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#61 of 494 Old 09-19-2009, 06:39 PM
 
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That is interesting what you said about your son being hyper in utero, because my son was EXACTLY the same way! He kicked and squirmed and pushed constantly. It was just crazy. I used to tell people it was like having a wild horse trying to kick down a stall in there.

I am also with you on parents/grandparents butting in. I know that my grandparents (mom's parents) NEVER did that with us when we were kids. They just held their tongues. I think because my parents are helping me financially (paying for my son's childcare) and with babysitting, they feel like I am a dependent too, and they treat me like a child, which pisses me off to no end!!!! I am 35, have a Masters degree, teach college, and have many other accomplishments under my belt. It's not like I am a loser, but my parents have sort of always treated me that way. Even when I was in high school and an A student, debate team captain, star of most of the musicals, choir president, and working a part-time job (from the age of 14), they still thought I was a drug addict (not even close!) and irresponsible. Man, they should've traded me for one of my classmates to have a clear picture of just how good they had it!!!!
about the wild horses-- yes, I think we are peas in a pod, mama! My son kicked the carp out of me when he was in utero. Thankfully I found it comforting and not disrupting.

As for your parents-- how frustrating.

Maybe it's time to find a way to gently stand up to them and say something along the lines of "I really, really appreciate your help, both financially and physically. It would be beyond hard for me to get along without it. However, I am setting the boundaries there, and will parent my child how I see fit, without interference. You had your chance with me, and now it's my turn. Because I try to raise my child differently than you raised me, it's not a judgement call. I think you did a wonderful job. But now I am the parent, and I will make all the decisions regarding discipline, medical issues, and what-have-you.".....yadda, yadda, yadda.
The thing is-- you have to be FULLY prepared for whatever outcome there may be. You might be willing to put up with their current behavior as a trade-off for childcare and finances. Or, you might decide that you can't put up with it anymore at all, and let the chips fall where they may-- struggle as you might, should they withdraw. OR-- the best might happen: they'd still help you out, and respect your need to Be The Mom.
Good luck, whatever you decide!

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When I was finally able to get him dressed and out of the house, I had completely shut down. I wouldn't even talk to him or look at him anymore. He was saying, "I love you mommy. You love me, right?" but I wouldn't answer him. In my mind, I was thinking, "What the hell is wrong with you? (You being ME, not my son.) Are you a f*king heartless monster or what? He's only four! He's a baby! Tell him you love him you awful bitch!" but I just couldn't even bring myself to engage with him. His six hours of tantrums finally ended with me sobbing and lying on my bed and just completely broken. From there I totally shut down.

I definitely don't want to be that kind of mom. I don't want to be emotionally unavailable. I don't want to be cruel.
You don't have to be. It's not just black or white options. You can say to him, in as calm a voice as you can muster, something like "I am WAY too angry and upset right now to talk to you. Yes, I love you, but my feelings are too strong right now to talk. I will talk to you when I'm feeling more calm." And if you're home, not in the car, you can go to your room and say "I need to have a time-out so that I can calm down. I'll be out in a few minutes when I can get ahold of my anger." That way, you don't break communication, and you're also modeling a more positive way to react when a person is that angry. Easier said than done, I know!

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I felt like I had been handed a wonderful, miraculous gift, and while I knew single parenthood would be extremely hard, I didn't think it would be THIS hard! Not even close. I expected maybe 80-90% joy and 10-20% hardship. Instead most of the times it seems like I got the reverse: 80-90% hardship and 10-20% joy.

I have been single now for five years (from the pregnancy until now), and it's been so hard. I haven't even tried to date. I have no social life. I have no time to exercise because I have way too much work to do. I have lost pretty much all of my friends because I just don't have time to do anything with my work and parenting responsibilities. It's just grueling. I keep thinking that something has to change, but there's just not much wiggle room with anything. If I want to add something to my life (like yoga before bed), the only way to accomplish that is by cutting out more sleep. I am sure I am not the only single mom in this situation, but adding my son's behavior to this makes the strain of single parenthood nearly impossible.
YES, that. All of it. I can so relate! I got pregnant at 40, when by that time I thought it was a done deal, I wasn't having children. You bet I was going to roll with it! And yes on the single parenthood, and yes on the grueling responsibility, and YES on no life. And add in the issues and behavior-- egads. Yes.
I'm in nursing school, now-- with NO support whatever. I had to get a roommate and offer free rent so that I have someone to drive my kid to school on the days when I'm busy with class
No family, no nobody! I feel ya, mama.

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#62 of 494 Old 09-19-2009, 09:37 PM
 
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I wanted to refer you to the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health:

http://www.ffcmh.org/

From what I remember, OR has several pretty active chapters. You can get support, information and advocacy services for your son.

Hugs, mama.

Me : living with and loving papa and the kids: Dd1 8/97 , dd2 8/04 and my sweet baby ds 5/09 : :
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#63 of 494 Old 09-20-2009, 03:04 PM
 
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I don't have time right now to read all the pages, and compose a meaningful reply. PM me if you want some local resources - I am in your town and involved in the "system" from many angles. Special needs kids, foster kids, and connections with the mental health world.

I promise to come back, but just wanted to send a hug for now.

All the best to you and your boy.

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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#64 of 494 Old 09-26-2009, 03:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Maiasaura:

Thanks so much for the supportive reply to my posts. It sounds like you definitely know what I am talking about!

Thankfully, I have managed to reign in my temper over the past week. I usually have had control of my temper, but then in the last week or two, I just finally had HAD it.

I am noticing that when I am calmer, he is definitely doing better behavior-wise. I am giving it one more last ditch effort before I try medication. It may only last a few weeks, a few months, or even a year, but I am giving him a little more time to settle. I've seen some great things from him in just the past few days---positive behaviors I've never seen from him before. I've been really trying to communicate more, be calmer, and just model the kind of behavior I want him to have. Again, this is something I always tried to do in the past (and was gnerally successful with, not all the time, but most of the time), but it was just recently that I was at my wit's end.

