10 yr old ds lack of empathy/remorse and more

(24 Posts)
teaandporridge Tue 09-Feb-16 07:06:23

I am having a lot of smallish issues with my 10 year old son, almost 11, and the result is all these small things together is causing a big problem. Even impacting on safety of 17 month toddler.

He is unable to follow simple instructions, the same instructions he's had for years like how to get ready for school ect; he has a terrible memory for example, he will go upstairs to brush his teeth (after getting reminded) and then forget why he's upstairs and come back down with a hat or something, or just potter about in his room. Sounds minor but these are daily occurances and have been for years. It is extremely draining and frustrating.

The safety thing is he is leaving phone chargers, Xbox head phone cables, Lego men, buttons?! And pens pencils ect just lying around in easy reach for toddler (they share a room) he's been told he has to move this stuff out of reach as the cables you straight round toddlers neck and everything else into his mouth. We have repeatedly explained the seriousness of this, told him that his brother could choke or suffocate but he still "forgets" to move the stuff.

He is also extremely manipulative and can be a nightmare to be around if he doesn't get his own way. Deliberately changing food preferences just to be twisted if he doesn't want what's for dinner. He takes mammoth style meltdowns, loud attention seeking crying if he can't go to one of his activities, which rarely happens but sometimes things come up!

Every time we speak to him about any of these issues he just stares right through us, no remorse for potentially killing his brother or causing upset in the house and no empathy when we try to explain how we feel. It's like talking to a brick wall, there's just no emotion and I can see that he's not taking anything in. I'm completely stumped as what to do now, it's really getting me down.

teaandporridge Tue 09-Feb-16 07:15:44

Forgot to add he will blatantly lie through his teeth at times and blame everyone else, making out he's the one that's hard done to. This includes teachers, at least once a week he will tell me that such and such gave him into trouble and he didn't do anything, nothing at all!

It's not a confidence thing, his ego is through the roof, thinks he's the best at everything he does to the point of being arrogant about it and quite judgemental of others that he thinks aren't as good as him.

There is a lot more but I'd be writing forever getting it all down, this is a snap shot.

AlanPacino Tue 09-Feb-16 07:21:33

Hi op. How exhausting for you. Is he generally happy at school? How does he deal with friendship troubles? How do school describe him?

defineme Tue 09-Feb-16 07:30:26

On the one lack of empathy and arrogance can be indicative of sn like asd, but on the other hand it is also very normal for preteens full of hormones to tantrum and be selfish.
I think it must be very very hard for a nearly 11 year old to share a room with a baby and have their routine of activities disrupted.
It's really your job to keep the baby safe not his. Is there nowhere out of the way to put his xbox or whatever?
You are putting a lot of responsibility on him
. What positive things do you do with him to show him that you care about him... there has to be a balance in favour of praising him rather than telling him off or the only thing he hears is that the baby is more important.

teaandporridge Tue 09-Feb-16 07:34:56

He is generally good at school, only issues is talking too much, and he loses attention easily. But there is nothing behavioural and because of this the school are not helping me engage with any outside services. He does have quite a lot of friends but tends to have a flavour of the week at times. He can be quite selfish in that respect, take what he wants when he wants regardless. But I have noticed his friends seem to be so much more grounded, calm and emotionally mature than mine, and he's older than all of them!

Penfold007 Tue 09-Feb-16 07:35:38

Your son is telling you loud and clear that's he is unhappy. He's gone from being an only child to being responsible for a toddlers safety after a long time of being a lone child (is there a new partner?).

It's hard for a 10 year old to share with a 17 month old toddler, he will now have zero privacy. What are you going to do in September when he has all the pressures of secondary school and homework to cope with.

He's unhappy and struggling and trying to tell you in his own clumsy way.

AlanPacino Tue 09-Feb-16 07:38:15

What outside services did you have in mind? You don't need the schools say so to discuss your sons difficulties with a GP or any other outside agency.

MaisieDotes Tue 09-Feb-16 07:41:29

Agree with PPs that having to share your room with a 17mo is a tough spot for an 11yo to be in.

I have an 18mo and a 14yo (they don't share a room) and while the 14yo knows not to leave dangerous things lying around I don't make her responsible for the 18mo's safety. She doesn't have the ability to be vigilant like I do- nor would I expect her to, and she's much older than your DS.

Agree that your DS's behaviour is a way of pushing back against your expectations of him.

Chippednailvarnish Tue 09-Feb-16 07:48:18

no remorse for potentially killing his brother

Unless you are saying he has murderous intentions in which case you need a mental health intervention, you are frankly being melodramatic. I get the impression that you don't have any affection for him. That's bound to affect his behaviour.

teaandporridge Tue 09-Feb-16 07:51:51

Yes this a new relationship. I do realise that it's not ideal to have them sharing but at the minute I don't have another option, we are in la housing and waiting to be offered a bigger house, I'm also 28 weeks pregnant.

