Sunday, 21 September 2008

Sunday 21st September 08

Woken by my youngest child obviously being beaten by my eldest.

Came down to find Gill sitting on top of the eldest to stop him attacking the youngest, and complete chaos. This was all to do with homework and the boy's resistance to doing it. When he had calmed somewhat, Gill let him go and he went upstairs to scream a lot and break things, this being normal in our household.

After a few minutes he came in whilst I was eating my cereal and Gill was sitting crying on the couch, and he said he was sorry. I responded that his apology did not undo what he had done and he went ballistic and attacked me, my cereal bowl got kicked out of my hands and the contents went everywhere. In retrospect I should have just heard and accepted his apology despite my anger about his previous behaviour. I really have no idea how I should deal with an 11 year-old shouting abuse at me, telling me to 'shut up' if I try to talk to him about anything which he construes as criticism, and hitting my wife and younger child.

We are seriously considering sending him to boarding school as we cannot cope at home. He threatens to run away and sometimes we wish he would as then we might get the help we need.
What do we do?

Well, the question resulted in several responses, a couple positive or sympathetic, one quite dismissive. But the afternoon went well and things were calm, despite there being homework around. We've found that 10 minute bursts are best.

Later on in the afternoon I had a visit from my friend Lorna and we went for a meal... just a pizza and salad, and then a walk down to the Millennium Bridge and up through Walmgate Stray where I showed her my allotment. Got back soon after 8pm and I wrote my paid blog on Car Free Day and anger. See

I publicly apologise to Gill and my family for again talking about family issues within this public domain. I shouldn't do it, and should try to limit it to my life and my attempts to be 'low carbon'. I do find this difficult though after over 20 years diary/journal writing and my very open nature. But in future I will try to limit what I put as I have upset Gill by being so public.
I am sorry and will try harder.


Anonymous said...

Vitamin B12 deficiency
There is a well-documented association between B12 deficiency and violence, depression, dementia and paranoia. There have been numerous cases of rage attacks, temper outbursts, domestic violence, etc., where the violence has ceased after the patient’s deficiency was diagnosed and properly treated.

Compost John said...

I seriously doubt that anyone in our family has a B12 deficiency as we eat a varied diet, plenty of fresh veg and fruit, and those who don't eat marmite in sandwiches get it as a seasoning in soups and stews.
I just think my son has inherited some of the energy levels I had (have?) and is, as yet, unable to control himself as he is only just growing up and learning.
I will, however, ensure he has plenty of vitamin-rich food, including B12, so this reason/potential connection is ruled out.
Thanks, John

Aunty Emma said...

It's more to do with lack of parenting skills than lack of vitamins.

It's not rocket science.

Anonymous said...


This behaviour is clearly very difficult to deal with and not good for your son or your family. Have you tried talking to your GP about it? I would hope they could provide leads to those able to advise and I hope help.

From someone who knew you nearly about 17 years ago and who has enjoyed your blogs for green news from York and info on your very green lifestyle. We took up your suggestion to record our carbon use and were pleased to find we are doing fairly well, but still look to improve.

Compost John said...

Thanks for that 'Aunty Emma'! My wifa and I have been on a parenting course to try to learn to be better parents, and it seemed we already had a reasonable understanding of the issues and were doing some (although not all) of the right things, and very few of 'the wrong things'. School thinks we are good parents.

I wonder if there are people out there who, like me, believe that the child him or herself can be part of the problem? I think my own parents weren't so bad (they weren't perfect, but who is?) but they had to contend with a child who was more than lively, had a weird ability to attract trouble and get into scrapes and had some very unusual and occasionally troubling behaviours, hobbies and interests.
I was seen by school psychologists and the like, but they could find nothing 'wrong' with me, and they wondered if it was the parents' fault. Now, most people who work with groups of children recognise various patterns of behaviour, and some of these can result in the child receiving assessment and help, like a child we know with Aspergers, who has a classroom assistant to help him succeed and not interfere with the other children.

Our child hates doing homework, especially writing, and most of his anger problems these days are connected with homework. I used to have huge tantrums, but I cannot remember what they were about. My son has inherited some of my behavioural traits, and I'll be the first to admit that my social skills may be slightly lacking when it comes to 'reading' others' faces or moods, and this has caused problems with my son over-reacting to my occasional faux pas.

But Emma, you are not being fair if you blame all of a childs behaviour on the parent. But I agree with you that vitamins are probably not the issue in this case!

Compost John said...

Hello 'anonymous' from nearly 17 years ago! Glad you enjoy the blog and thank you for your constructive advice to ask the GP. I think we have asked but it might help to ask again and see if there's anything else that is out there which could help him.

We have written to school but as yet, no answer. They are probably well-used to pre-teens and teen anger, and may have specific help.

I try to write as little as possible about my family on this blog as it breaks confidence but this morning we were so unhappy with events that I felt the need to unload.

