Scared for my son, and so exausted

(18 Posts)
Cornishqween Fri 14-Aug-20 00:20:41

My just turned 8 yr old boy is in turmoil 😔we don’t know what to do to help him. He is angry and frustrated almost all the time, lashes out and feels life isn’t fair.
He can’t focus enough to even get dressed most days and take care of himself (using the toilet, brushing his teeth, remembering to eat breakfast). He’s difficult to live with, just argues and interrupts constantly, and now instead of it just being myself and my husband noticing, family members, friends and other parents are starting to notice. Play dates are never without some sort of drama and he rarely gets invited anywhere. His 4 yr old sister is the easiest little girl and just wants to play and go about her day but he torments her almost constantly. He's obsessed with her and tries to find ways to get a reaction from her all the time. Penny has dropped tonight for my husband (as he's been away with us and seen first hand what life is like caring for him day and day out)- although really it's different as for me I'm normally doing the childcare on my own.

I feel like all I can do as his mum is advocate for him and let him know I love him to the ends of the earth. We have just been referred to child mental health services and are at the beginning of this journey. I guess I just need a hand hold and someone to tell me it’ll be ok in the end. I know this will take a long time and thankfully the school are in agreement with me for the most part.

OP’s posts: |
Niffler75 Fri 14-Aug-20 19:58:44

@Cornishqween I'm really sorry things are a struggle at the moment. Does your son have any diagnosis or is there any suggestion of what may be going on.
My wonderful 9yo son is not neuro typical and before diagnosis found it such a struggle to help him. He would have very aggressive outbursts and high anxiety levels. Now we are using the correct support strategies he is much calmer happy boy and rarely is physically aggressive. If he is there us usually a reason, sensory overload, too many demands, tiredness etc.
How is support for you? Do you get any respite/ a break?

BlankTimes Sat 15-Aug-20 13:25:09

He can’t focus enough to even get dressed most days and take care of himself (using the toilet, brushing his teeth, remembering to eat breakfast)

Google Executive Function and Processing Speed, understanding those will give you a LOT of insight into why your child doesn't seem able to do things that others his age find so easy.

Make him a ticklist or a picture chart of all the individual things he needs to do to complete a certain task, involve him in creating it if he's amenable.

There are loads of free downloadables here

Have a look at Ross Greene's website Lives in the Balance, when ordinary punishment/reward parenting doesn't work, this can really help.
Also see his book The Explosive Child

Does he have any sensory issues? If so, this will help to explain them

How mature is he emotionally? Many children who have AN are as a rough guide emotionally about two thirds of their chronological age.

You have your husband on board and (mostly) school, that is a huge advantage because you can all work together as a team to help your son.

Read up on strategies to help your son's needs, look at ASD, ADD, ADHD, PDA for starters and look for effective and supportive ways to support your son's needs.

Be prepared to find that friends, family and some professionals will all insist he's only badly behaved and you need to be more firm in your parenting. Take absolutely no notice, if they are not medically qualified to state an opinion on your son's traits or diagnoses, theirs doesn't count.

It is a long and time-consuming process to have an assessment, but stick with it and in the meantime, research as much as you can about your sons' traits. Don't focus on 'He may have XYZ condition' because that's for the professionals to decide - he may not have enough traits for a diagnosis - just focus on his traits and what you can do in the form of helpful strategies and interventions.

RollingWithMyGnomies Sun 16-Aug-20 14:47:01

That sounds so tough OP, for all of your family and especially your son.

You’ve got some great advice and links from the poster above as starting points and I know how hard it is putting different strategies in place when you’re exhausted and drained from it all. Does he ever say how he feels or have you noticed a pattern to certain triggers? Even eliminating them or picking your battles around them might help in the short term (not suggesting you aren’t doing this though!)

But it will get better! A few years ago I was at such a low ebb with my son, truly at breaking point. It’s taken time and I’m still learning every day but life is good now, not perfect but so so much better.

