Advanced search

Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.

Control Issues

(28 Posts)
Buster51 Sun 26-Jan-14 18:25:38

Evening all!

A few of you may remember that over the last few weeks we have come to realise that our DS has control issues. We have been advised he has 'disorganised-controlling attatchment style". These kind of behaviours have become more and more apparent as time has passed, he seems to be well and truly passed the 'honeymoon phase' which of course is a good thing..

Over the 12 weeks he has been placed with us, I have done a lot (a lot!) of research into this, as well as seeked professional advice, and have spoken with previous FC, the issues we have faced she faced daily, something we have just found out.

Anyway, it is things like he is very regimented, and I know this seems a strange thing to 'worry about' but it's to the point where he never 'missbehaves' in the traditional sense, ever. He follows instructions almost down to the T most times, and when asked to do something does it pretty much immediately. Again I realise this may not seem like something to worry about!

My DH is in the forces, as a result some of you may remember I had a lot of problems, especially over the xmas break when he returned, DS trying in several different ways to get a reaction from me, mostly using DH and affection.

This has now stopped (as it is something that no longer provokes any kind of reaction) and he now tries other things to gain control. From choosing not to listen/answer me (and others) around him, as and when he likes. 'Bossing' me around, i.e. sometimes actually referring to himself as an adult, or an adult figure, or saying things like 'good girl' to me. When I asked previous FC he used to do these kinds of things all of the time, and completely shun certain people in the room for what appeared no reason at all.

To try and 'address' these 'issues' I have tried to turn them into 'positives' i.e. listening stars etc, which do seem to work. As a believe 'traditional methods, and acknowledging the fact he was ignoring people only added fuel to the fire - gave him the control he was craving.

I feel I have already came along on such a HUGE journey (already!) and it I as a person have had to really change my perspective on what I felt was 'parenting' - and I must admit I have had wobbles of 'I am the adult you are a child' etc - which of course is going to get us know where!!

I am also giving him choices, i.e. which cereal would you like, what would you like to do today, which fruit in the supermarkets..

I have noticed that he even has a 'fake voice' which again sounds crazy! but he tends to use this mostly on DH, it is a really high pitched almost 'pleasing' 'more childish' voice' he only seems to use it on me if I haven't been able to give him my full attention for a few hours i.e. visiting family. In fact his attitude generally changes when we haven't spent the full time together, I can't quite put my finger on how - but it does..which explains a lot when DH comes home!

I just worry that this is all so sad for a little boy (he is 4) to feel he needs to control so much around him, but I completely understand why he must feel that way. Even if we have his friends over/eat out for tea, he almost has pent up energy from being so much 'in control' in those environments and really cannot sleep for a long time.

I know I cannot 'fix' these behaviors, and I realise that it is time, understanding and love that in the long run will (hopefully) make him realise that he doesn't need to feel this way, but I was wondering if any of you mums had ever came across anything like this? as admittedly, and shamefully so I haven't always dealt with it in the best way I should have! a VERY big learning curve for me!

If any of you have any advice, tips, insight into this kind of thing it would be much appreciated!

Sorry if I have rambled on here/poor grammar, a quick on before bath time! smile

Kewcumber Sun 26-Jan-14 19:16:33

DS was about 7 before he managed not to worry so much about sticking to the rules and behaving well. I pretty much ignored it and hopefully with time and security it will wear off a little.

I too gave my DS control over as many things as I could within limits - so "Would you like A or B?"

12 weeks is still so early, he will (IMO) still pass through many stages before he relaxes.

None of which is very helpful, just keep persevering and yes I get exactly what you mean by changing your view on what parenting is... I still have issues letting DS have some control!

Bananaketchup Sun 26-Jan-14 20:01:22

re 'I must admit I have had wobbles of 'I am the adult you are a child' etc - which of course is going to get us know where!!' - I have shouted at DD 'I am in charge. not you!' on several occasions. So no helpful advice, just wanted to sat you're not alone and we're all doing our best!

