5 year old, possible adhd, destructive behavior...help!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by asumama, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. asumama

    asumama New Member

    Hello All!

    I am new to the forum and am desperately in need of advice from those of you who have "been there done that."

    My 5 year old stepson (6 in October) is destructive and a terrible influence on my 3 (4 in sept) year old daughter. I have my degree in family and human development, have worked in preschools, and am entirely clueless what to do! In the past week he has used a knife to cut up the underside of his box spring, tried lighting the dog's #2 on fire, broke his balloon and threw a kicking/screaming fit which prompted me to pull over the car and sit with him on the rocks until he could calm down (during that time he threw a rock at my car), and used scissors to cut a hole in our couch. I set my alarm for 6:00am so I can be awake before him, but both the fire and knife incidents occurred when he woke up before I did and didn't wake us (my 3 year old daughter was present during both incidents). His language is also something to be desired, he doesn't often use profanity but consistently says bad/nasty words, which naturally my 3 year old soaks up like a sponge.

    We are pretty certain SS is ADHD, although he has not been diagnosed. I have tried treating his behavior holistically with healthy diet and vitamins/fish oil, ample exercise, and a structured environment, but nothing seems to work. My husband (who has joint custody, but is not biologically related to SS) has bipolar so routines can get a bit messed up when he's having an hard time.

    I need help because I'm getting to a point where I cannot stand to be around him, and I don't want my daughter around him because I'm afraid she will get hurt and because of how negative an influence he has on her (she now talks back, mimics his anger fits, etc.). The second thing I need advice with is what to do to make things better. I don't want this to ruin my marriage or our family (I'm 8.5 months pregnant currently), and because of my husbands bipolar I tend to take charge of the home/children. What do I do?! Thank you so much.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You need to get a full-scale professional diagnosis done... he's old enough that they can at least be flagging "at risk for" even IF he's officially too young for some diagnoses.
    The "holistic" stuff is great... when it works. And, in my opinion, even if it isn't the whole answer it sure doesn't hurt. But you're probably going to have to go beyond that.
    And the problem is probably more than ADHD. (we have 4 different flavours of adhd in our house...!)

    Don't let them pin the "ODD" label on... way too young for that. Obviously, there's something major going on.

    The others around here are going to want a bit more history...
    How long has he been your SS?
    Any mental health issues or other diagnosis in his biological background?
    Has any testing been done already? if so, what testing and what professionals were involved?
    Any chance of some form of abuse in his background (i.e. before you came on the scene)?

    {{double hugs}}
    You're dealing with all of this on top of being pregnant?!
    {{more hugs}}
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Wow. How was your stepson's early life? Did he have any severe lack of attachment or distance from his main caregiver? Had he moved from home to home or suffered abuse or neglect?To me he sounds like reactive attachment disorder or even conduct disorder (although that is not diagnosed at such a young age). There are three BIG RED FLAGS for a child's behavior that could mean a budding sociopath. We adopted such a child so we are well acquainted with the three red flags and attachment disorder: 1/peeing and pooping inappropriately 2/setting fires/fascination with fire 3 Cruelty to animals

    in my opinion he needs a completely psychiatric evaluation. There is likely a lot more going on than ADHD with this child. Did his birthmother ever use drugs or drink during her pregnancy? Any psychiatric problems on either side of his genetic family tree?

    I'd stay in the same room with him when he is with your daughter if she were mine. JMO, but he needs help desperately. If you husband is not his biological father, why even have him around?

