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How do you redirect a Blamer?


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Poor ds. Everything is everyone else's fault. Always. Its such a problem that I'm afraid he will not be able to grow socially or emotionally because he refuses to take responsibility for anything. It is in nearly all areas.

 

For instance, I just spent the last hour calmly (I mean that - it took every ounce of my patience to remain calm, but stern, offering as much wisdom, insight and reason as I possibly could) explaining that the reason I could not read his grammar work was not in fact because his sister's handwriting is worse. Or because his penmanship is her fault. I also needed to explain that no, it is not okay to not be able to forego written communication just because he can talk. That part was my fault - his writing is fine and just because I can't read it, there must be something wrong with me, too.

 

The penmanship (which is quite atrocious, btw, and he does need to make impovement there) is just once instance. The blaming permeates everything this child is called on. It seems obvious to me that it is a confidence thing...and maybe something else? I have always been aware that separating twins so they don't compare themselves to one another is a good idea, and I do it where I can, but somethings are just 'family' or 'sibling' oriented. They are very different people and I do my best to appreciate and celebrate that.

 

I'm very concerned about this. It needs to be addressed sooner than later because if he can't look at areas where he personally needs impove (things no one else can physically do for him) and then take the initiative to take the steps to do it, how in the world will he grow?? This child is nearly 11 years old and I really feel this characteristic needs to be instilled now.

 

Any advice is much appreciated. Please be nice to me, though, because I really have been parenting with much love about this issue. I'm just stuck.

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One thing I would advise is never, ever to discuss his sibling. "But honey we're talking about you. Let's get back to this now." Also, "If you want to discuss this later (e.g. a full moon makes it difficult to spell... why do I need to do this?), we can; but lets get back to looking over your work." And occasionally: "That's an interesting question, can you ask it later?" In this context, I generally treat blaming and excuses as irrelevant (because they are).

 

The word "fault" is only allowed in our house in a geological context. Period. If someone starts casting blame, I remind them that they can only control their own actions, and they have to either (1) take control of the situation -- e.g. by moving, negotiating, or politely (yet clearly and firmly) stating their need (seeking out parent-led arbitration is acceptable in some circumstances); or, (2) suck it up and persevere.

Edited by nmoira
clarity
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:lurk5:

 

Oh my, you bought tears to my eyes, as you just described my son to a T.

He has just turned 12, and we battle these same issues on a daily basis ( and have done for a couple of years now).

I'm mentally drained and exhausted,and until I read this post, I really did think that it must be my parenting style.

 

If you don't mind, I will lurk here, waiting for the wise words of wisdom to flow from the hive.( I'll check back in the morning, as it is almost 11pm here, and we have a field trip tomorrow)

:grouphug:

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We have the same issue with our 10 year old daughter.

I have come to realize it is because she is scared of making mistakes. We have made her scared to make mistakes by not letting mistakes be okay.

What to do about it, I have no idea????

Sometimes I feel like we did irreversible damage.

I will be watching this with intest.

All I can offer right now is empathy.

e

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Do you usually spend a lot of time explaing why this or that is actually not his sister's fault? You wrote:

 

I just spent the last hour calmly explaining that the reason I could not read his grammar work was not in fact because his sister's handwriting is worse. Or because his penmanship is her fault. I also needed to explain that no, it is not okay to not be able to forego written communication just because he can talk. That part was my fault - his writing is fine and just because I can't read it, there must be something wrong with me, too.

 

It seems that he may be doing this to redirect your attention to him. Maybe you could make an effort not to allow him to engage you in discussion about this. As Nmoira said below, treat blaming and excusing as irrelevant.

 

Here is an example of how it could go.

 

You: Son, I can't read this. When trying to communicate it is important to write slowly and clearly so the reader can understand. Please take this back and rewrite it on another piece of paper.

 

Then in a matter-of-fact manner, turn your back and busy yourself on a chore or with checking over his sister's work.

 

Son: But her writing is even sloppier than mine!

 

You: We aren't talking about Betty right now...sit down and rewrite the paper (broken record) and then you can take a 10 minute break to run around out back (carrot distraction).

 

Son: But she distracts me and I can't think so that's why my handwriting is sloppy!

 

You: Well, you will have to find a way around it. Hurry and rewrite that paper or you won't have time for your recess (broken record, possible consequence on the horizon).

