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To ask how we teach our tweenager that consequences are a direct result og his behaviour

(19 Posts)
thedcbrokemybank Wed 21-Jun-17 10:14:36

My ds is 11 and in yr7. He seems to have no awareness that his behaviour is the influencing factor and that this has consequences. For example;
He has recently had exams. Any attempts to help him/get him to revise were met with reticence. We didn't push it much as we felt he needed to learn. Consequently he didn't do particularly well. He was VERY upset about this. We talked about how he was only in YR7 and this was a good opportunity to learn from the experience and that it didn't matter right now etc etc.
He seemed to take it on board but actually his behaviours haven't changed in the slightest. He is chaotic, doesn't do his homework until the last possible minute, gets distracted very easily. If we try and challenge this we are met with full on toddler tantrums.
EVERYTHING is like this. He frequently has emotional meltdowns because he hasn't done as well as he would like, his teacher doesn't like him, his friends don't like him etc... But he does nothing at all to make anything different despite us trying to support him and guide him.
I am emotionally drained by him right now. He is very high maintenance emotionally and in some ways very insecure but I don't know how to help because he won't help himself at all.
Has anyone been through anything similar? How do we deal with this?

anditwasallgoingsowell Wed 21-Jun-17 10:19:57

I am with you - no idea what to do about it though. She exhausts me.

drspouse Wed 21-Jun-17 10:24:12

Is he always this disorganised? At school as well? Is there any suspicion of ADHD?

MammaTJ Wed 21-Jun-17 10:39:44

My DD is also 11 and in year 7. We have made some progress with this recently.

She doesn't behave perfectly but she does now connect punishment with the crime a little better.

So, no youth club because room has not been tidied in time. Instead of begging and pleading to let her go, she will crack on and tidy her room and hope she gets to go to the last half of youth club.

She is chaotic and disorganised, we have been the diagnostic process for ADHD and they have decided she does not have it (I still am not convinced). I do not nag about homework, she gets punished, then she manages to do it for a while.

I think repeatedly and calmly saying 'Well, you did X, that is why Y has happened'.

We also got school support and she would come home and complain and I would say....XXX and she would say 'That is what school support said', to which I would reply, 'well, if we are both saying it, we must be right!'

emmyrose2000 Wed 21-Jun-17 11:05:07

Are the meltdowns new? One of my sons became highly emotional at that age and would cry at just about anything, even casually glancing in his direction. This was totally out of character for him as he's normally very calm and rational. But then puberty kicked in and he calmed down. I think the surge in hormones as he was gearing up for puberty sent his emotions into overdrive and made even the teeniest of things overwhelming.

As for the rest, I second previous posters' suggestions of things such as messy room = not going out until its tidy etc.

emmyrose2000 Wed 21-Jun-17 11:05:56

*it's, not its

thedcbrokemybank Wed 21-Jun-17 12:13:07

Thank you for the replies.
The meltdowns are relatively new and have increased in intensity and frequency to correspond with the increase in expectation at secondary.
I have strong suspicions of ADHD but he is a bright boy who does not present typically. He was at a v small primary where they managed him well. He just doesn't seem to be able to cope with demands on him. I think I have ADHD but was also very bright as a child (I was labelled "hyper") and got by but never really achieved. It is only now I am nearly 40 that I am able to recognise and manage my behaviours and it has taken a long time to get to this point with significant issues along the way. I don't want him to face the same struggles as me.
Things like tidy bedroom = not going out should be easy but it's not. If we go through this scenario we have to deal with a good couple of hours tantrum. It is full on agression (destruction and often violence) and abuse. By the end of it, after he has worn himself out (and us) he is incredibly contrite and generally pretty mortified but again he doesn't change anything. He will tidy his room at that point maybe but he will still do an awful job (think clothes just shoved in drawers, paper piled up, books shoved in the bookshelf). If I stand over him, he will do it. He will have missed out on his activity but it doesn't stop us from repeating the same cycle over and over again. I also remove technology. At those moments though he just isn't bothered and couldn't care less and there is no reasoning with him.
The worst thing is he hates himself for all of this. He hates that he doesn't do as well as his friends or that people get annoyed by him but he just doesn't have any awareness until it is too late and even then it is an emotional reaction rather than rational process.
I am so so drained by it all.

Puberty may also be an issue here. When ds3 was going through the teenage years, I read a book called Divas and Doorslammers, by Charlie Taylor, in which he theorises that, during adolescence, children's brains are actually rewiring - and that during this process, they can lose certain abilities - like empathy, the ability to control their temper etc.

If I recall correctly, he describes this as almost a form of temporary brain damage - but it is temporary, and these abilities do normally come back, as the rewired brain settles down again.

I think the book also talks about how to manage things during those difficult years - because just telling you what is happening, and that it will stop eventually is less than useless - but I gave my copy away some years ago (when ds3 and I had survived his adolescence), so I can't be sure.

OnTheRise Wed 21-Jun-17 13:10:33

There's a lot of dyslexia in my family and two of my children are affected by it. It's not just a bit of trouble with reading and writing: it involves a lot of information processing issues, so they have trouble following instructions, and a lot of problems with short term memory and organisation. It was definitely made worse when they started secondary school: both the change in routine, and their age, had an impact then. I would definitely consider dyslexia as an issue here, at least so that you can rule it out, because the descriptions you've given fit my children to a tee.

