My 15-year-old granddaughter was in a severe auto accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury. She recovered physically; she looks the same but does not act the same. After finishing rehab, she was able to go back to school, but she now does not want to go back. She missed much of her course work and is now a very angry young woman. Is there online schooling available? I cannot afford to pay tuition. What can I do for my granddaughter?
Often, among the most difficult aspects of recovering from a trauma like your granddaughter has experienced is the mental and emotional pain. It is very possible that she is struggling with becoming “normal” again, which goes beyond the physical. She may look fine on the outside, but inside all kinds of emotional and mental pain may be churning.
To regain a sense of normalcy, she will need to manage these thoughts and feelings. This is not easy to do. It is important to note that the people around her are not in a position to say that she has attained normalcy after her experience; she is the one who must feel like her life is back to normal. This is a challenge, but with the support of those around her she will be able to work through these issues and lead a happier life than she is living at present.
In addition to her physical therapy, did your granddaughter receive counseling to work through that anger, fear and other feelings that the accident generated? Has anyone in her family gone through counseling to be more informed on how to help her? Does she have support at school?
She could be dealing with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, which would best be treated by a mental health professional. A counselor could help her work through these concerns.
Your concern about her schooling is a serious one. If you have not done so already, talk to her school’s counseling department to see if it has alternative programs that help students continue their education under certain circumstances. If so, see if your granddaughter would be a candidate. Online programs vary. If you provide Boys Town with your location information, we could help you search for services in your area. Call our hotline at 800-448-3000.
My 12-year-old son has always been a good student up until this year. Now he is in sixth grade and will not finish his homework. He has received Ds and Fs on his last two report cards, and he is acting out in class. He has even been suspended for picking a fight with another boy, and he is disrespectful of his teachers. He has friends and does not seem to dislike school, however. We have taken away privileges such as video games and other electronic devices. What else can we do?
It is possible that your son is struggling with school this year because he feels overwhelmed academically and does not understand what is being taught. When this occurs, children often act out behaviorally. A “bad boy” image is preferable to a “dumb boy” image in their minds.
Or perhaps your son is having problems with his friendships and peers, and it is resulting in an increase in defiance and negative behaviors. Could it be possible that bullying is involved?
Stress in young children is often evident in behavior and changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Children don’t know how to ask for help and cannot calm themselves down with healthy coping strategies. Can your son talk to a school counselor? He might need the time and space to open up about what is really going on in his life.
We encourage you to keep issuing consequences for his negative behavior. If the consequences you have established are not working, then reevaluate what is important to your son and take away related privileges. What worked for him last year or when he was younger might not hold the same value for him now. Consequences must be meaningful to work, and what is meaningful to a child changes as he grows.
Also, in conjunction with issuing consequences for negative behaviors, teach appropriate behaviors too. Do not assume that he knows what appropriate and inappropriate behaviors are. Whenever possible, link the consequence to the infraction.
For instance, if he is disrespectful to his teacher have him write a letter apologizing to the teacher or have him list 10 ways he can demonstrate respect to adults. Then ask him to check in with you throughout the week to talk about how he is using the ways on the list with others.
My 9-year-old grandson lives with me part-time. Both of his parents have Bipolar disorder. He has frequent meltdowns regarding completing his homework.
Last year he struggled in school. He had a teacher who, from my point of view, made it clear that she did not like him. His teacher had very high expectations, and my grandson had difficulty meeting them. He often had to stay in from recess to complete work, and he was repeatedly sent to the assistant principal’s office. He frequently had three hours of homework at night.
This year he has a nurturing teacher. He is doing better in school, and the homework load is appropriate for his grade. But he still has meltdowns regarding homework. If a concept does not come easily, he gives up and says he can’t do it. He will become fixated on one problem. He becomes agitated. I have to wait for him to calm down before I can resume explaining a problem or help him complete an assignment. What should only take a short period of time takes an evening of struggle and coercion.
How can I effectively teach him to do his homework on his own and to the best of his ability? I have resorted to punishment and I don’t want to do that again.
When children are stressed out by expectations and the demands of school, it often carries over into the home at the end of the day. Taking a break is often the answer. When your grandson comes home from school, do not launch immediately into homework. Give him a snack. Let him play outside. This changes his surroundings and allows some of the stress he is feeling to melt away.
