3 10/22/2012 parenting Tweens & Teens

Testing Testing

That’s all Cam is doing now.

Testing our patience. Testing his limits. Testing his boundaries.

I am assuming/hoping that this is a normal tween characteristic.
From what we are hearing he’s not the only 11 year old who is a complete jerk all the time.
He doesn’t listen.
He doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do.
He talks back and is disrespectful.
He thinks his life sucks.
He never gets what he wants (according to him).
It makes us furious.
I keep reminding him that he is not showcasing the characteristics he DOES possess that lead him to be awarded the Principals Award for Student Leadership at his grade 5 grad last June.

I often think maybe I need to cut him some slack because our home is often filled with chaos.
I sometimes feel bad for Eva and Cam. It can’t be easy for them, living with the daily challenges that autism brings with it.
But c’mon – there really is no excuse for bad behaviour.
I won’t let autism be an excuse for Cuyler’s bad behaviour.
Cuyler’s autism sure as sh!t won’t be an excuse for other people’s bad behaviour.
I’m wondering how long this will last.
Not long, right??
It won’t get worse as he heads into his teen years, right???

My strategies thus far have been

  • ignoring him
  • not yelling at him
  • not giving him the reaction or attention he is looking for
  • making him suffer the natural consequences of his actions
That last one is happening often. For instance he NEVER takes his lunch bag out of his backpack. I have now started leaving it in there. It stays in until he takes it out. That means he will take it to school with the same food that was in it the day before if he doesn’t take it out.
He effed around so much this morning and missed his bus.  That got him grounded for the week. No friends. No tv. No electronics.

This is becoming just as exhausting as trying to figure out how to parent Cuyler.

I found this picture over the weekend.
irishlion.jpgIt’s from 8 years ago. My sweet little Simba has turned into a grumpy Scar. <sniff>

Any words of wisdom from those of you with big kids??

  • kimmyz

    Oh Christine!!!! BEEN THERE. I agree with Jen, time to step it up with natural consequences. I’m a FIRM believer in those.
    Another suggestion (from CPS) Talk to Cam after school or you and Sean and him. when things are calm and there hasn’t been a big issue. Explain you are unhappy with his behaviour. Talk about what’s reasonable behaviour and does he know talking back is wrong and disrespectful etc… He’ll likely roll his eyes and say yes but getting HIM to say that he KNOWS it’s wrong is a big step. Then ask if it’s reasonable for you be upset when he is disrespectful. Ask him what a reasonable punishment should be. Then try and get him to say what’s different about now. New school, kids on the bus? Doesn’t like his teacher or even if he can’t articulate it like “i just feel angry all the time” or “I don’t even know what I feel” are perfectly legitimate responses from this age. They ARE going through a lot physically and mentally that they don’t get and we can’t always see.
    Cutting them some slack doesn’t actually make it easier. It makes it harder for them and you, to stick to boundaries and consequences in the long run. You need HIS involvement. He has to earn your respect and let YOU know he is responsible. In turn you will earn HIS respect by being consistent and fair. He knows the rules and the consequences, he still did the deed then eventually you are not the bad guy.
    ie. Be home at 6:00 or EARLIER for dinner. Not 6:01pm. Give him a watch, a phone etc. Tell him to leave the park 10 min before 6:00 etc to get home. IF HE IS LATE he gets the consequences you’ve already discussed, which for us was a grounding in their room “sit on your bed stare at the ceiling and pick your nose”. Reading allowed but no music, tv, computer etc..and the next day, no friends. Then you try it again…. except this time they need to be home by 5:45pm. If they make that it goes back to 6:00pm. If not, repeat.
    The above is just an idea but simply put there is a plan in place. There are rules. There are consequences EVERY time the rules aren’t followed. Try to “drill” down through the frustration and see if there is something else going on when things are calm. The words are “I noticed you were upset yesterday when i asked you to put away your back pack. What’s up with that?” Try and listen to what he’s saying. Adjust where you can. The rules for him ARE not the same as Eva or Cuyler because he is older but that should also earn him different responsibilities and privileges too that need to be pointed out. But the same philosophy should able to both Cuyler (how ever amended it need be) and Eva.
    No lunch bag = no lunch made. They are on their own. That’s the rule in our house too.
    Hang in there.

  • Tracey

    Man… I got nuthin’. My kids are younger than yours, and I’m not looking forward to this phase, but Jen’s list looks ideal to me. I think drawing a line in the sand about respect is key, too. (But you know what a hard ass I am about that stuff…) He’s still your sweet boy – he’s just growing, and he’s learning how to BE in the world. It starts at home – and I tend to think they’re often toughest on their mums. (Balls.)

  • Jen

    Oh, Christine. I have SO been there! This is very normal. Our sweet, sensitive boy suddenly started getting angry and insolent around the same age. My advice? A few things:
    1. Natural consequences 100%. The lunch bag example is perfect. I might even take it one step further and have him make his own lunch. We started doing this when he would forget his lunch and I was driving all over town to deliver it. The only solution we could think of was that if he made it he couldn’t forget it!
    If he misses the bus can he walk? We had this too. I work from home a lot so I was finding that my son was becoming more and more dependent on me rescuing him from either being late with a drive or delivering lost items, etc. Now if he’s late getting ready there is no drive. If we plan the night before or even that morning (because of rain or something) and he asks me respectfully and has a good reason I will consider it.
    2. More responsibility. This was BIG for us. He kept saying, “No fair!” and reiterating that he was not a little kid anymore. Well, OK. Then you can do more grown up things to help. If you want to be treated like a big kid then you can act like one. This was both behaviour and actions. He is in charge of the dishwasher, the recycling, green bin and garbage, one evening a week he stays home with his sister for a few hours so my husband and I can go out. And he can speak to us respectfully and reasonably if he wants the privilege of being considered a bigger kid.
    What we found is that the whole “then prove it” message sunk in and he really rose to the occasion. However, it meant that we had to seriously consider our limits on him. This is hard as I had to let go of a bunch of things I thought were important for me to control and keep an eye on. The crazy thing? He was ready for me to let go.
    3. The “I want this” phenomena was cured by “the plan”. You want it? Great! What is your plan? How can you make more money so you can save for it? Often if it is really big and we can see he is willing to work for it we agree to pay for half but you want it, then it is up to you to figure out how to get it. If you can’t afford it, etc then you can’t have it…life lesson. Even a vacation, maybe it is a 2 year plan to save change, give something up, etc but he needs to realize that he has a role in making it happen.
    4. This is probably the most important. I found that there were times when he needed an outlet to cry and yell and get angry. I decided not to react other than to wait it out and when the time was right give him a hug and tell him I loved him (let’s be honest, this did not always work!). It really was like a toddler in a tantrum and then the necessary mommy hug and reassurance afterwards. We would talk about his feelings of having less control, etc and I would tell him it was all part of growing up. That we all go through it. This was key to keeping us close.
    5. Find ways to spend time together. I started picking him up from school once a month at lunch and going to different restaurants. It was a cool break for him and even if we didn’t talk much it was time just the two of us.
    6. Give him more freedom with his friends. This was seriously hard. I worried! But it was time. We started letting him be “out”. We set rules (no one walks home alone, text me where you are, etc) but he did what he wanted to do. We also let him go to movies, etc on his own with his friends. However, if he “forgot” to text me or wasn’t where he said he would be he had to come home immediately.
    Anyway, that is my experience. I hope it helps! But, it will not happen over night. Be reassured that he is still your sweet boy 🙂 But the less you engage in the power struggles (see? just like a toddler!) or get sucked into the banter the better off you will both be.
    Good luck!

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