We've been under a lot of stress lately, especially since we went through the attempted break-in and the emotional fall out for me of dealing with the idea that someone, a complete stranger, intended to hurt, rape, and even torture me. Having to leave our home and having completely lost my sense of safety on that May night has changed me into a different person, though I hope the change is only temporary, because it's not a good one. I am now fearful and distrusting and afraid of all different kinds of people. Not a good thing.

Anyway, rambling again. Thanks for sharing and reminding me that I am not the only single mama in this situation!
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#65 of 494 Old 09-26-2009, 03:18 AM
 
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Bisou, I don't have any words of wisdom, but I have been following this thread and think you are a wonderful mother. Hugs to you and I hope the positive behaviors continue!

A, jammin.gif mama to a boy (2005) and a girl (2009)
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#66 of 494 Old 09-26-2009, 03:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Bisou, I don't have any words of wisdom, but I have been following this thread and think you are a wonderful mother. Hugs to you and I hope the positive behaviors continue!
Bokonon:

Thanks so much for your post! You almost brought tears to my eyes with your kind words. I am really hard on myself as a mom most of the time (aren't a lot of us when we shouldn't be?), so I appreciate it.

When I knew I was pregnant with my son, I knew being a single mom would be hard, but I never knew it would be THIS hard. I am learning patience times one million. Someday when I have another romantic relationship, I think I will be a much more patient, understanding, appreciative person. I haven't had anyone do anything for me in years (more than five years, to be exact). I guess if there's anything to be happy about in this, maybe it's that.

My son has been showing some improvement, and I have been lavishing him with praise when I see good, kind, patient behavior on his part.

Yesterday when we were at the park, my son accidentally kicked another child in the face because my son was climbing on top of a tube that the other child was climbing through (if that makes sense). The other little boy said, "You hurt me!" and my son said, "Well, you were in my way!" and started to get angry back at him. I gently pulled him aside and whispered in his ear, "You should apologize that you hurt him even if it was an accident." He said, "But it was an accident! And he was in my way!" I said, "I know it was an accident, but it doesn't matter. You still hurt him. You should say sorry." In the past, he would ALWAYS blame the other child or person that he hurt and even be angry at them, but this time, he put the sweetest smile on his face, turned to the little boy, and said, "I am sorry I hurt you! I didn't mean to. It was an accident. I didn't see you coming out! I am sorry." I just about FELL OVER! Then, I couldn't believe what happened next. He was climbing on the tube again, and the other child was climbing through (same scenario, once again), and I said, "Be careful! He is climbing through again!" and my son said to the other little boy, "I will wait for you to climb through and then I will get down." He was kind, considerate, and working together with this other boy. This is something I've never seen when he's in a conflict situation. They then played happily together for some time! I was so proud of him. This was big progress for him, and I made a big deal out of it, telling him what a kind boy he was and how proud I was of him.

I need to still correct the negative behavior but also really reward the good behavior, I know. It's a hard balance!

There are tough times. It's hard to know what to do when he's throwing a huge tantrum and needs a time out, but I need to be at work in 20 minutes and have to drop him off at preschool on the way. I know not dealing with his negative behavior is not good, but neither is losing my job!

On a side note, to all readers, I thought people in this forum were generally against time outs? Or do people's feelings towards time outs vary??? I used to use a more gentle/AP approach, but that was really not working for my son. Sometimes I do sit with him in time out, however, if it seems to calm him. Sometimes I feel confused about whether this is the right approach and whether this is rewarding his negative behavior. Parenting is so freaking complicated!!!!!! I seriously think we should have to have parenting classes and licenses. Geez, you have to have a license to serve food or a glass of wine, but anyone can just have a kid!
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#67 of 494 Old 09-26-2009, 10:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Bisou View Post
Maiasaura:

Thanks so much for the supportive reply to my posts. It sounds like you definitely know what I am talking about!
Aww, thanks
Well, that's because I do, to a degree. My son still has trouble apologizing. He just does not see that he is ever in the wrong, and gets very indignant. I've told him that the reason he has to say sorry, even if it was an accident, is to sooth the other person's feelings. And that sorry is usually two parts: words and action (this, because he often just goes "sorry" in a flippant or sarcastic manner, so as to just get it out of the way).
Your son did awesome at the playground!

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When I knew I was pregnant with my son, I knew being a single mom would be hard, but I never knew it would be THIS hard. I am learning patience times one million. Someday when I have another romantic relationship, I think I will be a much more patient, understanding, appreciative person. I haven't had anyone do anything for me in years (more than five years, to be exact). I guess if there's anything to be happy about in this, maybe it's that.

I need to still correct the negative behavior but also really reward the good behavior, I know. It's a hard balance!

There are tough times. It's hard to know what to do when he's throwing a huge tantrum and needs a time out, but I need to be at work in 20 minutes and have to drop him off at preschool on the way. I know not dealing with his negative behavior is not good, but neither is losing my job!

On a side note, to all readers, I thought people in this forum were generally against time outs? Or do people's feelings towards time outs vary??? I used to use a more gentle/AP approach, but that was really not working for my son. Sometimes I do sit with him in time out, however, if it seems to calm him. Sometimes I feel confused about whether this is the right approach and whether this is rewarding his negative behavior. Parenting is so freaking complicated!!!!!! I seriously think we should have to have parenting classes and licenses. Geez, you have to have a license to serve food or a glass of wine, but anyone can just have a kid!
It is really hard! I didn't know, either...OTOH, having my son's father and his daughter around was like having THREE kids, and I was inexperienced enough, so it's actually a relief having only the one

Have you ever looked into Love and Logic? Some people would definitely consider it coercive, but I'm in no way against coersion (because what some consider coercing, I call guiding-- children are immature beings, after all) so it might be a good fit for you. I have found that when I do it right, it really has a great effect. That combined with 1-2-3 Magic is what has had the best results for my son's behavior issues. Sometimes you can find the classes for free, given by social services or other agencies. They have a website. Their materials are expensive, but you can sometimes find the books at the library, or on www.half.com or other book sites. I have the CDs and they're wonderful to listen to in the car!

