Are pessimists Happy? DS (12) is driving me crazy with his negativity

(18 Posts)
BlipbipBeep Wed 09-Jan-13 14:29:56

It wont work
I wont like it
Its boring
I don't like it
It will go wrong
He was properly worried about the Mayan end of the world.

This negativity is driving me round the twist. Its not a new thing but it is getting much worse - he has ruined many days trips because he doesn't want to go because he is sure that we will get lost/it will rain/the swings will break/we will get a puncture/the world will end/pick your disaster!

This is now handicapping his schooling - he won't try at school or his homework because it is never right/ he will fail/ the teacher hates him/ everyone else is much cleverer...

He won't even watch a new TV show because he knows that he hates it before he has even seen it hmm

The rest of the family is generally positive and upbeat but DS's attitude effects us all, it makes planning activities hard and has even got to the point that we leave him at home because he is so negative about everything that we cannot cope with him.

DS is not stupid and up to this year actually got good results in some subjects, he is dyslexic so languages are a struggle but maths and science he is in the top sets.

I'm worried that he is really unhappy and isolated as no one else shares his pessimism.I have made this sound a little light hearted but I really could do with some help here, is there any way through this negativity? I am finding that I'm becoming increasingly irritated with him which is just confirming his belief that he is not loved etc. Generally (obviously) his pessimism is completely unfounded and things are fine but we are in a vicious cycle with his attitude and my intolerance of it.

Eastpoint Thu 10-Jan-13 06:13:56

I'm not sure if it will help but my DS is similar. I'm hoping he'll grow out of it. We have the same thing - won't read books unless he's read something else by the same author as he doesn't want to waste his time etc. If DH asks him if he wants to go & play golf (which he seems to enjoy) he'll say no half the time. I've stopped taking him to the theatre & he missed seeing Matilda...

My son changes school in Sept for yr9 and I'm hoping that will help.

CarpeJugulum Thu 10-Jan-13 06:28:37

It's fear and it's about trying to control a very scary world that you don't really understand. I have this, and it can be crippling. All the shouting and ranting in the world would never work for me, in fact it makes me dig my heels in and come up with more reasons not to do things.

What works for me, and not always, is to work out the worst consequence and "overcome" it.

So, if he doesn't want to go on a day trip because you might get lost, show him the map, sat nav or online route planner and get him involved in the planning.

If he doesn't want to read a new author, ask him what he'll lose if he tries it - suggest reading 3 chapters much like you would bargain with a toddler over food at dinner time. If he doesn't like it, he can stop, but he might find a new author he likes.

If he doesn't like a play, you will leave after the first half.

Homework is non negotiable, as that's part of life, but possibly get him to take it as a challenge - if the teacher hates him and wants him to fail (albeit unlikely!) challenge him to prove the teacher wrong.

My parents didn't really take this seriously with me, and I do now have many "issues" which only now am I starting to overcome with help of CBT and my lovely DH. Don't force them to do anything (well, within reason!) but support them to challenge themselves and find ways to deal with the fear.

wordsmithsforever Thu 10-Jan-13 06:54:12

The psychologist Dawn Huebner has written a book called What to Do When You Grumble Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Negativity - see www.amazon.com/What-When-You-Grumble-Much/dp/1591474507. It's for ages 6 to 12 so might just still be a good fit for your 12 year old. She's also written books in the same series on nail biting, anxiety, OCD, etc. They look v good.

gazzalw Thu 10-Jan-13 07:34:07

Maybe it's the way 'tweens' express their anxiety because our DS is similar...Or maybe they are just preparing to bed in for their teen years in their bedrooms....a lot of teenage boys do (I was one!). Our DS now has a thing about going into city centres because "a bomb might go off", he's afraid he's going to get killed by a 'twister' or a tsunami.....

I guess gloom and doom is a rite of passage with tweens/teens...I suppose that it's time to call in for reinforcement if it actually starts to impede on their and family life...for any length of time.

I'm not an expert on teenage boys and hopefully some other Mumsnetters can give more constructive advice but it does seem as if their default button is 'opt out'. I guess the only thing one can do as parents is carry on being up-beat and possibly not give in to their disruptive negativity.....

