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Appears to thrive on drama

(28 Posts)
winkywinkola Thu 20-Mar-14 19:45:14

My nearly 9 yo ds1 is extremely rude, uncooperative, generally unpleasant to us and his siblings.

He's always been hard work with a lot of tantrums for years and years since he was two years old.

We arranged for him to have counselling for two years. That helped. The counsellor said he was ready to not have counselling anymore.

Now he seems to be ramping up his behaviour. If he is told off or punished, he goes into utter hysterical meltdown.

It is totally bizarre. He knows what gets him a telling off or a punishment and yet he still totally goes for it. Every single day. Starting to think he really wants to trigger the beserk behaviour. It's like he's a mad.

He also seems to hurt my other dcs quite a lot. If they're in the garden, one of them ALWAYS comes in crying, saying he's hurt them. The dynamic changes when he starts to play with them.

Why? Whatever for? We just ignore it unless he's waking the other children. But it is extremely stressful and upsetting for the other dcs, as well us.

Can an 8 year old just not understand that if he behaves badly then he will get punished? I think he does know and he is trying to exert control.

He is so difficult. I hate being his parent.

winkywinkola Thu 20-Mar-14 19:45:38

Plus he's an angel at school. Does very well.

winkywinkola Thu 20-Mar-14 21:02:04

And I can't make it better for him unless he gets what he wants and then he calms down instantly.

LondonForTheWeekend Thu 20-Mar-14 21:02:41

The fact he is doing well at school suggests it is the dynamic at home that is the issue solely.

If you were to turn it right around and instead of escalating e.g. Through punishing, just looking to stop the immediate issue and de-escalate would that work? Would the other children look for & know that you will punish him.

Just re-reading the OP, you haven't got one single positive comment to say about him. This may sound dramatic but, you obviously really don't like him (as distinct from his behaviour) and I don't get any sense of love for him either. Do you think he perceives being liked? loved? valued in your family? Does he experience positive interactions with both his parents every day or are some/many days completely taken over with being "The Shit One" in your home?

What you are doing you have already recognised isn't working. He is too young to change without some radical changes from you too.

winkywinkola Thu 20-Mar-14 21:58:32

Yes. What we are doing doesn't work. But it seems unless he has complete control then he is not content.

Could you elaborate on reducing escalation please? Seriously I'm at a loss. I don't engage with him when he goes beserk so as not to fuel the anger.

I find him difficult to like. He is objectionable most of the time. I love him. I praise his good behaviour and achievements at school. When he show kindness to the others, I tell everyone what he did that day. We get him little trophies for his great work at school. We are actually ott in our praise of the good stuff. We are pathetically grateful for it.

However, after years of several hysterics daily, often upset siblings and scared dogs - he's hurt them too - i find him very hard to like.

He often comes to my bed in the night and I hug him, tell him his mum and dad love him and he goes back to sleep no problem.

Every day, I wake and think how I'm going to mange him, to outwit him, to prevent his meltdowns. My dh says it's like he deliberately causes delays in getting ready for school. This morning, we were late because his school trousers were "too thin" and he refused to wear them even though he'd worn them yesterday. I said he could go to school in his underpants if he wasn't going to wear them and he then went mental, screaming and shouting. Why?

I fear he is in a bad dark place and I can't help him get out of it.

winkywinkola Thu 20-Mar-14 22:00:11

My other children adore him. They want to play with him, they get upset when he is upset.

LondonForTheWeekend Thu 20-Mar-14 22:23:39

we were late because his school trousers were "too thin" and he refused to wear them even though he'd worn them yesterday. I said he could go to school in his underpants if he wasn't going to wear them and he then went mental, screaming and shouting. Why?

I don't know why, but I wonder if the 'pathetically grateful' comment might show a route to test out. You shouldn't be pathetically grateful and I wonder if what you perceive as his looking to control is perversely him begging you to take control of his behaviour- to set and enforce the boundaries. How long was the going mental for? Did it delay you? If you had said "I am leaving on time, you are responsible for getting yourself dressed for school" would he have been on time? If you had gone over to him and held his hand/hugged him while talking would that have helped him. If you had said "I know that you aren't happy about the trousers now, it would be a big help to us all if we could chat and fix the problem after school when we have more time"?

When you ask yourself honestly about your tone was it loving? Irritated? Angry? Mocking?

