MaryZ's support thread for parents of troubled teenagers

(479 Posts)
MaryZcary Sun 28-Oct-12 10:12:41

I am starting this thread in the hope that it will become a safe space for those of us strugging with very challenging teenage behaviour.

I'm hoping that it will be a support thread, rather than descend as so many threads do into a "criticism of the parents". Those of us in this situation know that it is pretty much impossible to just "tell them to stop" or to "ground them", and taking away phones, money and gadgets leads to lying stealing and running away sad.

Sadly it seems cannabis is at the bottom of an awful lot of these children's problems, and I'm hoping we can talk about that here without having to defend ourselves against the "cannabis does no harm" brigade. So if anyone tries to turn it into an argument about whether cannabis is addictive or harmful, could you please just ignore them and hope they go away - or start another thread which I can hide where they can argue away happily.

Anyway, sign in if you are interested. I'll be back later.

Brightspark1 Sat 17-Nov-12 10:53:39

It's not plain sailing is it? At best it's one step forward two steps back, we carry on because there is no other option. I'm not surprised ds2 has reacted to his CAMHS appt, the apprehension and fear of the unknown must have taken its toll a bit. It's possible that he is usually happy because he puts all his negative feelings in a box , and at his visit that box was opened leaving him confused and upset. Given what he has observed from his brother, he may have taken on the role of being 'the happy one ', or is that cod psychology?
I'm off to do my Christmas shopping, any idea what to buy dd 16, who doesn't think she is worth being given gifts, who doesn't want clothes because she hates her body, and has no real interests? Answers on a postcard please

flow4 Sat 17-Nov-12 11:01:09

Don't feel guilty about 'shoving' your worries onto us, Maryz. You give the rest of us an opportunity to be helpful smile and I am sure you know it can be a great comfort to feel that, even if your own life is a total fucking disaster zone, you can be helpful to someone else. So come on, moan more Maryz... Don't deny us that small pleasure... grin

I'm afraid I can't tell you about any 'CAMHS reaction', cos DS1 had an assessment, and then we were told he didn't reach their thresholds... hmm I do know, though, that if I have something I have been avoiding thinking about, and then I have to confront it/get it out into the open, it can be very disturbing and upsetting, so your DS2's reaction sounds quite 'reasonable'.

fifietta Sat 17-Nov-12 14:25:57

I hope it's okay to muscle in on this thread. I started one about a week ago about my 14 year old DD who is very depressed and on ADs and received some kind, wise and hopeful words from Brightspark in particular.

The trouble is you can just never rest on your laurels. It seems that the minute things seem a little better or DD appears to be enjoying herself there is a sudden, unpredictable plummet (although it's not unpredictable now as it always happens) sometimes for no discernible reason, at other times because she has heard something she can't cope with...she doesn't tell me, but I snoop. Had to cancel an appointment this morning as something had happened with her and I later found a razor blade in her bed.

I was wondering, is it against mumsnet etiquette to mention particular local CAMHS services and to hear of others' experiences of them? It could help...

Brightspark1 Sun 18-Nov-12 08:34:53

fifietta welcome to the thread. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to discuss individual CAMHS services publicly, I'm not sure but I think it would contravene something or other. I'm happy to PM you again though.
I'm sorry you are still having a bad time. We are only now able to have razors in the house, I remember searching DD's bedroom and finding pencil sharpener blades under the mattress. Most of my kitchen knives are still in the loft where I had to put them out of her way. It didn't feel right searching and snooping, and I'm sure you hate it too, but it had to be done to keep her safe and it was something the ward were insistent on. Trouble is, it destroyed any trust DD had in us, and though she has more or less stopped self harming, we still haven't regained that trust.
Dealing with the unpredictability on a daily basis is completely draining, it's so easy just to give up on trying to plan anything as you never know when you will end up sitting in A&E for hours waiting for them to be stitched up and assessed. It might be worth discussing a plan of action with CAMHS where you have a letter saying that she is under their care, and in the event of her needing A&E treatment for self harm, she doesn't need to be admitted for assessment by the duty psychiatric service.
Make sure you get as much practical and emotional support as possible, it is exhausting and isolating coping with a teen who is depressed.