BlipbipBeep Thu 10-Jan-13 22:48:54

Thank you so much for your suggestions, I have ordered the book - me being the eternal optimist that he will actually read it! at the moment the only thing he will read is Tintin which, I suppose, is better than nothing.

I have started to address the school downward spiral by going through his homework with a fine tooth comb every night (luckily he doesn't get that much as it is like wading through treacle). Funnily enough yesterdays was on metacognition and thinking strategies which led to a long discussion on my side and a lot of 'I don't know', 'I don't see the point' and 'I hate it' on his side. But we did manage to highlight the importance of thinking strategies in life not just as part of a piece of homework that he doesn't see the point of, I hope hmm.

I wish it was just a phase, but this has been his default stance all of his life. It is just that it is getting worse recently and effecting his schooling as well. If I could afford it I would get a tutor for him as we do end up in screaming matches about this which, I know, does not help.

carpejugulum I will adopt some of your strategies, I can see that I do tend to be dictatorial and dig my heals in with 'this is the way it will be and you will do as you are told'. Funnily enough I am far more reasonable with DS2 who is three, but then he is far less argumentative...

PeriPathetic Thu 10-Jan-13 22:54:48

DD and DH can be like this. It's exhausting sometimes.
When DD is in one of her downward spirals, I make her tell me three good things that happened during the day. It seems to help turn her brain around.

mamalovesmojitos Thu 10-Jan-13 22:56:59

Brilliant post CarpeJugulum. It's so true, but op you have my sympathies. I'm pessimistic by nature and it was definitely from fear, or anxiety. It developed into depression. I should know better than anyone how to be patient but it's still difficult to cope with my dd's pessimism at times.

5madthings Thu 10-Jan-13 22:57:24

I have 13yr old who.is very similar.

He doesnt worru about yhings going wrong as such but everything you have written is very similar.

Tho he does do school work and does very well its still boring and pointless
.

Part of it is age i think? Its infuriating at times.

chartreuse Thu 10-Jan-13 23:08:05

I have a 12 year old boy just like yours. He was particularly bad last year, but he was having a very bad time at school. This year has been much better school-wise and the negativity has really disappated. Ds suffers from anxiety and I think the negative thinking is connected to the anxiety - the happier and more relaxed he is the more open and positive his thinking becomes.

Maybe there is something bothering him?

BlipbipBeep Fri 11-Jan-13 10:50:01

He says that he prefers school this year, he is in year eight now and I think he found year seven quite tough socially (he didn't go to his primary school's feeder school but all his close friends did). He has made quite a few new friends now but they are all of the geeky variety, not that this is a problem its just that DS is good at sport and I know that his mood improves when he is very physically active. He vigorously denies that there is any bullying type problems at school.

Having read what you have posted I suspect that it is anxiety that is the problem - when faced with a problem his first response is to crumple in tears and hide under his bed. We are trying to work on this by making him articulate his way through it and come up with solutions and strategies but its hard work when its the third time in a day that we have to drag him out from under the bed!

I'm not with his father; I left him when DS was 8 months old, partly, because I could not cope with his psychological dependence on on me. His father is also very negative and has an attitude that the world is out to get him I think that this is hugely overestimating his own self importance, like the world can really be bothered with him?

DS was sweet yeaterday; really trying hard to be involved with the familly but we do have a long way to go. I don't want him to suffer with this for ever.

PurpleLilacs Fri 11-Jan-13 10:53:04

Long time lurker but first post. Just to say my DS nearly 10, is just like this and it can be so challenging to deal with. We've had numerous ruined days out and cancelled activities because he can't get past the spiral of negativity he gets in. Its so sad to see him limiting his opportunities for fun and new experiences.

Thank you for posting this - it is a relief to know he's not the only one who feels like this!

CarpeJugulum I'm going to try and adopt your ideas too - really useful. thanks. I know its linked to anxiety and fear of the unknown - must try and remember that and not get too frustrated.

Have ordered the book too.