Tried bringing the toddler back into our room but it was a disaster, he wouldn't sleep because we were there and he is normally a great sleeper.

Of course it's my responsibility to keep toddler safe and I do my best to make sure he is always in a safe environment but I don't think it's wrong to expect a nearly 11 year old to learn how to take responsibility for his own belongings. It would be different if he was 5 but he's not. If he thinks he's old enough and responsible enough to have a phone ect then he has to be responsible enough to look after everything that goes with it. It may sound harsh but I am raising him in a way that best prepares him for adult life in the real world - something that I never got and it had a negative effect on me.

Ds gets taken to 4 different activities per week, not including school based ones. These are always a priority and he gets whatever kit ect that he needs, when he needs it. I make sure I praise everything good I see in him and we get him involved in meal times ect. Him and dp go mountain biking when they get the chance and rugby train together. Dp also gets him involved in diy stuff in the garden. He really isn't left out or pushed aside, far from it.

It is a difficult age gap to work with but to be honest I don't agree with keeping him wrapped up in a bubble, it's good for him to learn about different family dynamics and respect for other people when you all live together.

Sorry I don't know if I've missed anything out that I've been asked?

Livingforlove Tue 09-Feb-16 07:53:19

I think it's your responsibility to remove everything from the room that could cause potential harm to your baby. You can't expect him to have that level of awareness of danger at his age. He is in his own 11 year old boy world.

I would say if school are not reporting any problems that is a major bonus. My dc also age 11 with little empathy like your boy has had difficulties at school from the age of 3.

You could meet with the head and class teacher to outline your worries formally and ask for an assessment from the ed psych. Alternatively you could take him to your GP who could refer you to CAMHS although there is a long waiting list and you might get knocked back a few times before you see someone.

The over-confidence thing I see a lot in boys (teacher here.) Is that an issue in the classroom?

KestrelThestral Tue 09-Feb-16 07:57:18

Have you always had these problems, or is it only since his brother or new partner arrived?
(Sorry f I've misse that)

KestrelThestral Tue 09-Feb-16 08:01:09

School not reporting any problems isn't necessarily a major bonus.
My son behaves well in school, but explodes at home. Because of that everyone assumed it was a parenting issue, it wasn't, he has ASD/PDA. (Not saying that's the case here OP, but everything's worth looking at if only to rule it out!)

teaandporridge Tue 09-Feb-16 08:01:29

I decided last night that I do need to intervene and I'm taking the Xbox out today and planning to make some sort of charging station where the Chargers can be kept all the time out of reach.

I do have an anxiety and am on quite a high dose of ad's for this, also engaging with mh services myself. So I realise my fear of the toddler dying may actually be quite irrational, I don't know where the line is between normal mothering instinct and irrational thought?!

I tried the gp about a year ago and he said he couldn't do anything without a school referral.

Need to go deal with breakfast, nappies ect. Will be back later. I appreciate the input, even the negative stuff. I'm not going to deny that I might be on the wrong, I just need to know where to go from here.

KestrelThestral Tue 09-Feb-16 08:08:17

Have a look at pathological demand avoidance
Several parts of your op sound very familiar to me.
Again, I'm not trying to diagnose, but coming from a point where I'm glad someone told me about it a few years ago.
Even if he isn't, and doesn't fit PDA, the strategies are useful for children who don't respond well to normal parenting strategies.
There's a book called the explosive child which you might find useful, and a website called PDA resource which has loads of strategies and information.

Of course it could all be about a new sibling/partner and he is jealous, which he will need help to get through.
Good luck!

sparklingsky Tue 09-Feb-16 08:23:10

Sounds like you have a lot on your plate at the mo. Late pregnancy and a toddler is tough, plus needing to move/stubborn and moody children and anxiety.

Trying to get other perspectives is a positive move and you sound really open to thinking differently. At 11 children often go through this type of behaviour. Their brains go through a developmental change. My 11 yo would routinely do exactly what you said about forgetting instructions, dithering around and it was really really frustrating, particularly when you need them to be a bit more independent, because of younger siblings.

Also children can get into a state where they feel a bit flooded with shame, and they can't think clearly when this happens. I mean the sort of feeling when your mum is annoyed with you repeatedly and there isn't regular repair between you. ("I know I sounded really cross. I love you and we can sort this out together") It's easier than we imagine to miss this out when we are busy with other children. Just getting cross can lead to them feeling shameful- and then children will lie, blame others and get angry, as a way to protect themselves. And they won't want to think about others' needs as they feel so bad.

I do wonder if your 11yo feels hard done by. Two new siblings, sharing his room, lots of responsibility to make sure a toddler is ok. He may feel like he can't move/breathe.

The way forward - truly - will include focusing on noticing small things he us doing right, looking for moments each day when you can focus on him and be as loving as possible, without commenting on what he needs to change.