Handhold here if you need it smile

Cornishqween Mon 17-Aug-20 09:09:13

Thanks for these responses - didn't see them until today but this is all so helpful. I knew someone on here would be able to relate - we have nobody we know personally that understands. As you said I've had many comments that I need to tell ds off more and that he's controlling me. Thing is if I told him off every time something happens that I'm not happy with I'd be disciplining all.the.time. I just want to keep dd safe more than anything as she's just a target for his behaviour at the moment. She's 4 and a lot smaller than him.

We've gotten to a point where we don't know how to parent him at times and my husband is not coping with the stress of it - he's getting cross and being really negative (lots of shouting, taking things away etc). I'm alone with my son lots as dh works long hours, I work too but finish earlier and usually do most of the childcare. I try to explain to dh that it's the behaviour that we are struggling with - not actually ds, I feel like I have to have his back even at home sometimes. Dh was not on board with the referral at first, doesn't want our son labelled, but after seeing it first hand while he was at home he started to come round. Dh has zero patience though so I'm always stepping in and telling him that he needs to calm down.

The school aren't known for their work with sen children but I feel like they've been helpful with our son. He's had a few sessions of talking therapy and the senco is in touch via email. She's helped with a referral to CAHMS. I don't know how to get support for him in sept though.

I'd just love someone to tell me how to handle his outbursts. If I'm calm he escalates, and his argument is always "you're not listening to me" even if we're not speaking. It's his go to response. I come down to his eye level, speak calmly (even if inside my heart is racing and I'm annoyed) I ask if he needs a hug or to sit with me for a while, I try to empathise (and not 'fix' the problem just to listen). I worry so much about play dates and what to do if we're out in a public place. I've had some really funny looks off people and tutting etc.

Anyway thanks again - your advice is brilliant xx

OP’s posts: |
Cornishqween Mon 17-Aug-20 09:15:42

Sorry forgot to say - in regards to sensory issues, he is mostly ok but we noticed he gets very overwhelmed at parties , particularly soft play or family parties where there were lots of children. He always ends up getting really upset or angry and crying uncontrollably.

In terms of emotional maturity he definitely isn't where his peers seem to be. He makes lots of silly noises, laughing hysterically almost screaming, he actually plays really well with very young children (maybe because he feels older and he enjoys that). He's an August baby so was always the youngest in his year, so we sort of expected him to be slightly behind everyone else but his maths and reading were always miles ahead. Handwriting is however very behind and now with his focus issues he is starting to fall behind.

OP’s posts: |
Niffler75 Mon 17-Aug-20 10:41:36

@Cornishqween Can I point you to a few resources that I have found really helpful? Check out Yvonne Newbould, an SEN parent who has online resources on violent and controlling behaviour.
Also Studio 3 have brilliant resources and videos. Lots of their approaches work for my son.
Talking therapy for an 8 year old who sounds emotionally younger? Don't think there is a good evidence base for this.
What support/ assessment is he being referred for with CAMHS?
With regards to routines, at 9 my son needs guiding through these step by step and parenting as a younger child otherwise he can't cope and gets really stressed out.
My son can't manage busy environments and social situations either.

Cornishqween Tue 18-Aug-20 21:20:43


*@Cornishqween* Can I point you to a few resources that I have found really helpful? Check out Yvonne Newbould, an SEN parent who has online resources on violent and controlling behaviour.
Also Studio 3 have brilliant resources and videos. Lots of their approaches work for my son.
Talking therapy for an 8 year old who sounds emotionally younger? Don't think there is a good evidence base for this.
What support/ assessment is he being referred for with CAMHS?
With regards to routines, at 9 my son needs guiding through these step by step and parenting as a younger child otherwise he can't cope and gets really stressed out.
My son can't manage busy environments and social situations either.

Thank you so much, I can't tell you how much these recommendations are helping us.

