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Jenkins

Suggestions for a child who is having a rough year?

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I’m not sure really what I am looking for.... but my 11 year old son is having a rough year. He has had some medical issues we are working though but he is getting so upset when we ask him to do anything. He had a bad attitude towards his siblings, parents and really just life. School, chores, take the dog out, go play outside, practice baseball(which he loves)... anything we ask him to do he gets very mad and frustrated. I know he would rather sit inside but I know he needs exercise to feel better. We go for walks/hikes and he enjoys them but it is like pulling teeth for him to go with us. He does play baseball about 3 times a week, we try to get outside as much as possible and he does see friends a few times a week for school class/activities. 

I dont know if reading some books about boys about boys his age who have it harder than he does would help?

Maybe reading about happiness and looking on the bright side of life? 

Many suggestions for books? He loves to read.

Ugh... I am really lost. I’m not sure if this is some sort of depression because of his medical issues. I find myself being short with him because he is so snappy with his siblings, his dad and I. Any suggestions welcome! 

Edited by Jenkins

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Honestly, this sounds an awful lot like being 11 years old.  No, I don't think that having him read books about boys who have it harder than him would help.  Just keep trying to get him outside.  And follow SWBs advice for this age (and older):  sandwich, nap and shower. 

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My DS is in the midst of a major growth spurt. He is mostly 'contained' but has outbursts out every now and again when pushed too far. (usually by his sister). I agree wit the food, shower, and nap recommendations. Also, if he enjoys reading...feed that need too! My DS has become a voracious reader of both biographies and angsty, pre-teen drivel (e.g. Diary of a Wimpy Kid). He can't bother anyone (or be bothered) when his nose is in a book.

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4 hours ago, Jenkins said:

Ugh... I am really lost. I’m not sure if this is some sort of depression because of his medical issues. I find myself being short with him because he is so snappy with his siblings, his dad and I. Any suggestions welcome! 

I'm sorry because this is going to sound really impossible, but I would take him on a cruise or to Disney. Like just go do something, just you and him. It won't be so expensive as taking the whole fam, and he'll get some positive attention, won't be getting in trouble for bugging his siblings. And you know it can be a new thing, like each kid gets it and you rotate through the kids or something I suppose. And if you can't do like 2-3 days at Disney (stay at the Hyatt for $85 a night, includes breakfast, just use Uber so no car rental, eat counter service so it's cheap), then something else like just the two of you go camp for a couple days or just the two of you drive to something kinda nifty, kwim?

When in doubt hug, feet, tomato stake. You've got to pull him closer. 

My ds is an absolute pain in the butt. He has autism, has given me two concussions, and he may very well harm me worse someday. The answer is pull him closer. Now my ds also has needed some biomedical interventions. But I have to do really hard stuff with him (language work, working on compliance, etc.) and the way I get the street cred, the CURRENCY that gets me there? Pairing, doing stuff with him, stuff that has nothing to do with his disability but is just positive.

If you need the super cheapest version, send everyone else out to do wash windows and you two stay home and bake cookies. Figure it out. Do something together and be really intentional about it. And do it over and over till it sinks in and he gets calm again.

Does he like lego? Get him some cute $11 kits from Target (online) and sit and actually do them with him. Blow his mind, lol. Just sit and play with him, doesn't cost anything, and it can help. Go bowling and get cones. It doesn't have to be $$.

4 hours ago, Jenkins said:

He has had some medical issues

Is this care through a hospital? If it has been stuff like surgery, etc., you should have access to a social worker there. I would go talk with them, because I think it's a known gig that major medical issues affect the family dynamic. You yourself could be really burnt out. Have you been taking care of yourself? I mean, I just told you what I do. I take my ds and I leave. I go to Disney, or I go on a cruise. I do a lot of hard stuff with him and I have to take care of MYSELF. If I'm burnt out, how am I able to give to him? I have to fill up my own bucket of peace and calm and hope and renewal so I can be fresh and ready for him. And you can think about what that means for you. I'm just guessing you probably haven't been taking care of yourself either. 

I'm not saying feel guilty or make some big list. Just decide it's ok to stop and take care of yourself a little. Like coffee with a friend. Pedicure. Walking alone through a flea market with no agenda. Food truck for lunch. Anything.

