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Parenting Bringing up the shorties so they aren't completely messed up

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Old 09-20-2014, 02:31 PM   #1
elSicomoro
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Tightening the reins without making it appear so

I've mentioned before that my 11-year-old son has Asperger's and ADHD. Due to an insurance switch, he does not have a counselor right now. His meds are not helping. He's falling behind in school already and he's just...well, he's not making any progress in life right now.

We'll be going back to the doctor and counseling soon. But the Mrs and I are trying to figure out ways to instill more discipline and control to help keep him on the straight and narrow without making him feel punished. For example, he has quit picking up his clothes and putting them in the hamper. He regularly refuses to answer our calls when he is out with friends. He regularly comes home late. Last month, he destroyed our television when he didn't properly load the right game on our PS3.

Suggestions? Monster? Clod?
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Old 09-20-2014, 02:45 PM   #2
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Last month, he destroyed our television when he didn't properly load the right game on our PS3.
How does that happen?
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Old 09-20-2014, 03:19 PM   #3
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He selected a new game instead of his saved game, got mad and punched the screen.


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Old 09-20-2014, 03:36 PM   #4
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Are you relating these issues to his diagnoses? Sounds like a fairly normal 11yo to me apart from the school thing. Can you meet with a counsellor at the school?

I have yet to meet a 11 year-old who regularly puts clothes in the hamper. But mine (of that age) have to get permission to play video games etc, and making sure all their laundry is in the hamper is often one of the conditions on permission. So it gets done eventually.

If mine stopped answering their phones, they'd be grounded because that's a safety issue, but then I would only call in an emergency. How often do you call that he doesn't answer? Perhaps he just needs a little longer leash -he'll be going to high school soon, no?

Do you know why he is late home? Is it deliberate to piss you off? Or does he just have difficulty keeping track of time? Thor (12) has difficulty keeping track of time, so he sets alarms on his phone for when it's time to stop/leave. works pretty well. Especially when we give him the responsibility of deciding how long he should allow for packing up etc. And we make sure he knows how pleased we are when he does it well.

Was the TV deliberate? Was it a traceable consequence of his ADHD? Accidents do happen and sometimes they are expensive. Parenting is expensive -in time, patience and money. Some battles are not worth fighting

My gut answer is to reduce your own stress/frustration by making the path slightly less straight and narrow, just so long as there are railings by any steep drop-offs. If you are unhappy, he will pick up on it, and sometimes it's harder to do the right thing if you already don't feel good about yourself.

If the leash is too tight, it cuts off circulation and induces panic.

/metphoricalhippiemommoment
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Old 09-20-2014, 06:14 PM   #5
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It is very hard to determine what is normal behavior for a child his age, what is ADHD, what is Asperger's, what is Obstinate Defiant Disorder (yeah, he has that too), or...a combination. He meets certain age benchmarks, but is behind in most. He has a normal IQ, but probably has a mental age of 7 or 8. He has only been able to remember his birthday in the past 2 years, and has little to no concept of time. He has put our phone numbers on a silent ringtone. He can be incredibly crafty/sneaky, though we always catch him in the end. The TV was definitely deliberate...he realized he did wrong immediately though.

The Mrs just went to a meeting with all his teachers last week...a meeting that they wanted to have due to his repeated tardiness to classes and refusal to do work. We had warned them that these sort of things would probably happen. The kid simply has no desire to do school work. Actually, he simply only wants to do what he wants to do period. We don't think he's trying to be a malicious or evil child...but we want to steer him in the right direction so that he thinks he wants to do the things we'd like him to do.

Am I making sense?
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Old 09-20-2014, 07:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monster View Post

If the leash is too tight, it cuts off circulation and induces panic.
I went to a training with Jed Baker on Friday. He had the same take-away. The kid has to have hope for things to turn around.

http://www.socialskillstrainingproject.com/

It looks like his server is down, but you may find something there. He encouraged us to contact him with specific questions. He has a lot of experience with the Aspy crowd.
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:46 PM   #7
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sorry, your reply about the tv wasn't there when I started my post!