Love and Logic says you can delay consequences. Four is not too young to delay consequences, I think-- it looks something like this: "Honey, I have to go to work now. We'll talk about <insert issue here> when I get home. I don't know what I'm going to do about it, but I will think about it and let you know later". Apparently this is really effective with tweens and teens because they sit around sweating while they wonder what the consequence will be You can also, later, ask him what he thinks his consequence should be. Often kids are harder on themselves than you are!

I am not really a GD sort, though I've tried to be, and I vary my own self. I don't have a problem with time-out. I think that the GD peeps would say that if you sit with him and you both get a time out from the situation, it's probably gentle. I often take my own time away when I need to calm down, and I say it out loud "I need a time out; I'm going to my room. I will be with you in a minute when my anger calms down". That shows that I am modeling what I do when angry.

Yes, it's so hard!! I sure wish kids came with instructions. That are blanket for them all

Me treehugger.gif Handfasted wife to M  geek.gif as of 3/7/10 , and Mama to R  reading.gif (1/31/01) luxlove.gif

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#68 of 494 Old 09-26-2009, 01:15 PM
 
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It really doesn't matter what a bunch of people on the internet are for or against. If time outs - a gentle method of giving a kid a chance to regroup - work for your son, put them in your toolbox. If they escalate his behavior, then clearly you wouldn't want to use them. You are in an extreme situation. Do whatever makes it better for you both.
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#69 of 494 Old 09-26-2009, 11:43 PM
 
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You have had so much to deal with and you have been, and are being, such a such a strong mother. You only broke down after 6 hrs? I would have been done after one.

I am not a medical expert but I also don't understand how it could be a mental illness if he is fine at school, just not with you, his safe place to fall. He really seems to be using his tantrums to decompress from keeping it all in at school. I didn't see where you responded to the feingold diet- would that be a possibility? Have you looked at Aspergers? Finally, this is an awful thought but is there any chance he is still being abused by someone outside your care?

So many your way, you are a beautiful, strong mother.
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#70 of 494 Old 09-27-2009, 02:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the great suggestions, Maiasaura!

I have looked at 1, 2, 3 Magic because my son's therapist recommended it, but I didn't really try it in full. I've also heard of Love and Logic and should check it out. He definitely seems to need more strict discipline than other kids. I see my other single mama friends with their kids, and all they have to do is say, "We don't do x. Go to time out" and the child bursts into tears and immediately goes into time out and sits there and stays!

It's been hard because some of my single mama friends have been a little critical, saying that I don't discipline him harshly enough, but usually I am just trying to avoid a public blow up! I finally decided that if he wasn't behaving properly in public, I'd give him one warning (except for serious things, like hitting) and if he didn't change his behavior, we would immediately leave.

I guess having parents like I did who never were concerned with my feelings at ALL has made me a little too lenient. This child needs a firm hand.

I agree that it's SOOOO important to model good behavior and how to deal with emotions in a correct way. My parents screamed, yelled, and spanked (which was really more like a serious beating, not a little "swat"), so I sometimes seem to vary between overly gentle and permissive, and really angry and screaming. I've been getting MUCH better at finding the correct emotional balance during discipline.

I am not giving up yet. I've also seen my son using his words more on the playground, when before he'd immediately hit or push or grab. The other day this little kid (maybe 2 1/2) wanted my son to be a "bad guy" and chase him, but was calling my son a "bad liar" (just because he wasn't communicating well). My son got totally pissed and was yelling, but he was saying "You are hurting my feelings! I don't like that!" It was a GREAT improvement.

Thanks again for all of your support and kindness. It has REALLY helped me pull up my bootstraps and gather together my last scraps of patience.

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Originally Posted by Maiasaura View Post
Aww, thanks
Well, that's because I do, to a degree. My son still has trouble apologizing. He just does not see that he is ever in the wrong, and gets very indignant. I've told him that the reason he has to say sorry, even if it was an accident, is to sooth the other person's feelings. And that sorry is usually two parts: words and action (this, because he often just goes "sorry" in a flippant or sarcastic manner, so as to just get it out of the way).
Your son did awesome at the playground!



It is really hard! I didn't know, either...OTOH, having my son's father and his daughter around was like having THREE kids, and I was inexperienced enough, so it's actually a relief having only the one

Have you ever looked into Love and Logic? Some people would definitely consider it coercive, but I'm in no way against coersion (because what some consider coercing, I call guiding-- children are immature beings, after all) so it might be a good fit for you. I have found that when I do it right, it really has a great effect. That combined with 1-2-3 Magic is what has had the best results for my son's behavior issues. Sometimes you can find the classes for free, given by social services or other agencies. They have a website. Their materials are expensive, but you can sometimes find the books at the library, or on www.half.com or other book sites. I have the CDs and they're wonderful to listen to in the car!

Love and Logic says you can delay consequences. Four is not too young to delay consequences, I think-- it looks something like this: "Honey, I have to go to work now. We'll talk about <insert issue here> when I get home. I don't know what I'm going to do about it, but I will think about it and let you know later". Apparently this is really effective with tweens and teens because they sit around sweating while they wonder what the consequence will be You can also, later, ask him what he thinks his consequence should be. Often kids are harder on themselves than you are!

