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Found a counsellor to work with my son, I'm confused

(6 Posts)
ClarkL Wed 16-Dec-15 14:05:06

I have been having problems with my sons behavior for a very long time, I often thought he was repeating the behavior his Dad showed and moving away 18 months ago would help improve things, it didn't, 6 months ago he stopped seeing his Dad altogether after his Dad took an OD. The behavior has just got worse - I posted a while back and many people said he sounded like he had something like adhd, however he has been assessed and doesn't show any of the normal triggers. Hes quite simply a very angry aggressive child with an enormous chip on his shoulder, he is only happy when all attention is on him, it must be one to one. Things have come to a bit of a head, hes on report with school (which is slightly working there due to the attention he now gets)
I cut back on hours at work to spend more time with him after school - then last week I got a cold, doesn't sound much but I had pnumonia a couple of years ago so when I get a cold it floors me, just getting up was difficult. As such he didn't get his total attention, did no homework and instantly reverted back to his bad behavior - I must point out giving him the total attention for the previous month was draining and impacting my daughter and husband so it certainly wasn't sustainable.
This weekend he kept making a point of how we didn't love him, hated him had no pictures of him, I only bought stuff for his sister (I'd that afternoon bought her a jumper and him some jeans) then to top it all as we were about to go out for a meal announced he wouldn't eat as its too expensive and we cant afford it, all in front of PILs
Monday afternoon PIL spent a very long time telling me what I was doing wrong, what I had to do blah blah - frustrating as everything they were saying we HAVE tried. That night he came in from school kicked off and I lost my temper, full on screaming (from both of us) and I was in tears, I am so sick of him telling me how useless I am, how I hate him because the more and more he says it, the more true it becomes, he pushes you away to prove hes right and yet when I try to give him kindness he saps away all my energy and makes comments like he wishes his sister was dead and I split with my husband so it was just us, he has been close too many times for driving my husband away (his stepdad)
Previously I tried getting some counseling for him, doctor wouldn't refer us, counseling service wouldn't see him without his Dads consent, by the time we'd gone through mediation to get consent all funding had been pulled. We then planned the move in the hope that would help.
The idea of spending 3 weeks in the holiday with him fills me with dread, Ive even been researching boarding schools just so he can leave. (which I know is terrible) I have today found a counselor who is willing to see us, she doesn't usually take children as young as my son (11) but will make the exception as we have no other options. She is fully booked until Christmas eve, her day off, but has agreed for us to come in the morning I am relieved but also so worried about what comes next, what if I am the problem? What if this doesn't work? What if whatever we talk about makes Christmas even more unbearable?
Has anyone been through this, what can I expect?

Andro Wed 16-Dec-15 15:44:21

From what you've written, you are not the problem! There may well be a root cause in your relationship with his dad/how it ended/how his dad interacted with him, there could also be some issues about you being remarried/feeling replaced/not coping emotionally with family life as it is. None of this is a problem with you as a person. The counselor may recommend strategies you can use to help support your son whilst he's in counselling, engasge with them but don't take them as a criticism of you or your parenting - you've done the best you know how and no-one could ask more.

Counselling is a process, not a quick fix. The right counselor is vital, but building a rapport can take time so you need to expect that. One verry important thing is that during the process, things often feel worse before the get better - think of it like ripping a scab open to drain the pus underneath, it hurts like hell but then it starts to feel better. The rollercoaster of 3 steps forward 2 steps back can repeat many times, but it does get easier.

My ds's first session was verry much a 'getting to know you' exercise, so nothing too traumatic. He had one therapist he just didn't gel with, but his current one he has been with for years (he had severe PTSD, a significant phobia and needed grief counseling so very complex). Christmas will be what it will be, even if it turns into a nightmare think about it as being a bump on the road to healing. I always had a favourite drink and snack for ds when he had finished a session, pure indulgent spoiling because I knew the process was hard for him.

If it doesn't work you have a big problem, he may need a different therapist/different type of therapy or he may need to grow up before he can deal with his issues. The attention seeking/demanding suggests huge insecurity, be prepared for minor things to have built up in his mind to mean you don't like/want/love him.

Sorry for the essay, if you have any other questions I'm happy to try and answer them, feel free to pm me - the process is hard on the parents too so wine chocolate and cake all have their place!

ClarkL Thu 17-Dec-15 12:51:56

Andro thank you for taking the time to reply, I went into the school today to fill in paperwork for them to refer us to possibly get some help.
They did say that him being on report appears to be working and he is controlling his temper more, they arent sure if hes bottling it up too much and thats why he is exploding at home.
It was quite nice to hear someone say that he does have good traits, we just need to bring them out more and give him ways of dealing with his issues appropriately, at this point were all assuming its his Dad but we dont know as he hasn't said.
They are going to see if they can get him some counseling, in the meantime we can keep paying someone in the hope they can help him or suggest other things that may help.
I'm not quite sure i'm ready for it to get worse before it gets better - i assumed we were already at rock bottom x

PhilPhilConnors Thu 17-Dec-15 13:10:03

From what you've written it could be possible that there could be HFA or PDA at play (I'm not diagnosing here, just making suggestions going by what you've written), in which case counseling may not help.
It may not be, but with the issues you're having, a different parenting approach may make a difference.
The Explosive Child is brilliant to help children like this, to learn to collaborate and negotiate, it's also worth having a look at PDA strategies (google the PDA resource and have a browse on there).
Anxiety can look like extreme aggression and controlling/demanding behaviour, and traditional parenting techniques can make things worse.

I don't know about counseling, sorry, but hopefully this might help you a bit.

CherryPits Thu 17-Dec-15 14:28:24

Just as a side thought, is there some outlet for him, in terms of his anger? Can you set up a punch bag and boxing gloves? I know it sounds a bit bonkers but it might help "spend" some of that physical anger, while you're looking for ways to help with the psychological source of it, if you know what I mean...

Andro Thu 17-Dec-15 18:02:00

I'm not quite sure i'm ready for it to get worse before it gets better - i assumed we were already at rock bottom x

It tends to get worse for 2 reasons:

1. Anger is often a mask for something else - pain, sadness, insecurity, anxiety, guilt. Counselling removes the mask so the root emotion can break loose, add the anger at the perceived loss of control and things get interesting.

2. Facing up to your demons is hard; having to put names to things you have been refusing to acknowledge is exhausting, coming to terms with things you had no control over is difficult and can seem endless. Then add in an awareness of the damage caused by past behaviours (if the person is emotionally mature enough to see it - some 11yo children will be) and for a time you can switch out one major issue for another.

When the process works, it is well worth the heartache of enduring it - as patient and parent!

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