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s/o Intense Kids, Keeping the Kid's Emotions from Sucking You Dry

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Moms of intense kids...

 

How do you keep the kids' emotions from wiping you out and making YOU a hot mess?

 

I try to not engage, but there's only so much a mama can take. In fact, she often WANTS to set me off and if I just respond calmly, it makes her madder, and she goes into crazy rage mode. It's like I can't win when she's in a particular mood.

 

Also, I HATE conflict. It's sets me on edge and stresses me out. So my dd's negativity often wipes me out for the rest of the day.

 

Tell me your strategies for keeping your own sanity, emotional equilibrium etc. in a good place while the storms of an intense kid rage around you.

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Honestly, when my oldest was still at home her goal was to make sure that if she was unhappy so was the rest of the family. I got better about simply sending her away on fake errands to keep my peace. Not a good solution, I know. It didn't fix her. She lived with us two years ago at the age of 25 and she STILL was very upset if other poeople were content when she wasn't and she did everything she could to stir up drama. She is coming to visit for Christmas and I am remembering that I will give her tasks and things to do to keep busy so that she doesn't have time to stir up drama. She does better when she is busy. I am going to make sure that she has lots of cookies to decorate and gifts to wrap and gravy to make and that sort of thing.

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When I was a new mother I attended a lecture entitled:  "Toddlers to Teens" which basically made the case the toddlers act up in exactly the same patterns that teens do.  So I tried to fall back on those toddler strategies.  Maintaining calm, projecting calm, not backing down, showing warmth, keeping on smiling. 

 

Ha.

 

I can't say that I was able to maintain this.

 

However, it carried me a certain distance beyond what I would have gone to normally.

 

I also fell back on another book, How to Really Love Your Child, and focused on eye contact, warmth, trying to have 9 out of 10 good interactions, which meant that I had to initiate good contact instead of retreating in the face of bad contact. 

 

I couldn't maintain that either.  However, again, it was helpful up to a point.

 

Later on I stopped claiming rights to respectful treatment as a mother, and instead claimed them as a person.  I said, "I will not allow ANYONE to speak to me that way.  I will not allow ANYONE to tell me what to do.  No one.  Not because I am your mother, but because I am a person, and this is completely unacceptable to me as a person."  Wow, that was a HUGE breakthrough, in retrospect, because it took the fraught relationship issues into the sphere of how you treat people because they are people.  I didn't foresee it, but in many ways that was the turning point in the whole drama thing.

 

YMMV.

 

In many ways this is a waiting game.  They do grow out of it eventually.

 

 

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I see this in myself sometimes - I can be getting really upset at someone, but the minute they get upset at me, I can regain composure and tell myself that they are the ones with the problem and I am the calm one. I recognize this in myself, but I don't deliberately provoke anyone just to get to that point. I can see how someone who has issues with self-esteem, guilt, or other issues could unconsciously deliberately provoke someone else just to maintain control. So it sounds to me like she is dealing with her own issues and using you as a distraction or coping mechanism. Does that sound right to you?

 

Has this dd been in counseling? Is she aware of the issues she has that are causing her to feel so angsty? Or does she think she is totally fine and everyone else has the problem?

 

(I do have a similar issue with a kid sometimes (not often). I try to stay zen and retreat when I am getting pushed to my limit. This causes the child to get super irritated with me for disengaging and they double their efforts. Then I finally lose it - but that causes my kid to freak out, which then helps me calm down, and then I am the one apologizing. Ugh.)

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I see this in myself sometimes - I can be getting really upset at someone, but the minute they get upset at me, I can regain composure and tell myself that they are the ones with the problem and I am the calm one. I recognize this in myself, but I don't deliberately provoke anyone just to get to that point. I can see how someone who has issues with self-esteem, guilt, or other issues could unconsciously deliberately provoke someone else just to maintain control. So it sounds to me like she is dealing with her own issues and using you as a distraction or coping mechanism. Does that sound right to you?

 

Has this dd been in counseling? Is she aware of the issues she has that are causing her to feel so angsty? Or does she think she is totally fine and everyone else has the problem?

Everything's everyone else's fault. And I quote, "Everyone is this house is grouchy. Except for ME!"

(I do have a similar issue with a kid sometimes (not often). I try to stay zen and retreat when I am getting pushed to my limit. This causes the child to get super irritated with me for disengaging and they double their efforts. Then I finally lose it - but that causes my kid to freak out, which then helps me calm down, and then I am the one apologizing. Ugh.)

 

I don't know about the control issues. She just wants to have a plan in place for everything and is inflexible enough to get all worked up when life doesn't happen according to plan. It's funny. She handles life fine outside of the house, but can't maintain a pleasant facade around her family when things go awry.

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When I was a new mother I attended a lecture entitled:  "Toddlers to Teens" which basically made the case the toddlers act up in exactly the same patterns that teens do.  So I tried to fall back on those toddler strategies.  Maintaining calm, projecting calm, not backing down, showing warmth, keeping on smiling. 