I am not really a GD sort, though I've tried to be, and I vary my own self. I don't have a problem with time-out. I think that the GD peeps would say that if you sit with him and you both get a time out from the situation, it's probably gentle. I often take my own time away when I need to calm down, and I say it out loud "I need a time out; I'm going to my room. I will be with you in a minute when my anger calms down". That shows that I am modeling what I do when angry.

Yes, it's so hard!! I sure wish kids came with instructions. That are blanket for them all
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#71 of 494 Old 09-27-2009, 03:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I haven't tried the Feingold diet or any diet modification, though we are vegetarian/organic, and he doesn't eat any artificial colors or preservatives. If I can't help him get it together more, I will have to try that, or even consider a naturopath or something.

I agree with you that mental illness doesn't seem like a correct diagnosis when he holds it together with everyone except me, but other moms with mentally ill kids and the doctor we saw said that this is possible because they know what's socially appropriate and they just hold it in as much as they can until they feel safe (at home with mom).

That said, I have asked his psychologist, pediatrician, and behavioralist (all three!) if they thought he had a mental illness, and all three declined to say he might or suggest anything along those lines. I know he's too young to be diagnosed, but they haven't even suggested he might get diagnosed when he gets older.

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You have had so much to deal with and you have been, and are being, such a such a strong mother. You only broke down after 6 hrs? I would have been done after one.

I am not a medical expert but I also don't understand how it could be a mental illness if he is fine at school, just not with you, his safe place to fall. He really seems to be using his tantrums to decompress from keeping it all in at school. I didn't see where you responded to the feingold diet- would that be a possibility? Have you looked at Aspergers? Finally, this is an awful thought but is there any chance he is still being abused by someone outside your care?

So many your way, you are a beautiful, strong mother.
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#72 of 494 Old 09-27-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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I agree with you that mental illness doesn't seem like a correct diagnosis when he holds it together with everyone except me, but other moms with mentally ill kids and the doctor we saw said that this is possible because they know what's socially appropriate and they just hold it in as much as they can until they feel safe (at home with mom).

That said, I have asked his psychologist, pediatrician, and behavioralist (all three!) if they thought he had a mental illness, and all three declined to say he might or suggest anything along those lines. I know he's too young to be diagnosed, but they haven't even suggested he might get diagnosed when he gets older.
To some degree, your story is like reliving Erica's childhood all over again. Out in public, she was usually good. But at home, she could become a demon at a moment's notice. And we never knew when that would happen. I learned to let her de-stress alone in her room (time outs) when she would start. It was what she wanted and needed but wouldn't do it on her own until she was much older. There was never a time limit given on her time outs; she could come back whenever she was in control again. At first, she would come out, start up again, and be sent back (and repeat). If she stayed in her room for more than 5 minutes, she would usually fall asleep, take a 2-30 minute nap, and wake up in control of herself again. And nothing was ever her fault, even if it was an accident. It wasn't until she was in her twenties that she was diagnosed with bi polar, social anxiety, and OCD. She is on Prozac, is in a stable relationship, and has a 10 mo dd (my 3rd grandchild). If it had been possible to get a diagnosis and have her on meds when she was a child, I would have gone the meds route. The difference in her is amazing.

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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#73 of 494 Old 09-27-2009, 12:50 PM
 
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A book, or a "method", is not going to be the whole answer. But if you are interested, I highly recommend The Explosive Child. I value their point of view more than the specific interventions. The basic idea is that all kids do well if they can. No one wakes up in the morning planning to have a meltdown!! Problems typically come from lagging skills - social, emotional, communication skills. Just as it would not help a kid with dyslexia to punish them for not being able to read, our kids need to learn the lagging skills.

It has really helped my to reframe the behavioral problem in the context of lagging skills, rather than compliance versus disobedience, my way versus your way, or manipulative behavior.

I am not getting a quiet moment to think here, so this is coming out confused. Hope you can find the book - they didn't have kids interrupting when they wrote it - I can tell!

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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#74 of 494 Old 09-27-2009, 01:26 PM
 
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As an adult with a mental illness, I can tell you that unless I am in the worst part of it, I can hold it together until I get home. That's actually somewhat common among other adults who deal with MI that I know.

I am not so sure that a dx of "mental illness" is that important. What has been known as mental illness is crossing over with neurobiology more and more. I tend to look at it as "what works" rather than "what label."

I completely understand the concern over your child's brain but I do want to point out that being left untreated can also damage a person. It's true that was it natural is almost always best but it's also true that our bodies, including our brains, can damage themselves.

What I'm trying to say is that what works for most people or what most people in a particular movement believe does not matter to me anymore. All I know is what works for me, although I do factor in data in making my decisions.

I wish you and your son the very best.
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#75 of 494 Old 09-27-2009, 04:23 PM
 
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Hugs!! and more hugs. Just an idea, I am sure your son can sense all of your anxiety over the break-in trauma. Maybe now that you are taking care of yourself and starting to heal, he is reacting to that to some degree, just because it's new and different to him. Even though it's better, it's different. I think you said something about him liking a cat. Maybe you could look into some type of therapy with animals. I have seen some amazing progress and relationships develope between kids and therapy horses and dogs. Do you model compassion for YOURSELF to your son? We moms are so busy trying to hold everything together, we don't feel justified in saying to our child "I'm tired I need a break" until we are way past reason. Sorry if these seem like simplistic ideas. Sometimes the little things really help ground you when you are drowning in the realities. Someone mentioned martial arts-that sounds like something both of you could benefit from. No advice on the medication aspect, that has been covered very well.
As far as the grandparents, I think the book, Rights of Passage Parenting does a great job explaining the importance of grandparents roles. Maybe you could use some of the ideas in there to explain to your parents the relationship your son needs to have with them. They need to concentrate on being grandparents!
Hang in there!!
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#76 of 494 Old 09-27-2009, 04:52 PM
 
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I see my other single mama friends with their kids, and all they have to do is say, "We don't do x. Go to time out" and the child bursts into tears and immediately goes into time out and sits there and stays!
Doesn't that make you just seethe?

