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grumpy 11 year old son with n.v.l.d and sp learning difficulties ruling the roost

(52 Posts)
Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 21:59:41

Every day my son says mean things to me and my 10 year old son and it's pulling us all down. 11 year old is clearly fed up with being small with nuts and having a single mum set the rules so he sabotages whatever he can and so this xmas, when I dropped them off to their dad's I could not wait to drive away. Never in my life did I think I would so want to geddaway like that. I have been in bed ever since, recovering - deep exhaustion. Sure, he can't help it. So me and 10 year old are as nice as we can be. 11 year old hogs all the air time stonks off in a huff when he can't think of something rotten to say, imitates us, makes us late for everything. He says his dad is perfect and would like to live with him but step mother does not want that. I just feel like the mean bad parent even though I am doing all I can to make his life as nice as poss, just took him skiing before xmas even though it hurt my knees and wiped me out. Nothing is ever good enough. So now, I just send him to his room for an hour if he tries to wreck meal times e.g. The put-downs to his younger bro are the biggest worry because, here, there's a job vacancy for an alpha male and 11 yr old keeps trying to fill it and 10 yr old looks up to him. My youngest is being given a course in how to become a masochist from all directions. Help? Do I get a mannie? Something to dilute the ghastly triangular theme of hell here? Luckily, my youngest has taken up fitness fanaticism. Oldest's response has instantly been to grow a spare tyre - so that's been the only amusing aspect to it all.

MeMySonAndI Thu 26-Dec-13 22:23:25

He is 11, you are still in time to get in charge. But it needs a bit of effort on your part:

Set clear rules, that are never broken or ignored no matter how tired or fed up you are.

I'm not sure I understand much any of what you've written. fconfused Are you asking whether your son needs a male role model in his life?

You mention learning difficulties in your title - are you getting support to help with this from relevant agencies?

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 22:41:29

Thanks so so much. Yes, you are right. I think I have not been clear enough with him so now, tonight I have been writing out a list of points he can earn for all kinds of things from cleaning his teeth to collecting then hen's eggs, saying a positive thing to his younger bro, etc - will earn 10 mins ipad/Nintendo time.

forthview Thu 26-Dec-13 22:41:41

What's n.v.l.d and sp?
Don't feel bad about feeling relieved to be having a short break from it all. Sounds like you need it very much.

I think I might see what's going wrong here. Does your ex let him have his way more than you do? If he does, he's put you in the classic bad cop role.

There's a way around this, and it's not going to be easy. You need to turn the tables around and put most of the responsibility for his actions on your DS directly and make sure he's aware of this. At the moment he is of the opinion that his life is out of his control and he has no choices to make, every bad thing that happens is you making it happen. So give him an option. If he acts up, give him his options: stop, and he can have or do something good, keep it up and take a punishment. Boom, ball's in his court.

When talking with him, make him very aware that his bad behavior is a choice and the consequences are a natural extension of that choice. For example, let's say he acts up at the dinner table, dialogue as follows:

DS: You're a stinky poo-head and this food is like eating raw sewage.

You: Your behavior is not acceptable. If you choose to continue behaving like this, you will have to go to your room for the next hour until you decide you can behave yourself. If you choose to stop, you can have dessert and some TV time.

Say it sternly, without raising your voice. He is not the alpha male, he is a juvenile and needs to be given clear boundaries by the person in charge. Children actually like having boundaries, even if they act like they don't.

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 22:46:26

This is my first mumsnet eve, posting so I am new to the rules and maybe even new to clarity. I am a single (49 yr old) mum, small-holder, ex piano teacher and not logical in the least. Having a son like mine has definitely stumped the i.q. somewhat. He puts words in my mouth too which doesn't help - saying I promised something when I am pretty sure I never did. Getting the wrong end of the stick is something we both do from different ends. It would be good if he had a string of different good male role models really instead of the perfect absent father who is naturally on a v high pedestal and never sees him except for high-days and hols, doesn't have to get him anywhere on time e.g.

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 22:47:37

none whatsoever! The school sp needs dept treat me as an annoying parent so I buzz off

MeMySonAndI Thu 26-Dec-13 22:55:09

And may I ask what are you doing to provide him with good male role models?

I'm not saying that you need to go out and find him a new dad, but getting him into activities that are coordinated by men often helps.

Several different male role models will do more harm than just a single half-decent one, I've seen separation anxiety cause horrible problems for small children.

Also, he sounds quite bright if he's putting words in your mouth. I had a discipline method I used to work on bright, talkative children who would try to argue their way out of trouble. I'd give them an essay to do on why they were in trouble and for every time they fought me on it, I would add an extra number of words. They usually stopped arguing before the essay got too long, and it meant they had to think about their actions.