 

Him: (grumbling) I shouldn't even have to write this. I can talk...why can't I just tell you the answers??

 

You: You are using up your free time arguing and complaining. You have five minutes from right now to rewrite your paper. When I am finished with (this thing you are doing), I will check your work. If it isn't done, the remaining time will have to come out of your recess.

 

Anyway, that is an example of how it would go in our house. Kind and calm, but firm and no-nonsense. Complaints and blaming should never garner positive attention or sympathy unless you really like hearing them ;)

 

Barb

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I wonder if this is some first-born thing? :001_smile: This describes my oldest as well. I do what others have suggested and calmly explain that we will not discuss anyone else's behavior with him. Ds always says, "Well, what about J? He did . . . " I always cut him off and say, "I'm not talking to J. I'm talking to *you*" and then continue with what I'm saying.

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ITA with this approach. My ds is 13, and has been prone to this his whole life. I do what Barb does. Also, I've had numerous discussions with ds at quiet times about personal responsability, being a MAN, and I encourage/praise/reward even the times he takes "personal responsability". I hit the being a man thing pretty hard. My son needs to be thinking about how what he does now will affect the man he wil become. Real men take responsability for themselves, and even others they are responsable for. So...negative consequences ala Barb, but I like to be proactive as well.

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My ds takes it to the other extreme - he blames himself - EXCESSIVELY. I mean the shouted "I can't do anything right" which he storms off - all because I quietly pointed out one misspelled word. The weird thing is that in doing this he is actually not taking responsibility - the reasoning is "I'm a loser so you shouldn't even expect me to take responsibility for that." I cut him off now abruptly and not gently when he starts going down the blame road. I require him to tell me, calmly, "I was wrong" when he was truly at fault. At calm moments I tell him that being wrong does not make me love him any less, or make him a loser etc. All it means is that he was wrong - in that moment of time and that he needs to take responsibility for it and move on. I also will quietly mention what he needs to do to right whatever was wrong - usually something very simple. If I do something wrong - like get a speeding ticket - I will say something like "I was wrong. I need to take responsibility for this by not fighting this in court and paying my fine."

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I had the same issue with my EX. Everyone in the world was at fault, but he never, ever was. Poor victim. :nopity:

 

My scenario was different, but the techniques might work the same. Keep redirecting back to the core issue. Leave other variables and people out of it. Be factual, not emotional, especially with boys. I find they tend to hear better when you're simply giving the facts and can usually admit (after a time) their own fault in the situation when the simple facts are presented with no accusation or emotion.

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Do you usually spend a lot of time explaing why this or that is actually not his sister's fault?

It seems that he may be doing this to redirect your attention to him.

 

Here is an example of how it could go.

 

You: Son, I can't read this. When trying to communicate it is important to write slowly and clearly so the reader can understand. Please take this back and rewrite it on another piece of paper.

 

Then in a matter-of-fact manner, turn your back and busy yourself on a chore or with checking over his sister's work.

 

Son: But her writing is even sloppier than mine!

 

You: We aren't talking about Betty right now...sit down and rewrite the paper (broken record) and then you can take a 10 minute break to run around out back (carrot distraction).

 

Son: But she distracts me and I can't think so that's why my handwriting is sloppy!

 

 

 

That's pretty much how this particular episode started out. I refuse to discuss dd with him at all, especially when he's behaving like that. I try to keep him focused on the him/me part, but he is so stubborn! He gets this very angry look, holding back tears, lips shut tightly until I am done explaining that we are talking about him right now, and as soon as I'm done (or just take a moment or even a breath) he literally jumps right back in.

 

It sounds so nice the way you wrote it, Barb! I just wish it would get through to him like that.

 

Mostly, everything is dd's fault. Or mine. Or dh's. But sometimes its the dog's or some kid at gym or anyone but him, really.

 

Emeraldjoy - the thing about not wanting to make mistakes might be something. I have been very clear with my kids that making mistakes is okay, but only if you can admit and accept that you've made them so you can take the steps to be sure you don't make them again. But, I think I might put too much emphasis on what led to the mistake; carelessness, inattentiveness, rudeness, etc. Its possible that I have made it so that he takes that part too much to heart to want to be a person who possesses those qualities? And therefore doesn't want to admit or own the mistake? (although, with the writing thing, that's a skill to be mastered, not a mistake...:confused:)

 

I'm very worried not about just the blaming, but also about it being a potential precurser to lying.

