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How to deal with a child who chronically complains?

Rebecca VA

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Hugs to you and her--how difficult to be around that, and how difficult to feel that level of depression.

Having been severely depressed, to me it sounds like the Lexapro and counseling are not quite working. But this is the internet--I'm not a doctor.


I would not want to implement a "no complaining" rule, myself. She may need coaching on changing her thought process, tho--has her counselor ever taught her positive self-talk and reframing techniques?

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Lyme disease kicked my son's @ss, to put it very mildly. He was an athlete who was reduced to being bedridden for months! When your body issued to certain hormones and stress release from working out....and that is removed....depression is quick on its heels. Add to that teenage angst and the stresses of academia and you have a pretty explosive cocktail!


Lyme also plays neurological games. My son is still not 100% right in the keppee...we are working on it.


There are other Lyme Mamma's on the site....hopefully they will chime in as well.


We are taking a very natural approach to his healing....others have gone with long term anti biotics.


I am focusing on the Lyme issue because I do believe it is a foundational issue. My son took 2 years to heal and another to get his bearings. He still battles depression, body aches and a fritchy memory. He is slowly getting better, and now has more good than bad days. Now, we are moving into areas with him at 19 that most kids do at 16.... ie, learning to drive, getting ready for college, focusing of some academics. I also have been working out with him...which is good for both of us.


I do not foresee him leaving home for quite a while....boarding school or a college campus would not be a great place for a him...and I would assess that very carefully. These Lymey kids need tons of sleep, extra good nutrition, clean, clean food....extra exercise and lower stress situations. Their immune systems need that extra boost to kill off any residual Lyme and not have a relapse.


Anyway....sorry to go on, and if any of this doesn't apply, just delete. Maybe other Lyme Mammas will chime in....


Good luck and blessings!


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this is how she thinks - and just expecting her to be positive isn't enough. I know sometimes brain chemistry can affect attitude e.g. depressed people are very negative. she needs to be taught. I would make a regular assignment of having her state things she is grateful for (needs to be concrete - not abstract). and that she needs to try new things. when she does complain - turn it back in a way that is more positive - and make her say the positive version.

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I might be out of touch with just how intensely bothered-by-everything she is. If its truly of clinical proportions, maybe this is the wrong thing to advise... But here it is.


What if you stop trying to change her? What if you decide that the world needs a few 'negative nellies' and its fine for your dd to be one of them? What if it is OK for her to be dissatisfied and unenthusiastic about things? What if it is OK to 'be still' and stare off into space?


I know complaining all the time isn't an excellent social skill. You could work with her and a counsellor on that aspect -- but I think you will only be able to work the 'self expression' end of things AFTER you accept that this is an OK kind of 'self' to be... A fault-finding, glass-half-empty, rather-be-sedentary self. The feeling she gets from your mother-love has to be unconditional-feeling, and it has to be directed at her real self that she actually is at the moment, or all that 'wishful thinking' of yours (even the wish that your child was happy) will interfere with any strength she could draw from your love and relationship.


Don't shut down communication. It can be 're-framed' but if she can't complain, you won't be in a position to teach her how to do that, and your relationship with her will become incredibly distant.


As for the Catholic school, if you think it's a good fit (or a better fit than the boarding school, then it needs to happen. I suggest not letting her transition with rose colored glasses on, though. In fact, encourage her to list and think through all the things that logically might be wrong or bothersome about it in advance. She doesn't need to believe the flaws are true -- just have her do it as an excercise in predicting what's possible.


Also, depending on what sort of a Catholic school it is, some if that heritage might contribute to her being allowed to see personal value and worth in spiritual disciplines (silence, stillness, simplicity, fasting) which are called 'apophatic' and are well suited to finding peace and spirituality without needing to be upbeat about it. There might be enough spiritual heratige there to counter act our current 'its not OK unless you are happy' culture. (One can hope...)

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Is her Lyme Disease fully treated? Did she have co-infections, and have they been properly treated? Are you seeing a good LLMD?


It sounds like there is more going on, clinically.


I would look into BLO - Bartonella Like Organisms, re: Dr Burrascano - it is particularly known for causing the type of trouble you are seeing in teens. And I would consider getting her testing through Fry Labs for the newly discovered organism - I have personal experience with it, unfortunately.

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With both health and behavioral issues, I would want to have my child living at home. (whether she complained about that or not) I think there are more basic things to deal with here than proms or clubs. It isn't so much her happiness, level of activity, or frequency of complaining that would concern me as much as her actual physical and emotional health would. How about some mother/daughter walks daily to address the lack of exercise? This would also give you an opportunity to talk, and usually exercise provides some mood-enhancing endorphins. Allow her to complain if she wants, but for every topic of complaint, tell her she needs to come up with something that she's happy about/grateful for, so there's a balance. Also, prayer about the situation is always high on my list.

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She keeps saying she feels rejected because we put her into this school (which is very close to us), but it was her idea to go to the school.



I was wondering whether she might feel this way, even before I read your second post. Sometimes kids suggest things, or think they want something (like going to a boarding school), but that doesn't mean they'll feel the same way once *their idea* has been implemented.


Based on everything you've described, I would:


(1) bring her home and have her go to a regular day school or homeschool (no matter what her complaints are with respect to that)


(2) restart treatment for Lyme disease, as it sounds like she is still being affected by that


(3) revisit her meds


(4) work with her on becoming "solution-focused". She may never be a super-positive person, and it will likely be very frustrating for both of you if you try to work with her on becoming more positive. As previous posters have already pointed out, not everyone is wired that way. But everyone, regardless of their temperament, can become solution-focused. When she comes to you with a complaint, turn it around and ask her "What would you like to do about that?" or "How would you like to solve this problem?" Tell her that it's ok to complain about something, as long as that complaint comes with constructive suggestions for solutions. That way, you're not telling her not to complain (which likely wouldn't be very effective) - you're just putting the onus on her to think through her complaints and problems. If you consistently do this, she will internalize that after awhile and likely start solving problems on her own (which is the goal), or she'll just decide that the complaint really isn't worth the energy of coming up with a solution (and she'll drop it).


Hope you find a way to help your DD regain her health and enjoyment of life. :grouphug:

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it sounds as if she may be much better off at home. it may be typical for kids in your area, but having had lyme, she is not a typical kid, kwim?


some things to try:

- tomato staking.

- natural foods.

- low/no media

- lots of outdoor exercise time

- "learned optimism"

- doing fun things that build relationship (for many of our teens, going swimming/sitting in the hottub with mom leads to nice and open discussions. i just need to not say anything at all and wait to see what comes up.

- classical music/upbeat music


things to not try (because she is a teen, and any communication is valuable):

- a no complaining rule

- and complaining about her complaining ;)


re her room: it sounds lovely. but if she didn't choose it, she is of an age where she may not like anything she didn't get to be an active part in choosing. i've had four daughters, and all four of them started needing to have a voice about their bedrooms when they were ~11-12. i still remember my mom decorating my room when i was a teen..... and not favourably. i'm sure it was lovely, but it was MY room..... or at least, i thought it was. forty years on, the emotion still rises.....


you are a good mom for noticing where she is at, and for wanting to help her with it. :grouphug:


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