My son is out of control.
I know two boys who struggle to settle in school and at home. They wander the corridors, use cannabis and present management problems to the organisation to which they are a part. Their parents say, My son is out of control.
Let’s see if we get some clarity…..
One of them told me in passing that he always feels nervous and anxious before he comes to school.
He says that he expects to be met at the door by a slightly angry teacher who will inform him that his poor behaviour has earned him a detention for one reason or another.
He says that his anxiety makes his tummy have butterflies and makes his hands shake (no wonder he seeks what he believes to be the peace cannabis will offer), he says that he likes to walk around the school when he is in trouble as he cannot settle (are we not all advised to take exercise when we feel anxious? In fact some Doctors in some parts of the UK are able to secure a reduced priced gym membership for a limited period for their patients who present with depression and anxiety). This boy walks around the school because he is anxious and cannot settle, his fight or flight response has kicked in and asking him to manage it on his own is probably unjust.
Finally, I am aware that this young person was born in a refugee camp. His parents came to the UK when he was just a few months old.
They are strict he tells me.
Of course they are, I tell him, they stayed alive, while his village was destroyed by the enemy not by being permissive, debating middle class parents but by being tough, firm, non-negotiable….military like.
These habits are hard to drop when you have been thrown out of your home and live in a stranger country.
The school and home are stressful, anxiety provoking, places. They are each vicious circles for this young person and the only place he relaxes is away from both of them, either on the street or in the corridors at school.
Maybe comparing what happens to a child from Kosovo a with your child seems farfetched…I invite you to look at it this way…particularly if you are saying to yourself, “My son is out of control”.
Let me present you with some very stressful, home grown scenarios:
1, Your parents have broken up. They do not speak directly to each other because they resent each other. You are their mouth piece, passing messages between them, delivering information and filtering out the hatred and intolerance they feel for each other. They each want you to be on their side, you love them both but fear, loyalty and confusion causes you to take sides. Now, get on with that physics homework!
2, Imagine one of your parents is dying of cancer. The adults around you believe you are too young to feel and see what is happening to you. They fall apart and the only way you are recognised in this world of secrets and whispered dread is to “perform”, you might become a “rescuer”…you might become someone who needs to behave in an exaggerated manor to get the attention you need.
These are but two examples, the examples I could present you are literally endless.
If you are thinking, “my son is out of control” please see that Feelings have to be understood, they have to be heard and they have to be recognised.
We have Feelings for a very good reason, they are part of our nervous system. We use feelings to inform ourselves, or the people around us, when they, or us, need to take action, either to give us a pat on the back or a hug or, most importantly, to rescue us from danger.
It’s natural selection at work again, the most effective animals are the ones who have just the right amount of intellectual and emotional arousal to remain engaged and focused.
When a young person’s arousal state is high and no one helps them, they carry their feelings alone and after a period of time these feelings become stored in their bodies…..
Maybe they pace the corridors in school because of the adrenalin their feelings promote.
Maybe they self-harm, replacing their interior pain with an exterior pain.
Maybe they use cannabis or alcohol or sex……just like the adults in their lives use anti-depressant, cannabis/alcohol or sex to numb their pain and feel better.
Maybe they are overweight, protecting themselves from their world with their very own deflector shield.
Now we can see that the Kosovan student I spoke of is just like you and me.
He hurts, he bleeds and left unattended he suffers.
If you are interested in speaking with me about the matters I raise in this article then please get in touch.
We can speak on the phone or meet face to face and take some time to discuss what is happening for you and your child at the moment.
When I work this week in Bournemouth, Poole or Dorset as a counsellor, couple counsellor, teenage and adolescent counsellor, family counsellor, family therapist…
Family counselling and marriage guidance, marriage counselling, teenage counselling and adolescent counselling…
I may use CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), Attachment Theory, Mindfulness, Psychodrama, Person Centered Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Solution Focused Therapy, Integrative Therapy or Family Therapy or Attachment Theory…
I am mindful to that this is a New Year with new opportunities and possibilities for all of us to develop our knowledge, commitment and understanding.