 

Ha.

 

I can't say that I was able to maintain this.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

However, it carried me a certain distance beyond what I would have gone to normally.

 

I also fell back on another book, How to Really Love Your Child, and focused on eye contact, warmth, trying to have 9 out of 10 good interactions, which meant that I had to initiate good contact instead of retreating in the face of bad contact. 

 

I couldn't maintain that either.  However, again, it was helpful up to a point.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Later on I stopped claiming rights to respectful treatment as a mother, and instead claimed them as a person.  I said, "I will not allow ANYONE to speak to me that way.  I will not allow ANYONE to tell me what to do.  No one.  Not because I am your mother, but because I am a person, and this is completely unacceptable to me as a person."  Wow, that was a HUGE breakthrough, in retrospect, because it took the fraught relationship issues into the sphere of how you treat people because they are people.  I didn't foresee it, but in many ways that was the turning point in the whole drama thing.

 

YMMV.

 

In many ways this is a waiting game.  They do grow out of it eventually.

 

I'd love to be able to do that. But it doesn't stop my intense kid. She just quits caring after a point.

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What worked here? Sending her off to college.

 

Seriously (because it sounds like I'm being snarky), the space between us has been refreshing for me and good for her. Moms are very convenient targets of emotional outbursts... We're "safe," we will still love the kid even though it's crazy-making. DD having to find appropriate ways to vent and cope in a not-at-home setting has been the cure.

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What worked here? Sending her off to college.

 

Seriously (because it sounds like I'm being snarky), the space between us has been refreshing for me and good for her. Moms are very convenient targets of emotional outbursts... We're "safe," we will still love the kid even though it's crazy-making. DD having to find appropriate ways to vent and cope in a not-at-home setting has been the cure.

 

sigh.

 

That's what I thought.

 

It's been a LONG 18 years.

 

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Run.  I run and I practice yoga.  It really does help.  My child doesn't become enraged, she just melts down.  Her emotional mess has taken a huge toll on me, but I try and stay even around her.  

 

:grouphug:

 

And yes, college.  I will miss my dd when she goes, but I'm sort of looking forward to it. It will be good for her and for me. 

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I second the "treat me like a person" thing.  Also, sometimes I raise one eyebrow and say, "Excuse me?" when something completely ridiculous is said.  I have also been known to treat teens like toddlers.  They're not that different.  They've lost control of the rational parts of their brains and they're running on emotions and hormones.

 

I also suspect that having history as a nurse helps a great deal.  It sounds strange, but when you have 8-15 people screaming at you at once, you spend a few weeks stressed as possible but then eventually you learn to calm down, triage emergencies, and let screaming upset people slide off your back.

 

There's also something to be said for three blinks for pausing to translate teen crazy to English:

Teen:  "Blah blah blah...  all your fault... I can't believe you are doing this unjust thing to me! You are ruining my life! I hate you! You're the worst parent ever..."

 

Mom: "Are you finished?"  Blink... (pause)... Blink... (pause)... Blink... (pause)... "I'm really sorry you feel that way.  When you (violated this rule), you knew the consequence would be (consequence).  It is completely reasonable that I (reacted to that in this completely fair way that you hate). You have every right to be upset. It's difficult to be a child and not be in control of your life.  But you will not verbally abuse me or anyone in this family, and you're too old for emotional meltdowns.  Go (basically sit in time out, free from electronics or fun things) sit on the bench in the laundry room until you can calm down and come discuss this respectfully.  When you're ready you can either write me a respectful letter with the things you want to express OR you can speak respectfully.  Temper tantrums will not be tolerated."

 

Teen will either: (screaming at injustice)

Mom: "3.... 2.... 1.... go to the bench or you're (consequence is taking away whatever the kid cares about)

 

OR Teen goes and sits on the bench, calms down, and either talks respectfully or writes a letter.  Often there is a legitimate thing for them to be upset about beyond violating the rule, but generally the injustice is not so extreme that their temper tantrum was in any measure the same scale.

 

 

Can this kid spend more time on a horse?  I've never known a spirited horse to not rebel when an upset kid tries to control them. Teaches them to control what they're projecting fast.

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I second the "treat me like a person" thing.  Also, sometimes I raise one eyebrow and say, "Excuse me?" when something completely ridiculous is said.  I have also been known to treat teens like toddlers.  They're not that different.  They've lost control of the rational parts of their brains and they're running on emotions and hormones.

 

I also suspect that having history as a nurse helps a great deal.  It sounds strange, but when you have 8-15 people screaming at you at once, you spend a few weeks stressed as possible but then eventually you learn to calm down, triage emergencies, and let screaming upset people slide off your back.

 

There's also something to be said for three blinks for pausing to translate teen crazy to English:

Teen:  "Blah blah blah...  all your fault... I can't believe you are doing this unjust thing to me! You are ruining my life! I hate you! You're the worst parent ever..."

