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Kids getting to that "bad" age. Advice?


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  #1  
October 31st, 2010, 04:38 PM
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This is kind of a debate, but plays on a more personal situation so I'm putting it in general chat. It's going to get lengthy, but I don't have anyone else to really talk to about this.

My boyfriend has a son (we'll call him W), he will be 10 in January. He has custody of him, he spends most of his time with Tony. Tony is a good dad, he doesn't get child support from his ex, doesn't want it, he has a good job to support his child, he's patient, he spends time with him, etc... He basically does what every parent does to ensure his child grows up in the right setting.

That being said... holy crap, his son is at that age that is just bad. He's not a bad kid, but he's acting bad. He's had some ups and downs over the years that were dealt with quickly by being put in therapy. He no longer goes to therapy, as his therapist felt those situations were adequately dealt with.

But now Tony is contemplating therapy again, and even medication because his son is seriously becoming a terror. I don't mean that in any bad way... he just has a serious attitude problem and acting in a way that no one can deal with him. What do you do with a kid that doesn't respond to ANYTHING you do for him?

Tony came to me last week asking for my advice, because he's at his wits end trying to get his son to get the idea that life is so much easier if you just listen... but he won't. His son is very much so a daddys boy and I tried to get him to talk to his son and explain that it makes Tony sad when he acts out, essentially using that relationship to try to get his son to see it hurts Tony when he acts out.

The past 3 weeks or so I have REALLY seen a dramatic decline in his sons behavior. His mother doesn't deal with her son well at all, and tends to just bring him home early if he acts out. So getting Tony's ex on-board to help with behavior isn't a real option at all.

Today I woke up and heard Tony getting upset with his son because his son wasn't listening. Anything he told him was a straight out "No" or "I don't want to" or "Leave me alone" or "You are always mad at me," but Tony tries to tell him he gets mad because he doesn't listen. I didn't hear the start of the fight, but Tony took away his PS3 privileges and his son said "You can't tell me what to do!" Which then led to "You make me act this way because you are mad at me." Now Tony doesn't yell. He raises his voice and talks sternly when needed, but never yells and very rarely spanks. His usual mode of intervention is taking away privileges and getting talked to. When he gets things in his room taken away (like the wii) his son says "You can't take that away, it's mine." To which Tony replies "You are not the parent, I am the parent, and what I say goes in this house. If you don't like it, change your behavior and we wouldn't fight." His son will stomp away and gripe, yell, and put up a bigger fight.

Tony will tell him multiple times not to do something, for example, today he was hitting a tree and knocking off leaves, which made leaves fall onto the deck Tony had just swept. He told him to stop, and he looks at him, then goes back to hitting the tree. Tony said "What did I just tell you to do?"
and he will yell "IM STOPPING! GOD!" and stomp away. He will come back outside, and kick around leaves, hang out outside when we were about to leave. Tony would say "Come inside" and he would say "NO!" and kick around more leaves. He then said "I'll stay out here and you guys come outside." Tony then told him again that he is the parent, and W is the child, and he is not going to walk around the house as if he owns it and calls all the shots. No response from W but some grumbles.

Tony has said it scares him because his son is only 10, and can't imagine what the teen years are going to be like. He tries punishment, tries to reason with him, tries to talk to him, and it's just getting worse. For Tony to say he is contemplating medication says a lot because he does not like medicated children, but his son is just getting worse.

Today my stepdad asked me what I do in those situations, and I don't say anything. I don't think it's my place when his Dad is here. When I watch him, or in places when I am the boss, what I say goes and he does listen to me (most times... but acts NOTHING like what he does to his Dad). I don't know if I should speak up?

I hate to say it, this sounds horrible, but sometimes it really drags down the mood of the house when W acts up like this on a constant basis. He can be REALLY good, he has the capacity to be a near angel. But lately he has had more bad days than good. We don't know what his problem is. The problem isn't me, he loves me, my family, and Lily. Not sure if his problem is his Mom, but he really isn't connected to her at all. Tony tries his ****** best with him. But it really causes anxiety between the members of the family for how W acts. Tony's parents have to constantly tell him to behave, so W hates going over there. It sometimes makes me fear the future when we move back in together because of the way he acts. It makes the household dynamic so shaky when his son just doesn't listen and doesn't care about anything except doing what he wants, when he wants to do it.