I've not had anything come up when I search for the lady (Yvonne) that you mentioned above but that sounds like a great resource.

Have now stumbled across the podcast of Dr Greene (as someone else mentioned) and his method make total sense to me. I've started trying to implement some of it already, the problem solving and trying out different ways of communicating, in a non confrontational way.

The talking therapy was at the beginning of the year, the teacher said my son was withdrawing from how he was when he started year 3 and seemed quiet and not involving himself at school. They felt he needed help to come out of his shell. It didn't last though he only had a few sessions before COVID.

We were only told he was being referred under the step 2 scheme, to CAHMS. Not much info has been given as the letter hasn't arrived yet.

I'm feeling way more positive today anyway, like there are things that can help. Thanks all x

OP’s posts: |
Niffler75 Tue 18-Aug-20 22:15:55

@Cornishqween So sorry, its Yvonne Newbold (not Newbould).
Brill, Ross Greene is another one! Really excellent book! 😀
I think for us the following has really helped. Remembering kids will do well if they can. Challenging behaviour most of the time happens when demands exceed what a child can cope with.
And a biggie for my family- a dysregulated adult can't regulate a dysregulated child. Trying to stay calm is hard, takes practice but does really help!

LupinsNotLilys Tue 18-Aug-20 22:21:32

How old is your Ds op? Do you have a definitive diagnosis?

LupinsNotLilys Tue 18-Aug-20 22:22:02

Sorry, I just read, I don't know how I missed it

LupinsNotLilys Tue 18-Aug-20 22:33:24

From what you've said I think you need to go and get a referral and see if there is something that's underlying here or if it's behavioural

Also, you need to have very firm foundations for your ds. Your DH and my exh sound v similar. He was more firm, punished poor behaviour more, didn't want a 'label' put on our ds, thought our Ds had to learn boundaries through discipline

Ime (my Ds has a diagnosis) you have to make your Ds heard, listened to, make him feel safe, make him feel he can tell you whatever he's trying to tell you in whatever way he knows how. Your Ds doesn't want to hurt people, he first want to cause a fuss, doesn't want to cause embarrassment, he doednt want to feel shame from his actions.... he just doesn't know how to express how he's feeling, at the moment

I struggle to express my feelings sometimes and I'm 38 with no additional needs. For a young dc to navigate the world full of social rules they don't understand its a minefield.

Let your Ds know it's ok to feel fad, behave bad, we ALL have off days, it's normal for everyone. The foundations need to be maid and your Ds needs to feel safe and accepted before anything else can be done

At our worst point our Ds was self harming, couldn't last 2 hours in school and was in constant flight or fight mode. He was 5 at the time and honestly one of the most heartbreaking times in my life. He's now a different dc. You have to strip back to basics and start off afresh. No dc will behave better from receiving negative behaviour from adults

LupinsNotLilys Tue 18-Aug-20 22:34:34

Sorry for the awful typos...

Cornishqween Tue 18-Aug-20 22:55:12

I've found Yvonne Newbold grinloving having some new things to read and get my head around.

We sat down last night and had a proper discussion (with as little finger pointing as possible) and dh has noticed that he's got a very short fuse at the moment, and is realising that it's not helping ds. We both have noted that ds says "you never listen" all the time, and that maybe we should try to ensure his voice is heard, even if we don't agree with what he's saying. We also know he feels like life isn't fair especially in regard to his younger sister who is in constant competition with. Our thoughts were to try and spend more time acknowledging his interests and lots of one on one time.

No diagnosis yet for ds, and I'm unsure if/when we should explain to him about this process. I feel like we'll get there for our first appt and he'll be impeccably behaved and they'll send us on our merry way. But then at other times he's so wired I can't get him to stop running in circles or attacking his sister and he'll just bury his head rather than respond sometimes.

I was thinking about writing the main behaviours down so that we can say what we are most concerned about without forgetting in the moment. I've no idea what to expect at the appointment at all. Do I prepare ds somehow?