I called those kids "velcro children" because, when my kid was 3-4yo, at the playground, all the other moms in the playgroup would be hovering around the sandbox, chatting, while their kids happily played next to their moms. Those kids would never have strayed more than like 5 feet away from their mom (hence "velcro").
I, OTOH, would be following my child close behind him, because he'd be WAY up high on the 5-12yo play equipment, and if I didn't tail him closely, he'd just...walk right off the fire pole opening. Not try to slide down the pole...just walk off. Six feet up off the ground. Or, he'd run full tilt into the street, on purpose, way faster than I could ever catch him.
I stopped going to playgroups where the playground wasn't fenced in, because it was just too stressful for me. It was safer at home, where my whole house and yard were childproofed!

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That said, I have asked his psychologist, pediatrician, and behavioralist (all three!) if they thought he had a mental illness, and all three declined to say he might or suggest anything along those lines. I know he's too young to be diagnosed, but they haven't even suggested he might get diagnosed when he gets older.
That is kind of strange, to me. My kid has been seeing a therapist since he was 3, and while 3 is way young to diagnose ADHD, she knew, from experience in the field, and could tell me hands down that that's probably what he had. I knew it when he was a baby, though, anyway

Me treehugger.gif Handfasted wife to M  geek.gif as of 3/7/10 , and Mama to R  reading.gif (1/31/01) luxlove.gif

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#77 of 494 Old 09-28-2009, 02:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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One thing that all the doctors have told me is that negative behavior creates neural pathways in his brain, essentially damaging his brain (as you are saying) by creating these deep patterns that will become an entrenched part of his way of being. I don't want this to happen, obviously. But as someone who's dealt with severe depression off and on throughout my life, I've also experienced some extreme side effects with anti-depressants, which is something that I consider much less extreme than an anti-psychotic (though maybe that is an incorrect belief on my part).

I am still figuring out what to do. I've seen some good improvements in his behavior over the last week or so, but his behavior has also tended to cycle, mainly in response to extreme stress (abuse at daycare, break-in attempt at our home, etc). I am hoping that we will get a break for a while so I can see what his behavior is like under more normal circumstances.

On that note, I was just diagnosed with "probable N1H1 flu" (aka "swine flu") yesterday!!!! I just can't seem to catch a break lately. ARGH. I was massively ill yesterday and the day before, but today the fever finally broke and I am starting to feel slightly more human. Not fun!

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As an adult with a mental illness, I can tell you that unless I am in the worst part of it, I can hold it together until I get home. That's actually somewhat common among other adults who deal with MI that I know.

I am not so sure that a dx of "mental illness" is that important. What has been known as mental illness is crossing over with neurobiology more and more. I tend to look at it as "what works" rather than "what label."

I completely understand the concern over your child's brain but I do want to point out that being left untreated can also damage a person. It's true that was it natural is almost always best but it's also true that our bodies, including our brains, can damage themselves.

What I'm trying to say is that what works for most people or what most people in a particular movement believe does not matter to me anymore. All I know is what works for me, although I do factor in data in making my decisions.

I wish you and your son the very best.
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#78 of 494 Old 09-28-2009, 02:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the book recommendation! I think you or someone else already recommended it for me, as I have it on a list that I've compiled of suggestions from you guys. I really appreciate it!

I don't think that there will be any one-size-fits-all method for any child. I plan to pull ideas from here and there and find what works, whether it's a parenting approach, therapy, medication, or a combination of those things.

Believe it or not, I was diagnosed with "probable N1H1 flu" this weekend (aka "swine flu") so it's given me some forced alone time! Even though I've been extremely ill, it has been nice to have some rest. The doctor said my son shouldn't be around me until my fever has been gone for 24 hours, so he had to stay with my parents. Thankfully, it looks like my son somehow avoided catching this. I don't know how; I kiss him a massive amount every day! I am glad though as this can be very dangerous for young kids.

Unfortunately, I had set aside this weekend to do some much needed cleaning and de-cluttering to reduce my stress levels. I guess that can wait!

Thanks again for the advice.

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A book, or a "method", is not going to be the whole answer. But if you are interested, I highly recommend The Explosive Child. I value their point of view more than the specific interventions. The basic idea is that all kids do well if they can. No one wakes up in the morning planning to have a meltdown!! Problems typically come from lagging skills - social, emotional, communication skills. Just as it would not help a kid with dyslexia to punish them for not being able to read, our kids need to learn the lagging skills.

It has really helped my to reframe the behavioral problem in the context of lagging skills, rather than compliance versus disobedience, my way versus your way, or manipulative behavior.

I am not getting a quiet moment to think here, so this is coming out confused. Hope you can find the book - they didn't have kids interrupting when they wrote it - I can tell!
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#79 of 494 Old 09-28-2009, 02:25 AM
 
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I'm so sorry you and your son are going through this.