    This child is probably too sick to treat holistically. in my opinion he is going to need medication or he may hurt somebody.
  4. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    sounds alot like my difficult child. we have had issues with knives/lighter/sharp things with him. i don't think your difficult child is too young to get a diagnosis and medication. they make exceptions when it becomes a threat to their safety and the safety of others. first you need to get locks for drawers and cupboards that have any potentially dangerous things in them, and then make sure you put ALL knives/tools/lighters in them. i had to buy a pantry and put a bike lock type thing on it in for bathroom and cleaning supplies as well. this has cut down alot on dangerous incidences. make sure your other child knows that these things are not acceptable and that you guys are not okay with her brother doing stuff like that and are trying to prevent it. be consistant with discipline. my difficult child needs to be told/punished for something 100 times to learn what the average kid learns after once or twice. they do learn, eventually though. i will admit that it took me spanking him to get him to stop some behaviours, basically if i deam the behaviour to be a safety threat he gets a spank. doesn't work on some difficult child's but mine it sinks in eventually where as time out or taking toys only makes him seek revenge.
    the next thing we had to do was put a lock on the outside of difficult child's door. i know some will be horrified but oh well. they don't live in my house. i was not sleeping because difficult child gets up each morning way too early and would sneak around and steal things, destroy things, do things to people who are sleeping and basically i would wake up to a nightmare more often than not. at that point i was thinking of sending difficult child to foster care in order to keep the other children safe from him. so when he goes to sleep, the door gets locked. he is allowed to come out to use the washroom whenever he pleases(with in reason) simply by calling us. when it gets to be morning he can wake us up if the sun is awake and we will let him out. we also use the lock when he is smashing things or attacking people. in which case his room becomes his own personal little psychiatric ward....lol.
    good luck, i hope you get him some medical help soon. i know it is a hassle.
  5. asumama

    asumama New Member

    His earlier childhood wasn't great. Apparently his mother tried but wasn't able to totally quit smoking during the pregnancy and did consume some alcohol. I am not aware of any psychiatric issues in his mom or bio dad (although the bio dad is serving time in prison). I know the mom and my husband fought often. It's difficult to really piece together an objective view of his earlier years as I get most of the information from my husband (it seems as if his bipolar may taint his objective memory though). We are also fairly unaware of what goes on at his mom's house. Although, I do know he's been exposed to movies such as Speed, Devil, and other R rated scary movies.

    His mother has lived with several friends this past year, moving when she is no longer welcome. We recently moved into a house (allowing all the kids and soon-to-come baby to have their own rooms).

    I have spent the past year that we have been a family working on giving him lots of love and trying to make some difference in his behavior, yet things seem to either get worse or at the least stay consistently bad. I have just started having my daughter stay the night at my parents house when he comes over because I'm too concerned something will happen and too frustrated with the language/behavior that she picks up from him. Clearly this cannot work for very long. I'm trying to keep my hope and faith, but i'm concerned that if we haven't seen any improvements in the past year what is the likelihood that he will improve? I don't really see his mom making huge parenting changes, and my husbands bipolar I know causes some problems (broken routines, inability to focus on children for extended periods since he becomes overwhelmed easily, things of that nature).
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, if his birthmother consumed alcohol when she was pregnant, he could suffer from fetal alcohol affects. Plus if he was neglected by her or his birthfather or your hub or both or tossed around a lot...that's a recipe for attachment disorder. LOve doesn't help kids who have attachment disorder, in fact it can scare them because they have coped by only trusting one person...themselves. They really don't have much of a choice, but the behaviors are often very difficult. There are attachment therapies, which I've never used so I don't know how well they work.

    Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is always such a tragic problem. Even a little alcohol can cause big issues (depends on the child).

    Dad in prison, depending on why, at least points to some sort of mental instability or antisocial behavior...both can be passed along too. Adopted kids, for example, who have birthparents in prison also tend to end up in prison at a higher rate (learned this from all my adopting and exposure to adopted kids...read about it/social workers have told me etc). This applies even if they were never raised by the birthparent. Obviously a good environment helps, but it sounds like this little one had a very difficult time until he came to you. And he still shares his time with bm and her many moves.

    I would take him to a neuropsychologist to find out as much as you can. If you feel he is dangerous to your daughter, however, it's smart not to have her home when he is there. The child that we adopted who had attachment disorder and probably some alcohol affects had to leave. He was VERY dangerous to my other kids. That doesn't mean YOUR SS is a threat, but I'd keep an eye on him when he is with other kids and I'd try to find out if he has any lingering affects from his prebirth alcohol exposure and h is early life in general.

    Keep us posted and good luck!