 

Mom: "Are you finished?"  Blink... (pause)... Blink... (pause)... Blink... (pause)... "I'm really sorry you feel that way.  When you (violated this rule), you knew the consequence would be (consequence).  It is completely reasonable that I (reacted to that in this completely fair way that you hate). You have every right to be upset. It's difficult to be a child and not be in control of your life.  But you will not verbally abuse me or anyone in this family, and you're too old for emotional meltdowns.  Go (basically sit in time out, free from electronics or fun things) sit on the bench in the laundry room until you can calm down and come discuss this respectfully.  When you're ready you can either write me a respectful letter with the things you want to express OR you can speak respectfully.  Temper tantrums will not be tolerated."

 

Teen will either: (screaming at injustice)

Mom: "3.... 2.... 1.... go to the bench or you're (consequence is taking away whatever the kid cares about)

 

OR Teen goes and sits on the bench, calms down, and either talks respectfully or writes a letter.  Often there is a legitimate thing for them to be upset about beyond violating the rule, but generally the injustice is not so extreme that their temper tantrum was in any measure the same scale.

 

 

Can this kid spend more time on a horse?  I've never known a spirited horse to not rebel when an upset kid tries to control them. Teaches them to control what they're projecting fast.

 

I totally wish she would spend more time on a horse but she's all hyper focused on "Scholarship. College. I don't have time. BLAH BLAH BLAH"

 

I think I need to read some Zits comics.

 

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That broken heart medal gets a big, fat "No Shit!" from me.

 

It really does hurt, this stuff.  You've been close, and all of the sudden it seems like you're hugging a buzz saw at times; a buzz saw who seems bent on destroying itself.

 

But really, they do have to break away.  It's to some extent a measure of how attached you have been in the past, how intensely challenging it is to move forward in a different way.

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In hindsight, if your dd was academically capable, do you wish you had set things up for her to graduate a year early? I never planned on having Tigger graduate early, but if he continues to be so emotionally draining as a teen then maybe we should strongly consider it.

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In hindsight, if your dd was academically capable, do you wish you had set things up for her to graduate a year early? I never planned on having Tigger graduate early, but if he continues to be so emotionally draining as a teen then maybe we should strongly consider it.

 

 

I don't know that that strategy would have been a good idea.

 

Even at 18 (older than most of her friends) her lagging skills makes college planning a real bear to work out with her.

 

I wouldn't have sent her off at 17.5. Really, she would benefit from the emotional maturity of an  extra year at home rather than college right now, but her funding means she needs to hop right in. Also, she'd feel like a failure to not go off when her peers do. And, we really need her getting her feet wet in the real world, hopefully learning some of the lagging skills that she has resisted learning from her family and parents.

 

So you have to look at both emotional (which in my daughter is lagging) and academic maturity.

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So you have to look at both emotional (which in my daughter is lagging) and academic maturity.

I know exactly what you mean.

 

What about graduating a year early and then a gap year of full-time work? I'm hoping that at some point Tigger has an "emotional control growth spurt", but considering he has been like this since birth, it's probably unlikely. In any case, I suppose I will start keeping high school records in 7th or 8th grade in case we do decide it's best to have him leave the nest early.

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I know exactly what you mean.

 

What about graduating a year early and then a gap year of full-time work? I'm hoping that at some point Tigger has an "emotional control growth spurt", but considering he has been like this since birth, it's probably unlikely. In any case, I suppose I will start keeping high school records in 7th or 8th grade in case we do decide it's best to have him leave the nest early.

 

Just double check that this option won't hurt him for financial aid/scholarships.

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Honestly, when my oldest was still at home her goal was to make sure that if she was unhappy so was the rest of the family. I got better about simply sending her away on fake errands to keep my peace. Not a good solution, I know. It didn't fix her. She lived with us two years ago at the age of 25 and she STILL was very upset if other poeople were content when she wasn't and she did everything she could to stir up drama. She is coming to visit for Christmas and I am remembering that I will give her tasks and things to do to keep busy so that she doesn't have time to stir up drama. She does better when she is busy. I am going to make sure that she has lots of cookies to decorate and gifts to wrap and gravy to make and that sort of thing.

 

I agree that the keep 'em gone, keep 'em busy method can be very effective. 

 

I don't parent a kid with that level of intensity - well, they're pretty intense, so I should say I don't parent kids with that level of negativity - but I grew up with that type of sibling. 

 

It's harder to admit as a parent than as a sibling, I'm sure, but sometimes it's just a flatout relief to not have them around as much. I loved my sister and we were actually close in a lot of ways, but many times I would just be crying from exhaustion because she was so hard to deal with.  Even when her mood wasn't negative, she just . . . took up so much room, kwim? 

 

Cycling them through people and activities and places, especially places that aren't home, seems to sate that lust for drama and 'newness' a lot of the time, and if nothing else gives the immediate family a break. 