How's his imagination? Fictional role models rather than real, fallible human beings could be a good thing for him and I can certainly give you a list of media I'd recommend to suit your purpose.

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 22:59:43

Wow thx so so much for this. You are so right! Every time I do assert the boundaries, he looks pretty relieved. I just have to do it with more balls and not wobble. I also think I need to come clean about how guilty I feel about how much he does do. He's at a school which is pressured - about to go on to do C.E. to Eton or Radley and on top of that, I get nearly 3/4s hr's music practice out of him between 7-8 a.m. when we go off to sch. THe music is not something I give him much of a choice over but he likes that! As a result he just got 84% for his G5 Theory and about to do his G6 piano. He does drums and trombone too. My 10 year old is violin and piano and has perfect pitch. No one except a sports coach understands that if you don't get to a decent level by aged 10, you can't pick it up later. It's partly neurological. I tell both my sons they can stop at 14 but can't take it up then. So they do my deal - music practice. So then I feel bad about getting them to do too much help around the house so I do it. Really though, the 11 year old, being a lop-sided genius like his dad, finds it hard to unwind except through t.v. or if I set him up, he can't just play using his imagination and plus, with homework, it's bedtime by the time he's finished. So he's not getting enough downtime is he? I got good at music as a child because I lived in the middle of nowhere and was bored stiff. Anyhow, I need to geddagrip because on hol, he nearly drove me off my trolley. If we got a male au pair or a mannie I just feel it might diffuse the triangle theme too because that's not easy - not for anyone. Thank you so so much for your support and thoughts. There are no parent road-maps and so I keep getting to crossroads and dither by which time, he is bashing his younger bro or putting him down. Dad of course, ignores youngest (like me) and subtly promotes/prefers oldest - doesn't help!

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 23:02:03

please doo! I think you are right! He is lippy beyond belief, always got an answer - which naturally hoovers up any IQ I had left

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 23:09:24

they are weird learning disabilities which in the old days were not defined - any odd ball class mate you had probably had a learning disability. To qualify you need to be lop-sided in your IQ - so e.g. really good at spelling and aspects of maths but with a hand-writing speed of 2 m.p.h. and other things like perfectionism. Apparently, it's where the right and left brain don't communicate with each other very fluently. So where in drums he needs both, it's fine because he's learnt to drum but in a new scenario e.g. where a teacher says you need your pen, your reading book your hat and to meet over by B block at 11.30 a.m. he would get all five things wrong and appear a blithering idiot. Non verbal because all visual-special is alien to him and only processed verbally - so time and organisation are v difficult for him - he can't see the need for them even! The Sp Learning Difficulties I am less clear on because this is a recent addition to his 'learning profile'. What I have to do is get him to touch-type everything and do a brain-dump so he doesn't over-load his already over-taxed memory. People with all these learning disabilities just take longer to get there than the rest of us - but do in the end, like his dad who is majorly successful even though he uses it to mask his lack of insight into himself and others

No problem, I'll pm it to you. I have an intellectual interest in media for children so I love giving advice on the subject.

I would highly recommend not going down the au-pair/manny route just yet, saying this as a nanny with 12 years experience. You'll just be adding another relationship/power dynamic to the mess you're already trying to sort out and honestly, having an au pair can be like having another child.

Your son sounds very like a boy I looked after, was a bit of a prodigy in most areas (music included) but the downside was he would always try to use that brain to argue his way out of trouble. It never worked with me, I saw myself as an army general and my rules were to be followed whether he had a problem with it or not. Again, when he gets difficult, re-iterate that he is choosing to take the punishment route rather than towing the line and there is another option open to him.

MeMySonAndI Thu 26-Dec-13 23:12:46

I disagree Princess, my son's main male role models have been his school teacher, judo tutor, the lovely neighbours, the husbands of my friends and some good friends we see regularly. He doesn't have separation anxiety, it has been good for him to have all these people around him.

Or are you suggesting that as a single mother she would hurt her son by increasing the number of people her children interact with?

friday16 Thu 26-Dec-13 23:15:38

Apparently, it's where the right and left brain don't communicate with each other very fluently.

You do realise that "left brain" and "right brain" is almost complete bollocks, don't you?

Non verbal because all visual-special is alien to him and only processed verbally

You do realise that VAK "learning styles" are also almost complete bollocks, don't you?

MeMySonAndI Thu 26-Dec-13 23:20:37

Beeksy, you don't ask a child who has problems with tge speed if his writing to write an essay to stop him from talkibg his way out of problems, that is unless you want to reinforce to him that writing is an unpleasant thing and some sort of punishment.
If your son has had a full diagnose, go back to the document the ed. psychologist gave you to find suggestions on how to deal with the behaviour. But be careful of dishing out punishment that reinforces any poor perspective he could have about himself due to his own disability.