I understand that it's hard to tell what is normal and what isn't, I was trying to reassure you that more of it is normal than you may think :/
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:58 PM   #8
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What does he want to do instead of going to class and doing his work? Is there a way you can make that better and available for him as a condition of/reward for going to class on time etc? Does he slope off to read? or mess with something? what makes him tick? ODD is not an unusual bed partner for ADD. We dealt with both as possibilities but in the end the way forward seems to be finding a way to harness his power for good rather than evil. And we very much restrict electronics time. we found the behaviors much worse after extended periods in front of the screen. Not sure that is any help, but it's the best I can do right now. We found rewards earned more effective than punishments

Is there any alternative to the school he's currently in?
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:00 AM   #9
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The kid has to have hope for things to turn around.
Seems to me in order to have hope, they would have to comprehend how they think and what they feel isn't normal... not the word I want. Broken? I don't think that's it either. They're thinking/feeling is not the same as what others think/feel. How do you persuade them to change without convincing them they're damaged?
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:32 PM   #10
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I guess you route it through the way they get the things they want and need. The things they want are not necessarily different from what their peers want. Its the recognition that there are socially appropriate ways to get to those things that is key. Unless the conflict itself is more reinforcing than anything else out there, there is a way. Hope in the child's case is short-term, that's why we can get in trouble taking things away incrementally as a child escalates a behavior. You get to a point where the child has nothing to hope for therefor nothing to lose. Parents and teachers need to nurture their own hope, but must think long-term, while surviving near-term. You have to be careful with any advice given/taken though as every child is unique and their parents should know them best.
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Old 09-21-2014, 01:10 PM   #11
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OK, that sounds reasonable. Thank you.
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Old 09-21-2014, 04:28 PM   #12
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syc, I'm curious, why did you phrase your opening post with the condition "...without making it appear so."?
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Old 09-21-2014, 04:34 PM   #13
elSicomoro
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We don't want him to feel that he is being punished and create additional stress. But we definitely have to make some changes to help him improve across the board.
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Old 09-21-2014, 04:43 PM   #14
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If he could (and I watched him do it some days during the summer), he would sit in his underwear all day on the living room couch and watch Top Gear or Futurama. At school, he prefers just to draw or learn about cars or technological things. Any classwork/assignments usually have drawings all around the work area.

Last Friday night, he was at a neighbor's house on our cul-de-sac. We called him and told him to come home. It took him 45 minutes to get home...he had set our phone numbers to silent and apparently lost track of time.

Just trying to explain things to him, I have to stop multiple times and ask him to focus and look at me. I try to keep the explanations as simple as possible. One thing we regularly tell him is, "There are things you HAVE to do before you can do the things you WANT to do." His grandpa signed him up for a hip-hop dancing class late this summer...this is something we knew he would like, but because it wasn't HIM making the choice, he didn't want to do it. He went so far as threatening to cause trouble at the class so that he'd have to come home. (SEE?! He's a smart little punk!)

We have been fighting the school district for years, and it would finally seem that the middle school realizes that he needs additional help. We are looking into neighboring school districts, including the town where I now work. In St. Louis, they have a county-wide school district that works with kids with physical and mental disabilities...we do not have such places here in metro Kansas City.
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Old 09-21-2014, 06:25 PM   #15
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We don't want him to feel that he is being punished and create additional stress. But we definitely have to make some changes to help him improve across the board.
a direct answer, and right away, thank you.

I don't have *nearly* enough information to "advise" you elSyc, but I do have a lot of experience as a parent. So I'll just think out loud a little here, and ask questions as they come to me.

First of all, I don't think punishment or stress are by themselves bad for a kid. OF COURSE it's possible, easy even, to make them so, and you obviously want to avoid bad things for your kid. Obviously. But don't take them out of your tool bag.

Ultimately, you can't really compel him to do anything, and that weak power grows only weaker, eventually moving to zero. It sounds like it's close to zero already. But that's true for most of us in most situations, that's fine, stuff works, people still get stuff done; he can too. A big motivator for most people, kids too, is a desire to *avoid* punishment. Also, wanting what they/we want. The gap between those two is where the *hope* described by Griff lives.