If it's any consolation, they're great now. We've had to spend money on specialist tuition, as the help they were given in school was no help at all (despite their schools being rated as good to excellent by OFSTED). They still have untidy bedrooms, struggle with revision, and struggle with the idea of consequences, but they do at least understand a bit more how things work.

thedcbrokemybank Wed 21-Jun-17 13:44:08

Thank you. I am finding it hard to differentiate between normal teenage behaviour and possibly something else. This isn't helped by my own struggles with adolescence and what became severe mental health issues so I'm never sure if I'm projecting or not.

MissHavishamsleftdaffodil Wed 21-Jun-17 14:36:33

You might find the books 'late lost and unprepared' and 'smart but scattered' interesting reading, they're both available on Amazon. 'Late, lost and unprepared' is written by a parent.

Kleinzeit Wed 21-Jun-17 14:51:02

For homework bribery may be your friend. Bribery done tiny step by step. Sometimes people try to bribe the wrong thing - they only bribe good marks or completed work or long periods of study. That's fine after the basics are in place but your DS is still getting the basics in place so start by bribing the basics. For example, you could bribe him each day just to go through his jotter and tell you if he has homework or not. Then you can bribe him if he gets his books out and sits down. Bribe him if he sits with his books for 10 minutes. You don't have to bribe everything at once, instead you can bribe the first step and leave it to chance if he continues and does the next step. when he is regularly doing the first step move on and bribe the second step instead. The bribes can be really tiny to match the tiny steps (like a sweet or a cup of tea!) Few people respond well to being "challenged" the difference with bribery is that you are rewarding him for doing the right thing, and you are not reacting when he does the wrong thing, and you are not nagging when he doesn't do the right thing - you are just offering him the bribe. Oh, and the bribe is only ever given after he's done the tiny step. The child-raising-book experts call this "concrete rewards" but I prefer to think of it as "getting bribery right" grin. People worry that if something is done with a bribe then it wont be done if the bribe is taken away but I wouldn't worry about that because right now he's not doing it anyway, and bribes can be good habit formers, and later on you can replace the bribe with praise and with a similar bribe for doing the next step so he's still getting the same bribe but doing more to earn it.

As for the social stuff, basically pick up on every tiny thing he does right. Notice, comment, praise and reward. No undermining with "why can't you do that every day" though you can give positive instructions like "you could do the same when you meet auntie Flo, I bet she'd really like it". You might also find some hints in The Unwritten Rules of Friendship Try chapters on "The pessimistic child" and "the sensitive soul" and if he tends to annoy people maybe "the different drummer".

My DS (who is not NT though not dyslexic) and I still tidy his room together. We agree a time and we don't do it often. I try not to view this as "standing over" him I view it as "tidying together". I encourage, cheerlead, keep him on task, supply dusters, and tell him where to put things (and then relieve my feelings by whining about it on Facebook afterwards). Yes it's a pain in the bum but it's less of a pain than a two hour screaming session. I have been less successful in getting DS to tidy than I have with homework. He's OK now with things that have an obvious place to be but he still falls apart when there is a decision to be made. If your DS is similar then one thing that may help is to organise his room so that everything has a clear place. And don't get fussed if things are shoved in drawers so long as it's the right drawer. DS got better at putting clothes away after I invested in a set of drawer dividers - socks here, pants there. I'm going to pick him up from university for the first time at the weekend and help him pack his stuff. I shudder to think what I will find but hey ho.

thetemptationofchocolate Wed 21-Jun-17 14:53:10

Blame my brain by Nicola Morgan is also worth a read.

Kleinzeit Wed 21-Jun-17 14:57:32

(I should have said "I have been less successful in getting DS to tidy independently than I have with homework")

Qvar Wed 21-Jun-17 14:57:41

You have described my youngest child. The tantrum rages, the mess creation, the fury when consequences happen. That's my eleven year old boy

drspouse Wed 21-Jun-17 15:03:10

Calmer Easier Happier Parenting also has lots of good stuff on rewarding small steps (though they don't use bribes but descriptive praise).
My DS is only 5 but I find making him laugh can help a lot to diffuse the situation when I've been nagging him. I was being the pants on his bedroom floor yesterday and I was really sad because I'd been forgotten.

wizzywig Wed 21-Jun-17 15:07:22

But op if you know you also struggled then please have some understanding if he has adhd. Those with adhd can often be highly intelligent, they just learn in a different way. And i think most kids/teenagers dont always listen to their parents when we are dispensing our pearls of wisdom.

RupertsFriend Wed 21-Jun-17 15:12:48

Sounds a lot like my 12 yo (ADHD dx 2 years ago). The onset of puberty has escalated some of the symptoms and I am struggling to pick thro what is ADHD related, what is teenager, and what is trying on. She is v articulate and reads about her condition - which I am all for - but I do wonder sometimes if some of it is a try-on.
It is extremely hard work and emotionally exhausting. You are not alone.

UnaOfStormhold Wed 21-Jun-17 15:13:43

It might be worth researching growth mindsets and recommendations for giving people confidence in their own ability to learn.

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