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I had the same issue with my EX. Everyone in the world was at fault, but he never, ever was. Poor victim. :nopity:

 

 

That strikes fear in my heart! If my ds grows up to be like that, it really will have been my fault. It would break my heart to so ill prepare him for life as a reasonable, responsible man.

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But, I think I might put too much emphasis on what led to the mistake; carelessness, inattentiveness, rudeness, etc. Its possible that I have made it so that he takes that part too much to heart to want to be a person who possesses those qualities?

 

Could be. Maybe downplay the root causes and focus on fixing the problem at hand? Resist the urge to teach a lesson and let it teach itself. I like what mktkcb said about acting proactively. At a time when things are calm and you are getting along, why not try explaining why his behavior is worrisome? Tell him that you want him to grow into a strong, capable man whom people want to have around. People don't like friends or spouses who have trouble taking responsibility for their actions and you love him too much to allow him to build an unhappy life for himself. If it feels right to you, admit that maybe criticizing wasn't the best way to remind him of that. From now on, maybe you can agree on some sort of code phrase like, "blaming" and you promise not to go into a long lecture if he promises to just stop and move on. Tell him what to say instead. So next time maybe it would go something like this:

 

Him: But her handwriting is worse than mine!

 

You: We aren't talking about your sister, we're talking about you.

 

Him: She makes it hard for me to concentrate!

 

You: Hmm...that would be blaming, why don't you try another way to handle that?

 

Then he can say, "Yes Mom" or "Let me see if I can fix it" or whatever agreed-upon phrases you've come up with. That allows him to save face before getting carried away. If the expectations are clear and there are alternatives presented before the heat of the moment, you both have a better chance of avoiding the rut you've inadvertently dug for yourselves.

 

At that point, a 100 watt smile, a hug and saying something like, "Boy, does that feel better," can go a long way toward growth and healing.

 

Barb

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That strikes fear in my heart! If my ds grows up to be like that, it really will have been my fault. It would break my heart to so ill prepare him for life as a reasonable, responsible man.

 

 

Oh, Laura - This is really NOT TRUE! Children do not always respond to the good teaching they receive from their parents :sad: As parents, we have to do our best to teach our dc to grow up to be upstanding people, but at the end of the day, their choices are in their hands.

 

:grouphug:

 

Anne

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But, I think I might put too much emphasis on what led to the mistake; carelessness, inattentiveness, rudeness, etc. Its possible that I have made it so that he takes that part too much to heart to want to be a person who possesses those qualities? And therefore doesn't want to admit or own the mistake? (although, with the writing thing, that's a skill to be mastered, not a mistake...:confused:)

 

I'm very worried not about just the blaming, but also about it being a potential precurser to lying.

 

I find that my kids are this way with my hubby more than they are with me. He is much more likely to ask "why" or go on about what led up to a mistake than I am. I realize that those are good things for some kids. However, I think it seems insulting or demeaning to other kids. I tend to simply say "this is not acceptable, this is why, this is what I expect," and leave it at that. It doesn't give them anything to argue against.

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Oh, Laura - This is really NOT TRUE! Children do not always respond to the good teaching they receive from their parents :sad: As parents, we have to do our best to teach our dc to grow up to be upstanding people, but at the end of the day, their choices are in their hands.

 

:grouphug:

 

Anne

You made me teary.

Thank you,

:grouphug: back.

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Oh, Laura - This is really NOT TRUE! Children do not always respond to the good teaching they receive from their parents :sad: As parents, we have to do our best to teach our dc to grow up to be upstanding people, but at the end of the day, their choices are in their hands.

 

:grouphug:

 

Anne

 

And some kids are just so much harder to parent than others. I have two that are very easy, two that are very hard, and two that change with the wind. The jury is still out on the baby. The good news is, one of the hard ones is now 19 and some of her most troublesome traits turned into strengths as she has learned to moderate and manage them. Just keep plugging away.

 

Barb

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For instance, I just spent the last hour calmly (I mean that - it took every ounce of my patience to remain calm, but stern, offering as much wisdom, insight and reason as I possibly could) explaining that the reason I could not read his grammar work was not in fact because his sister's handwriting is worse.

 

Too much talking! You are the authority - the teacher. He has to buck up and deal with what you say. This will make homeschooling go more smoothly and will be good for him as he grows into a man.