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 23:21:20

he has a lovely piano teacher who he says is, "like a step-father" to him. Other than that, we leave for sch at 8 a.m. and don't get back before 5 p.m. He's up at 6.30 a.m. so we can squeeze in an hour's music practice before sch. Obviously that's an ideal. Most days these days it's less. These hours mean I have no evening/social life. He does various clubs at school - orchestra etc and there are men in them - his trombone teacher is male and he only does it because this teacher is such a mate. So he's set up o.k. really - for good male rote models. I was thinking that a good male role model here at home would be better for my younger son whose dad doesnt' get him and is in shorter supply of good male role models - who might diffuse the put-downs better than I can, here. There is no way I want a man again - other than a mannie or male au pair for the boys. Our dogs are female - the weediest breed you can get - whippets and our hens have no cockerel; I do not have the strength to combat male egos or praise them at the right moments. However, in the nick of time, I am going to crack this. Thanks so much for your contributions. Being a single parent is always ill-fitting, whatever age you are, whether you are the parent or child - it's horrible, unnatural and always a challenge. And you are too busy or knackered to meet anyone

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 23:24:58

definitely. Yes I got that. He can already type quite fast though not my 90 w.p.m. yet. I think you are right. I need to go back to the Ed Psych and ask her for specific strategies. She'd give me a list if I asked. My trouble is, till tonight, (before signing up to mumsnet) I got so used to doing everything alone (left their dad in 2006) that I never think to ask for help.

PeriodFeatures Thu 26-Dec-13 23:26:05

Beeksy You can do this! Don't allow this 11 year old to chip away at your anchors. Let his comments, criticisms and behavior go past you like water off a ducks back. He will stop.

You don't need a Mannie, you really don't. One of you needs to change your behavior/response and the cycle will stop.

Use Stuck record technique. Planned ignoring.

You modeling appropriate responses to his behavior will have an effect on the way his sibling will respond to him.

Take the power back. You need to get a tough skin. Shame is a great motivator if used correctly. Unfortunately you are accommodating really poor behavior that he would probably be embarrassed about in other peoples company. If this behavior is not something he'd want others to see then it ought not be seen by you either. (at least not with such frequency)

Do you mean misogynist or masochist?

Can you take him out and have a talk with him about his behavior, on his own, maybe to a cafe or restaurant? He's obviously bright.

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 23:27:33

who are the relevant agencies? He's at an independent sch so there's no support for parents whatsoever. His dad does not want me to let his ed psych report get out into the public domain and so I dare not take it to the G.P. in case he gets 'branded' for life. In my view, you grow out of these things to a large extent by the time you are in your late teens at least if not before. He is the sort of child the 11+ was scrapped for because so many children tested appaulingly at that age and caught up later.

I can't pm you because your name isn't clickable, so I'll post my rec list here:

*Lord of the Rings: Several male role models in different flavours, classic heroes as well as small-time heroes, he can take his pick. Also, very timely with the new films in the cinema.

*Captain America/Avengers Assemble: Classic Hero, and a theme of misfits doing the right thing with no immediate personal benefit to them

*Transformers, the original cartoon series: It's been said by multiple people that Optimus Prime was a father figure to them while growing up in a single parent household

*How to Train Your Dragon film and cartoon series: Strong themes of taking responsibility for your actions, misfit hero, strong emphasis on brain over brawn

*Summer Wars: It's an anime film about family and the contrast with the online world, it's very sweet and there's more emphasis on brain power saving the day and again, doing what's best because you can

*Harry Potter's an obvious one, but it's popular for a reason

To add to these recs, I'd suggest the following non-music related hobbies.

*Martial arts (for the discipline)
*Warhammer (for the artistry and team-building)

And perhaps adopting a pet might help him develop a bond and a sense of responsibility?

PeriodFeatures Thu 26-Dec-13 23:32:52

There is no way I want a man again - other than a mannie or male au pair for the boys. Our dogs are female - the weediest breed you can get - whippets and our hens have no cockerel; I do not have the strength to combat male egos or praise them at the right moments

Hmmmmm [strokesbeardemoticon] is there is some man hating going on here? you have a pre pubescent male in your house. You might want to look at that. He will be having some identity issues. Just saying.

Beeksy Thu 26-Dec-13 23:33:42

I am so so grateful to you. What wise advice! I am sure you are right about not adding someone else into the hot-pot. Maybe we can get a French au pair in the summer hols, once I have sorted it out. The call special needs children 'special' and I am beginning to see why. He is, but he is also just 'not there' in some areas. I love him because he is sweet and so keen to please and so vulnerable. But he's also a complete git. Thank you so much for helping me out. He adores reading which helps and I buy him books and he loves them plus book-shop trips.

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