ChilliQueen Sun 26-Jan-14 20:24:03

Oh My Gosh... you sound absolutely lovely. I have no idea on adoption (sorry), but you sound like a brilliant, patient, willing, kind, VERY understanding mummy.

I have not seen previous threads, but can only assume that perhaps not so great for your DS before he arrived with you, so perhaps he just WILLING/WANTING things to be right in his opinion. Perhaps let him be in charge for a while (like you are doing with fruit, cereal etc). I have no idea at all, but it sounds like you are being fantastic, and I reckon once he's settled it will be OK. Sorry not much help.

Buster51 Mon 27-Jan-14 09:33:01

Thanks all, yep it will just take time it is still very early days. I just find it hard not beating myself up as though its something I am doing wrong. Especially when I do have these moments of 'Listen to me DS while I'm talking it's rude to ignore' etcetc I just feel ok well that's going to help matters isn't it!

I suppose I just struggle to not thing there is 'something constructive' I can actually do to help his need to control everything! I'm here to help, care and love him, and I just feel as though I'm not doing that the longer these things persist. I sometimes even start wondering if it's me whose caused it all!

But in such a short space of time I am fairly certain that is not the case, I just feel so so sad for him, which i suppose in turn makes me feel more guilty when I don't deal with it in an ideal way - as that's the last thing he needs!

I think it's just been a few of those weeks, DH hasn't been home for two weeks and I think it's just taking its tole.

Thanks all smile

crazeekitty Mon 27-Jan-14 09:38:44

oh thank you so much for posting. I'm at breaking point with my adopted daughter's controlling behaviour. I wake up and cry. I drop her at school and cry afterwards. I cry before I go to sleep. And I just have to put on a smile when I'm with her and keep on keeping on.

Buster51 Mon 27-Jan-14 09:46:47

Oh so sorry to hear that crazeekitty, what kind of things does DD do? I am certain some people think I am crazy with regards to DSs behavior as he seems 'so good!' all of the time! They say things like you'd need worry if he was having tantrums etc all of the time! etc..

I was at that stage a few weeks ago, it was a very sad place I was upset a lot of the time. But as time passes, as each 'new controlling thing' occurs I almost end up becoming resilient against it! But that isn't without hard work I must say, I am the type of person to that it is sadly so obvious if I'm upset / mad about something, I always have been! Even when I try my best to hide it, so no doubt DS picks up on that too! So I have been trying my best to not let it all bother me (easier said than done) as frankly I am not very good at faking it!

I hope things get better for you soon crazeekitty xx

crazeekitty Mon 27-Jan-14 10:03:20

thank you buster. That's heartening to hear.

What doesn't dd do? There isn't a daily interaction where she isn't looking for an angle to take control off me. And even if I give her a choice of x or y she will choose z. And only in front of me, of course. She turns on the charm switch in front of everyone else who just can't understand it. I've even started asking friends to give her the food that she claims is causing her to vomit when I give it to her, just to see if she really does dislike it. Guess what? Eats it right up when someone else gives it to her. It's taken a while but my closest friends and family are finally understanding why she's like it and are able to support me a bit more.

As the op said, it must be exhausting for the children to be like this. And therapeutic parenting doesn't always cut it, especially when her control decisions put her in danger or prevent her getting medical attention when needed. Like you, I'm not good at faking it either. I wear my heart on my sleeve. A failing I know.

And then of course there are the wonderful little asides from people "oh, it's just a stage, oh they all do it at that age, oh every parent knows what that's like". And you can't tell them the reality because that would mean sharing your child's life story and it's none of their business. So you just smile and nod and grit your teeth yet again.

Buster51 Mon 27-Jan-14 11:08:19

That sounds so familiar to me crazeekitty! The charm for everyone else around especially, it is only the recent few weeks that others are starting to notice it, as he has started to at times try certain things with other family members. It is hard to deal with when everyone around you is saying what an adorable lovely child they are. It personally makes me feel as though I'm crazy!