Edited by PeterPan
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11-12 was around the time I did a survival year with my kid.  I got him involved in an active scout troop.  And then, I centered lessons around:
-The Dangerous Book For Boys
-Adventure (a book of explorer biographies)
-The American Boy's Handy Book
-archery
-MBTP literature guides focused on adventure, boys, and survival
-a hands on science kit of science through the ages, but with a lot of things to make and tinker with

I didn't want to show him other kids had it worse, but he was coming out of a situation where he felt beat down and I wanted to fill his life with skills and things to build him up.  I added more adult male mentors to his life in middle school so that someone other than mom could tell him, yeah, it sucks but life gets better.

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Is there any kind of routine to his days (not a strict schedule, but a predictable routine or order of when things typically happen for the regular stuff--like get, up, make bed, eat breakfast, do some school, play outside, eat lunch, finish school, free time...or whatever)?

Having lots of health issues can make a person feel like he has not control or say in what goes on in his life--and that could be part of how he reacts when you tell him to do something, even something he enjoys. You might try to broach that with him. "I've noticed that you seem frustrated when I ask you to do something, even if it's something you enjoy. Why is that?" (and just listen. Don't try to argue/persuade--be a listening and sympathetic ear to what his life is like.) "I was thinking that you need some time that you can count on each day or each week when you can do the things you really want to do. What are some things that you wish were a part of your day?"

Get his input and see if there are some changes you can make. "Let's work on a routine together so that you can know you have that free time each day, as long as you work on your school and chores. No, we can't drop those! But maybe we can make some things more doable..." 

See if you can find out some things that frustrate him and give him some part of his day that he can manage "now that you're getting a bit older" and see how he does with it. 

I do agree that some of this does sound like an 11 year-old and just starting to grow up and not want to be told what to do. But all of us, all our lives, have to deal with some level of being told what to do (or deal with consequences, LOL!). I'd be matter of fact and not worry too much if he doesn't always like it, but it's also okay to not accept any guff. "Hm, that wasn't a respectful response. Do you want to try that again?" (said in a nice but firm way--not in a sarcastic or nagging kind of way.)

Sometimes boys need a heart to heart with dad from time to time too. 

Hang in there!

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If you're looking for a book, my 11-year-old loves the Way of the Warrior Kid series by Jocko Willink,  a former Navy SEAL. The third book was just released - ours came in the mail yesterday, and my son was so excited.

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At 11, its important to give him control - leadership opportunities, mentoring a younger sib, any 'big kid' chore he does, choices of free time that work for what he wants to do, activities towards his personal goals...

With the medical, can his dad or an uncle go hiking or driving with him?  He may open up and then you adults can help. The existential thoughts hit hard with the double whammy of 11 and medical. 

I wouldn't go for a book, but for experiences. Scout troop was great for us at this age; the scoutmaster pointed out that everyone has choices.  Smoke dope or canoe and see a real live beaver's den?   Go see a college or minor league baseball game.  RC Airplane Show.  Begin learning how to do maintenance on bicycle or family vehicle as a medium for learning tool use. Start a build project..it's something that he can look forward to, see progress on, and won't feel like his temporary medical impairs him from doing...this could be something he's interested in or something you'd like for the home (mailbox maybe?). 

What I did was make a time to meet with 11 year old weekly.  He was to bring his list of complaints and desires, from there we worked things out and got him into a happier place..for my child it involved a lot more movement and ownership than he was getting.  As he took ownership of his time, his quality of work and his general attitude improved. It was frustrating him to read of adventure and feel stuck at home.

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This sounds like both of my 11 year olds- easy to offend/upset, easily overwhelmed/frustrated, snappish and rude to siblings, lethergic and not interested in exercise.  The only thing you left out is inability to think, mine forget what a fraction is, forget how to spell things, forget their own name basically.  

I think you are doing great to get him outside.  Fresh air and exercise is huge.  So is getting enough sleep and regular healthy snacks.  Honestly I just pretend they are toddlers again.  How would I react to this meltdown if they were 3?  Probably a snack, a nap, and a trip to the park.  🤣  Stay calm and wait it out mama.  You arent alone.  

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nm

Edited by ```
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This sounds just like my son that is 11! He is my oldest so this is new to me. It just seems like at 11 a lot of changes are taking place and they deal with it in different ways! He gets offended all the time over strange things, takes things wrong and he doesn't want to do anything!  Sometimes I do feel like we are back in the toddler stage! I'm glad I'm not alone! 

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