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February 19, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Relationships

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I want to help my son

Question:

Hi, I don't really know where to start so, follow me. I am sending this in hopes of getting advice for my son. He is 10 years old in the 4th grade.

I will just come out and say the problem... he has trouble making friends, trouble in school, gets bullied on by the kids on the school bus and takes things to heart. This I understand, but also he will have fits if things don't go his way, he will refuse to talk, answer, or listen. He is a very smart boy all A's in school I have talked to his teacher, she also has trouble with him in class. Sometimes he won't listen to her or the principal, he cries in class and doesn't participate.

I see in his eyes that he is hurting, he wants friends and to belong, but with the way he acts it is hard for his classmates to get close to him. I have also noticed he has gained some weight. Now I am supportive with him and I try hard to make him see he has to deal with things in a better way...but I am not getting him to see this. His teacher is also working hard with him offering him computer time at school. But it has had no impact on him. I am worried for my son how will he survive being so unhappy all the time.

I am not sure exactly what my question is ... I am in a spot with not knowing what to try next.

Me (27 year-old woman)

Answer:

Dear Me,

I can sense the desperation you are feeling right now with your son. It is so painful to see our children struggling and in pain. First, you are reaching out for help and that shows your son that you are doing everything you know how to help him. He needs to know that you are on his side. He sounds like he is a very sensitive and bright child. Sometimes school can present difficulties for children with these strengths. I am glad to hear that his teacher is open to helping him also and anything that you find that is helpful you can share with her. If you have educational alternatives open to you, you might want to explore those.

There is a wonderful book on the market that addresses almost all of the concerns that you have. It is "The Explosive Child: A new approach for understanding and parenting the easily frustrated and chronically inflexible child". The author is Dr. Ross Greene. I would suggest that you get this book as soon as possible and also ask his teacher to read it. As his mother, you must validate his strengths and help him find workable solutions to his difficulties. An example would be in regards to friends. My guess is he doesn't do well in a large group setting he probably gets overwhelmed. Help him identify one child in his class that he feels he likes or has something in common with. Invite that child over or out on an activity. Initially it is important that this time together with his friend is structured. You don't mention if he has siblings, if he is an only child he may need some guidance in how to give and take with is friend. He needs to build skills on getting along. This is a process that can take some time.

One of the most important approaches with children who exhibit high frustration level, is to really look at his whole situation and begin to "back off" on some things. Parent's tendency with kids like this is to keep reminding them, nagging them and pushing them, this only increases the frustration. You want to focus on his positives and back off on things that aren't that important. When you have gotten into a struggle with him and he won't answer... back off... if it is not a safety issue, don't push it. An example might be... he might want to eat dinner on the couch in the living room not at the table... let him! If something is not a major safety or health issue, you might try relaxing a bit, to cut down on the day-to-day struggles. I might add that the book covers this approach in detail. I have seen wonderful changes in families when they begin to understand the needs of their children.

Let me address the weight issue for a moment. Many boys around 10 -11 begin to put on weight as part of the beginning of puberty. As long as he is eating a balanced diet most days and having physical activity, it very likely is that he will slim down again as he gets his height. If you haven't taken him in for a physical this might be a good time and see if you doctor has any suggestions on some of his behavioral issues. I would suggest that you look at his diet, in terms of sugar and aspartame (which is terribly damaging). Aspartame is found in all sugar free items, food coloring and preservatives. These additives can cause many behavioral difficulties. Sometimes just common foods create allergic reactions in children, which will include behavioral problems. You have much to explore in finding what will work for you and your son. I trust that you will find a solution.

All my best,

Michelle Barone

This question was answered by Michelle Barone MA MFT. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She holds three California Teaching Credentials and is a Parent Educator. She has been working with families for 15 years in the areas of relationships, pregnancy, pre and post natal loss, parenting and alternative education, specifically home schooling. She practices in So. California and is also available for phone or email consultations.

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