Hi All

Maryz I hope you had a lovely birthday and got a chance to relax and got spoilt by your family.

My DS2 is in isolation at school today yesterday and friday for the incident i described. Having looked into it more he has been put there for not stopping one boy assulting another. My DS had no actual involvement with the assult.
I think this is quite harsh, but the lady from the support unit investigated it a bit more for me and it was 2 days for that and one day for rudeness to a teacher.

This morning i recieved a letter telling me to attend a reintergration meeting today at 8.30am, which obviously i have missed as not told.

Spoke to head of year his reply was 'oh was that today', so appears he did not know either, even though meeting was with him.

Letters also state that isolation for 3 days due to involvment in assult ( not getting help) and one day for rudeness to staff ( so he is back in there tomorrow)

I feel the school have failed here on several counts:
1) 3 days for not stoppoing one boy do something to another ( schools version not DS) Would this happen if he was not on their radar already??
2) another day for an incident i know nothing about really and was only mentioned when i chased up the school.
3) lack of communication to myself and the support unit ( who i informed DS was in isolation)
4) Just all seems very heavy handed

On top of this i have emailed the school as DS had SEN report done, no major issues but he struggles with reading and writing at times. This report ( 4 weeks ago) made some suggestions for ideas to help. I have heard nothing, no action has been taken. So emailed to say what are you doing about this?

I am going into school in the morning, and will be pointing out the lack of communication at play here.

Has anyone ever said no their child is not going back into isolation?

4 days for what they say he has done seems mad and i was not informed of the 4th day until this morning.

I think i am prepared to take him home if they insist he has to attend isolation. But does anyone know where that will leave me?

Hope everyone else is ok, god its hard at times isn't it

MaryZezItsOnlyJustNovember Tue 20-Nov-12 14:52:28

What happened to the boy who actually did the assault?

I think I would be inclined to take him home if the original punishment was three days and they have now made it four. I would also ask for a specific meeting to discuss the support issues, and try to get a plan in place.

I wish I had stepped in and taken ds's side against the school more. He would still have been expelled in the end, but at least he wouldn't have blamed me. With ds2 I am taking the track of trying to find out what he can help, and what he can't behaviour wise (so trying to get them to realise that he isn't rocking his chair or humming on purpose, for example). My aim with him is to get through this with us retaining some sort of respect for each other; what happens with the school is of secondary importance to me ultimately.

I had a lovely birthday, by the way smile. ds1 turned up and was friendly and chatty and even gave me a hug shock.

Oh i am really pleased for you Maryz, thats fantastic to hear.There is hope amongst all these teens grin

The advice on here especially from you has made me think about standing up for him more, and this incident sounded odd from the start.

The boy who carried out the assult was excluded for 3 days i believe.

I really believe that any other child who hadn't raised the alarm for help wouldn't have been treated the same way as my ds, but i will never prove that!

I just find it hard to believe they can add a day for something else, and not even discuss.

I have asked for a seperate meeting ref support issues now ( thanks for that idea) , and have asked the lady who runs the support unit to attand as well. She has been great and even advised me that next year i should be aiming to get him onto college day release as it will suit him better.

I feel better just because i am doing something and hopefully showing DS that although i know he is not perfect ( far from it) i also know not everything is as bad as the school makes it seem.

brighterfuture Tue 20-Nov-12 20:48:14

Have just had the tuesday night come down verbal assault from Ds. He's kicked the bin over and thrown the clean washing everywhere. He's hit himself and woken his little sister up to yet more shouting. All because I offered to take him in late tomorrow morning as he has no lessons but requested that after school he comes home on the bus as I want him home and will not be able to go and get him if he misses it. Apparently he will do what he wants after school and if he doesn't come home then he will sort it out (basically meaning he will crash on a friends floor and then miss school the next day). I have apparently done nothing but nag him since he came in ......in reality I have fed him , made him a nice pudding. Requested nothing from him at all and given him my computer to watch in his room....

