Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our Journey with the Total Transformation #4

If you’re interested in what I’m dealing with, and what we’ve experienced thus far, check the posts listed below this article.

We are now officially in week two. We’ve seen excellent results using the “ten tips to help you right now” ideas with the older kids… but my two “A+ over-achievers” aren’t really the problem. (Unless you consider crying over getting a “B” on a test a problem – Ugh they are carbon copies of me, I swear) The older kids blink in surprise, and then react to my new-fangled requests like normal thinking human beings.  The six-year-old, though, rants around my requests, giving just as much a problem as I’ve become accustomed to.

Our son’s most common phrase this week:  “It’s not my fault, it’s yours (or his)”

On the bright side, he did actually finish his homework yesterday without a shouting match.  I’m not sure if that is coincidental or not.

The lesson for this week is called “Why won’t my child listen to me.”

While the first disk explained that my child with behavioral issues does not use the same thought processes that the rest of us do, and assured us that his behavior IS NOT our fault… Disk two left us feeling like it WAS all our fault.  They listed a number of common parenting mistakes … almost all of which either my husband, I, or both of us were guilty of.

Here the anger sets in.  I tried to listen with an open mind, because everything they said made perfect sense.  My husband felt attacked and needed a little convincing.  Hubby admitted to being the textbook speech giver.  The CD said this almost never works.  And for, us, it never ever works… but hubby insists on giving a speech about right and wrong and why doesn’t anyone listen to him, and why is he giving this speech again if no one listens…  In effect, he was making himself feel better, but the kids (and even me, I must admit) were not listening at all.  After much soul-searching, he stamped a “guilty” button on his head, and admitted giving self-righteous speeches doesn’t work, so he shouldn’t even try.

I had to admit that I was the textbook negotiator.  “Can we have five more minutes, Mom, please?  I’ve been good.”  I always cave.  Then it’s five more, and five more.  GUILTY.  I have to set rules and stick to them.

These are just two of the things that we had to curb in our own parenting style.  Believe me, there were many more things, and their reasons why they didn’t work made perfect sense.

So, then, what the heck do we do?  We are still a little frustrated, because our “homework” last week was to consider why our child lashes out, and have a better understanding.  This week is to try not to use these useless parenting ruts that we’ve gotten ourselves into.  But how?  I expect to be using that help line a while lot this week.

We are resisting the urge to skip the “waiting” and move on to the next disk, which looks like it has actual things we can put into practice.  We promised each other that we would do this by the book, and this is what it says to do… wait a week in between … but it’s really hard when you are still living inside a nightmare with no immediate hope of waking up.

The big problem I see is that my little guy firmly believes it is someone else’s fault that he gets angry.  In a way, he’s right.  But the problem is that he does not know how to deal with his anger, so he punches something (or someone) or breaks something that is important to the other person… or even breaking something he treasures himself.  He says he doesn’t know why he does it.  How the heck do you deal with that?  Yeah… I’m calling that help line.

swish swivel squiggle

Our Journey with the Total Transformation:

Week One post #1

Week Two Post #2 and Post #3

Week Three (This Post) Post #4


17 responses to “Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Our Journey with the Total Transformation #4

  1. I am guilty of trying to force a square peg in a round hole – by that I mean my daughter is grown up and at university and turned out pretty well so in my head it make sense to do the same things again but my son is nothing like my daughter and it is so hard to change what you do – I can only imagine how hard it is for you with them being close in age and trying to balance rules which are fair on all

  2. I’m with whoever a few comments back mentioned looking at potential “wiring” problems, that is, exploring what might be happening in your son’s head, probably some kind of learning disability. When he says he doesn’t know why he lashes out, he’s being absolutely honest. You will help him to figure out what the reasons are. I can’t encourage you enough to keep building a support community for your son, and for you. You need a physician and a social worker at least on your side. Kudos for examining your parenting patterns. That takes a lot of guts and humility. Best wishes —

  3. We all know parenting isn’t easy, but you do have a full plate. Something must WORK sometime soon? I hope it will. Maybe Disk 3.

  4. Never give up, Jennifer. This is progress made, no matter how little 🙂

  5. Wow, I would have ripped through all those CDs/DVDs by now and have been trying to implement every little thing–and would have been crashing and burning and turning everyone’s lives upside down and creating even more havoc. Good for you and your patience. I’ve clicked through to some of the other links you’ve provided. Some excellent advice out there that I’m going to try with my own son. My husband and I alternate between being speech-givers and wimps. Wondering why our son alternates between being an angel and being unwilling to do anything? Hmmmmm….guess we need a lesson in consistency and calmness, my mantra for this year–and every year for the rest of my life. Thanks! Keep doing what you’re doing. Sometimes when things seem to be contradictory, it’s only our understanding of the things that makes it so. Sometimes we need to find a different understanding. Does that make sense?

    • Yes it does. The biggest thing I have learned is this is all going on because he is “different”. I just need to make “different” acceptable

      • Hi everyone,

        I’ve been reading a really great book lately called Smart but Scattered. It is about “executive skills” functioning abilities and how weaknesses in some of these soft skills most of us learn by observing but some of us just don’t figure out on our own can cause lots of social and mood problems. It’s an easy read and really informative. I recommend it as part of any parent’s arsenal. It’s been helpful for us in better understanding how our kid thinks and why sometimes things go right and sometimes they don’t.

        Oh, and I tend to lecture, too. Even though it doesn’t help at all. Grrr.

  6. This is hard for me to read, but it does seem like you’re developing a self-awareness that’s moving your in the right direction.

    I’m really rooting for you. You’re doing better than you think.

