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Posts tagged ‘teenagers’

Should he stay or should he go?

In May of this year, one of my dreams was realized. My oldest son graduated High School with Honors. It was a fabulous feat and I was so proud of him.

Nicky's crooked cap

Nicky’s crooked cap

Being a successful graduate may seem like nothing nowadays, but I came from a family where I was the only person in the household that actually graduated High School. So, hopefully you can see where this was a proud moment for me 🙂  Nicky, true to himself all the way, was near the front of the line as the soon to be graduates walked down the path to the commencement ceremony. In true Nicky fashion, his cap sat ever so precariously atop his head…tilted. Now, just to make a point, you should know that many of the seniors decorated the top of their cap so they would stand out, make a statement, or be easily recognized by family. Some kids were wearing sunglasses, loud shoes or boots, neon clothing on their legs, rainbow colored hair, etc. Nicky, bless his heart, stood out without trying (just as he always has). He couldn’t really be blamed for the crooked cap. We paid the ridiculous fee of $50 for the tissue thin cap and gown that he would “own” after the event. The gown survived the ceremony with only 1 rip in it, but the cap didn’t even make it 5 minutes before the lining unravelled and lost its shape.

My Boy :)

My Boy 🙂

My youngest son had a performance at the commencement ceremony with his choral ensemble group. His group was projected onto the large screen that hung over the stadium. I dare say he was the most handsome boy in a tux present, but then again, I am a bit bias.

My beautiful boy with long hair)

My beautiful boy with long hair)

Our middle child was present to support his friends. He was somewhere in the massive audience of attendance. A couple of the boy’s sisters showed up to support him and we snapped a few memorable group pictures.

Family Shot

Family Shot

So, he did it! He graduated and I had all these grandeur ideas about life for him …and selfishly for myself.  Personally, I had already turned his bedroom into an office and was hoping he would seek the independence that most kids his age so desire. That freedom that comes when you live on your own and supper consist of ramen noodles, peanut butter sandwiches and bringing laundry home to mom on the weekends. I could so live with that!! You know, those days when you first discovered coffee & that the magic stay awake power it possesses to help you write that paper due at the last minute? I was willing to help him out as he helped himself too! These were my expectations.

I had dreams of him getting a job (or at least helping around the house), going to college (which he is doing now), moving out (after accomplishing goal #1 – getting a job), and beginning his wonderful new life. Reality sat in after several weeks had passed and the only goal he had accomplished was beating several new missions in his video games with his friends on-line. The prodding began gently: “Nicky honey, have you been putting in applications for employment?” He would say, “Yeah, but no one will hire me until I’m 18 mom! Hey, what’s for supper?”  I would allow a week to pass. I asked nicely for several weeks and then frustration sat in. My husband began to bring him paper applications from every place he saw a “now hiring” sign. No progress. Soon, my gentle prodding turned into motherly nagging…daily. I reminded him school would start soon and that he was not going to get through life living for free. He said “Mom, I’m not 18. I’m not even legally able to give blood without your consent. Don’t worry. I’ll get a job after school starts.” I waited….and waited…and am still waiting. School did start. He had that life changing 18th birthday and now, he still resides at home…currently unemployed. He is doing well in school as far as I can tell though and I pray daily that he will seek employment soon. Some work experience is better than none, even if he only works 4 hours a week!

On a positive note, he has mowed part of the lawn a few times since school ended and did the dishes for about a week. Occasionally he’ll offer to help fold laundry. He is doing well in school as far as I can tell and I’m very proud of that! I pray daily that he will seek employment soon.

Don’t think me cruel, I want the best for him and obviously my nagging has gotten nowhere. I think he will be a very accomplished young man at some point in his life and hope I am alive to see it. I love him dearly and hope to post an update soon with something very uplifting and encouraging about his progress!

If anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it!! Please, please, oh PLEASE leave advice in the comments section. I promise to try all reasonable advice given and report back!