 

Maybe one of her Christmas presents can be a weekend away with a good friend  :laugh:

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I totally wish she would spend more time on a horse but she's all hyper focused on "Scholarship. College. I don't have time. BLAH BLAH BLAH"

 

I think I need to read some Zits comics.

 

 

Maybe that should be her punishment every time she has a meltdown?  10 minutes brushing & saddling, 40 minutes riding, 10 minutes clean-up.  I mean I'd watch her to make sure she isn't being abusive or acting so out of sorts things might get dangerous...  depending on the meltdowns, this might not be such a good idea after all.

 

I imagine the conversation going, "You seem to have trouble controlling the intensity you're projecting. Every time you have an inappropriate meltdown or are verbally abusive with anyone in this house your consequence will be spending the next 40 minutes riding the horse." 

 

Yes, it would take time.  But it might also give you a break from her.

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I agree that the keep 'em gone, keep 'em busy method can be very effective. 

 

I don't parent a kid with that level of intensity - well, they're pretty intense, so I should say I don't parent kids with that level of negativity - but I grew up with that type of sibling. 

 

It's harder to admit as a parent than as a sibling, I'm sure, but sometimes it's just a flatout relief to not have them around as much. I loved my sister and we were actually close in a lot of ways, but many times I would just be crying from exhaustion because she was so hard to deal with.  Even when her mood wasn't negative, she just . . . took up so much room, kwim? 

 

Cycling them through people and activities and places, especially places that aren't home, seems to sate that lust for drama and 'newness' a lot of the time, and if nothing else gives the immediate family a break. 

 

Maybe one of her Christmas presents can be a weekend away with a good friend  :laugh:

 

Please don't quote this, I'll probably delete.  I agree with this.  Mine aren't quite so intense, but my sister was.  She did grow out of it, but she was probably 25 before she started acting normal. 

 

As an aside, even as an adult she cannot tolerate hormonal birth control.  She either gets depressed or anxious or ridiculously intense.  She was married before her husband pointed out that her personality changed every time she went on the pill.  She'd been taking it since middle school for painful & heavy periods.  If DD is on hormones, you might want to change formulations or stop altogether.

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I second the "treat me like a person" thing.  Also, sometimes I raise one eyebrow and say, "Excuse me?" when something completely ridiculous is said.  I have also been known to treat teens like toddlers.  They're not that different.  They've lost control of the rational parts of their brains and they're running on emotions and hormones.

 

I also suspect that having history as a nurse helps a great deal.  It sounds strange, but when you have 8-15 people screaming at you at once, you spend a few weeks stressed as possible but then eventually you learn to calm down, triage emergencies, and let screaming upset people slide off your back.

 

 

 

See... I can't deal with the public. I HATED my jobs in customer service / sales. Anything dealing with one person much less more than one. I knew what a nurse's job was and just nope. It is a great job, an honorable job, but I'd be terrible at it for this very reason! Not so much the patients, but the docs, for sure, I don't deal with that bullcrap. You can't pay me enough.

 

As for me, I just leave the house. I'm sure this causes some kind of long-term attachment issues but at this point "staying calm" is not possible in the home some days.

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I used the advice from the school psych...meet the intellectual and emotional needs, and help the child develop emotional control. The latter does not happen magically as they mature...its a result of reflection and decision with knowledge that emotions are valid, but expression needs to be in an appropriate manner. Counseling will help develop appropriate methods. In your case, it sounds like she know s them and uses them outside the home. Remind her to use them inside the home..and be sure you are treating her like any other adult so she can. If you dont give her room, she cant gain control before explosion.

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Moms of intense kids...

 

How do you keep the kids' emotions from wiping you out and making YOU a hot mess?

 

I try to not engage, but there's only so much a mama can take. In fact, she often WANTS to set me off and if I just respond calmly, it makes her madder, and she goes into crazy rage mode. It's like I can't win when she's in a particular mood.

 

Also, I HATE conflict. It's sets me on edge and stresses me out. So my dd's negativity often wipes me out for the rest of the day.

 

Tell me your strategies for keeping your own sanity, emotional equilibrium etc. in a good place while the storms of an intense kid rage around you.

 

My biggest problem with my child like this is ME.  When I do it right, I separate him from everyone (in various ways, depending on what seems appropriate at that time) and just "shut it down".  Where I do it wrong, is when I fail to see the storm coming and I get sucked into, first, a minor point of disagreement, which becomes the first step on the path to the emotional black hole.

 

Separation and shutting down is the key.  Send the kid to do something.  Put them "on silence" (in my house, that literally means you are not allowed to speak or make noise until you are told otherwise).  Send them to their room and let them know they are welcome to come out as soon as they have themselves together, but they will have to go be miserable alone.

