Please look for these arrows throughout your email below: == >
Perhaps the answers to these are in future lessons in the course. If so, please point the way. If not, I'd be grateful for your insights....
1) Is my child being a jerk or does he really not know how to read situations and respond appropriately? Is he lacking some sensitivity/awareness skills (brain cells) that tell would otherwise clue him in that he's being completely out of line?
==> Children with “Oppositional Defiant Disorder tendencies” do have great trouble empathizing (i.e., putting themselves in some else’s shoes; understanding how others may be hurt or inconvenienced).
Is he manipulating us or is he really not (yet) capable of assessing situations and behaving appropriately? I never know whether he's "yanking my chain" or whether he really is somehow incapable of "getting it."
==> Both. He’s not sure what you want (yet), but he knows what he wants – so he tries to manipulate you into getting what he wants.
2) Can/should we expect an apology for hurtful (disrespectful, aggressive) behavior? Or is the consequence (in this case, our refusal to take him to his tennis lesson) "enough"?
== > A consequence is enough!
3) I am having a physical reaction to being in (or anticipating being in) my son's presence. I feel tense/fearful, often have "butterflies" in my stomach, and am always on the verge of tears. What should I do? Get counseling? Avoid him? Something else?
== > Get counseling? Maybe. Avoid him? Yes, whenever you feel like you cannot (a) show a lack of emotion when things are going wrong, (b) put on your poker face, or (c) avoid reacting to his button pushing.
4) We are working through your online course/e-book. Is the whole solution in our approach to our son?
== > Most definitely.
Or is there some therapy work he should be doing as well?
== > Therapy is just another traditional parenting strategy that has little - if no - positive effect, and in some cases it makes a bad problem worse.
It feels very one-sided at this point. Should he not work on recognizing how destructive his behavior is to our relationship? Should he not get help learning to get a handle on his behavior?
== > This is where the consequences that you issue come onto play. This is covered in Sessions 2 and 3 [online version of the eBook]. Don't try to "reason with" your son. Simply issue the consequences as needed.