I really love my children and want to have a happy and peaceful relationship with them. I am so at the end of my tether with how to respond to the current situation that I am willing to ask unknown strangers what to do.

I will continue to try to react appropriately and not cause or give rise to situations which let my child vent his temper. Hard work, but worth it!

Do keep in touch, anonymous from 17 years ago... find me on Facebook perhaps?

Anonymous said...

the answer lies within you john and you need to STOP faffing about getting involved in one after other eco initiatives and put your energies into your family.

i cant believe you are suggesting sending your kid away as a solution to the problem. talk about taking the easy option! oh and making other people deal with your problems. how shameful.

and give the kid some meat to eat, i bet the kid is permanently hungry and cant think straight. dried fruit, pickled walnut and bulgar wheat are not going to sustain a growing lad.

Compost John said...

I've said before that I spend more time with my children than many full time employed people or people who farm their kids out to childminders, after school clubs and such like. But yes I do have lots of other things going on in my life but I don't think that this unduly affects either child's behaviour. The 'difficult' behaviour is only some of the time, after all.

The comment about the boarding school was just a thought... after all, some people DO send their children to boarding school, don't they? And some children love it! We are not seriously considering it, it was wishful thinking following a very tough time.

As for the 'eat some meat' comment, well this is complete nonsense. We have a good healthy balanced diet and many studies have shown that vegetarianism is actually better for you than a diet rich in meat. Nobody is hungry in this house, and I think, rightly or wrongly, that the meat eaters of this world, developed world that is, are partly responsible for hunger elsewhere.
Go do some research!

Anonymous said...

Have you asked your child whether he likes the food he gets given?????????????????????? not being hungry is not the same as being properly nourished.

seems to me, in your house, it your way or no way.

i dont know why you bother asking for advice or opinions on your choldren, when you get replies you just resort to being defensive and justifying your stance.

frankly if what you are doing as a parent was working you wouldnt be having a kid that freaks out. you have let this situation develop over time and always justify it by saying your kid has behavioural difficulties, well if that was the case the school and lea would have had him assessed as such and given the appropriate support.

this is all down to you and your wife.

Compost John said...

Hello 'anonymous', yes we have asked our children about their diet and they both know they are free to try meat, fish etc if they wish, that they are old enough to make that choice. So far, they have chosen to remain veggie, and both love the food we prepare for them. They eat far in excess of their 'five a day' fruit and veg, and are well nourished.

You are wrong about it being 'my way or no way' in our house... I discuss decisions with my wife, share things more or less equally (Gill cooks more than me, I chop wood more than her, but we are both happy with our roles) and we ask our children their views, preferences... perhaps too much even, maybe we should have been stricter and just told them what to do rather than give them choices?

I do not always justify my stance, and some constructive advice from one reader (to ask the GP for any further help) will be followed up. However, where attacked or offered nonsense like 'give him meat and everything will be ok', I will of course defend my decisions or opinions.

And do you REALLY believe that all children's behavioural difficulties are due to poor parenting? I have already stated that I had behavioural difficulties as a child and these were definitely NOT all due to my parents abilities or deficiencies, they were due prmarily to something innate within me. I still have behavioural differences and I am still finding out what these are caused by and how I can compensate and learn to be more appropriate and fit in, yet continue to be the individual that I am.

The school/LEA have given us support, but there are very few problems at school, most are at home, where we have to learn to deal with it and respond appropriately and positively. Which is what we are doing, most of the time.

So yes, my wife and I are working on being better parents, and trying to get the balance right with both children between strict and relaxed, giving them choice and making decisions ourselves, ignoring certain behaviours and not tolerating others, finding appropriate rewards and punishments.

Parenting is rarely easy and I sometimes wonder if these 'anonymous' commentators are actually parents themselves, or ever look around them to see the range of parenting styles there are, social/behavioural problems, etc etc. I think we're doing all right on the whole.

I am now closing this thread of comments as I am going to try not to blog about my children's behaviour as it's not really fair... they just need to know that I love them and want to be a really good Daddy.

Compost John said...

I just received this email from a friend I've known for over 20 years and it is reassuring to know that not everyone thinks I'm a rubbish parent!

"Dear John
Just a quick note.
I occasionally read both of your blogs and it being a quiet lunch hour I thought I would take a look.
You have in the past given me lots of ideas, sorting my rubbish for recycling and composting and walking down the village even on a rainy day (rather than driving) being just two.
I was really sad to see that life it difficult for you all at the moment.
I know that trying to access anything like effective help at moments of crisis is very hard indeed. I so often feel that no one listens and that in the end the people are professionals (rather than family who actually care).
I am sure that you and Gill are doing more than your very best for both your boys, try not to be hard on yourselves.
Even when things seem grim and endless you just have to keep telling yourself that "nothing, good or bad lasts for ever".....well that's what I do anyway. That maxim was from my granny C******* (mother's mother) who was very wise and had been through some very tough times indeed.
Thinking of you both
Take care