I have little advice, other than maybe attempt to find a new therapist for your son. He has had many traumas that need to be dealt with fully. Medication is not going to fix that. I would never give a child that young Risperdal. It is not approved for use in children. Not only that, but 4 years old is much too young to begin psychotropic medications, which alter brain chemistry (during one of the most important periods of brain development).
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#80 of 494 Old 09-28-2009, 04:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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One thing I like about my son's therapist is that she's not pushy, and if I tell her "This approach that you suggested isn't working," she will come up with something else for us to try. She's not at all rigid. When I told her I didn't want to try medication yet, she was totally ok with that. I am fortunate that

I don't have anyone really pushing me to try medication with him, except for the behavioralist that we saw (NOT my son's therapist), whom I REALLY didn't like! She asked me all these questions that I thought were really inappropriate for my son to hear, like "Were you abused as a child?" (and wanted details about what happened to me) "What's the worst thing your son has ever done?" etc etc etc. She then said things like, "Well, he is cute now, so people like him, but pretty soon he will be bigger and he won't be cute, and then this is not going to be good, and people won't like him." She also asked him, "Who's your best friend?" and he didn't really say anything, so then she later said that he didn't have any friends, which really upset him. It's not his fault! We just had to move from our neighborhood (due to an attempted break-in and rape/attack by one of my neighbors!) and remove him from his preschool due to mistreatment by the director there. He hasn't had a chance to stay anywhere long enough to keep friends. Besides, he's just four! I don't think lots of four year olds have tons of close friends.

I kept thinking "I should stop this appointment! This is NOT ok!" but I had this whole debate going on in my head and was just sort of frozen.

Here's the debate I was having in my head between me and myself:

"I can't believe she is asking me this in front of him! This is not ok!"

"Well, she's the doctor. She does this all the time. She must know what she's doing."

"But he's hearing all this stuff, hearing you talk bad about his grandparents and him and how you feel about his bad behavior. This is damaging!"

"Maybe he's not really paying attention." (He was playing at our feet, only 3-4 feet away.)

"Of course he's paying attention! He is ALWAYS paying attention!"

"Well, I've waited months for this appointment. I need help for him!"

"This is not going to help him! This is going to damage him! How can she think it's ok for him to hear this? You told her on the phone that you didn't want to talk about these things in front of him. You discussed all of this on the phone and filled out pages of history on him describing all these things. Why is she asking this now?"

And on and on and on. I wish I had just said, "This is not ok with me for my son to hear all of this. We will have to talk about this at another time." I thought she was just going to observe him and ask him questions, which is how the appointment process was described to me.

She spent about 10-15 minutes with my son, then wanted him to sit there for over 45-50 minutes with nothing to do while she asked me questions. He was really good and behaved well until the last 10 minutes or so. Keep in mind that he is just barely four years old. It was just insane.

When he started getting antsy, she was really harsh with him. I thought she was just awful. He had started climbing up on my chair behind me and sort of climbing on my back and messing up my hair, just being silly, but a little wild, and I was trying to get him down. She said in a really harsh tone, "If you don't STOP that RIGHT NOW, your mom is going to put you in a TIME OUT!" He was embarrassed, I think, and burst into tears. She then called him "manipulative" (she said, "See! Look at how manipulative he is!") and said his crying was a "ploy." I think he was just honestly embarrassed and upset that she yelled at him (even if he did need to calm down, but it wasn't that bad, just normal four-year-old antsyness!)

After we left the appointment, my son sobbed for seriously 45 minutes. I had to carry him to the car because he was so distraught. He kept saying, "I don't have any friends! She hurt my feelings!" He just was sobbing and sobbing.

I just couldn't believe that she did what she did. I know she is a mother because she had pictures of her two kids on her desk. Would she speak so negatively about her children with them sitting there? I'd hate to have her for a mother.

I know I am going on another tangent here, but this is just another piece of this whole frustrating experience. I think if I had a better experience with her and respected her professional opinion. I thought she was really TERRIBLE! So it's hard to say, "Yes, this really awful, mean, unprofessional doctor prescribed this and I am going to give it to my son!"

I definitely need to get another opinion. I just wish I had had the guts to stand up for my son in that situation, but I was so caught off guard and caught up in my own internal debate that I just couldn't think straight.

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I'm so sorry you and your son are going through this.

I have little advice, other than maybe attempt to find a new therapist for your son. He has had many traumas that need to be dealt with fully. Medication is not going to fix that. I would never give a child that young Risperdal. It is not approved for use in children. Not only that, but 4 years old is much too young to begin psychotropic medications, which alter brain chemistry (during one of the most important periods of brain development).
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#81 of 494 Old 09-28-2009, 10:22 AM
 
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It does sound as though a child psychiatrist would be a better bet. The behavior specialist just sounds strange.

Also if the child psych recommends medication, ask him or her to "talk you through the risks, benefits and alternatives." IME most reasonable doctors LOVE that phrasing and will give clear answers to it. If he or she doesn't seem to like the question, you may want to try for a third opinion; but most doctors I've known, give good answers if you phrase it that way.

It may end up that your DS will have to take some medications with unpleasant side effects; the goal isn't zero side effects, because such a medication has never been invented, but you want side effects that are not worse than the condition the medication is for.

ETA: if it does turn out to be bipolar, adults have a lot more medical options for that than children do. So at least you'll know that you just have to hang on until he's old enough to expand his range of choices.
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#82 of 494 Old 09-28-2009, 10:23 AM
 
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i didnt read all of the responses, but from your story i hightly recommend counseling for your son and you. i know you tried a psychologist, but what about a licensed professional counselor (lpc), especially someone trained in nondirective play therapy (it is amazing!) or possibly even sand tray therapy though he could be young for that.

just want you to know i'm thinking about you...it sounds like a really tough situation and you're so brave for continuing to lovingly care for your son.

btw, risperdal...it's mostly used off-label, meaning not what it was made for (psychosis)--especially in children. it has helped some kids, but if u go that route, start with a really low dose. might seem obvious, but sometimes drs do their own things.
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#83 of 494 Old 09-28-2009, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Firelilly:

My son's psychologist does do nondirective play therapy with him. When we go into her office, that's all he does is play. However, I also have appointments with her to discuss parenting strategies without my son present.