The tidying will come later. It's too much for him to keep on top of right now - particularly the keeping stuff away from the toddler. Homework can feel overwhelming at that age. Sounds like he has lots going right for him (friendships, school work) but emotionally at home things could possibly be better (?)

You sound genuinely keen to get a change. Good luck with it all.

AlanPacino Tue 09-Feb-16 08:41:44

I tried the gp about a year ago and he said he couldn't do anything without a school referral.

Did you have in mind a specific referral? You could try a different dr at the same practice. You don't need to take your ds or even physically go. You could just make a phone appt. Have a list of his areas of difficulty with clear examples of how they effect his and yours day to day well being.

AlanPacino Tue 09-Feb-16 08:44:00

I say this as I know school don't need to be 'on board' most of the time for a referral to be made. Practitioners appreciate that many children can hide the worst of their difficulties at school only for it to all blow up at home.

Chippednailvarnish Tue 09-Feb-16 10:10:45

I don't think you are really thinking about the impact your new partner, a toddler, a new baby and sharing a room is having on your son. I think he is quietly rebelling because he is unhappy.
No amount of after school activities will stop a child feeling upset and insecure. You don't come across as having much concern about if he is unhappy, it all seems to relate to how his behaviour affects you and your other child.

Kitchencrayon Tue 09-Feb-16 11:16:27

You have a lot on your plate, OP!

If the person closest to me got a new partner, I was no longer the man of the house, I got a new sibling who took attention (as all babies do) away from me (even though I love him/her really), I had to share my bedroom with this new sibling, just when I was arriving at a point in life where I want my own space, I am supposed to be "responsible" for things I never had to be before AND another new sibling will be coming to take my mum's attention, oh and I was 11, honestly OP, I'd be being royal PITA too.

Simply sharing mum or dad with a new partner can be hard enough for a child, but your son is being asked to do much more than that. Yes, he's not a baby, but he's still young and these changes have all come quite quickly (remembering too that how we adapt to change is different for everyone).

Can you hand on heart say that you are 100% certain he knows you think he's amazing and dealing wonderfully with the changes and that you love him just as much as ever you did? If not, then I'd look at that before trying to get a diagnosis/psychological help for something the root of which may be relatively easily solved (more 1 on 1 time with you at least for a while plus daily doses of encouragement).

I'm not saying there's nothing else going on with him, but if those things aren't happening for him, then it'll make anything else worse anyway.

And it's not about rewarding bad behaviour, it's about recognising that in amongst the difficult behaviour is a little boy who is dealing with a lot of changes in his life that he gets no say in, or control over.

FWIW, most of the people I know with apparently large egos are actually quite insecure, it's their way to hide their insecurity.

AlanPacino Tue 09-Feb-16 11:35:32

It sounds like he is getting plenty of attention from you all. They'd be no harm in kick starting a referral to an outside agency as well as thinking about something you might do now at home although as I said, it does sound like he is being valued and nurtured op smile

teaandporridge Tue 09-Feb-16 20:47:24

Thank you all for the advice and different perspectives, it's opened my eyes a bit more. And thanks for the references too, I'll have a look.

To answer some questions; yes there were problems before my dp came into our lives, they are just getting tougher with the older he is getting and the more mature he thinks he is lol!

Of course I care about his happiness, it breaks my heart to think under it all he could be feeling rejected or inadequate. I have chats with him every so often about how he's feeling. I ask if there's anything bothering him at home or school, is he getting on ok with dp still and even if he would be happier with his own dad more but he always assures my that he is happy and he feels his home is here, he doesn't want to live with his dad.

I do try to get one on one time but when I suggest things he's not really interested, he'd rather go out to play or go on his Xbox but I did put my foot down at the weekend which caused one of the tantrums I mentioned earlier. There was about 40 mins worth of howling then he reappeared and we went out for the day and he actually enjoyed it! I also spent all afternoon Sunday away at a rugby tournament he was playing in.

The thing is, when he isn't in one of his moods about something, he is a really lovely, enthusiastic wee boy (big boy?!) but as time goes on I'm seeing a lot more of the other side of him - all of which I should mention are traits his dad has, who was impossible to live with.

I'm starting to think the Xbox could be playing a big part in this. He's only been off it since yesterday and he's like a new boy today. Other times it seems to take over his whole mind! I think he feels a real addiction to it. Is this common?

sparklingsky Tue 09-Feb-16 23:50:46

I think you might be on to something there. My son is a right PITA if he is on the xbox more than an hour. His dad has said the same thing! It's like it brings out the worst side if him (and that's just FIFA and FORZA).

villainousbroodmare Wed 10-Feb-16 00:05:59

I was talking to an acquaintance the other day who would agree with what you're saying about the X Box. His son is 8 and he reckons he became quickly addicted to the thing and that it brought out horrible behaviour. The boy is infinitely happier and nicer without it.

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