 

It helps to have these kids doing some hard physical exertion everyday.  My oldest is required to go on a 45 minute run every day (it didn't have to be a run, but he didn't pick something else, so I picked for him).  I'm not talking about regular chores, I'm talking about HARD physical exertion (running, tae-bo, chopping wood).  Also, lots of structure for their day.  Chores, schoolwork, outside activities, etc. In addition to the need to burn off energy, I think these kids need to be kept out of their heads too much.  They make crazy land happen in their heads, and then they bring it out into your world.  I can always tell my my son has too much free time because the next thing I know there is drama over NOTHING....and two hours later I'm left a wreck going, to myself, "what was that all about?".

 

Also, quiet time every day, EVERY day.  This is as important as air.  These kids DO suck you dry and you need some time to dribble something back into your own tank.

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I don't know that that strategy would have been a good idea.

 

Even at 18 (older than most of her friends) her lagging skills makes college planning a real bear to work out with her.

 

I wouldn't have sent her off at 17.5. Really, she would benefit from the emotional maturity of an  extra year at home rather than college right now, but her funding means she needs to hop right in. Also, she'd feel like a failure to not go off when her peers do. And, we really need her getting her feet wet in the real world, hopefully learning some of the lagging skills that she has resisted learning from her family and parents.

 

So you have to look at both emotional (which in my daughter is lagging) and academic maturity.

 

Could she take a gap year and work? Ideally something in a resort town where all of the people who come there believe the workers only exist to service their vacations.  It will teach her to level her emotions, that's for sure.

Edited by TammyS

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I can always tell my my son has too much free time because the next thing I know there is drama over NOTHING....and two hours later I'm left a wreck going, to myself, "what was that all about?".

 

Yes, this happens here with our 9 year old. Too much free time and he thinks we are cruel parents imposing ourselves on his day by expecting school to happen. That, and he gets aggressive with his little brother.

 

Is your son an extrovert?

Edited by HoppyTheToad

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Yes, this happens here with our 9 year old. Too much free time and he thinks we are cruel parents imposing ourselves on his day by expecting school to happen. That, and he gets aggressive with his little brother.

 

Is your son an extrovert?

 

My son is an extreme extrovert.  I am an introvert.  So his emotional draining KILLS me.

 

If we had a decent school, I would have sent him at least half time, to just get him out of here.

 

I don't mean to sound too negative about him.  He's actually a great kid and has done really well with his school (though it came at rather a steep price, emotionally, for me).  There is just a LOT of him to go around, and not so much of me.  He's going to college in the fall and I think we are both going to be much happier when he's gone.

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Separation and shutting down is the key.  Send the kid to do something.  Put them "on silence" (in my house, that literally means you are not allowed to speak or make noise until you are told otherwise).  Send them to their room and let them know they are welcome to come out as soon as they have themselves together, but they will have to go be miserable alone.

 

 

 

 

 

Here's the deal. If she's ramping up, I can say whatever I want to, tell her whatever I want to, but that doesn't mean that she will do it, And piling consequences on an 18 yo, only makes things worse.

 

That's the challenge. Once they're worked up, you can't do anything about it.

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If she's 18, it's definitely time to put your foot down on the "personhood" grounds. As in, you do not deserve to be treated like X because you are a human being.

 

My DD is only 12 and I think I'm going to remember that one.

 

And the "hugging a buzz saw" comment. 

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My extended family is filled with intense people but only two relatives begrudge other people's happiness. Those two have narcissistic tendencies/traits.

 

A safe area has always help for us to just calm down without wrecking the house. Plenty of structured activities help. Less time to sit and think of something to sulk.

 

Mental work for us works better than physical work. When idle, emotions run high so physical exercise does not work out unless the brain needs to be engage. Like geocaching works but running doesn't. Golfing works but swimming laps doesn't.

 

She handles life fine outside of the house, but can't maintain a pleasant facade around her family when things go awry.

My dad who has lower executive function skills and some anxiety behaves that way. However he doesn't behave unpleasant, he just have an anxiety attack when he gets home from a very stressful work event.

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My biggest problem with my child like this is ME.  When I do it right, I separate him from everyone (in various ways, depending on what seems appropriate at that time) and just "shut it down".  Where I do it wrong, is when I fail to see the storm coming and I get sucked into, first, a minor point of disagreement, which becomes the first step on the path to the emotional black hole.

 

Separation and shutting down is the key.  Send the kid to do something.  Put them "on silence" (in my house, that literally means you are not allowed to speak or make noise until you are told otherwise).  Send them to their room and let them know they are welcome to come out as soon as they have themselves together, but they will have to go be miserable alone.

 

 

 

I think that the OP's dd is frequently beyond the reach of these techniques (OP, please forgive me if I'm overstepping).

 

All intense kids can be difficult, but if they will actually agree to be put "on silence" or go to their rooms, it's much more manageable.

 

And it's not (completely) a matter of imposing consequences - when some people get wound up past a certain point, 'quiet' or leaving is not going to happen. They can know that a treasured privilege will be lost if they don't leave the room, and it doesn't matter. 