Yours truly,

Chrissy

When “Good Enough” Just Has To Do

When the kids were in school, I thought keeping the house in order and clean was pretty easy since we’ve moved back home. Then summer vacation rolled around and each of the three boys were seemingly always running in three different directions. They were not home much, thus the house keeping part of life remained pretty simple. I missed them. I wished they’d hang out at home at least a little so I could see them. The cat even missed them…until they came home & fashioned him a skirt!
image

In the last couple of weeks the boys have not been running as much though, so they have been home a lot. Although I’ve been happy to share time with them, the house is a terrible mess. I continue my regimen though, trying to clean each room once a day. Not every room actually gets touched though due to the driving around errands that they, my husband, or my parents send me on.

A few days ago, I took an observatory look around to assess the status of the house and determined that something had to give.

  • The laundry room was surprisingly “good enough” but the cleaned clothes had not been folded and put away, still hanging out in club Fold Me (a basket) and the un-mated socks were laying on the folding table mocking me.
  • The living room had become the Music Den.
    image

Two electric guitars were propped against the big picture window, an acoustic guitar was propped by the couch (as though it was watching TV), and an amplifier had become a new type of coffee table holding a drink, book, and several picks. Head phones were strung out on the couch and the TV and DVR remotes were missing. The wah-wah pedal was strategically placed so that any unsuspecting visitor would break their neck.

  • My bathroom shower/tub needed a super good scrubbing 😦 The toilet paper roll was missing and in its place a card board roller stared back at me as if to say “the boys have been here…drip dry lady!”
  • The boys’ bathroom had a rather large yellow puddle in the floor near the toilet and their sink was covered in toothpaste. (At least they are brushing their teeth…sigh*)
  • The kitchen…was a casualty of war. It being the most consistently frequented room had suffered the most damage. The trash can was over flowing, the floor had tea, sugar, and other unidentifiable droplets of liquid on the floor. Bread crumbs and jelly covered the table, the toaster was plugged in sitting on the table, and a phone charger dangled from the wall. The counter and both sides of the sink were full of dirty dishes and several cooking pots had a strange crusted substance clinging to them. Upon opening the microwave, I discovered splattered dry goo. Every coffee cup was dirty and the 2 loaves of bread I had bought the evening before were reduced to simply 2 end pieces that only starving people eat.
  • The front porch had become the new home of the long forgotten dirty shoes that no one wanted to clean off and the dog was strangely clinging to the door step rug.

I took a deep breath, got wound up, fussed some, yelled a bit, and scattered the kids to their room. (Their rooms are another story all together. I won’t even describe those.)

I’ve decided summer is officially canceled at this point.

Let the cleaning begin!

1 year check-in O.D.D

This is the final article (part 12) of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3,  part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9 , part 10 , and part 11– I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the 1 year mark of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

The last article I wrote about Oppositional Defiance Disorder brought us up to the end of week 34 (7 months) after working with Knight on his O.D.D issues. I would like to skip ahead to the 1 year mark and share with you the things that we tried that were successful and the things that failed.

Things Not To Do (Ineffective):