OP’s posts: |
LupinsNotLilys Tue 18-Aug-20 23:10:33

With regards to any first appointment I'd not have your Ds there. You'll be describing negative behaviours and you have to be as blunt as possible, it's not something you want your Ds to hear. Have him in the waiting room with someone (dad maybe) until you've discussed any negatives

Write everything down ... his impulses, sleep patterns, ticks, obsessions, sensory sensitivity , what he loves, what he hates, any extreme behaviour he has done which has really stuck in your mind, any fantastic qualities he has, relationships which are easy for your Ds, relationships which are hard, any feedback from school, write it all down. Give the person you speak to a copy and keep a copy for yourself.

But don't let your Ds sit and listen to all of this, he doesn't need to hear the negatives. Simply explain that him and you as a family want to try and sort these tricky/difficult behaviours out to help make everyone happier and to bake things easier for your Ds

Choconuttolata Tue 18-Aug-20 23:12:27

Maybe whilst DH is around he can take your dd whilst you spend time with him doing an activity he will enjoy.

My middle child struggles with her younger brother who has ASD getting treated differently or getting attention she feels she doesn't get (as does eldest with middle child, sibling rivalry). The both love time just with me and are better behaviour wise and emotionally once they have had me to themselves.

The whole experience of lockdown has been very unsettling for many children so this might be contributing.

With ds who can have meltdowns we have a den in his room which is a time out space where he goes to calm down, I can normally head off the worst meltdowns now by suggesting he goes there if he is beginning to show signs. If behaviour not ok he has time out on the step and I only talk to him once he has had cooling down time and if he is calm otherwise he stays on the step. I always let him know I love him and give him a hug once he has apologised (sometimes I have to explain this to him as he doesn't always know, I just say I didn't like it when you did X, it made me feel X). We also sometimes have to hold him and do breathing whilst counting the breaths to calm him down which helps if he has gone into full meltdown which is often when overstimulated by something. It is scary for them when they lose control and they need the adult to stay in control and calm to help them regulate when they cannot to help them feel safe again.

Cornishqween Wed 19-Aug-20 18:32:46

Apologies, I've no idea why but I'm not getting notifications that people are posting. They are switched on. It's weird.

I wasn't sure how the appointment will go, I wouldn't be comfortable discussing it openly with him sat with me. He's not aware of anything happening except that he had some talking therapy, and we explained that his teacher thought it might help him to talk and be more open. I doubt they'll expect him to be with us in the room, if they do I may bring dm to wait with him outside.

We have definitely noticed he is completely different without his sister there. When you have him one on one he copes so much better. We've definitely agreed that we will go back to taking them out separately on a weekend (dh takes ds one week and I take dd then we swap) so that they get quality one on one time.

I'm getting better at showing him I'm listening and I care about the thing he finds overwhelming or difficult, but am still struggling when I leave the room or go upstairs to shower or to the toilet. He goes straight into wind my sister up mode and then when I come back he's hysterically laughing but denying he's done anything. She is starting to exhibit the same behaviours now with lashing out and losing her temper sad

I think this is going to take time and LOTS of patience. I feel so much more positive thanks to you lovely people though wink

OP’s posts: |
LupinsNotLilys Wed 19-Aug-20 22:35:23

Transitions can be very difficult, even now with our ds, he has a diagnosis and we're aware of what can trigger him and a big one is transition.

So from going from one room to the next, needling him to get in the car to run errands/shopping, getting out of the car to go shopping, ending bath time, leaving the house etc Anything where he's comfortable and confident in what he's doing but we need to change that.... that can be a problem

You leaving the room may be a 'transition' for him? Suddenly he doesn't have his 'safe' person there and he may be displaying behaviours to tell you in his own way that he doesn't like that transition?

You know you're Ds, that's just my opinion

But write everything down op. What's important to you in a tricky half hour with your Ds can be forgotten but it's all important to get a whole picture

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