View Full Version : His OCD? My ADD? Or something else entirely?

02-18-04, 09:29 AM
My boy is driving me up the wall.

There are days when he can't seem to accept my authority.

Days when he can't seem to realize that I am furious and he should tread lightly around me.

Days when I have to rein in my anger because if I did what I felt like I would lay a beating on my own son.

Days when I shout at him or say things I regret saying.

Days when no matter how mad I am, no matter how upset he is, no matter how many punishments I have already applied to him and no matter what punishment I am threatening him with, he still automatically contradicts me.

Example: this morning I told him to get dressed. He demanded my help finding clothes. I told him I would help him, but I was not going to do it FOR him. Essentially I was unwilling to wander around searching for clean clothes for him while he sat on the couch staring at me.

Me: I will help you. I will not do it FOR you. You have to do some of it yourself.

Him: I don't know where any clothes are.

Me: That's why I said you have to look for them. You don't have to look for things when you already know where they are.

This is something we have had serious issues with before... he is unwilling to look for things if he doesn't already know where they are. It's as if there is a mental block there that makes the idea of "looking for clothes" a more daunting one than the idea of "fighting with Dad when he is already furious".

This conversation always devolves into me threatening him with punishment if he doesn't stop arguing with me.

I went into our room to look for clean socks in our laundry. He asked me in an accusatory tone, how was I helping him if I was going into my room? I said to him, fine, if you don't like the way I am helping you, you can do it yourself. And I went into the office room to go on the computer. He settled in to watch TV. I walked into the living room and turned the TV off. He gave me an accusatory look for that. I said, the TV stays off until you are dressed. He said, "How can I get dressed if I don't know where any clothes are?"

(Insert herculean effort not to beat boy senseless here)

I said if you aren't dressed by the time your mother gets home, I am putting you into the car in your underwear and we'll leave you at school like that. He said, "Mom would never do that to me." (True... which only infuriates me more. But I bluff and say "Try me.")

It goes ON. And ON. I decide I am being unreasonably angry with him, take a deep breath, gain control of my emotions, and try to approach him peacefully to explain to him what I am trying to teach him. But he is too mad at me to listen and talks back again. I banish him to his room. He starts to whine and cry. I tell him that he is suffering the natural consequence of talking back to me. He cries to be let out of his room. I say to him the natural consequence of crying to be let out of your room is NOT to be let out of your room, and if he wants something from me, he should stop whining and crying. He whines and cries even louder.

(Insert another herculean effort not to beat boy senseless here)

Silence from his room. I go to his room and turn off his X-Box (knew immediately what was going on). I say to him, No X-Box until he is dressed and apologizes to me for talking back to me.

It goes ON.

I find him a shirt in my bedroom and throw it to him. I say to him, I found this shirt in MY bedroom, where I was looking, until you got mad at me because you didn't think I could possibly be trying to help you by going into MY bedroom. He gets mad at me and goes into his bedroom and FINDS AND PUTS ON CLOTHES... an entirely different outfit from the one I have been assembling without his help all morning!

He comes out completely dressed!

I say to him, now look. You found an entire set of clothes by yourself without my help. When I was telling you that you could do that if only you went ahead and looked on your own. But you had to argue with me and talk back and mouth off instead, and so you got yelled at and punished all morning.

He says to me, "Except the underwear. You found those."

There are no words to describe the rage I feel towards him.

I don't want to feel this way towards my own son. I don't want to ever raise my voice or my hand to him. I don't want to have to punish him. I don't want to inflict the whole situation upon my wife, who would have started screaming at me half way through this whole situation if she had been here.

Am I wrong to be mad at his defiance?

She seems to think I should ignore the fact that he talks back to me and talk to him like he is a reasonable adult and persuade him to do what I want him to do rather than try to assert authority.

I can see her point of view, but I also don't think it is reasonable to have to spend fifteen minutes explaining to my son why I believe he is capable of getting his own clothes, when it would only take him about sixty seconds to actually do so.

I understand that frightening kids with punishments teaches them to fear and hate authority.

But when I was young, my father faced me down on some occasions... and retrospectively, I remember the only times I obeyed him without question were the times when I was genuinely afraid of what would happen if I did not.

Where is the solution between practicality and ideology here?

It seems to me like neither of us parents has a real problem when we are alone and free to parent him "our way". But when I am forced to compromise and do things her way, he is unmanageable to me. And she gets incredibly tense and upset if I try to manage him my way.

What the hell do I do about this?

02-18-04, 09:34 AM
Now my wife wants me to go off with her on errands. I don't want to go on errands. There is absolutely no reason for me to BE on these errands, I could get some sleep instead... I wasn't tired until going through all this with my son. Now I AM tired. If I explain the situation to her, she will blame me for being tired because she thinks I antagonized the boy.

Oh yeah... he apologized to me on the way out the door and told me he loves me... sounded genuine this time, unlike the surly apology that bought his freedom from his room. Naturally the second apology happened in front of his mother, so she gave me a raised and accusatory eyebrow... so now I can't go back to bed but will have to wait here and explain to her what happened when she gets home.

02-18-04, 09:34 AM
AAARRRGGGHHHHh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [/primal scream therapy]

02-18-04, 10:25 AM
Wayward, as I was reading this, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! Please don't take the laughing part wrong, it's just that I can totally relate! I think you responded to my thread about my daughter being out of control, so you know I'm pretty much going through the same things you are.

I don't think you're wrong at all for being mad at his defiance...I get furious quite often! I also feel way too often that I'm being unreasonably angry and emotional with my daughter.

