Parenting A Difficult Child – Tripping

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Kevin and his mother are sitting in the living room watching television.

Joel, Kevin’s little brother comes in to watch television as well.

As Joel walks by Kevin to sit on the couch, Kevin lifts his leg to trip Joel.  Joel falls on his face and starts crying.

“What?”  Kevin yells at him.  “Why are you crying?  Shut up!”

Kevin’s mother has just seen Kevin trip Joel.  “Stop yelling at your brother.”  She scoops up Joel to comfort him.  “He’s crying because you hurt him when you deliberately tripped him.”

“I didn’t trip him.”  Kevin yells at his mother.

“I just watched you trip him.  Don’t lie.”  His mother responds calmly.  “You don’t get to bully people, yell at them because you hurt them and then lie about it.  That’s not how life works.”

“I didn’t trip him.  He just fell.”  Kevin continues shouting.  “And I’m not lying.”

Kevin’s mother has had enough of the yelling and the lying.  Why won’t he take responsibility for his own actions?

“That’s enough, Kevin.  You’ve earned yourself a time out.”  She says.

“Why?”  Kevin demands.  “I didn’t do anything!”

“You can have a time out for hurting your brother, lying about it and yelling at everyone.  We don’t treat each other that way.”

Kevin crosses his arms with a defiant expression on his face and says, “No, I’m not going to.”

“Alright then,” his mother responds, silently boiling at the blatant disrespect, “You’re not getting your snack until you’ve taken your time out.”

Time passes and Kevin still refuses to take his time out.  Snack time rolls around and everyone but him is provided with a snack.

“Where’s mine?” Kevin demands, anger dripping from his words.

“You’ll get yours once you’ve taken your time out.”  His mother calmly replies.

Kevin stands up and throws his chair to the ground.  “Ugh!  I hate it here.  This place is so stupid!”  He slams a cupboard door and picks up an item off of the counter and throws it across the room.  “It’s your fault that I hate it here.  You’re always so mean to me.”  He kicks the wall and storms upstairs yelling about how it’s Joel’s fault that he’s in a time out because Joel hurt himself.

His mother gives him a few moments to himself before reminding him that if he wants his snack, he must first take his time out.

“I am in time out.”  Kevin yells as he whips toys and books around the bedroom, although he clearly is not taking his punishment as he should be.

Now, there are some things to understand about Kevin.

His actions and the things that he says come off as immature, defiant, disrespectful and abusive.  He is often impulsive, he will argue about anything and everything, and he seems to refuse to accept any sort of responsibility for his actions.

But the thing is that he’s not a bad child.  Nor is he the product of bad parenting.

Kevin’s behaviors can fit the diagnosis of Opposisitional Defiance Disorder (ODD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) although it’s not diagnosed in childhood,  or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) ; just to name a few.

Whichever diagnosis he actually has is irrelevant to this article.  What is important is that Kevin really does have legitimate reasons for his explosive behaviors even though they are invisible reasons.

When we assume that a child is being willfully defiant, disrespectful, dishonest or manipulative, then we feel a need to discipline them for their actions and force them to want to do the right thing.

Let’s break the scenario down.

1.  Kevin trips Joel:  Kevin is impulsive because he lacks the skills to think ahead before he acts or says something.  He is unable, in the moment, to realize that he is going to cause harm to another person or think of the consequences that will follow  his actions.  Impulse control is a skill that needs to be taught to him.

2.  Kevin yells at Joel:  Kevin knows that he’s done something wrong and he lashes out at Joel out of guilt and out of fear that he will be punished.  Kevin has very poor emotional control.  Every time he is hungry, tired, scared, frustrated, overwhelmed, feels guilty or he feels wronged in some way, he reacts with explosive anger.
He reacts with anger because his emotional age is not lined up with his physical age.  He has not yet learned to successfully interpret, balance or communicate his emotions or his emotional needs.  It is a skill that needs to be taught to him.

3.  Mom makes accusations and Kevin lies:  The accusations that Kevin’s mother make Kevin feel more defensive, and Kevin’s defense is offensive.  Kevin is feeling very overwhelmed by his emotions right now and doesn’t know how to handle it so his anger increases.  He lies because he is afraid of being punished.

4.  Mom says “Time out.”:  Kevin is being punished for things that he could not control and he simply shuts down and refuses to listen to anything.  Shutting down is a common defense mechanism for people who struggle with emotional control.  They simply cannot deal with the emotional overload anymore.

5.  Kevin has a tantrum:  When Kevin is reminded that he has to take a time out, he throws a tantrum because his extreme emotions have been ignited again.  At this point he knows that he must be punished for his inability to control his actions and he has become enraged.  He is also exhibiting black and white thinking; where things are either all good or all bad.  After his time out, his mother could give him his favorite snack but in the moment he still feels as though she is the worst mother ever who is always unfair to him.