 

I do think the deescalating techniques in your post can be very effective with many intense kids, I just know they don't always work, and some kids are sometimes beyond reason no matter what the parents have done. 

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Here's the deal. If she's ramping up, I can say whatever I want to, tell her whatever I want to, but that doesn't mean that she will do it, And piling consequences on an 18 yo, only makes things worse.

 

That's the challenge. Once they're worked up, you can't do anything about it.

 

"Shutting down" and "silence" aren't consequences.  They are just ending the conflict before it escalates too far.

 

There do need to be consequences, but those should come later, after the de-escalation.  There is no motivation for even an attempt to change if there is no consequence.  At the very least when you are being harassed for something, you need to let her know that you will never, ever, ever, ever be harassed into giving her what she wants.  One doesn't negotiate with terrorists.

 

At 18 it's also time to start talking about how you are doing her a favor by allowing her to continue to live at home, and she needs to start acting like it.  It sends a very bad, very dangerous, message when a parent allows "adult" children to treat them badly in front of other children.  Younger children lose respect for their parents and the challenges to authority come next.  It's brutal.

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So fairfarmhand, TammyS, and I are all introverts with extroverted, intense kids. Do you two also find that your intense kids don't seem to recognize when you are angry unless you make it extra obvious? Tigger doesn't seem to believe when I am angry unless I start to yell, which isn't very often.

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"Shutting down" and "silence" aren't consequences.  They are just ending the conflict before it escalates too far.

 

<snip>

 

At 18 it's also time to start talking about how you are doing her a favor by allowing her to continue to live at home, and she needs to start acting like it.  It sends a very bad, very dangerous, message when a parent allows "adult" children to treat them badly in front of other children.  Younger children lose respect for their parents and the challenges to authority come next.  It's brutal.

 

I agree with you that they aren't consequences, and that they are good ways of ramping down a conflict if the person is willing/able to leave or stop talking. Leaving the room can be physically imposed on smaller kids but not bigger ones, and silence really can't be imposed at all. 

 

And yes, it does no one any favors to endlessly let an adult child live at home while behaving badly, but the OP's dd is a senior applying to college. They are trying to survive the last semester and get her there. Tough love has to happen at some point, but I think most of us would do a lot to try and work through just a few more months so that our kid leaves home on a good note, and to a positive place. 

 

So fairfarmhand, TammyS, and I are all introverts with extroverted, intense kids. Do you two also find that your intense kids don't seem to recognize when you are angry unless you make it extra obvious? Tigger doesn't seem to believe when I am angry unless I start to yell, which isn't very often.

 

I can tell you that my intense introverts have the opposite problem: much too ready to see signs of anger that aren't even there! 

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Is it possible to discuss this with her at a calm moment? Could you take her out for coffee (or whatever) and have a discussion with her about how she woulld like to approach this problem?

 

If not, I think you have to focus on *you*. When she ramps up, say whatever you need to say and then remove *yourself* - go to your room, go for a walk - get on a horse! Whatever it takes. Your sanity is important!!

 

Anne

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So fairfarmhand, TammyS, and I are all introverts with extroverted, intense kids. Do you two also find that your intense kids don't seem to recognize when you are angry unless you make it extra obvious? Tigger doesn't seem to believe when I am angry unless I start to yell, which isn't very often.

 

YES!

 

My intense kid is very obvious with her emotions. Blows up when mad, leaping singing and being silly with happy.

 

I'm not like that. She has to see the HUGE shift in me before she'll notice that mom is angry.

 

It's like she's so wrapped up in her own world and expects everyone else to process like her to realize the subtle emotional shifts of those around her.

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I agree with you that they aren't consequences, and that they are good ways of ramping down a conflict if the person is willing/able to leave or stop talking. Leaving the room can be physically imposed on smaller kids but not bigger ones, and silence really can't be imposed at all. 

 

And yes, it does no one any favors to endlessly let an adult child live at home while behaving badly, but the OP's dd is a senior applying to college. They are trying to survive the last semester and get her there. Tough love has to happen at some point, but I think most of us would do a lot to try and work through just a few more months so that our kid leaves home on a good note, and to a positive place. 

 

 

I can tell you that my intense introverts have the opposite problem: much too ready to see signs of anger that aren't even there! 

 

YES! I just want to survive long enough to get her to a good place so we can set her loose on the world. :)

 

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I think that the OP's dd is frequently beyond the reach of these techniques (OP, please forgive me if I'm overstepping).

 

All intense kids can be difficult, but if they will actually agree to be put "on silence" or go to their rooms, it's much more manageable.

 

And it's not (completely) a matter of imposing consequences - when some people get wound up past a certain point, 'quiet' or leaving is not going to happen. They can know that a treasured privilege will be lost if they don't leave the room, and it doesn't matter. 

