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YARNLADY's avatar

How do I respond to "I don't want to live " when my grandson gets angry?

Asked by YARNLADY (42180points) June 8th, 2018

He gets very angry and says “Leave me alone” when he doesn’t understand his school work. He then cries, “I don’t want to live”, and runs into his room. He often follows up with “I wish i was dead”.

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12 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

How old is he?

kritiper's avatar

Ignore it. He’s only saying it to get attention. Don’t ask too many questions about his homework but try to help him, gently, via statements about homework/ the subject. Be supportive. Be positive. Reassure him that he can.

Jeruba's avatar

My son was past the schoolwork age, but the threats were just as frightening, if not more so. After some point, I just had to stop trying to be on suicide watch day and night. It was making me crazy.

One night when I was pretty sure he was able to focus, I looked him in the eye and said: “I hope you don’t harm yourself. If you’re determined to do it, I can’t stop you. You know where to go for help. And never forget I love you.” That was all.

The difference it made was not the effect it had on him, about which I know nothing, but the effect it had on me to say that out loud and recognize that it was true, all of it. There’s nothing harder than letting go.

Well, maybe there is something harder, but letting go is hard enough for anyone.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Hold him.
Hold him so tight you come near to causing damage.
Let him physically feel the strength of your resolve to be there for him.
Not once, not twice, but every time he has a blow out.
Also, when you see him beginning to feel frustrated, so he will come to realize he doesn’t need drastic threats to get your attention.
If he tries to struggle away, don’t let him.
Discuss with him what options there might be for him to get help with understanding his homework.

flutherother's avatar

Do you understand his homework? If you do you can help him to understand it. If you don’t you could try to understand it with him. Either way I would concentrate on the homework rather than the death threats.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m wondering if the issue is really the homework at all. It might be the proximate cause of his frustration, but it may not be the source. Is this possibly a pretext for acting out and dramatizing something else, such as perhaps his distress at family issues involving his parents? or some situation in his social setting at school? Could his emotional distress be preventing him from concentrating on subjects he is perfectly capable of understanding if he just paid attention? I forget how old this young man is, but I know there’s a history.

In any case, it seems to me that the best thing you could do for him is to make sure he knows where to find help, both academic and therapeutic, and then let him solve his own problem. That will give him much more strength and confidence than your explaining linear equations or parallel structure with correlatives to him.

Your support is crucially important, of course, but support does not mean doing for him what he can do for himself.

Zaku's avatar

If it were my son, I’d sympathize and talk to him about it. I remember, even at the extremely good school I went to, how schools can tend to seem like are cold and hostile and authoritarian and judgmental and shaming and awful, and that being under their authority can feel terrible and like one would do almost anything to not have to be in that nasty context. I found solace in my friends and parents’ sympathy. Many kids don’t have very understanding parents. I wouldn’t dump my own feelings onto the child, but I’d listen to what he said and try to be as supportive and helpful as I could.

If it were my grand son, I’d probably have that conversation with the parents and see if they want me to talk to their kid or not.

YARNLADY's avatar

Thank you for your kind answers. He is 11 years old and homeschooled by me. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, as both his parents were when they were young.

I homeschooled his dad for several years, and my three older grandsons as well. I never had any of them say that.

@Patty_Melt I did that when he was younger. Now I just sit by him until he gets over it.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY Have you considered putting him in public or private school? Just as something else to try? I think public would likely be better in his case. I have nothing against homeschooling, I think it’s a great option for some kids. Preferably, a school that doesn’t have a ton of homework. They seem to vary quite a bit.

In my experience depression in young people is often rooted in loneliness. Another possibility from what you described, he might be having trouble learning, and that I think it could cause him to be depressed and lash out. I dint remember if you said if he does well in his studies?

Since he’s 11 would he still be in elementary this coming school year? That might be an easier transition than middle school. If it isn’t helpful you just go back to homeschooling.

If you choose to try it, I guess you have to make it so he doesn’t feel you are sending him away, but rather that he will get to try something new and be with friends, and they have music and art and play outside after lunch, or whatever might entice him to give it a try.

Does he take medication for his ADD? I feel like I might not have read the information well, my apologies if you answered that before.

If not school then some sort of social activity with others or volunteering where he can feel utilized and look forward to it.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie The public charter school we had him in asked us to please make other arrangements. They ended up calling his parents to come get several times a month because he refused to behave. On several occasions, he ran away from the teachers, usually on the school grounds (he had one preferred place). He had an ISP, which stated he needed constant supervision, but the school couldn’t provide the one-on-one he needed.

Yes, he is on medication, and sees a psychologist once a month.

He will be in 6 grade next year. His dad went to middle school (7 – 9) with positive results.

Patty_Melt's avatar

My daughter attended primary school with a child who behaved similarly. Oh, they were mortal enemies. He stole little trinkets from her, and they told on each other quite a lot.
He had someone who spent individual time with him every day. I don’t know her role exactly, but he went from being a class disruption and recess headache to quite the little gentleman. The last several months before we moved away he and my daughter were (blush) buddies.
Has your public, or any schools there such a professional to work with him?

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY I give you credit for everything you do for your grandson. I’m hoping things get better as he gets older, which I think does happen most of the time. That doesn’t help for now I know.

A close friend of mine’s son sounds very similar to what you describe. Finally, in high school he has matured into a great young man who has buckled down in school and has much better control over himself. As a young boy he was diagnosed ADD and some sort of obstinate something. He was incredibly obstinate! Ugh, what my friend went through.

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