I know what you mean with the choices, re the start chart we have been using to make DS realise his control can be positively rewarding, sometimes I feel as though this is going straight over his head! But I think it has helped to manage it a little.

I have heard that almost regressing to a much younger time 'i.e. baby' where this 'control stage' if you like was missed out - not attended to can help. But how exactly I have no idea? If any of you mums have ever tried strategies like this to help your child overcome issues that may have been segmented in very early childhood that would be great!

But yes being told 'it is just a stage' 'all children are the same' etc doesn't really help a great deal!

crazeekitty Mon 27-Jan-14 11:14:51

ooh Buster... we've done the regression. my dd (9 ish) has been bottle fed, rocked, wailed like a baby, wanted her nappy changed etc etc etc. It might have filled in some missing bricks in her wall but I can't see that it had any link whatsoever to control.

I understand that control kept our children safe when they were with birth families / in inappropriate 'care', but we have to help them let go of the control otherwise they won't have good relationships with friends / partners when they get older.

In the meantime, I'm planning how to present tea in a non-threatening fashion so that missy doesn't go to bed hungry. And how odd is THAT? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. "I don't trust you to look after me, so I'll take control of my food, so I'll go to bed hungry... see... you've not looked after me".

Gosh it's terribly complicated isn't it.

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 28-Jan-14 05:30:19

Nothing helpful to add, but watching for any tips on dealing with controlling behaviour. DD doesn't display this all the time, but we do have frequent conversations that mummy and daddy are in charge not her...

tea4two4three Tue 28-Jan-14 18:55:34

There is an excellent book (sorry, I realise suggesting you read a book with any small child around may be near impossible) by Dan Hughes called Building the Bonds of Attachment, second addition. It is written as a story about the life of a neglected little girl taken into foster care, but based on the main behaviours neglected children exhibit. It covers everything you have mentioned and more. It explains why they do it, suggests how to respond (in the context of the story) and then gives a commentary at the end of each chapter on what changes are slowly occurring. Can't recommend it enough.
Just an example the star chart you mention - they realise it works to get them something they want and puts them in control so they only use it when they're after something.
Choices - it's about limiting their choices so they learn to trust you and that, hey you are an adult they can rely on.
That said, it's all very well knowing the theory, living it is quite a different matter.
Sending you all the strength and patience I can (and failing that cake)

Buster51 Tue 04-Feb-14 17:30:34

Hi all!

I was just wondering if any of you with a child who has control issues ever want people, children and adults to sit on them?! i.e. squash them! It is something that our DS has been asking people to do recently and wondered if this was just usual 4 year old behavior or could be an aspect of the control?

thanks all smile

cedar12 Tue 04-Feb-14 18:54:45

Hi Buster,
Both my dd and ds (ds is adopted dd isn't) did this! they thought it was hilariousgrin one of dd favourite games was pretending to be a cushion and getting people to sit or lean on her. Sounds like 4 year old bonkers behaviour to mewink

namechangesforthehardstuff Tue 04-Feb-14 19:25:50

DD does this. She's my bc. Just bonkersness grin

bronya Tue 04-Feb-14 19:37:37

I've never adopted but I've worked with children from the sort of homes these children come from. They desperately wanted someone to look after them, but they just couldn't trust. They had been let down too many times, had learnt to rely only on themselves. Adults weren't to be trusted, they were to be feared - what would they do next?

They tried to control everything, but they couldn't, and each failure hit like another blow to their fragile feelings of self. So the need grew and grew, and the behaviours spiralled. Being given clear boundaries that they understood helped, but they needed to know WHY they were there, and to be told over and over why. Sometimes they would ask why they couldn't do something, or try to do it - just to be told 'no' and to be reassured that it was their own safety, because we cared. Children love boundaries, they make them feel safe; like someone cares. Those who never misbehaved were those affected the most. They felt like no one could keep them safe, that they were walking on eggshells all the time. It took a long time, but it came, with care and time.