 

I do think the deescalating techniques in your post can be very effective with many intense kids, I just know they don't always work, and some kids are sometimes beyond reason no matter what the parents have done. 

 

Exactly. Some get more amped up--telling them to go away or even you leaving the room just makes them dig in more. Mine (only 12) will follow me or simply refuse to move. It's exhausting. And I have a feeling that my 3rd child is going to me even more intense. Sigh. 

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Here's the deal. If she's ramping up, I can say whatever I want to, tell her whatever I want to, but that doesn't mean that she will do it, And piling consequences on an 18 yo, only makes things worse.

 

That's the challenge. Once they're worked up, you can't do anything about it.

When they ramp up, it is too late for words to be effective. She needs a workshop so she can learn techniques to not get to that point. She will learn to recognize her body's cues, and take herself to a safe spot to calm herself. Its not helpful to engage verbally, other than remind them to go to their safe spot. What can be helpful is preparing a protein based snack. Sometimes intense kids need the boost to prevent going into meltdown. Often its helpful post meltdown. Edited by Heigh Ho
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Exactly. Some get more amped up--telling them to go away or even you leaving the room just makes them dig in more. Mine (only 12) will follow me or simply refuse to move. It's exhausting. And I have a feeling that my 3rd child is going to me even more intense. Sigh.

This is my ds to a T. Sending him to school has helped tremendously, just getting a break between episodes. We are having many more enjoyable moments with him now.

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So fairfarmhand, TammyS, and I are all introverts with extroverted, intense kids. Do you two also find that your intense kids don't seem to recognize when you are angry unless you make it extra obvious? Tigger doesn't seem to believe when I am angry unless I start to yell, which isn't very often.

As that kid, I recognized it, but I didn't care. My own feelings in the moment were bigger than logic and consequences.

 

That's one reason I have gone out of my way to be a logic-rational adult. Arguments and responses from emotion are big fails in communication and relationships and do a lot more harm than good. It is too easy to get sucked into the cycle when the brain shuts down and feelings take over.

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No advice. Just sympathy. My 12 year old DS is intense. Period. In every aspect of his life. And it is exhausting. And he sucks me in to arguments. And he's irrational. And I feel guilty half my life because there are times I respond to him in frustration. I don't know what to do with him.

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I think that the OP's dd is frequently beyond the reach of these techniques (OP, please forgive me if I'm overstepping).

 

All intense kids can be difficult, but if they will actually agree to be put "on silence" or go to their rooms, it's much more manageable.

 

And it's not (completely) a matter of imposing consequences - when some people get wound up past a certain point, 'quiet' or leaving is not going to happen. They can know that a treasured privilege will be lost if they don't leave the room, and it doesn't matter.

 

I do think the deescalating techniques in your post can be very effective with many intense kids, I just know they don't always work, and some kids are sometimes beyond reason no matter what the parents have done.

Yes. I won't speak for the OP either, but I have an intense kid who cannot be limited. Silence? Hah! If I put him in his room because he is ramped up and I need a break or need to comfort a sibling he has upset, he will scream nonstop and kick the walls and doors for a half an hour before beginning to calm. He has been known to wail for an entire hour long car trip just because I did not bring enough food (note, I brought some, but he wanted more despite eating immediately before we left). If I try to reason with him when he is ramped up, it's useless. He doesn't care about consequences in the moment (though you can bet that when the consequence is later mentioned or implemented, there will be another meltdown, often worse than the first). He struggles mightily if asked to do anything. I cannot tell him that he needs to go jump on the trampoline to release his energy because the very fact that I asked him to jump will render him lying rigid on the floor moaning. He absolutely wants to make me and the rest of the family happy, but something in him is such that he cannot abide being told what to do.

 

He's only 4, but he has been this way since he was an hour old (the uncontrollable wailing shocked the postpartum nurse). From 17 months until 30 months, when I gave up and took it down, every time I closed the kitchen gate behind me to keep him out, he fell to the floor in a meltdown. 20 times a day, every day, For A Year. Only twice in that year did he see me close that gate (i.e., set that limit) and not wail uncontrollably. I learned a lot about how regular parenting advice, and even advice for the "stubborn" child does not work for him during that year of the baby gate. I simply cannot expect this child to give in no matter how firm, loving, and consistent I am. I'm a LOT better at parenting him now than I used to be, so he does not meltdown as often.

 

So, I listen carefully to threads like these. I need all the techniques I can get to help us all survive until he moves out. :-) Running helps me. I believe that getting him to run will also help (or year round swim team - that's actually my goal), but I'm not sure how to do that. Hugging instead of time outs. Trying to remember to get him to plan the course of action instead of me telling him what to do. Never, ever threatening because we all lose. But I need more strategies because I spend multiple hours a day feeling completely drained. (I'm strongly considering preschool).