MaryZezItsOnlyJustNovember Tue 20-Nov-12 20:52:32

I used to hate Mondays when ds was really bad, because Thursday and Friday were the big nights out, Saturday and Sunday were hangover days, and Monday was when the withdrawal shit hit the fan behaviour arrived.

ds has still not done his course work. Final day, tomorrow.

I don't know what to do.

But I'm certainly not going to make any sort of suggestion - I would get a reaction like yours Brighter.

I hope your meeting goes ok tomorrow Diet. Have you got anyone who could go with you and take notes? I used to come out feeling really frustrated and outnumbered.

brighterfuture Tue 20-Nov-12 21:12:38

My Ds goes to all night raves on Sat night which carry on through Sunday so he loses a whole nights sleep + whatever drugs he's had ....so Tuesday is a bad day. Last week we had a meltdown on the same night I seem to recall.... I am sorry your Ds is shooting himself in the foot over his coursework Maryz I understand how frustrated and dissapointed you must feel . You are right to not say anything though ...I need to learn to keep my gob shut more not react !

maryz thats a great idea about taking someone, it hadn't occured to me, thank you.

flow4 Tue 20-Nov-12 23:32:53

So many new things for me to respond to...! smile

Maryz - I'm so glad about your DS1 coming to your birthday grin
I think I remember that he remembered it last year too (a card?)... So is that two years running now? smile

As for the coursework... I don't think there is anything you can do, is there? sad

brighter - Last year, I had those come-down outbursts from my DS1 every week, on Mon or Tues, depending on which night(s) he'd been out. They are horrible. The last one led to me calling 999. sad

He hasn't had any of those total freak-outs for a couple of months now, which I hope means he is telling me the truth about not taking m-cat any more and cutting down on the skunk. (See, I'm actually beginning to dare to hope!) He has been grumpy as hell Sun/Mon and today, and rude and argumentative, but he has kept his temper smile

diet - Your school's response sounds very familiar. It is a hard one. Many schools are not fair, and they do not communicate at all well with parents. But IMO our teens are also out of place and troublesome.

I think your decision to stand up for your DS more often is a sound one (like Maryz says, your relationship with him is more important and goes on longer) BUT I do have some words of caution...:

1) You will not win, and you will not get the school to change their action - I am 98% sure. Be clear that you are taking a stand for your DS - because you believe it's the right thing to do for him, and not because you expect to change anything. Detach yourself from any expectations about what the school will do, or you'll get angry/frustrated/upset.

2) Sanctions are often heavy-handed and/or unfair. It took me a long time to work out why: in the end I realised that school 'discipline' is about 'herd' or 'hive' well-being, not individual well-being: the school will act in what it sees as the best interest of the school as a whole, even if this is NOT in your child's best interests.

My DS once got 3 days for moving a bench from outside into a corridor because that was their bright idea of escaping the cold! hmm The friend who moved the bench with him got lunchtime detentions instead. hmm The head said the difference was a response to their different 'attitudes'.

Days do also get added at whim. Once, my DS got one day for smoking, then another day added for drawing cartoons after he'd finished the work he'd been given, then another day for saying that wasn't fair. hmm

3) 3 days in isolation for involvement in an assault is about what I would expect. My DS's school did not distinguish between the person punching and others present - they often operate a kind of 'collective punishment'.
(My DS was once excluded for 2 weeks for playing with a lighter in the sports hall, and for other 'acts of vandalism' that had happened in the same place the following week on a day when he was off sick. hmm angry The head and governors (I complained) were not even remotely interested in that fact (see 1 and 2)).

4) Communication with/from school is often shockingly bad, IMO. Nothing 'fixes' this problem IME, but a few things help:
- Find one person in the senior management team who will talk to you, and try to always deal with this individual, whenever there is a problem;
- Put things in writing, especially if you want to confirm something they have promised. After a meeting, email key points/agreed actions to your friendly management team member, and/or the head.
- If they get really bad and won't take your calls or answer your emails, re-send it asking for a prompt reply and CC your email to someone else - I used someone in the local education authority a few times. The school seems to want to be seen to be answering you! grin

Good luck!

