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DS (10) focuses on the negative too much

(18 Posts)
cakedup Sun 24-Apr-16 23:10:36

DS (10) has always been a bit of a worrier, an over-thinker. He can get very affected by what people say or do.

Over the years, I have tried to support him by always acknowledging his feelings. Especially as he is a boy, and I've always been concious to not subscribe to the "boys don't cry" approach which has had terrible effects on many adult men.

However, I do feel that sometimes, he needs to not wallow in self-pity or get too hung up about things - especially as he starts secondary school this year and I suspect there will be quite a bit more banter and will just be more challenging generally. (Obviously if the cause of his upset is serious or needs my intervention - bullying, for example, then I do of course step in as necessary.)

I'm not sure how to get a balance? How to accept his feelings without minimising? Sometimes I have suggested to him to focus on the positive or count his blessings or be more proactive on how he can deal with situations, but wonder if I am in effect, telling him his feelings are somehow wrong?

As someone who has experienced mental health problems, I know that positive thinking and changing unhelpful thinking (i.e. CBT) is crucial to well being. I try to give him tips on things that have worked for me and that might help him but when he is upset about something, there is no getting through to him and he seems determined that the world is unfair and nothing will help.

We have recently started a mood diary where you use stickers to describe your day, and I feel he is too harsh (yes I know it's HIS mood diary and he should use it how he wants). In the course of one week he has not used one happy face, when I know loads of great stuff has happened in the week.. He lets the bad overshadow the good.

Anyone had a similar experience? Is any of this normal? Any book recommendations and advice please??

MattDillonsPants Mon 25-Apr-16 03:49:35

With all due kindness OP, is it at all possible that you're too involved in his moods and too invested in him saying he's happy?

He may feel stifled if you're constantly checking up on his mood...and unless his moods are stopping him from getting up and ready for school in the morning, or preventing him from socialising, then there's no need for a mood diary.

It seems quite an infantile thing to arrange for a 10 year old...stickers etc...more for smaller kids surely.

You say you're not sure how to get a balance...at 10 he has to do that himself. Obviously as parents we support and help our DC when they have problems...

How much is he complaining on a daily basis? Has he got friends? Is he doing ok at school academically?

MattDillonsPants Mon 25-Apr-16 03:55:25

And I would like to add...as what I've written might seem harsh...that I was in fact guilty of micro managing my own DDs mental health for a while. She is 11 now. She was very quiet and shy up until last year and it bothered me. I was projecting my own issues onto her though.

She was fine...I was not. So I repeatedly asked her if things were ok at school....I always watched her moods when she came home...I was so frightened of her feeling as I had as a young child.

She is not me. She is herself and since backing off she has in fact blossomed.

MyFriendsCallMeOh Mon 25-Apr-16 04:12:28

Leave him alone. You are not him and you are not responsible for his happiness. His moods and feelings are not wrong, please stop giving him the message that they are, you will do more damage than good.

mrsplum2015 Mon 25-Apr-16 04:45:53

My 7yo boy has had tendency to focus on the negative so I use a really simple strategy with him. Every night at dinner time we all talk about our day and have to say what our 2 stars and a wish are... So the 2 stars are good things that have happened and the wish is something we hope will be better tomorrow. Just focuses the mind really and seems quite effective here.

CheerfulYank Mon 25-Apr-16 05:20:52

I don't know OP, I've got an almost 9 year old with the same issue.

It's not that I feel his moods are "wrong" but I do think negative thinking is a habit and I feel it leads to less resilience in life.

CartwheelsAndGymRopes Mon 25-Apr-16 05:54:20

My ds is the same. He'll come back from a school trip on which he has a great time and the first thing he'll tell you about is someone's bad behaviour or calling him a name etc. However ds is popular in school, well liked by adults and academically doing well so I have to just accept this part of him. I do now make him 'start with the positives' when I ask him how things have gone.
I sometimes wonder if my ds and perhaps yours, save up all the moaning for dh and I (and Grandma!) as he knows he'll get an audience whereas his peers would probably dismiss him? Lucky us! wink

Footle Mon 25-Apr-16 06:47:24

Work on your own attitude to life and his may well improve. If I could turn the clock back, that's what I'd do.

cakedup Mon 25-Apr-16 09:59:45

One thing...DS is actually 11 blush . He turned 11 a few weeks ago but I'm so used to saying 10!

MattDillonsPants I'm not constantly checking up on his moods at all. He comes home from school saying things like "today was the worst day ever". I came across the mood diary which we've had for a few years but never used, and asked him if he'd like to use it, he said he would. He is profoundly dyslexic and cannot read/write efficiently or process info at the same time, so stickers seemed a good solution for him. He complains almost every day, it's usually school related. He moved school in year 6, he has a few good friends but feels that generally he is not respected (the kids here are a bit more 'street' than at his previous school.) He is struggling with the stress of SATS due to his dyslexia, so understandably he is finding school tough. His teacher and I have tried many times to reassure him about SATS, and I am even looking into pulling him out.

