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God this is hard work(29 Posts)
Where to start - Ds is a nightmare! Background Ds is 8, we adopted him at 13 months, he went straight to foster carer from the hospital. I am really struggling with him He is negative about everything. He lies constantly about really stupid stuff. He will be blatantly be doing something then deny he's doing it. He is rude to me constantly. He argues constantly. Everything I say to him I'm wrong he's right. He is also like this with dd who is 6. It's just so draining I dread him getting up in a morning. Just now he is saying that I won't let him read I don't let him read an I'm starving him to death. He chose not to read over the weekend and he is choosing not to eat his tea tonight as he says he doesn't like it!! Has anybody been through this constant awfulness and come through it?
My niece went through this and she craves attention... Any attention. She is slowly realising that positive attention is much nicer and is getting better but is still demanding
I maybe haven't explained it well. All the little incidents on their own are petty and daft but put them all together when it's constant and it really is very hard to deal with. I think a lot of it is control like food an the limited amount he will eat, when I ask him to do something and his automatic response is either no or I've already done it (which he hasn't) I don't think that it's that he particularly doesn't want to do the said thing it's that he won't because I've asked him iyswim. The most annoying thing is as soon as anyone other than me dd and dh is around he totally switches into a polite loving little boy so he is totally capable of
Doing it he just chooses not to. We are aware he has attachment issues but things seem to be getting worse
Year by year not better. I want to feel happy to be picking him up from school not dreading the onslaught and counting down the hours. It's a sorry situation
You could try posting in adoption as well, perhaps people there will have some advice more specific to adopted children too.
Thanks GoodtoBetter I'll ask for it to be moved to adoption
Hi, sorry to hear life is incredibly hard work at the moment. You say you're aware of his attachment issues - does that mean you've been receiving decent support with them? Post-adoption support can be
bloody hard to find, but attachment is complex and IMO too hard to always handle without advice. Particularly since you say you've noticed a pattern of it getting more difficult over years, rather than months, I think you need to shout loudly for some help - from your LA, or your GP, as starting points.
It sounds as though you've identified that this is about control, which could mean it's also about security and anxiety. Has anything else changed that could have triggered this behaviour? I suspect he doesn't really "choose" to switch to being a polite loving little boy when other people are around - there are powerful drivers inside him and I really doubt he is in control of them all. Also, although I know it feels really personal because it's directed at you and your DH, at its basic level this isn't something he's doing to make you suffer (promise!). Behaviour is communicating something - the mystery is figuring out what the child might be trying to communicate...and I think that's where a great parent like you, working in partnership with an expert in attachment, could make a huge difference.
Hi jamfilter, thanks for your reply. We don't really get any support. A psychologist has seen Ds and identified attachment issues but our camhs don't deal with it, we have been pushing for post adoption support for years but they only thing they offer us is various forms of theraplay which don't seem to help much
Fundamentally and deep down I know he doesn't chose to do this stuff, but boy sometimes does it feel like does he is a lot better with dh on his own than with me and sometimes it feels as though he hates me although I know he doesn't really.
I suppose what really worries me is that I'm getting to the point where I don't enjoy being around him and while I try my hardest not to show this he must see the difference between interactions with me and dd and me and him which I know in turn will only exacerbate his anxiety and insecurity.
I guess there are no real answers and I can't tell people in real life how I feel because firstly they sit believe me that Ds is like this at home an secondly how evil does it sound to say you don't enjoy being with your child
8 year olds are very difficult, regardless of background. All I can suggest is to start a crazy love bombing strategy of offering praise and cuddles at every opportunity, no matter how ridiculous.
"oh billy, I see you tried some of your dinner tonight - well done for trying!"
"how about we do some reading, just you and me - I love hearing you read and you are getting so good at it"
"you make me feel so proud when you are so polite with John and Mary!"
"I love that you are so confident that you can challenge what I say ...that takes courage. It also takes courage to admit sometimes you are wrong, and I am really proud of you when you do that"
Set aside some time with him every day to do something a bit more grown up than the activities you do with his sister. Lego time or playing cards or something that is not work, but play and just for the two of you (or with your partner) even if its for 20 minutes before bed. Give him some privilege for being the oldest child.
I can't say I'm surprised CAMHS were useless, but I'm angry on your behalf. Have you tried talking to BAAF? I believe their helpline (or Adoption UK's) is very supportive, and may be able to identify some different options for support that could help. It may then involve going back to your LA and fighting for funding for it, but sometimes you have more luck doing that when you are suggesting something specific, rather than rejecting repeats of their standard offers of theraplay etc.
I don't think anyone enjoys being pushed to their limits, being constantly worried about their son, and feeling unwanted. That does not make you evil! But it does make your situation really strained and fragile. Your emotional health is important too, as it's through you that your son is supported.