Afterward, set up a structured study period in an area that is free from distraction but accessible to you for help when needed. At the first sign of frustration, have your grandson take a mini break. Have him put the pencil down; take a deep breath; shake the tension out of his arms; roll his head in a circular motion; raise his shoulders up and down; and/or stand up and walk around the table – anything physical to distract his mind.
We as adults know that there are times when we have to leave a problem alone, move on to the next one and then return to the troublesome one later. He needs to learn to do the same.
I have a 19-month-old son who is not interested in eating and doesn’t say simple words like “mama.” His doctor wants him to gain more weight, but he is growing in height not weight. My husband and I were both skinny as babies, so I think it could be genetic. Should I be worried?
Thanks for reaching out to us today about your concerns with your young child. Any parent would be concerned if their child was not eating. Most children at this age are focused on getting into things and less focus on eating. If your child is not eating at all, then this is not normal and is something you should tell his doctor.
In the meantime, try feeding after a big playtime, when he has built up an appetite. Remove distractions so his attention is on eating. Try different foods and realize that the more foods you expose your child to, the more luck you will have finding something that he’ll like. Record what your son eats and when and give that to his doctor to help him understand what’s going on.
If you feel in your gut something is wrong, or you think your child might be ill in any way, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor. They can alleviate your stress by reassuring you that everything is OK, or telling you what to try to make sure that your child is gaining the appropriate amount of weight.
My 15-year-old daughter is struggling to make friends in her first year of high school. She does not want to go to school and only has one friend there. Her grades are not suffering, but it hurts my heart to see her crying because she just spent the past eight hours alone. She also thinks she is ugly. What can I do to help her self-esteem and to make friends at school?
Thanks for contacting us. It can be very frustrating to see your child struggling to adjust to a time in her life that should be one of her most exciting. Rest assured that while the transition to high school for her and many teens can be stressful and difficult, it does get better with time and patience.
Encourage your daughter to find things that she's interested in and be willing to try them out. Joining athletic, academic or activity clubs in or outside of school is a great way to make friends and share common interests. While it can be a little frightening at first, your daughter must remember that there are other girls and boys who feel the same way she does and are looking for friendship, too.
Regarding her self-esteem and her looks, help her identify what she likes about herself (everyone has something). A new outfit or hairstyle might cheer her up. Often times when we change our appearance or reinvent ourselves just a little bit, it can be a major confidence booster. If she hasn't done this, you may want to spend a day or a weekend with her to see if it helps. Even though we know that real beauty comes from inside and that your daughter may already be a beautiful person, she needs to feel and see it for herself.
If you or your daughter would like to talk more in detail about what she's dealing with, we'd be happy to hear from you. Give our hotline a call at 1-800-448-3000 and talk to one of our trained professional counselors. We're available 24/7 and specialize in parenting and youth issues.
I need help to stop yelling at my beautiful, precious, small children. Every morning I wake up and tell myself that today, I won't yell at them. But I have a busy life, little help from friends and family and my patience burns out quickly. I've tried counting, leaving the room, praying, reading books about parenting, and being open with family and friends about my struggles. But really, they just nod in agreement and don't have any help to offer. How can I stop?
It sounds like you love your children very much and that you already have a great deal of insight into your behavior. Many parents do not realize that they need to make changes. As you well know, children can be extremely trying at times, and you have been doing a great job trying to utilize self-control strategies such as prayer, counting and leaving the room. Remember that it’s normal and human to have moments when you lose your cool. However, yelling can make situations worse and teaches your children that it is okay to yell when they are upset. When you do yell, apologize to your children and tell them something like: "Mommy was frustrated, and I am sorry I yelled." Then, tell them what you're going to do differently next time. This models for your children what they should do when they make a mistake.
Develop a “Staying Calm Plan.” Identify what makes you feel like yelling. Write down what your children do that causes you to lose your temper. Be specific. Include when and where the behavior occurs. Identify what happens to you before you yell so that you learn to recognize your warning signs and take steps to calm down before you begin yelling. Write down what you will do differently such as taking a deep breath, leaving the situation for five minutes or using positive self-talk. Staying calm is not easy, and you have to work at it.