I am also trying to get counseling for myself, but although my medical benefits allow me visits once per week, Kaiser (my medical plan provider) only allows me visits every 3-4 weeks, which is certainly not enough to be helpful. I have made many calls and requests to receive regular counseling, especially since I am having quite a bit of PTSD after my son and I went through the attempted break in while we were there and in complete terror for more than 30 minutes, which is how long it took police to arrive.

I think my son's therapist is good, but I definitely need better support.

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i didnt read all of the responses, but from your story i hightly recommend counseling for your son and you. i know you tried a psychologist, but what about a licensed professional counselor (lpc), especially someone trained in nondirective play therapy (it is amazing!) or possibly even sand tray therapy though he could be young for that.

just want you to know i'm thinking about you...it sounds like a really tough situation and you're so brave for continuing to lovingly care for your son.

btw, risperdal...it's mostly used off-label, meaning not what it was made for (psychosis)--especially in children. it has helped some kids, but if u go that route, start with a really low dose. might seem obvious, but sometimes drs do their own things.
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#84 of 494 Old 10-12-2009, 01:04 PM
 
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Just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you and your little guy. , hope you both have found some peace.
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#85 of 494 Old 10-12-2009, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi everyone:

Things are much better and have calmed down quite a bit, but we have had this pattern in the past. Whenever a stressful situation hits (and we've had MAJOR ones), his behavior goes off the charts. I think he is feeling more secure right now and is thus being more cooperative and less angry.

I did get the book several of you recommended by Glasser (Transforming the Difficult Child) and I am starting to work on some of the principles. I am starting to think that some of his behavior might have just been an extreme attempt to get my attention. As a single mom working two full time jobs, I am always SO exhausted. On the days when I don't work, I often spend several hours in the morning lying on the couch while he plays or snuggles with me, but I am definitely not as present as I could be. On work mornings, he again gets little attention because I am rushing around showering, getting his lunch and clothes ready, and doing all the things I need to do to get us out of the house. Mornings are when he is most likely to act out, so I've been trying to give him as much attention as possible, even just in little ways. I have FOUGHT to bring back my patience, which I had lost for several weeks. I am making a concerted effort to compliment him for every positive act that he does.

Yesterday we went to a children's play area that has a large indoor sand box, and he did such a great job playing and sharing with the other kids, even working collaboratively with them on projects and laughing and joking together! He even held in his (often explosive) temper when one child grabbed something out of his hand and took it. In the past, he would've gone to that child and grabbed it back or even hit the child. Instead, he used his words and talked to the child, me, or the child's parent in these instances to get some help with the situation. I was so proud of him! I've seen other similar instances lately where he has even been hurt by another child (hit, pushed down by another child without any cause) and again, in the past he would've gone and hit that child twice as hard, but instead he is using his words and coming to me for comfort.

Another book that I've had on my shelf and LOVE is "Playful Parenting." I've read it before when he was much younger, and I think it's more helpful for children my son's age (4) and older when they are more verbally communicative. He suggests making things fun or turning resistance around by making something a game. This doesn't mean you make it a game when your child punches you in the face; bad behavior still needs consequences. But if your child is not cooperating with picking up toys or getting dressed, he gives ideas like making it a race. Some parents do this almost instinctively. Racing works for my son almost every time! I say, "I am going to pick up the toys faster than you! I am going to beat you!" So I end up picking up a few toys, and he will do the rest. When he has recently gotten into his angry mode, we've been calling that "Mr Crabby Man." I will say, "Oh no! Mr Crabby Man is here! Not again!" He finds this funny. Of course if he took this as mocking or humiliation (something my parents did to me!), I would not do that. It only works because he thinks it's funny. I will say things like, "Ok, don't smile or laugh. You are not allowed, Mr Crabby Man! I want to see that grumpy face." Of course he immediately can't help but laugh. Eventually he will say, "Ok! Mr Crabby is gone!"

The only thing about this is that it takes SOOOOO much energy and creativity and sometimes I just want to say, "Get your damn shoes on NOW! I am not telling you again!" Of course I have tried that (without the "damn"), and it hasn't worked so well. We both end up angry and in conflict. So, I have to find the way to get more energy and have more patience, which I have been working on.

If anyone has tried Glasser's book, did you do the reward system he suggests? It seems VERY complicated for a younger child (though I think it'd work great for an older child). Though he's bright, I don't think my son could totally understand the point system or understand that he'd have to get (for example) 200 points in order to earn a trip to the zoo, or that he couldn't redeem his points for a trip to the zoo on, say, a school and work day. We were doing a sticker chart (something he always HATED in the past), but I haven't been as consistent with it as I should be. There are so many components to keeping our daily lives just moving along. I am mom, homemaker, teacher, laundress, cook, maid, bill payer, etc. Anything that needs doing, I have to do. I am sure other single moms (current or former) understand how hard this is!

The other thing I didn't agree with is that Glasser suggests removing every priviledge except for food, shelter, sleep, and water (basically). The child then has to earn all other priviledges. I understand why he suggests this, because in order for the child to be motivated, you need to include most things as earned priviledges and not rights. However, the one thing I didn't agree with at all was outside time and exercise. On his reward list, he included things like "30 minute bicycle ride." To me, exercise and outdoor time are ESSENTIAL for all kids, but especially for "challenging" children with lots of energy (and sometimes anger and aggression). If my son doesn't get several hours of outside time or active play time per day, he is not fun to be around. I think that this is essential for both a child's physical and mental health. What if a child never chose bike time as his reward time and instead only chose TV or video game time? I will keep exercise, bike time, playground time, and other active things as part of my son's regular expected program. To me, exercise is as essential for him as food, water, and sleep.