Kevin often feels as if he is a bad child because he struggles so hard to control his behavior and often fails.  His self esteem is low.  He wants to be a “good” child, but he doesn’t know how.

When we look at why a child is explosive or unruly instead of focusing on the actions and the age of a child, we can better understand that the behavior is that of someone who has lagging skills and not that of someone who is intentionally attempting to inflict pain and misery on the family.

Then that begins us all down a path to solutions and healing.

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I Got Published On The Mighty

Last week I got my article about why people with mental illnesses are so tired published on The Mighty.

I’m so excited about this because within the first day and a half, my post was shared 12.5 thousand times!

I wanted to thank you all for reading and sharing my post and for all of the comments and support you’ve shown me.  It has boosted my self esteem and greatly encouraged me to keep on writing.

Welcome to all of my new followers.  I look forward to writing for you all some more.

Also, I offer my apologies for not keeping up with writing over the past little while.  I’ve been preoccupied with my struggles lately and haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to.

You can follow me at The Mighty if you’re interested here.

Creative Writing Challenges

How many of my followers on here are creative writers?

One of the things I’ve been really wanting to try for many years is to present a concept for something (a small piece, a short story, a poem and so on) and gather a group of writers to write about it in their own style to see the different lives one concept could take on.

I was hoping I may have found my group of people who would be willing to accept writing challenges on wordpress.

I was thinking on the first day of the month I would issue a challenge (open to suggestions of course) and then gather them into one place in a blog with links to other’s blogs on the last day of the month.

I’m very interested in the different ideas and styles that other people have and I would love to see the different writings that come from a basic idea.

Please let me know if you would be interested in participating and please recommend friends who might be interested in participating.  If I can find at least five people willing to take on a monthly challenge, I will post the first concept.  Also, if you have an idea for a challenge, feel free to voice it.

Thank you.

I Can’t

I can’t.

Well, I can’t right now.

One day in the future, I can; as long as you’re willing to bend and stretch your definition of what “can” is.

It’s not that I don’t want to.  I can’t overcome it by positive thinking.  I can’t “just do it”.  I’m not lazy.  I’m not making up excuses.  I’m not weak.

I can’t because I am the brain that is swallowed by panic and fear.

I can’t because I am the brain that is over stimulated and overwhelmed.

I can’t because I am the brain that doesn’t have the proper words in me to describe what I’m going through so I can get help.

I can’t because I am the brain that is numbed from feeling too much for too long and has become worn out.

I can’t because I am the brain that struggles to understand the difference between what is real or not because it all seems the same.

I can’t because I am the brain that is desperately trying to cope with sensory overload.

I can’t because I am the brain that is unable to shut down at night so I can rest.

I can’t because I am the brain who is deficient in executive functions and I have not yet learned and exercised these skills.

I can’t because I am the brain that automatically switches off my control when I’m trying to cope with disappointment, frustration or stress.

I can’t because I am the brain that jumbles, reverses and mixes things up.

I can’t because I am the brain that is scattered and unfocused.

I can’t because I’ve put my energy into trying to cope with my malfunctioning brain, self advocating and trying to meet the standards expected of me and I’ve become so drained.

If I could, I would; but I can’t.

I can’t until I learn the skills that I need and practice them.

I can’t until I’ve rested.

I can’t until I’ve gotten the help and guidance I need from someone else.

Please try to understand that I’m trying harder than you’ll ever know and be patient with me.  Please don’t tell me that you can just get over it so I could as well if I just try harder.

One day, somewhere down the road, when I can; please recognize the strength and struggles that it took to get that far instead of looking at my other “can’ts”.

 

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Why Are You Tired?

Chances are, you know someone with a mental disorder or disability and you’ve probably asked them this or thought this before.

This statement, “I’m tired” is not a complaint or pessimistic.  It’s merely a fact of life.

Allow me to explain why a person who is constantly battling their own brain and societal expectations feel so drained.

These are people whose brains are stuck in overdrive and have a great amount of difficulty unwinding to fall asleep at night.  For the average person, it takes 7 minutes to fall asleep.
Imagine crawling into bed exhausted and it takes an average of an hour to fall asleep instead of 7 minutes.  Every nap and bathroom break and the brain relaxation delay begins again.

These are people whose sleep is frequently disturbed and who spend their nights tossing and turning instead of resting.  Sometimes they’re awoken by noises, pain, an inability to keep body parts still, by loud noises inside of their heads, vivid dreams and many other reasons.

These are people who wake up feeling, at best, slightly more rested than they were when they crawled into bed in the first place…like a battery that has been damaged that never seems to recharge properly.
These are people, who for decades, don’t feel rested after their slumber.