Make time to take care of yourself. Ask your husband or a family friend to watch your children for an hour every other day so that you can go for a walk or take a bath -- something that will help you relax and have a little time to yourself. Taking care of yourself helps you be the best mommy and wife you can be to your precious little ones and husband.
Read the book Common Sense Parenting of Toddlers and Preschoolers by Bridget A. Barnes and Steven M. York, M.H.D. Get involved in a support group for stay-at-home moms like MOPS International and the International Mom's Club. These groups provide friendship, community, resources and support for you as a woman and mother so you know you are not alone.
We are adoptive parents who have been trying to correct numerous behavior problems in our two children for more than eight years. We have tried the POST program and others, but our children remain stubborn. They have come a long way from where they started, but they tell us that they enjoy causing us trouble while they put on show of good behavior for everyone else. Could you provide us with a successful care plan for changing defiance and building healthy relationships? We have a strong Christian faith, but this situation has stressed our family.
Thank you for reaching out for help with your children. Parenting can be very frustrating, and it sounds like you are dealing with a range of troubling and defiant behaviors from these two youngsters. It is good that you continue to seek help for your children; perseverance is a huge asset in the world of parenting.
A frequent concern we receive from parents is that "everything has been tried and yet nothing has helped" to change their child's behavior. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, children act in ways that are clearly not in their best interest. Even when we use effective parenting strategies and proper consequences, children can thwart our efforts. Often times, our chosen strategies are on the verge of working, but we give up too early.
Children typically dig their heels in when we try new strategies and their behavior can often worsen before they get better. Revisit one of your favorite strategies or parenting tips and investigate whether you gave up too soon out of frustration or hopelessness. Try using it again, but for a longer period of time. It is very important to use a strategy consistently, over time, so that children know what to expect.
As far as a care plan for defiance, do whatever it takes to stay calm. Often times, children like to see the power they have to control their parents' behaviors, so remember to keep your cool. Because your children are able to put on good behavior for others, it means that you have been teaching them some good skills along the way. If you can get them to treat to you the same way, you will take a giant leap in having happier relationships in your home.
It is unclear why they might be acting out at a higher rate with you. Consider if you are inadvertently giving your children more attention when they act poorly. We recommend keeping a high positive to negative ratio so that you offer much more praise than correction for your children’s behaviors. This requires diligently looking for opportunities to "catch your children being good.” Remember to give your children reasons as to why accepting “No” answers are beneficial to them. Whenever they stop themselves from arguing or talking back, praise them immediately; you might build some positive momentum and change this cycle of defiance.
Consider whether your children are consistently receiving consequences for inappropriate behaviors. Positive and negative consequences teach a child what is right and what is wrong. If you feel like you have been using consequences effectively, and you have tried to be positive with your children without positive results, it could be that the boys are having trouble with attachment or with their adjustment into the family. If you feel that consulting with a counselor could be helpful, call our hotline, and we will provide referrals for agencies in your area.
If there is any further support we can offer, please let us know.
I’m having trouble setting boundaries with my 14-year-old daughter. I’m frustrated and stressed out. I know if she doesn’t get on the right track she could end up becoming self-destructive. How do you discipline a child without all of the stress and drama? How do I let her know I’m putting my foot down and not playing games? She lies to me couldn’t care less about school, and she’s boy crazy. Please help.
Thank you for contacting us for help with your parenting situation. Raising children can be challenging, and teenage girls are often another level of challenging.
You need to reestablish your expectations and consequences frequently with your daughter. Weekly, at least, the two of you need to talk about rules, reasons behind the rules and what happens if the rules are or are not followed — consequences.
Be sure to include her in the discussion, especially when identifying the reasons that the rules are necessary.
Along with the weekly discussion mentioned above, it can be helpful to revisit what things in her life are “rights” and what things are “privileges,” as well as the fact that privileges must be earned and can be lost based on behaviors and compliance with the rules.
When she loses privileges due to dishonesty or lack of effort in school, make sure she knows how she can earn those privileges back and exactly what she will need to do to earn them back.
Please let us know how this is going and if there are any specific issues we can help you with.