Flow thank you for all that advice.
I have been in this morning and seen the head of year.

The three days for involvement in the assult have already been done so although i feel its harsh, i see no point in arguing that. Am also hoping DS had learnt something from it.

I have though raised the extra today, which i knew nothing about and it is due to teacher complaining about his attitude 5 weeks ago. I have made it clear the lack of communication is terrible over this. I also said that 5 weeks on is really to late to issue this isolation day. He agreed and DS is now in lessons today!

Whilst discussing this it came clear that this same teacher has been making DS sit outside the classroom for the last 5 weeks. I have asked the head of year to look at this, as i don't think that is acceptable. I have said if she refuses to have him in lessons then he can go to the support unit for her class, where at least he will be working. Its art which i know he will not take at option time, so would rather he did extra reading work in that time.

I do feel we have got somewhere today, not far but DS seems morr positive now

Oh and i shall follow that all up when i get home with an email, sound advice again.

I would just like to add the support on here is great and i really appriciate it

MaryZezItsOnlyJustNovember Wed 21-Nov-12 10:04:45

It is difficult when they are having punishment added on to punishment onto punishment, isn't it? Flow's advice is good though - especially about the "herd" punishment rather than trying to improve things for an individual.

One day ds2 was in the ridiculous position of having a lunchtime and an after school detention, as well as being kept back by a teach at breaktime, all on the same day. So he went from 8.50 to 6 pm with no break and no food - not the best way to get a child with ADHD to be able to sit quietly and concentrate confused. And as far as I could see the only crime he had committed was fidgeting in class - which I know is annoying, but isn't something he does deliberately to wind up the teacher, and isn't exactly on the same scale as vandalism, bullying or smoking dope.

ds2 also has one teacher who has been refusing to teach him, and when I asked her what exactly he had been doing that she sent him outside every day, the only answer she had was that he was continually kicking his table leg.

I want to support the school, I really do, but they are grinding him down and he feels it doesn't matter what he does he is in trouble with someone.

diet, can your son give up a couple of subjects? I always felt that if ds1 had been allowed to pack in the two or three (out of 12) subjects that he had to do at 14 he could have spent the free time doing prep (thus freeing his evenings) and got on much better in the other 9 or 10.

maryz yes luckily he is already missing one lesson. Spanish. He isn't going to take it for gcse so he has the support u it doing extra english with him then. Art will go as well if she will not have in the room!

I am lucky that the support unit are good at his school, and they really like him too which helps!

renz Wed 21-Nov-12 19:19:33

Thank you MaryZcary for doing this, I am new here but it shows me that my DD's behaviour is within the range of "normal" teenage behaviour. Can i ask for general advice on the following

DD is not behaving terribly but she will not do as she is asked, ever, and if we try to give her refusals as a penalty for not doing what she has been asked to do she will "explode" and tonight has climbed out of her window for the second time. (only gone to friends - so no danger at this point)

She has a group of friends that are allowed to hang around the park at night in a town about 4 miles from our house,but we do not feel that at 14yrs that this is appropriate. There have also been rumours of her smoking (denied). Recently just joined Dof Edin Bronze but wont talk about/discuss what she is going to do to achieve it!
Stays up till 4am but doesnt see why its a problem and as another described on here falls asleep as soon as gets home from school. Have removed computer/ipad/switched off wifi but all a constant battle...

What do you feel is the best course of action??

MaryZezItsOnlyJustNovember Wed 21-Nov-12 19:33:24

I can't really advise, renz (welcome to the thread btw) because I never found a punishment or an incentive that made ds behave confused.

What are you asking her to do that makes her so angry? I think if I were you I would try (!) first to compromise - tell her you want to sit down with her and work out rules that you are happy with and she is willing to obey. You then need to work out with your husband/partner the things you won't budge on and the things you can.

