo likes to talk although she lacks vocabluary. It would be nice to have a conversation about feelings with your child....i figured it as partly a gender thing.
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#11 of 11 Old 09-02-2014, 07:33 PM
 
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Oh, Dylan talked. Just not about feelings and emotions. He talked about tanks, army men, how they do special effects in movies, etc. He still talks my ear off. Now it's his online games--both single player and multi player. I also know all about his online friends. But haven't a clue as to how puberty is affecting him.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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