  • Reasoning: A child with oppositional traits will not deal well with reasoning. Although this has become a very popular parenting tool for the latest generation, this does not work well with a child with defiance issues. If a child has produced unacceptable behaviors and actions, reasoning with them to stop those actions and behaviors can back-fire. They certainly back-fired on us. Even when you are exhausted and totally worn out, you can’t give in to the idea of reasoning. (Example: “Why are you doing this? Would you please just not argue anymore if you get to go to your friend’s house? I can’t take it anymore!”  Bad idea. The child will sense vulnerability and will go in for the win. I’d rather not provide examples of this. Instead, I’d prefer to advise against falling into this common trap. I fell into it once…and only once!)
  • Relinquishing decision-making to the child: Again, this is easy to fall into if you are very tired or physically worn down. When a parent or authority figure gives the decision-making over to the child, at first the child is happy and excited. Shortly thereafter, they become bewildered and insecure. A large part of their desire to be oppositional and defiant is due to a personal feeling of abandonment in their minds. Whether this be true (and often times is not), it is how most of these children feel. This feeling accompanies feelings of insecurities, low self-worth or value, and a feeling of being invisible in the world. In their minds, if they are making decisions, who loves them enough to make their decisions for them? (Example: After a particularly difficult event, the child could ask, “Do you want me to just leave for a while so I’m not bothering you?” Giving decision-making to the child, parent may answer, “Would you like to spend the night with a friend or stay home tonight? It’s your decision.”)
  • Waffling: Setting your foot down on a negative behavior is one thing, but then going back on the punishing result is another. This is waffling indecisiveness. If you are serious about your goal to change these behaviors, there is no room for waffling – even when you feel like you’re punishing yourself by the decision you made during the moment of heat. (Example: Very upset about some undesirable behavior at school, I “ground” Knight for 1 week. This made travel difficult, cut off the TV for me, I had to monitor him while he mowed the lawn and did other work, and I had to hear him wonder aimlessly through the house making random noises to entertain himself. I was tempted to lift his grounding so I could maintain sanity…but I knew that would be my undoing, so I did not.)
  • Never reward a child with money: Where the thought of paying our children to be good came from… I will never know! It doesn’t work and Thank God that thought only lasted about 15 minutes! I think it was out of desperation maybe, but anyway, it did not work.

Things To Do (Effective):

  • Maintain consistency at all times: If the result of good behavior is a specific reward, be prepared to give that reward often during the good behavior. The same is true for the negative behavior.
  • Stand your ground: If you’ve decided that a particular behavior will not be tolerated, don’t allow minor events of that behavior to slip past you in the presence of others. No one likes to correct their children in front of others. We are afraid we will be judged as a failing parent or people will see that things are not a bed of roses in our homes. Regardless of this, all non-tolerable behavior must be stopped at the moment it occurs. It should be brought to the attention of the child and immediately remind the child what the recourse is for that negative event or behavior. (Example: Cursing was an issue for a bit and Knight thought he could get away with it in front of other people. He tested me. His correction was the same however. I would quickly say, “That is inappropriate.” and remind him what the consequences were. “You just lost your phone for 2 days when we get home.”
  • Be firm not only in correction, but in love also: The same as you need to catch the negative behaviors immediately, the same is true for catching the positive behaviors also. It’s very important in the O.D.D. child’s mind to hear when they’ve done something good. This doesn’t mean constant praise and pats on the back though. A verbal acknowledgement like, “I’m so happy today. You haven’t had an outburst. You’re doing so well. I love you.” Or “I’m proud of you this week. You’re doing great!” “I am looking forward to your progress next week! You really impressed me this week!”  Hearing things like this go a long way in changing defiant behavior. The otherwise invisible child begins to realize that he is not actually invisible at all.
  • Create and maintain an open dialog: If a child feels like everything they tell you will get you all riled up, they will stop telling you things. Maintaining a reliable open dialog will allow the child to feel as though they can safely share things with you without judgment. If you’ve maintained consistency, they will already know what type of correction you may use, but they will be more willing to share with you what is going on in their universe.  Children like to share how they feel and what is going on in their daily lives. If they are not sharing with you, they will share with someone else.
  • Evaluate your home’s structure: Do you really have routines? Are those routines healthy? Do most of your family habits emphasis togetherness or individuality? A unique balance of both contribute to a successful family life. Sometimes it helps to have someone from the outside of the family to take a peek at your home life in order to get an honest observatory opinion if you need help evaluating.
  • Don’t let the small stuff go: By allowing the lesser bad behaviors to be overlooked, the defiance in a child with O.D.D will grow into a large outburst. Handle each issue as it arises (while at the same time, picking your battles wisely).
  • Don’t overwhelm: In the beginning, it’s easy to want all negative behaviors corrected at the same time, but this can overwhelm the child and cause further defiance. Pick your battles wisely. As you triumph over each hurdle, celebrate and then move on to the next as you continue to re-enforce the previous.

Knight now bears no resemblance to the child he use to be. I am proud of him. The behavior modification plan we put it in place – worked! 🙂 I wish you all luck if you are tackling this problem with your child too. It’s an ongoing process. May God give us continued strength!