There's been days with my daughter that have been so bad I was ready to pack her stuff and send her to her father's house to live. Not that I wanted to get rid of her. I just sometimes feel like I just can't control her and maybe it's my fault, that I don't know how to deal with things right. Thinking she'd be better off with someone who she'd listen to and someone who knows what they're doing, because I sure the hell don't! Like you, I also have days where I say things I regret, or yell too much.

Unfortunately, going through the same thing, I don't have any advice for you. I just wanted to let you know you're not alone in this!

02-18-04, 11:47 AM
I have no kids and am not an authority on how things work with them. I can see where you would be very frustrated by the whole situation. My thoughts are with you. I know you want to figure out the right approach. It does sound like he eventually did as you asked. Good luck.

02-18-04, 12:36 PM
My feeling has always been that consistency wins.

One of my wifes friends will try to reign in her daughter by making all kinds of threats. No TV, No this, No that, No Birthday party, Grounded, Time-Out, etc.
She has never done any of these things to her.

Her daughter (who is only 5) tells my wife that she knows her mom's threat are never followed through.
So needless to say, this girl would never do what she was told.

My wife wouldn't stand for her behavior if she was visiting our daughter. So, my wife would make a realistic threat, and follow though. It only took a few times of telling her she wouldn't get any juice if she didn;t leave it in the kitchen, or being sent home, to get her to realize that the threats are real at our house.

It is amazing to see the difference with this girl when at her house vs. ours. (She still knows her mom will not really make her do anything)

Not sure that this is ADD related, just parenting related.

We have similar "getting dressed" issues with my 9 yr old boy.
We have not resolved it.
I mentioned to my wife that we should have him (or us) get his clothes out the night before. We did it a few times, but, we have yet to be consistent with it.

02-18-04, 02:13 PM
I'm sure you know this but let me state the obvious: Never threaten something you don't plan on following through with. Smart kids LOVE a challenge. I think you basically threw down the gauntlet with the going to school in underwear bit.

From your account of the incident, it seems to me that your young man is being very strongly positively reinforced by something and the something is more powerful than any negative consequences he might receive. I'm guessing the reinforcer is the control he feels he has over you (and probably your wife, too) when he engages you and pushes your buttons. Evidence: apologizing in front of mom, check and mate!

Taking away positive reinforcers is an excellent way to shape behavior. Very rarely is barbarism involved. It does take patience and self discipline on your part. Just refuse to be engaged at an emotional level. When he goes into meltdown mode, you must rein yourself in and speak to him by giving simple instructions in a very level tone of voice. Refrain from getting into the content of the situation, focus on behaviors only, crying, screaming, kicking, swearing, using an inappropriate tone of voice...those you can easily identify. You wouldn't want to get into more abstract things like planning better and the possibility of laying his clothes out at night or using vague words like loud, mean, naughty, etc.

For all of this to work, though, you must discuss it with him first, at a neutral time and explain what he can expect when the hystrionics begin. You might even practice it once or twice, so he can see how it will feel when you are not in the heat of the moment. In the midst of an uncooperative episode is no time for reasoning and rationalization. You will have to wait it out.

After such an episode there is an exercise we do with our is called a SODAS. It is a written (read: somewhat punishing) method of evaluating situations, possible choices and reactions and then selecting the best outcome. It teaches a lesson, and prepares for future similar situations. Anybody can PM me for the format if interested.

All that being said, there is a little prayer I say to myself when I feel like laying a beating on a kid " Lord, please do not let me hurt this child" It works everytime.

02-18-04, 11:05 PM
I think then the issue is more a matter of me and the wife disagreeing on how to parent him. :( :( :(

02-19-04, 12:10 AM

i've got a book recommendation for you, Parenting With Love and Logic : Teaching Children Responsibility -- by Foster W. Cline, Jim Fay; Hardcover

i looked on-line and was *not* impressed with their website. the book is much better and definately worth a read (imho).

the part i like best and have applied to my own parenting (daughter, 7 and son, 4) is the shift in focus which looks at how to make any behavior problem the *child's* problem.

a quick example. i let my daughter know the night before that we were going to try something new. if she didn't get ready for school in a timely manner, she wouldn't have time to eat breakfast. the rule is, at 7:55, we walk out the door, regardless of weather or not you've eaten breakfast. -- since setting this limit, she has only missed breakfast once! she cried and cried that morning. she was still crying at school and even told her teacher i wouldn't let her eat breakfast that morning when he asked her why she was so upset. (the school district recommends this approach, so i just told him we had a "love and logic" morning...) but, my point is, she has only missed breakfast once!!!

she has also only forgotten her gloves at home once! (now she sets everything together by the door where she can grab it quick on her way to school).

the authoritarian in me likes this approach because i *don't* make excuses or let bad behavior slide "just this once."

the book goes a bit *too* far sometimes with some of their examples (in my opoinion). but, as always, you can take what you need and leave the rest. :)

this got a bit long. but, i read that you are struggling to find an approach that both you and your wife can adhere to. so, this came to mind immediately!

the authors advise the parent to "avoid anger, threats, warnings or lectures." but rather to maintain limits with "compassion, understanding or empathy."

good luck!

edit: if it's empathy you wanted and not advice. please disregard the above post. :) and know that i've been there too and i hope you and your wife can find some common ground and build on *that*.

02-19-04, 09:47 AM
Well, sure, what kid wouldn't seize the opportunities afforded by his parents disagreements!?! I know I certainly did.

I was just suggesting an approach that you both might be comfortable with, humane and effective. I forgot to put an important part, the use of empathy statements while the episode is taking place. Like this: "I can tell you are feeling frustrated right now, but you need to stop crying so we can work this out." Theres not really anything there to argue or that would worsen the situation.

Regardless of the method you use, I think you definitely need to be on the same page with discipline. United you stand, divided you fall. I'm sure you will find an approach that works.