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Coping (positively) with preteen behaviour

(11 Posts)
Feelingscrewedup Wed 16-Oct-13 08:11:06

So, I could maybe put this in mental health but I feel like I am clogging up that one at the moment. I am in the midst of a relapse of eating disorder and other stuff which is equally un-fun.

Pre-teen son currently knows how to press all the stress buttons (not really bad behaviour, just the little things that really get to me) which currently result in becoming overwhelmed with stress, and then engaging in eating disordered/self harm type behaviours to smother all the feeling. So I know that is not good, and I was wondering how other people who are not trapped in such negative patterns of behaviour cope with this level of stress from children? (I also know I am experiencing little things as disproportionately bad and it is all linked, but I really could use some coping strategies). Any practical tips welcome.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 16-Oct-13 16:43:38

I broached this with a friend whose children were all older than mine so she knew the ropes.
She said, "I am Snow White, I have Smelly, Clumsy, Dozy, Greedy and Sweet-But-Forgetful".

I think the message was her DCs had their foibles but there was usually one overwhelming factor that bugged her. So she picked her battles. And like a toddler, with each one she lavished praise when they were polite, organised, punctual. She took herself off to bed early with the kind of routine we lavish on babies and small DCs - a bath, a cosy bed and a book - with scented candles and her choice of music or tv in the bedroom.

That and she got her DH to remove a bedroom door if things got to the point where they stamped upstairs and slammed a door.

Sometimes there's other factors but our flesh and blood can wind us up like no others.

Always be explicit, never ambiguous with instructions.

If possible, allow some face-saving wiggle room, if they at least try. Not so that he can talk you round, but so that if it feels appropriate you can give an inch.

If you confiscate something, give him the chance to earn it back.

If ever he appears ungrateful or careless, ask yourself, am I doing this for him, or because it makes me feel like Super Mum? eg clearing room of stuff, ("Don't touch my things!"), making a really nice meal he then barely touches because he's stuffed his face with sweets.

Make time for yourself, try and get outdoors, can you take up a hobby like swimming or yoga or choir that you can escape for an hour or two?

If you worry about the teen years maybe you could look into parenting courses locally.

ThisIsMeToo Wed 16-Oct-13 16:48:38

Have you read 'How to talk' for teens? I found it a real good book, esp the bit where they say that you should talk about your feelings regathering than have a go at them.
Generally they know exactly what they are supposed to do. They don't need teaching anymore. But they do need to learn the effect of their behaviour, or lack of, on other people iyswim

ThisIsMeToo Wed 16-Oct-13 16:50:50

That and looking after myself a lot. My exercise routine is essential for me for example to stay calm. When I feel I am loosing the plot, it's usually because I haven't looked after myself well enough

Feelingscrewedup Wed 16-Oct-13 21:40:40

Thanks both, and I will definitely look into that book.

The problem issue is that he often tries to undermine what I say, and says stuff like 'well that is stupid', 'there's no point then', etc for things that have an obvious point and are not stupid but which he disagrees with. It really winds me up and although I mostly deal with it okay from a parenting pov, it is the extreme stress emotions it causes that I don't deal with at all well. So I will end up dealing with the issue with DS but then binging and purging food or suchlike to stop feeling. How the hell do people manage to deal with the intensity of a child you love having them say or do things to you that cause such stress?

I do try and do craft stuff but it doesn't have the same effect, running is good but I can't just go out and run at any time esp. as a single parent, and I hate my bathroom, it has no windows so the whole relaxing bath thing isn't relaxing. Also food/pain stuff is the easiest and quickest way to deal with it. sad

sleepy64 Wed 16-Oct-13 23:49:23

There is another book "How to talk to your children so they will listen" which is good- it recommends leaving reminder notes about annoying stuff they are or aren't doing instead of constantly telling them.
. My son used to be incredibly rude -with a kind of mean edge. However now at 15 he is so much better - a lot of the rudeness has kind of morphed into weird humour. Looking back using humour to defuse and reframe situations helped bring both our tension levels down.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 17-Oct-13 09:19:37

I admit I'm completely in the dark about the eating disorder as a direct response to stress aspect so I won't embarrass myself by trying to guess what you go through.
But if you suffer an immediate compulsion to binge straight after dealing with DS being lippy or challenging I see that my suggestions won't kick in soon enough. The problem has more layers than I perceived so hope my reply didn't come across as glib.

Have you tried posting a duplicate thread in Parenting? Might be more traffic in that section.

Hope you solve this. flowers

ThisIsMeToo Thu 17-Oct-13 12:43:27

sleepy the book I am talking about is from the same people but geared towards teens instead of children.

OP I would put something on the MHZ board too and see if you can get help through your GP. It might be that you are doing everything right on a parenting pov and it's just that time that is proving overwhelming for you.
Would you've able to say how you are feeling when your ds talks like this? Would you be able to tell him?

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 17-Oct-13 14:34:23

Can I ask how old DS is? Did he start secondary school this autumn?

That's a good idea from ThisIsMeToo, another time, after the event when he is communicative, tell him how it makes you feel when he back-chats.

Also, could you try asking him if he understands why you wanted to do X, or what he objected to about doing Y, or how he rates Z as stupid. If he can talk normally when not in a pressure situation you might get get some clues and he'll realise you know he's not a little kid any more, you're not just being bossy or deliberately spoiling his day but interested and taking him seriously.

Then you'll know if there was a genuine reason or (and in my experience the usual underlying belief) he felt his time was better spent doing something else. In which case you can say, "Okay next time I'll ask, "As soon as you've finished that, can you please etc etc", but I'll expect you to then do it".

He may find being mouthy outside home gets him into trouble, so the sooner he catches on that it's unacceptable the better.

Some things just have to be done - non-negotiable. Amongst the "petty" stuff there'll be life skills he takes in and recalls later on. It sounds cheesy talking about being a team but for a nice atmosphere at home it really comes down to you and him co-existing peacefully.

Sorry don't know the background but if there is any contact between DS and his dad then hopefully his father will also strike a balance between being an authority figure and someone DS can talk to.

Feelingscrewedup Thu 17-Oct-13 21:29:08

Donkeys - not glib, don't worry! Did make me think though that in the context of 'normal' my reactions fall outside of most people's understandings, which is a good thing for me to be reminded of!

And yeah he did start secondary this Autumn! I have told him how it makes me feel, including that it makes me ill (not specifically how), I'm not sure I should have said that as I would hate him to feel guilty although that doesn't seem likely! He just doesn't seem to know when he is pushing it too far. He did a similar thing with DD this evening winding her up, and winding her up and not being aware of/sensitive to/caring about that she was getting seriously stressed by him (or maybe his goal was to make her snap), because she did snap, and chucked a drink all over him! I can totally understand her doing that although obviously they both then got in trouble and while DD just apologises and listens to what I have to say, DS spends the whole time giggling like the whole thing of making people stressed is some kind of game to him. (However until that we had a lovely afternoon/evening, he did his homework with no hassle and we chatted about what he got up to at school today and he was funny and lovely).

And there has been no contact with his dad for 6 years and never will be any contact in the future so it is me for everything!

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 17-Oct-13 23:31:04

Well at least the afternoon and early evening went well! Good for DD keeping him grounded. Reassuring it's not just you he's winding up.

I recall when my DCs started Big School there was some testing behaviour, as in, a fair bit of attitude. They were shattered by October half term from the effort of being minnows in a very big pond having lorded it a bit at the top of Primary School the year before. It's as if they need to let off steam in the safety of home, practise swagger.

Anyway that's ancient history so hope you have a good Friday and weekend.

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