School Trouble – Oppositional Defiance Disorder

This article is part 10 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3, and part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 , part 8 , and part 9 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the next weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

As I mentioned in the previous article, Knight just started a new public school and had been warned about the zero tolerance policies related to defiance and discipline. Unfortunately, in week 22 he began to have issues. He came home complaining about some of his teachers. They were the bad guys because they fussed at him for distracting others in the classroom, talking, or being loud while the teacher attempted to teach the day’s lesson. Here’s how things went.

In week 16, Knight was continuing to make friends and had plans to spend the night over at some friend’s houses. He behaved well in other’s homes we were told.

In week 17, Knight developed interest in a church where his friends were members and begged us to go there. I had not been to this church in many years, but I knew what they believed, so we allowed him to go. He was in teenager heaven 🙂

In week 18, Knight began to share his total excitement with us and tell us how happy he was to live with us and happy about his “new” life. We continued to encourage Knight and reminded him daily (and our other boys) to complete their homework!

In week 19, I had noticed a significant difference in our overall family life and noticing the difference in each boy individually also.

In week 20, Knight was still attending church and visiting with his friends pretty regularly. Most of his behavior issues had disappeared and our only real problem was his occasional back-talk.

Ups and Downs

We experienced a slight set back in week 21 when Knight had a slight blow up. He blamed his behavior on being tired. He found himself grounded for a few days. His behavior changed and his punishment was lifted a day early.

Early in week 22 Knight called me from school and told me he was in trouble. I asked him what was going on. He told me he had been suspended for 4 days out of school. He also mentioned that, “He didn’t do anything” and that it “was not his fault, it was someone else“.  Sound familiar? We were literally about to ride this same coaster again! It seemed as though only a few short weeks had passed since we had begun to work on taking ownership and responsibility for actions with him. He had done great – until this.

This left me puzzled. 😦 He seemed to do better with authority figures that he got to know personally. Life cannot be lived this way though. It would be impossible for Knight to get to know every single authority figure in his life personally.

I spoke with him about the importance of doing as the teachers ask while in their classes. We talked about respect and if he was to receive respect he had to give it first.  He said everyone hated him and that all his teachers were out to get him. Everyone else was causing disturbances in class too according to him. He simply was the loudest and the one called out for it. He neglected to tell us he was the leader of the disturbances though. (This we discovered through speaking with his teachers that “hated him”.)

Knight’s father was very upset that he’d been suspended. I haven’t told you all the details of the suspension, but let’s just say that the things coming out of his mouth were directed toward a female and were totally not tolerable (again – here is that zero tolerance policy). Knight and his father were told that there could not be a next time in this offense category. A next time would take him completely out of all public schools.

Knight went back to school in week 23. Knight was warned again about the zero tolerance policies (both at home and at school). Knight said he understood. Weeks 23 & 24 seemed to be getting back on track, until week 25. Knight came home from school with an in-school suspension slip. He had made noises in class (distractions) and when called down, he back-talked the teacher. He served out his sentence at school and was grounded at home from all electronics. (I took all power cords and chargers instead of the actual devices. He got to slowly watch the batteries drain knowing he could not reconnect or charge anything.)

Week 26 produced more issues. After that first horrendous event that resulted in out of school suspension, the school had agreed to evaluate him for an IEP. Knight was placed through a series of tests. He spoke with a psychologist and so did his father. All of Knight’s teachers were interviewed and all of his previous school records were being reviewed. The 2 previous schools he attended had him in *special* classes for learning disabled children because of his inability to control his anger and outbursts. Knight was not learning challenged or disabled though. That was obvious to this new school, but not his father and mother. Outsiders looking in can see things differently because they are disconnected from emotions surrounding circumstances. Basically, Knight had been given a free ride for many school years and this school was simply not into free rides.