These are people who put an immense amount of effort into focusing on the task that they’re supposed to do or perform while their minds are trying to carry them down other paths or while they are struggling to remember just what those tasks are.
These are are people with working memory issues who from school age on into adulthood, lack the skill to remember multi-step instructions in a world where they’re just expected to know how to do it.

These are people who are in a constant war with their own brain.  People who are battling their own thoughts and fears; hearing every day from their brains that they aren’t good enough, strong enough, skinny enough, that people don’t like them, or that they should have done better…just to list a few things.

These are people who are in a constant war with other people’s judgement and lack of understanding.  Who are often asked questions or who hear comments like “Why are you always tired?”, “Just suck it up and deal with it.”, “It’s just a lack of discipline.”, “It’s all in your head.”, “Stop being so pessimistic.” and “Stop being so lazy.”

These are people who experience sensory overload that mentally exhausts them.  From the clothing they are expected to wear, the food that they are expected to eat, the noise around them, the sights engulfing them and the odors surrounding them, these people’s senses are constantly under attack.

These are people who are exhausted from self-advocating to people who don’t understand and don’t care to understand.

These are people who spend most of every day dealing with fears that others find silly and irrational.  It’s like living on a rope bridge swaying in the wind over a canyon while you’re afraid of heights and hearing “I don’t understand what you’re complaining about, the bridge is secure.  Suck it up and deal with it.  I can do it, so you can too.”

These are people who are struggling to communicate their experiences because communications is a skill that needs to be taught and exercised.  It’s like those who don’t have a strong artistic talent being instructed to create a sculpture using the items around you to present how they currently feel within the next five minutes.

These are people who expel a large amount of energy trying to understand body language and emotions which is another lagging skill.  It would be like showing you a picture of my cat and expecting you to identify what he’s feeling based on his facial expression and pose within minutes, multiple times a day.

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How is this kitten feeling?

These are people who are tired from the side effects of medication or self-medicating to cope with the symptoms of their diagnosis and the expectations of society.

These are people who are struggling with their brain to differentiate what’s real and what’s not because their brains present everything to them as reality.

These are people who are likely to be struggling with relationships, drug abuse and alcoholism.

These are people who have physical manifestations from their mental struggles because being on high alert takes a physical toll on a person.
These are people whose muscles ache constantly or whose muscles are tired from being tense too often, who get frequent headaches or migraines, who’s appetite is affected and whose immune system becomes impaired…just to name a few things.

So please, dear readers, the next time someone with an invisible disability says that they’re tired, don’t treat them as if they’re lazy or irrational.  Instead, imagine living your life on a rope bridge over a canyon, or imagine how you would feel if someone jabbed you and woke you up several times a night for just one year and the physical and mental impact it would have on you.

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Is he about to attack?

I beg of you, on behalf of all of us fighting our own silent battles, please be patient and empathetic.  Just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean that it’s not a reality for someone else.

 

I’m certain that I’ve left out many reasons as to why someone may often answer “How are you?” with “I’m tired.”  If there’s more examples you can think of, please feel free to mention it in the comments.

 

Unconditional With Limitations

marriageWhen we date someone, we’re searching for the person we want to be with for the rest of our lives.  When we find that person and we marry him or her we promise all of ourselves; Our loyalty, our bodies, our unending love is given deliberately and constantly to another person in exchange for theirs.  As the saying goes- for better or worse, until death do us part.

So why then is there an abundance of divorces and blogs that remind us how we fail our partners and ourselves over and over again?

What conditions do we actually set on our unconditional love?

Can you still love him if he cheats on you?  What if she has a sexual fetish that you find disturbing?  What if he develops an addiction to drugs?  She can’t keep a job?  He lies too much?  She gambles?  He’s a gamer?  She lost interest?

When is it time to say “You’re not trying hard enough.” or “You’re no good for me.” and move on?  If you take the pledge that states that you will love and commit for the rest of your lives, when is it okay to break that promise?

What if we keep loving them throughout their struggles and flaws?  What if instead of pointing fingers, holding grudges and keeping score we learn to love, support and forgive our partners?  What if we accept that he’s going to make mistakes and some of those mistakes are going to hurt you?  If we understand that there are a massive amount of addictive substances that we’re exposed to and she’ll need your help and an incredible amount of patience to pull through.  If we finally understand that “You did….” and “Yeah, well, you did…” are damaging and we would all be much happier with “I’m sorry.” and “I forgive you.”

When I entered into my current relationship, I stripped down to my very soul and put every part of my exposed and flawed self on the table.  I flaunted every strength and weakness, all the pretties and uglies, all of my good, my bad, my silly and my quirks.  I dropped my entire package of amazing and ordinary and let him see all of me.