You are doing the most amazing thing with your DS. You are giving him a safe, loving home.

Bananaketchup Tue 04-Feb-14 20:20:34

Buster I might be way off the mark but I think this is sometimes seen in people on the autistic spectrum. Others know much much more than me about this so I might be completely wrong. Is it a way he can have physical closeness which doesn't feel too scary for him, if he struggles with affection?

Buster51 Tue 04-Feb-14 20:25:30

Oh super thanks! I had assumed but thought I'd check smile

Broyna, yep this certainly sounds like our boy, he never "misbehaves" at least not in the traditional sense. It does worry me, but we just keep the boundaries in place & he is in a lovely routine, he seems to be settling more as the weeks pass I.e. comes into my bed for cuddles / sits by me on the sofa etcetc now which he would never do previously! But like you mentioned he doesn't misbehave & still tends to "talk everything out loud" that he is doing, even the littlest things, & even while he plays, it's like he needs to constantly know if doing anything at all is okay?

Buster51 Tue 04-Feb-14 20:31:38

Bananaketchup I did wonder as much, & others have suggested too, but it's just with these behaviours not being "all of the time". But when he does want people to "sit on him" he's pretty insistent! I did ask why he just said "I like it".

Family & friends all tell me he is such a good boy! Which undoubtably he is, but he is very regimented. The most he has ever done to "misbehave" is take a little longer say getting out of the bath when I say it's time to get out, that's it! The rest of the time he is very compliant. Unless of course he is trying to control a situation I.e. not tell me/others something who may want to know/ his homework when he may read a word one min, the literally not two mins later. Oh also just ignoring people. But his "listening stars" seem to have helped.

It's hard to explain but that's what goes on!

Kewcumber Tue 04-Feb-14 22:44:28

My DS has always liked to sleep and cuddle with part of me lying on top of him - its progressed to just his hands and or feet tucked under me when he cuddles up. It's almost like he needs to feel weighted down, to be anchored in some way. It's not him being silly or playful because he does it in his sleep too! It has been suggested that he has some sensory seeking behaviour which is very common in children who were neglected or missed out on early nurturing but you also often see it in children on the autistic spectrum.

I don't think its a big problem with DS so I just go along with it as long as its nothing heavier than my legs on top of his legs for example. Though I do have pretty heavy legs...

magso Wed 05-Feb-14 09:43:28

Ds likes to be squashed too. I think it is a sensory seeking issue for him, but he also has autism (sensory issues are common in autism). I think sensory processing is often slightly different in children who missed out on sensory feedback as infants. He is much older now (teen) and still likes to wrap in a blanket after school to relax - or wear his thick hoody in the car. We had a 'sensory diet for him - with specific kneading type massage and repetitive exercises. He had retained primitive reflexes so some of the therapy (costly) was aimed at getting more mature reflexes.

Buster51 Sun 09-Feb-14 08:14:56

Morning all! Sorry I keep popping back to this thread!

Some of you may remember I mentioned DS occasionally has a really ott/pleasing/almost baby version of his voice. This was mainly initially directed at DH and it came across as almost a desperate plee at the time to engage as he was trying to get reactions out of me.

However as time has passed I have tried to spot when he does this:

When he's trying to get something I.e stay to later
When he's been "told off" and then tries to engage after in this way
When he seems unsure of a sitation, I.e. when I picked him up from grandparents he was talking like this for a good 20 mins trying to get my attention.
Basically when he's doing things he's unsure about.

I hope all of this makes sense! I just wondered if any of you had seen this before / ways to help him make sense of it / realise he doesn't need to do it?

I think he desperately needs reassurance on pretty much everything he does, I am trying to encorouge him that it is ok to just "do" & not always ask. We have started going to a children's activity group together to try & build that confidence. For example yesterday I took him to build a bear, as I wanted him to have a very special bear from mummy. His "wish" he made was "to be a good boy". Bless his heart. He strives to be good & is forever saying I am a good boy, I am big, I am kind etcetc.