Thinking about this some more, do you feel like it's the choices that your DS finds hard? If he is fighting you on every decision, maybe he is struggling and fearful of decisions (scared of making the "wrong" choice) and so they have all become flashpoints for him. If you think that might be part of it, perhaps his choices need to be much smaller, so that he is safe that all the options are a success. That might mean using limited choices, as you would with a much younger child, where there are two options (and both of them are things you as the parent would be happy with). For example, would you like to walk or bike to the park? (The bit about going to the park is non-negotiable, but the child has some control about how they get there.)
Or perhaps there could be half-hour slots when he has a turn to choose an activity to do with you, from two or three options (offering him control again).
I also wonder whether he is more combative and appears to struggle more at home, because there is less structure than at school? I know quite a lot of adopted children (including mine) feel much safer in a clear routine. We have a daily schedule on the wall, with velcro pieces for what will happen, and I try really hard to stick to it. So for example, when we get in from school, we have a 30 minute session of play with a choice of three independent activities - i.e. books, lego, or drawing. This has prevented (most of) the meltdowns at that time, which turned out to be caused by overwhelming choice of which toy to play with, or how long to play. It's been helpful to bridge the school-home transition for us, but it's only one idea.
That's really interesting jamfilter about choices and transitions. My son is 6 and NOT adopted but has always struggled with transitions (coming home from school, sister waking up from nap and getting ready to go out, etc). He's fine at school but can seem to struggle and get overwhelmed with the transition to home, less regimented environment I suppose. At school he's described as v hard working but insecure, i.e always checking he's doing something right, etc and gets really frustrated if he can't do something right the first time.
Yes he is definitely worse on a school day, mostly mornings and straight after school are his worst time. He seems to get better half an hour after he has been in for about an hour then his anxiety over what's for tea starts. Given the choice he would only eat fish fingers chips bread peanut butter and cereal and food is a massive trigger for him. He has plenty of sleep so I know he isn't tired but trying to get him dressed/teeth brushed etc in a morning is total chaos. I say time to get dressed, he shouts I am dressed rudely when he is clearly sat in pyjamas still then my back goes up as he is clearly lying argh!!
He is fine at school, in fact when I've brought up his behaviour to teachers they look at me like I'm mental, I think it is definitely the routine he craves.
I will try the idea of having something in place when he gets home from school and see if that helps alleviate some if the stress.
Hi Hammer, so sorry you're having such a hard time. Our son is 5 so a little younger, but as he has settled with us getting him to do day to day things has become slightly more of an issue (he used to be excessively compliant). At the moment it isn't rude behavior etc when asking him to do things, but it is just general messing around etc.
Anyway, more recently I made a little chart of the basic day to day tasks that he needs to do as he wakes on a school morning (instead of me forever repeating myself etc), he just reads this, and ticks off each task as he does it. I have found this to be useful (so far!) as he can see clearly what is required, and he seems to enjoy ticking off his tasks as he does them. Just things like, get dressed, clothes in basket, teeth cleaned etc.
You have probably tried that but I thought I'd post as it's something that is new in our house at the moment.
I definitely agree with providing positive words of encouragement - even when they feel like the smallest things. I also know this is SO hard to do if your child is seeming to forever be in a battle with you. But just any small thing he does well to just say thank you for doing that etc, you did XYZ well...
Perhaps another obvious suggestion that you may have also tried but have you asked him why/has he offered you his thoughts on why he feels the need to almost control situations? Control is an issue in our house to with DS, which I struggle with at times, but trying to let him feel he has made a decision (he especially likes to 'boss us around' through play, with toys or in the park) helps a little.
I hope any of this helps, take care of yourself
Hi HammerToFall I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I am afraid I cannot offer much advice really, except to get the help you need in real life. I am mum to two kids a birth dd aged ten (quite a challenging child) and a four year old by adotion (who is currently, six months in) very easy to parent!
Agree with Jamfilter. I think Jam has really hit the nail on the head, that it is not personal and not a choice the child is making, but something that they are not really in control of.
I too think ... you need to shout loudly for some help - from your LA, or your GP, as starting points.
You've already talked to social services, about help and post adoption support etc but have not got an answer yet? Please go back to them and be clear about how much you are struggling. It doesn't matter if your child was adopted from overseas or domestic adoption or where in the country you are, you still need help and you will need to push to get it.
Have you been in touch with any adoption charities - like BAAF and Adoption UK?
I would even be tempted to go to my local MP and get advice how you can get help. If you read a few other threads on here (maybe start at the end of longer threads if you have less time) you will see a few others really struggling and some very good advice being given to them too.
Our county council are pretty supportive, I've had attachment advice and various short training courses in the last few months and I am currently just starting a new adoption course as we now have a son aged four who joined our family by adoption six months ago.
Are there courses/services/advice where you are? What do they say when you ask for support?
My dd (birth child) was a lot of work between age 5 and 7 and I found it very hard (although not as bad as you are describing).
I will share what I did but my situation does not sound anywhere near as hard as yours and my dd is a birth child so not nearly so complex a situation.