Do you talk when he is calm about acceptable ways of showing upset in the house? He was pissed off about the trousers - what would be acceptable for him to do? Does he know how to constructively let you know he feels angry? Do you talk about he can't start to look for positive solutions to common friction/flare points. Do you really talk? Does he get to practice other ways of handling it with you?

winkywinkola Thu 20-Mar-14 22:31:52

Thank you so much for your time on this London. I really appreciate your thoughts let me reread.

winkywinkola Thu 20-Mar-14 22:35:52

I am often irritated. Visibly.

Yes, he is often the 'problem' in the home.

I felt his problem with the trousers was a fiction and that annoyed me. I just got on with the task of getting everyone ready for school, ignoring ds1 after my underpants comment but he knew I was annoyed.

We were ten minutes late for school. I don't care but the dcs care if they are late. They hate being the last ones in.

winkywinkola Thu 20-Mar-14 22:38:18

We also have parent-child days. Dh and I take it in turns to take the older dcs out individually. Three weeks ago I went to the cinema with only ds1. Tomorrow he is going to see some rugby alone with dh. Activities he has chosen.

I need help with day to day stuff. I feel like I'm losing my son.

mumatwork999 Thu 20-Mar-14 23:08:47

What a time you are having - I'm exhausted just reading it. I can't offer much in the way of experience of 9YO (my DS is only 3) but I have some experience of 'difficult' adults and it is a strain no matter how much you love them. Have you tried going back to your GP/counsellor for more sessions? there is a hint that this worked a bit at the time. Did you sit in on DS1's sessions and hear what he had to say - does that shed any light? Just out of interest - is he better behaved on his parent-child trips? Is he the same with his dad and you? Maybe he really does crave your attention so much he will do anything to divert you from the other family events/siblings. Sneaking to your bed for a cuddle is heartbreaking - sounds like he needs lots of cuddles and reassurance even if he doesn't seem to 'deserve them' most of the time (along with strong guidance on what is unacceptable behaviour). I think you really need to go back to the professionals for support and guidance.

winkywinkola Thu 20-Mar-14 23:19:50

One on one he is a delight. He should have been an only child.

I think we will get more professional help. We aren't doing a good job for him. hmm

mumatwork999 Thu 20-Mar-14 23:51:05

Couldn't not reply to your last sentence! You ARE doing a great job as parents but he just needs more than you (or any parent) can provide alone. Hope it works out.

tiredandsadmum Fri 21-Mar-14 00:21:51

I have an 8 year old DS and for a long time observed unusual behaviour. 3 years ago I read the diagnostic criteria for PDA and I had a lightbulb moment. It is about control and anxiety from the child, resulting in outbursts. Sorry I am off to bed but in brief

he is trying to exert control.
unless he has complete control then he is not content.
uncooperative
tantrums
escalating behaviour
upset siblings and scared [animals]
causes delays in getting ready for school
sensory issues
different behaviour in different settings

all fit.

This is the link http://www.pdaresource.com/

You can also find more details on the National Autistic Website

there are plenty of support groups if you read and want to explore further.

winkywinkola Fri 21-Mar-14 11:17:54

Tiredandsad, I wonder.

He is perfect at school and this is why GP says there isn't a problem.

But with the diagnosis you have found, people can adapt their behaviour?

I don't know. He has hardly any friends.

have4goneinsane Fri 21-Mar-14 11:27:16

afraid I have no solutions but total sympathy and empathy and understanding - you are describing our 7yr old DD to a T

she is autistic and also gifted which often makes her very frustrated but I am not always sure that that is the root of it all, bloody hard to live with and I am completely with you on the not liking them very much a lot of the time. We walk on eggshells, she is away tonight on a cubs sleepover and we have all breathed a sigh of relief

winkywinkola Fri 21-Mar-14 16:22:33

Thank you for understanding. My ds is going on a school trip fora week at Easter.

It upsets me how I know it will be a relief for all of us.

Even though he asked to go he will punish us with extra bad behaviour when he gets back. That's what happens when he goes to stay with a grandparent for a weekend.

Do you just feel so weary of the constant negativity and contradictions and the lead up to the rage? You can see it coming but there is nothing you can do about it. hmm

It's must be exhausting for him to be like this. When I think of his anger I think his cortisol levels must be jammed up high.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 21-Mar-14 17:02:48

This sounds very troubling Op it appears you've tried the things that are usually effective. I wish I had something useful to suggest other than, can you pursue further counselling.

Bad enough that he knows he'll get told off for raising cain yet still persists - but if he is hurting his siblings and pets it suggests added frustration and anger.

These meltdowns started around 2, did he hurt himself back then? Self-injurious behaviour along with other developmental issues could have been an early warning.