As well as that I wondered if anyone knew of a fiction book for this age group that dealt with these kind of issues? I've bought him self-help type books in the past but he's not that keen on reading them. Thought a story where a character overcame some of the issues he's dealing with might be an easier way of getting the messages through to him about adopting a more positive, easy going attitude to make life more enjoyable for him.

BlipbipBeep Fri 11-Jan-13 11:04:39

PurpleLilacs I am surprised that other kids go through this too, it is nice to know I'm not alone.

I see so many kids getting so many great opportunities with football, athletics, dance, swimming... and wish that I could convince him to go to at least one extracurricular activity but even the suggestion is met with a melt down. He does go to scouts and seems to like it, most of the time, but he wont join in with most of the activities; for example there is a cooking competition next weekend and even though he loves cooking he has decided already that he isn't going and doesn't want to be part of the team that will compete.

PurpleLilacs Fri 11-Jan-13 11:14:08

I know exactly what you mean. Its like his default response to any new suggestion is "No".

It can be such hard work and so sad that they won't try new things and just join in when you know they'd have fun if they did.

gazzalw Sat 12-Jan-13 09:30:48

We always thought that maybe DS had very, very mild autism because he doesn't like doing anything new or different....

bananamilkshake Sat 12-Jan-13 12:40:57

i have a DD like this - came on here looking for answers - and thinking now maybe it is an age thing - she's 12.

She does a lot of dance & have been trying to get her to try a different style at her club for over a year - she is adamant she will not do it & comes out with all sorts of reasons not to - i only keep trying as she really enjoys the other classes and is also very good at it - although she can't see it and I'm sure she would enjoy it if she would only try.

Other issue is clothes - she is not keen to go shopping but has been happy in past for me to buy her things - lately anything i buy she hates & will not wear - give it a couple of weeks and she will not take it off. DH finding it hard to deal with saying "spoilt & ungrateful" and to stop buying her things and doesn't realise "how lucky she "is etc with all these opportunites.

Dawned on me earlier after another reaction that maybe its some sort of "body image "thing and maybe she thinks she will hate herself in the clothes rather than hates the clothes?

will have a look at that book - i think it is all linked to fear/anxiety but very frustrating & difficult to deal with when ongoing.

BlipbipBeep Sat 12-Jan-13 19:16:50

bananamilkshake yy to the clothes problem! If I take him shopping he sulks if I buy him clothes he hates them but unlike your DD he will never wear them! I have tried taking absolutely everything else away so he has no choice but TBH the drama is not worth it! We have a situation now where I don't buy anything till the ones he has are actually falling apart; ATM its trainers that are literally falling apart but the last time I took him to a sports shop was such a nightmare that I'm having to rev myself up for the next trip! It could be a body image problem, we certainly have huge problems with haircuts - though I think I have found a sympathetic barber now.

Today's meltdown was my fault - he was invited to the cinema with his friends and was really looking forward to it until I stepped in with my big mouth and said "you know its forecast to snow? you'll get to the end of the film only to discover that you are snowed in. But don't worry I'm quite looking forward to coming to get you in a sort of Day After Tomorrow type adventure" smile I could see him thinking about it, then he announced that he didn't want to go! Luckily I guiltily managed to talk him down. and he is currently at the cinema and then going for a sleep over. But don't hold your breath, last time he went for a sleepover I was called by him and he demanded that I collect him right then. He didn't think he was going to enjoy himself there...

I honestly do not believe that he is on the autism spectrum, just terribly, terribly negative.

ihatethecold Sun 13-Jan-13 11:28:05

i think this behavior is quite common,

my ds 12 is very much like all the other posters are describing.

he hates people,TV programs, adverts etc. quite irrationally sometimes.
everything and i mean everything is boring and pointless.

we had to buy him trainers yesterday, he asked me to take him to town and he refused to look at the wall of trainers because he had to have the same ones that he had grown out of.

it was the most painful exercise in restraint from me.

i actually don't want to bring him out with us as a family anymore sad
he mood affects everyone and he cant snap out of it.

thankfully he does lots of sport and does attempt to try at school so its not all doom and gloom and if you met him you would never know he has this dark moody side!

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