  7. Nobody comes with a parenting manual. We deal with our kids often the way our parents did to us, or opposite, depending on how we felt we were treated at the time. We make mistakes and, with any luck, learn from them. Do not beat yourselves up for things the program has suggested you’ve done that don’t work. I hope the next step of the program will give you the tools you need that actually will work. In the meantime, be sure that you and your husband get some ‘me’ time to recharge your batteries for the next round. You will need that energy and patience. Best of luck. 🙂

  8. I play the role of the lecturer, like your husband, and not only does it not work with behavioral problems, I don’t think it works with any child. Most children have a short attention span so couple that with fact that the “lecture” is really boring for them to have to listen to, I think most of them stop listening after 2 or 3 sentences. I believe, in my humble opinion, that the “lecture” needs to be short and simply stated. I tried this when my kids were younger and it often worked. It was hard for me not to go on and on about WHY his actions were wrong in the first place but I found that the shorter and to the point my lectures were, the bigger the chance that the message was sinking in. Anyways, good luck to both you and the hubby. xo

  9. Sounds like my oldest son to the letter. He’s a great guy, until it comes to authority, especially authority that threatens his ‘space’…his being ‘him’. I find it encouraging that your hubby admitted his rants don’t work. My hubby never learned that. He still likes to give ‘the speech’, and I, like you, still give in. The therapist said I over-compensated for my hubby’s ‘dictatorship’ methods. Neither mine or hubby’s methods were good and sent conflicted and divided messages to our kids. Funny, 3 of those kids turned out fine. Typical snarky teenager stuff, but they’ve grown into fine adults. My oldest son, though, the 3rd out of 4 kids, thinks everything is someone else’s fault. “If they’d left me alone, blah blah blah wouldn’t have happened.” He’s 21 and still has the same mentality. He’s a hard worker, he stays out of trouble, but when he got busted on a misdemeanor and didn’t follow through with the appropriate plan of action, he ended up in jail. Of course, it was the judge’s fault, not his, that he ended up in jail. The attorney got him out, but the judge set certain parameters for my son so he didn’t end up back in jail, but my son is heeding those words of wisdom. Granted, I think what my son was charged with was bogus, and the punishment did not fit the ‘crime’, but the point is, if he wants to stay out of jail, he has to do these certain things, and he’s not doing them because he thinks they’re stupid and unnecessary. The judge is off his rocker, and I’m the bad one for reminding him he has these things to do. He really needs to get his act together. It’s very difficult to watch your kids make the wrong choices, but in my case, my son is an adult. He understands what’s going on. He understands the consequences. I can lead him to the trough. I can’t make him drink the water.

    My mom scared the pee tar out of me when I was little. She took me to a prison and we sat in the parking lot. She told me about the guys inside, how bad they were and what they did. She told me if I continued my ways, I was going to turn out like them, living my life behind bars. I was 7 years old. The worse thing I’d ever done was lie (I liked making up lots of stories and pretend they were real. Go figure.) The picture in my mind of the inmates scared the beejeebies out of me to the point I NEVER wanted to go to that place. Maybe I should have done something similar with my oldest son. Given him a ‘shock treatment’. Who knows. Hopefully this Total Transformation will work on your baby. It certainly is worth the try. The good thing is, you and hubby are standing united on this and working together, which sends a positive, united message to the kids. No matter what, remember you’re human. You’re not superwoman. You and hubby are doing the best you can do as parents. You’re trying to get the help you need for your son. You can never say you should have done more. My arms are wrapped around all of you. You’ll get through this. It’s just another ditch in the road. Keep moving.

  10. Hmmm. Okay, if we go along with what they say, your little one is “wired” differently, therefore sees and processes things differently, and you all basically need a translator. Well, this can happen for about a bigillion reasons- does the program go into this? For example, if he has a learning disability of somekind, or what they call an executive skills functioning problem, he may actually not understand some basics that most of us take for granted. Does the program address this possibility?

    By the way, kudos to you both for recognizing common parenting technique pitfalls. That’s a pretty hard thing to face. But, um, all of us parents screw stuff up, so please try not to beat yourself up about it. We all do stuff that is great and other stuff that is not so great, and we all have to learn to live with each other doing this stuff. It’s part of growing up, being a grown up, living in a family, ah, it’s part of everything. I have it from an ecellent source that kids are in fact really resilient, and if they are raised in a home where they know they are loved, wanted, and safe, they tend to figure the rest out over time. This is what i am told, by a man who specializes in survivors of child abuse, and he’s seen a lot, so, he’s probably onto something. 🙂

    Personally,I am a religious person. Now, I do not believe that God is Santa Claus and I don’t think that there is alot of “you get what you deserve” stuff in the world. I think most of the time, we bumble along and make our own heavens and hells right here without outside interference. Disclaimer aside, I do believe in “grace.” Grace to find calm, or kindness, or perserverence, or love, or forgivenss, in the midst of figuring stuff out. I think grace is a close relative to compassion, and I think it really does change things. I think that grace can be a chosen mentality, a chosen path, and it can be boosted up by prayer. Maybe that is something that you could find helpful. If you are a spiritual or religious person, maybe try meditating or praying for the grace to be patient, kind, and perservering, and to let go of anger or over-reactions.
    Um, it won’t magically cure everything, (remember, no Santa Claus theory;p), but it can be helpful.
    Or, if that makes no sense at all, you can ignore it.
    The season of Lent is upon us. Perhaps part of learning from these tapes can be part of a Lenten mediation period…. Our souls need nourishment just as our minds and bodies do. Regardless of what someone believes in, or doesn’t, I have found that to be true. Whatever that may look like for you as an individual and as a family, (and because clearly you don’t have enough to do), I recommend taking advantage of this period of time.

  11. I admire you for persevering with ‘the program’ – but just take all the useful stuff and flush any guilt way asap.

  12. I reckon those first two lessons have been about bringing everyone ‘up to zero’ so the work of going forward can start.