You might have to allow trips to the park if you collect her at a certain time, for example.

It's difficult - because I know some teens who behave when their phones/laptops/whatever are taken away. dd certainly does - even a thread means she sits and compromises. And she never blatantly goes against what we decide. But for other teens that simply doesn't work, and you get to the stage where they are being punished so much and for so long there is no incentive to behave.

At our worst I had three rules (and even those I couldn't always enforce) - no drugs in the house, no violence and he had to text if he wasn't coming home at night. He was 15 then - so obviously these were are unrealistic for "normal" kids.

Whatever you do decide are the rules - curfew/school/study etc., stick to only those rules and let other stuff go (bedrooms for example, really don't matter). Try very hard not to add in other stuff that isn't in the agreement.

Also, try at your meeting to say one good thing for every bad thing, and don't immediately undo the good that does. So if you say "I'm delighted you are doing DoE", don't then say "What are you going to do about it?"

If this works and you end up with a better line of communication you can then introduce other habits.

summer111 Wed 21-Nov-12 19:56:34

fifietta,
I'm also new to this thread and have a daughter of a similar age diagnosed with depression in June. It is so emotionally draining, I feel like I am walking on eggshells all the time. dd has superficially self harmed on a few occasions so we don't feel like we can go out and leave her at home in case she does something to harm herself - which means our lives are so much more restricted. dh was diagnosed with cancer a year ago which has been a huge trigger for her - I thought life was difficult with his diagnosis and ongoing treatments but believe me, the unpredictability of dd's illness is so much worse.
Just to add, CAMHS have been a great support to dd and us as a family.

renz Wed 21-Nov-12 19:58:13

thank you for your suggestions, make a lot of sense, I will try the discussion/compromise/agreement route. Hopefully we can agree a way forward that will work. Thanks again much appreciated

Maryz Wed 21-Nov-12 21:31:37

summer, depression and self-harm are so difficult to deal with sad. Do you have any support for you. I know it sounds silly, but counselling for me really helped me cope with ds's self-destructive behaviour. It made me work out what I could help with, and what I couldn't and stopped me lying awake at night pondering all the various "what-ifs"

I'm sorry about your dh - that's another stress for all of you.

I think most families are walking on a bit of a tightrope, and it only needs one thing - illness, like in yours and Cory's cases, SN, behavioural problems, school issues, anything at all really to knock us off that tightrope, at which stage things can spiral out of control very quickly.

Maryz Wed 21-Nov-12 21:33:50

By the way I'm sorry for the name changes - I'm usually Maryz, but have changed for Hallowe'en and to protest about early Christmas over-enthusiasts.

Is there anyone I have missed or ignored? I know I haven't been on here every day (and Flow in particular has been doing trojan work), but I hope no-one feels their posts have been missed. If you do, please post again. I know when things were at their worst for me just knowing someone was there to listen made things just about bearable.

Anyhoo, onwards and upwards smile

Doinmummy Thu 22-Nov-12 22:50:28

Hi it's me again < sigh> I started a thread about Dd refusing to go to school tomorrow as she has nothing to wear ( non uniform day) . I feel like she's black mailing me. I'm worried about her missing lessons. Had some good advice re making the day miserable for her by removing laptop etc. which I will do. I went back to GP and am waiting for counselling for myself. I feel wrung out.

flow4 Fri 23-Nov-12 00:26:59

Time for me to sigh now... Just had a visit from the police... sad There has been a burglary in our area, and because DS was arrested for burglary in the spring after he snuck into his ex-friend's house and stole their 'phone, he's on their list of suspects. sad

Thankfully it does seem to have been a one-off bit of unbelievably fking stupid awfuloff-his-head behaviour, and there have been no repeats...

At least they didn't arrest him this time, because he has a clear alibi... But this is I think our 4th visit from them. sad

It does make me wonder how long he'll be on their radar...

He's getting me self-aware though: he apologised to me after they left.

flow4 Fri 23-Nov-12 00:28:05

He's getting more self-aware...

I'm tired, sorry.

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