So thoughts? Have any of you blended families been in this situation? Are any of your kids, or friends kids like this? I hate the thought of medicine, so does Tony, but hearing about how much medicine can help and level a kid out makes it seem like a perfect fix. But I wish we had that without needing to resort to that. I don't know. Tony doesn't know. I think we are all a little lost on what the next best step is to get his son to just level his moods and be the good kid he can be.

So yeah. Just asking for advice. I feel bad for Tony, and it's hard to hear him so frustrated with his own son.
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  #2  
October 31st, 2010, 05:40 PM
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From what you've said it sounds like therapy sounds like a good idea. W just having an attitude isn't a real cause for medication I don't think, unless he has some underlying medical issues just now coming about. Since he doesn't act as bad when it's just around you it seems like W has an issue with Tony. Getting W to a counselor may get to the root of the problem.

Pierce gets like this sometimes, not as bad as W, but it's usually when he gets around his mother and comes back to us he has a really bad attitude problem. We have rules, structure, and schedules here. She doesn't. Pierce gets to do what he wants, when he wants, and what he says goes at her house.

When his attitude gets REALLY bad (this is pretty rare, we don't usually have to do extremes), and he starts acting like W, we simply take everything but the bare basics out of his room, lock it up, and he is on Zero. No fun, no friends, no games. Educational books or copying things out of the Encyclopedia or dictionary, or doing physical exercises. We only resort to physical exercises if he is still putting up a fight after doing everything else. If he is tired, he doesn't have the energy to have an attitude. A day or two of that usually gets him straight again. He just gets used to getting his way all the time at his moms. Usually it just takes us being on top of him getting back into the groove of how things work at our house, but sometimes, the above is needed.

I'm a step-mom of 2 years. And Pierce is 10, Abby is 7. Abby listens to me all the time and hardly ever acts out and calls me Mom sometimes (FTR, I don't force them to call me mom. I told them they can call me whatever that want, whatever they feel comfortable with.) Pierce tests me quite a bit. I try not to get frustrated and I just be firm in the rules me and DH have set out for them. I made sure I established a good relationship with them before I took an equal set of the reins regarding the kids.

Other than that I really don't know what to say. I wish you the best of luck! Kids can be very trying sometimes.
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  #3  
October 31st, 2010, 08:04 PM
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Ya know I'm not sure if his problem is with Tony. He has the same issues with his Mom, but he really doesn't like being around his Mom that much. She can't "handle" him very well, either. When he was in therapy last year we found out some of his problems and have worked on them, and it made him better for awhile. As you said, rules, structure, and lots of family time together. I also strengthened my relationship with him, and it worked out well. It's just weird how he really doesn't like to be around anyone but Tony. He calls from his moms house to come home, and NEVER calls to go to his moms house. When he's with his grandma, he wants to come home. He doesn't necessarily want to come home when he is with Lily and I, but he doesn't like staying the night here, even if Tony is here. He is very, very attached to Tony. Yet he butts heads with him all the time, and we just can't figure out what. The problems that were brought up in therapy have seemingly been fixed and worked on from everyones end, but lately he is an absolute tornado of emotions.

Tony is wondering about medication in part due to emotions, and also W's past. Last year he had some really big behavioral problems that almost got him expelled, and he doesn't want this whirlwind of emotions put him in another situation like last year.

I guess I should explain last years problems to see why this is a cause for concern for all of us... it also explains some of my Moms fears about W's Mom, which I have no idea how to even bring it up if I thought her feelings were indeed true.

Well the first incident was almost 2 years ago, where he was at school and inappropriately touched another little girl in his class. It was one of those "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" kind of situations. Due to this, we watch him closely with Lily. He is EXTREMELY protective of her and I really do not see him ever hurting Lily. Still, I am careful. His school suspended him, but it seemed to be an isolated incident that even the school didn't seem worried about.