 

Tell him he isn't allowed to blame other people. When you tell him to do something, he needs to say, "Yes mom." and do it. When he blames, cut him off immediately every single time the blaming makes no sense.

Don't think of it as a healthy release of his feelings and an oppurtunity for discussion. Think of it as a bad habit to be gotten rid of post haste.

 

Mom: I can't read this writing. You will need to take 10 minute handwriting lessons after lunch for the next 2 weeks to improve. (or whatever solution you come up with)

 

Son: But Mom, this is a conspiracy against me! The cat made me mess up!

 

Mom: That does not make sense. Do not blame anyone else for your handwriting. You will take handwriting lessons. (tone of voice says, "This is final.")

 

Son: But mom the cat is evil...

 

Mom: (Don't make a mistake and get sucked into the drama here. Be strong.) When I tell you that you will take handwriting lessons your response is, "Yes mom." If I hear you blame anyone else you will lose computer time.

 

Son: Yes mom.

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I found it useful to work on character issues during calm times. For example, your issue of taking responsibility. I might talk about the story of Washington taking responsibility for chopping down the Cherry Tree. I'd discuss that even though the story isn't true, we like that people take responsibility for their errors. (This could also be used for telling the truth).

Then if possible bring up an example when your son has taken responsibility for his behavior. Maybe discuss how people will have mixed feelings - feeling good to be honest or take responsibility, but feel bad about the original problem. I'd use a phrase like "take responsibility" in your discussions, then when you want to remind them of this character trait, you use the phrase.

 

I'm not sure if this would work with all kids.

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That strikes fear in my heart! If my ds grows up to be like that, it really will have been my fault. It would break my heart to so ill prepare him for life as a reasonable, responsible man.

 

Do not fear. This kind of behavior doesn't appear overnight. In EX's situation, this behavior was planted, cultivated, nourished, and embraced. His mother is the same way. She is 59 years old and STILL blames others for her obvious mistakes. "It's not MY fault!" is her favorite sentence. All three of her sons have huge emotional issues, are never responsible for their own situations, are extremely arrogant and self-serving and frankly, she has herself to thank for it all.

 

She was emotionally and physically abusive, and has been described as "emotionally incestuous" with her firstborn (my EX) by a therapist. She knows no boundaries whatsoever, has zero consideration for anyone but herself, is a bigot, a racist, one of the most judgmental people I've ever met, applies no logic to anything.

 

SO, if you fit that description, you should be scared! But, I'm confident you don't, and the reason I'm confident is that it's something you're concerned about. EXMIL's only concern for her sons was that they'd all go into the ministry and marry virgins. She never taught them anything related to good character, because she has none herself.

 

I think your son will be fine. All kids, at some point, go through a "deflection phase." Most either outgrow it due to external circumstances that force them to learn that they are not above reproach, or their parents consciously work with them over time to develop a healthier perspective. So, banish the fear! :001_smile:

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<snip>The penmanship (which is quite atrocious, btw, and he does need to make impovement there) snip

 

Has he had an OT evaluation? Sometimes children are developmentally appropriate and the writing is considered legible by the OT even though it looks illegible to us.

 

The blaming permeates everything this child is called on. It seems obvious to me that it is a confidence thing...and maybe something else?

 

Yes, a big part is self-confidence. He needs to view himself as capable. Some of it is lack of faith that improvement can happen over the long term.

 

 

Any advice is much appreciated. Please be nice to me, though, because I really have been parenting with much love about this issue. I'm just stuck.

 

 

One way to increase self-competence is to give the child more responsibilities that he can do successfully. As the child meets his responsibilities, he comes to see himself as capable. Always accentuate the positive. Encourage the child to do the problem solving when difficulties arise, rather than present him with a solution. Accept mistakes. Provide activities to build skills..having skills raises enthusiasm. As always, continue to let him see you surmount your difficulties and demonstrate positive character traits in the process.

 

With handwriting, there are many options. I've found awarding 'redo' as the natural consequence is torture, b/c they really do want to please the first time and they can't. The OT can give some good suggestions for both the physical and emotional parts of solving this problem.

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Thank you all so much for taking the time to share your insight, wisdom, advice and experiences. I feel refreshed again knowing there are others out there struggling with this and all of the posts really helped me think through what routes I need to take to help this kid grow up taking responsibility. I love him dearly, but he seriously taxes my patience sometimes. I'm glad to have this board to help out when I'm totally stuck!

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