Anyway, that's our update. I am optimistic that this is a permanent change for the future, but I also know that it might not be. In the meantime, I will just work on becoming more and more patient and creative in avoiding meltdowns (without being a pushover!) and model the behavior that I want him to have. I am definitely proud of how we are doing. Thanks for the encouragement from everyone!
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#86 of 494 Old 10-13-2009, 01:27 PM
 
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That is so wonderful to see! I actually find myself thinking about you and your son alot. How stong you are to keep fighting for your son and his innocense. Keep pushin mama. You are an inspiration to us all!
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#87 of 494 Old 10-13-2009, 02:33 PM
 
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I really like this response. I too, have dealt with some agressiveness in my 3.5 yr-old. Sometimes, she is passive-agressive or totally ignores me and laughs at me if I try to address or talk to her about what is going on. I forget to set up structure though and that is very important. Even chaotic structure is structure and that in itself is gentle discipline.

I recently went through a tough time trying to talk with her about something that happened while at grandma's house with my two sisters and my neice who is 1 yr old. My daughter was playing with a push toy and my neice came over and sat on it to ride it. My daughter got upset and eventually started to push the toy viguourously with my neice on it so my sister took the toy away from both of them. Mind you, my sister did tell my daughter in a nice voice to be nice and gentle and careful. My sister said that my daughter ignored her, which is typical of her as I have seen her do this when someone addresses her specifically or corrects her, she even ignores me.

I guess my sisters saw my daughter destroying her dress as though she has pent up anger. One of my sisters took her in the room and asked her in a very nice uppety way why she was so upset and my sister said she calmed down immediately while also rolling all over the floor, (again, moving her body a lot). When they got home, I tried to talk to her about it, she said, "I can't talk", although she did validate that she was sad that the toy had been taken from her when she was originally playing with it first. I tried to explain to her that my neice is a baby and we need to be gentle with her but it took an hour of crying, hitting me, kicking me, yelling at me, until she finally broke down and relaxed into my arms and finally started to respond to me. I think, should I have pressed it? Should I have left her alone when she asked me to leave the room? Should I have ignored it? Would she remember it if I came to her at a later time to talk about it? I asked if we could talk about it later instead and of course she ignored me so instead, I pressed it and told her we needed to stay in the room until we are both calm and we can talk about what happened. I don't if this is right or not, it doesn't feel completely right but our situation isn't the best either so we have many stresses that complicate things.

She sometimes likes to play with it, like chase, if I get closer to her to try and get her to listen, she laughs and runs like we are playing a game and it's sooo difficult to get her to actually listen to me. She changes the subject, plays, and sometimes will finally respond by saying, "oh" or "ok". I'm not sure what to think at this point. Am I teaching her to just apease me by saying those things? I try to identify what feelings she is going through and she doesn't want anything to do with it.

In the past, when I have tried to use creative play, it seems to work much better. Like moving and playing helps her express better. She can't sit still and talk, no way! She has to be moving and doing something, which sometime makes me think she is ignoring me or the situation. She loves dance, paint, clay, drawing, music, hula hoops, digging in the dirt, etc.

If I were to set up art stations like you suggest, the hard part is keeping the house clean and do I make her clean up one station before she can move to the next? Most mothers who have grown children say the one mistake they made is not making the kids clean up after themselves whether they make them or are creative in doing it with them. The moms usually say that they just cleaned up after them and then when they got older, they were slobs.

A little history about me, we are attachment parenters for the most part but have been through a separation, a ton of moves, domestic violence from the father and then me reacting to that because I'm triggered since I had abuse in my childhood. Although both her father and I have similar parenting views and compassion for our daughter and want her to have a better life than we had growing up, we can't seem to correct things within ourselves to make that happen. I have realized that I am happiest when with her father and so is our daughter. The only thing, it's only a matter of time before he blows up. We are not together now but are working on co-parenting and are going to do couseling together with the focus being on ourselves individually and on parenting our daughter.

There is a lot of healing to do and if you are still triggered from your childhood, that will affect your parenting and your relationship with your youngen so healing yourself is a must.

Does anyone have any advice for my situation too? I'm afraid that if I don't do something now, I will end up ruining her life? I will visit that website recommended above and check out that book. Those sound like great starts.

Thank you for sharing your story with us and thank you to everyone who has already replied. It has been a tearing fearful, hopeful reading for me. I hope everything goes well for you in the future.

P.S. Have you heard of the Explosive Child? Google it. It may help you.
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#88 of 494 Old 10-13-2009, 02:49 PM
 
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I just posted a response but meant to say that I really like the response from "TheLightbearer". Very helpful for me!
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#89 of 494 Old 10-13-2009, 02:58 PM
 
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Hey, so glad to hear that things are better.

I do a modified chart with my 5 year old. I have the list of behaviors which I modified to language that works better for us. The top section includes behaviors that will get an automatic short (and I do mean short!) time out like aggression. I do a flat 10 points for each category.

He really enjoys this process and it gives a common language for behaviors.

I started out charging points for stuff but didn't like it that well. We choose a specific thing now--like a fun activity that he doesn't get to do all the time--or something he wants (currently a stapler!) and he earns points for that activity or thing.

It is a heck of a lot of work to stay on top of everything that needs to happen.
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#90 of 494 Old 10-13-2009, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Barbie64g View Post
That is so wonderful to see! I actually find myself thinking about you and your son alot. How stong you are to keep fighting for your son and his innocense. Keep pushin mama. You are an inspiration to us all!
Thanks Barbie! It's odd to think that a stranger we've never met is thinking about us, worrying about us, and hoping for the best, but it's also immensely comforting! To think that someone we've never met cares about us shows that wonderful human connection we can have. Having had some less than pleasant experiences (understatement!!!) with humans lately (namely a stranger deciding it would be fun to break into my house, rape me, and cut me up with a knife, possibly also assaulting my baby as well), I definitely need to renew my faith in humanity, and this sort of thing does that for me, so THANKS.
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