Then last year, he got into an altercation with a boy after W brought a pocket knife to school that he found on the ground, the boy wanted the knife and W wouldn't give it to him. W says he put the knife in his pocket to give to his Dad. Well during this altercation W said "Leave me alone or I'll cut you with my knife." The boy told the school, and W was almost expelled. W was in therapy when this happened (he had started right after the first incident) and we started to see he had a lot of anger issues. He knows what he did was wrong and started to say that his head tells his body to do things he knows he shouldn't do but does it anyways. This has started a big complex of "I can't do anything right!" which he still continues, and we try to tell him that's not true.

A family friend of ours that is a therapist started to say that his actions seems like he could be abused by someone and is taking the abuse out in the only way he can understand, which is anger and acting wrong. My Mom has questioned W's relationship with his Mom because of how unattached he is to her. I know he loves her, but not like he does his Dad. At all. I talked with Tony about what was going on with him, and I sensitively asked him if he could be sexually, psychically, or mentally abused by anyone he sees when with his Mom. He said he is pretty confidant he's not. I told him I don't want to think about it, but his external relationships needed to be looked at in case he is being abused. I know without a doubt in my mind that Tony isn't abusing him.

Well after that, things got REALLY good for awhile. But lately, omg it's a cyclone of emotions. My Mom said she thinks his mother or her friends/boyfriend must be messing with his head again because we have no idea why he is so upset and mean to others. He's never been mean to lily, he has his typical kid behavior with me, but with others he is a cyclone.

So he has a pretty deep past, it's been up and down. He has been to therapy, he has been dismissed because his therapist thought he had done well. He's had family meetings, new schedules, rules, privileges revoked, the adults changed their attitudes with him and problems he felt from us (such as him not thinking I liked him, which wasn't true, at all).

He knows all about good touch/bad touch, how adults should talk to him, etc... so I would think if he was being hurt, mentally or physically, he'd say it. But he has some anger source inside of him and we just aren't sure where it's stemming from.

I have a great relationship with him too, and he rarely ever tests my patience. Sometimes he does things he shouldn't, but telling him to stop will almost always get him to immediately stop. If I have to do it again I'll give a final warning, such as "W, stop that or you guys can't play the wii anymore" and he stops. I do not punish, it's not my place. I've never needed to though, he's never ever been that bad where he needed to be punished. He just does it with everyone else. He loves his Dad to death and wants to be around him the most, but he can also be the biggest antagonist against Tony because he just doesn't listen, and when Tony responds with a consequence, he looks at Tony as the bad guy.

It's such a simple solution... all W needs to do is listen, and not do things he knows he shouldn't. And not talk back. Everything is great when he does that! But lately it's a combination of all 3 at once. He tests boundaries, doesn't listen, has a heck of a mouth on him, and doesn't seem to care at all what he is doing. He blows up easily, very easily. It seems so simple to me, considering he knows what he has to do and things would be great, but he doesn't do it. Then when he doesn't he calls himself stupid.

I just don't get it. He has REALLY changed a lot quite quickly, not sure if it's his age, something internal, external, I have no idea. It sucks to see Tony so agitated because he doesn't have any answers either. He keeps trying, but he's getting upset because it just doesn't seem to be working at all.
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  #4  
October 31st, 2010, 08:56 PM
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What a hard situation.

I have to admit, I almost instantly started to wonder if there was some sort of abuse he's been exposed to. Emotional outbursts, mood swings, aggression, etc and coming on suddenly indicates something is going on. I've worked with kids in desperate situations and we're trained to always be aware of sudden changes in attitudes and behaviours.

Sure, the pre-teen years can be challenging and difficult to navigate. It's awesome that you guys are so open to therapy. Maybe find another therapist and start fresh if your gut is telling you something is going on and the therapist is brushing it off or still claiming that he's fine despite the sudden change. Having the extra input and view from a neutral 3rd party can help any situation.
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