I asked Knight if he remembered me telling him that this school would not treat him any differently than any other student. He said he remembered. I explained to Knight that he had no choice now but to begin accepting responsibilities for his actions and needed to put self-restraint he was learning into practice at school. I don’t think he liked the idea, but knew what I was telling him was true. He spoke of how much he loved the friends he’d made here and how much he wanted to stay. I told him only he was in control of the outcome. He understood he had to change his defiant personality and learn how to be compliant at school just as he had done at home.

It was tough for him. It was in the nature that he had developed over time to be defiant of everyone and everything in every situation. Showing him examples of how he had been able to do it at home allowed him to see how it was possible to do it at school too. I asked him if he was defiant at church. He said he was not. I asked him if he defied his football coach. He said he did not. So, he’d mastered 3 settings and saw that it really was up to him to master the 4th one – school!

Brief Visit – Visible Improvement (O.D.D)

This article is part 7 of a series. If you have not read part 1, part2, part 3, and part 4 , part 5 , and part 6 – I urge you to do so if you are searching for help on this subject. If you’ve read along with me already, I want to welcome you into the next few weeks of our journey and Knight’s recovery.

Week 10 & 11 were awesome weeks for us. They were awesome (challenging) because we had set-backs & problems from Knight, but we also received some much-needed encouragement. He was doing well with the re-enforced structure we had put in place and with gentle reminders, was doing better. He’d only had a few outburst of massive anger, sever aggression, and extremely argumentative behavior. Each of these had been very trying of our patience and required much love and prayer to work through. But, in the end, we seemed to be on the right track. We constantly reminded him that he was loved, was receiving a lot of attention (that he desperately thought he wanted), and we were not going to give up on him.

During week 10 or 11 (I can’t remember which), Knight had a visit from his out-of-state mother and another relative. They remarked about how he’d grown and seemed like a totally different child to them. They were not excited about him aspiring to play football in the up-coming fall, but were happy he was involving himself in activities to use his excess energy. Their visit lasted a few hours.

Hearing from someone else who knew him well before, that they could see a noticeable difference in him was a happy moment for me. I knew his father was still frustrated with him a lot of the time, but he was improving and I could see improvements daily too.

Exchanging one behavior for another

Knight’s explosive outbursts were becoming less severe and were occurring far less often. As what I understand as an outlet for his tendencies, Knight began to be defiant in passive ways. Some of his passive behaviors including:

  • Chewing on plastic and spitting the chewed up mess in the floor – When asked not to chew on the plastic, he would remove it from his mouth and throw it in a sneaky way behind furniture instead of in the trash can.
  • Spitting sunflower seeds in the floor – I can’t remember who bought them for him, but somehow Knight ended up with what appeared to be an endless supply of sun flower seeds in the shell. As a passive form of defiance, he began spitting them in the floor in every room. When asked to clean up his mess and reminded to spit them in a trash receptacle, he would just walk away and leave the shells. I made a new rule: NO MORE sun flower seeds in the house! After we moved back home, it took me 2 hours to remove all the sun flower seeds from the rental we were staying in. They were under furniture, stuck between the base boards and the walls, inside the tank of the toilet, stuck in the garbage disposal, in the kitchen drawers, and even behind the refrigerator and stove! I still have a no sun flower seeds rule in the house now!
  • Leaving his shoes & clothing in the living room (stuffed under the couch) – again, it’s a more passive way of being defiant that he was aiming at mentally. When asked about why he did these things, he would answer, “I don’t know.”

His passive defiance was more tolerable than his previous behaviors, so I had to pick my battles wisely and not overwhelm him. This meant that I had to live with the lid always off the toothpaste, a cereal bowl with milk in the bottom of it in the sink several times a day, sunflower shells, etc. These things were really just normal teenage boys type behaviors anyway, and that is what we were striving for – normal or average teenager behaviors – not perfect!

Every single day, we were continuing to work on our main plan:

  • Maintaining open dialog
  • Pointing out annoying behaviors
  • Bringing lies to Knight’s attention (Taking Ownership of his Words & Actions)
  • Structure in his daily life
  • Consistency in discipline

…and

it was working!

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