I trusted him to accept it.  When he did, he promised to love every part of me.  He promised to love me through all of my mistakes and accomplishments.  He promised to do his very best to offer me patience through all of my breakdowns and back me up during confrontations.  He promised to be understanding when I falter and the support I need to get back up again when I fall.
He swore to love me generously, honestly and without limitations.

Likewise, he laid all of his cards on the table and exposed every part of  himself to me.  He presented me with his strengths, hobbies, habits, quirks, weaknesses and desires.  He made every part of himself vulnerable to me.  He trusted me with things he hides from the world.

I took it all and swore to love, cherish, respect and honour him.  I promised to love him unconditionally for as long as we are alive.

What then, when he breaks his promise to me?  What if one intoxicated night he falters and cheats on me?  What if he spends three months hooked on a new video game and he forgets his promise to be there for me?  What if instead of patiently holding me he gets frustrated and yells at me?  What if he becomes addicted to painkillers?

If he wrongs me first, am I free to break my promise to him?

Though some of the examples stated above would hurt me very much and make me angry, rightfully so, I would choose to forgive him.  I would cry in his arms and comfort him as he cried.  I would wait for him to remember what he’s promised me, even if it takes longer than three months.  I would hold him, love him, and remember that he’s human and even the best of our species makes mistakes.  I would love him through his addiction and nurture him through his withdrawal.

My love and understanding is the best gift I could ever give to him.

Someday, I’ll forget my promise to him.  Not on purpose, but I will slip up.  Someday I won’t be able to communicate properly.  I’ll be caught up inside my head in a way that I can’t quite function properly in the real world and I’ll neglect him.  I could be the one going through withdrawal or having an emotional breakdown.

I’ll need someone who will love me enough to stand by me instead of walking away because I was not meeting his needs.

I suppose that’s terrifying and appalling to some people.  He could very easily destroy my life if I’m offering him that much love and trust.  Not only that, but I’m giving him a free pass to behave like a jerk and expecting a free pass in return…right?

Except that assumes that he’s trying to hurt me instead of love me, and that I would prefer to hurt him rather than love and support him.

If you hold back out of fear, you have already doomed your relationship.  If you put restrictions on your love, you should not promise yourself to someone forever.

If you can’t love with everything you have and forgive the way you need someone to forgive you, you’re not ready for marriage.

If you can’t trust that he will love you through thick and thin and forgive you endlessly, every single time it’s needed then you shouldn’t marry him.

It is very sad in this day and age that we are more loving and supportive towards everyone except the person we’ve promised our hearts to.

Love without limitations and without borders.  There aren’t arguments to be won, but compromises to be made and other perspectives to consider.  There is no need to keep score because you’re both on the same team.  Forgive and accept forgiveness.

That is the only way to keep your marriage alive.

The Finish Line

I am running.

I have been running so long my legs feel like rubber and my body aches.  My lungs gasp less than satisfying gulps of air almost as if I’m in a panic.

I am running from myself.  I am running from my past.  Dashing past my fears, dodging my insecurities and bolting away from memories.  I am running from pain, I am running from my future and I am running from you.

All the while I am running to catch up with my mind.

I cannot see where I am going.  I’ve but a faint memory of where I’m from and no concept of where I am now.  Demons bolt wildly over me, beside me and between my legs.  Twisted black creatures dancing to the shriek of misery.  They’ve always been there, biting me, clawing me, wearing me down.  They always will be, no matter how far I go; Like wading through an endless ocean of bloodthirsty vampires.

I’m not alone.  The shrieks and terrified yelps of others as they weaken and fall reach everyone; an unending chorus of agony.  From time to time one will rush out of the darkness and right past you only to fade again back into their own demons.Finish line

I have this incredible longing to join the fallen, and lay at rest in a much needed slumber.  I have seen them fall, I have heard the cries, felt the panic, and I have seen the revolting mess left by the demons who headed off in search of another tattered soul.

I’ve tried to help them, and felt them melting away between my fingers and down my arm.  I have smelled the vile stench of the failure.  I have seen the desperate pleading eyes…

…I too, felt their peace when at last they laid still.  Their demons quiet at last.  Their past, present and future no longer in existence.  Their thoughts put to rest.  The war was over.  Maybe they lost, but it was done and they didn’t have to fight anymore.

I long to give into the pain that will bring me eternal peace, the only way I could truly escape myself, but I don’t.

I have tried to slow down but I can’t.  Something keeps me going even when I’m on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion, my legs still won’t let me stop.  My lungs won’t burst although I’m half hoping that they finally will.

Maybe I want to see the end, see where the running will lead.  Perhaps to the shelter my heart yearns for.  Perhaps the answers to the questions deep inside…Maybe, just maybe, it’s worth this agony and exhaustion.  Perhaps I will embrace peace again someday at the finish line.

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