I also feel very guilty admitting this but "the voice" really does become irritating when it occurs! Which I know is terrible & who knows it he even knows he is doing it.

Any advice at all on any of the above is much much appreciated :-)

Buster51 Sun 09-Feb-14 08:27:04

I realise the answer is time, but in case any of you lovely mums had any tips or advice on how to just try & make him feel he can relax more x

Goldmandra Sun 09-Feb-14 08:53:10

I just wanted to respond to the question about your DS asking you to sit on him.

I have two DDs with Asperger's Syndrome and they both love this. It's fulfilling need for deep pressure which helps them to manage their anxiety. It helps lots of people who are anxious, not just those with Autism. I was told on a first aid course that they specifically choose heavy blankets to use in ambulances because the deep pressure from them helps the patient feel calmer.

We have a weighted blanket and a weighted rucksack for our DDs and DD2 loves to be rolled up tightly in a normal blanket too. You can use ordinary wheat bags, or a few sewn together, as shoulder weights or lap pads for when the child is sitting trying to concentrate.

You can also use your own hands to put pressure down on the child's shoulders and they can help themselves by hugging themselves tightly, pushing down on the top of their own heads (never do this one for them) and, while sitting on a chair, hold the sides of their seat and pull themselves down onto it as hard as possible.

Another source of deep pressure is heavy work so children can benefit from carrying backs of shopping, piles of books, etc. My DD2 craves rough and tumble games for the same reason but we have to be very careful as they usually end with someone getting hurt.

My DDs definitely need more control when they are feeling more anxious and deep pressure can reduce both the anxiety and the need for control. It isn't a magic wand but it can help.

Mercythompson Sun 09-Feb-14 08:57:11

Buster51, I hope you don't mind me posting. I have no knowledge or experience of adoption but my son has high functioning autism (probably, or his issues may be too complex to fit a precise diagnosis) and I occasionally drop in on the adoption threads.

I would suggest starting to treat your ds as if he is dealing with some autism issues (which I am not at all suggesting he is, BUT) things which work for children with autism can be very effective for children who don't have autism, specially those who are experiencing some of the insecurity/sensory issues you are describing.

So for example, you can get weighted lap pads, or blankets, to help him feel safely "squashed". With ds at bedtime, we have put a doubled up blanket on top of his duvet, and it seems to be enough extra weight to make a real difference to his sleep (it's still bad, but it's a lot better than it was).

For all the insecurity, I would suggest giving him warnings of what is coming, all the time. So, always a 5/10 minute warning (or both) before TV goes off/it's lunch time/ you leave the house/go anywhere.

If you are going anywhere busy, consider that it might be just too much for him (supermarkets are a real issue for us) if we have to go to one I get as few things as possible and give him a list) but I try really hard to go without him or shop on line.

At the same time I don't warn him about the events of the day till that morning (I.e. School, appointments, even holidays I tell him about as late as I can get away with) as he worries.

He may find choices really hard and stressful, so maybe only offer him a choice between two things, and if that's too much tell him what you are choosing so he can copy if he wants too. I.e. Do you want red or orange juice?, I am having red.

I also find that just because he enjoys things, he can still find them really stressful I.e. Birthday parties

With regard to time, you may well find that is a concept he struggles with for a long time, I use one of these;

it's a very good visual representation of time passing, so if you say there are 5 mins left he can see them passing, and it's a lot cheaper than buying lots of sand timers.

We found out this week that our ds is even further behind emotionally than we thought sad and these are things that have helped us and him cope.

I also find that the more warning and order he has, the more he can cope with small amounts of flexibility because his overall stress levels are lower.

I hope you don't mind me posting, please ignore anything or everything I have said if it's not helpful.

If you do want to ask anything please feel fee to pm me.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now