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Yes. I won't speak for the OP either, but I have an intense kid who cannot be limited. Silence? Hah! If I put him in his room because he is ramped up and I need a break or need to comfort a sibling he has upset, he will scream nonstop and kick the walls and doors for a half an hour before beginning to calm. He has been known to wail for an entire hour long car trip just because I did not bring enough food (note, I brought some, but he wanted more despite eating immediately before we left). If I try to reason with him when he is ramped up, it's useless. He doesn't care about consequences in the moment (though you can bet that when the consequence is later mentioned or implemented, there will be another meltdown, often worse than the first). He struggles mightily if asked to do anything. I cannot tell him that he needs to go jump on the trampoline to release his energy because the very fact that I asked him to jump will render him lying rigid on the floor moaning. He absolutely wants to make me and the rest of the family happy, but something in him is such that he cannot abide being told what to do.

 

He's only 4, but he has been this way since he was an hour old (the uncontrollable wailing shocked the postpartum nurse). From 17 months until 30 months, when I gave up and took it down, every time I closed the kitchen gate behind me to keep him out, he fell to the floor in a meltdown. 20 times a day, every day, For A Year. Only twice in that year did he see me close that gate (i.e., set that limit) and not wail uncontrollably. I learned a lot about how regular parenting advice, and even advice for the "stubborn" child does not work for him during that year of the baby gate. I simply cannot expect this child to give in no matter how firm, loving, and consistent I am. I'm a LOT better at parenting him now than I used to be, so he does not meltdown as often.

 

So, I listen carefully to threads like these. I need all the techniques I can get to help us all survive until he moves out. :-) Running helps me. I believe that getting him to run will also help (or year round swim team - that's actually my goal), but I'm not sure how to do that. Hugging instead of time outs. Trying to remember to get him to plan the course of action instead of me telling him what to do. Never, ever threatening because we all lose. But I need more strategies because I spend multiple hours a day feeling completely drained. (I'm strongly considering preschool).

oh my. This was my dd.

 

Go ahead and enroll him in preschool.

 

You do need space from kids like this.

 

And don't compare your kid, your parenting journey to anyone elses'

 

For my kid at a young age, I wish someone had told me to plan time for meltdowns. So instead of waiting till we needed to go to the car, I should've planned an extra 20 minutes to get her there because she was wailing about whatever. That would've kept me from being SO frustrated because "we're going to be late AGAIN because you're acting like an 2 yr old."

 

And accept that it's going to be hard. That your kid will be difficult and there's no magic bullet that will "fix" him. I found it better to think in terms of "tweaking" her tendencies. I could tweak them a bit but I couldn't change them.

 

 

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I, too, have sympathy rather than advice. Mine is exactly the sort BooksandBoys describes above, but he's nearly 12.

It's discouraging and draining.

:grouphug:

I do like the idea of counseling or a workshop to learn to regulate emotions. It's a life skill. What a gift if she can gain tools to manage better.

 

Edited by sbgrace

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I have been thinking about this thread all day. I am a sibling of someone very much like the OP's dd. Please, please try not to overlook the effect on the siblings. I hated being home, especially when my sib was a teen. Conflict and yelling, accusations etc. Yes, there was anxiety involved and some depression. But the fact was that my parents were exhausted, brought to the cusp of divorce, and there was nothing left for anyone else. I escaped as completely as I could as quickly as I could. If my Dh hadn't wanted to be close to his parents, I would be an ocean away permanently.

 

My siblings and I are all in our forties and she is still wreaking havoc. Currently, she is giving us the silent treatment and refusing to come for Christmas (we live in the same area). My mother is devastated and I have to hear the rehashing and pleading to make allowances. Which I will no longer do because I no longer have the energy or desire to do so.

 

Sorry to not have anything positive to say, but all this focus on the difficult, intense child can have serious consequences for future family relationships.

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I have been thinking about this thread all day. I am a sibling of someone very much like the OP's dd. Please, please try not to overlook the effect on the siblings. I hated being home, especially when my sib was a teen. Conflict and yelling, accusations etc. Yes, there was anxiety involved and some depression. But the fact was that my parents were exhausted, brought to the cusp of divorce, and there was nothing left for anyone else. I escaped as completely as I could as quickly as I could. If my Dh hadn't wanted to be close to his parents, I would be an ocean away permanently.

 

My siblings and I are all in our forties and she is still wreaking havoc. Currently, she is giving us the silent treatment and refusing to come for Christmas (we live in the same area). My mother is devastated and I have to hear the rehashing and pleading to make allowances. Which I will no longer do because I no longer have the energy or desire to do so.

 

Sorry to not have anything positive to say, but all this focus on the difficult, intense child can have serious consequences for future family relationships.

 

She's four years older than my next kid and I am SO looking forward to her stepping out on her own for the sake of my younger kids.

 

Once she's launched I can really focus and enjoy my youngers.

 

I am okay with limiting the drama. If she's not home much, there's not drama, really much at all.

Edited by fairfarmhand

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