I was going to suggest some form of autism but tiredandsadmum and have4goneinsane beat me to it.

LondonForTheWeekend Fri 21-Mar-14 19:14:39

Does the Angel-at-School fit with PDA?

Winky I'm not sure I understand what you mean about the punishment when he comes back from trip/GPs. Is it that his behaviour will be extra awful? What do you think is behind it e.g. So much effort to be good while there that he can let go at home or conversely has been treated in a way he can cope with outside and is coming back to a 'bad' for him situation? What do the GP's think?

Does he have any insight, can he offer any analysis to his behaviour, does he recognise the melt downs as being 'wrong'?

saintlyjimjams Fri 21-Mar-14 19:18:19

Is he the youngest?

My youngest of three is an angel at school, can be very difficult at home - it's attention seeking (esp for attention from me). I just TRY to be consistent (don't always succeed - am human) & fair & give fair warning & stay calm but firm. He's 9 now & has improved a lot in the last 6 months.

HolidayCriminal Fri 21-Mar-14 19:45:35

Tired&Sad's checklist also describes DS fairly well but I've never seen PDA described like that. Usually there's a long list of other stuff that doesn't fit DS (so basically, the majority of the supposed PDA traits aren't DS at all). DS is a pain everywhere, including at school. (I can't find any checklists from the pdaresources website, is there one?)

How could OP's child have PDA & be so good at school? confused

We have utterly failed to get anything useful out of CAMHS. We could go down the private counselling route but I don't want to pay out thousands only to have OP's experience of nothing getting better.

have4goneinsane Fri 21-Mar-14 20:35:16

oh yes, the rage that you know is coming but you can't avoid, yesterday morning I had the cheek to remind her that she needed to put on her school socks shock

getting her out the house even for her own activities almost always results in a screaming on the floor episode and increasingly I am having things thrown at me too

life is obviously incredibly stressful for her - because of her autism she just cannot understand that the world does not totally revolve around her. I feel incredibly sad for her but also extremely weary. She is holding it together at school OK-ish this year, but it does seem to make the after school explosions more violent.

mumatwork999 Fri 21-Mar-14 23:44:27

I'm new to MN but wow I have already learnt so much. I'd never even heard of PDA. Just scanned the link provided.
Looks like a child with this could be 'good' at school but 'bad' in other situations esp those they feel they can't control (e.g. busy family home life?). Also looks like a new enough condition for a GP/counsellor to potentially not be 'up' on a diagnosis.
Winky - I would definitely explore this further with your GP. It has to be worth a shot. Best of luck.

tiredandsadmum Sat 22-Mar-14 11:52:14

Actually the list I posted was all direct quotes from winky's own post where she is describing HER child. They were the aspects that stood out to me as possible PDA. I am not a professional (at all) but I believe my DS has PDA and I have looked very hard at the diagnostic criteria over several years. These can be found on the PDA resources website, under pdfs, books etc. There is a 41 page document (suitable for parents, schools and professionals) and there used to be a short 2-3 pager describing PDA. These are the top 2 resources listed.

Contrary to the belief of many professionals it does seem as if PDA children can present differently in different settings. So somehow they can hold it together in school, but not at home. (This is not always true for teenagers with PDA). This causes a problem with getting a diagnosis. I now have the Ed Pysch coming to look at my DS at home and in school. She cannot diagnose but can hint at in her report.

PDA is rarely diagnosed in this country - it is not in the latest diagnostic manual, but is recognised by the National Autistic Society. Some parents have managed to get an ASD with PDA diagnosis. Others have been advised that it could be ODD or attachment and sorry have no idea what these are!!

Winky - you ask about adapting their [own] behaviour. These children don't react in the way they do because they want to react that way, it is a response to the "demands" placed on them. So the individuals surrounding that child need to adapt so that requests become flexible, own idea of the child [so child in control], but trying to achieve normal life.

My DS struggled with friendships - he couldn't relate emotionally, invaded personal space, quite obsessive on 1 child. But the big issue was that he always wanted to be in control of the game. So a standard game he varies all the rules all the time. Things have improved in the last year, he now has a little group of friends and actually had the 1st playdate in years. Sorry another long post!

HolidayCriminal Sat 22-Mar-14 12:07:41

Did you mean this booklet, T&S?

Gosh there's simply tonnes in there that doesn't describe DS at all. Whereas the extracts T&S gave were fairly close.

Sorry Winky, don't mean to hijack. Good luck.

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