I sought help from my health visitor, she referred me to the schools link worker who refereed me to a course at school for social and emotional education. I was also referred to the Family Links Nurturing Course, which I found really the best parenting course I have ever done.
Courses are not the answer in themselves IMHO but can give us tools to know how to deal with the behaviour we find so hard. They can also very importantly put us in touch with other parents who are struggling/working through issues/have adopted etc.
Family Links Nurturing Course
This course is not designed for children ho joined their family by adoption but it is very good and I think is helpful for parents of all children.
It comes with a book called The Parenting Puzzle
However I must say that controlling this controlling behaviour is not the issue, it is what it means/why it is happening and how to move forward. I really think what jam says a lot of sense. I think that you need to get to the bottom of the behaviour, to work out what things mean and how to best find answers for your child.
I hope you will also find support for yourself so that you can be helped and encouraged. Are you parenting alone? Can you get out in the evening once in a while to chat to friends, for a cuppa or whatever? You do need to look after yourself while you are going through this, and to have hope you will come through it with help.
Bless you and good luck getting support and answers.
Cross posted with Buster!
Also, HammerToFall ps, my dd lies a lot. It drives me mad! Is your son dyslexic? My dd is and I understand that how the brain works they may see things differently in terms of the order things happen etc.
I've given up with the food stuff jameme. He has been like this with food from day one and I've tried everything. Now I put the good and he either eats it or doesn't. Supper is cereal so he always eats breakfast and supper. Sometimes he eats all/a bit or nine, sometimes he doesn't even come to the table and I ignore it all. He starts asking what's for tea the minute he gets up and I just say I don't know yet as if I tell me he worries about it all day
Your DS sounds a little bit like mine, with a similar history. Have a look at my thread from the other day, the title mentions Webster-Stratton, and have a look at the very helpful reply I got from Threesocksnohairbrus
just in case there is any connection - could there be a possibility that your child has Asperger's or HFA, conditions which often go undiagnosed until children are much older (as my son's was) Anxiety over food, school and anything which they cannot control; enjoying routines; hatred of transitions, but often liking activities once they are part of a routine (ie once he gets to school he is fine) arguing the toss. All that is very familiar to me. My son has absolutely no attachment issues and he is not adopted but he exhibits some of the symptoms you describe. The Explosive Child and Tony Attwood's book on Asperger's are extremely informative.
Please forgive me if this is not in the slightest bit relevant to your situation. It is just that no-one mentioned this possibility in previous replies. And the food thing could be an example of sensory issues which is part of ASD. My son is delightful btw and now 12. But without knowing the reasons for his behaviour I might have found it very difficult to help him or deal with his demands.
I'm posting not because I have anything helpful to say, but because I have a niggly feeling this will be DD in a couple of years
Do you already - or can you - access support/therapy that specifically approaches all your family needs with an attachment specific approach. IMO CAMHS have zero - that's absolutely NO - understanding or resources in this area.
Where (roughly) in the UK are you? We are in Bristol and there is both a good post-adoption support service and a private charity where families with children with attachment disorder can access good, effective, understanding therapy.
I will try to post links to two very good, though not very cheerful sites that helped me enormously, even if they did break my heart on first reading them as they just perfectly accurately described where we were at as a family
After that grief (and grief is very preset in every adoption situation - do not be afraid to look for it and connect with it) there was space for some recovery and strategies for loving and living.
The issue that concerns me for you (that is YOU as the parent OP) is that you are becoming exhausted and worn right down by attachment disorder behaviour and that is something called 'Secondary Trauma' - I would argue that all adopters love with this all the time. Again finding out is the key to living with it.
DD was about 8 when we started to realise what was happening to our family. She is now 15. It is still present everyday, but our understanding of it all has helped us carry on with daily life.
MPD (links will follow)
I understand totally and offer all my sympathy - only someone who has lived it can truly understand.
I wish I could say it all came right in the end. The rest of us have all suffered secondary trauma and I would go so far as saying DS2, now almost 18, ticks every single box on the psychopath checklist except multiple marriages. We have a very-cautious-on-my-part relationship at this point as I must protect the rest of the family from his extreme behaviours (he defrauded us out of thousands last year). I cannot have him in the house now.
Insist on specialised treatment now. We got too little too late. I'm sorry not to be more positive but without intensive specialist treatment it can get worse with puberty and adolescence.
Just want to add that DS2 is not adopted but is my stepson whose early life was similar to many adopted children - he was neglected as a baby and separated violently from his inadequate but primary caregiver birth other as an infant. He had developmental trauma/RAD and conduct disorder as a teen.
Bum! The site I wanted to link has closed down - what a pain.
However, these give a good description of Secondary Trauma:
Loving and Living with Traumatised Children: Reflections by Adoptive Parents: Refections by Adoptive Parents https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1903699673/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_ky9zub1EE8CJ0
This is also an ABSOLUTELY essential book. Our therapist conducted and wrote this. It is the book I have given to all our friends and family to read. (Author name is a pseudonym.)
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