It looks like he wants what he wants, he hopes for it (all the time, in tiny ways, all over the place) and gratifies that desire, *shrug* any time he wants to. What appears to be missing is some force in the opposite direction, to delay or deny that gratification. I mean, why should he NOT sit around in his underwear all day watching tv, or why NOT punch the tv, etc. YOU don't do those things, or things that are like those things that you may want to do because you have forces that oppose those desires. Maybe it's fear of pain/punishment for punching the screen. Maybe it's a desire to do well at work for the money/satisfaction/etc.

Think about those two examples. One's a push, you want to avoid pain/punishment. Your fist will hurt if you smash it against a glass screen. It will cost money, your money. The other's a pull, you want to gain money from working, you might really like your job or the people there. That's a pull motivation, pulling you to work instead of hanging out in your underwear watching tv. Of course, the tv might be pulling too, but that's in the opposite direction. My point is, your son doesn't seem to have ... wait. I mean, you don't seem to have a clear idea of reliable ways to exert the kind of force/motivation that opposes his internal desire for gratification. What he wants, when he wants it. His terms, period.

And that is a pretty uncomfortable place for a parent to be. I know, I've been there many times. "Too big to spank" I'd lament, for comic effect. In the best possible case, by the time that's true, other negative motivations have been developed, like taking away privileges. Also, other positive motivations can be used too. But all those need to start somewhere, they need to start where you are now.

I really can't speak for your child, or for the dynamic between you two, ha, you three including mom. What does motivate him to do stuff (the stuff he's supposed to do)? I don't want to sound like that ass Adrian Peterson, but kids *do* respond to discipline. It's healthy for them to have limits, to know the limits. It's crucial for the space inside those limits to be good, happy, nurturing, loving, challenging, safe, etc. They don't really have to know what's outside those limits, lord knows, some of those holes have no bottom. But, and this is a necessary condition, they have to trust you, that when you say the stuff beyond the limits is bad for them, they believe you and don't feel the need to test it. The testing will happen as they grow anyhow, but so does the area bounded by your parental limits. As does their ability to reason.

Which, as you pointed out, is rather limited at this point. YOU have to be the brains of the operation. Yeah, I know you know that. But reason with him you must, since corporal punishment is a very blunt tool. To do this effectively, you have to think like he thinks. And it's easy to overthink, easy to give more credit for understanding of bad consequences than he might have, especially in the moment. (most) Young kids are much, much more in the moment (witness the broken screen), and their time horizons are usually very short. Rewards that are far off might as well be unobtainable, invisible. And the punishments too. The stuff they respond to and comprehend and take account of are all close to them. They might not be real, or really realistic, but they're responding to stuff, planning. How inside his head are you in this regard, what do you know of what makes him tick? When you know these things, you can ac-cen-tu-ate the ones you like and e-lim-in-ate the ones you don't. Amplify what's already working.

I dunno. It might have to come to a showdown (or more than one) for everyone to understand who's in charge. That was ALWAYS uncomfortable for me, but there's a good reason we don't let children run the fucking show. Despite their demands to the contrary. The real damages they rack up mean something, even if they don't know and don't care. You're still the boss, even when it sucks.

I have talked a lot and I still don't know what to say to you, but you need to find something that works for him, as a negative, a punishment (even if it doesn't feel like a punishment, ok). For you, learning how to deliver on your promise to keep him safe/loved/nurtured/etc could mean a lot of things. I found the broken record technique of just repeating my initial correct answer about "no" or whatever, striving to be consistent and dispassionate about enforcing the consequences (read: punishment) to be very helpful. It helped me to avoid being drawn into a conversation which would become a debate then a persecution blah blah blah... nope.

Consistency is key. Natural consequences are lovely, when they can be applied, the fresher the better. Mutual understanding of the situation, the "rules", it necessary. It is helpful to get some buy-in from the kid. What *is* their side of the story? Maybe it is ok for them to have the thing they want. Some battles are NOT worth fighting.

I'll keep thinking man. Good luck to all of you, and I'll stay tuned to this thread.
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