However, I'd like to point out he is not miserable all the time! He also has a happy, jokey, fun side to him. It's more about how he deals with challenges.

MyFriendsCallMeOh I'm not sure what you mean by 'leave him alone'? He comes to me, telling me how terrible everything is and I am trying to support him the best I can. Sometimes I just don't say anything much, thinking that just listening will help but I'm not sure it does, as he just gets more upset the more he talks about it.

Thank you mrsplum2015, I will try that strategy. I think I have done it in a more relaxed way but will try a more specific approach. However, I know that if he is really in a bad mood he'll say that nothing good has happened!

CheerfulYank yes EXACTLY that, thank you for understanding.

CartwheelsAndGymRopes yes I considered that maybe I just get the worse side of things because I'm the only one he feels he can vent to honestly. It's just me and him, he doesn't have a dad. I've suggested he might want to speak to the school mentor but he doesn't want to. I'm wondering if it would be wrong of me to call the school and ask the mentor to approach him?

Last night, we were looking at his mood diary and it didn't go to well sad . We had spent all morning playing whatever he wanted to play and he had a great time. However, when it came to the sticker, he chose the :-| face. Because he had not used one single happy sticker all week, I asked him "really? I thought you had a really good morning." He then went into a strop, saying "fine, put a happy sticker" and I said "no it's your mood diary, I was just asking you think about it a bit more." In the end I told him that perhaps it would be better for him to complete the mood diary on his own.

That's a bit presumptuous Footle. As someone who has experienced mental health problems, I have had to work really hard on my well being, and as a result I feel I have a great attitude to life.

MattDillonsPants Mon 25-Apr-16 10:03:30

Yesr 6 is very hard for a lot of kids OP. It just is...even without Dyslexia thrown into the mix.

Have you managed to find him a good secondary?

Footle Mon 25-Apr-16 10:21:39

You're not the only one !

cakedup Mon 25-Apr-16 10:32:45

MattDillonsPants yes, thanks, it's kind of reassuring to hear that. Yes, his secondary school has a great SEN dept and counselling facilities. They do loads friendship afternoons and activities for the current year 6s about to join. And as they have quite a large amount of ESL students, I thought it would be good for him rather than being in an academically competitive school where he might stand out.

exLtEveDallas Mon 25-Apr-16 10:45:07

Hey, I had the same kind of issue with DD last year. We did '100 days of happiness' - I bought two notebooks and DD and I had to write in one good thing that happened every single day for 100 days (we started it 100 days before Xmas, so the last day was Xmas day).

It really helped. She was coming out of school every day moaning about how bad the day was, that X had been mean, or Y had been naughty, or Miss B had shouted etc etc. I was fed up with it and said more than once "Christ DD, you could still be negative in a room full of puppies"

Finding a positive helped for her. Sometimes it was something as silly as "I didn't have to eat my carrots at lunch", sometimes it was "I went to the fair and had a BRILLIANT time" (for me it was often "I didn't lose my temper with an idiot parent").

We've kept the books and I catch DD reading them every so often. Worked for us smile

MattDillonsPants Mon 25-Apr-16 10:48:36

My DD really blossomed when she left primary OP. Lots of kids do because everyone's new...it's a fresh start.

cakedup Mon 25-Apr-16 11:16:01

"Christ DD, you could still be negative in a room full of puppies" grin .
exLtEveDallas that sounds like a great idea, how old was your DD at the time, out of interest? I particularly like that you both had a notebook. Will definitely try this, thank you.

MattDillonsPants that's good to hear. And I think DS has a bit of an advantage, having changed school in year 6 already rather than going to one school all his life.

MattDillonsPants Mon 25-Apr-16 11:23:44

That's it OP....he'll have a headstart because he will be accustomed to change. My eldest has been to three schools and to be frank, it's only done her good.

She's improved each time in her personality.

exLtEveDallas Mon 25-Apr-16 11:24:51

She was 10 caked. We did it from Sep to Dec of last year, as she started Year 6. It definately helped. As some times (especially at the start) she was still negative about it. Would say that there was NOTHING good about the day. So I would say "Well did you fall over and break your nose at school today? No? Well that's a good thing" and she'd write that down! After a week or so she realised she had to do it, so would actually try properly. She quite enjoyed it in the end, and would often help me out with my sentences smile

mrsplum2015 Mon 25-Apr-16 13:01:54

I think either my strategy or exLtEve's is worth a try....

The point is they can't say there was nothing positive. Whatever it is they have to think of one (or two in my case) things that were good and it teaches them to think about what the good - or perhaps initially the "not so bad" things are....!

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